Vol. 23, #41 - October 15, 2018 - Issue #1203

WServerNews: What can I do with vSphere tags?  


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Editor's Corner

This week's issue of WServerNews focuses on VMware by examining some of the cool things you can do with tags, a feature that was first introduced in vSphere 5.1. To take us through this topic we're pleased to have Rick Vanover as our guest contributor for this week's newsletter. Rick, who is also a Cisco Champion and vExpert, is the Director of Product Strategy for Veeam Software. Rick's IT experience includes system administration and IT management with virtualization being the central theme of his career recently. Uou can follow Rick on Twitter @RickVanover or @Veeam.

We also have a new Ask Our Readers question that Your Editor offers his own insights concerning but which we hope some smarter and more experienced readers may be able to elaborate further upon. And we've also updated our Conference Calendar with more upcoming conferences and training events for the coming months. Speaking of which we need some help finding any big IT conferences happening Australia, Asia, and India so if any of our newsletter readers in these areas can point us to some we'd be glad to update our Conference Calendar accordingly. And finally we have all of the usual tips, tools, links to tech tidbits and fun stuff, and our usual factoid for you to tease your brain with, so enjoy! And if you have any feedback on anything in this issue feel free to email us at [email protected]

And now on to our guest editorial by Rick Vanover…


vSphere Tags: No time like the present to start using them!

It seems like forever ago (and it was!) that VMware introduced vSphere tags. In vSphere 5.1, tags and categories were introduced as additional organizational constructs. This is in addition to things like folders (purely organization), resource pools, hosts, clusters, vApps, datastores, data centers and more. 

The tag and category framework is somewhat different however. Datastores for example can include VMs that reside on a datastore. Folders can include hosts and VMs. Resource pools are active management elements for VM resources (versus an organizational construct). Other constructs have their own characteristics but what is noteworthy is that any object can have a vSphere tag or category applied to it. 

This means that a tag or category can be applied to a host, cluster, network, VM, datastore, resource pool and many other types of objects in the vSphere infrastructure.


OK, now what do I do with tags?

In my role at Veeam, I've long advocated using vSphere tags for backup policy definition but also for assigning whether or not a workload is to be orchestrated for disaster recovery. This is a nice way to classify workloads in regards to their availability, but this is just a start. 

Before we go too far with tags, the number one rule is to make them self-describing. Whatever you do, please don't make categories like "Sample Category" or tags like "Tag1". Much more relevant categories and tags are going to help you (and others) later. Take for example a category name like "Backup Policies" with tags like "24 hour RPO", "4 hour RPO" and "1 hour RPO". This makes building backup policies so much easier. Additionally, consider a tag called "No Backup" where something is explicitly agreed upon that it doesn't need a backup – such as a development or test system. I always can do better at tag and category naming, but here is a view in my shared lab of an active configuration:


I have spoken to many organizations who have taking the tagging and category process very seriously and it is baked into their day-to-day processes. This helps with visibility, availability, deployment and more. Here are a few tips on how to use vSphere tags if you are not already. try my second suggestion i.e. by throwing more money at the problem and trading up for a more expensive switch from the same vendor, one that had a larger buffer. The result? The problem went away.

Deployment: When a VM is deployed, it is advised to have a few tags applied with the main options defined. An tag within a category for "Backup Policy", a tag within a policy for "DR Policy", a tag within a policy for "Compliance and Audit Status" for systems in-scope of an audit process. Many organizations bake this into automation options of when a VM is deployed from a template. This also can be manually applied.

Application status: In addition to the status mentioned above regarding Compliance and Audit, one popular tag and category framework is to identify critical applications. I have a category called "T1-PPI-Applications" this indicates Tier 1, PPI (Personal Protected Information) and that it is applications. This is one example where other categories could be made such as Tier-2 or non-PPI and other situations that make sense in an organization. Looking at the tags, you'll see one application (ZincBlast) is tagged within that category:


Storage information: This can work in conjunction with VMware Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM), but one good use case for tags and categories is to indicate the type of storage in use. Maybe Tier-1 storage or a storage system with snapshot capabilities (and the configuration used). One example is a category called "Tier-1StorageSnapshotCapable" and a tag called "SnapshotHourly".

Ownership, QoS, Production Times: There are many additional capabilities you can implement with tags that can represent the services provided by the objects in the vSphere environment. This can include who "owns" the application, what service levels are expected or even document the maintenance windows of an application.

My goal is to give you a view of the capabilities of vSphere tags, and the "a-ha" moment may come where you realize there is an opportunity to do something new with tags that will make improve accuracy in the vSphere environment. When a tag is applied, it is easily visible on a VM like shown below:


How do you use vSphere tags?

What use case do you have to make vSphere tags and categories part of your day-to-day administration? Would it make sense to have applications identified? What about building backup policies? In any way, self-documenting tags can make the task easier as VMs continue to grow. Share your vSphere tag and category use case by emailing us at [email protected] so other readers of our newsletter can benefit from your expertise and your experience using them.



Ask Our Readers - Question about flow control (new question)

Alain who manages IT in a mid-sized company in Strasbourg, France asks us:

Loved your story about 10gb networking, merci!! I have one question - why to disable flow-control on backbone switches?

In my understanding flow control was originally designed as a mechanism to prevent network devices like switches from having to deal with more packets than they can handle. This post on Cisco Blogs explains the concept:


I've been told however that VoIP and flow control don't play nicely together, so on backbone networks I've heard it as a recommendation that flow control be disabled on switches. I don't know however if this is really best practice or not, so maybe some of our readers who are networking experts can weigh in with their own suggestions on this matter -- email me at [email protected]



Tip of the Week

Got any IT pro tips you'd like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

This week's tip comes to us from Glenn Turner who is Manager End-User Services at an Australian company. 

How can I stop Edge from trying to open my PDFs?

Glenn says: In Windows 10 v.1709, I disabled Microsoft Edge via AppLocker in my environment and that was working quite well. We've decided that in v.1809 we would give people Edge. One thing I noticed after doing however is that when Edge is re-enabled and I double-click a PDF, I'm prompted with this:


I pulled up the notes from the Premier case I logged a year or so ago about preventing Edge from stealing the associations, and tested their additional guidance: by adding these registry settings (in our case, by group policy preference), Edge no longer prompts with the above offer, and Acrobat just opens:




Glenn also points us to the following articvle on Ghacks for background info on how one can find the AppXd4nrz8ff68srnhf9t5a8sbjyar1cr723 key in the first place:


Thanks Glenn! If any other newsletter readers have tips they would like to share with the 500k+ subscribers of WServerNews feel free to send them to us today at [email protected]


Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without 

GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

This white paper shows the features of the Windows Server 2016 regarding deduplication and offered advantages. Learn how to activate and use them.


MailStore Server is an email archiving solution, catering to the needs of SMBs. It is easy to install and supports most email systems. A free trial is available for download on the vendor's website.


This free tool reports on all accounts that have been inactive for more than a specified number of days and can even automatically deactivate those accounts.


Do you protect your Hyper-V & VMware VMs against data loss? Altaro VM Backup is a hassle-free and affordably priced virtual machine backup solution. Don’t miss out - grab your FOREVER FREE copy now


ISESteroids is a truly revolutionary new add-on for the Windows PowerShell ISE editor:


Visual Studio Code is a lightweight but powerful source code editor which runs on your desktop and is available for Windows, macOS and Linux:


DISKSPD is a storage load generator / performance test tool that replaces SQLIO:




Judith from Syracuse, New York sent us a link to a cool video on monitoring, managing and troubleshooting large scale networks:

Your readers who manage large campus networks may want to watch this video, I learned a lot when I found it last year:


Thanks! If any other readers have suggestions of videos that might help those who manage enterprise networks please send us a link by emailing us at [email protected]

And a few issues back we had an Ask Our Readers item that examined the difficulties that sometimes arise when trying to update Windows 10 machines when the system volume is too small, for example on laptops that have small SSDs. Somewhat along these lines a reader named Erich from Switzerland sent us the following comment:

I had problems updating some HP computers of my customers because the recovery partition was too small. One solution was to shrink the windows partition and then enlarge the recovery partition using a 3rd party partition editor from Aomei:


Another would be to delete the recovery partition, as it is not needed for the operation of windows. This would give some 15GB free for the operating system, which would be the better solution for Robert. 

And of course don't let your users sync their 256Gb I-Phones full of pictures and music with the computer!

I was a bit surprised by Erich's comment and responded by saying, "Erich did you mean shrink the *recovery* partition and then enlarge the *Windows* partition?" Erich replied:

Hi Mitch, No the other way round. The update failed because the *recovery* partition was too small. (It was the update from Windows 10 1703 to 1709) So I had to enlarge the recovery partition.

I responded, "Fascinating. Why would that happen? I thought the recovery partition was factory installed and remains unchanged when you upgrade Windows 10 versions…" and Erich replied:

Thats what I thought too. But it seems HP (or windows) saves some information in the recovery partition. HP saves the recovery image of windows plus oem drivers and software in this partition.

Anyway enlarging the partition did help.

Have any other readers got more insight into how this works? We'd love to know more--email me at [email protected]


Factoid - Sayonara, Geocities-san!

Last week's factoid and questionwas this:

Fact: New research from the University of Central Florida in Orlando suggest that the IAU decision in 2006 to demote Pluto from being called a planet was a mistake i.e. Pluto should still be called a planet!

Question: How do you think Plutonians are reacting to this news?

The best response we received for this question was this one from Doug who wor4ks in IT for a government agency in Iowa:

Answer: Cool and distant

And the runner-up response was from Murray who works in IT for the government of New York State:

Is this where we respond with the obligatory comments about it being a "Mickey Mouse planet" or a "dog-eat-dog world"??? Because if it is, I refuse to participate in such childishness ;-)

Now let's move on to this week's factoid:

Fact: GeoCities dies in March 2019, and with it a piece of internet history.

Source: http://www.wservernews.com/go/vo5phneu/

Question: And I bet you thought that Geocities was already dead, right? Anyways, my question is this: How many of you fondly remember browsing Geocities in its heyday? And did any of you newsletter readers actually own your own piece of Geocities by putting up a web page on some topic?

Email your answer to [email protected]



Conference calendar

North America

>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

IT/Dev Connections -- Oct 15-18 in Dallas, Texas USA


Global Office 365 Developer Bootcamp -- Oct 26 in Mexico City, Mexico


SQL in the City -- Oct 26 in Chicago, Illinois


PASS Summit 2018 -- Nov. 6-9 in Seattle, Washington


SharePoint Fest -- Dec. 3-7 in Chicago, Illinois




>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

SQL in the City -- Sept Oct 18 in London, England


VMworld Europe -- Nov 5-8 in Barcelona, Spain


Cybersecurity Leadership Summit -- Nov 12-14 in Berlin, Germany


European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference -- Nov 26-29 in Copenhagen, Denmark


Directions EMEA -- Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in The Hague, Netherlands


Global Office 365 Developer Bootcamp -- Nov. 16 in Rome, Italy


Global Office 365 Developer Bootcamp -- Nov. 22 in Bern, Switzerland


Update Conference -- Nov. 22-23 in Prague, Czech Republic


European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference -- Nov. 26-29 in Copenhagen, Denmark




>> Got an IT conference happening in Australia or Asia that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

No conferences listed at present.


New on TechGenix.com

New Work Insights tool available in G Suite

Google has released a new tool for companies using its popular G Suite. This Work Insights tool will help you get the most out of G Suite.


Must-have cybersecurity skills that make you an in-demand expert

Thinking of becoming a cybersecurity expert? Or is your business looking to hire one? These are the traits that separate the winners from the also-rans.


Microsoft Ignite 2018 features host of new product announcements

Ignite 2018, Microsoft's glitzy annual conference for developers and IT professionals, was chock full of new products and big ideas.


What is a layer 3 switch and why would your network need it?

A layer 3 switch is a switch and a router built together for fast performance. Do you need layer 3 switches? What are its benefits and downsides?


The Xtreme Minute: If you phish it, they will byte

It's Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and this week's Techgenix Xtreme Podcast takes a look at getting safer — and also getting attacked.



Fun videos from Flixxy

When Art Fools Your Eyes

Hidden inside these remarkable oil paintings by Oleg Shuplyak lies a second layer of mind-blowing optical illusions:


The Incredible Flyboard Air

Franky Zapata is demonstrating the incredible flying capabilities of the 'Flyboard Air' in Naples, Florida:


Magician Mac King's Amazing Rope Trick

Mac King performs his amazing rope trick - a trick that even fools other magicians:


Golf Ball Hitting Steel At 150mph - Slow Motion (70,000 fps)

A golf ball hitting a steel plate at 150mph - filmed in super high-speed at 70,000 frames-per-second and played back in slow-motion:



 More articles of Interest

AWS cost management tools wrangle unwieldy expenses

It can be a challenge to manage AWS costs, and native tools might not effectively address. Learn how third-party vendors can help.


Evaluate speech-to-text services from AWS, Microsoft and Google

AWS, Microsoft and Google dictation services can infuse cloud applications with helpful speech-to-text capabilities. Here's an overview of what each providersbrings to the table. 


Manage APIs with connectivity-led strategy to cure data access woes

In this interview, MuleSoft founder and VP Ross Mason discusses API-led connectivity as a linchpin in an enterprise API strategy to dissolve data silos and speed adoption of new apps, such as AI and FaaS. 


AWS managed Kubernetes service intrigues, vexes IT pros

Amazon EKS generated curiosity among attendees at the AWS Summit in New York, but AWS' long-term container plans could change and alter how it packages the service to users.



Need help from the IT pro community?

WServerNews goes out each week to more than 500,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? Ask Our Readers by emailing your problems and/or questions to us at [email protected] 


Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]


WServerNews - Product of the Week

Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance 


SolarWinds® Exchange Monitor is a free tool that allows users to monitor Microsoft® Exchange™ Server 2013 and 2016. Get basic information about the server’s metrics, services, and database availability group (DAG) status. Add as many Exchange Servers as you wish. Simply click the “Add Server” button and fill IP address/domain name and credentials.

Download Free Tool

WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his  outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.