Monthly Archives: December 2015

Top Posts 2015

2015 is pretty much done and dusted and it’s been an great year in for Virtualization is Life! There was a 300% increase in site visits this year compared to 2014 and 1600% increase in visits since the first year I began blogging in 2012. In 2015 I managed to pump out 110 Posts (including this one) which meant I achieved a new years goal of at least two posts per week.

Looking back through the WordPress JetPack stats I’ve listed the top 10 Blog Posts from the last 12 months. Obviously vCloud Director and NSX dominate the top ten but it was interesting to see that two of the most generic and certainly basic posts took out the top two spots. It shows that bloggers should not be afraid of blogging around “perceived” simple topics as there is an audience that will appreciate the content and get value out of the post.

1. vSphere 6.0 vCenter Server Appliance: Upgrading from 5.x
2. Quick Post: E1000 vs VMXNET3
3. NSX Edge vs vShield Edge: Part 1 – Feature and Performance Matrix
4. VMware vCloud Director 8.0 Beta: #LongLivevCD
5. vCloud Director 8.0 Beta Kick Off – Initial Thoughts and Reaction
6. Released: vCloud Director 5.6.4 SP – Upgrade from 5.5.2.x and NSX 6.1.2 Support
7. vCloud Director SP: The Need for UI Improvement!
8. vSphere 5.5 Update 3 Released: Features and Top Fixes
9. The Reality of Cloud – Outages are Like *holes…
10. NSX vCloud Retrofit: Intro and VSM to NSX Manager Upgrade

The Top 10 reflects my passion for vCloud Director and NSX and those two technologies also dominated my professional life in 2015. On a personal level I have enjoyed writing a few more opinion pieces this year…my favourites being The Reality of Cloud Outages (#9) and a post around the failing of local Cloud provider Ninefold and how going up directly against AWS is not a smart thing in the IaaS world. That post also got picked up by @CRN_AU and syndicated here.

It was also pleasing to see so much support for my posts on vCloud Director and the need for action on the UI…I think we may have had a win there 🙂

Thanks to all my site sponsors, Veeam, PernixData, VMTurbo and Zerto…looking forward to an even bigger 2016!

#LongLivevCD

Veeam 9 – Important Cloud Connect Upgrade for VCSPs

[Update] There is a patch upgrade for v9 (build 9.0.0.773) that needs to be applied before GA which will take the build to build 9.0.0.902.

Late last week Veeam dropped the RTM build of Veeam 9 to it’s Cloud Service Provider partners. As a VCSP partner you need to be ready for the v9 GA date (at this stage set for early January) to ensure that any keen early adopters who have Cloud Connect services with providers are able to backup without issue VSCPs should upgrade their Veeam B&R 8 platforms to v9 as soon as possible.

To start with it’s best to have Veeam B&R updated to the latest patch release which is Update 3 Build 2084 and before upgrading to v9 it’s best to restart all Veeam services or better yet reboot the Veeam Management Servers…as an extra measure before beginning the upgrade you should disable all jobs.

If you have Enterprise Manager installed you will need to upgrade that first…notice below that the only available option is to upgrade Enterprise Manager.

This is a very easy upgrade and there isn’t really any gotchyas to get from v8 to v9 however you will be asked to install .NET Framework 4.5.2 before the actual upgrade process kicks off as shown below…this is in fact the longest part of the upgrade and I would recommend installing it separate before starting the Veeam upgrade. You can find the installable on the install media (ISO:\Redistr\NDP452-KB2901907-x86-x64-AllOS-ENU.exe) You will need to reboot once Enterprise Manager is installed.

You now have the option to upgrade Backup & Replication. Running through the next next install you get prompted for the license and the service account password. Once done you are set to update the Cloud Connect components via the updated console interface.

Once the Cloud Gateways, Tansports and Repositories have been upgraded you have access to the Cloud Connect Tab which now adds the Cloud Connect Replication components.

To validate the install and make sure everything is working as expected when its comes to Cloud Connect you should run a test job and make sure it goes through without issue. With full v8 backward compatibility Cloud Connect is ready for the GA release.

AWS…Complex Simplicity?

I came across a tweet over the weekend which showed a screen grab of the AWS product catalog (shown below) and a comment pointing out the fact that the sheer number of AWS services on offer by Amazon was part of the reason why they are doing so well.

The implication was that AWSs dominance was in part due to the fact they have what appears to be the complete product service catalog of Cloud and it provides a “simple”one stop shop

I’ve held a view for a while now that in order to go head to head against AWS Cloud Service Providers don’t need to go out of produce 1000+ cloud services…rather they should focus on keeping things figuratively simple by focusing on core strengths and doing what they do really well…really well.

Maybe I lack the impartiality to comment on this, but when I look at the AWS services page I get overwhelmed…and while from a technical point of view I can work through the configuration steps and multiple addon services…For small businesses looking to take their first steps into a hybrid cloud world AWS is not the panacea proclaimed by some. Even for small to large enterprises the simple fact AWS carries so much apparent choice should throw up some flags and be enough to make decision makers look at smaller more streamlined offerings that offer targeted solutions based on actual requirements.

AWS are massive…AWS are a juggernaut backed by seemingly endless research and development funding and enough scale to offer what appear to be cheaper services…and though they don’t market as much as Microsofts Azure they are still front of mind for most when cloud is talked about. Smaller providers such as IaaS in the vCloud Air Network can complete if the focus on delivery of a smaller subset of products and services is done with quality and reliability in mind…in my eyes, that’s enough to offer enough differentiation to compete.

So as a final thought…lets not be caught up with what customers think they might need…but what they actually require!

An Early Christmas Gift From VMware: vCloud UI Announcements

This is a special post…apart from being this blog’s 200th it’s a great week for all those who have dedicated time and effort into VMware’s vCloud Director…During a night of restless sleep on Monday I checked my phone and my Twitter feed to find that VMware and the vCloud Team had given us an early Christmas present:

Since we stopped development of vCD UI beyond vCD 5.5 and moved towards an API only strategy, we have received many requests from our service provider partners to return to a fully functional VCD UI. In addition to these requests, we have had other requests for a single front-end to all VMware managed cloud environments including not only VCD-SP but also those vCloud Air services managed by partners in the vCloud Air Network Managed Service Provider model as well as managed hosted environments.

 

As detailed in the blog post there are 2 announcements:

  1. As part of VMware’s ongoing commitment to VCD-SP, we plan to restart the VCD UI development and release a limited number of VCD UI features in the next release of VCD-SP scheduled later in 2016. VCD-SP API and UI development will continue with a goal to ensure UI and API parity.
  2. After completing an extensive evaluation process this year, we have entered into partnerships with both AirVM and OnApp who bring cloud management platforms for managing all VMware-based cloud environments. Both companies bring products to market to manage VCD-SP, managed vCenter and MSP (vCloud Air) cloud environments in a customizable manner.

I must admit…this feels like a massive win for the vCloud Air Network Community and the need for UI improvement for vCD has been something close to my heart over the past couple of years and in recent times (since the vCD SP 8.0 release) I’ve written a couple of posts and had follow up support from a number of vCAN Service Provider partners backing up the need for something to be done to keep vCloud Director as a strong platform choice for IaaS Providers.

Not withstanding the partnership with AirVM and OnApp the key wording for me in the blog post from the vCloud Team was that “VCD-SP API and UI development will continue with a goal to ensure UI and API parity” This is great for a number of reasons but for me the biggest benefit of that statement is the fact that while the partnerships are great a lot of partners where still venting frustration at that option from a pricing point of view…for the vCloud Air Network to be competitive at the lower levels (smaller IaaS/MSPs) all the new features and benefits of the platform need to be easily accessible via the UI. This won’t give those smaller providers automated provisioning or billing but at the very least it keeps them competitive when potential clients are looking at core Virtual Datacenter and VM management.

Again, this is great news for all vCAN Service Providers running vCloud Director and hopefully this time around VMware are well and truly committed to bettering this already solid Cloud Management Platform.

Well done vCloud Team!

#LongLivevCD

vCloud Director SP 5.6.5 Released – Key Fixes

It’s been a big week for vCloud Director! For those still running the 5.6.x SP Build there was a point release last week taking vCD SP to 5.6.5 Build 3307437. The release is mostly a bug fix but there is the added support for Internet Explorer 11 (still no Edge Support but that’s not really a worry)

There are a number of resolved issues detailed in the Release Notes and I’ve picked out a couple of the more useful fixes below. The ones in RED where issues we ran into and raised with the vCD Support team.

  • Attempts to access media files sometimes fail
    When you attempt to access a media file in vCloud Director, the operation sometimes fails with an error message similar to the following.
    The VCD entity (com.vmware.vcloud.entity.media:xxxx) does not exist
  • Attempts to upload or download an OVF or media file over a network proxy service fail
    When you attempt to upload or download an OVF or media file in vCloud Director from a system that uses a network proxy service, the operation fails.
  • PFS enabled when you redeploy an Edge gateway
    When you redeploy an Edge gateway with a PFS disabled in the VPN settings, PFS is enabled after the deployment operations completes.
  • Attempts to deploy vApps from a catalog onto SDRS enabled clusters fails
    When you attempt to deploy a vApp from a public catalog onto SDRS-enabled clusters, the operation fails with an error message similar to the following.invalidProperty = StoragePlacementSpec.podSelectionSpec.initialVmConfig[].disk[].diskId
    inherited from com.vmware.vim.binding.vmodl.fault.InvalidArgument: A specified parameter was not correct.
  • Attempts to use the vCloud API to update the DHCP service on a cloud isolated network fail
    When you attempt to update the DHCP service on a cloud isolated network by using the vCloud API, the task appears to complete, but the DHCP service remains unchanged.

There are still a number of issues with IE 11 that have workarounds listed but great to see continued improvement on the platform and that the team is actively working with vCAN partners to resolve bugs. Big thanks to the team for fixing the DHCP bug for isolated networks…that will make our dev team happy!

The vCloud Director Release History Page has also been updated here.

References:

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vcd/565/rel_notes_vcloud_director_565.html?__utma=207178772.129083480.1395064996.1449885631.1449885638.5&__utmb=207178772.1.10.1449885638&__utmc=207178772&__utmx=-&__utmz=207178772.1449885638.5.3.utmcsr=google|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=(not%20provided)&__utmv=-&__utmk=174193441

NSX Edge vs vShield Edge: Part 6 – Syslog Configuration

Overview:

Being able to view log information is critical in being able to ensure the Edge Gateway is functioning as expected. All services that the Edge provides can be logged. The NSX Edge relies on configuration and management from either the vSphere Web Client or directly via API calls which can then be consumed via a REST API interface or via a customer written portal such as Zettagrid’s MyAccount Portal.

  • DHCP (Service Wide)
  • NAT (Individual Rules)
  • Firewall (Individual Rules)
  • IPSec VPN (Service Wide)
  • SSL-VPN Plus (Service Wide)
  • Routing (Service Wide)
  • Load Balancer(Service Wide)

There are a number of logging levels available:

  • Debug
  • Alert
  • Critical
  • Error
  • Warning
  • Notice
  • Info
  • Debug

Each selected level will provide a different level of messaging with Debug being the noisiest level.

You can configure one or two remote syslog servers. NSX Edge Service events and logs related to firewall events that flow from NSX Edge appliances are sent to the syslog servers. There are a number of Syslog Servers that are available for download or you might have your own flavor deployed already into your environment.

DHCP:

Under the DHCP Tab where the service is enabled check the box and select the logging level.

Routing:

Under the Routing Tab under Global Configuration and Dynamic Routing Configuration, click on the Edit button and check the box and select the logging level.

Load Balancer:

Under the Load Balancer Tab under Global Configuration click on the edit button check the box and select the logging level

VPN:

Under the VPN Tab and under IPSec VPN expand the Logging Policy (you can see the consistency in the Web UI coming through here) check the Enable Logging box and select the logging level. Once that’s done click on the Publish Changes button to commit the config.

SSL VPN-Plus:

Under the SSL VPN-Plus Tab and under Server Settings expand the Logging Policy and click on Change button check the box and select the logging level.

NAT:

Every NAT rule can be logged individually. To enable this check the Enable Logging box while configuring or editing each NAT Rule.

Firewall Rule:

Finally each Firewall rule can be logged individually. To enable logging under the Firewall Tab when configuring or modifying the Action even of a rule you have the option to select Log or Do Not Log as shown below.

Configuring Syslogging via the NSX API:

Below are the key API commands to configure and manage Logging.




Preserving VSAN + DELL PERC Critical Drivers after ESXi 6.0 CBT Update

Last week VMware released a patch to fix another issue with Change Block Tracking (CBT) which took the ESXi 6.0 Update 1 Build to 3247720. The update bundle contains a number of updates to the esx-base including the resolution of the CBT issue.

This patch updates the esx-base VIB to resolve an issue that occurs when you run virtual machine backups which utilize Changed Block Tracking (CBT) in ESXi 6.0, the CBT API call QueryDiskChangedAreas() might return incorrect changed sectors that results in inconsistent incremental virtual machine backups. The issue occurs as the CBT fails to track changed blocks on the VMs having I/O during snapshot consolidation.

Having just deployed and configured a new Management Cluster consisting of four ESXI 6.0 Update 1 hosts running VSAN I was keen to get the patch installed so that VDP based backups would work without issue however once I had deployed the update (via esxcli) to the first three hosts I saw that the VSAN Health Checker was raising a warning against the cluster. Digging into the VSAN Health Check Web Client Monitor view I saw the following under HCL Health -> Controller Driver Test

As I posted early November there was an important driver and firmware update that was released by VMware and DELL that resolved a number of critical issues with VSAN when put under load. The driver package is shown above against node-104 as 6.606.12.00-1OEM.600.0.0.2159203 and that shows a Passed Driver Health state. The others are all in the Warning state and the version is 6.605.08.00-7vmw.600.1.17.3029758.

What’s happened here is that the ESXi Patch has “updated” the Controller driver to the latest VMware driver number and has overwritten the driver released on the 19th of May and the one listed on the VMware VSAN HCL Page. The simple fix is to reinstall the OEM drivers so that you are left back with the VSAN Health Status as shown below.

Interestingly the Device now shows up as a Avago (LSI) MegaRAID SAS Invader Controller instead of a FD332-PERC (Dual ROC) … I questioned that with a member of the VSAN team and it looks as though that is indeed the OEM name for the FD332 Percs.

So be aware when updating ESXi builds to ensure the updated drivers haven’t removed/replaced it with anything that’s going to potentially give you a really bad time with VSAN…or any other component for that matter.

References:

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2137546

vCloud Air and Virtustream – Ok…So This Might Not Happen!

Last week I wrote a piece on the talk around vCloud Air’s demise or more to the point…the often suggested demise of VMware’s Public Cloud Platform. The basis for this talk was VMware’s partnership with Google and the joint venture with Virtustream happening as part of the DELL/EMC Merger. For those that missed that post have a read here…but in a nutshell I talked about how VMware can exploit its advantage in the hypervisor space given that the Hybrid Cloud market will be the dominate flavour of Cloud and IaaS for the foreseeable future with a 90 Billion Dollar Hybrid Market by 2020.

Literally a day after writing the post on how vCloud Air and Air Network Partners are critical to VMware’s future cloud play and how the joint venture with Virtustream would be beneficial for VMware and vCloud Air Partners in general I came across this tweet.

While that came a little bit of a shock initially there has been a few more articles surface in the last week that explain the reasons behind this likely about face.

I’m not a financial analyst, but the reasons and explanation behind the impact on the VMW stock price felt on the day of the vCloud Air/Virtustream Cloud Business Unit announcement make sense and the VMW stock has started to semi correct it’s self since rumors of the joint venture being no more came to light.

The issue was that under the original terms, VMware would assume much of the cost of Virtustream’s growing-but-expensive enterprise cloud business and that would hurt the price of VMware’s tracking stock set up as part of the EMC-deal. Now, EMC would assume those costs.

My humble take is that the dollars have gotten in the way of what would have been a really good partnership for both VMware and Virtustream…both sides appeared to bring serious synergies to the joint venture and it was looking really positive for vCloud Air Network partners to benefit from the joining of both sides features and smarts…that said I’m sure all my VMware mates with VMW stock are happy…but that aside VMware and its partners need vCloud Air to remain strong and for serious development to continue on vCloud Director or else that 90 billion dollar Hybrid market will start to go elsewhere.

References:

http://fortune.com/2015/11/25/emc-tweaks-vmware-cloud-deal/
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/24/us-emc-virtustream-https://twitter.com/ThepHuck/status/671145323541241856