Monthly Archives: August 2016

VMworld 2016: Cross Cloud Platform – Raw Thoughts

I’m still trying to process the VMworld 2016 Day 1 Keynote in my mind…trying to make sense of the mixed messages that myself and others took away from the 90 minute opening. Before I continue, I’ll point out that this is going to be raw post with opinions that are purely driven buy what I saw and heard during the keynote…I haven’t had much time to validate my thoughts although from my brief discussions with others here at the conference (and on Twitter) it’s clear that the Cross Cloud migration tech preview is an attempt at VMware catering to the masses. I’ll explain below why that’s both a good and bad thing and why the vCloud Air Network should be rightly miffed about what we saw demoed on stage.

Yesterday’s opening was all about Pat trying to make sure that everyone who was listening understood that VMware is still cool and relevant. The message around be_tomorrow was lost for me by the overall message that VMware has grown up and matured, but are still capable of producing teen like excitement through cool and hip technologies. If there was ever a direct reaction to the disruptive competitors VMware has had to deal with (looking at you Nutanix) then this was corporates attempt to mitigate that threat. Not sure that it worked, but did it really need to be done when you are effectively preaching to the converted?

Pat Gelsinger used his keynote to introduce the VMware® Cross-Cloud Architecture™. This is a game-changing new architecture that, as he says, “will enable customers to run, manage, connect, and secure applications across clouds and devices in a common operating environment.

During the first part of the keynote things where looking good for the vCAN with vCloud Air not getting much of a mention over the strong growth in the vCAN as shown on stage in the image above. Pat then went through and talked about trends in public and private clouds which lead into the messaging that Hybrid Cloud is the way of the future…no one cloud will rule them all. This isn’t new messaging and I agree 100% that there is a place in the world for all types of clouds, from the HyperScalers through to the smaller but more agile IaaS providers and managed private clouds.

AWSworld? – vCloud Air Network Concerns:

The second part of the keynote was where things got a little confusing for me. We saw two demo’s of Cross Cloud Architecture in tech preview. Let me start by saying that the UI looked consistent and modern and even managed to integrate vRealize Network Insight (Arkin) seamlessly and the NSX network extension is a brilliant step forward in being able to extend cloud networks between on-premises to public to vCAN Service Provider.

Where things got a little awkward for me was when the demo of the Cross Cloud Management console went through managing services and instances on AWS and Azure…without any mention or example or listing of any vCAN service provider. Not withstanding the focus on the growing partnership with IBM Softlayer in the new Cloud Foundation ecosystem that naturally competes directly against vCAN service providers the specific focus of AWS made a lot of providers uneasy.

Now, I understand that the vCAN can’t do everything and the there is an existing and future sense of inevitability around clients using more hyper-scale cloud services…but here is why I found this to be a bit of a slap in the face to the 4000+ strong vCAN. If you are going to demo the use of cross cloud why not focus on what the hyper-scalers do best that is PaaS? Don’t demo creating and moving traditional workload instances on AWS and then move it to Azure.

Again, this is a raw post and I do need to digest this a little more and I will follow up with a more in depth post and make no mistake that I do see value in the tool…but it does nothing to build and grow the vCAN…and that is the sore point at this point in time.

Veeam’s Next Big Thing – Veeam has Arrived!

Today Veeam has made a number of huge announcements around their plans for the future of availability in the form of a live 90 minute keynote where they unveiled their product vision. No less than five huge major products and features where announced that will be released around the time of Veeam 9.5 and anchored by the Veeam Availability Platform for the Hybrid Cloud which focuses on Enterprise Continuity, Workload Mobility and Compliance and Visibility.

Taking a look at the platform stack above it’s clear to see that Veeam is clear in it’s direction in that for the first time there is a clear solution stack that is shown. This signals Veeam’s coming of age and for me, signals that they finally have grown up to be a true leader in the virtualisation, backup and platform management spaces. What is also pleasing to see is that Veeam Cloud Connect underpins the stack to break out backup and replication to public and private clouds.

Key Features and Announcements:

As mentioned there are a number of key features and announcements that where announced.

  • New Veeam Agents: Previously Veeam Endpoint there are new Veeam Agents for Windows and Linux that ensures availability either on premises or offsite to a cloud repository. Having a look at the table below you can see that there are three editions being released that include enterprise features such as application aware processing, flexible scheduling and retention options all while being able to backup directly to Cloud Connect repositories. One of the key points here is that this covers physical workloads as well by way of the Server version!
  • Veeam Backup for Office 365: Yep, backup Office 365 Mailboxes! Mitigate the risks of loosing access to your email data and ensures availability to your users.
  • Enterprise Scalability Features: Scale effectively regardless of the size of your environment or the number of VMs with enhanced processing engines leading to backup and restore acceleration.
  • Advanced ReFS Integration: Greater performance and capacity efficiency for large scale datasets which allow for shorter backup windows, lower storage load, reduced consumption and more reliable forever forward incremental archiving.
  • Veeam One 9.5: Includes new chargeback function for Veeam Cloud Service Providers with the ability to charge for consumed resources that covers vSphere, vCloud Director and Hyper-V.
  • Veeam Availability Orchestrator: Disaster recovery orchestration for the enterprise doing this via defined recovery plans, automated DR Testing for non disruptive disaster recovery testing all while being compliant through built in documenting and and reporting.
  • Veeam Availability Console: A cloud enabled platform for Service Providers and enterprises enabling management of remote offices and giving partners the ability to launch new business through DRaaS and BaaS managed services.
  • V10 Preview: Finally a tease of a v10 feature with IBM storage integration.

A lot of these features attempt to hit the enterprise market directly, while retaining focus on the current addressable market. I’ll update this page a over the next few days with some of the announced release dates for the products and features listed above.

Make no mistake this is huge and Veeam continued to enable customers to consume backup and replication with ease and continues to innovate around brilliantly simple products that just work! As shown below, Veeam has a strong track record of innovating and being first to market.

Looking forward, this is set to continue with the release of Veeam 9.5 and beyond.

VMworld 2016 – #vGolf Las Vegas – Final Details + Sponsors

[UPDATE] – WE HAVE REACHED CAPACITY – APOLOGIES TO THOSE THAT MISSED OUT

With VMworld now a week away, I am pleased to announce that #vGolf 2016 has a venue and has sponsorship. The awesome part of securing sponsorship is that we are able to play at the amazing Bali Hai Golf Course Las Vegas! The course looks like it will provide a near once in a lifetime golfing experience right in full view of the VMworld Convention at Mandalay Bay!

With that, thanks to the sponsors below for contributing to the event.

 

Full Details:

  • Date: Sunday 28th Aug
  • Location: Bali Hai Golf Course Las Vegas
  • Arrival Time: 6:30am-6:45am (no later)
  • Tee Off Time: 7am
  • Format: 9 Holes – 4 Ball Ambrose, Random Teams
  • Cost: $40 Including Green Fees, Club Hire, Cart Hire and Unlimited Practice Balls
  • Payment: Cash on the day
  • Prize: #vGolf Bragging Rights

At the moment we have 16 confirmed to tee off with a few still to confirm via Twitter DM. For those still interested please fill out the form below ASAP as there is a limit of 24 players. If you have filled out the form and haven’t sent me your email address please amend the form or send me your email via DM.

#vGolf Registration

Thanks to the sponsors for coming on board! To put it into perspective to play 9 holes at this course would usually cost $130 for 9 holes with all the trimmings…as I said this will be a true golfing experience and I am looking forward to kicking off VMworld with everyone who makes it nice and early!

Directions

vExpert Pivot: NSX and VSAN Program Announcements

This week the VMware vExpert team officially lifted the lid on two new subprograms that focus on NSX and VSAN. The announcements signal a positive move for the vExpert program that had come under some criticism over the past two or so years around the fact that the program had lost some of it’s initial value. As I’ve mentioned previously the program is unmistakably an advocacy program first and foremost and those who are part of the vExpert group should be active contributors in championing VMware technologies as well as being active in their spheres of influence.

Corey and the rest of the team have responded to the calls for change by introducing vExpert Specialties now more in line to what Microsoft does with it’s MVP Program. The first specializations are focused on VMware’s core focus products of NSX and VSAN…these programs are built on the base vExpert program and the group is chosen from existing vExperts who have shown and demonstrated contribution to each technology. The VSAN announcement blog articulates the criteria perfectly.

This group of individuals have passion and enthusiasm for technology, but more importantly, have demonstrated significant activity and evangelism around VSAN.

With that, I am extremely proud to be part of both the inaugural NSX and VSAN vExpert program. It’s some reward and acknowledgment for the content I have created and contributed to for both technologies since their release. Substance is important when it comes to awarding community contribution and as I look through the list I see nothing but substance and quality in the groups.

Again, this is a great move by the vExpert team and I’m looking forward to it reinvigorating the program. I’ve pasted linked below to my core NSX and VSAN content…I’m especially proud of the NSX Bytes series which continues to do well in terms of people still seeking out the content. More recently I have done a bit of work around VSAN and upgrading VSAN from Hybrid to All Flash series was well received. Feel free to browse the content below and look forward to catching up with everyone at VMworld US.

References:

vExpert NSX 2016 Award Announcement

Announcing the 2016 VSAN vExperts

VMworld 2016: Top Session Picks

VMworld 2016 is just around the corner (10 days and counting) and the theme this year is be_Tomorrow …which looks to build on the Ready for Any and Brave IT messages from the last couple of VMworld events. It’s a continuation of VMware’s call to arms to get themselves and their partners and customers prepared for the shift in the IT of tomorrow. This will be my fourth VMworld and I am looking forward to spending time networking with industry peers, walking around the Solutions Exchange on the look out out for the next Rubrik or Platform9 and attending Technical Sessions.

http://www.vmworld.com/uscatalog.jspa

The Content Catalog went live a few weeks ago and the Session Builder has also been live allowing attendees to lock in sessions. There are a total of 817 sessions this year, up from the 752 sessions last year. I’ve listed the main tracks with the numbers fairly similar to last year.

Cloud Native Applications (17)
End-User Computing (97)
Hybrid Cloud (63)
Partner Exchange @ VMworld (74)
Software-Defined Data Center (504)
Technology Deep Dives & Futures (22)

VMware’s core technology focus around VSAN and NSX again has the lions share of sessions this time year, with EUC still a very popular subject. It’s pleasing to see a lot of vCloud Air Network related sessions in the list (for a detailed look at the vCAN Sessions read my previous post) and there is a solid amount of Cloud Native Application content. Below are my top picks for this year:

  • Virtual SAN – Day 2 Operations [STO7534]
  • Advanced Network Services with NSX [NET7907]
  • A Day in the Life of a VSAN I/O [STO7875]
  • vSphere 6.x Host Resource Deep Dive [INF8430]
  • The Architectural Future of Network Virtualization [NET8193R]
  • Conducting a Successful Virtual SAN 6.2 Proof of Concept [STO7535]
  • How to design and implement VMware’s vCloud in production [SDDC9612-SPO]
  • PowerNSX and PyNSXv: Using PowerShell and Python for Automation and Management of VMware NSX for vSphere [NET7514]
  • Evolving the vSphere API for the Modern Era [INF8255]
  • Multisite Networking and Security with Cross-vCenter NSX: Part 2 [NET7861R]

My focus seems to have shifted back towards more vCloud Director and Network/Hybrid Cloud automation of late and it’s reflected in the choices above. Along side that I am also very interested to see how VMware position vCloud Air after the shambles of the past 12 months and I always I look forward to hearing from respected industry technical leads Frank Denneman, Chris Wahl and Duncan Epping as they give their perspective on storage and software defined datacenters and automation. This year I’m also looking at what the SABU Tech Marketing Team are up to around VSAN and VSAN futures.

As has also become tradition, there are a bunch of bloggers who put out their Top picks for VMworld…check out the links below for more insight into what’s going to be hot in Las Vegas this VMworld. Hope to catch up with as many community folk as possible while over so if you are interested in a chat, hit me up!

My top 15 VMworld sessions for 2016

Top 5 Log Insight VMworld Sessions

be_TOMORROW at VMworld 2016 – Key Storage and Availability Activities

 

My Top Session picks for VMworld 2016

http://www.mindthevirt.com/top-vmworld-sessions-category-1247

Rubrik: Firefly for Physical, RoBo and Multi-Cloud

Rubrik have today announced an expansion to their existing Converged Data Management Backup Appliances adding Cloud Data Management that leverages Rubrik’s data protection that is “Cloudy” and topology agnostic. They have also announced the ability to backup more physical workloads and an virtual appliance for remote or branch offices. They also announced the raising of $61 million in Series C funding led by Khosla Ventures which takes their total in raised funding to $112 million since early 2014 and adds to the impressive list of investors in the startup.

The four main features being added in Firefly are:

  • Physical MSSQL
  • Physical Linux
  • Virtual Appliance
  • Erasure Coding

These additions are now fairly standard in the industry and great to see Rubrik adding them to their arsenal. The MSSQL features installs a connector service that becomes an endpoint that handles communications between the Rubrik brick and MSSQL server. The Linux feature actually covers both physical and virtual Linux severs and provides the ability to restore file systems, paths or files.

The Edge appliance is an OVA deployment of Rubrik for remote or branch offices which can be used to replicate and archive to a physical appliance. Azure blob storage has also been added as an archival location. The erasure coding will deliver approximately 2x capacity and increase storage utilization and efficiency.

This new release builds on the features added in 2.0 like Role Based Access Control which was sorely missed from the original releases. There is also enhanced compliance reporting and log and audit monitoring and have built on their encryption and security features.

Overall more good news from Rubrik and looking forward to seeing them continue to improve and add features during and after VMworld. If you want to know more about Firefly you can book a one on one at the Rubrik booth here.

 

vCD SP 8.10 New Features Part 3 – Storage Tiering and Storage Management

vCloud Director SP 8.10 has been out for a couple months now and the general buzz around this release has been extremely positive. The decision to expose the previously API only features has been warmly welcomed by most vCloud Air Network Service Providers and I have heard of quiet a few looking to deploy or plan deployment of vCD SP 8.10 into their hosting platforms.

In Part One I went through the new NSX supportability improvements and in Part Two I went through the tenant ability to configure VM affinity and anti-affinity rules. In Part Three I am going to go through something that’s been available via the API since vCD 5.6.3 SP but is now exposed via the UI and also take a look at a new feature around the limiting of the max size of a tenant VMDKs in a vCD environment.

  • VM Disk Level Storage Profiles – Allows a single virtual machine (VM) to access different tiers of storage such as storage area network (SAN), network-attached storage (NAS), and local storage to help balance storage cost vs. storage performance. VMware vCloud Director 5.6 also supports VMware Virtual SAN.

Fast Provisioning:

Before showing the new UI Storage Profile features it’s worth mentioning that this will not work if you have vDCs configured with fast provisioning enabled. If you try to configure multiple profiles against a VM you will get a “Cannot use multiple storage profiles in a fast-provisioned VDC” error message.

Fast provisioning was introduced with vCloud Director 1.5 and enables speeding up a cloning process when deploying vApps from catalog or copying VMs. It utilizes vSphere linked clones where the base image is not cloned, instead a delta disk is created to record changed blocks.

Great in theory, but also carries some caveats…not allowing VM Disk level storage profiles being one of them. If turned on, head to the Storage Tab of the vDC and uncheck the option as shown below.

VM Disk Level Storage Profiles:

There isn’t a lot that needs explaining in terms of what can now be achieved through the UI to better provision and manage different storage requirements on a per VM disk basis. vCD Storage Profiles directly plug into vCenter Storage Policies and inherit the characteristics passed through from vCenter into vCD via the Provider vDC. These are then allocated to vDCs as shown in the image above. Generally speaking these policies map back to different tiers of storage and allow the Service Provider to offering different service levels at different price points.

As an example a tenant may have a requirement to have a large file server that doubles as a Domain Controller (it happens more than you think) for the System drive the requirements might state that you need SAS backed storage and SATA backed for a secondary volume. This can now be achieved through the vCD UI as shown below.

You can see above that Disk 0 is on ioSTOR-500 and Disk 1 is on ioSTOR-250. The example above is for the adding of new disks to a VM…you can also change the Storage Profile while a VM is on. This will trigger a Storage vMotion in the background if required as shown below.

Limiting Maximum Disk Size:

There are some scenarios where a Service Providers might want to limit the max size of tenant VMDKs in order to comply with capacity planning requirements or storage level constraints. The current max size for a VMDK in vSphere is 62TB and being realistic there are not too many Service Providers out there who provision datastores that size. Typically, the storage limits applied at an allocation pool should limit the creation of stupidly large disks by tenants, but there is the possibility that someone with deep pockets purchasing large amounts of storage could try to provision a VM (thin or not) Disk larger than the datastores underpinning the storage policy.

To set the global disk limit you use the cell-management-tool command on any vCD cell in the instance. Once run the value is honors immediately and without restart of the vCD services as shown in the example below that limits the disks to 500GB.

./cell-management-tool manage-config -n vmlimits.disk.capacity.maxMb -v 500000

Once configured, if a tenant tries to provision a disk bigger than the limit they will get an error stating that the “Requested disk size exceeds maximum allowed capacity“.

References:

https://fojta.wordpress.com/tag/fast-provisioning/

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vcd/8-10/rel_notes_vcloud_director_8-10.html

Veeam 9 Update 2 Released – Cloud Connect Enhancements

A couple of weeks ago Veeam Cloud Service Provider would have received an email informing them that Update 2 for Veeam 9 Backup & Replication had been RTM’ed and was available to download for Cloud Connect partners and selected Veeam customers with outstanding support cases. The update introduces a couple of significant feature enhancement for Cloud Connect Replication and a few outstanding bug fixes as well as some updates to the core Backup & Replication product. Update 2 is now generally available and can be downloaded here.

Unlike previous patch releases services providers don’t have to upgrade right away as no matter what…versions of V9 Build 9.0.0.902 or 9.0.0.1491 are compatible with server or client versions of Build 9.0.0.1715 and vice versa. I’d still recommended that VCSPs upgrade as soon as their change processes allows to gain the extra functionality.

Before heading into the Cloud Connect enhancements and fixes, great news for VCSPs running vCloud Director or/and VSAN, with this update bringing compatibility for vCD SP 8.10 and VSAN 6.2.

General Cloud Connect:

Enhancements include improved cloud service stability under heavy load, license expiration grace period functionality works correctly for rental licenses and licensed VM count is now correctly enforced, instead of issuing errors. Update 2 also introduces usage reporting for rental licenses directly from the user interface. This functionality lays groundwork for automated usage reporting in the future and is to be used as a beta initially. VCSPs should if possible, submit usage reports through the user interface and provide feedback. Automated usage reporting functionality is enabled by selecting the “Update license key automatically” check box in the License Information window.

Please note that on the first day of the month, each backup server upgraded to 9.0 Update 2 and operating with a service provider rental license will generate a usage report for the previous month. The report is saved on the backup server (or Enterprise Manager server, if present) for your reference. It can be reviewed and modified as necessary in the first 10 days of the month. After that, if the “Update license key automatically” check box is selected, the backup server (or Enterprise Manager server) will send the report to Veeam. See KB article 2144 for more information).

Cloud Connect Replication

Enhancements include support for Planned Failover functionality whereby tenants can now perform planned failovers to achieve zero data loss for when a disaster can be predicted in advance. There is support for the Network Extension Appliances on Hyper-V and the ability to exclude IP addresses in the service provider side NEA firewall. There where a number of issues addressed for both partial and full site failover functionality and the Network mapping functionality now works correctly when VMware Distributed Virtual Switch are in use.

Overall another solid Update from Veeam that further enhances the industry leading Backup & Replication platform and it’s Cloud Connect Backup and Replication technology.

References:

https://www.veeam.com/kb2147

PowerCLI Script to Calculate VSAN vCAN Points Per Month

There is no doubt that new pricing introduced to vCAN Service Providers announced just after VSAN 6.2 was released meant that Service Providers looking at VSAN for their IaaS or MSP offerings that had previously written it off due to price, could once again consider it as a viable and price competitive option. As of writing this blog post there is no way to meter the new reporting mechanism automatically through the existing vCloud Usage Meter with the current 3.5 beta also lacking the ability to report billing info.

I had previously come across a post from @virten that contained a PowerCLI script to calculate VSPP points based on the original allocated GB model. With VSAN 6.2 pricing was now based on a consumed GB model which was a significant win for those pushing for a more competitive pricing structure to be able to push a now mature VSAN as a platform of choice.

Before I post the code it’s worth noting that I am still not 100% happy with the interpretation of the reporting:

The VsanSpaceUsage(vim.cluster.VsanSpaceUsage) data object has the following two properties which vCAN partners can use to pull Virtual SAN usage information: a) totalCapacityB (total Virtual SAN capacity in bytes) and b) freeCapacityB (free Virtual SAN capacity in bytes). Subtracting b) from a) should yield the desired “Used Capacity” information for monthly reporting.

I read that to say that you report for any fault tolerance or data resiliency overheads…that is to say if you have a VM with a 100GB hard disk consuming 50GB on a VSAN datastore utilizing RAID1 and an FTT=1 you will pay for the 100GB that is actually consumed.

With that in mind I had to add in a multiplier into the original script I had hacked together to cater for the fault tolerance and raid level you may run. The rest is pretty self explanatory and I have built on @virtens original script by asking for which vCenter you want to log into, what VSAN licensing model you are using and then finally ask for the RAID and FTT levels you are running. The result is the total amount of consumed storage of all VM disks residing on the VSAN datastore (which is the only value hard coded) and then the amount of vCAN points you would be up for per month with and without the overhead tax.

The code is below, please share and improve and note that I provide it as is and should be used as such. Please let me know if I’ve made any glaring mistakes…

If someone can also let me know how to round numbers and capture an incorrect vCenter login gracefully and exit that would be excellent! – [EDIT] Thanks to Virten for jumping on that! Code updated!

References:

PowerCLI Script to Calculate VSAN VSPP Points

VSAN 6.2: Reminder About Important Fix

[UPDATE] This issue is resolved in VMware ESXi 6.0, Patch Release ESXi600-201608001. For more information, see VMware ESXi 6.0, Patch Release ESXi600-201608001 (2145663).

Last week VMware released an important KB based around an issue with VSAN 6.2 where some VMs residing on existing Hybrid VSAN datastores may exhibit reduced disk IO performance after an upgrade. In a nutshell the issue is caused by a new operation that’s linked to the new deduplication and compression features in VSAN 6.2. The issue affects only VSAN 6.2 Hybrid deployments and is obviously not applicable to All Flash VSAN Clusters.

If impacted you may see:

  • A significantly lower than expected read cache hit ratio is observed on VSAN caching tier.
  • A higher percentage of IOPS may be observed on capacity tier disks on Hybrid diskgroups when compared from previous 6.x systems.
  • Overall increased VM observed latency

This issue is caused by VSAN 6.2 performing low level scanning for unique blocks, which is related to deduplication, can still occur on VSAN hybrid disk groups. This causes performance deterioration on Hybrid Disk groups, as it has a significant read caching performance impact on the SSD cache tier of VSAN disk groups.

The Workaround:

To work around this issue, if you are using a Hybrid configuration, you can turn off the dedup scanner option on each VSAN host in the VSAN Hybrid cluster. The way to turn it off is to modify the advanced setting lsomComponentDedupScanType which is set to a default value of 2. For the workaround you set that to 0. The easiest way to archive this is through PowerCLI as shown below.

Note that each host needs to be rebooted for the settings to take affect so go through the normal process of ensuring hosts go into VSAN maintenance mode before reboot.

Also worth mentioning a PowerCLI script that Jase McCarty has put up on GitHub that Gets/Sets the Deduplication Scanner settings with the use of some checks via a PowerCLI script that accepts variables.

https://github.com/jasemccarty/DedupeScan

References:

https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2146267

« Older Entries