Category Archives: vCloud

Worth a Repost: Debunking Three Common Myths Around vCloud Director #LongLivevCD

It seems that all with all the announcements of late around VMware’s (re)shifting Hybrid Cloud strategy with Cross Cloud Foundation and VMware’s partnership with AWS people where again asking what is happening with vCloud Director. While vCD is still not available for VMware’s enterprise customers, the vCloud Director platform has officially never been in a stronger position. Those who where lucky to attend the various product team NDA and SIG sessions at VMworld US and Europe have an idea of not only whats coming…but also that there has been a serious ramp up in focus and development.

Those outside the vCAN inner circles probably didn’t know this and I still personally field a lot of questions about vCD and where it sits in regards to VMware’s plans. Apparently the vCloud Team has sought to clear the air about vCloud Director’s future and posted this fairly emotive blog post overnight. I’ve reposted the article below:

MythBusters: Debunking Three Common Myths Around vCloud Director

For while now, there’s been some speculation that VMware vCloud Director was no longer a priority for VMware – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. With the release of vCloud Director 8.10 this spring, VMware has doubled down on its dedication to enhancing the product, and we’ve even expanded our training program to keep pace with the evolving needs of its users.

Make no mistake, vCloud Director fits into VMware’s larger vision for the software defined data center (SDDC) now more than ever before. So let’s take the time to clear up a few of the biggest misconceptions out there today.

  • MYTH #1 – vCloud Director is End-of-Life or End-of-Support: Not at all! In May 2016, VMware released vCloud Director 8.10, the latest version of the product, in response to customer feedback and an industry-wide move to the hybrid cloud. New features in this release includes distributed resource scheduler affinity and anti-affinity for VMs and UI integration of NSX for heightened security. To get customers up to speed with the new release, our team has launched a free vCloud Director 8.10 Fundamentals eLearning course, and after VMworld Europe, we plan to expand these offerings through new vCloud Director Hands-on Labs via the VMware HOL Online portal. Later this month, we are also offering an extensive 5-day lab from October 31 – November 4, titled “vCloud Director 8.10: Install, Configure, Manage” that walks participants through the process of building a data center environment that leverages not only vCloud Director but also Virtual SAN and NSX.
  • MYTH #2 – Usage is Lagging: False! In fact, the opposite is true. Not only is usage of vCloud Director increasing, but it’s reaching new levels of growth.Look no further than Zettagrid, a cloud computing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider, which deployed vCloud Director to simplify data center provisioning. Or iland, an award-winning enterprise cloud infrastructure provider that uses vCloud Director to supply greater flexibility and customization to its clients. Furthermore, VMware continues to partner with members of its independent software vendor program group to catalogue and support the most recent products built by ISVs that are compatible with VCD through it through the VMware solution exchange. vCloud Director has proven itself a valued partner for customers across industries and hybrid cloud ecosystems, and version 8.10 only solidifies VMware’s continued commitment to the product and its users.
  • MYTH #3 – User Interface (UI) is Static: Wrong again. You spoke, and we listened. A change in direction from previous versions, the release of vCloud Director 8.10 demonstrated a commitment to the UI by exposing all features directly through the UI and achieving feature parity with the API. Features now available on the UI include storage profiling, tenant throttling, and self-service VDC templates that give vCloud Director a more robust and flexible platform for delivering IaaS solutions.

Through a combination feature updates that increase agility, new training opportunities, and an enhanced UI with heightened functionality, VMware continues to actively invest in the vCloud Director user experience. Rest assured, there’s more to come.

So overall, that’s a pretty blunt message from the vCloud Director SP Product team that..for the foreseeable future vCloud Director is here to stay and continue to be improved upon. Again, I’ll state with absolute fact that there is no more stable and mature multi-tenant cloud management platform in the market today for IaaS. Look out for the next BETA release and also for Alliance partners like Veeam building even stronger offerings on top of vCloud Director.

Rest assured, there’s more to come.

References:

MythBusters: Debunking Three Common Myths Around vCloud Director

 

VMware on AWS: vCloud Director and What Needs to be Done to Empower the vCAN

Last week VMware and Amazon Web Services officially announced their new joint venture whereby VMware technology will be available to run as a service on AWS in the form of bare-bones hardware with vCenter, ESXi, NSX and VSAN as the core VMware technology components. This isn’t some magic whereby ESXi is nested or emulated upon the existing AWS platform, but a fully fledged dedicated virtual datacenter offering that clients can buy through VMware and have VMware manage the stack right up to the core vCenter components.

Earlier in the week I wrote down some thoughts around the possible impact to the vCloud Air Network this new offering could have. While at first glance it would appear that I was largely negative towards the announcement, after having a think about the possible implications I started to think about how this could be advantageous for the vCloud Air Network. What it comes down to is how much VMware was to open up the API’s for all components hosted on AWS and how the vCloud Director SP product team develops around those API’s.

From there it will be on vCloud Air Network partners that have the capabilities to tap into the VMC’s. I believe there is an opportunity here for vCAN Service Providers to go beyond offering just IaaS and combine their offerings with the VMware AWS offering as well as help extend out to offer AWS PaaS without the worry that traditional VM workloads will be migrated to AWS.

For this to happen though VMware have to do something they haven’t done in the past…that is, commit to making sure vCAN providers can cash in on the opportunity and be empowered by the opportunity to grow VMware based services… as I mentioned in my original post:

In truth VMware have been very slow…almost reluctant to pass over features that would allow this cross cloud compatibility and migration be even more of a weapon for the vCAN by holding back on features that allowed on-premises vCenter and Workstation/Fusion connect directly to vCloud Air endpoints in products such as Hybrid Cloud Manager. I strongly believed that those products should have been extended from day zero to have the ability to connect to any vCloud Director endpoint…it wasn’t a stretch for that to occure as it is effectively the same endpoint but for some reason it was strategically labeled as a “coming soon” feature.

Extending vCloud Director SP:

I have taken liberty to extend the VMWonAWS graphic to include what I believe should be the final puzzle in what would make the partnership sit well with existing vCloud Air Network providers…that is, allow vCloud Director SP to bridge the gap between the on-premises compute, networking and storage and the AWS based VMware platform infrastructure.

vCloud Director is a cloud management platform that abstracts physical resources from vCenter and interacts with NSX to build out networking resources via the NSX Manager API’s…with that it’s not hard in my eyes to allow any exposed vCenter or NSX Manager to be consumed by vCloud Director.

With that allowed, any AWS vCenter dedicated instance can become a Virtual Datacenter object in vCloud Director and consumed by an organisation. For vCloud Air Network partners who have the ability to programatically interact with the vCloud Director APIs, this all of a sudden could open up another 70+ AWS locations on which to allow their customers to deploy Virtual Datacenters.

Take that one step further and allow vCD to overlay on-premises compute and networking resources and then allow connectivity between all locations via NSX hybridity and you have a seriously rock solid solution that extends a customer on-premises to a more conveniently placed (remember AWS isn’t everywhere) vCloud Air Network platform that can in turn consume/burst into a VMware Dedicated instance on AWS and you now have something that rivals the much hyped Hybrid Cloud Strategy of Microsoft and the Azure Stack.

What Needs to Happen:

It’s pretty simple…VMware need to commit to continued/accelerated development of vCloud Director SP (which has already begun in earnest) and give vCloud Air Network providers the ability to consume both ways…on-premises and on VMware’s AWS platform. VMware need to grant this capability to vCloud Air Network providers from the outset and not play the stalling game that was apparent when it came to feature parity with vCloud Air.

What I have envisioned isn’t far off becoming a reality…vCloud Director is mature and extensible enough to do what I have described above, and I believe that in my recent dealings with the vCloud Director product and marketing teams at VMworld US earlier this year that there is real belief in the team that the cloud management platform will continue to improve and evolve…if VMware allow it to.

Further improving on vCloud Directors maturity and extensibility, if the much maligned UI is improved as promised…with the upcoming addition of full NSX integration completing the network stack, the next step in greater adoption beyond the 300 odd vCAN SPs currently use vCloud Director needs a hook…and that hook should be VMWonAWS.

Time will tell…but there is huge potential here. VMware need to deliver to their partners in order to have that VMWonAWS potential realised.

 

VMware on AWS: Thoughts on the Impact to the vCloud Air Network

Last week VMware and Amazon Web Services officially announced their new joint venture whereby VMware technology will be available to run as a service on AWS in the form of bare-bones hardware with vCenter, ESXi, NSX and VSAN as the core VMware technology components. This isn’t some magic whereby ESXi is nested or emulated upon the existing AWS platform, but a fully fledged dedicated virtual datacenter offering that clients can buy through VMware and have VMware manage the stack right up to the core vCenter components.

Note: These initial opinions are just that. There has been a fair bit of Twitter reaction over the announcement, with the majority being somewhat negative towards the VMware strategy. There are a lot of smart guys working on this within VMware and that means it’s got technical focus, not just Exec/Board strategy. There is also a lot of time between this initial announcement and it’s release first release in 2017 however initial perception and reaction to a massive shift in direction should and will generate debate…this is my take from a vCAN point of view.

The key service benefits as taken from the AWS/VMware landing page can be seen below:

Let me start by saying that this is a huge huge deal and can not be underestimated in terms of it’s significance. If I take my vCAN hat off, I can see how and why this was necessary for both parties to help each other fight off the growing challenge from Microsoft’s Azure offering and the upcoming Azure Stack. For AWS, it lets them tap into the enterprise market where they say they have been doing well…though in reality, it’s known that they aren’t doing as well as they had hoped. While for VMware, it helps them look serious about offering a public cloud that is truly hyper-scale and also looks at protecting existing VMware workloads from being moved over to Azure…and to a lesser extent AWS directly.

There is a common enemy here, and to be fair to Microsoft it’s obvious that their own shift in focus and direction has been working and the industry is taking note.

Erasing vCloud Air and The vCAN Impact:

For VMware especially, it can and should erase the absolute disaster that was vCloud Air… Looking back at how the vCloud Air project transpired the best thing to come out of it was the refocus in 2015 of VMware to prop back up the vCloud Air Network, which before that had been looking shaky with the vCANs strongest weapon, vCloud Director, being pushed to the side and it’s future uncertain. In the last twelve months there has an been apparent recommitment to vCloud Director and the vCAN and things had been looking good…however that could be under threat with this announcement…and for me, perception is everything!

Public Show of Focus and Direction:

Have a listen to the CNBC segment embedded above where Pat Gelsinger and AWS CEO Andy Jassy discuss the partnership. Though I wouldn’t expect them to mention the 4000+ strong vCloud Air Network (or the recent partnership with IBM for that matter) the fact that they are openly discussing about the unique industry first benefits the VMWonAWS partnership brings to the market, in the same breath they ignore or put aside the fact that the single biggest advantage that the vCloud Air Network had was VMware workload mobility.

Complete VMware Compatibility:

VMware Cloud on AWS will provide VMware customers with full VM compatibility and seamless workload portability between their on-premises infrastructure and the AWS Cloud without the need for any workload modifications or retooling.

Workload Migration:

VMware Cloud on AWS works seamlessly with vSphere vMotion, allowing you to move running virtual machines from on-premises infrastructure to the AWS Cloud without any downtime. The virtual machines retain network identity and connections, ensuring a seamless migration experience.

The above features are pretty much the biggest weapons that vCloud Air Network partners had in the fight against existing or potential client moving or choosing AWS over their own VMware based platform…and from direct experience, I know that this advantage is massive and does work. With this advantage taken away, vCAN Service Providers may start to loose workloads to AWS at a faster clip than what was done previously.

In truth VMware have been very slow…almost reluctant to pass over features that would allow this cross cloud compatibility and migration be even more of a weapon for the vCAN by holding back on features that allowed on-premises vCenter and Workstation/Fusion connect directly to vCloud Air endpoints in products such as Hybrid Cloud Manager. I strongly believed that those products should have been extended from day zero to have the ability to connect to any vCloud Director endpoint…it wasn’t a stretch for that to occure as it is effectively the same endpoint but for some reason it was strategically labeled as a “coming soon” feature.

VMware Access to Multiple AWS Regions:

VMware Virtual Machines running on AWS can leverage over 70 AWS services covering compute, storage, database, security, analytics, mobile, and IoT. With VMware Cloud on AWS, customers will be able to leverage their existing investment in VMware licenses through customer loyalty programs.

I had mentioned on Twitter that the image below was both awesome and scary mainly because all I think about when I look at it is the overlay of the vCloud Air Network and how VMware actively promote 4000+ vCAN partners contributing to existing VMware customers in being able to leverage their existing investments on vCloud Air Network platforms.

Look familiar?

 

In truth of those 4000+ vCloud Air Network providers there are maybe 300 that are using vCloud Director in some shape or form and of those an even smaller amount that can programatically take advantage of automated provisioning and self service. There in lies one of the biggest issues for the vCAN…while some IaaS providers excel, the majority offer services that can’t stack up next to the hyper-scalers. Because of that, I don’t begrudge VMware to forgetting about the capabilities of the vCAN, but as mentioned above, I believe more could, and still can be been done to help the network complete in the market.

Conclusion:

Right, so that was all the negative stuff as it relates the vCloud Air Network, but I have been thinking about how this can be a positive for both the vCAN and more importantly for me…vCloud Director. I’ll put together another post on where and how I believe VMware can take advantage of this partnership to truly compete against the looming threat of the Azure Stack…with vCAN IaaS providers offering vCloud Director SP front and center of that solution.

References:

http://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/vmw-newsfeed.VMware-and-AWS-Announce-New-Hybrid-Cloud-Service,-%E2%80%9CVMware-Cloud-on-AWS%E2%80%9D.3188645-manual.html

https://aws.amazon.com/vmware/

VMware Cloud™ on AWS – A Closer Look

https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=VMWonAWS

Released – vCloud Director SP 8.0.2 Important Upgrade for Zerto Clients

Last week VMware released vCloud Director SP 8.0.2 Build 4348775. While there a a number of minor bug fixes in this release there is one important fix that will make service providers who offer replication services built upon Zerto happy, as it resolves a bug that had stopped many service providers upgrading from vCD SP 5.6.x. Apart from that there are only a couple new things in this build…that being an updated JRE version, some additional language support in the WebMKS console and probably of more importance is official support for NSX-v 6.2.4

 

As usual I’ve gone through the Resolved Issues list and highlighted the ones I feel are most relevant…the ones in red are issues we have seen in our vCloud Zones and Zettagrid Labs.

  • Intermittent failure of vCD vApp deployment
    When you attempt to deploy vApp either manually or through the vCO workflow, the deployment might fail with the following error:
    Could not find resource pool for placement of edge gateway.
  • Downloading a large vApp template as an OVF file from the vCloud Director fails
    Attemps to download a large vApp template as an OVF file from vCloud Director fails due to an operation timeout error in both vCloud Director and vCenter Server. This issue is seen when the size of the vApp template is greater than 100 GB.
  • vCloud Director Cell uses a high percentage of the CPU
    The vCloud Director cell uses more than 90 percent of the CPU. As a result, the vCloud Director workload is affected
  • During a heavy load, vCloud Director can have two or more VMs that have the same CloudUUID in the system
    During a heavy load, vCloud Director can have two or more VMs with the same CloudUUID in the system. This causes the Managed Object Reference (moref) of the VM to be overwritten by another VM. Due to the duplicated CloudUUID, a wrong VM might get deleted.
  • In the latest Mac version (OS X El Capitan), the Upload, or Download dialog box does not close correctly
    After you update your system to the latest Mac version (OS X El Capitan), when you attempt to upload a file from the data store the Upload, or Download dialog box does not close correctly.
  • vApp deployment from a template fails with certain direct organization VDC networks, when there are multiple direct organization VDC networks in a VDC that are mapped to the same external network
    When there are multiple direct organization VDC networks in a VDC that are mapped to a single external network, deploying a vApp from the template is possible with only one of these networks. The deployment fails when other networks are selected.
  • Edge gateway fails to deploy when a create request is invoked from the vCloud Director cell that does not have a vCenter Server proxy listener
    In a multi-cell vCloud Director setup, the Edge gateway creation is successful only when the create request is invoked from the vCloud Director cell that has a vCenter Server proxy listener.

Zerto vs VMware Standoff:

With regards to the Zerto issue, this bug actually exists in vCD SP 8.10 as well and will be resolved in an upcoming build later in November. There is a hotfix available if Service Providers want to deploy vCD SP 8.10 before the official release. There was a significant delay before this that impacted Zerto clients and to be honest it wasn’t handled well from both sides. Zerto claim to offer official support 90 days after the release of vCD however that was not possible and the finger was pointed at VMware to fix the bug rather than try to work around the issue.

“Creating or modifying a VM in vCD fails (VMware KB 2144385)” and Zerto is prevented from recovering into a vCD environment. 

That VMwareKB has been pulled back internally and there isn’t any specific reference to that issue in the release notes, however we do know and have confirmed that the bug has been resolved in this build and the upcoming 8.10 build. It highlights the fact that vendors who partner together in delivering solutions that rely on one an others solutions need to work together so as to not impact their mutual clients.

References:

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vcd/802/rel_notes_vcloud_director_802.html

VCA-CLI for vCloud Director: New Networking Features

There is a lot of talk going around how IT Pros can more efficiently operate and consume Cloud Based Services…AWS has lead the way in offering a rich set of APIs for it’s clients to use to help build out cloud applications and infrastructure and there are a ton of programming libraries and platforms that have seen the rise of the DevOps movement…And while AWS has lead the way, other Public Clouds such as Azure (with PowerShell Packs) and Google have also built self service capability through APIs.

vCloud Director has always had a rich set of APIs (API Online Doco Here) and as I blogged about last year Paco Gomez has been developing a tool called VCA-CLI which is based on pyvcloud which is a Python SDK for vCloud Director and vCloud Air. This is an alternative to Web Based creation and management of vCloud Director vDCs and vApps. Being Python based you have the option of running it pretty much on any OS you like…the posts below show you how to install and configure VCA on a Mac OS X OS and Windows and how to connect up to a vCloud Director based Cloud Org.

Initial releases of VCA-CLI didn’t have the capability to configure the Firewall settings of a vDC Edge Gateway, but since the release of version 16, Firewall rule management has been added. In the below example, I connect up to my vCD Org in Zettagrid, gather some information about my vDC, deploy a SexiLog VM template, set the Syslog setting on the Gateway and then configure a new NAT and Firewall rules to open up port 8080 to the SexiLog Web interface.

And the end result:

Again, this highlights the power of the vCloud Director API and what can be done with the pyvcloud Python SDK. Once perfected the set of commands above can be used to deploy vApps and configure networking in seconds instead of having to work through the vCloud Director UI…and that’s a win win!

References:

https://pypi.python.org/pypi/vca-cli

https://github.com/vmware/vca-cli

http://www.sexilog.fr/

 

The Anatomy of a vBlog Part 1: Building a Blogging Platform

Earlier this week my good friend Matt Crape sent out a Tweet lamenting the fact that he was having issues uploading media to WordPress…shortly after that tweet went out Matt wasn’t short of Twitter and Slack vCommunity advice (follow the Twitter conversation below) and there where a number of options presented to Matt on how best to host his blogging site Matt That IT Guy.

Over the years I have seen that same question of “which platform is best” pop up a fair bit and thought it a perfect opportunity to dissect the anatomy of Virtualization is Life!. The answer to the specific question as to which blogging platform is best doesn’t have a wrong or right answer and like most things in life the platform that you use to host your blog is dependent on your own requirements and resources. For me, I’ve always believed in eating my own dog food and I’ve always liked total end to end control of sites that I run. So while, what I’m about to talk about worked for me…you might like to look at alternative options but feel free to borrow on my example as I do feel it gives bloggers full flexibility and control.

Brief History:

Virtualization is Life! started out as Hosting is Life! back in April of 2012 and I choose WordPress at the time mainly due to it’s relatively simple installation and ease of use. The site was hosted on a Windows Hosting Platform that I had built at Anittel, utilizing WebsitePanel on IIS7.5, running FastCGI to serve the PHP content. Server backend was hosted on a VMware ESX Cluster out of the Anittel Sydney Zones. The cost of running this site was approximately $10 US per month.

Tip: At this stage the site was effectively on a shared hosting platform which is a great way to start off as the costs should be low and maintenance and uptime should be included in the hosters SLA.

Migration to Zettagrid:

When I started at Zettagrid, I had a whole new class of virtual infrastructure at my hands and decided to migrate the blog to one of Zettagrid’s Virtual DataCenter products where I provisioned a vCloud Director vDC and created a vApp with a fresh Ubuntu VM inside. The migration from a Windows based system to Linux went smoother than I thought and I only had a few issues with some character maps after restoring the folder structure and database.

The VM it’s self is configured with the following hardware specs:

  • 2 vCPU (5GHz)
  • 4GB vRAM
  • 20GB Storage

As you can see above the actual usage pulled from vCloud Director shows you how little resource a VM with a single WordPress instance uses. That storage number actually represents the expanded size of a thin provisioned disk…actual used on the file system is less than 3GB, and that is with four and a half years and about 290 posts worth of media and database content  I’ll go through site optimizations in Part 2, but in reality the amount of resources required to get you started is small…though you have to consider the occasional burst in traffic and work in a buffer as I have done with my VM above.

The cost of running this Virtual Datacenter in Zettagrid is approx $120 US per month.

TipEven though I am using a vCloud Director vDC, given the small resource requirements initially needed a VPS or instance based service might be a better bet. Azure/AWS/Google all offer instance based VM instances, but a better bet might be a more boutique provider like DigitalOcean.

Networking and Security:

From a networking point of view I use the vShield/NSX Edge that is part of vCloud Director as my Gateway device. This handles all my DHCP, NAT and Firewall rules and is able to handle the site traffic with ease. If you want to look at what capabilities the vShield/NSX Edges can do, check out my NSX Edge vs vShield Series. Both the basic vShield Edges and NSX Edges have decent Load Balancing features that can be used in high availability situations if required.

As shown below I configured the Gateway rules from the Zettagrid MyAccount Page but could have used the vCloud Director UI. For a WordPress site, the following services should be configured at a minimum.

  • Web (HTTP)
  • Secure Web (HTTPS)
  • FTP (Locked down to only accept connections from specific IPs)
  • SSH (Locked down to only accept connections from specific IPs)

OS and Web Platform Details:

As mentioned above I choose Ubuntu as my OS of choice to run Wordpress though any Linux flavour would have done the trick. Choosing Linux over Windows obviously means you save on the Microsoft SPLA costs associated with hosting a Windows based OS…the savings should be around $20-$50 US a month right there. A Linux distro is a personal choice so as long as you can install the following modules it doesn’t really matter which one you use.

  • SSH
  • PHP
  • MySQL
  • Apache
  • HTOP

The only thing I would suggest is that you use a long term support distro as you don’t want to be stuck on a build that can’t be upgraded or patched to protect against vulnerability and exploits. Essentially I am running a traditional LAMP stack, which is Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP built on a minimal install of Ubuntu with only SSH enabled. The upkeep and management of the OS and LAMP stack is not much and I would estimate that I have spent about five to ten hours a year since deploying the original server dealing with updates and maintenance. Apache as a web server still performs well enough for a single blog site, though I know many that made the switch to NGINX and use the LEMP Stack.

The last package on this list is a personal favorite of mine…HTOP is an interactive process viewer for Unix systems that can be installed with a quick apt-get install htop command. As shown below it has a detailed interface and is much better than trying to work through standard top.

TipIf you don’t want to deal with installing the OS or installing and configuring the LAMP packages, you can download a number of ready made appliances that contain the LAMP stack. Turnkey Linux offers a number of appliances that can be deployed in OVA format and have a ready made LAMP appliance as well as a ready made WordPress appliance.

That covers off the hosting and platform components of this blog…In Part 2 I will go through my WordPress install in a little more detail and look at themes and plugins as well as talk about how best to optimize a blogging site with the help of free caching and geo-distribution platforms.

References and Guides:

http://www.ubuntu.com/download/server

http://howtoubuntu.org/how-to-install-lamp-on-ubuntu

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-install-linux-nginx-mysql-php-lemp-stack-in-ubuntu-16-04

NSX Bytes: vCloud Director Can’t Deploy NSX Edges

Over the weekend I was tasked with the recovery of a #NestedESXi lab that had vCloud Director and NSX-v components as part of the lab platform. Rather than being a straight forward restore from the Veeam backup I also needed to downgrade the NSX-v version from 6.2.4 to 6.1.4 for testing purposes. That process was relatively straight forward and involved essentially working backwards in terms of installing and configuring NSX and removing all the components from vCenter and the ESXi hosts.

To complete the NSX-v downgrade I deployed a new 6.1.4 appliance and connected it back up to vCenter, configured the hosts, setup VXLAN, transport components and tested NSX Edge deployments through the vCenter Web Client. However, when it came time to test Edge deployments from vCloud Director I kept on getting the following error shown below.

Checking through the NSX Manager logs there was no reference to any API call hitting the endpoint as is suggested by the error detail above. Moving over to the vCloud Director Cells I was able to trace the error message in the log folder…eventually seeing the error generated below in the vcloud-container-info.log file.

As a test I hit the API endpoint referenced in the error message from a browser and got the same result.

This got me thinking that the error was either DNS related or permission related. After confirming that the vCloud Cells where resolving the NSX Manager host name correctly, as suggested by the error I looked at permissions as the cause of the 403 error. vCloud Director was configured to use the service.vcloud service account to connect to the previous NSX/vShield Manager and it dawned on me that I hadn’t setup user rights in the Web Client under Networking & Security. Under the Users section of the Manage Tab the service account used by vCloud Director wasn’t configured and needed to be added. After adding the user I retried the vCD job and the Edge deployed successfully.

While I was in this menu I thought I’d test what level of NSX User was required to for that service account to have in order to execute operations against vCloud Director and NSX. As shown below anything but NSX or Enterprise Administrator triggered a “VSM response error (254). User is not authorized to access object” error.

At the very least to deploy edges, you require the service account to be NSX Administrator…The Auditor and Security Administrator levels are not enough to perform the operations required. More importantly don’t forget to add the service account as configured in vCloud Director to the NSX Manager instance otherwise you won’t be able to have vCloud Director deploy edges using NSX-v.

 

 

Cross Cloud: Why The VM Shouldn’t Be The Base Unit of Measurement

I’ve been sitting on this topic since the VMworld 2016 US Keynote where VMware announced the Cross Cloud Architecture. I posted some raw thoughts the day after keynote and have been reflecting on how the Cross Cloud Platform could impact on VMware’s vCAN business. As mentioned previously I believe it’s representative of how VMware is worrying over it’s future relevance and reacting to current market fads all while ultimately worrying about how the hyper-scalers will impact their core infrastructure business.

The concept of cross cloud isn’t new and in truth a lot of vendors today are working to, or have solutions that aim to convert workloads from one platform to another. Zerto do this with their Cloud Fabric with the ability to move certain VMs from ESXi to Hyper-V, AWS and Azure and every combination in between. Veeam also have a new feature where you can restore ESXi or Hyper-V VMs to Azure…again, limited in functionality but a strong indication of what’s to come given the latest Veeam announcements.

Both Zerto and Veeam market their solutions well, however those that have been involved in V2Vs know that only under certain conditions do conversions go smoothly. There is no doubt this cross platform world is getting more reliable and more and more vendors are chasing the perfect conversion. However what Veeam and Zerto are offering is Backup and DR services that complement VM workloads either on-premises or in a cloud…the end game with these products isn’t mobility…its availability.

Focusing back on VMware it was clear to almost everyone that the Cross Cloud Platform featuring Azure and AWS workload migrations, was tech previewed to show that VMware is relevant in an enterprise multi cloud world but I am going to argue that the focus on the VM as the base unit of measurement is misguided…especially when it comes to VMware supporting it’s vCloud Air Network providers. I understand it as a necessity being able to have a class of portable applications in this new microservice and serverless world while having them transportable between multiple clouds. Again, I don’t believe the VM should be the base unit of measurement and the unit shown to be the most transportable.

Service providers need to play to their strengths, which in the vCAN world is no bill shock fixed cost IaaS workloads. This remains the base platform for a significant portion of any on-premises or cloud workload. Service providers take most of their revenue stream from compute, storage and networking that are the building blocks of instance based and resource pool offerings from which VMs can be provisioned and consumed. If you ask any service provider they would say that they would like total VM stickiness and any mechanism that aims to make VMs more portable will impact the bottom line and threatens ongoing viability.

Having customers access a VMware provided console that moves VM workloads off VMware based infrastructure and onto AWS or Azure to my mind is close to madness, and while there is an argument to suggest that cloud is the new hardware and VMware want to manage this new hardware…it still doesn’t make up for the fact that most revenue is made by having VMs staying local and not having an easy way to migrate them to platforms where smaller margins are the norm.

Going back to the point of this post around the theory that the VM shouldn’t be the base unit in a cross cloud world, I believe that for the sake of the vCAN VMware should be focusing within the VM and the applications that run within them…working towards a truly hybrid scenario whereby Platform and Feature as a Service offerings are managed, configured and operated via the Cross Cloud platform. This will help achieve a sustained revenue stream for IaaS providers that in truth, still represents the best value for money for the vast majority of critical business applications that are in existence today, all while allowing consumers the choice of going out and finding the best “As a Service” offering that specifically suits application requirements.

At the end of the day I do wonder which side of the VMware business wins out…the one that derive their revenue from Enterprise…or the one that derive their revenue from Service Providers. Unfortunately I know where the bigger revenue streams lie and that doesn’t bode well for Service Providers. It’s all about the corporate dollar after all.

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.

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

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