Monthly Archives: April 2017

VeeamON 2017: Top Session Picks

VeeamON is less than three weeks away and I can tell you that that this years event is going to be huge! This is going to be my second VeeamOn, but for the first time I’ve been involved in the preparation of a major vendor conference. Having been behind the scenes, and knowing what our customers and partners are in for in terms of announcements and event activities…I can’t wait for things to kick off on the 16th of May.

This year we have over 85+ breakout sessions and a number of high profile speakers coming to New Orleans to help delver those sessions. We also have significant keynote speakers for the main stage sessions on each of the three days. Highlighted by Sanjay Poonen from VMware and Mark Russinovich from Microsoft. You will also hear from our executive team on the vision Veeam has for continuing to provide availability through our industry leading innovations.

Top Session Pick:

There are seven tracks available

  • Technical (200-level / High level)
  • Technical (300-level / Architecture)
  • Technical (400-level / Internals)
  • Business
  • Alliance Partner
  • Veeam ProPartner
  • Cloud (Programs and Technologies)

I’ve gone through all the breakouts and picked out my top sessions that you should consider attending…not surprisingly there is a cloud slant to most of them, but there are also some core technology sessions that are not to be missed. The Technical Product Marketing team are well represented in the session list so it’s also worth looking to attend talks from Rick Vanover, Clint Wyckoff, Michael White, Michael Cade, Dmitry Kniazev, Andrew Zhelezko and Kirsten Stoner.


What’s New in v10: A Deeper Dive

Thursday, May 18 | 11:15-12:15
The v10 embargo has been lifted! Join Anton Gostev for a deeper dive into the new Veeam Availability Suite™ v10 functionality announced at the key note to learn additional details — and to ask your questions!
Anton Gostev
VP of Product Management
Veeam Software

Veeam and VMware vCloud Air Network: Building a successful cloud service

Tuesday, May 16 | 11:15-12:15
Globally, service providers are enthusiastically embracing hybrid cloud as both a way of reducing costs and improving the quality of service they provide to end customers. To achieve this, service providers are looking to VMware vCloud Air Network and Veeam to help them build a scalable cost effect cloud solution. In this session, we will get into the details of the technology. We’ll focus on how these solutions are architected and what that implies in real-life implementations. A participant in this session will leave with a technical understanding of how to leverage technology from Veeam and VMware to provide a successful cloud based storage service.
Anthony Spiteri
Technical Evangelist
Veeam Software
David Hill
Solutions Architect
VMware

Building a Comprehensive Availability Plan Leveraging Next Generation Veeam Cloud Services

Thursday, May 18 | 14:50-15:50
The notion of Always-On Availability is becoming a cornerstone of modern businesses, and rightfully so. Without the ability to support their mission-critical processes in the face of data loss or disasters, companies stand a significant risk of losing customers, money and reputation. This is why developing a comprehensive Availability plan is crucial for maintaining business operability and protecting critical data, applications and systems at any point. From planning and analysis to implementation and monitoring — each step of this plan needs to be in line with the company’s business needs, security policies and IT management procedures. Designed to address these needs, Veeam’s® next generation cloud-based backup and disaster recovery (DR) solutions offer a number of options to develop a solid Availability plan. Using Veeam’s integrated, next generation cloud Availability solutions in tandem with cloud-based backup and DR services, companies can stay ahead of major disruptions while keeping their IT spending within budget.
William Bell
Vice President, Product Development, Cloud and Enterprise Services
PhoenixNAP

Unleashing the Power of the Veeam API

Wednesday, May 17 | 16:10-17:10
Many Veeam® customers are experiencing the benefits of flexible, reliable and cost-effective backups and are now ready to get even more out of their Veeam solution. This is where the Veeam API, combined with cloud infrastructure, comes in. Veeam Backup Enterprise Manager exposes its objects via the web service API based on the REST (Representational State Transfer) framework, enabling developers to query information about Veeam objects and perform basic operations. By extending the Veeam solution to other IT operational areas using the API, customers can experience many efficiency and performance benefits. This session will deliver the education and insights you need to take your usage of Veeam to the next level by leveraging APIs. I’ll provide an overview of the Veeam Backup Enterprise Manager API and take a deep dive into different ways you can use the API to do more than just manage backup jobs. This session will deliver practical advice based on the experiences we have gained at iland through leveraging the API to automate and manage multiple aspects of our cloud and internal business operations.

Veeam Availability Console and the Agents: Introduction and Technical Demo

Tuesday, May 16 | 14:50-15:50
This session focuses on the new and expanded business opportunities with these Veeam solutions. Get into the weeds with the technical aspects of the products with live demos and information on how the features will impact you and your customer’s business.
Clint Wyckoff
Global Technical Evangelist
Veeam Software
Sam Nicholls
Global Product Marketing Manager
Veeam Software

How to Back Up and Restore VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) and Platform Controllers Properly

Thursday, May 18 | 13:30-14:30
There is some complexity to properly backing up vCenter and properly restoring it, especially when there are external components like databases and platform controllers. However, using Veeam and with some important knowledge, it is possible. vCenter is critically important in virtual infrastructures due to things like view and vRealize Automation, so it is very important that it is always available. If you lose some or all of the vCenter infrastructure, it is very important that you know how to recover it.
Michael White
Technical Evangelist
Veeam Software
Emad Younis
Technical Marketing Engineer
VMware

Throw your backups into ANY window

Wednesday, May 17 | 13:30-14:30
Choosing a storage solution for your backups can be a daunting task: Windows or Linux servers, SMB shares, SAN, NAS, deduplication appliances … But block cloning, a new feature in Windows 2016 and leveraged by Veeam Backup & Replication™, is promising to change this. Available for ReFS 3.1 file systems, this technology allows for insanely reduced transform times and spaceless GFS backups. Or at least, this is what marketing has told us so far, but how good is it in reality? Is an expensive and complex Storage Spaces Direct the only way to consume all the amazing new features? How can I design my new backup repository with these new options in mind? What about encryption and Veeam Scale-out Backup Repository™? Didier Van Hoye, Carsten Rachfahl (both Microsoft MVPs and Veeam Vanguards) and Luca Dell’Oca (Veeam cloud architect) have joined forces to bring you from-the-field information, tips, tricks and ideas to build your next Veeam backup repository with real-life tests and feedback gained from deploying this new powerful combination into multiple environments.
Luca Dell’Oca
Cloud Architect
Veeam Software
Didier Van Hoye
Microsoft MVP & Blogger
Blogger
Carsten Rachfahl
Blogger & Microsoft MVP
Blogger

What’s New with Veeam Agent for Windows 2.0

Thursday, May 18 | 16:10-17:10
Are you running applications in the cloud? Do you still have some remaining physical servers? Do you struggle to ensure Availability of your mobile workforce? Join Veeam technical evangelist Clint Wyckoff and Dmitry Popov from product management as they dive deep into the installation, management and recovery options that the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows provide. After this session, you will have the knowledge and skills required to manually install, automate the installation and configuration deployment. You will also have the knowledge to manage and perform advanced recovery utilizing Veeam.
Clint Wyckoff
Global Technical Evangelist
Veeam Software
Dmitry Popov
Senior Analyst
Veeam Software

Availability in a profile driven World

Wednesday, May 17 | 14:50-15:50
Have you had a chance to evaluate the new VMware storage technology landscape? VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) and Virtual SAN (vSAN) are incredible innovations. These next generation storage technologies from VMware allow for Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM) which is the way to manage virtual machine (VM) storage requirements in VMware vSphere going forward. The major challenge with traditional storage architectures is a misalignment between what the storage consumer wants and the capabilities that are provided. This results in inefficiencies through the over provisioning of storage resources. There is a strong need to provide alignment between application needs and storage resources. These storage policies are an evolution of virtual machine storage profiles, and used to ensure VMs are placed on storage that guarantees a specific level of capacity, performance, Availability redundancy and so on. When it comes to Availability, Veeam has you covered! Let’s look at a few areas where VVols and vSAN Availability can be easier than you think with Veeam.
Michael Cade
Technical Evangelist
Veeam Software
Pete Flecha
Sr Technical Marketing Architect
Vmware

VMware Backup Best Practices: 2017 Edition

Wednesday, May 17 | 16:10-17:10
Are you looking for the best way to back up your vSphere environment? Attend the 2017 edition of the most viewed VeeamON session to learn the latest and greatest strategies for VMware backup with Veeam, now enhanced with big data analysis! Get recommendations on the best way to deploy and size your backup server and other components — and hear what are the most typical configurations based on our support log mining! Learn the pros and cons of different VDDK-based transport modes, and how Veeam Availability Suite™ 9.5 completely changes previous recommendations on transport mode usage. And if your company wants to stay on the cutting edge, bring them back some backup and recovery considerations around new VMware storage technologies (vSAN, VVols and encrypted virtual machines) — those you won’t see mentioned in marketing papers.
Anton Gostev
VP of Product Management
Veeam Software

Backup Repository Best Practices: 2017 Edition

Thursday, May 18 | 14:50-15:50
Backup storage is the central part of any backup strategy that can lead your efforts to either complete success or complete failure. And yet, backup storage impact is always heavily underestimated by users. In this session, you’ll learn about the most typical mistakes observed in the past nine years by over 230,000 users deploying and using Veeam Backup & Replication™, so you can avoid the same mistakes. You’ll learn how Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 has completely changed the game for many Veeam users with its advanced ReFS integration — and get a sneak peek of how v10 is going to dramatically expand your backup storage options. Finally, Anton will share lots of interesting (and sometimes scary) statistics we’ve picked up from support log mining that may change your attitude on backup storage forever!
Anton Gostev
VP of Product Management
Veeam Software

Conclusion:

There are obviously a lot more from which to choose from and the full list can be found here. You can also download the VeeamON Mobile Application to register for sessions, organise and keep tabs on other parts of the event.

There is still time to register and attend, so if you can make it to New Orleans in three weeks, click here and get on board as it promises to be a brilliant week with a lot of great announcements, great networking opportunities and also the ability to learn about Veeam’s and our partners products.

https://www.veeam.com/veeamon/register

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Veeam Cloud Connect Backup: What are Subtenant’s?

When Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 was released, there where a lot of significant features added to enhance Veeam Cloud Connect Backup and Replication. One of the lesser known features that came out in 9.5 was the addition of Cloud Connect Subtenants. This in effect was a pre-seeded feature for our Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows that went into public beta earlier in the year and is set to GA sometime in Q2 of 2017.

Subtenants can be configured by either the VCSP or by the tenant consuming a Cloud Connect Backup service. Subtenants are used to carve up and assign a subset of the parent tenant storage quota. This allows individual agents to authenticate against the Cloud Connect service with a unique login allowing backups to Cloud Repositories that can be managed and monitored from the Backup & Replication console.

End users on the tenant side can connect to the SP and create backups on the cloud repository under the tenant account. However, it is recommended to provide every tenant-side user with a separate subtenant account. In this case, the tenant or SP can allocate storage resources on the cloud repository individually for every subtenant so that subtenants’ data is stored in the cloud in an isolated and segregated way

Note that a subtenant account can not be used to connect directly to a Cloud Connect Service Provider from the Backup & Replication console and is only intended for use with the agents. If you try to do that you will see the error below:

As a Veeam Cloud Service Provider offering Cloud Connect Backup services it’s important that if not done so already…start wrapping your heads around the subtenant construct and how it works with Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows (currently in beta) as you want to be in a position to take advantage of them for when Veeam Agent for Windows does go GA.

Stay tuned to veeam.com for more blog posts around the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows ability to backup to Cloud Connect repositories using subtenants and also keep an eye out on my fellow team member, Clint Wyckoff’s blog cdubhub.us for some great upcoming content around all things Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows.

References:

https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/backup/cloud/cloud_connect_subtenants.html?ver=95

vSAN 6.6 – What’s In It For Service Providers

Last February when VMware released VSAN 6.2 I stated that “Things had gotten Interesting” with regards to the 6.2 release of vSAN finally marking it’s arrival as a serious player in the Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) market. vSAN was ready to be taken very seriously by VMware’s competitors. Fast forward fourteen months and apart from the fact we have confirmed the v in vSAN is a lower case with the product name officially changing from Virtual SAN to vSAN…Version 6.6 was announced last week is set to GA today, and with it comes the biggest list of new features and enhancements in vSANs history.

VMware has decided to break with the normal vSphere release cycle for vSAN and move to patch releases for vSphere that are actually major updates of vSAN. This is why this release is labeled vSAN 6.6 and will be included in the vSphere 6.5EP2 build. The move allows the vSAN team to continue to enhance the platform outside of the core vSphere platform and I believe it will deliver at least 2 update releases per year.

Looking at the new features and enhancements of the vSAN 6.6 release it’s clear to see that the platform has matured and given the 7000+ strong customer base it’s also clear to see that its being accepted more and more for critical workloads. From a service provider point of view I know of a lot more vCloud Air Network partners that have implemented vSAN as not only their Management HCI platform, but also now their customer HCI compute and storage  platforms.

A lot for Service Providers to like:

As shown in the feature timeline above there are over 20+ new features and enhancements but for me the following ones are most relative to vCAN Service Providers who are using, or looking to use vSAN in their offerings. I will expand on the ones in red as I see them as being the most significant of the new features and enhancements for service providers.

  • Native encryption for data-at-rest
  • Compliance certifications
  • vSAN Proactive Drive HA for failing drives
  • Resilient management independent of vCenter
  • Rapid recovery with smart, efficient rebuilds
  • Certified file service & data protection solutions
  • Enhanced vSAN SDK and PowerCLI
  • Simple networking with Unicast
  • vSAN Cloud Analytics for performance
  • vSAN Cloud Analytics with real-time support notification and recommendations*
  • vSAN Config Assist with 1-click hardware lifecycle management
  • Extended Health Services
  • Up to 50% greater IOPS for all-flash with optimized checksum and dedupe
  • Optimized for latest flash technologies
  • Expanded caching tier choice
  • New Docker Volume Driver

Simple networking with Unicast:

As John Nicholson wrote on the Virtual Blocks blog…it’s time to say goodbye to the multicast requirements around vSAN networking traffic. For a history as to why multicast was used, click here. Also it’s worth reading John’s post and also the he goes through the upgrade process as if you are upgrading from previous versions, multicast will still be used unless you make the change as also specified here.

I can attest first hand to the added complexity when it comes to setting up vSAN with multicast and have gone through a couple of painful deployments where the multicast configuration was an issue during initial setup and also caused issue with switching infrastructure that needed to be upgraded to before vSAN could work reliably. In my mind unicast offers a simpler less complex solution with minimal overheads and makes it more transportable across networks.

Performance Improvements:

Service Providers are always trying to squeeze the most out of their hardware purchases and with VMware claiming 50% greater IOPS for all-flash through optimized data services that in theory can enable 150K IOPS per host it appears they will be served well. in addition to optimized checksum and dedupe along with support for the latest flash technologies. The increased performance helps accelerate tenant workloads and provides higher consolidation ratios for those workloads.

Service providers can accelerate new hardware technologies with the support of the latest flash technologies, including solutions like the new breed of NVMe SSDs. These solutions can deliver up to 250% greater performance for write-intensive applications. vSAN 6.6 now offers larger caching drive options that includes 1.6TB flash drives, so that service providers can take advantage of larger capacity flash drives.

Disk Performance Enhancements:

For those that have gone through a vSAN rebuild operation you would know that is can be a long exercise depending on the amount of data and configuration of the vSAN datastore. vSAN 6.6 introduces a new smart rebuild and rebalancing feature along with partial repairs of degraded or absent components. There is also resync throttling and improved visibility into the rebuilding status through the Health Status. Cormac Hogan goes through the improvements in detail here.

From a Service Provider point of view having these enhanced features around the rebuilds it critical to continued quality of service for IaaS customer who live on shared vSAN storage. Shorter and more efficient rebuild times means less impact to customers.

Health Checks and Monitoring Improvements:

vSAN Encryption:

VMware has introduced VM encryption native at the vSAN datastore level. This can be enabled per vSAN Cluster and works with deduplication and compression across hybrid and all-flash cluster configurations. vSAN 6.6 data Encryption is hardware agnostic, there is no requirement to use specialized and more expensive Self-Encrypting Drives (SEDs) which is also a bonus. Jase McCarty has another Virtual Blocks article here that goes through this feature in great detail.

From a Service Provider point of view you can now potentially offer two classes of vSAN backed storage for IaaS customers. One that lives on an Encrypted enabled cluster that’s charged at a premium over non Encrypted clusters. In talking with service providers across the globe, data at rest encryption has become something that potential customers are asking for and most leading storage companies have an encryption story…now so does vSAN and it appears to be market leading.

vSAN 6.6 Licensing:

In terms of the licensing Matrix, nothing too drastic has changed except for the addition of Data at Rest Encryption in the Enterprise bundle, however in a significant move for vCAN Service Providers, QoS IOPS Limiting has been extended across all license types and can now be taken advantage across the board. This is good for Service Providers who look to offer different tiers or storage performance based on IOPS limited…previously it was only available under Enterprise licensing.

Bootstrapping UI:

As a bonus feature that I think will assist vCAN Service Providers is the new Native Bootstrap installer in vSAN 6.6. William Lam has written about the feature here, but for those looking to install their first vSAN node without vSphere available the ability to bootstrap is invaluable. The old manual process is still worth looking at as it’s always beneficial to know what’s going on in the background, but it’s all GUI based now via the VCSA installer.

Conclusion:

vSAN 6.6 appears to be a great step forward for VMware and Service Providers will no doubt be keen to upgrade as soon as possible to take advantage of the features and enhancements that have been delivered in this 6.6 release.

References:

http://cormachogan.com/2017/04/11/whats-new-vsan-6-6/ 

https://storagehub.vmware.com/#!/vmware-vsan/vmware-vsan-6-5-technical-overview

http://vsphere-land.com/news/an-overview-of-whats-new-in-vmware-vsan-6-6.html

https://storagehub.vmware.com/#!/vmware-vsan/vsan-multicast-removal/multicast-removal-steps-and-requirements/1

vSAN 6.6 Encryption Configuration

vSAN 6.6 – Native Data-at-Rest Encryption

Goodbye Multicast

Native VCSA bootstrap installer in vSAN 6.6

Worth a Repost: “VMware Doubles Down” vCloud Director 8.20

It seems that with the announcement last week that VMware was offloading vCloud Air to OVH people where again asking what is happening with vCloud Director….and the vCloud Air Network in general. While vCD is still not available for VMware’s enterprise customers, the vCloud Director platform has officially never been in a stronger position.

Those outside the vCAN inner circles probably are not aware of 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 again sought to clear the air about vCloud Director’s future and posted this fairly emotive blog post overnight.

I’ve reposted part of the article below:

Blogger Blast: VMware vCloud Director 8.20

We are pleased to confirm that vCloud Director continues to be owned and developed by VMware’s Cloud Provider Software Business Unit and is the strategic cloud management platform for vCloud Air Network service providers. VMware has been and continues to be committed to its investment and innovation in vCloud Director.

With the recent release of vCloud Director 8.20 in February 2017 VMware has doubled down on its dedication to enhancing the product, and, in addition, is working to expand its training program to keep pace with the evolving needs of its users. In December 2016 we launched the Instructor Led Training for vCloud Director 8.10 (information and registration link) and in June 2017 we are pleased to be able to offer a Instructor Led Training program for vCloud Director 8.20.

Exciting progress is also occurring with vCloud Director’s expanding partner ecosystem. We are working to provide ISVs with streamlined access and certification to vCloud Director to provide service providers with access to more pre-certified capabilities with the ongoing new releases of vCloud Director. By extending our ecosystem service providers are able to more rapidly monetize services for their customers

Again, this is exciting times for those who are running vCloud Director SP and those looking to implement vCD into their IaaS offerings. It should be an interesting year and I look forward to VMware building on this renewed momentum for vCloud Director. There are many people blogging about vCD again which is awesome to see and it gives everyone in the vCloud Air Network an excellent content from which to leach from.

The vCloud Director Team also has a VMLive session that will provide a sneak peek at vCloud Director.Next roadmap. So if you are not a VMware Partner Central member and work for a vCloud Air Network provider wanting to know about where vCD is heading…sign up.

#LongLivevCD

vCloud Air Sold to OVH – Final Thoughts On Project Zephyr

I’ve just spent the last fifteen minutes looking back through all my posts on vCloud Air over the last four or five years and given yesterday’s announcement that VMware was selling what remains of vCloud Air to OVH Going over the content I thought it would be pertinent to write up one last piece on VMware’s attempt to build a public cloud that tried compete against the might of AWS, Azure, Google and the other well established hyper-scalers.

Project Zephyr:

Project Zephyr was first rumoured during 2012 and later launched as VMware Cloud Hybrid Services or vCHS…and while VMware pushed the cloud platform as a competitor to the hyper-scalers, the fact that it was built upon vCloud Director was probably one of it’s biggest downfalls. That might come as a shock to a lot of you reading this to hear me talk bad about vCD, however it wasn’t so much the fact that vCD was used as the backend, it was more what the consumer saw at the frontend that for me posed a significant problem for it’s initial uptake.

VMworld – Where is the Zephyr?

It was the perfect opportunity for VMware to deliver a completely new and modern UI for vCD and even though they did front the legacy vCD UI will a new frontend it wasn’t game changing enough to draw people in. It was utilitarian at best, but given that you only had to provision VMs it didn’t do enough to show that the service was cutting edge.  Obviously the UI wasn’t the only reason why it failed to take off…using vCD meant that vCloud Air was limited by the fact that vCD wasn’t built for hyper-scale operations such as individual VM instance management or for platform as a service offerings. The lack of PaaS offerings in effect meant it was a glorified extension of existing vCloud Air Network provider clouds…which in fact was some of the key messaging VMware used in the early days.

The use of vCD did deliver benefits to the vCloud Air Network and in truth might have saved vCD from being put on the scrapheap before VMware renewed their commitment to develop the SP version which has resulted in a new UI being introduced for Advanced Networking in 8.20.

vCloud Air Struggles:

There was no hiding the fact that vCloud Air was struggling to gain traction world wide and even as other zones where opening around the world it seemed like VMware where always playing catchup with the hyper-scalers…but the reality of what the platform was meant that there never a chance vCloud Air would grow to rival AWS, Azure and others.

By late 2015 there was a joint venture between EMC’s Virtustream and VMware vCloud Air that looked to join the best of both offerings under the Virtustream banner where they looked to form a new hybrid cloud services business but the DELL/EMC merger looked to get in the way of that deal and by December 2015 the idea has been squashed.

vCloud Air and Virtustream – Just kill vCloud Air Already?!?

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

It appeared from the outside that vCloud Air never recovered from that missed opportunity and through 2016 there where a number of announcements that started in March when it was reported that vCloud Air Japan was to be sold to the company that was effectively funding the zone and effectively closed down.

HOTP: vCloud Air Japan to be Shutdown!

Then in June VMware announced that Credit Card payments would no longer be accepted for any vCloud Air online transactions and that the service had to be bought with pre purchased credits through partners. For me this was the final nail in the coffin in terms of vCloud Air being able to compete in the Public Cloud space.

vCloud Air – Pulling Back Credit Card Payments

From this point forward the messaging for the use case of vCloud Air had shifted to Disaster Recovery services via the Hybrid Cloud Manager and vSphere Replication services that where built to work directly from vSphere to vCloud Air endpoints.

vCloud Air Network:

Stepping back, just before VMworld 2014, VMware announced the rebranding of vCHS to what is now called vCloud Air and also launched the vCloud Air Network. Myself and others where pretty happy at the time that VMware looked to reconnect with their service provider partners.

With the announcement around the full rebranding of vCHS to vCloud Air and Transforming the VSPP and vCloud Powered programs to the vCloud Air Network it would appear that VMware has in fact gone the other way and recommitted their support to all vCloud Server Providers and has even sort out to make the partner relationship stronger. The premise being that together, there is a ready made network (Including vCloud Air) of providers around the world ready to take on the greater uptake of Hybrid Cloud that’s expected over the next couple of years.

So while vCloud Air existed VMware acknowledged that more success was possible through support the vCloud Air Network ecosystem as the enabler of hybrid cloud services.

Final Final Thoughts:

To say that I’ve had a love hate relationship with the idea of VMware having a public cloud is reflected in my posts over the years. In truth myself and others who formed part of the vCloud Air Network of VMware based service providers where never really thrilled about the idea of VMware competing directly against their own partners.

vCHS vs. vCloud Providers: The Elephant in the Cloud

I would now say that many would be glad to see it handed over to OVH…because now VMware does not compete against it’s vCAN Service Providers directly, but can continue to hopefully focus on enabling them with the best tools to power their own cloud or provider platforms and help the network grow successfully as what the likes of OVH, iLand, Zettagrid and others have been able to so.

Pat Gelsinger statement in regards to the sale to OVH are very postive for the vCloud Air Network and I believe for VMware hybrid cloud vision that it revealed at VMworld last year can now proceed without this lingering in the corner.

“We remain committed to delivering our broader cross-cloud architecture that extends our hybrid cloud strategy, enabling customers to run, manage, connect, and secure their applications across clouds and devices in a common operating environment”

The VMware vCloud blog here talks about what OVH will bring to the table for the customers that remain on vCloud Air. Overall it’s extremely positive for those customers and they can take advantage of the technical ability and execution of the vCloud Air Networks leading service provider. Overall I think this is a great move by VMware and will hopefully lead to the vCloud Air Network becoming stronger…not weaker.

vCloud Director SP 8.20 – NSX Advanced Networking Overview

Many, including myself thought that the day would never come where we would be talking about a new UI for vCloud Director…but a a month on from the 8.20 release of vCloud Director SP (which was the 8th major release of vCD) I’m happy to be writing about the new Advanced Networking features of 8.20 based on NSX-v. Full NSX compatibility and interoperability has been a long time coming, however the wait has been worthwhile as the vCloud Director team opted to fully integrate the network management into the vCD Cloud Cells over the initial approach that had a seperate appliance acting as a proxy between the NSX Manager and vCD Cells.

But before I dive into the new HTML5 goodness, I thought it would be good to recap the Advanced Networking Services of vCD and how we got to where we are today…

No More vShield…Sort Of:

As everyone should know by now, the vCloud Networking & Security was made end of life late last year and from the release of vCD SP 8.10 vShield Edges should have been upgraded to their NSX equivalents. These Edges will remain as basic Edges within vCloud Director and even though at the backend they would be on NSX-v versioning, no extra features or functionality beyond what was available in the existing vCD portal would be available to tenants.

  • DHCP
  • NAT
  • Firewall
  • Static Routing
  • IPSec VPN
  • Basic Load Balancer

The version of NSX-v deployed dictates the build number of the NSX Edge, however as can be seen below it’s still listed as a vShield Edge in vCenter.

As anyone who has worked closely would know, NSX-v has a lot of vShield DNA in it and in truth it’s more vShield than NSX when talking about the features that pertain to vCloud Director. However the power of NSX-v can be taken advantage of once an basic edge is upgraded to an Advanced Edge.

Advanced Edge Services:

Before the major UI additions that came with vCD SP 8.20 the previous 8.10 version did give us a taste of what was to come with the introduction of a new menu option when you right clicked on an Edge Gateway.

This option was greyed out unless you where running the initial beta of the Advanced Networking Services or ANS. The option can be executed by anyone with the rights to upgrade the edge gateway, but by default this can only be done by a System Administrator or the Org Admin. So it’s worthwhile double checking the roles you have allocated to your tenant’s to ensure that these upgrades can be controlled.

Once you click on the Convert to Advanced Gateway option you get a warning referring to a VMwareKB that warns you about an API change that may make previous calling methods obsolete. Something to take note of for anyone automating this process. On execution of this conversion there is no physical change to the Virtual Machine, however if you now click on the Edge Gateway Services option of the Edge Gateway you will be taken to the new HTML5 Web Interface for NSX Advanced Networking Services to access all the advanced features:

  • Firewall
  • DHCP
  • NAT
  • Routing (Dynamic)
  • Load Balancer (Advanced)
  • SSL VPN Plus
  • Certificates
  • Grouping Objects
  • Statistics
  • Edge Settings

All new Advanced Networking features are configured from the new HTML5 web interface which retains the base vCD URL but now adds:

/tenant/network-edges/{ID}?org=ORGNAME

Everything is self contained the tenant doesn’t have to authenticate again to get to the new user interface. However, if you just upgrade the Edge and go to configure the Advanced Network Services out of the box you will only see a couple of the items listed above.

In order to use the new features a System Administrator must use the vCloud API to grant the new rights that the organisation requires. This process has been explained very well by my good friend Giuliano Bertello here. This process uses the vCloud API to Grant Distributed Firewall and Advanced Networking Services Rights to roles in vCloud Director 8.20 using the new granular role based access control mechanisms that where introduced in 8.20. Once configured your tenant’s can now see all the services listed above to configure the Edge Gateway.

Organisational Distributed Firewall:

Something that is very much new in the 8.20 release is the ability to take advantage of mircosegmentation using the NSX-v Distributed Firewall service. The ability to configure organisation wide rules logically, without the need for a virtual Edge Gateway is a significant step forward for vCD tenants and I hope that this feature enhancement is exposed by service providers and it’s value sold to their tenants. To access the Distributed Firewall, in the Virtual Datacenters windows of the Administration tab, right click on the Virtual Datacenter name and select Manage Firewall.

Once again you will be taken to the new HTML5 user interface and once the correct permissions have been applied to the user you can enable the Distributed Firewall and start configuring your rules. The URL is slightly different to the Edge Gateway URL:

/tenant/dwf/{ID}?org=ORGNAME

But the look and feel is familiar.

Conclusion:

vCloud Director SP 8.20 has finally delivered on the what most members of the vCloud Air Network had wanted for some time…that is, full NSX interoperability and feature set access as well as a new user interface. Over the next few weeks, I am going to expand on all the features of the Advanced and Distributed Networking features of vCD and NSX and walk through how to configure elements through the UI and API as well as give a looks into what’s happening at the backend in terms of how NSX stores rules and policy items for vCD tenant use.

Compatibility with vSphere 6.5 and NSX-v 6.3.x:

vCloud Director SP 8.20 is compatible with vSphere 6.5 and NSX 6.3.0 and supports full interoperability with other versions as shown in the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix. As of vCD 8.20 GA, vCD 8.20 passed the functional interoperability test and limited scale testing for these versions:

  • vCD 8.20 with vSphere 6.0 and NSX 6.3.0
  • vCD 8.20 with vSphere 6.5 and NSX 6.3.0

References:

https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2149042
https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2147625