Category Archives: Service Providers

Hybrid World… Why IBM buying RedHat makes sense!

As Red October came to a close…at a time when US Tech stocks were taking their biggest battering in a long time the news came out over the weekend that IBM had acquired RedHat for 34 billion dollars! This seems to have taken the tech world by surprise…the all-cash deal represents a massive 63% premium on the previous close of RedHat’s stock price…all in all it seems ludicrous.

Most people that I’ve talked to about it and from reading comments on social media and blog sites suggests that the deal is horrible for the industry…but I’ve felt this is more a reaction to IBM than anything. IBM has a reputation as swallowing up companies whole and spitting them out the other side of the merger process a shell of what they once were. There has also been a lot of empathy for the employees of RedHat, especially from ex-IBM employees who have experience inside the Big Blue machine.

I’m no expert on M&A and I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics behind the deal and what is involved…but when I look at what RedHat has in its stable, I can see why IBM have made such an aggressive play for them. On the surface it seems like IBM are in trouble with their stock price and market capitalization falling nearly 20% this year and more than 30% in the last five years…they had to make a big move!

IBM’s previous 2013 acquisition of SoftLayer (for a measly 2 billion USD) helped them remain competitive in the Infrastructure as a Service space and if you believe the stories, have done very well out of integrating the SoftLayer platform into what was BlueMix, and is now IBM Cloud. This 2013 Forbes article on the acquisition sheds some light as to why this RedHat acquisition makes sense and is true to form for IBM.

IBM sees the shift of big companies moving to the cloud as a 20-year trend…

That was five years ago…and since then a lot has happened in the Cloud world. Hybrid cloud is now the accepted route to market with a mix of on-premises, IaaS and PaaS hosted and hyper-scale public cloud services being the norm. There is no one cloud to rule them all! And even though AWS and Azure continue to dominate and be front of mind there is still a lot of choice out there when it comes to how companies want to consume their cloud services.

Looking at RedHat’s stable and taking away the obvious Linux distro’s that are both enterprise and open sources the real sweet spot of the deal lies in RedHat’s products that contribute to hybrid cloud.

I’ve heard a lot more noise of late about RedHat OpenStack becoming the platform of choice as companies look to transform away from more traditional VMware/Hyper-V based platforms. RedHat OpenShift is also being considered as an enterprise ready platform for containerization of workloads. Some sectors of the industry (Government and Universities) have already decided on their move to platforms that are backed by RedHat…the one thing I would comment here is that there was an upside to that that might now be clouded by IBM being in the mix.

Rounding out the stable, RedHat have a Cloud Suite which encompasses most of the products listed above. CloudForms for Infrastructure as Code, with Ansible for orchestration…together with RedHat Virtualization together with OpenStack and OpenShift..it’s a decent preposition!

Put all that together with the current services of IBM Cloud and you start to have a compelling portfolio covering almost all desired aspects of hybrid and multi cloud service offerings. If the acquisition of SoftLayer was the start of a 20 year trend then IBM are trying to keep themselves positioned ahead of the curve and very much in step with the next evolution of that trend. That isn’t to say that they are not playing catchup with the likes of VMware, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and alike, but I truly believe that if they don’t butcher this deal they will come out a lot stronger and more importantly offer valid completion in the market…that can only be a good thing!

As for what it means for RedHat itself, their employees and culture…that I don’t know.

References:

https://www.redhat.com/en/about/press-releases/ibm-acquire-red-hat-completely-changing-cloud-landscape-and-becoming-world%E2%80%99s-1-hybrid-cloud-provider

IBM sees the shift of big companies moving to the cloud as a 20-year trend

Quick Fix – Backup for Office 365 Self Service Recovery Fails with Incompatible Version

A couple of weeks ago we released version 2.0 of Veeam Backup for Office 365 which added support for SharePoint and OneDrive. Earlier this year I wrote about the awesome self service capabilities that are included for Veeam Cloud and Service Providers in the VBO platform, and also the huge opportunity that exists in the provider space to offer backup service for Exchange. Add to that SharePoint and OneDrive and that opportunity only gets bigger.

I’m putting together a couple of posts around the self service of SharePoint and OneDrive in the 2.0 release, but in the meantime this is a very quick fix post for those that might be getting the below error when trying to connect to service provider endpoints running VBO services for Exchange Online.

Incompatible Veeam Backup for Office 365 server version, received 9.6.3.567, expected 9.6.0.1308

To resolve this issue, then tenant needs to download the VBO 2.0 download package and install the new version of the Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange that’s included in the release.

This will update the existing Explorer version from that distributed with Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5. The awesome thing about getting the upgrade as part of the VBO 2.0 package is that for the 1.5 release where self service was first introduced, tenants had to wait for Update 3 for Backup & Replication to consume the service.

Once this has been updated you can once again connect to the Cloud Connect infrastructure of the Service Provider that allows the self service recoverability function to take place.

Released: Veeam Availability Console Update 1

Today, Veeam Availability Console Update 1 (Build 2.0.2.1750) was released. This update improves on our multi-tenant service provider management and reporting platform that is provided free to VCSPs. VAC acts as a central portal for Veeam Cloud and Service Providers to remotely manage and monitor customer instances of Backup & Replication including the ability to monitor Cloud Connect Backup and Replication jobs and failover plans. It also is the central mechanism to deploy and manage our Agent for Windows which includes the ability to install agents onto on-premises machines and apply policies to those agents once deployed.

What’s new in Update 1:

If you want to get the low down from the What’s new document can be access here. I’ve summarised the new features and enhancements below and expanded on the key ones below.

  • Enhanced support for Veeam Agents
  • New Operator Role
  • ConnectWise Manage Plugin
  • Improved Veeam Backup & Replication monitoring
  • New backup policy types
  • Sub-tenant Accounts and Sub-tenant Management
  • Alarm for tracking VMs stored in cloud repositories
  • RESTful APIs enhancements

RESTful APIs enhancements: VACs API first approach gets a number of enhancements in Update 1 with more information stored in the VAC configuration database accessible via new RESTful API calls that include:

  • Managed backup server licenses
  • Tenant descriptions
  • References to the parent object for users, discovery rules and computers

As with the GA, this is all accessible via the built in Swagger Interface.

Enhanced support for Veeam Agents: VAC Update 1 introduces support for Veeam Agents that are managed by Veeam Backup & Replication. This adds monitoring and alarms for Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows and Veeam Agent for Linux that are managed by a Veeam Backup & Replication. One of the great features of this is the search functionality which allows you to more efficiently search for agent instances that exist in Backup & Replication and see their statuses.

New Operator Role: While not the Reseller role most VCSPs are after this new role allows VCSPs wanting to delegate VAC access to their own IT staff to take advantage of the new operator role without granting complete administrative access. This role allows access to everything essential to remotely monitor and manage customer environments, but restricts access to VAC configuration settings.

ConnectWise Manage Plugin: ConnectWise Manage is a very popular platform used by MSPs all over the world. VAC Update 1 includes native integration with ConnectWise Manage. The integration allows VCSPs to synchronize and map company accounts between the two platforms, integrated billing, enabling you to use ConnectWise Manage to generate tenant invoices based on their usage and the plugin allows you to create tickets based on triggered alarms in VAC. The integration is solid and based on VACs strong underlying API driven approach. More importantly, this is the first extensibility feature of VAC using a Plugin framework…the idea is for it to just be the start.

Alarm for tracking VMs stored in cloud repositories:  A smaller enhancement, but one that is important for those running Cloud Connect is the new alarm that allows you to be notified when the number of customer VMs stored in the cloud repository exceeds a certain threshold.

Scalability enhancements: Finally there has been a significant improvement in VAC scalability limits when it comes to the number of managed Backup & Replication servers for each VAC instance. This ensures stable operation and performance when managing up to 10,000 Veeam Agents and up to 600 Backup & Replication servers, protecting 150-200 VMs or Veeam Agents each.

References and Product Guides:

https://www.veeam.com/vac_2_0_u1_release_notes_rn.pdf

https://www.veeam.com/documentation-guides-datasheets.html

https://www.veeam.com/availability-console-service-providers-faq.html

https://www.veeam.com/vac_2_0_u1_whats_new_wn.pdf

VeeamOn 2018: Recognizing Innovation and what it means to be Innovative

True innovation is solving a real problem…and though for the most, it’s startups and tech giants that are seen to be the innovators, their customers and partners also have the ability to innovate. Innovation drives competitive advantages and allows companies to differentiate themselves compared to others. In my previous roles I was lucky to be involved with teams of talented people that did great things with great technologies. Like others around the world we where innovating with leading vendor technologies to create new service offerings that add value and compliment the underlying technology.

Innovation requires these teams of people to be experimental at heart and try to build or enhance upon already existing technologies. The Service Provider industry has always found a way to innovate ontop of vendor platforms and successful vendors are those that offer the right tools and guidance for providers to creative innovative solutions ontop of their platforms. The are problem solvers!

Orchestrations, automation, provisioning and billing are driving factors in how service providers can differentiate themselves and gain that competitive advantage in the marketplace. Without innovating ontop of these platforms, service offerings become generic, don’t stand out and are generally operationally expensive to manage and maintain.

Introducing the Veeam Innovation Awards for 2018:

When visiting and talking to different partners across the world it’s amazing to see some of the innovation that’s been built ontop of Veeam technologies and we at Veeam want to reward our customers and partners who have done great things with our technologies.

At VeeamON 2018, we’ll be celebrating some of these innovative solutions, so please let us know how you’ve built upon the Veeam Availability Platform. Nominations can be made from March 29 to April 30, with the winners being recognized during the VeeamON main stage keynote. Self nominations or those from partners, providers, or Veeam field-team members are encouraged — click here to nominate for a Veeam Innovation Award.

I can think of a number of VCSPs that have done great things with building upon Cloud Connect, Backup & Replication IaaS backups and working with Veeam’s API’s and PowerShell to solve customer problems and offer value added services. These guys have brought something new to the industry and we want to reward that.

Having previously come from a successfully innovate company within their own space, being innovative is now something I try to preach to all customers and partners I visit. It is an absolute requirement if you want to win business and stand out in the backup and availability industry…innovation is key and we want to hear about it from you!

References:

Nominations for the VeeamON 2018 Innovation Awards are now open

Released: vCloud Director 9.1 – New HTML5 Features, vCD-CLI and more!

Overnight VMware released vCloud Director 9.1 (build 7905680) which builds on the 9.0 release that came out last September. This continues to deliver on VMware’s promise to release major vCD updates every six months or so. This update, on the surface contains fewer big ticket items than the 9.0 release however the enhancements included are actually significant and continue to build on where 9.0 left off.

New Features and Enhancements:
  • Enhanced Tenant Portal
  • HTML Provider Portal
  • User Interface Extensibility
  • Service Integration
  • Standalone VMRC
  • Multi-Site Management View
  • SR-IOV
  • FIPS Mode
  • Python SDK
  • vCD-CLI
  • vRealize Orchestrator Integration
Enhanced Tenant Portal:

The new Tenant UI features include vApp and Catalog enhancements while delivering on probably the biggest pain point with the Flex UI tenant portal…that is OFV/OVA management. We now have native upload and download integration without the need for the client integration plugin.

You now also get an overview of resources consumed in your Virtual Datacenters and also get a view of the multiple organisation feature introduced into 9.0.

A new Provider Portal has been seeded in this release and at the moment can only be used for the new vRealise Orchestrator extensibility functionality. The administrator can import workflows from vRO through the import option. An administrator clicks the import workflow button, selects the vRO instance, and then chooses all the workflows they would like to import. On that note, there is an updated vRO Plug-In that allows both providers and tenants to automate tasks from the portal which is an excellent feature.

There is also a new workflow for the provision of standalone VMs and vApps.

Standalone VMRC:

If the management of OVAs/OVFs wasn’t the number one pain point with the FlexUI then the next one would have had to be the pain caused by the lack of functionality in the Console window. A HTML VM console is supported in version 9.0, but 9.1 now adds support for standalone VMware Remote Console. The VMRC provides more functions such for the tenant and significantly improves access to the VM consoles and gives greater flexibility accessing the VMs.

vCD-CLI:

I’ve blogged about the old VCA-CLI on a number of occasions and it’s great to see the project officially brought back into the vCD world. Development on this stopped for a while with the demise of vCloud Air, however I’m glad to see it picked up on as it’s a great tool for managing vCloud Director tenant Organisations and objects from a command line without having to get stuck into the APIs directly. It’s also used for the new Container Services Extension that has also been released side by side with this release of vCD.

Compatibility with Veeam, vSphere 6.5 and NSX-v 6.4.x:

vCloud Director 9.1 is compatible with vSphere 6.5 Update 1 and NSX-v 6.4 and supports full interoperability with other versions as shown in the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix. With regards to Veeam support, I am sure that our QA department will be testing the 9.1 release against our integration pieces at the first opportunity they get, but as of now, there is no ETA on offical support.

A list of known issues can be found in the release notes.

Conclusion:

Overall this is a very strong release with a lot of emphasis on extensibility behind the visual enhancements and functionality of the ever evolving HTML Tenant UI. As usual, I’ll look to write a few more blog posts on specific 9.1 features over the next couple of weeks.

There is a White Paper where you can find more details about what’s contained in the 9.1 release. Tom Fojta and Daniel Paluszek VMware have a what’s new blog posts as well.

#LongLivevCD

References:

https://blogs.vmware.com/vcloud/files/2018/03/vcd91newfeatureswp.pdf

VMware vCloud Director 9.1 is out!

NSX Bytes: Updated – NSX Edge Feature and Performance Matrix

For a few years now i’ve been compiling features and throughput numbers for NSX Edge Services Gateways. This started off comparing features and performance metrics between vShield Edges and NSX Edges. As the product evolves, so does it’s capabilities and given the last time I updated this was around the time of NSX-v 6.2 I thought it was time for an update.

A reminder that VMware announced the End of Availability (“EOA”) of the VMware vCloud Networking and Security 5.5.x that kicked in on the September of 19, 2016 and that from vCloud Director 8.10 and above vShield Edges are no longer supported…hence why I don’t have the VSE listed in the tables. For those still running VSEs for what ever reason, you can reference my original post here.

As a refresher…what is an Edge device?

The Edge Services Gateway (NSX-v) connects isolated, stub networks to shared (uplink) networks by providing common gateway services such as DHCP, VPN, NAT, dynamic routing, and Load Balancing. Common deployments of Edges include in the DMZ, VPN Extranets, and multi-tenant Cloud environments where the Edge creates virtual boundaries for each tenant.

The following relates to ESG maximums per NSX and ESXi maximums.

Item Maximums
ESGs per NSX Manager 2,000
ESGs per ESXi Host 250
ESG Interfaces 10 (Including Internal, Uplink and Trunk)
ESG Subinterfaces 200
The function of an ESG is as follows:

The ESG gives you access to all NSX Edge services such as firewall, NAT, DHCP, VPN, load balancing, and high availability. You can install multiple ESG virtual appliances in a datacenter. Each ESG virtual appliance can have a total of ten uplink and internal network interfaces. With a trunk, an ESG can have up to 200 subinterfaces. The internal interfaces connect to secured port groups and act as the gateway for all protected virtual machines in the port group. The subnet assigned to the internal interface can be a publicly routed IP space or a NATed/routed RFC 1918 private space. Firewall rules and other NSX Edge services are enforced on traffic between network interfaces.

Below is a list of services provided by the NSX Edge.

Service Description
Firewall Supported rules include IP 5-tuple configuration with IP and port ranges for stateful inspection for all protocols
NAT Separate controls for Source and Destination IP addresses, as well as port translation
DHCP Configuration of IP pools, gateways, DNS servers, and search domains
Site to Site VPN Uses standardized IPsec protocol settings to interoperate with all major VPN vendors
SSL VPN SSL VPN-Plus enables remote users to connect securely to private networks behind a NSX Edge gateway
Load Balancing Simple and dynamically configurable virtual IP addresses and server groups
High Availability High availability ensures an active NSX Edge on the network in case the primary NSX Edge virtual machine is unavailable
Syslog Syslog export for all services to remote servers
L2 VPN Provides the ability to stretch your L2 network.
Dynamic Routing Provides the necessary forwarding information between layer 2 broadcast domains, thereby allowing you to decrease layer 2 broadcast domains and improve network efficiency and scale. Provides North-South connectivity, thereby enabling tenants to access public networks.

Below is a table that shows the different sizes of each edge appliance and what (if any) impact that has to the performance of each service. As a disclaimer the below numbers have been cherry picked from different sources and are subject to change.

NSX Edge (Compact) NSX Edge (Large) NSX Edge (Quad-Large) NSX Edge (X-Large)
vCPU 1 2 4 6
Memory 512MB 1GB 1GB 8GB
Disk 512MB 512MB 512MB 4.5GB + 4GB
Interfaces 10 10 10 10
Sub Interfaces (Trunk) 200 200 200 200
NAT Rules 2,048 4,096 4,096 8,192
ARP Entries
Until Overwrite
1,024 2,048 2,048 2,048
FW Rules 2000 2000 2000 2000
FW Performance 3Gbps 9.7Gbps 9.7Gbps 9.7Gbps
DHCP Pools 20,000  20,000  20,000  20,000
ECMP Paths 8 8 8 8
Static Routes 2,048 2,048 2,048 2,048
LB Pools 64 64 64 1,024
LB Virtual Servers 64 64 64 1,024
LB Server / Pool 32 32 32 32
LB Health Checks 320 320 320 3,072
LB Application Rules 4,096 4,096 4,096 4,096
L2VPN Clients Hub to Spoke 5 5 5 5
L2VPN Networks per Client/Server 200 200 200 200
IPSec Tunnels 512 1,600 4,096 6,000
SSLVPN Tunnels 50 100 100 1,000
SSLVPN Private Networks 16 16 16 16
Concurrent Sessions 64,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Sessions/Second 8,000 50,000 50,000 50,000
LB Throughput L7 Proxy) 2.2Gbps 2.2Gbps 3Gbps
LB Throughput L4 Mode) 6Gbps 6Gbps 6Gbps
LB Connections/s (L7 Proxy) 46,000 50,000 50,000
LB Concurrent Connections (L7 Proxy) 8,000 60,000 60,000
LB Connections/s (L4 Mode) 50,000 50,000 50,000
LB Concurrent Connections (L4 Mode) 600,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
BGP Routes 20,000 50,000 250,000 250,000
BGP Neighbors 10 20 100 100
BGP Routes Redistributed No Limit No Limit No Limit No Limit
OSPF Routes 20,000 50,000 100,000 100,000
OSPF LSA Entries Max 750 Type-1 20,000 50,000 100,000 100,000
OSPF Adjacencies 10 20 40 40
OSPF Routes Redistributed 2000 5000 20,000 20,000
Total Routes 20,000 50,000 250,000 250,000

Of interest from the above table it doesn’t list any Load Balancing performance number for the NSX Compact Edge…take that to mean that if you want to do any sort of load balancing you will need NSX Large and above. To finish up, below is a table describing each NSX Edge size use case.

Use Case
NSX Edge (Compact) Small Deployment, POCs and single service use
NSX Edge (Large) Small/Medium DC or mult-tenant
NSX Edge (Quad-Large) High Throughput ECMP or High Performance Firewall
NSX Edge (X-Large) L7 Load Balancing, Dedicated Core

The Quad Large model is suitable for high performance firewall abilities and the X-Large is suitable for both high performance load balancing and routing. You can convert between NSX Edge service gateway sizes upon demand using a non-disruptive upgrade process, so the recommendation is to begin with the Large model and scale up if necessary. A Large NSX Edge service gateway is suitable for medium firewall performance but as detailed later, the NSX Edge service gateway does not perform the majority of firewall functions.

References:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-NSX-for-vSphere/6.4/NSX%20for%20vSphere%20Recommended%20Configuration%20Maximums_64.pdf

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Validated-Design/4.2/com.vmware.vvd.sddc-design.doc/GUID-FCEA948E-7F8B-4FF0-857B-12D6E045BF1D.html

Quick Look: Installing Veeam Powered Network Direct from a Linux Repo

Last week, Veeam Powered Network (Veeam PN) was released to GA. As a quick reminder Veeam PN allows administrators to create, configure and connect site-to-site or point-to-site VPN tunnels easily through an intuitive and simple UI all within a couple of clicks. Previously during the RC period there where two options for deployment…The appliance was available through the Azure Marketplace or downloadable from the veeam.com website and deployable on-premises from an OVA.

With the release of the GA a third option is available which is installation direct from the Veeam Linux Repositories. This gives users the option to deploy their own Ubuntu Linux server and install the packages required through the Advanced Package Tool (APT). This is also the mechanism that works in the background to update Veeam PN through the UI via the Check for Updates button under Settings.

The requirements for installation are as follows:

  • Ubuntu 16.04 and above
  • 1 vCPU (Minimum)
  • 1 GB vRAM (Minimum)
  • 16 GB of Hard Drive space
  • External Network Connectivity

The Azure Marketplace Image and the OVA Appliance have been updated to GA build 1.0.0.380.

Installation Steps:

To install Veeam PN and it’s supporting modules you need to first add the Veeam Linux Repository to you system and configure APT to be on the lookout for the Veeam PN packages. To do this you need to download and add the Veeam Software Repository Key, add Veeam PN to the list of sources in APT and run an APT update.

Once done you need to install two packages via the apt-get install command. As shown below there is the Server and UI component installed. This will pick up a significant list of dependancies that need to be installed as well.

There is a lot that is deployed and configured as it goes through the package installs and you may be prompted along the way to ask to overwrite the existing iptables rules if any existing on the system prior to install. Once completed you should be able to go to the Veeam PN web portal and perform the initial configuration.

The username to use at login will be the root user of your system.

So that’s it…an extremely easy and quick way to deploy Veeam Power Network without having to download the OVA or deploy through the Azure Marketplace.

As a reminder, i’ve blogged about the three different use cases for Veeam PN:

Clink on the links to visit the blog posts that go through each scenario and download or deploy the GA from the Veeam.com website or Azure Marketplace and now directly from the Veeam Linux Repos and give it a try. Again, it’s free, simple, powerful and a great way to connect or extend networks securely with minimal fuss.

AWS re:Invent – Expectations from a VM Hugger…

Today is the first day offical day of AWS re:Invent 2017 and things are kicking off with the global partner summit. Today also is my first day of AWS re:Invent and I am looking forward to experiencing a different type of big IT conference with all previous experiences being at VMworld or the old Microsoft Tech Eds. Just buy looking at the agenda, schedule and content catalog I can already tell re:Invent is a very very different type of IT conference.

As you may or may not know I started this blog as Hosting is Life! and the first half of my career was spent around hosting applications and web services…in that I gravitated towards looking at AWS solutions to help compliment the hosting platforms I looked after and I was actively using a few AWS services in 2011 and 2012 and attended a couple of AWS courses. After joining Zettagrid my use of AWS decreased and it wasn’t until Veeam announced supportability for AWS storage as part of our v10 announcements that I decided to get back into the swing of things.

Subsequently we announced Veeam Availability for AWS which leverages EBS snapshots to perform agentless backups of AWS instances and more recently we where announced as a launch partner for VMware Cloud on AWS data availability solutions. For me, the fact that VMware have jumped into bed with AWS has obviously raised AWS’s profile in the VMware community and it’s certainly being seen as the cool thing to know (or claim to know) within the ecosystem.

Veeam isn’t the only backup vendor looking to leverage what AWS has to offer by way of extending availability into the hyper-scale cloud and every leading vendor is rushing to claim features that offload backups to AWS cloud storage as well as offering services to protect native AWS workloads…as with IT Pros this is also the in thing!

Apart from backup and availability, my sessions are focused on storage, compute, scalability and scale as well as some sessions on home automation with Alexa and alike. This years re:Invent is 100% a learning experience and I am looking forward to attending a lot of sessions and taking a lot of notes. I might even come out taking the whole serverless thing a little more seriously!

Moving away from the tech the AWS world is one that I am currently removed from…unlike the VMware ecosystem and VMworld I wouldn’t know 95% of the people delivering sessions and I certainly don’t know much about the AWS community. While I can’t fix that by just being here this week, I can certainly use this week as a launching pad to get myself more entrenched with the technology, the ecosystem and the community.

Looking forward to the week and please reach out if you are around.

Released: vCloud Director 9.0 – The Most Significant Update To Date!

Today is a good day! VMware have released to GA vCloud Director 9.0 (build 6681978) and with it come the most significant feature and enhancements of any previous vCD release. This is the 9th major release of vCloud Director, now spanning nearly six and half years since v1.0 was released in Feburary of 2011 and as mentioned from my point of view it’s the most significant update of vCloud Director to date.

Having been part of the BETA program I’ve been able to test some of the new features and enhancements over the past couple of months and even though from a Service Provider perspective there is a heap to like about what is functionally under the covers, but the biggest new feature is without doubt the HTML5 Tenant Portal however as you can see below there is a decent list of top enhancements.

Top Enhancements:

 

  • Multi-Site vCD – Single Access point URL for all vCD instances within same SP federated via SSO
  • On-premises to Cloud Migration – Plugin that enables L2 connectivity, warm and cold migration
  • Expanded NSX Integration – Security Groups, Logical Routing for east-west traffic and audit logging
  • HTML5 Tenant UI – Streamlined workflows for VM deployment, UI Extensibility for 3rd party services/functionality
  • HTML5 Metrics UI – Basic Metrics for VMs shown through tenant portal
  • Extensible Service Framework – Service enablement, SSO Ready
  • Application Extensibility – Plugin Framework
  • PostGres 9.5 Support – In addition to MSSQL and Oracle, Postgres is now supported.
  • …and more under the hood bits

I’m sure there will be a number of other blog posts focusing on the list above, and i’ll look to go through a few myself over the next few weeks but for this GA post I wanted to touch on the new HTML5 Tenant UI.

There is a What’s New in vCloud Director 9.0 PDF here.

New HTML5 Tenant UI:

The vCD team laid the foundation for this new Tenant UI in the last release of vCD in bringing the NSX Advanced HTML5 UI to version 8.20. While most things have been ported across there may still be a case for tenants to go back to the old Flex UI to do some tasks, however from what I have seen there is close to 100% full functionality.

To get to the new HTML5 Tenant UI you go to: https://<vcd>/tenant/orgname

Once logged in you are greeted with a now familiar looking VMware portal based on the Clarity UI. It’s pretty, it’s functional and it doesn’t need Flash…so haters of the existing flex based vCD portal will have to bite their tongues now 🙂

The Networking menu is inbuilt into this same Tenant portal and you you can access it directly from the new UI, or in the same way as was the case with vCD 8.20 from the flex UI. Below is a YouTube video posted by the vCD team that walks through the new UI.

There is also VM Metrics in the UI now, where previously they where only accessible after configuring the vCD Cells to route metric data to a Cassandra database. The metrics where only accessible via the API and some providers managed to tap into that and bring vCD Metrics into their own portals. With the 9.0 release this is now part of the new HTML5 Tenant UI and can be seen in the video below.

As per previous releases this only shows up to two weeks worth of basic metrics but it’s still a step in the right direction and gives vCD tenant’s enough info to do basic monitoring before hitting up a service desk for VM related help.

Conclusion:

vCloud Director 9.0 has delivered on the what most members of the VMware Cloud Provider Program had wanted for some time…that is, a continuation of the commitment to the the HTML5 UI as well as continuing to add features that help service providers extend their reach across multiple zones and over to hybrid cloud setups . As mentioned over the next few weeks, I am going to expand on the key new features and walk through how to configure elements through the UI and API.

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

vCloud Director 9.0 is compatible with vSphere 6.5 Update 1 and NSX 6.3.3 and supports full interoperability with other versions as shown in the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix. With regards to Veeam support, I am sure that our QA department will be testing the 9.0 release against our integration pieces at the first opportunity they get, but as of now, there is no ETA on offical support.

A list of known issues can be found in the release notes.

#LongLivevCD

References:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/vCloud-Director/9.0/rn/rel_notes_vcloud_director_90.html

https://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/vcloud/vmware-vcloud-director-whats-new-9-0-white-paper.pdf

VMware Announces New vCloud Director 9.0

VMware Cloud on AWS: Thoughts One Year On

Last week at VMworld 2017 in the US, VMware announced the initial availability of VMware Cloud on AWS. It was the focal point for VMware at the event and probably the most important strategic play that VMware has undertaken in it’s history. This partnership was officially announced at last year’s VMworld and at the time I wrote a couple of blog posts commenting on the potential impact to the then, vCloud Air Network (now VCPP) and what needed to be done to empower the network.

As you can imagine at the time, I was a little skeptical about the announcement, but since that time we have seen the fall of vCloud Air to OVH and a doubling down of the efforts around enhancing vCloud Director and general support for the VMware Cloud Provider Program. Put this together with me stepping out of my role within the VCPP to one that is on the outside supporting it I feel that VMware Cloud on AWS is good for VMware and also good for service providers.

What It Looks Like:

This time last year we didn’t know exactly what VMC would look like apart from using vSphere, NSX and vSAN as it’s compute, networking and storage platforms or how exactly it would work on top of AWS’s infrastructure. For a detailed look under the hood, Frank Denneman has published a Technical Overview which is worth a read. A lot of credit needs to go to the engineering teams at both ends for achieving what they have achieved within a relatively small period of time.

The key thing to point out is the default compute and storage that’s included as part of the service. Four ESXi hosts will have dual E5-2686 v4 CPUs @2.3GHz with 18 Cores and 512GB of RAM. Storage wise there will be 10TB raw of All Flash vSAN per host, meaning depending on the FTT of vSAN a usable minimum of 20TB. The scale-out model enables expansion to up to 16 hosts, resulting in 576 CPU cores and 8TB of memory which is insane!

What does is Cost:

Here is where is starts to get interesting for me. Pricing wasn’t discussed during the Keynotes or in the announcements but looking at the pricing page here you can see what this base cluster will cost you. It’s going to cost $8.37 USD per host per hour for the on-demand option, which is the only option until VMware launches one year and three year reserved instances in the future where there looks to be a thirty and fifty percent saving respectively.

Upon first glance this seems expensive…however it’s only expensive in relative terms because there is the default resources that come the service. You can’t get anything less than the four hosts with all the trimmings at the moment which, when taken into consideration might lock out non enterprise companies from taking the service up.

Unless pricing changes by way of offering a smaller resource footprint I can see this not being attractive in other regions like ANZ or EMEA where small to medium size enterprises are more common. This is where VCPP service providers can still remain competitive and continue to offer services around the same building blocks as VMC on their own platforms.

CloudPhysics have an interesting blog post here, on some cost analytics that they ran.

How Can it be Leveraged:

With Veeam being a launch partner with VMware Cloud on AWS offering availability services it got me thinking as to how the service could be leveraged by service providers. A few things need to fall into place from a technology point of view but I believe that one of the best potential use cases for VMC is for service providers to leverage it for failover, replication and disaster recovery scenarios.

The fact that there this service posses auto-scaling of hosts means that it has the potential to be used as a resource cluster for disaster recovery services. If I think about Cloud Connect Replication, one of the hardest things to get right as a provider is sizing the failover resources and the procurement of the compute and storage to deal with customer requirements. As long as the base resources are covered the auto scaling capabilities mean that service providers only need to cover the base resources and pay any additional costs if a failover event happens and exceed the default cluster resources.

It must be pointed out that Cloud Connect can’t use a VMC cluster as a target at the moment due to the networking used…that is VXLAN on top of AWS VPN networking.

As I wrote last year, I feel like there is a great opportunity for service providers to leverage VMC as vCloud Director provider clusters however I know that this currently isn’t being supported by VMware. I honestly feel that service providers would love the ability to have cloud based Provider vDCs available across the world and I’m hoping that VMware realise the potential and allow vCloud Director to connect and consume VMC.

VMworld End of Show Report on VMware Cloud on AWS:

References:

https://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/vmw-newsfeed.VMware-and-AWS-Announce-Initial-Availability-of-VMware-Cloud-on-AWS.2184706.html

https://cloud.vmware.com/vmc-aws

https://www.crn.com.au/news/pricing-revealed-for-vmware-cloud-on-aws-472011

« Older Entries