Category Archives: VMware Cloud on AWS

vCloud Director is no more… Long Live vCD! [VMware Cloud Director Service for VMC]

There was a very significant announcement at VMworld Barcelona overnight, with the unveiling of a new service targeted at Managed Service Providers. VMware Cloud Director Service (CDS) looks to leverage a hosted SaaS based instance of vCloud Director to offer multi-tenancy on VMware Cloud on AWS. The VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC becomes the provider and MSPs can look to more efficiently consume VMC resources and expand as more capacity is required.

Daniel Paluszek has written a great overview blog post about what the service is, it’s key value points and some questions and answers that those in the VMware Cloud Provider Program may have. I’m personally looking forward to trying out the service myself and start looking at the data protection scenarios that can be supported.

They Said it Would Never Happen:

Back in 2016 when VMware first announced VMware Cloud on AWS, I saw the potential straight away and what it could mean for (at the time vCloud Air) VMware Cloud Provider Partners to extend their Provider vDCs to one that was backed by VMC.

At the time I hacked together what I saw to be the future.

This isn’t quite what this newly announced solution is and it will be interesting to see if VMware eventually allow SP based vCD installs to go out and source a VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC as a Provider of its own. I was told by a number of people that vCD would never be used with VMC…

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.

That said, vCloud Director has evolved tremendously since then and delivered on almost everything that I was after at the time. This seems to be the last piece of the puzzle … though given that the actual Cloud Direct Service is delivered aaS does have me worried a little bit in terms of the ghosts of vCloud Air past.

Targeting MSPs over SPs:

I’ve already had some conversations as to who this new Cloud Director SaaS offering might be targeting. While I need to find out more information, it seems as though the main target of the service initially are MSPs. Depending on where you come from the definition of an MSP will differ to that of an SP. In some regions they are one and the same, however in the North American market an MSP would leverage an SP to offer infrastructure or software as a service.

Which every way you look at it, there is now the ability to spin up an instance of vCD that is managed and have that abstract resources that are in VMware Cloud on AWS. In a way this may lead some MSPs to ditch existing reseller relationships with existing VCPPs offering IaaS with vCD and go direct to VMware to have an end to end managed multi-tenant service and a direct reseller agreement with VMware.

Again, I need some more information before passing judgement and seeing how this fits into existing VCPP service offerings. Obviously the ability for existing VCPPs to land and expand into any VMC enabled AWS Region with this new service is significant also… but will they be able to use their existing provisioning and automation tools with the new service… and will the SaaS based version of Cloud Director be first to market with new features, followed by the VCPP versions?

Dropping the little v:

When VMware acquired Lab Manager and turned it into vCloud Director in 2010 it was hard to envision that the platform would still be going strong nearly ten years later. It’s now stronger that ever and set to go through its next evolution with the platform looking to extend beyond traditional vSphere IaaS based platforms… this explains why the little v has been dropped. We are not just talking about vCloud anymore… The premise is that Cloud Director will span multiple cloud and multiple platforms.

Be interesting to see when the name change takes place for the main product line that’s offered to VMware Cloud Providers… for the time being, it will still be vCD to me!

#LongLivevCD
#VCDpowered

References:

https://cloudsolutions.vmware.com/bite-sized-vmc

VMware Cloud Director – A New Day.

VMworld 2019 – Top Session Picks

VMworld 2019 is happening tomorrow (It is already Saturday here) and as I am just about to embark on the 20+ hour journey from PER to SFO I thought it was better late than never to share my top session picks. Now with sessions available online it doesn’t really matter that the actual sessions are fully booked. The theme this year is “Make Your Mark” …which does fall in line with themes of past VMworld events. It’s all about VMware empowering it’s customers to do great things with its technology.

I’ve already given a session breakdown and analysis for this years event… and as a recap here are some of the keyword numbers relating to what tech is in what session.

Out of all that, and the 1348 sessions total, that are currently in the catalog I have chosen then list below as my top session picks.

  • vSphere HA and DRS Hybrid Cloud Deep Dive [HBI2186BU]
  • 60 Minutes of Non-Uniform Memory Architecture [HBI2278BU]
  • vCloud Director.Next : Deliver Cloud Services on Any VMware Endpoint [HBI2452BU]
  • Why Cloud Providers Choose VMware vCloud Director as Their Cloud Platform [HBI1453PU]
  • VMware Cloud on AWS: Advanced Automation Techniques [HBI1463BU]
  • The Future of vSphere: What you Need to Know [HBI4937BU]
  • NSX-T for Service Providers [MTE6105U]
  • Kubernetes Networking with NSX-T [MTE6104U]
  • vSAN Best Practices [HCI3450BU]
  • Deconstructing vSAN: A Deep Dive into the internals of vSAN [HCI1342BU]
  • VMware in Any Cloud: Introducing Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud VMware Solutions [HBI4446BU]

Also wanted to again call out the Veeam Sessions.

  • Backups are just the start! Enhanced Data Mobility with Veeam [HBI3535BUS]
  • Enhancing Data Protection for vSphere with What’s Coming from Veeam [HBI3532BUS]

A lot of those sessions above relate to my ongoing interest in the service providers world and my continued passion in vCloud Director, NSX and vSAN as core VMware technologies. I also think the first two I put in the list are important because in this day of instant (gratification) services we still need to be mindful of what is happening underneath the surface…. it’s not just a case of some computer running some workload somewhere!

All in all it should be a great week in SFO and looking forward to the event… now to finish packing and get to the airport!

First Look: On Demand Recovery with Cloud Tier and VMware Cloud on AWS

Since Veeam Cloud Tier was released as part of Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 4, i’ve written a lot about how it works and what it offers in terms of offloading data from more expensive local storage to what is fundamentally cheaper remote Object Storage. As with most innovative technologies, if you dig a little deeper… different use cases start to present themselves and unintended use cases find their way to the surface.

Such was the case when, together with AWS and VMware, we looked at how Cloud Tier could be used as a way to allow on demand recovery into a cloud platform like VMware Cloud on AWS. By way of a quick overview, the solution shown below has Veeam backing up to a Scale Out Backup Repository which has a Capacity Tier backed by an Object Storage repository in Amazon S3. There is a minimal operational restore window set which means data is offloaded quicker to the Capacity Tier.

Once there, if disaster happens on premises, an SDDC is spun up, a Backup & Replication Server deployed and configured into that SDDC. From there, a SOBR is configured with the same Amazon S3 credentials that connects to the Object Storage bucket which detects the backup data and starts a resync of the metadata back to the local performance tier. (as described here) Once the resync has finished workloads can be recovered, streamed directly from the Capacity Tier.

The diagram above has been published on the AWS Reference Architecture page, and while this post has been brief, there is more to come by way of an offical AWS Blog Post co-authored by myself Frank Fan from AWS around this solution. We will also look to automate the process as much as possible to make this a truely on demand solution that can be actioned with the click of a button.

For now, the concept has been validated and the hope is people looking to leverage VMware Cloud on AWS as a target for disaster and recovery look to leverage Veeam and the Cloud Tier to make that happen.

References: AWS Reference Architecture

Configuring Amazon S3 Access from VMware Cloud on AWS through an S3 Endpoint

When looking at how to configure networking for interactions between a VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC and an Amazon VPC there is a little bit to grasp in terms of what needs to be done to achieve traffic flow between the SDDC and the rest of the world.

As an example, by default if you want to connect to S3 the default configuration is to go through the Amazon ENI (Elastic Network Interface) which means that unless configured correctly, connectively to Amazon S3 will fail. Brian Gaff has a really good series of posts on Networking and Security Groups when working on VMware Cloud on AWS and are worth a read to get a deeper understanding of VMC to AWS networking.

There is a way to change this behaviour to make connectivity to Amazon S3 connect via the SDDCs Internet Gateway. This is done through the VMware Cloud Portal by going to the Networking section of the relevant SDDC.

Doing this, while easy enough means that you loose a lot of the benefits that passing traffic through the ENI provides. That is a high-bandwidth, low latency connection between the VPC and the SDDC which also provides free egress. In the case of S3 and the utilising the Veeam Cloud Tier it means more optimal connectivity between a Veeam Backup & Replication instance hosted in the SDDC and Amazon S3.

To allow communication between the SDDC and Amazon S3 over the ENI the following needs to be actioned.

Create Endpoint:

First step is to go into the AWS Console, go to the VPC thats connected to the VMC service and create a new Endpoint for S3 as shown below making sure you select the correct Route Table.

Configure Security Group:

Next is to configure the Security Group associated with your VPC to allow traffic to the logical network or networks. It’s a basic HTTPS Inbound rule where your source is the SDDN network or networks you want access from.

Create Compute Gateway Firewall Rule:

The final step is to configure a firewall rule on the SDDC Compute Gateway to allow HTTPS traffic to the Amazon VPC from the network or networks you want access to Amazon S3 from.

That’s pretty much it! After that, you should be able to access Amazon S3 over the ENI and get all the benefits that delivers.

References:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-on-AWS/services/com.vmware.vmc-aws-operations/GUID-B501FA3C-EAF9-4005-AC72-155C3F592281.html

Veeam on the VMware Cloud Marketplace Protecting VMware Cloud on AWS Workloads

At VMworld 2018, myself and Michael Cade gave a session on automating and orchestrating Veeam on VMware Cloud on AWS. The premise of the session was to showcase the art of the possible with Veeam and VMware that resulted in a fully deployed and configured Veeam platform. We chose VMware Cloud on AWS for the demo to showcase the power of the Software Defined Datacenter with Veeam, however our solution can be deployed onto any vSphere platform.

Why Veeam with VMware Cloud on AWS:

I’ve have spent a lot of time over the past couple of months looking into VMware Cloud on AWS and working out just where Veeam fits in terms of a backup and recovery solution for it. I’ve also spent time talking to VMware sales people as well as solution providers looking to wrap managed services around VMC and the question of data protection is often raised as a key concern. There is a good article here that talks about the need for backup and how application HA or stretched clustering is not a suitable alternative.

Without prejudice, I truly believe that Veeam is the best solution for the backup and recovery of workloads hosted on VMware Cloud on AWS SDDCs. Not only do we offer a solution that’s 100% software defines it’s self, but we can extend protection of all workloads from on-premises, through to the SDDC and also natively in AWS covering both backup, replication as well as offering the ability to use Cloud Connect to backup out to a Veeam Cloud and Service Provider. I’ll go into this in greater detail in a future post.

Veeam on the VMware Cloud on AWS Marketplace:

At the same time as our session on the Monday there was another session that introduced the VMware Cloud Marketplace that was announced in Technical Preview. As part of that launch, Veeam was announced as an initial software partner. This allows for the automated deployment and configuration of a Veeam Backup & Replication instance directly into a deployed SDDC and also configures an AWS EC2 EBS backed instance to be used as a Veeam Repository.

The VMware Cloud Marketplace will offer the ability to browse and filter validated third-party products and solutions, view technical and operational details, facilitate Bring Your Own License (BYOL) deployments, support commercial transactions, and deliver unified invoices. We plan to open Cloud Marketplace to a limited Beta audience following VMworld and are working on additional features and capabilities for future releases. We envision the Cloud Marketplace will quickly expand, introducing new third-party vendors and products over time and becoming the de-facto source for customers to extend the capabilities of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Provider Partner environments.

Compared to what Michael and I showcased in our session, this is a more targeted vanilla deployment of Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 with Update 3a into the SDDC. At the end of the process, you will be able to access the Veeam Console, have it connected to the VMC vSphere endpoint and have the EC2 Veeam repository added.

This is done via CloudFormation templates and a little bit of PowerShell embedded into the Windows Image.

Being embedded directly into the VMware Cloud Marketplace is advantageous for customers looking to get started quick with their data protection for workloads running on VMware Cloud o AWs. Look out for more collateral from myself, Veeam and VMware on protecting VMC with Veeam as well as a deeper look at our VMworld session which digs into the automation and orchestration of Veeam on VMware Cloud on AWS using Chef, Terraform, PowerShell and PowerCLI.

References:

Introducing VMware Cloud Marketplace

https://cloud.vmware.com/cloud-marketplace

https://marketplace.vmware.com/vsx/solutions/veeam-availability-suite-for-vmware-cloud-on-aws-9-5?ref=search#summary

Veeam @VMworld 2018 Edition…

VMworld 2018 is less than a week away, and I can’t wait to fly into Las Vegas for my sixth VMworld and second with Veeam. It’s been an interesting year or so since the last VMworld and the industry has shifted a little when it comes to the backup and recovery market. Data management is the new buzz and lots of vendors (us included) have jumped onto the messaging around data growing at more than exponential rates…sprawling to more platforms than ever before and finally…being more critical than ever. The criticality and power of data is real and VMware still have a lot to say about where an how that data is processed and stored!

VMworld is still a destination event and Veeam recognises VMware’s continued influence in the IT industry by going all in at VMworld 2018. The ecosystem that VMware has built over the past ten to fifteen years is emense and though challenged a few years ago, came back with a bang in 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing VMware’s continues evolution at this years event! Like VMware,

Veeam is evolving as well, and we are building out own own strong ecosystem based on a software first, hardware agnostic platform that results in the greatest flexibility in the backup and recovery market. We continue to support VMware as our number 1 technology partner and this year we look to build on that with support for VMware Cloud on AWS and enhanced VMware features sets built into our core Backup & Replication product as we look to release Update 4 of 9.5 later in the year.

Veeam Sessions @VMworld:

Officially we have two breakout sessions this year, with Danny Allan and Rick Vanover presenting a What’s New in Update 4 for Veeam Backup & Replication and Michael Cade and myself presenting a session on Automation and Orchestration of VMware and Veeam on VMware Cloud on AWS. There are also a couple of vBrownBag Tech Talks where Veeam features including talks from Michael Cade and Michael White while Dave Russell will be presenting a Partner Spotlight session.

https://my.vmworld.com/widget/vmware/vmworld18us/uscatalog?search=Veeam

Veeam @VMworld Solutions Exchange:

This year, as per usual we will have significant presence on the floor, with a Main Booth Area doing demo’s prize, giveaways, having an Experts Bar and acting as sponsor of the opening night hall crawl. We also have an in booth Theatre where I will be presenting on our new vCloud Director integration with Veeam Cloud Connect.

Veeam Community Support @VMworld:

Veeam still gets the community and has been a strong supporter historically of VMworld community based events. This year again, we have come to the party are have gone all-in in terms of being front and center in supporting community events. Special mention goes to Rick Vanover who leads the charge in making sure Veeam is doing what it can to help make these events possible:

  • Opening Acts
  • VMunderground
  • vBrownBag
  • Spousetivities
  • vRockstar Party
  • Vanguard Takeover

Party with Veeam @VMworld:

Finally, it wouldn’t be VMworld without attending Veeam’s seriously legendary party. This year we are looking to top last years event at Hakkasan nightclub by taking over one of the hottest club in Vegas… Omnia Nightclub! If it’s anything like the VeeamON 2015 Party that I attended it’s going to go off!! I know how hard it is to plan evening activities at VMworld and there is no doubt that there are a lot of decent competing parties on the Tuesday night…however whatever you do, you need to make sure that you at least stop by Caesars Casino and party in green. RSVP here.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/veeams-legendary-vmworld-party-2018-tickets-45869296300

Final Word:

Again, this year’s VMworld is going to be huge and Veeam will be right there front and center of the awesomeness. Please stop by our sessions, visit our stand and attend our community sponsored events and feel free to chase me down for a chat…I’m always keen to meet other members of this great community. Oh, and don’t forget to get to the party!

Automating the Creation of AWS VPC and Subnets for VMware Cloud on AWS

Yesterday I wrote about how to deploy a Single Host SDDC through the VMware Cloud on AWS web console. I mentioned some pre-requisites that where required in order for the deployment to be successful. Part of those is to setup an AWS VPC up with networking in place so that the VMC components can be deployed. While it’s not too hard a task to perform through the AWS console, in the spirit of the work I’m doing around automation I have gotten this done via a Terraform plan.

The max lifetime for a Single Instance deployment is 30 days from creation, but the reality is most people will/should be using this to test the waters and may only want to spin the SDDC up for a couple of hours a day, run some tests and then destroy it. That obviously has it’s disadvantages as well. The main one being that you have to start from scratch every time. Given the nature of the VMworld session around the automation and orchestration of Veeam and VMC, starting from scratch is not an issue however it was desirable to look for efficiencies during the re-deployment.

For those looking to save time and automate parts of the deployment beyond the AWS VPC, there are a number of PowerShell code example and modules available that along with the Terraform plan, reduce the time to get a new SDDC firing.

I’m using a combination of the above scripts to deploy a new SDDC once the AWS VPC has been created. The first one actually deploys the SDDC through PowerShell while the second one is a module that allows some interactivity via commandlets to do things such as export and import Firewall rules.

Using Terraform to Create AWS VPC for VMware Cloud on AWS:

The Terraform plan linked here on GitHub does a couple of things:

  • Creates a new VPC
  • Creates a VPC Network
  • Creates three VPC subnets across different Availability Zones
  • Associates the three VPN subnets to the main route table
  • Creates desired security group rules

https://github.com/anthonyspiteri/vmc_vpc_subnet_create

[Note] Even for the Single Instance Node SDDC it will take about 120 minutes to deploy…so that needs to be factored in in terms of the window to work on the instance.

Creating a Single Host SDDC for VMware Cloud on AWS

While preparing for my VMworld session with Michael Cade on automating and orchestrating the deployment of Veeam into VMware Cloud on AWS, we have been testing against the Single Host SDDC that’s been made available for on demand POCs for those looking to test the waters on VMware Cloud on AWS. The great thing about using the Single Host SDDC is it’s obviously cheaper to run than the four node production version, but also that you can spin it up and destroy the instance as many times as you like.

Single Host SDDC is our low-cost gateway into the VMware Cloud on AWS hybrid cloud solution. Typically purchased as a 4-host service, it is the perfect way to test your first workload and leverage the additional capability and flexibility of VMware Cloud on AWS for 30 days. You can seamlessly scale-up to Production SDDC, a 4-host service, at any time during the 30-days and get even more from the world’s leading private cloud provider running on the most popular public cloud platform.

To get started with the Single Host SDDC, you need to head to this page and sign up…you will get an Activation email and from there be able to go through the account setup. This big thing to note at the moment is that a US Based Credit Card is required.

There are a few pre-requisites before getting an SDDC spun up…mainly around VPC networking within AWS. There is a brilliant blog post here, that describes the networking that needs to be considered before kicking off a fresh deployment. The offical help files are a little less clear on what needs to be put into place from an AWS VPC perspective, but in a nutshell you need:

  • An AWS Account
  • A fresh VPC with a VPC Networking configured
  • At least three VPC Subnets configured
  • A Management Subnet for the VMware Objects to sit on

Once this has been configured in the AWS Region the SDDC will be deployed into the process can be started. First step is to select a region (this is dictated by the choices made at account creation) and then select a deployment type followed by a name for the SDDC.

The next step is to link an existing AWS account. This is not required at the time of setup however it is required to get the most out of the solution. This will go off and launch an AWS CloudFormation template to connect the SDDC to the AWS account. It creates IAM role to allow communication between the SDDC and AWS.

[Note] I ran into an issue initially where the default location for the CloudFormation template to be run out of was not set to the region where the SDDC was to be deployed into. Make sure that when you click on the Launch button you take not the the AWS region and change where appropriate by change the URL to the correct region.

After a minute or so, the VMware Cloud on AWS Create an SDDC page will automatically refresh as shown below

The next step is to select the VPC and the VPC subnets for the raw SDDC components to be deployed into. I ran into a few gotcha’s on this initially and what you need to have configured is the subnets configured to size as listed in the user guides and the post I linked to that covers networking, but you also need to make sure you have at least three subnets configured across different AWS Availability zones within the region. This was not clear, but I was told by support that it was required.

If the AWS side of things is not configured correctly you will see this error.

What you should see…all things being equal is this.

Finally you need to set the Management Subnet which is used for the vCenter, Hosts, NSX Manager and other VMware components being deployed into the SDDC. There is a default, but it’s important to consider that this should not overlap with any existing networks that you may look to extend the SDDC into.

From here, the SDDC can be deployed by clicking on the Deploy SDDC button.

[Note] Even for the Single Instance Node SDDC it will take about 120 minutes to deploy and you can not cancel the process once it’s started.

Once completed we can click into the details of the SDDC, which allows you to see all the relevant information relating to it and also allows you to configure the networking.

Finally, to access the vCenter you need to configure a Firewall rule to allow web access through the management gateway.

Once completed you can login to the vCenter that’s hosted on the VMware Cloud on AWS instance and start to create VMs and have a play around with the environment.

There is a way to automate a lot of what i’ve stepped through above…for that, i’ll go through the tools in another blog post later this week.

References:

https://cloud.vmware.com/community/2018/04/24/selecting-ip-subnets-sddc/