Tag Archives: vCAN

Awarded vExpert Cloud – A New vExpert Sub Program

Last week Corey Romero announced the inaugural members of the vExpert Cloud sub-program. This is the third vExpert sub-program following the vSAN and NSX programs announced last year. There are 135 initial vExpert Cloud members who have been awarded the title. As it so happens I am now a member of all three which reflects on the focus I’ve had and still have around VMware’s cloud, storage and networking products leading up to and after my move to Veeam last year.

Even with my move, that hasn’t stopped me working around these VMware vertices as Veeam works closely with VMware to offer supportability and integration with vCloud Director as well as being certified with vSAN for data protection. And more recently as it pertains specifically to the vExpert Cloud program, we are going to be supporting vCloud
Director in v10 of Backup & Replication for Cloud Connect Replication and also at VMworld 2017 we where announced as a launch partner for data protection for VMware Cloud on AWS.

For those wondering what does it take to be a part of the vExpert Cloud program:

We are looking for vExperts who are evangelizing VMware Cloud and delivering on the principles of the multi-cloud world being the new normal. Specificity we are looking for community activities which follow the same format as the vExpert program (blogs, books, videos, public speaking, VMUG Leadership, conference sessions speaking and so on).

And in terms of the focus of the vExpert Cloud program:

The program is focused on VMware Cloud influencer activities, VMware, AWS and other cloud environments and use of the products and services in way that delivers the VMware Cloud reality of consistency across multi-cloud environments.

Again, thank you to Corey and team for the award and I look forward to continuing to spread the community messaging around Cloud, NSX and vSAN.

What’s in a name? VSPP to vCAN to VCPP

Prior to VMworld there where rumours floating around that the vCloud Air Network was going to undergo a name change and sure enough at VMworld 2017 in the US, the vCAN was no more and that the VMware Cloud and Service Provider program would be renamed to the VMware Cloud Partner Program. There has been a number of announcements around the VCPP including the upcoming release of vCloud Director 9.0, a new verification program and also at VMworld Europe new cross cloud capabilities with VMware HCX.

VMware is continuing to make significant investments to expand and enhance our portfolio of cloud products and services. At the same time, we will continue to grow and refine our program to better address your needs as a partner and, as a result, enable you to provide even better cloud service options to our mutual customers around the globe.

The VMware Cloud Verified program is interesting and I’m still a little unsure what it delivers above and beyond non verified VMware Clouds…however it seems like a good logo opportunity for providers to aspire to.

This name change was expected given the wrapping up of vCloud Air, however from talking with a lot of people within the old vCloud Air Network, the name will be missed. To me it was the best thing to come out of the whole vCloud Air experiment but I understand why it had to be changed. This isn’t so much a fresh start for the program but more of a signal that it’s growing and improving and is looking to remain a key cornerstone of VMware multi/hybrid cloud strategy.

Even though I am out of the program and not working for a partner anymore, I am very much connected by way of my interactions with the Veeam Cloud and Service Provider program (VCSP) and the success of both is tied back to not only the individual companies remaining innovative and competitive against the large hyper-scalers. It’s also incumbent on VMware and Veeam to continue to offer the tools to be able to make our providers successful.

As a critical component of the Cloud Provider Platform, the recently-announced vCloud Director 9.0 (vCloud Director 9.0 announcement blog) enables simplified cloud consumption for tenants, a fast path to hybrid services, and rapid vSphere-to-cloud migrations for cloud providers worldwide. VMware continues to demonstrate its commitment to investing in the critical products, tools, and solutions that help cloud providers rapidly deploy and monetize highly scalable cloud environments with the least amount of risk.

The name doesn’t matter…but the technology and execution of service sure as hell does!

Note: Visit CloudProviders.VMware.com. Subscribe to the VMware Cloud Provider Blog, follow @vmwarecloudprvd on Twitter or ‘like’ VMware Cloud on Facebook for future updates.

VMworld 2017: vCloud Air Network Again Out in Force

Last year saw a resurgence in vCloud related sessions at VMworld and the trend has continued this year at the 2017 event. Looking through the sessions at Partner Exchange and VMworld proper the refocus on the vCloud Air Network that was announced at VMworld 2015 has gathered steam. This together with the subsequent release of vCloud Director SP 8.20 and the pending release of the next version of vCD, things are looking good for service providers that have built their platforms on VMware technologies.

If you are attending Partner Exchange there are a number of sessions that should be on your list for the Sunday. The sessions seem to be down on last year but that’s due to vCloud Air no longer being a going concern. I’ve listed down my top picks below added links to them for easy searchability in the VMworld Session Catalog. I’ve added a session on AWS and a session on vSAN as service providers should understand how both technologies fit into their strategy.

  • PAR4360BU – Cloud Service Provider Platform: Evolution and Future
  • PAR4358BU – How to Build a Hybrid Cloud Using NSX and vCloud Director-A Service Provider Perspective
  • PAR4383BU – Delivering Hybrid Cloud Architectures for Your Customers with VMware Cloud on AWS
  • PAR4382BU – Embracing VMware Cloud on AWS – How Can You Deliver Value to Your Customers
  • PAR4367BU – What’s New in vSAN 6.6 – A Deep Dive 

Looking through the breakout sessions there are 20 sessions directly relating to vCloud Director which is an excellent result. The rest that i’ve listed below tie in a mix of disaster recovery, hybrid cloud and NSX related networking sessions.

  • LHC1661BU—Getting Started with vCloud Air Network (Technical Tips and Tricks)
  • LHC1716BU—On-Ramp to the Cloud: Migration Tools and Strategies
  • LHC1753BU—Case Study: How VMware NSX Is Empowering a Service Provider to Help Customers Achieve and Maintain Industry Compliance
  • LHC1809BU—Use NSX to Deploy a Secure Virtual Network Bridging Multiple Locations for a True Hybrid Cloud
  • LHC1951BU—Automated Cloud Recovery for When You are Nuked from Orbit
  • LHC2424BU—200 to 40,000 VMs in 24 Months: Building Highly Scalable SDDC on Hybrid Cloud: Real-World Example
  • LHC2573BU—Achieving Hybrid Cloud Data Agility Securely with VMware NSX
  • LHC1739GU—Disaster Recovery to the Cloud: What Has Changed in the Past Year?
  • LHC3179GU—Choosing the Ideal Cloud Provider Partner
  • LHC3180GU—Effective DR Strategies
  • LHC1566PU—Ask the vCloud Air Network Cloud Experts
  • LHC3139SU— Achieving Success in a Multi-Cloud World
  • LHC2626BU—Build VMware Powered Hybrid Clouds: See How vCloud Director and NSX work together to build true Hybrid Clouds

There are also a number of vCloud Air Network partners on the exhibit floor.

  • CenturyLink
  • OVH
  • Faction
  • phoenixNAP
  • Fujitsu
  • Rackspace
  • IBM
  • SkyTap
  • iland
  • SwissCom
  • Navisite
  • Virtustream

Apart from what I have listed above there will also be a lot of vCAN talent hovering around the conference so make sure you make an effort to connect, network and share vCAN experiences. The vCloud Air Network is a symbiotic ecosystem and if the vCAN grows stronger…the ecosystem grows stronger.

#LongLivevCD

References:

Have You Signed Up for Your VMworld Cloud Provider Sessions?”

Reserve Your Seat Today to Learn How vCloud Air Network Partners Can Accelerate Your Success in the Cloud

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.

Looking Beyond the Hyper-Scaler Clouds – Don’t Forget the Little Guys!

I’ve been on the road over the past couple of weeks presenting to Veeam’s VCSP partners and prospective partners here in Australia and New Zealand on Veeam’s Cloud Business. Apart from the great feedback in response to what Veeam is doing by way of our cloud story I’ve had good conversations around public cloud and infrastructure providers verses the likes of Azure or AWS. Coming from my background working for smaller, but very successful service providers I found it almost astonishing that smaller resellers and MSPs seem to be leveraging the hyper-scale clouds without giving the smaller providers a look in.

On the one hand, I understand why people would choose to look to Azure, AWS and alike to run their client services…while on the other hand I believe that the marketing power of the hyper-scalers has left the capabilities and reputation of smaller providers short changed. You only need to look at last week’s AWS outage and previous Azure outages to understand that no cloud is immune to outages and it’s misjudged to assume that the hyper-scalers offer any better reliability or uptime than the likes of providers in the vCloud Air Network or other IaaS providers out there.

That said, there is no doubt that the scale and brain power that sits behind the hyper-scalers ensures a level of service and reliability that some smaller providers will struggle to match, but as was the case last week…the bigger they are, the harder they fall. The other things that comes with scale is the ability to drive down prices and again, there seems to be a misconception that the hyper-scalers are cheaper than smaller service providers. In fact most of the conversations I had last week as to why Azure or AWS was chosen was down to pricing and kickbacks. Certainly in Azure’s case, Microsoft has thrown a lot into ensuring customers on EAs have enough free service credits to ensure uptake and there are apparently nice sign-up bonuses that they offer to partners.

During that conversation, I asked the reseller why they hadn’t looked at some of the local VCSP/vCAN providers as options for hosting their Veeam infrastructure for clients to backup workloads to. Their response was, that it was never a consideration due to Microsoft being…well…Microsoft. The marketing juggernaut was too strong…the kickbacks too attractive. After talking to him for a few minutes I convinced him to take a look at the local providers who offer, in my opinion more flexible and more diverse service offerings for the use case.

Not surprisingly, in most cases money is the number one factor in a lot of these decisions with service uptime and reliability coming in as an important afterthought…but an afterthought non-the less. I’ve already written about service uptime and reliability in regards to cloud outages before but the main point of this post is to highlight that resellers and MSP’s can make as much money…if not more, with smaller service providers. It’s common now for service providers to offer partner reseller or channel programs that ensure the partner gets decent recurring revenue streams from the services consumed and the more consumed the more you make by way of program level incentives.

I’m not going to do the sums, because there is so much variation in the different programs but those reading who have not considered using smaller providers over the likes of Azure or AWS I would encourage to look through the VCSP Service Provider directory and the vCloud Air Network directory and locate local providers. From there, enquire about their partner reseller or channel programs…there is money to be made. Veeam (and VMware with the vCAN) put a lot of trust and effort into our VCSPs and having worked for some of the best and know of a lot of other service provider offerings I can tell you that if you are not looking at them as a viable option for your cloud services then you are not doing yourself justice.

The cloud hyper-scalers are far from the panacea they claim to be…if anything, it’s worthwhile spreading your workloads across multiple clouds to ensure the best availability experience for your clients…however, don’t forget the little guys!

Released: vCenter and ESXi 6.0 Update 3 – What’s in It for Service Providers

Last month I wrote a blog post on upgrading vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 Update 2 and during the course of writing that blog post I conducted a survey on which version of vSphere most people where seeing out in the wild…overwhelmingly vSphere 6.0 was the most popular version with 5.5 second and 6.5 lagging in adoption for the moment. It’s safe to assume that vCenter 6.0 and ESXi 6.0 will be common deployments for some time in brownfield sites and with the release of Update 3 for vCenter and ESXi I thought it would be good to again highlight some of the best features and enhancements as I see them from a Service Provider point of view.

vCenter 6.0 Update 3 (Build 5112506)

This is actually the eighth build release of vCenter 6.0 and includes updated TLS support for v1.0 1.1 and 1.2 which is worth a look in terms of what it means for other VMware products as it could impact connectivity…I know that vCloud Director SP now expects TLSv 1.1 by default as an example. Other things listed in the What’s New include support for MSSQL 2012 SP3, updated M2VCSA support, timezone updates and some changes to the resource allocation for the platform services controller.

Looking through the Resolved Issue there are a number of networking related fixes in the release plus a few annoying problems relating to vMotion. The ones below are the main ones that could impact on Service Provider operations.

  • Upgrading vCenter Server from version 6.0.0b to 6.0.x might fail. 
    Attempts to upgrade vCenter Server from version 6.0.0b to 6.0.x might fail. This issue occurs while starting service An error message similar to the following is displayed in the run-updateboot-scripts.log file.
    “Installation of component VCSServiceManager failed with error code ‘1603’”
  • Managing legacy ESXi from the vCenter Server with TLSv1.0 disabled is impacted.
    vCenter Server with TLSv1.0 disabled supports management of legacy ESXi versions in 5.5.x and 6.0.x. ESXi 5.5 P08 and ESXi 6.0 P02 onwards is supported for 5.5.x and 6.0.x respectively.
  • x-VC operations involving legacy ESXi 5.5 host succeeds.
    x-VC operations involving legacy ESXi 5.5 host succeeds. Cold relocate and clone have been implicitly allowed for ESXi 5.5 host.
  • Unable to use End Vmware Tools install option using vSphere Client.
    Unable to use End VMware Tools install option while installing VMware Tools using vSphere Client. This issue occurs after upgrading to vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1.
  • Enhanced vMotion fails to move the vApp.VmConfigInfo property to destination vCenter Server.
    Enhanced vMotion fails to move the vApp.VmConfigInfo property to destination vCenter Server although virtual machine migration is successful.
  • Storage vMotion fails if the VM is connected with a CD ISO file.
    If the VM is connected with a CD ISO file, Storage vMotion fails with an error similar to the following:
  • Unregistering an extension does not delete agencies created by a solution plug-in.
    The agencies or agents created by a solution such as NSX, or any other solution which uses EAM is not deleted from the database when the solution is unregistered as an extension in vCenter Server.

ESXi 6.0 Update 3 (Build 5050593)

The what’s new in ESXi is a lot more exciting than what’s new with vCenter highlighted by a new Host Client and fairly significant improvements in vSAN performance along with similar TLS changes that are included in the vCenter update 3. With regards to the Host Client the version is now 1.14.0. and includes bug fixes and brings it closer to the functionality provided by the vSphere Client. It’s also worth mentioning that new versions of the Host Client continue to be released through the VMware Labs Flings site. but, those versions are not officially supported and not recommended for production environments.

For vSAN, multiple fixes have been introduced to optimize I/O path for improved vSAN performance in All Flash and Hybrid configurations and there is a seperate VMwareKB that address the fixes here.

  • More Logs Much less Space vSAN now has efficient log management strategies that allows more logging to be packed per byte of storage. This prevents the log from reaching its assigned limit too fast and too frequently. It also provides enough time for vSAN to process the log entries before it reaches it’s assigned limit thereby avoiding unnecessary I/O operations
  • Pre-emptive de-staging vSAN has built in algorithms that de-stages data on periodic basis. The de-staging operations coupled with efficient log management significantly improves performance for large file deletes including performance for write intensive workloads
  • Checksum  Improvements vSAN has several enhancements that made the checksum code path more efficient. These changes are expected to be extremely beneficial and make a significant impact on all flash configurations, as there is no additional read cache look up. These enhancements are expected to provide significant performance benefits for both sequential and random workloads.

As with vCenter, I’ve gone through and picked out the most significant bug fixes as they relate to Service Providers. The first one listed below is important to think about as it should significantly reduce the number of failures that people have been seeing with ESXi installed on SD-Flash Card and not just for VDI environments as the release notes suggest.

  • High read load of VMware Tools ISO images might cause corruption of flash media  In VDI environment, the high read load of the VMware Tools images can result in corruption of the flash media.
    You can copy all the VMware Tools data into its own ramdisk. As a result, the data can be read from the flash media only once per boot. All other reads will go to the ramdisk. vCenter Server Agent (vpxa) accesses this data through the /vmimages directory which has symlinks that point to productLocker.
  • ESXi 6.x hosts stop responding after running for 85 days
    When this problem occurs, the /var/log/vmkernel log file displays entries similar to the followingARP request packets might drop.
  • ARP request packets between two VMs might be dropped if one VM is configured with guest VLAN tagging and the other VM is configured with virtual switch VLAN tagging, and VLAN offload is turned off on the VMs.
  • Physical switch flooded with RARP packets when using Citrix VDI PXE boot
    When you boot a virtual machine for Citrix VDI, the physical switch is flooded with RARP packets (over 1000) which might cause network connections to drop and a momentary outage. This release provides an advanced option /Net/NetSendRARPOnPortEnablement. You need to set the value for /Net/NetSendRARPOnPortEnablementto 0 to resolve this issue.
  • Snapshot creation task cancellation for Virtual Volumes might result in data loss
    Attempts to cancel snapshot creation for a VM whose VMDKs are on Virtual Volumes datastores might result in virtual disks not getting rolled back properly and consequent data loss. This situation occurs when a VM has multiple VMDKs with the same name and these come from different Virtual Volumes datastores.
  • VMDK does not roll back properly when snapshot creation fails for Virtual Volumes VMs
    When snapshot creation attempts for a Virtual Volumes VM fail, the VMDK is tied to an incorrect data Virtual Volume. The issue occurs only when the VMDK for the Virtual Volumes VM comes from multiple Virtual Volumes datastores.
  • ESXi host fails with a purple diagnostic screen due to path claiming conflicts
    An ESXi host displays a purple diagnostic screen when it encounters a device that is registered, but whose paths are claimed by a two multipath plugins, for example EMC PowerPath and the Native Multipathing Plugin (NMP). This type of conflict occurs when a plugin claim rule fails to claim the path and NMP claims the path by default. NMP tries to register the device but because the device is already registered by the other plugin, a race condition occurs and triggers an ESXi host failure.
  • ESXi host fails with a purple diagnostic screen due to path claiming conflicts
    An ESXi host displays a purple diagnostic screen when it encounters a device that is registered, but whose paths are claimed by a two multipath plugins, for example EMC PowerPath and the Native Multipathing Plugin (NMP). This type of conflict occurs when a plugin claim rule fails to claim the path and NMP claims the path by default. NMP tries to register the device but because the device is already registered by the other plugin, a race condition occurs and triggers an ESXi host failure.
  • ESXi host fails to rejoin VMware Virtual SAN cluster after a reboot
    Attempts to rejoin the VMware Virtual SAN cluster manually after a reboot might fail with the following error:
    Failed to join the host in VSAN cluster (Failed to start vsantraced (return code 2)
  • Virtual SAN Disk Rebalance task halts at 5% for more than 24 hours
    The Virtual SAN Health Service reports Virtual SAN Disk Balance warnings in the vSphere Web Client. When you click Rebalance disks, the task appears to halt at 5% for more than 24 hours.

It’s also worth reading through the Known Issues section as there is a fair bit to be aware of especially if running NFS 4.1 and worth looking through the general storage issues.

Happy upgrading!

References:

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vsphere/60/vsphere-vcenter-server-60u3-release-notes.html

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vsphere/60/vsphere-esxi-60u3-release-notes.html

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2149127

vSphere 6.5 – Whats in it for Service Providers Part 1

Last week after an extended period of development and beta testing VMware released vSphere 6.5. This is a lot more than a point release and is a major major upgrade from vSphere 6.0. In fact, there is so much packed into this new release that there is an official whitepaper listing all the features and enhancements that had been linked from the release notes.  I thought I would go through some of the key features and enhancements that are included in the latest versions of vCenter and ESXi and as per usual I’ll go through those improvements that relate back to the Service Providers that use vSphere as the foundation of their Managed or Infrastructure as a Service offerings.

Generally the “whats new” would fit into one post, however having gotten through just the vCenter features it became apparent that this would have to be a multi-post series…this is great news for vCloud Air Network Service Providers out there as it means there is a lot packed in for IaaS and MSPs to take advantage of.

With that, in this post will cover the following:

  • vCenter 6.5 New Features
  • vCD and NSX Compatibility
  • Current Known Issues

vCenter 6.5 New Features:

Without question the enhancements to the VCSA stand out as one of the biggest features of 6.5 and as mentioned in the whitepaper, the installer process has been overhauled and is a much smoother, streamlined experience than with previous versions. It’s also supported across more operating systems and the 6.5 version of vCenter now surpasses the Windows version offering the migration tool, native high availability and built in backup and restore. One interesting sidenote to the new VCSA is that the HTML5 vSphere Client has shipped, though it’s still very much a work in progress as a lot of unsupported functionality mentioned in the release notes…there is lots of work to do to bring it up to parity with the Flex Web Client.

In terms of the inbuilt PostGreSQL database I think it’s time that Service Providers feel confident in making the switch away from MSSQL (which was the norm with Windows based vCenters) as the enhanced VCSA Management Interface (found on port 5480) has a new monitoring screen showing information relating to disk space usage and also provides a way to gracefully start and stop the database engine.

Other vCenter enhancements that Service Providers will make use of is the High availability feature which is something a lot of people have been asking for a long time. For me, I always dealt with the no HA constraint in that vCenter may become unavailable for 5-10 minutes during maintenance or at worse an extended outage while recovering from a VM or OS level failure. Knowing that hosts and VMs are still working and responding with vCenter down leaving only core management functionality unavailable it was a risk myself and others were willing to take. However, in this day of the always on datacenter it’s expected that management functionality be as available at IaaS services…so with that, this HA feature is well welcomed for Service Providers.

This native HA solution is available exclusively for the VCSA and the solution consists of active, passive, and witness nodes that are cloned from the existing vCenter Server instance. The HA cluster can be enabled, disabled, or destroyed at any time. There is also a maintenance mode that prevents planned maintenance from causing an unwanted failover.

The VCSA Migration Tool that was previously released in 6.0 Update 2m is shipped in the VCSA ISO and can be used to migrate from Windows based 5.5 vCenter’s to the 6.5 VCSA. Again this is something that more and more service providers will take advantage of as the reliance on Windows based vCenters and MSSQL becomes more and more something that’s unwanted from a manageability and cost point of view. Throw in the enhanced features that have only been released for the VCSA and this is a migration that all service providers should be planning.

To complete the move away from any Windows based dependencies the vSphere Update Manager has also been fully integrated into the VCSA. VUM is now fully integrated into the Web Client UI and is enabled by default. For larger environments with a large numbers of hosts AutoDeploy is now fully manageable from the VCSA UI and doesn’t require PowerCLI to manage or configure it’s options. There is a new image builder included in the UI that can hit local or public repositories to pull images or drivers and there are performance enhancements during deployments of ESXi images to hosts.

vCD and NSX Compatibility:

Shifting from new features and enhancements to an important subject to talk about when talking service provider platform…VMware product compatibility. For those vCAN Service Providers running a Hybrid Cloud you should be running a combination of vCloud Director SP or/and NSX-v of which, at the moment there is no support for either in vSphere 6.5. No compatible versions of NSX are available for vSphere 6.5. If you attempt to prepare your vSphere 6.5 hosts with NSX 6.2.x, you receive an error message and cannot proceed.

I haven’t tested to see if vCloud Director SP will connect and interact with vCenter 6.5 or ESXi 6.5 however as it’s not supported I wouldn’t suggest upgrading production IaaS platforms until the interoperability matrix’s are updated.

At this stage there is no word on when either product will support vSphere 6.5 but I suspect we will see NSX-v come out with a supported build shortly…though I’m expecting vCloud Director SP to no support 6.5 until the next major version release, which is looking like the new year.

Installation and Upgrade Known Issues:

Having read through the release notes, there are also a number of known issues you should be aware of. I’ve gone through those and pulled the ones I consider the most likely to be impactful to IaaS platforms.

  • After upgrading to vCenter Server 6.5, the ESXi hosts in High Availability clusters appear as Not Ready in the VMware NSX UI
    If your vSphere environment includes NSX and clusters configured with vSphere High Availability, after you upgrade to vCenter Server 6.5, both NSX and vSphere High Availability start installing VIBs on all hosts in the clusters. This might cause installation of NSX VIBs on some hosts to fail, and you see the hosts as Not Ready in the NSX UI.
    Workaround: Use the NSX UI to reinstall the VIBs.
  • Error 400 during attempt to log in to vCenter Server from the vSphere Web Client
    You log in to vCenter Server from the vSphere Web Client and log out. If, after 8 hours or more, you attempt to log in from the same browser tab, the following error results.
    400 An Error occurred from SSO. urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:status:Requester, sub status:nullWorkaround: Close the browser or the browser tab and log in again.
  • Using storage rescan in environments with the large number of LUNs might cause unpredictable problems
    Storage rescan is an IO intensive operation. If you run it while performing other datastore management operation, such as creating or extending a datastore, you might experience delays and other problems. Problems are likely to occur in environments with the large number of LUNs, up to 1024, that are supported in the vSphere 6.5 release.Workaround: Typically, storage rescans that your hosts periodically perform are sufficient. You are not required to rescan storage when you perform the general datastore management tasks. Run storage rescans only when absolutely necessary, especially when your deployments include a large set of LUNs.
  • In vSphere 6.5, the name assigned to the iSCSI software adapter is different from the earlier releases
    After you upgrade to the vSphere 6.5 release, the name of the existing software iSCSI adapter, vmhbaXX, changes. This change affects any scripts that use hard-coded values for the name of the adapter. Because VMware does not guarantee that the adapter name remains the same across releases, you should not hard code the name in the scripts. The name change does not affect the behavior of the iSCSI software adapter.Workaround: None.
  • The bnx2x inbox driver that supports the QLogic NetXtreme II Network/iSCSI/FCoE adapter might cause problems in your ESXi environment
    Problems and errors occur when you disable or enable VMkernel ports and change the failover order of NICs for your iSCSI network setup.Workaround: Replace the bnx2x driver with an asynchronous driver. For information, see the VMware Web site.
  • When you use the Dell lsi_mr3 driver version 6.903.85.00-1OEM.600.0.0.2768847, you might encounter errors
    If you use the Dell lsi_mr3 asynchronous driver version 6.903.85.00-1OEM.600.0.0.2768847, the VMkernel logs might display the following message ScsiCore: 1806: Invalid sense buffer.Workaround: Replace the driver with the vSphere 6.5 inbox driver or an asynchronous driver from Broadcom.
  • Storage I/O Control settings are not honored per VMDK
    Storage I/O Control settings are not honored on a per VMDK basis. The VMDK settings are honored at the virtual machine level.Workaround: None.
  • Cannot create or clone a virtual machine on a SDRS-disabled datastore cluster
    This issue occurs when you select a datastore that is part of a SDRS-disabled datastore cluster in any of the New Virtual Machine, Clone Virtual Machine (to virtual machine or to template), or Deploy From Template wizards. When you arrive at the the Ready to Complete page and click Finish, the wizard remains open and nothing appears to occur. The Datastore value status for the virtual machine might display “Getting data…” and does not change.Workaround: Use the vSphere Web Client for placing virtual machines on SDRS-disabled datastore clusters.

These are just a few, that I have singled out…it’s worth reading through all the known issues just in case there are any specific issues that might impact you.

In the next post in this vSphere 6.5 for Service Providers series I will cover, more vCenter features as well as ESXi enhancements and what’s new in Core Storage.

References:

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vsphere/65/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-65-release-notes.html

http://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/whitepaper/vsphere/vmw-white-paper-vsphr-whats-new-6-5.pdf

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vsphere/65/vsphere-client-65-html5-functionality-support.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extending vCloud Director SP:

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

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

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

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

What Needs to Happen:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erasing vCloud Air and The vCAN Impact:

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

Public Show of Focus and Direction:

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

Complete VMware Compatibility:

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

Workload Migration:

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

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

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

VMware Access to Multiple AWS Regions:

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

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

Look familiar?

 

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

Conclusion:

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

References:

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

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

VMware Cloud™ on AWS – A Closer Look

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

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