VMware SDDC Technical Whiteboard

One of my favorite things to do is whiteboard. In my line of work, the whiteboard allows me to tell a story…one that can be broad in coverage, yet tuned on-the-fly to best align with the needs of the audience. It started as a “cloud” whiteboard back when vCloud Director (vCD) was released and the first vCloud Suite offering was announced. The first storylines were all about VMware’s cloud and management framework and leveraging vCD to align with a set of industry-accepted characteristics that defined “cloud”. There have been several iterations over time as new technologies (and acquisitions) came to fruition, with an evolving storyline to highlight modern challenges and the transformative nature of the Software-Defined Datacenter.

The whiteboard has been delivered on your standard everyday office whiteboard, table-tops, glass walls, flip charts, notepads, napkins, and electronically via powerpoint, iPad, and digital sketch pads. Regardless of delivery medium, I have found the whiteboard to be the most effective means of articulating the often-confusing details and associated benefits of the Software-Defined Datacenter at any level of depth…and without yawn-generating, ADD-invoking death by powerpoint.

My most recent iteration of the SDDC whiteboard doubles as field and partner enablement, so I had to put a little more thought into the storyline to ensure it closely resembles how customers have typically leveraged vSphere, NSX, VSAN, and the vRealize Suite evolve their existing datacenters to quickly build and gain the benefits of SDDC.…

VMware VSAN meets EZLAB

Let me just get this out of the way – I’m a HUGE fan of VSAN (aka VMware Virtual SAN). I was first in line to drink the kool-aid when VSAN was nothing but a “what if…?”. Fast forward to the present — VSAN beta (refresh) is backing my entire lab. I’m tweaking, testing, breaking (learning), and sharing my thoughts on VSAN’s capabilities, performance, and benefits ahead of the official launch. This is all in good order because even the beta has exceeded my expectations in what VMware would ship as a 1.0 product.

I can write page after page about the ins-and-outs of VSAN, but fortunately several very respected individuals have already done so. For starters, Duncan Epping at yellow-bricks.com not only is a massive contributor to the cause, but has also put together a nice list of VSAN resources from around the web that is a must-see. But lets face it, if you’re tracking VSAN you’ve probably already been there, done that 🙂  So for this post, I’m going to focus instead on my VSAN home lab build and experiences thus far. I’ve shared several preliminary stats on twitter (here, here, and here) ahead of any tweaking and will be sure to post additional results as I play with things a bit more.…

VMware SDDC / vCloud Suite Whiteboard

I recently had the opportunity to brief several dozen VMware Public Sector (US-Fed / SLED) partners in anticipation of the vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) 6.0 GA release. While most of the day focused on vCAC, I spent about an hour or so delivering an updated version of my SDDC Whiteboard brief to help set the stage for vCAC.

The whiteboard provides an overview of VMware’s SDDC / vCloud vision — starting from the foundation (i.e. vSphere) and capped off by the cloud automation layer (vCAC)…and all the loveliness in between.

This is a presentation I do often, but no two are the same. If you’ve got 45ish minutes to spare, please do and feel free to provide some feedback!


VMware vCloud Suite / vCAC Whiteboard from @virtualjad on Vimeo.

 

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@virtualjad…

vCloud Suite 5.1 Solution Upgrade Guide

By now you’ve probably heard all the hype around the 5.1 releases of VMware’s vSphere and vCloud platforms – and the vCloud 5.1 Suite, which bundles the latest versions of several VMware key IaaS-focused technologies and delivers a comprehensive cloud solution. The suite comes in 3 flavors – Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise.

 

If you’re an existing (active) customer of any of these products, there’s an upgrade and/or entitlement path to the suite for you – and it’s highly recommended that you take advantage of it. Or, at the very least, you can upgrade your individual products to 5.1 as you ponder the suite. Whether or not you choose to upgrade and take advantage of the latest and greatest features is up to you. But if you’re looking for increased scale, performance, efficiency, and capability while taking advantage of end-to-end advancements in VMware’s leading cloud technologies, then I would place upgrade at the top of your to-do list. (some of my peers suggest I’m drinking the Kool-Aid via fire hose….really?). Learn more about the suite here: http://www.vmware.com/products/datacenter-virtualization/vcloud-suite/overview.html.
The attached guide will walk you through, in detail, the upgrade steps and procedures for moving to vCloud Suite 5.1.
Upgrade Overview
Speaking of upgrade – and to get back on topic – I thought it would be beneficial to publish a how-to guide of sorts to help with upgrading from previous versions of the core infrastructure stack to version 5.1, taking in consideration the many co-dependencies of an active cloud deployment (VMware’s pubs and guides cover the process for individual products with plenty of detail, but not so much as a whole solution…yet).…

Connecting Clouds

For those organizations on the journey of transforming their datacenters to meet the demand of a modern IT consumption model, it’s easy to envision what cloud euphoria could/should look like.  That’s mostly because vision is quite cheap – all it takes is a little imagination (maybe), a few Google queries, several visits by your favorite vendor(s), and perhaps a top-down mandate or two.  The problem is execution can break the bank if the vision is not in line with the organization’s core objectives.  It’s easy to get carried away in the planning stages with all the options, gizmos and cloudy widgets out there – often delaying the project and creating budget shortfalls.  Cloud:Fail.  But this journey doesn’t have to be difficult (or horrendously expensive).  Finding the right solution is half the battle…just don’t go gluing several disparate products together that were never intended to comingle and burn time and money trying to integrate them.  Sure you might eventually achieve something that resembles a cloud, but you’re guaranteed to hit several unnecessary pain points on the way.

Of course I’m not suggesting putting all your eggs in one vendor’s basket guarantees success.  Nor am I suggesting that VMware’s basket is the only one that provides everything you’ll ever need for a successful cloud deployment. …

Heterogeneous Foundations for Cloud: Simply Overrated

Let me start by making a statement that you may or may not agree with – being heterogeneous is often a problem in need of a solution…not a strategy. Allow me to explain…

I spend a lot of time discussing VMware’s vCloud solution stack to many different customers, each with varying objectives when it comes to their cloud journey. The majority of them fall under two groups – Group A) those who know what they want and where to get it and Group B) those who think they know what they want and have been shopping for the “right” solution since before cloud hit the mainstream – one “cloud bake-off” after another while changing requirements in real-time. Can you guess which ones meet their objectives first? Hint: it’s the same group that delivers IaaS to their enterprise and/or customers using proven technologies and trusted relationships in the time it takes the other to host a bake-off.
For group A the requirements are straightforward – deliver me a solution (and technology) that meets exceeds all the characteristics of cloud [see: defining the cloud] so I can transform my infrastructure and deliver next generation IT to the business. Sound familiar? It should because this is where the greater majority is – whether they accept it with open arms or are trying to meet agency mandates (or both).…

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 5: Delivering ITaaS with vCloud Director

Post 5 of 6: Delivering IT as a Service with vCloud Director

Building your cloud infrastructure is only half the battle. Let’s just assume the notion of ‘cloud’ is now defined and well aligned with your business requirements, infrastructure is in place, best practices followed, and you’re ready to power this sucker up. Then what? The presence of the hypervisor has been assumed throughout this series — much is gained with vSphere adding that prerequisite abstraction of bare-metal resources. But virtualization is only half the battle when the end goal is delivering a cloud — or IT as a Service (ITaaS). To get there, you’ll need to take a moment to understand what exactly you’re trying to accomplish. What does cloud mean to your organization in the first place? Are you looking to streamline your IT infrastructure internally (i.e. Private Cloud) or perhaps deliver next-generation IT services externally (Public Cloud)…or both (Hybrid)? No matter your flavor of cloud, one thing holds true — you will be successful only if you employ the right enablement tools and technologies. You should also step back and take a moment to understand the concepts. I made a decision to embrace these concepts and technologies a little more than a year ago.…

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 4: xBlock- Designing a Repeatable Architecture

Post 4 of 6: xBlock- Designing a Repeatable Architecture

I have lost count of how many pre-integrated infrastructure offerings are now available through the various software, network, storage, and compute partnerships out there – all competing for their stake as your cloud’s foundation (for those who still think ‘the cloud’ is a hardware offering with some antiquated management slapped on top, please reexamine the definition of cloud). A well-designed infrastructure is a great (and required) start, but software is where the magic happens…but I digress. Whether it’s a vBlock (EMC, Cisco, VMware), FlexPod (NetApp, Cisco VMware), Dell’s vStart, or any of the dozens of combinations out there worth mentioning, one thing holds true…all (well, most) are examples of what a robust reference architecture can do for your cloud. Sure each offering will add it’s special sauce as a value proposition – proven, pre-engineered, specialized, best-of-breed, etc. – but, more importantly, these solutions provide the core components for your cloud’s infrastructure – Storage, Compute, Network, and the glorious Hypervisor – and use the Lego approach for scaling the infrastructure out as needed.
Scale Happens.  Cloud infrastructures are meant to be elastic, agile, and designed to scale beyond your wildest imagination. [insert joke about the company that markets the “cloud in a box”]. …