vRealize Automation 7 – Part 1, What’s New – Spotlight Features

This was a big week in Barcelona — not just because VMworld EMEA broke attendance records, but also thanks to the announcement of one of the most anticipated updates to the VMware vRealize family, vRealize Automation 7.0 (vRA 7).  I had the opportunity to hosts and co-host several vRA sessions throughout the week, including a couple exclusive ad-hoc deep dive workshops for vExperts.  Now it’s finally time to share with all of you the cloud management goodness that’s been brewing at VMware.  This is the first of many in a series that will cover all the new innovations and features of vRealize Automation 7.0 and dig deep into several advanced use cases.  So let’s get started…

Spotlight #1 – Deployment and Initial Configuration

vRA 7 focuses a lot on the user experience (UX), starting with one of the most critical — Deploying the solution — then the second most critical, configuring it.  Following through with the promise of a more streamlined deployment experience, we made a huge splash at VMworld Barcelona with the debut of the wizard-driven and completely automated installation of the entire platform and automated initial configuration.  And all of this in a significantly reduced deployment architecture.

Deployment Architecture – The overall footprint of vRA 7 has been drastically reduced.  …

NSX Uncovered – Part 2, Solution Overview

Network virtualization is by no means a new concept for VMware. Think about it for a moment — wherever vSphere (or any other VMware T1 or T2 hypervisor) has been implemented, a virtual switch exists and connects guest VMs to the physical world. That’s more than 500,000 customers globally, millions of vSphere hosts, and many more millions of virtual network ports backed by a standard (vSwitch) or distributed virtual switch (dvSwitch). In fact, if you count the network ports provisioned by vSphere and logically assigned to VM nics, one can argue that VMware is one of the top datalink providers on earth. Okay, perhaps that’s a stretch, but you get my point! VMware virtual networks have existed just about as long as VMware itself. And since the very beginning, there has been no shortage of innovation. The vSwitch has evolved in many ways, leading to new technologies, increased scope and scale, distributed architectures, open protocol support, ecosystem integration, and massive adoption. Over the years VMware has continued to introduce new networking technologies through organic maturity and strategic acquisition — ESXi platform security, dvSwitch (and associated services), vShield, vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS), etc. — and leveraged 3rd party integration into partner solutions, such as Cisco’s Nexus 1000v (a solution brought to market by tight collaboration between VMware and Cisco).…

NSX Uncovered – Part 1, Introduction

VMware’s Network Virtualization Platform, NSX, is an immensely powerful technology that can transform a datacenter’s infrastructure and streamline network service delivery across the enterprise. NSX’s scope, scale, and capability will easily impress techies, CCIE’s, and IT stakeholders alike. NSX changes the topology of a traditional hardware-bound network by eliminating the dependency on all that “intelligence” baked into proprietary hardware. Instead, the logic and associated services are delivered through a software control plane. Separating the control and data planes effectively reduces the physical network to a glorified IP packet forwarder.

With that said, it is also important to understand that NSX is not a re-write of your network and the fundamental concepts it is built upon. The abstraction of the logic from the physical underpinnings is a modern approach to designing, building, and servicing network architectures, but the fundamentals — the protocols, tools, concepts, etc. — are still at play. And for that reason, i’m often baffled when I enter into a debate with a “traditional” network engineer about the ins-and-outs of physical vs. virtual networking technologies like NSX. What I quickly realize is they are not defending the concepts or technology, they are defending their skill set. It’s a fear or reluctance of straying from what they know best.…

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.…

vCAC 6.0 XaaS Use Case – DaaS with Horizon View

vCloud Automation Center 6.0’s “XaaS” feature will allow our customers to utilize any prepackaged, new, or existing vCenter Orchestrator workflow and deliver it as a Self-Serviced, Entitled, Governed, and Lifecycle-managed service. VMware will be shipping a more integrated View/vCAC DaaS integration in Q1’2014.  Until then we have to improvise to come up with a “DaaS-like” solution that will help fill in the gap until the products are natively integrated.

vCAC’s Advanced Service Designer (ASD) provides a quick-fix for this needed capability using rather unsophisticated means.  This use case guide will walk you on building a Desktop Request service using the ASD and vCenter Orchestrator’s Active Directory Plug-in.

DaaS Use Case Objectives:

  • Allow cloud users to request a Horizon View Desktop machine from vCAC’s Service Catalog and add Self-Service, Governance, and Entitlement to existing View Environments
  • Use vCAC’s Advanced Service Designer to create a Custom Service to deliver DaaS
  • Configure a Governance (Approval) policy for VDI Desktop Requests
  • Utilize vCO’s built-in Active Directory plug-in and a simple workflow to do the magic

DaaS Solution Summary:

  • Horizon View is configured with 2 Desktop Pools: 
  • Floating Desktop Pool: DaaS-Engineering
  • Dedicated Desktop Pool: DaaS-Operations 
  • Both pools are configured to pre-provision 20 (e.g.) desktops and always have 5 desktops available (unused) in the pool
  • Each pool is entitled to an existing Active Directory Security Group 
    • DaaS-Engineering -> “DaaS-Eng” 
    • DaaS-Development-> “DaaS-Ops”
  • A “Desktop Services” catalog item is created using the Advanced Service Designer, which utilizes an existing vCO Active Directory [plug-in] workflow “add a user to a group
  • When invoked, the user selects an AD User and one of 2 available Groups
  • Once submitted, vCO adds the selected user to the selected group, which entitles the user that that group (and associated View Pool)
  •  XaaS Lab Logical Architecture

      

     
    Assumptions

    This guide
    assumes you have good working knowledge of vCloud Automation Center 6.0
    and Horizon View 5.x, as well as familiarity with vCAC’s UI and
    operational concepts.…

    VMware vCloud Automation Center 6.0 is LIVE!

    It has been a long time coming…lots of hard work, energy, collaboration, and a massive investment from VMware to ensure this release marks the beginning of a game-changing technology for organizations looking to accelerate and optimize their cloud strategy. vCloud Automation Center 6.0 was made Generally Available today (as promised). This release does more than update an existing platform — it sets the stage for what’s next for VMware, its Partners, and customers.

     vCAC 6.0 addresses real IT problems with the Business in mind. And it does this with “time to value” at the forefront. We’ve moved beyond the days of delivering cloud solutions that promise the world but start with a blank canvas, “Here’s your cloud…it can do anything…but first I’ll need 6 FTE’s and 18mos to turn it into something consumable…fingers crossed”. Sound familiar? Unfortunately that strategy is alive and well today. I call it “custom COTS” (commercial-off-the-shelf).

    What our customers are looking for is real COTS, something that delivers time to value and begins to address real IT problems immediately. A solution that promises ecosystem integration while allowing them to utilize existing investments. A solution that will help organizations realize the value of the Software-Defined Datacenter on day 1.…