vRealize Automation 7 – Part 2, Deployment Architectures

VMware has been tackling several customer pain points when it comes to deploying and configuring vRA (6.x). But let’s get this out of the way — the ratio of level of effort vs. product capabilities make the time investment quite worth it at the end of the day (at least i think so!).  In the overview post (Part 1), I mentioned the massive focus on overall UX improvements in vRA 7. While the new deployment wizard absolutely changes the perception of complexity and takes all the work out of the admin’s hands, the reduced deployment footprint is equally important and will drastically reduce operational overhead and time to implementation. That is especially the case for distributed architectures that can grow upwards of 20+ machines. Let’s change that, shall we?…

vRA 6.x Deployment Architecture

In addition to several external dependancies, vRA 6.x requires various internal/embedded services to be taken externally for high availability. The services embedded in the virtual appliance include vRealize Orchestrator, the vPostgres DB, and the vRA framework services themselves. An external Identity Appliance (SSO) is required for authentication (vCenter SSO also an option). And, finally, the optional App Services VA for app authoring.

For distributed architectures, the components include at least 2 load-balanced vRA VA’s, an external pair of clustered vPostgres DB’s, external clustered vRO pair, a pair of [vCenter] SSO’s (the Identity Appliance does not support an HA configuration), and a single ill-fated App Services VA, which also does not support an HA setup.…

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.  …

VMware vCAC IaaS Optimization Guide

Update 04/22/15: After further investigation around the effectiveness of these optimization tips on a vRA 6.2.1 environment, I am convinced that several of the tweaks do in fact provide some level of perceived IaaS UI performance improvements. I’m very interested in hearing your feedback on these findings (i.e. give it a try and let me know!).


Update 12/10/14: I have been advised that the optimization tweaks highlighted in this article will not provide any added benefits to vCAC/vRA 6.1 or 6.2. This is due to the way the IaaS interface is now presented back to the user (via the vCAC appliance vs. directly to the user session). The good news is VMware dev’s are hard at work at baking optimization right into the products, starting with a significant boost in the recently released vRA 6.2.

VMware’s vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) can transform how an enterprise delivers IT. It’s out-of-the-box functionality will help IT deliver Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) along with X-as-a-Service (XaaS / Everything-a-a-S) in a matter of clicks. Once extended into the datacenter’s ecosystem with vCAC’s extensibility engine, it will help integrate, orchestrate, and automate native and 3rd-party tools, services, and infrastructure, thrusting the enterprise into a new level of self-serviced IT efficiency.…

Using VSAN Storage Policies in vCloud Automation Center

VMware vCloud Automation Center is the center piece of VMware’s Software-Defined Enterprise vision. It is also the primary user and admin interface for enterprise and application services, and therefore it makes a lot of sense for vCAC to be the core integration point for the SDDC.

Rawlinson Rivera (@PunchingClouds) recently posted a blog post titled “VMware Virtual SAN Interoperability: vCloud Automation Center“, where he highlights the use of vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) 6.0 to deploy applications directly to a VSAN Datastore while also leveraging a VM Storage Policy. In short, the desired storage policy is applied to the template backing the vCAC Blueprint. Once provisioned, the resulting machine adopts the associated storage policy and the rest is glorious, app-centric VSAN storage consumption. I recommend reviewing that post to get a better idea of what we’re doing here.

So now that we have a basic understanding of the interoperability between vCAC and VSAN, let’s dive into some more advanced concepts for a glimpse into the art of the possible by expanding on Rawlinson’s example and using some of vCAC’s extensibility features to deliver greater functionality.The integration between vCAC and VSAN can greatly enhance how applications are provisioned.  Since storage policies can be configured per-application or VM, you can specify varying policies based on the use case, tier, application criticality, SLA, etc…all backed by a common VSAN Datastore.…

vCloud Automation Center 6.0 POC and Detailed Implementation Guide

In keeping up with my extracurricular doc-building activities, I am happy to release the latest iteration of my vCAC implementation guide for the deployment and configuration of vCAC 6.0. This unofficial Proof of Concept and Detailed Implementation guide is provided, with no guarantees (or support), to assist with the end-to-end implementation of vCloud Automation Center 6.0 in a pre-configured vSphere 5.x environment.

The guide walks through – in plenty of detail – vCAC 6.0’s deployment, concepts, technologies, and features as they would be used in a real-world implementation. This document can also double as an unofficial hands-on training guide which covers:

– New Features in vCAC 6.0
– Deployment Architecture
– Implementation on VMware platforms (vSphere)
– IaaS and XaaS Configuration
– Usage and Navigation
– Advanced Concepts and Use Cases…

Scaling VSAN: Adding a New VSAN Host

In my previous post, VMware VSAN Meets EZLAB, I highlighted the implementation of VSAN into my vCloud lab. At the time of writing, 1 of 4 my vSphere hosts was down for maintenance and was not added to the VSAN cluster. Now that it’s back online, I thought I would share the experience of adding a new VSAN host…and another 2.25TB of capacity.

Here’s a “before” shot — 3 hosts configured with 6.13TB total capacity…

Step 1: Add the host to the existing VSAN cluster: I’m pretty sure I don’t have to review how this is done. Once added, configure all settings to match the other hosts in the cluster…in my setup I’m using a dedicated pNIC and vmkernel port (vmk1) for all storage traffic.

Adding new host to the vSphere cluster

The local storage of the new host, a Dell R610 box, is configured identically to the other
three — 1 x 256GB SSD + 3 x 750GB SATA drives. And since it is
identical, that also means I had to deal with the fact that the PERC 6/i
controller does not support JBOD. So, I stepped through the work-around to identify the SSD as such…

before…the SSD show up as “Non-SSD”


“esxcli storage…” command executed on host



the SSD is now recognized as an SSD drive


Step 2: Enable VSAN Service on the vmk port…

Configure vmk for VSAN traffic

Step 3: Disk Management…

Since my VSAN cluster is configured to “Manual” mode, adding the new host’s disks to the cluster takes an additional step.…

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…