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).…

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.…

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 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…

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.…

    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).…

    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).…