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

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.…

    vCAC Property Dictionary: Customize Service Requests with Dynamic Menus

    //Update// – this procedure works with vCAC 6.2 (not in 6.1). The UI will look different, but same concepts apply. The property dictionary in vCAC 6 is located at Infrastructure (tab) –> Blueprints…

    In a previous post I discussed the benefits of utilizing vCloud Automation Center’s Property Dictionary to add input options during the application request process. This is one of the quickest ways to add some flare (and serious functionality) to the application request and allows users to have a little more granularity in the service selection process. The Property Dictionary – and custom properties in general – also help drive down the number of Blueprints thanks to the logic that can be baked right into the process.

    Let’s review (from previous post)
    In addition to creating a custom property, which can trigger external actions (workflows), you can create property definitions that utilize vCAC’s built-in reserved custom properties, which can be used take a user’s input and apply it to an existing custom property – think of it as an answer file of sorts. For example, a drop-down list that presents the networks available to a given Provisioning Group and allowing users to select a preferred network. The property dictionary can also be used to build relationships between parent and child definitions to provide a more dynamic and nested functionality – the user selects a location (“Datacenter A”, parent) and, based on that selection, only appropriate networks (“NetA”, “NetB”, “NetC”, children) dynamically become available.

    Use vCloud Automation Center’s Property Dictionary to Customize ServiceRequests

    As I’ve alluded to on more than one occasion, VMware’s vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) is more than just a cloud portal. It is a solution designed to take defined business policy and requirements and apply them to the underlying IT systems, providing a governance model that delivers infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) with business agility in mind. Once defined, those policies are applied to vCAC’s individual policy definitions to build a “mesh policy” that provide the governance and controls for self-service, automation, and lifecycle management. The result is a finely-tuned service deployment model that defines the applications (blueprints), where they can be deployed, who can deploy them, and under which circumstances they are (or aren’t) allowed to be deployed. More than just a cloud portal.
    vCAC 5.1 provides a ton of this capability “out of the box”, but the solution can also add a tremendous amount of additional capability using built-in control concepts, custom properties, and native integration with external tools such as PowerShell, vCenter Orchestrator (vCO), and others. The possibilities are immense. Those of you who are familiar with vCO will immediately realize the power of that last statement. If you’re not familiar with vCO you should stop reading this, download/deploy the vCO appliance, and make it your best friend…then come back and finish reading.

    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.