VMworld Announcements

The big day for VMware admins around the world is here with the first day of VMworld 2013. Kicking off the conference (besides the pre-parties) is the keynote given by the CEO of VMware, Pat Gelsinger.

The big announcements from the keynote are:

  • VMware vSphere 5.5 As rumored, we didn’t see vSphere 6, but there were several enhancements here that caught my eye. A new VM version which now supports better vGPU and more device support (more disks per VM). vApp HA which checks for the presence of “heartbeats” from VMware Tools™ as well as I/O activity from the virtual machine. If neither of these is detected in the specified amount of time, vSphere HA resets the virtual machine. You will notice that many of the performance features have increased 2x except the vmdk which overshot and now supports 62TB-512b vmdks attached to a VM. I know several of my customers that will like that new feature. You can read more about what’s new in vSphere 5.5 here.
  • VMware vCloud Hybrid Services – General Availability Not really sure how to feel about this one yet. As a vCloud provider, they appear to be competing directly with me. And based on their 6 data center expansion planned for the next year (4 VMware DCs + 2 provided by Savvis), it makes it hard to think that they are going to throw us a bone anytime soon.

    At the same time, I do get it if you are an enterprise customer that has always trusted VMware for your infrastructure needs. Moving to the cloud is a bit scary to go with someone you don’t have that relationship with. VMware is your trusted partner here so why not go with them? What I would like to see is VMware say, hey Mr Enterprise, meet my partner here Mr vCloud who can fill this gap for you the same way that we can. Sure you lose the one throat to choke, but you keep partners happy while spreading the operational costs at VMware. Its a pipe dream at this point, but that’s the approach I would have rather seen.

  • VMware NSX – The Platform for Network Virtualization – We’re finally seeing the fruits of the Nicera purchase a year ago by VMware. Essentially, we have a new layer on top of existing physical networks that allows a true software defined network. What ESX did for compute resources, NSX hopes to do for network resources. VMware NSX brings together the best of Nicira NVPTM and VMware vCloud Network and SecurityTM into one unified platform, delivering the entire networking and security model (Layer 2 – Layer 7) in software. I don’t think that there is any avoiding the SDN. Where we used to have just VLANs separating customers, now we can have additional separation and isolation on top of existing networks as well as providing various services (Firewalls and SLB) with the click of a button. Should be exiting to see and I looking forward to turning a few wrenches on this in the lab.
  • VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN) Similar to VMware NSX, VMware Virtual SAN is built on a unique distributed architecture that will enable storage services to scale out linearly with the needs of the application. Through the seamless integration of VMware Virtual SAN with VMware vSphere, VMware has redefined the role of the hypervisor to deliver virtualized compute and storage services in an elastic, flexible fashion. The distributed architecture enables VMware Virtual SAN to deliver I/O performance comparable to mid-range storage arrays while leveraging the economics of direct-attached storage.

This list is by no means definitive of all the announcements that were made, but definitely the big ones. Many more and a lot more detail can be found in VMware’s press release.

VCP-IaaS Exam Experience

This morning, I passed the VCP-IaaS exam making me an official VCP-Cloud.

Overall, I found the test to be a nice add-on to the VCP5 test that I took back in 2011 and not as hard as I was expecting it to be. Don’t get me wrong, you have to know your stuff. But I think of all the tests that I’ve taken from VMware, this one was more in line of what you would encounter on a day-to-day basis as a vCloud Administrator which is what I think certification tests should be rather than pure memorization of the admin guides. This could be that my role over the past 6 months has been to roll out a vCloud environment, produce a bunch of internal documentation and training, and find new and interesting ways to break the environment.

I can’t discuss actual questions from the test itself, but I can tell you what I did to prepare.

  • If you have the equipment, setup a home lab. If not, find a way to set it up at work even if it is just a proof of concept somewhere. I was very fortunate that deploying vCloud was one of my main projects so I had a great playground to work with.
  • Pour over the documentation. This seems like an obvious answer, but the blueprint spells out exactly what is on the test so read all the documentation surrounding those sections. I find that I read the documentation once, then I go back and look for all the ‘note’ sections and best practices and then try to come up with a question that gives a situation showing the opposite of the best practice. It’s a way of training the brain for some the questions that are going to be coming at you in the test.
  • Find study note blogs. There are a ton of them out there and these will often do the work of the previous suggestion for you, but I like to make sure I’ve thoroughly read the documentation before looking at someone else’s cliff notes.
  • Listen to the vBrownBag Podcasts. These guys have been knocking it out of the park for a while now. I downloaded and listened to all the VCP-IaaS related podcasts over the past several days to have another avenue of the information coming in. Read it, hear it, do it. I think it covers all the learning styles out there. Surely something will sink in.

By far, the hardest part for me on the test was the ChargeBack items as its the area where I have the least amount of experience. That’s probably where I spent the most time studying for this exam and from what I’ve heard from others, it was a pretty similar experience.

That’s pretty much it. Good luck to anyone out there that is taking the test.

vCloud – Licensing error while accessing vSphere Profile-Driven Storage

Recently I was spooling up a dedicate cluster of hardware for a customer in our vCloud environment. It’s a smallish cluster of 5 hosts with a dedicated pool of storage. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Created the DRS/HA Host Cluster. The storage guys had already done the various zoning and disk LUN creation so that was added to the cluster and tagged it with a User Defined Storage Capability.

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Which then was linked with a Storage profile so we could use that in vCloud. Again, nothing out of the ordinary.

storage_profile_error3

So let’s create a vApp to make sure everything is working as expected.

storage_profile_error1

Son of a #*$&! We missed something here along the way. At least the error message we got was pretty straight forward. </sarcasm>

Licensing error while accessing vSphere Profile-Driven Storage Service, VM Storage Profiles are not enabled for the VMs host.

storage_profile_error5

Uh…what? We have enterprise plus licenses on these hosts which supports storage profiles. So the hosts surely support it. The storage profile setup went through with no problems. So what’s the issue?

The Solution

The issue turns out to be a setting I missed while setting up the Storage Profiles. On the upper right hand side of the screen (see second screenshot on this post), you will see an option for Enable VM Storage Profiles. Click on that link and you will see your various clusters and sure enough, the cluster I have set up for this vDC has a VM Storage Profile Status of unknown.

storage_profile_error4

Luckily, it’s a simple highlight and click of the Enable button and you are good to go.

So there you have it. I figured this is a minor misstep in my setup process but I should share the knowledge so hopefully others won’t trip up as well.

NOTE: Some screenshots edited to hide host and customer names.

Host Missing from vCloud Interface

We’re currently running a little in house beta at the office of vCloud 1.5.0. The testing has been going on for a while and recently I had to do something I didn’t want to do, but had a nice learning experience for me so I thought I would share.

We have two UCS blades running in our vCloud environment giving us a nice healthy test bed to play in. For another maintenance in our VMware environment, I had to steal one of these blades to be used in another cluster to add some resources temporarily. So into the vCloud interface I go to disable the host, unprepared the host and finally remove it from the interface. No problems, everything went as expected and I could move the host into the other cluster for the maintenance.

Where the issue came into play

So, maintenance goes off without a hitch and I can now move my host back into the vCloud cluster. Move it back over in vSphere and go back to the vCloud interface under the Provider vDCs -> Manage and Monitor -> hosts. Uh…doh! My host isn’t showing up.

I try taking it in and out of maintenance mode, out of the cluster several times, nothing.

Finally, I restarted the vCD.

Eureka! We’re back in business. Right click on the host and hit Prepare host and we’re up and running again on our two hosts.

WHile I wouldn’t recommend randomly restarting the vCD service all the time, this was one of those instances where I could quickly do it in our beta environment and it gave the vCloud environment the kick in the pants it needed to recognize the host to be put back into action.

vCloud: Org Url Not Found

We’ve recently been setting up vCloud 1.5 in the office and so far we like what we’ve been seeing. During the install, we did run into a bit of an issue when we set the API urls. On our first attempt we didn’t set them and had issues uploading media. You’d think that the two would be unrelated. You’d first think that you had a permissions issue on the file system somewhere right? Wrong-o-bucko! What you need to do is set the API url in Administration > Public Addresses. Uploading media apparently uses it.

Another issue that we ran into after we set the urls was that when we went to an org URL of say vcloud.us.com/org/orgVDC, we got a Org Not Found message. A huge thanks to Dave Hill for this FAQ that solved the issue for us. Here’s the part in particular that saved us some time.

vCloud Director: Org URL Not Found
Q. In vCD, I created an org and the org URL comes up as https://cloudURL/org/tenantOrg. However, attempting to access this Org URL results in an HTTP ERROR: 404 NOT_FOUND error. How do I resolve this problem?
A. Append “/cloud” to the vCD public URL in the VCD public URL setting under the System/Administration/System Settings/Public Addresses.