What is VMware vCloud Datacenter services

So your head is probably spinning this week with all of the news coming out of VMworld 2010. I know it’s only day 2 and each evening my head was pounding after absorbing so much new information. Today was day 2 and the information fountain was turned up all the way with the Keynote speak, there was several new products announced. In this post I am covering vCloud Datacenter service and what it has to offer to your Service Catalog.

To break this down in simple terms. I see this as the public version of vCloud that provides you the ability to link up your internal private cloud build on vCloud Director. This service allows you to provision app’s and VM’s out in the public space when you need to. Maybe its because you are out of space on your private cloud or that you just want something out there for other reasons. The vCloud Datacenter services gives you the interoperability that you want with ease of use and VMware is promising the security that Corporations are demanding. This will all be provided by vCloud Director and the new vShield product family.

Here some of what VMware has to say about vCloud Datacenter services.

Built to predefined specifications and based on secure VMware cloud infrastructure technology, vCloud Datacenter Services provide multilevel, auditable security through SAS 70 Type II or ISO 27001 compliance. vCloud Datacenter Services also provide best-in-class virtual firewall capabilities, Layer 2 isolation, role-based access control and the ability to integrate with Active Directory. Access to end user activity logs keeps you in control and allows you to calibrate user access levels for enhanced end user security.

Because vCloud Datacenter Services are built upon the same, globally consistent foundation as your internal datacenter or private cloud, VMware vCloud Director and VMware vSphere, internal virtualized applications can be easily moved to a vCloud Datacenter Services without re-architecting or refactoring. Rather than being locked into a proprietary cloud platform as you may be with other providers, you can choose the vCloud Service Provider that best meets your needs and manage, move and operate your applications as if they were on site.

Link to vCloud Datacenter services at VMware

Here are some of the differences between what vCloud Datacenter Service has to offer compared to public clouds.

vCloud Datacenter Services
Other public clouds
COMPATIBILITY AND ADMINISTRATION
Use existing internal VMs or vApps in the cloud
Yes
No
Familiar VMware infrastructure
Yes
No
Authenticate users against enterprise directory
Yes
No
Multi-user, role-based access control
Yes
No – one user per account
Identical GUI for internal and external clouds
Yes
No
Move applications between virtual data centers
Yes
No
PERFORMANCE
Predictable performance from resource allocation (committed VDC and dedicated VDC)
Yes
No – depends on other tenants’ use
Storage performance
5x
1x
NETWORKING AND SECURITY
Firewall per vApp and per organization
Yes
No – per VM
Full virtual layer 2 networking
Yes
No – L3 only
Auditable security with all logs provided
Yes
No
Optional physical segregation of resources
Yes
No

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware vCloud Director rises from the shadows of project Redwood

You can now hear the sigh of relief as many bound by NDA to keep silent about Project Redwood. This morning brings the news of the official announcement from VMware about vCloud Director or vCD. This is the new VMware Cloud Infrastructure solution that will allow Corporations and Service Providers to build clouds and ITaaS ( IT as a Service ) consumption models. Below is a quote from the VMware press release about vCloud Director.

VMware vCloud(TM) Director: A new model for delivering and consuming
    infrastructure services
     VMware vCloud Director changes the way IT
    delivers infrastructure services and the way users access and consume
    them. By extending the resource pooling capabilities of VMware
    vSphere, VMware vCloud Director enables IT to create "virtual data
    centers" (VDCs) -- logical pools of compute, network and storage
    resources with defined management policies, SLAs and pricing. IT
    organizations can offer these VDCs -- along with catalogs of other
    infrastructure and application services such as virtual appliances,
    VMs, and OS images -- to users through fully automated self-service
    access.

So what is vCloud Director

To put it in the simplest terms it’s a layer that sits on top of vCenter server and abstracts all the resources that vCenter has under it’s control. You then combine all of these resources into large pools for your Customers or Tenants to consume.  Also vCloud Director provides the Customer a Self Service portal to use.

So what exactly are the resources that vCloud Director abstracts from vCenter server? Below is a list of the resources and the vSphere term to bring it all together.

  • Compute resources = vSphere Clusters and Resource Pools
  • Network resources = dvSwitches and portgroups
  • Storage = Datastores ( VMFS and NFS )

These resources are then presented to you via the Self Service Portal of vCD. As an administrator you can use the vCloud Director Portal to split up and assign resources to Customers, Department or some other business division. These call also be referred to as an Organization, this sounds a lot like Lab Manager. The vCloud Director product was designed to work with both Enterprise and Service Provider clouds. The resources are divided up and assigned to a Virtual Datacenter or vDC. There are two types of vDC’s available withing vCloud Director.

  • Provider Virtual Datacenter ( Provider vDC )
  • Organization Virtual Datacenter ( org vDC )

The Provider Virtual Datacenter is the base for compute resources. When creating a Provider Virtual Datacenter you will need to select a resource pool. Nex you will need to associate at least one datastore with the Provider vDC, this might be all LUNs masked to your cluster. Duncan from Yellow Bricks layed out the following theory

Some of my colleagues described the Provider vDC as the object where you specify the SLA and I guess that explains the concept a bit more. So for instance you could have a Gold Provider vDC with 15K FC disks and N+2 redundancy for HA while your Silver Provider vDC just offers N+1 redundancy and runs on SATA disk… everything is possible.

Now that a Provider vDC was created you can create an Org vDC and associate the Org vDC to a vCD Organization. Its possible that an Organization can have multiple Org vDCs associated to it. For example it’s possible to have 3 Org vDCs owned by a single Organization across two Provider vDCs. Those provider vDCs could each have a different SLA.

So in my thought vCloud Director does seem be Lab Manager on steroids which is a phrase that I’ve heard before. Many of these ideas do seem to be based off of the Organizations, configurations and networking that Lab Manager was using.

Pricing and Availability
VMware vCloud Director is currently available and is licensed per VM starting at $150 per VM.

Build Secure, Multi-Tenant Clouds – VMware vCloud Director lets administrators group users by policy, such as a business unit, division or subsidiary. Each group has isolated virtual resources, independent LDAP-authentication, specific policy controls and unique catalogs. To ensure security and compliance in a cloud environment where multiple organizations share infrastructure resources, VMware vCloud Director includes VMware vShield perimeter protection, port-level firewall, and NAT and DHCP services.

vCloud Director Links

Download link for vCloud Director

vCloud Director Install and Configuration guide

vCloud Director User Guide

vCloud Director Administrators guide

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware best practices for virtual machine snapshots

I will start this post off with the standard snapshot warning. Just a reminder that Snapshots are not backups, they are only a change log of the original virtual disk. You should not count on them as a backup. There are a number of different reasons that you might use a snapshot for. One of my most used reasons would be for a software upgrade I would use the snapshot to allow for an easy rollback to the machine state prior to the upgrade. If you have some other reasons leave a comment to share with others.

  • The maximum supported amount in a chain is 32. However, VMware recommends that you use only 2-3 snapshots in a chain.
  • Use no single snapshot for more than 24-72 hours.
    • This prevents snapshots from growing so large as to cause issues when deleting/committing them to the original virtual machine disks. Take the snapshot, make the changes to the virtual machine, and delete/commit the snapshot as soon as you have verified the proper working state of the virtual machine.
    • Be especially diligent with snapshot use on high-transaction virtual machines such as email and database servers. These snapshots can very quickly grow in size, filling datastore space. Commit snapshots on these virtual machines as soon as you have verified the proper working state of the process you are testing.|
  • If using a third party product that takes advantage of snapshots (such as virtual machine backup software), regularly monitor systems configured for backups to ensure that no snapshots remain active for extensive periods of time.
    • Snapshots should only be present for the duration of the backup process.
    • Snapshots taken by third party software (called via API) may not show up in the vCenter Snapshot Manager. Routinely check for snapshots via the command-line.
  • An excessive number of snapshots in a chain or snapshots large in size may cause decreased virtual machine and host performance.

You can find some more details from VMware on troubleshooting snapshots here.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Some cool new features in vSphere Command Line Interface CLI 4.1

Now that vSphere 4.1 has been out for a couple of weeks you’ve probably had some time to play with it in a lab. I’m sure you have also spent some time reading the release notes getting up to speed on the large list of new features that were released. After spending time myself getting familiar with many of the new options I wanted to dig in and see what was new with the Command Line Interface in 4.1. Since this is going to play a big part in how you will be managing ESXi hosts once you move your environment over to the platform of the future.

I have grabbed a list of the new commands added to vCLI 4.1, these command will help narrow the gap that had existed between what you could run on the ESX console (COS) and what you could do via the vCLI with an ESXi host. Notice the part at the end where it lists some of the commands that cannot be executed against a vCenter server for a host in lock down mode.

  • vicfg-hostops – Allows you to examine, stop, and reboot hosts and to instruct hosts to enter and exit maintenance mode.
  • vicfg-authconfig – Allows you to add an ESX/ESXi host to an Active Directory domain, remove the host, and list Active Directory domain information.
  • vicfg-ipsec – Supports IPsec setup.

vSphere CLI 4.1 also includes the following new functionality:

  • The following options have been added to esxcli:
    • esxcli swiscsi session – Manage iSCSI sessions.
    • esxcli swiscsi nic – Manage iSCSI network interfaces.
    • esxcli swiscsi vmknic – List VMkernel network interfaces available for binding to particular iSCSI adapter.
    • esxcli swiscsi vmnic – List available uplink adapters for use with a specified iSCSI adapter.
    • esxcli vaai device – Display information about devices claimed by the VMware VAAI (vStorage APIs for Array Integration) Filter Plugin.
    • esxcli corestorage – List devices or plugins. Used in conjunction with hardware acceleration.
    • esxcli network – List active connections or list active ARP table entries.
    • esxcli vms – List and forcibly stop virtual machines that do not respond to normal stop operations.
  • Some of the parity issues between vSphere CLI and the ESX service console have been resolved.
  • You can now run vCLI commands using SSPI (--passthroughauth) against both vCenter Server and ESX/ESXi systems.
  • Lockdown mode allows vSphere administrators to block direct access to ESXi systems. With lockdown mode enabled, all operations must go through a vCenter Server system. The following commands cannot run against vCenter Server systems and can therefore not be used in lockdown mode:
    • vicfg-snmp
    • vifs
    • vicfg-user
    • vicfg-cfgbackup
    • vihostupdate
    • vmkfstools
    • esxcli
    • vicfg-ipsec
  • If you want to run these commands against an ESXi system, turn off lockdown mode using the vSphere Client.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Use web browser to view vSphere Configuration and Log files

Sure this nothing earth shattering but it’s just something simple that can make your life easier. With a web browser and some links that I will provide below you can view some of the vSphere configuration files and messages from logs. This is probably the fastest way to get a view into your host with out having to SSH into the server or use another method. This method works for both vSphere 4.0 and 4.1 hosts and it works on both ESX and ESXi hosts.

You can view the VMware vSphere Configuration files from a browser using a link formatted like the following. https://hostname/host From that link you will need to authenticate to your host and then will be able to view a list of files from the host. In the list of files presented with be configuration files and some logs.

There is another page viewable with a web browser that will show you log messages from your ESX or ESXi host. Use the following syntax for the link.  https://hostname/host/messages

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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