New VMware certifications announced at VMworld 2012

As part of all the new product announcements at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco VMware has quietly released a few new certifications.I am pretty excited about some of these new certs and question one of them. But this clearly is showing that being an expert in all of these areas is going to be a very hard task as VMware continues to expand their product offerings and certifications. Just trying to take all these tests will be a serious undertaking.

The first change is the VCP that everyone has known for years is now renamed as VCP-DV for datacenter virtualization.

Cloud

To go along with the recently announced VCP-IaaS cert that VMware announced this summer is the new VCP-Cloud. This seems to be a step about the VCP-IaaS cert, but also seems very redundant in content. Would like to see more clarity from VMware on what the real difference is between the two.

Next up is VCAP-CID (Cloud Infrastructure Design) is the latest in the series of advanced certifications. This one will focus on the design of the various parts that make up a vCloud design.

Desktop

The newest cert in the desktop track is the VCAP-DTD (Desktop Design) and it focuses on the architecture and design functions around a virtual desktop environment.

VMware Certification Roadmap

You can see from the image below that VMware is working on expanding the 3 levels of certification to their 3 main tracks, datacenter, cloud and desktops. There will be specialty certs at all levels in these tracks someday soon.

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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Why Tintri is a great storage choice for vCloud director

Some of the characteristics of a cloud make it a great solution for customers but introduces some new challenges on the management side. Much like back in the virtualization days the hypervisor abstracted the hardware from the virtual servers, cloud is now abstracting the hypervisor from the tenants of the cloud. This as of today is by design and creating an environment that is easy to use also removes many of the management or provisioning choices from the users.

But by doing this you are also limiting some of the features or performance decisions that users may need or demand out of a cloud design. I think today that the features are not yet there within most cloud platforms to help users make performance related decisions easily or be able to create complex custom virtual machines. Let’s talk through a few of these items below and why I think Tintri is best positioned to solve many of these items today.

 

Complex Cloud VM’s

So what do I mean by a complex cloud VM. The best example that I can give for this scenario is a database server. The typical config that follows best practices is to separate the various parts of the database server onto separate virtual disks that are preferably on discrete LUNs that meet the performance characteristic of each part of the database. This would mean that the OS drive, database drive, temp DB drive and logs drive would all be on individual virtual disks and would be matched up with a datastore backed by the recommended Raid level. Along with selecting the right raid level would be to consider the number and type of disks used in these disks.

Today vCloud and I would say most other cloud stacks do not fully account for the performance requirements for these types of complex workloads when being provisioned from a catalog or at all. There will probably be some people that will say this is possible in vCloud but not without manual intervention from an admin in vSphere. My point is this process should be hidden from the cloud consumer and happen when they self-provision a VM.

The approach that many typical arrays take would be to provision Tiered storage and present it as an Org Virtual Data Centers (vDC) in vCloud. Then force the user to select a tier which to place the entire VM on when provisioning, and this is certainly a viable option. You could use different types of storage like an all Flash based array or something that auto tiers storage blocks on a scheduled basis to try and create pools of storage. While these are valid options I think they add extra complexity to things and not a very granular approach, meaning you usually have to make performance based decisions on an entire LUN or pool of storage.

Now you are probably wondering how is Tintri going to make this any simpler for me. I will not give you the entire Tintri value pitch as that’s not my job, you can review their features here. In a vCloud design specifically, Tintri solves this complex VM issue by offering you a storage appliance that is VM-aware. First Tintri uses it’s finally tuned methods to serve nearly all of your IO (both reads and writes) from its flash storage. This is very helpful because you will have clear visibility into which virtual machines are using higher amounts of storage IO even down to the individual virtual disk. And the icing on the cake is that since Tintri is completely VM-aware, if you needed to guarantee the highest performance for a specific VM or virtual disk you have the ability as an admin to pin the VM or disk to flash, thus guaranteeing the best performance for the virtual machine. I received a reply from Tintri that explains while possible to manually pin VMs to flash, under normal use this is not need as their sub VM QoS along with the flash hit percentage they can provide all workloads the throughput, IOPS and low latency they need. Today this type of granularity is not possible from other storage vendors.

So I tried to find a graphic that would visualize the awesome NFS performance that Tintri can provide, but when you search for NFS the results are heavily polluted with Need for Speed images. So who does not love a good burnout picture?

Why NFS is just a solid choice for vCloud

OK so it’s not like Tintri is the only NFS player in the market. But by choosing NFS as their storage protocol I think that they match up well with creating clean vCloud designs. Much with the discussion above about creating Tiers of storage for performance you will also most likely be creating multiple datastores if you are using block based storage. The need for multiple datastores could be driven by decisions and factors such as multiple tenants in your cloud and limiting factors such as size or number of VMs per datastore.

NFS allows you to be more flexible by using fewer larger exports or in Tintri’s case a single NFS datastore per Tintri appliance. This reduces waste by not having to cut up your usable space into so many smaller parts for various design decisions. Now there are sure to be some valid reasons that you would need to have those divisions and Tintri cannot solve everything. But for many of the clouds being built today by corporations that are mostly private in nature tend to benefit from what Tintri could offer to their design.

Oh and not to forget the benefit that NFS by default is thin provisioned and saves space on your storage without having to use Fast Provisioning in vCloud that does not fit well with all designs.

To wrap all this up you should have these types of conversations with your VMware partner, vendor or internal teams to evaluate what might be the best solution based on the requirements of your cloud design. But no matter what your needs are, I think that you should take a serious look at what Tintri might be able to help you solve in the areas of performance and ease of management.

 

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 Orchestrator ideas for workflow automation samples

I’ve been talking to a lot of customers lately on the  possibilities of VMware Orchestrator. Things like do they use it now, what they might be able to use if for in their current environment. But most of the discussions are in tandem with a vCloud design. Orchestrator has been a mystery for the last few years but VMware has been working on changing that since vSphere 5 was released. It is now being talked about more and 3rd parties are actively developing plug-ins to expand its abilities to automate other infrastructure.

I don’t plan on teaching you how to use Orchestrator, there is a good book by written by Cody Bunch on Orchestrator. What I do want to talk about is some ideas of what you might be able to use Orchestrator for and get your creativity flowing.

Orchestrator ideas:

Idea 1:

A workflow that clones a VM from a template , nothing exciting right. Well what if you could have the workflow do the customization part for you? So what does this mean, well the workflow could look at the template you are deploying from and then select a License Key for the proper OS that is being used. Then it could place the VM in the Active Directory OU of your choosing. Try doing this type stuff with standard vCenter customization templates, the licensing would take multiple customization files and the OU part would require the template to already belong to the OU you want it to end up in. This would add a lot of layers of complexity to your environment doing it the old way. But with a Orchestrator workflow you can accomplish this and make your admins lifes easier.

Idea 2:

The idea here is not that much different from Idea 1, but it involves VCD. So the idea would be that we have several Organizations setup inside of VCD and the VMs from each Org need to belong to a different OU in Active Directory. Well you probably say there is no easy way to do that. You are right but with Orchestrator we can create a blocking task and a workflow with logic in it that will listen to the request coming from VCD and do a look up for which Org is requesting the VM and match that to logic provided in the workflow that will let it know with OU to use.

Idea 3:

This idea came from one of the local VMware reps that I work with. The idea is to use Infoblox for IP and DNS management for vCloud. To make this work a blocking task would be created that would step in when a new vApp was created and use the Infoblox plug-in for Orchestrator. To give you an idea of how this would work in simple terms. You would deploy vApp and select that it grab an IP from a static pool in VCD. This allows the VM to be created but the IP is only temp and is taken from a small pool that is used just for this purpose. Then the blocking task will step in and request a permanent IP from Infoblox and register it with DNS. The workflow will then go back into VCD and change the IP address selection method to static-manual because it was now being provided from Infoblox.

These are some basic ideas but ones that I know people might be able to use. The whole idea is to get you thinking about what types of automation you might be able to accomplish with Orchestrator by providing some examples.

 

Update 10/29/2012

I thought it would be good to get others to submit their VCO automation ideas. I would like to find out what others are doing already with VCO or list ideas that you would like to try and automate with VCO. These should be tasks or things that are required in your environment on a regular basis that automation could be used to save time. You may already do these today with Powershell or something else. Lets share and help the community benefit.

As incentive I have a code for access to the online content from VMworld 2012. This will allow you to download the PDF versions of the slide decks and listen to the recorded sessions, there is also probably some other benefits that I have missed. I will award this to the best idea that seems both possible with VMware tools and would be beneficial to VMware shops.

 

 

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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How to create an Elastic vDC in VMware vCloud director

Something that was slipped into vCloud 1.5 that did not get much press was the idea on an elastic vDC. This gives the ability to add extra capacity to the underlying provider vDC in vCloud. If you have worked with vCloud before you might be saying wait I could always do this by expanding the size of my cluster or pool that was providing the resources. And this was certainly one option for adding more capacity. But what if you had larger clusters that could not be expanded or if you were using linked clones (Fast Provisioning) and you reached the 8 host maximum for your cluster. You would have to create a new provider vDC and present this capacity as a new Org vDC to your cloud consumer.

The idea of an elastic vDC allows you to add another resource pool to a provider vDC which in turn presents this capacity up to the Org vDC. Now today this option is only available for Org vDCs that are setup for the Pay as You Go allocation model. What it allows you to do is add in the resources from additional vCenter resource pools to a provider vDC. Thus allowing you to grow the resources that are presented up to any Org vDCs using the proper allocation model.

You can see from the image at the bottom of this post that the first resource pool presented is marked as the primary and is what would be used to provide resources to Org vDCs that are using the Allocated or Reserved allocation models.

To add another resource pool you must navigate to the provider vDC that you wish to add the resources to and select the resource pool tab. Then simple click the green plus icon to add the resources by selecting from the vCenter that you choose. Below is a summary of the VMware KB that describes the features and limitations as they stand today.

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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How to upgrade vCloud VCD appliance to 1.5.1

I’ve been waiting a couple of weeks for the updated vCloud (VCD) appliance to be released. Not sure if its out yet, but after getting tired of waiting. I just decided to update the VCD appliance myself. But after some googling I noticed that no one had written anything about upgrading the appliance. There are some excellent articles by Chris Collotti about how to upgrade vCloud in a production install. So after feeling adventurous I took the leap and upgraded. If you need to upgrade your vShield manager also I have a post on there process also.

First step was to take a snapshot of the VCD appliance for a temp backup in case things went terribly wrong. So I shutdown the appliance and took the snapshot.

Step 1: Download upgrade .bin file and copy to VCD appliance

Step 2: Log into the console of the VCD appliance as root

Step 3: You should shutdown the VCD services before upgrading. See notes from VMware KB also listed below.

To gracefully shut down a cell in vCD 1.5.x:

  1. Log in to the target cell as root.
  2. Navigate to $VCLOUD_HOME/bin/ (typically /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/bin/).
  3. Suspend the scheduler by running this command:cell-management-tool -u username -p password cell -q true
  4. View the tasks that are running using this command:cell-management-tool -u username -p password cell -t
  5. When the task count reaches zero, shut down the cell by running this command:cell-management-tool -u username -p password cell -s

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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