A list of some vCloud Director best practices

These are some of the best practices that I have come across in my workings with vCloud Director. Some are from VMware, other bloggers and from my experiences. If it makes sense I will add some editorial to them so that it’s just not a generic statement that might not be clear to everyone.

I’ve broken them up into a few sections. Best practices which are design covenants and processes to follow. Helpful tips are items that can make your life easier or help with performance, and things to avoid are simply that. I will continue to add to these list as new items come up. If you have any suggestions drop me a note or leave a comment.

Best Practices:

  • Connect a single provider datacenter with a vSphere cluster when possible rather than a resource pool. Using resource pools that further divide up the resources of clusters provides and extra layer of management for admins and increases your risk of affecting performance if settings are not correct for a particular resource pool.
  • Create a separate management cluster for the vCenter that controls resources clusters for vCloud, and other infrastructure services used to support vCloud.
    – Management components are separate from the resources they are managing
    – The overhead for cloud consumer resources is minimized. Resources allocated for cloud use have little overhead reserved. For example, cloud resource groups do not host vCenter VMs
    – Resources are dedicated to the cloud. Resources are consistently and transparently managed and carved up and scaled horizontally
    – Troubleshooting and problem resolution are quicker as management components are strictly contained in a relatively small and manageable management cluster
  • Create an organization with a pay per use vDC to store your global catalog vApp templates in. This will not consume any resources from the cluster because the vApps are never powered on.
  • To determine the number of vCloud director cells need use the following formula.  ( number of cell instances = n+1 where n is the number of vCenter server instances ) If your vCenter servers are small meaning less than 2000 VMs you can have a single vCloud cell manage several vCenter servers. ( number of cell instances = n/3000 + 1 where n is the number of expected powered on VMs)
  • Do not mix tiers of storage within a single provider datacenter


Helpful Tips:

  • If you have VMs that are do not generate High I/O-you can consider using Fast Provisioning (linked clones) to save on storage space and faster provisioning
  • Make sure to size your NFS volume attached to vCloud director cells large enough for concurrent events that might take place in your design. Refer to great post by Chris Colotti about when cells would use NFS.
  • When you crate a Pay as you go vDC you will be asked to set the default  vCPU speed for new vApps being provisioned. By default its a very low amount (.26Ghz), you will need to adjust for you environment. There are two great blog posts here and here about this topic.
  • vCloud limits linked clone length to 30 and performance can be affected as VMs hit this limit. If you are looking to find out the lengths of your linked clone chains William Lam wrote a script to do just this.
  • You can view the chain length of a specific VM by looking at its properties within vCloud dashboard.
  • Be mindful when choosing the reservation levels for CPU and Memory when creating Org vDCs. You may think going with a lower percentage of commitment to allow you to over provision is a OK strategy. But these reservation values are very pivotal when calculating the values that HA admission control uses for being able to restart VMs after a host failure. If you commit too low you may not be able to restart all the VMs in your vDCs. If you need more details about admission control I suggest reading Duncan’s post on HA.


Things to Avoid:

  •  If using fast provisioning (linked clones) on a VMFS datastore limit cluster nodes to eight or less.
  • Be aware that there is a chance to hit the snapshot chain length limit. If the current clone has become very slow compared to the prior clone, the clone may have hit the snapshot chain length limit 30. This can be resolved by virtual machine consolation.
  • When adding an existing vSphere cluster as a Provider vDC in vCloud beware that when VCD goes to prep the hosts and install the agents it wants to prepare all the hosts at once, rather then stagger them.  You might try to use a bad password. Then after the failure, go to the hosts list and prepare them one at a time.


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 thoughts on datastore sizing for VMware vCloud deployments

So I should probably start of saying this post is not going to solve all of your questions about how many datastores you should have and what size they should be. What I do want to do is discuss some of the things that I have noticed in past designs and talk about different approaches. From this I hope that you can better approach your design and be aware of the options and how they might affect the experience.

I’m going to assume that you have a decent understanding of the constructs of vCloud Director (vCD) and vSphere. So when I talk about provider vDC’s and Organization vDCs you know what I mean. If not take sometime and brush up on the terms and proceed with your reading.

Depending on your use cases or the level of skill that your cloud users will have you might take different approaches to what I am going to cover next. VMware recommends that you do not mix storage tiers within a Provider vDC. It does not mean that you cannot, but you will have no choice on placement when provisioning new vApps. So you might provision a web server and end up on Tier 1 and the next time a DB server that ends up on Tier 3 for example. To effectively Tier storage and present it within vCloud you need to create separate vDCs for each Tier of capacity. This holds true for both compute and storage. You should think out your options carefully to prevent accidents.

By now you are probably wondering what are some different approaches to allocating space. I’ve listed out a few options below with notes on things you should consider with each one.

Block Storage:

If you will be using block storage does not matter what flavor you are going to need to create VMFS datastores. How many will you need and what size should they be. Do you make them all the same size within an Organization or the whole vCloud? What about if you need a few large VMs and the majority are small.

So if you are building a public cloud or more of a general use private cloud it might make sense to settle on a common sized datastore size for your entire design. This will make provisioning storage more predictable and you can publish size limits to the users of the cloud.

If you are designing a private cloud that will house existing workloads and there is a large size variance you might want to make different choices. For example there might be one or two servers that are over 1TB each but all other servers within the organization are less than 100GB. This gives you a few options make fewer datastores that are larger and capable of containing one of the large VMs or a bunch of the smaller ones. But a few things to consider how will this affect the performance of these datastores if you fill one up with a bunch of small VMs. You should know what the workloads look like and size based on this also. Another thing you are probably thinking about is well those big VMs probably have multiple VMDK’s that make up the VM. True, they might but in vCloud all disks of a vApp or VM always live on a single datastore. You do not have option to separate them like you might have with vSphere in the past.

Lastly you will probably end up presenting several datastores to each virtual datacenter (vDC). If you need to add more storage capacity to the organization you could do this by adding another datastore or expanding an existing one if thats an option. But expanding on could lead you with datastores of various sizes and you might be trying to avoid this. By having to use multiple datastores you might end up with some inefficiency.

NFS Storage:

I have to say that in the last year I have really started to become a big fan of NFS storage in virtual environments. My past experiences had been mostly with Fibre Channel storage so my I was never that sold on NFS. Now I think that NFS is a very attractive option when designing Cloud and VDI environments.

So if we consider some of the options that I talked about in the block storage section, but thinking about how NFS might change them. The first thing to think about is that you can either present a single NFS volume to the entire cloud depending on size or a volume to each organization. This will make provisioning VMs much more straightforward and should be less waste of space. Now in most designs it will probably not be possible to have a single NFS volume server the entire cloud, but in a small private design it might work. By have a single storage volume all VMs are placed in one location and you are not forced to pick a datastore size. I think this will prevent wasted space by using different sized datastores to try and meet the VM size demands.

Don’t know if I have answered any questions for you or just caused more. But I hope that I’ve given you some things to consider when working on the design of your datastores for your vCloud organizations.


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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Recap of Chicago VMUG User Conference 2011

Well October 31st and Halloween have come and gone and I’m just getting around to writing my recap. It was a busy day all round between the overwhelming success of Chicago’s first VMUG user conference and sugar overload from candy. I can’t say how proud I am of the turn out that the VMUG had. We broke an attendance record for a first time user conference with 500 people showing up at the conference. I believe the previous record was 390, so we have something to be proud of Chicago VMUG members.

The conference had speaking tracks from VMware and Partners on some great topics. I was able to attend sessions on View 5 and related products and a deep dive on ThinApp. Both were really good sessions with great speakers from VMware. I know that the VMUG leaders would like to thank everyone that came out to the conference and the Vendors that sponsored for making it all possible. But a huge thanks goes to VMware and the VMUG organization for helping plan this big event and making sure things went off without any issues.

I was able to meet a bunch of new VMUG members from Chicago and look forward to staying in contact with you all and meeting more. I hope that people that attended the user conference are able to attend our quarterly VMUG meetings that we hold. Growing our membership and creating a community around VMware in Chicago is a big part of the VMUG.

The Picture below is a view from the View 5 session that was presented by Josh from VMware. He covered all the infrastructure parts of View 5 and what roles they play. There were several good questions from the audience and he covered some real world implementation stories.

The image below is a picture from the exhibit space at the VMUG conference. We had tremendous vendor interest in the meeting. There was 55 boots in the space and some really great vendors and partners were there talking with VMUG members and helping them with products and solutions.


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

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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