vArchitect Newsletter 004

PowerCLI Core fling for Mac and Linux

If you are one of those using who appreciate your Mac (with Fusion running your day to day on Windows 10), then you will appreciate the new release of this new fling by VMware, all thanks to Microsoft for making PowerShell open source and available for Mac and Linux.

PowerCLI Core uses Microsoft PowerShell Core and .Net Core to enable users of Linux, Mac, and Docker to now use the same cmdlets which were previously only available on Windows.

You can now run all your favorite scripts right from you Mac, pretty awesome.

VMworld 2016 Recap – Barcelona

VMware made quite a few announcements at VMworld Barcelona last week for the following products:

  • vSphere 6.5
  • vRA 7.2
  • vROPS 6.3
  • SRM 6.5
  • vSAN 6.5
  • vVOLS 2.0
  • PowerCLI 6.5

Here are a couple of highlights of the new features on each product.

vCenter 6.5:

  • vCSA and PSC failover
    • Protect vCenter server deployments from failures.
  • Auto deploy UI added to web client.
  • Enhancements to host profiles
    • Filters
    • Copy settings to different host profiles
  • vSphere web client UI and usability improvements
    • Keyboard shortcuts
    • Live refresh
  • New HTML5 client shipping with vCenter
  • New and update HA features
    • Admission control enhancements
    • Orchestrated restarts
  • Enhancements in event logging
    • Improved over 30 existing events
    • Over 20 new events added.
  • Storage IO Control with Storage Policy-Based Management.
  • vCenter Server appliance native backup and recovery capabilities
  • vCenter server installation using JSON formatted template and vcsa-cli-installer.
  • New vCenter Appliance management UI
  • vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) will be released with vSphere 6.5.

vRA 7.2:

  • LDAP support
  • Event broker subscription based on XaaS services
  • Public cloud - Azure supported
  • Container management with vRA and Admiral

vROps 6.3:

  • More Actionable UX & WLP/DRS enhancements:
    • New Recommended Actions landing page
    • Configure DRS from vROps with Cluster/DRS Dashboard
    • Data Collection Notification Toolbar
    • Actions directly from Workload Utilization Dashboard
    • Simplified vSphere configuration Steps
  • Improved Log Insight Integration:
    • Log Insight management pack Installed OOTB
    • Improved Log Insight and vROps alerting
  • Enhanced vSphere Monitoring:
    • Support vSphere 6.0 Hardening Guide
    • vSphere SDDC Health Monitoring Dashboards
  • Packaging update:
    • New per CPU licensing for vROps Standard
    • Blue Medora management pack bundles aligned with vROPS editions
  • General enhancement:
    • Filtered SNMP Trap Alert Notifications
    • Enhanced Super Metric capabilities
    • Reduction in default Metrics Collected
    • New API Programming Guide

SRM 6.5:

  • vSphere 6.5 compatibility
  • vSAN 6.5 compatibility
  • SRM and VVOLs interoperability
    • Supports protection of VMs located on VVOLs using vSphere replication.
  • API and VRO plugin enhancements
  • vSphere replication RPO
    • vSphere Replication now supports VM RPOs of 5min with most VMware compatible storage.
  • vROps SRM management pack

vSAN 6.5:

  • Virtual SAN iSCSI Service
    • Create iSCSI target and LUNs and present to systems outside of vSphere.
  • 2-Node Direct Connect
    • Witness Traffic Separation for ROBO
  • 512e drive support

VVOLS 2.0:

  • Array-based replication support
  • Automated Disaster Recovery
    • Replication Workflows
      • Replication Discovery – VVol disaster recovery discovers the current replication relationships between two fault domains.
      • Sync Replication Group – Synchronizes the data between source and replica.
      • Test Failover – To ensure that the recovered workloads will be functional after a failover, administrators periodically run the test-failover workflow. After a test, administrators can optionally move the devices from test to production when ready for a real failover.
      • Disaster Recovery and Planned Migration – For planned migration, on-demand sync can be initiated at the recovery site.
      • Setting up protection after a DR event – After the recovery on a peer site, administrators can set protection in the reverse direction.
  • Line of service
    • Line of service is a group of related capabilities with a specific purpose, such as inspection, compression, encryption, replication, caching, or persistence
  • Support for Oracle RAC

PowerCLI 6.5:

  • All module-based (no more snap-ins).
  • Core vSphere module updates.
  • Lots of new VSAN cmdlets.
  • vVols cmdlets.
  • Re-written Horizon module which can be run from anywhere.

VMware Cloud on AWS announcement (VMC)

VMware also recently announced a strategic partnership with AWS, which will provide the ability to run a full VMware SDDC as a cloud service in AWS.

The VMware cloud will run on native ESXi on bare metal AWS Infrastructure and will be deployed as a private cloud containing vCenter, ESXi hosts, VSAN, and NSX.  All the tools you currently make use to manage your on-premise vSphere environment will work with the in-cloud SDDC environment on AWS.

VMC is a fully managed service so VMware will take of the core infrastructure in partnership with AWS by installing, managing, and maintaining the underlying vCenter, ESXi, VSAN, and NSX infrastructure.  This will include hardware fixes and patching.

VMC will be available as stand-alone, hybrid cloud, or cloud-to-cloud deployment.

With hybrid and cloud-to-cloud, enhanced linked-mode is required and NSX will provide consistent network and security service.
NSX is not required and if you do not run NSX in your on-premise datacenter, then you can still make use of VMC but without the hybrid cloud features for NSX.

With NSX in place and with enhanced linked-mode you have the ability to vMotion your workloads from on-premise to AWS and with no VM conversion necessary.

Some examples of where this new service will be beneficial:

  • Quick scale with no extensive capacity planning required.
  • Additional resource capacity during site maintenance
  • Additional resource capacity during a disaster recovery.

Kubernetes as a service in Photon Platform

As mentioned above, the vSphere Integrated Containers offering will be GA at the same time as vSphere 6.5, but VMware’s other container offering—Photon Platform—will get the ability to deploy a Kubernetes cluster as a service from Photon Platform. While Photon Platform has already reached version 1.0, it is being further developed and extended for other container orchestration and scheduling technologies such as Kubernetes. The press release for this announcement can be found here. What’s the difference between the two platforms? VMware blogged about that in the post here, which offers a good summary of the two technologies and the use cases for both.

Linked Clones making full clones in vRealize Automation 7

One issue we came across recently in the lab was the linked clone workflow in vRA 7 instead deploying full clones. In the blueprint designer under the Build Information tab, if one selects the Linked Clone action but then selects to clone from the snapshot option marked “Use current snapshot,” then the clone becomes full with no error or informational message.

In this case, you must explicitly choose the snapshot from which to base your linked clones, then it should work. Verify the deployed machine is actually a linked clone by cat’ing the VMDK descriptor to ensure it points to the parent VM.

Sovereign vExpert workshop for vRealize Operations Manager recap

A couple weeks ago, Chip ran a few vROps workshops for customers either interested in or already using the product. The experience was a great to understand how differently organizations need to customize vROps to their liking, but also to illustrate how that can be done simply in most cases, and effectively in all. Here are some large take-aways from those experiences if you’re in the same position. Of course, having one of these workshops lead on-site for your team is probably going to give you the most value since it is a highly interactive experience, but nevertheless there are some key points to understand:

  1. vROps 6.3 now has the ability to create your custom policy based on answering a few simple questions, and the ability to later change that policy by changing your answers. No need to delete and start all over.
  2. A lot of customers feel overwhelmed with what vROps can do. Make no mistake, it is a complex thing, but VMware has done a great job in giving you 90% of what you need out of the box. So once you create your base policy, you’re off and running and, in many cases, may not have to change too much else.
  3. When you need to tweak how things work, always try to tweak the policy first, then the actual item definitions. If you find you must change the item definition itself (alerts, symptoms, recommendations, views, reports, etc.), then always clone the item, then edit the clone. This is important. Never edit the out-of-the-box content, because when time comes to update vROps, those updates will reset that content to add any new features or make corrections. Obviously, if you’ve altered the default content, those changes will get wiped away.
  4. Remember that committing a project will alter how vROps calculates your capacity numbers, so only do so if you are absolutely, positively going to add those resources or take them away.
  5. vROps is way more than just a monitoring tool for vSphere. Especially in version 6, there are more and better management packs than ever that are capable of monitoring just about everything in your data center. While many are free, the best ones usually come from Blue Medora and have the ability to monitor everything from your databases all the way down to your storage. Extending vROps to these types of physical infrastructure is the best way to maximize your investment.
Exposing custom VM profiles to reporting in vROps

Here is an interesting and very insightful article that shows how to use those custom VM profiles you created to report on remaining capacity. For those not aware, in vROps 6.1 and forward, you have the ability to define your own custom “t-shirt” size VM (based on either allocation or demand models) which can then be used to tell you how many more of those you can fit in a given cluster, datacenter, vCenter, etc. The problem has been that only the default sizes are provided as metrics, so you can’t do things like alert and report on the custom profiles. Peter shows how you can create a super metric by gathering the ID assigned to that custom profile. Hopefully VMware builds this functionality in sometime in the future, but for now there is a solution to get that data out of the GUI.