vArchitect Newsletter 014

Welcome back from VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas! We hope those that went enjoyed themselves and didn’t lose too much money on slot machines. Glad to have met some of you out there as well. There are lots of things to report on during the last newsletter and conclusion of VMworld, so let’s get into it.

VMworld 2017 US Recaps

We’ll begin with some recaps for those who weren’t able to make it out to Las Vegas. Chip was a registered blogger and put together posts that highlight the days’ events including all the announcements at the keynotes. Highly recommended to check these out if you want a good understanding of not only what was spoken of, but other releases and updates that flew under the radar and only made it into blog posts.

Day 1 Recap

Day 2 Recap

Conclusion & Final Thoughts

The biggest things were the much-anticipated release of VMware Cloud on AWS, a managed-services joint offering from VMware and AWS, but built, billed, and supported by VMware; and Kubernetes integration from Pivotal and other ecosystem partners

ITSM plug-in for vRA 2.0 released

The ServiceNow plug-in for vRA has now reached 2.0 on August first. This version supports the Helsinki and Istanbul releases as well as vRA 7.3. Get it here. Blog post introducing it is here. Down side of this is that it, unfortunately, is only community supported right now. It also looks like ADFS is no longer required, and that was a pain point when first released.

OVF Deployment bug in vCSA 6.5 U1

If you upgraded to vSphere 6.5 Update 1, you will probably run into this issue at some point (if not already). It’s easy to fix, but follow the KB article here for instructions. Long and short of it, you cannot deploy an OVF or OVA after upgrading due to a bug in the way a config file for the content library feature is handled. This is regardless if you’re using content library or not, by the way.

Updated vRO plug-in for vCenter 6.5

For those using vRO to automate any portions of their vCenter 6.5 environments, the team has released a minor update to the plug-in you may want to grab here. And by the way, if you’re using other plug-ins, you may want to peruse the Documents section of the vRealize Orchestrator forum on the Communities because very often the updates are posted there.

VMware Infrastructure Navigator End-of-Life Announcement

Bad news for those using VIN as VMware has announced its EOL in this KB article. This is sad to see as we thought it was a useful and very helpful tool to have, but something few people knew about. Since the bifurcation of VMtools into10.x and 10.1 branches, VIN didn’t work with the 10.1 branch anyhow (vSphere 6.5). VMware has since released and will be further developing the Service Discovery management pack for vROps, but it’s very immature at this point.

vRealize Operations Manager 6.6.1 released

vROps 6.6.1 was released as a patch to 6.6 in early August. This is a bug fix version mainly due to all the wonky things 6.6 introduced along with the new UI based on Clarity. Release notes are here. If you’re already on 6.6, you should plan to punch up to this version. If you’re still on 6.5, you might want to stay there until the releases that incorporate the new UI have stabilized. And also, 6.6.1 does not restore the Notes field to active alerts, so if you use that then definitely do not upgrade. Chip had a conversation with several of the bigwigs at VMworld about removal of features in 6.6 and has been told only Notes are affected.

Upgrading vRA 7.2 to 7.3 and duplicate Endpoints menu

An odd issue was discovered in one of Chip’s labs when upgrading from vRA 7.2 to 7.3 right before VMworld, but luckily the cause was determined and fixed. Here’s the issue in case any of you happen to hit the same wall. The symptoms are when the upgrade says it was successful, yet you see two Endpoints menu items under Infrastructure as well as the new component profiles are missing (new feature in 7.3). First, check the Add/Remove Programs on your Web and Manager hosts to make sure all the components show as 7.3.x.

 

 

In this case, some did and other did not. Checking out the logs showed that some of these components could not be upgraded. The fix was to download the IaaS installer to these servers and go through the upgrade manually. It’ll discover and upgrade only those that haven’t been completed. Once complete, go back and make sure they’re good as shown above.

Fling Updates

Lots of new and/or updated Flings have appeared within the last month. In no particular order they are:

HTML5 Web Client

Horizon Toolbox

HCIBench

DRS Dump Insight

ESXi Embedded Host Client

VisualEsxtop

vRealize Operations Export Tool

Specifically, however, make sure you do upgrade to the latest version of the H5 client fling (v3.21 as of this writing) because it brings a lot of speed enhancements and fixes.

vCenter slows or stops when added as an endpoint in vRBC

There is a weird issue with vRealize Business for Cloud 7.3 when you’ve added vCenter as an endpoint. It’s said it will slow down or stop if you have this combination. Not ideal. Follow this KB article to download and install the provided patch to protect against this.

Linux freezes with VMXNET3

Ran across this reported issue fairly recently whereby folks are reporting hangs and reboots on Linux with kernels newer than 4.8 using VMXNET3 NIC types on virtual hardware 13. Check the Bugzilla log for details. It’s possible there is already a later version of ESXi 6.5 that fixes this, but it yet again illustrates two recommendations:

  • Always patch your ESXi hosts. Super proud of that 2-year uptime? Don’t be. It’s a badge of shame as it shows you don’t care about security or stability fixes.
  • Don’t use the latest VM hardware version unless you actually need some of the features it brings. We see this time and time again where odd issues arise from some combination involving the latest hardware version.
Automate Log Insight agent installation from vRA

New blog post authored by Chip provides new, free community content that enables users to automate the Log Insight agent on their machines through vRA. Check out the post here and follow the links over to VMware {code} to grab the software blueprints. The cool thing about these new blueprints is they yank down the agent packages directly from your Log Insight cluster, so no need to maintain a separate repo.

New SovLabs Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) Release

Super cool new release from the SovLabs guys and gals, and that is Backup-as-a-Service integration with vRA from Rubrik, Cohesity, and Veeam! Yes, a little excited there but it’s well warranted because they’re the only ones doing this type of stuff with these vendors, and all through vRA. So not only can you define protection policies or jobs either at time of provisioning (by the user, on the request form) or hard-code that into blueprints, your users can conduct their own restores as well all within vRA. That’s yuge, and not something anyone else does at the moment. Props to the team for working their butts off getting the release out the door since it was a monumental task.

Daily Hypervisor features SovLabs

For those familiar (or maybe not familiar), Sid Smith, the guy behind Daily Hypervisor, is a well-known blogger who puts out really great content around vRealize Automation and has very valuable insights since he was at DynamicOps before VMware acquired it. He’s now putting out several blogs featuring SovLabs various modules, and it’s great to see more people out there writing about and adopting them. His first introductory blog is here, followed by another covering both VMware’s and SovLabs’ plug-in for ServiceNow here.

VMware blog on SovLabs

Yes, SovLabs is really picking up steam, as evident by a blog post from VMware (on their blog site) extolling the benefits. This post focuses on IPAM and DNS, but there are many, many other modules that bring the same sort of benefit. Bottom line here is that don’t waste time designing, building, and maintaining a wheel from scratch when someone has already done all the work for you.

New Blog:  vRA and The Problem of the vCenter Folder

A new blog post from Chip will be going up in the next day or so (check the Sovereign blog site) and features yet another new module from SovLabs, the Custom Property Toolkit. This blog illustrates how you can use this new module to do some very powerful things indeed, and things that you really couldn’t do in vRA previously. The example used to illustrate that functionality is how to get vRA to very granularly stash its deployed systems into vCenter folders that align with your existing organizational structure. We won’t spoil it here, so go check out the article.

Honors and Accolades for Sovereign vArchitects

A couple of nice honors were bestowed on our vArchitects this month. Will Hochradel, Principle Architect, has been named a Subject Matter Expert (SME) by VMware on its Cloud Management Platform, and is one of the authors of the VCP exams you might take for Cloud. Great honor for Will and much deserved. When you’re asked to write the test questions, it says a great deal. And Chip Zoller has been named a VMware vExpert for 2017 by VMware and the community. Every year, VMware reviews individuals in the community who have demonstrated solid expertise with a number of products and use that to help others and enrich the community. The vExperts are a small number of those reviewed and Chip was one named in 2017.

Follow the Support Insider blog

The Support Insider blog is a great way to stay abreast of new and emerging issues in various products, and something not many people know. Every month or so, they publish a list of the Top 20 articles for many of the VMware products. Also published are new KBs every week. Even if you aren’t impacted by any of these issues, it’s always a good idea to read through them and be aware of what is out there so at least you’ll have heard of it if it ever comes up. More information is never a bad thing.

New vROps Management Pack for Kubernetes

Good to see a new management pack that works with Kubernetes inside vROps. You can view the release notes (PDF) here, but keep in mind this is a 1.0 release and there will be gaps. On that same note, Blue Medora now has a management pack for working with Docker, so definitely more traction being achieved in the ecosystem with containers.

New version of vCheck Script

Alan Renouf, PM at VMware for SDKs and world-renowned PowerCLI expert, puts out the vCheck tool, a set of scripts designed to harvest information from vSphere. He recently put out a new version of the tool, so check it out over on GitHub here. If you’re using vROps, you get most of this already, but it’s a handy thing to have even still and can be scheduled.

VMware Deprecation Announcements

‘Tis the season for products and solutions getting the axe from VMware. There are three separate announcements they made at one time that impact vCenter, the web client, and ESXi drivers. Check them out here.

Goodbye, vSphere Web Client!

VMware plans to deprecate vmkLinux APIs and associated driver ecosystem

Farewell, vCenter Server for Windows

The vCenter announcement is certainly no surprise as VMware have been only releasing new features into vCenter via the vCSA for the past couple of versions now. So there’s really no reason at all anyone should be using a Windows-based vCenter at this point, and absolutely no reason to consider doing it at this point. If you’re still on a Windows vCenter, plan to upgrade/migrate soon since you won’t have that option any more going forward.

The web client announcement is welcomed by many since the Flex/Flash version is highly unpopular. As stated, the HTML5 client will reach full feature parity before the Flex client is gone, and as we’ve mentioned several times before, make sure you’re using the fling to get those latest and greatest features. The C# (aka “thick”, “fat”, or “desktop”) client is not coming back, so now is the time to start getting used to the HTML5 client.

Lastly, the vmkLinux drivers are not a huge deal any more since the native architecture has been around since 5.5, but in cases where you might have some specialty hardware you definitely want to press your vendor to get with the times and build those native drivers.

All right, well, that’s a wrap for this month. We’re a little late due to VMworld 2017 US and vacations and such, but hopefully this is a good amount of material for you all to churn through and investigate for yourselves. We are now at the beginning of VMworld 2017 Barcelona, and even though none of us could convince management that we needed a second vacation to Spain, nonetheless expect the next newsletter to have updates and highlights from that event.