TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


Leave a comment

VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 1.1 – Gather and Analyze Business Requirements.

Due to my decision to aim for my VCDX6-CMA this year and thereby to get it submitted in time for the only VCDX-CMA defence of the year (so far) I have had to sign up for the VCAP6-CMA Design beta exam. I’ve been working on a very large-scale vRA 6.2 project for the past 14 months and so I hope this experience of designing and building it as well as my preparations via these objectives breakdown(plus my study resources) and using some of my VCDX5-DCV knowledge will help me. So I thought I would slowly post up each objective for my own benefit but also hopefully help other people looking to pass the VCAP6-CMA Design exam (beta or GA).I will be consolidating all the objectives on my blog page here.

Knowledge

Associate a stakeholder with the information that needs to be collected.

  • This is down to the questions you need to ask and also who you need to ask these questions. These questions are ones you are going to ask during the design workshop for the design/project. For the workshop you need to make sure you have the applicable project participants/stakeholders who can join the workshops (depends if you want one big one where people come and go at certain points or multiple ones where you speak to each business unit/ team). For the stakeholder meetings/design workshops I personally like to try bring in the following people, this does vary depending on the project and what has been chosen but 9/10 times these are the people you want to speak to:
      • Virtualisation administrators (if applicable. If not already present then future administrators of the solution)
      • Server Hardware Administrators
      • Backup Administrators
      • Storage Administrators
      • Desktop/OS Administrators
      • Network Administrators
      • Application Administrators (these are very important as their applications may have very specific requirements)
      • Security Officer
      • Project Sponsors
      • End users/ Developers/ Help desk personnel (this I find is helpful to find out what are the current support desk tickets/problems the company are facing and if these will impact the project in any way. Also these discussions are easy to have in the hallway/over a coffee but have alerted me to unknown risks that would have severely impacted the design and delivery)

Utilize customer inventory and assessment data from the current environment to define a baseline state.

  • This is a really strange one for a vRA design as this normally applies for a vSphere design where you are possibly migrating workloads into a new environment but I’ll take this as possibly an assessment of the current vSphere estate and if it is a fit for the customers’ requirements from vRA. This is still conceptual so basic things like sites connectivity possibilities if they want off site DR or stretched clusters.
  • This could also mean the workloads being created on the vRA portal as catalogue items are currently workloads running somewhere and an analysis of these to determine possibly sizing metrics to have for example 1000 of a certain developer workstation in the vRA environment is a possibility. Also if the workstations all require isolation from each other for something like CD/CI then you will know you will need Level 4-8 capabilities to provide this isolation from NSX or Palo Alto for example.

Analyze information from customer interviews to explicitly define customer objectives for a conceptual design.

  • · I think this is fairly straight forward as from the design workshops and interviews you have collected what their objectives are and also ensured from all the workshops there are no obvious conflicts of people’s plans for the solution they want you to design. A “normal” customer objectives piece would be:
    • Customer XYZ has embarked on a strategy to increase extensively the level of automation and the rate of virtualization of data centre services. The intention is to enable application and system owners to consume on demand services as a catalogue-based service through a web portal. By initiating this project, XYZ aims to create a platform for IT service delivery that:
      • Is cost-effective through improved resource utilization with the use of cloud management software.
      • Can host 1000 developer workloads.
      • Increases agility through the use of automation and virtualization provided by cloud management software.
      • Is accessible through the use of their custom XYZ-Cloud portal for the consumption of IT Services.
    • Customer XYZ has chosen VMware vRealize™ Automation™ to provide their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Given results of a requirements gathering survey, develop requirements for a conceptual design.

  • Again this should be relatively straight forward for anyone as you’ve now spoken to all the applicable people and have taken down all their requirements and ensured there are no requirements conflicts. Requirements have to be very precise so that there is no misinterpretation that could cause scope creep and it forces you to ensure you know exactly what the customer requires and that they validate this as correct before you start the logical design. For example a requirement of “Customer wants high availability” is far too vague as everyone might have a different understanding of what high availability means. Your requirement should be “Customer wants 99.99% availability for the front end portal and 99.9% availability for consumer workloads outside of scheduled maintenance windows”. You would also include RPO and RTO values for these in my opinion in subsequent requirements so that SLA mapping is clear.

Categorize business requirements by infrastructure quality to prepare for a logical design.

  • I’m glad this is mentioned here as for the VCDX they are very big advocates for mapping your requirements to the infrastructure qualities. If you don’t know what the infrastructure qualities are they are:
    • Availability
    • Manageability
    • Performance
    • Recoverability
    • Security
  • So for example my previous concise requirement would fall under Availability, application of PCI/SOX/Hardening guidelines would fall under security, and ability to run the 1000 developer workloads would be performance.
  • This is also very helpful if you are doing requirements mapping from the conceptual requirements to the logical design decisions to the physical design decisions.

VMware Recommended Tools

The VMware recommended study tools for this objective are:

If you disagree with anything I’ve said above then please let me know and if I agree (I’m always open to learning) then i will update the posting. Now onto objective 1.2.

Gregg


Leave a comment

Finally I made it to a #UKVMUG

Yesterday I finally made it to my first #UKVMUG. They have been running for five years but each time they have happened I’ve been unable to attend either due to having attended VMworld so also attending UKVMUG would be pushing my luck or I couldn’t motivate a day not billing time to a customer. This year I didn’t attend any VMworld’s so made sure I booked out the day to attend and I’m really glad I did.

My day started a bit later than most attendees as I had to drop off my daughter at nursery as it opened and then drive the 93 miles to the Birmingham motorcycle museum where the UKVMUG was being held. I unfortunately missed the keynote by EMEA CTO Joe Bagueley as well as my mention alongside colleague Sam McGeown for our achieving of our VCDX’s and the award of shirts until our vouchers for the official VCDX shirts come through.  Thanks to Alaric and the rest of the UKVMUG crew for printing this for me =0)

image1 image2

I then spoke to quite a few fellow London VMUG attendees as well as peers from twitter and was very very appreciative of all the VCDX congratulations from so many of them.

I then attended a discussion by Zerto all around their offering and what has been released in their new version. A really great product and very interesting alternative to VMware SRM and vSphere Replication.

I then attended a session by two current and one ex Xtravirt employees around finding the silver lining in vCAC/vRA projects and the sharing of their war stories. Certainly some really great advice from the guys and the most important bit of advice around integrating tests and error reporting into your vCO/vRO workflows from the beginning.

image3

It was then lunch time where again I spoke to a number of current and ex colleagues as well as fellow London VMUG regulars as well as fellow vBrownbag host (albeit he is on a sabbatical from it at present) Josh Atwell. Mike Laverick then did his swag bag raffle that he does every year in aid of charity which this year had raised £470 and the winner was Sean Killen.

CULIUtUVEAAghtA

After some talking shop with some vendors I made my way to the “VMware’s Virtual SAN: A technical Deep Dive and Product Roadmap buy Christos Karamanolis and Lee Dilworth. the session was very interesting and Christos certainly gave in-depth explanations around VSAN, I just wish they had spent more time on the roadmap and new features in the releases due in Q1 next year.

image4

Next was a session by Frank Buechsel who is one of my fellow EMEA vBrownbag co-hosts who presented all around vRealize Automation-Lessons Learned. To say Frank didn’t sound like a big fan of vRA and the sheer complexity of getting a production setup working (tell me about it I’ve spent the last year of my life doing this) would be an understatement and I actually asked him at the end if he had anything nice to say about vRA which he did say it is a brilliant product but the errors are far too vague and the start-up and shutdown orders of a distributed installation are a nightmare.

Doing the closing keynote was then the illustrious John Troyer. It was a brilliant keynote all around how to try architect your IT career and how you need to keep learning new skills as the skills you have now will most likely be replaced/redundant in less than ten years. Poor John did seem to be suffering from a cold and jet lag but gave great advice. It was also great to hear a mention of the vBrownbag in his discussion. Thanks for that John 🙂

image5

Then it was the aptly named “The Red Wedding” ( G.o.T SPOLIER ALERT!! ) section of the day where Jane Rimmer, Alaric and Stuart all announced they would be stepping down as leaders of the London VMUG and UKVMUG after 25 years of service between them to allocate more time to their jobs and hobbies. These three have been amazing in building the community and dedicating so much of their time to the user group. Simon Gallagher hasn’t stepped down so that’s one consolation from it.If you think you could dedicate the time and are interested in becoming a leader then there is a survey available to complete as part of the process. this closes next Thursday so get your interest in ASAP.

Last but not least Pietro Piutti was generous enough to bring me over a few bottles of beer from the only certified trappist brewery in Rome. Not sure about the eucalyptus they add but man it was good. Not a Westvleteren 8 but it still got 4.75 out of 5 on untappd 😀

image6

It was a brilliant day and I certainly will be aiming to attend again next year even though I plan to attend the US VMworld next year also.

 

Gregg


1 Comment

vRealize Production Test Tool Configuration

The vRealize Production Test Tool was released in April this year to allow people to do health checks on their vRealize Automation, vRealize Business and vRealize Operations solutions to ensure your environments are running as planned and the most important part to me, being able to quickly prove the environment is working to your customer/consumers.

The tool is free and has been updated to version 1.2 at the time of this posting. Once once you have downloaded the tool you need to browse to the location where you saved the tool via command prompt and run the config command on the tool like the example below.

image

You accept the EULA after of course reading every single word and promising your first-born child and then get to the configuration UI.

image

image

Click on either vRealize Automation, Operations or Business on the left hand side and start filling in all your information.

vRealize Automation

If you have selected the vRealize Automation option and have your vRA portal load balanced then ensure the vRA URL is the VIP URL of your load balancers. The rest of the information is fairly straight forward.

image

For the endpoints I clicked the add button a few times to add additional fields so that I could enter not just my vCenter endpoints but also my vRO and NSX endpoints.

image

For the vRA Tenant name above go to https://your-vra-instance.com/vcac and check the name under your tenants tab and put in the exact name including the case.

image

Now save the configuration and close the UI. Now you can run the tool via command prompt by running the java -jar vrealize-productiontest-1.2.0.jar run –oobList VRA command like the example below.

image

vRealize Business

Open up the configuration UI again by running the config command as shown below

image

For vRealize Business click the option on the left and fill in the required information. The vRA tenant name can be retrieved via the method mentioned above in the vRA section ensuring the case sensitivity is maintained.

image

Once complete save the configuration and close the UI

Now you can run the test via command including the VRB acronym at the end to run the vRB test.

image

Once it completes running it will give you the number of tests runs and most importantly how many failures you may have.

image

You can then see the output of the report under the folder you ran the tool from /report/VRPTReport.html and it gives you a brilliant break down of the tests and where you may have had failures. The remediation and cause fields are URLs to VMware KB articles to fix the issues. In my lab I have three failures as you can see in the screenshot below.

clip_image001[4]

I haven’t gone through the vROPs setup but it follows very much the same method as the vRA and vRB sections. I really like the tool although it isn’t perfect for enterprise distributed installations and I had quite a few hassles with the vRA tool working but it is good and coupled with the vRA management pack for vROPs it gives brilliant reporting  of your environment.

Gregg


1 Comment

VCP6-CMA track on the EMEA #vBrownbag

Now that my VCDX defence is over and hopefully I’ve done enough to be awarded an illustrious number I can pick up my old responsibilities for the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am one of the hosts and decided that the VCP6-CMA track would be a great one to do.

african children dancing - Lets learn Some vRA goodness

We are going to be going through the blueprint in order so that it is easy to follow and watch as well if you are subscribed to the iTunes feed. So starting next week Tuesday at 7pm GMT (Clocks have changed in Europe so this is GMT not BST) we will be doing objective 1 and it is being covered by one of the co-hosts of the vBrownbag, Frank Buechsel. You can register for the series and future vBrownbag EMEA sessions via the following link https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8540909933274906113 and can also subscribe to the vBrownbag YouTube channel.

 

If you are interested in covering an objective on the vBrownbag then please get touch as we are always looking for presenters.

 

Gregg


2 Comments

vRA Enterprise Level Distributed Installation

Recently I was fortunate enough to design and build an enterprise level distributed installation of the vRealize Automation suite of products and integrate it into an enterprise environment. I’ve done several vRA/vCAC deployments before but each time I do a new deployment I like to collate information, read all the latest articles and make sure what worked in the past for me hasn’t changed or more likely has been enhanced so I can provide an even better deployment.

For those unsure of what an enterprise distributed deployment comprises of I have added a logical diagram below (click on the picture to expand it as it is fairly large)

 

vRA Logical

 

For my current deployment it was based on vRealize Automation 6.1 due to it being part of an EMC Hybrid Cloud deployment but the architecture and layout are exactly the same for 6.2. (note this is defined after collecting customer requirements based on amount of workloads, NSX load balancing and the requirement of application services so make sure you have reasons for design decisions)

Resources

For the resources I used, some are ones I used in the past to learn how to do an enterprise deployment and some are ones I re-read prior to this deployment. I have listed them below to save me looking for them again but also to maybe help other people:

 NB: Make sure when importing the certificate into the appliances remember to remove the bag attributes at the beginning of the PEM file and start from —BEGIN CERTIFICATE—– until ——–END CERTIFICATE————-

NOTE: VMware no longer recommend using an external postgres database. The 6.2 documentation has been updated to reflect this.

Troubleshooting

Along the way I hit a few errors and spent a fair bit of time with VMware support also on a few of them. The main ones are listed below:

If you are unsure about any of the portions mentioned or want to know more, you can ask VMware Professional Services for whom I did this design and deployment or Xtravirt who are a VMware partner, to come in and help you with the design/configuration of your environment.

Also let me know if you think I missed something or if it helped you.

Gregg


1 Comment

Firewall Ports For Distributed vRealize Automation Deployment

On the current project I am working on for a major bank, the bank requested a list of all the firewalls ports required between all of the vRealize Automation components even if the components are part of the same VLAN and did not require any firewall rules. I looked through the  vRealize Automation Reference Architecture document but this had far less than what I had hoped for but was certainly a good starting point. I spoke to a few fellow VMware PSO and systems engineering people I know (current project I working on is as VMware PSO) and it seems there was a clear definitive list of these readily available. So I created one with the help of the consulting architect on my project Arnim van Lieshout, fellow VMware PSO consultants Greg Davis and Phil Monk and vRealize guru Grant Orchard. The solution has additional components such as IPAM,Puppet,SCOM and SCCM which I left the entries in for but are obviously not applicable to every environment.

The list is contained below in pdf format due to tables and my blog theme not liking each other and have broken them down into vRealize Automation Suite headings:

vRealize Orchestrator

TheSaffaGeek vRO Firewall ports

vRealize Automation

TheSaffaGeek vRA Firewall ports

vRealize Business

TheSaffaGeek vRB Firewall ports

I hope these help people looking to implement these solutions and if you need any professional services help then please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Gregg


2 Comments

vRealize Automation 6.x Resources

Seeing as my vCAC 6.0 Resources page gained quite a fair amount of traffic and after several requests from people for me to update that list to include 6.1 resources I thought I would create a new posting to cover the new naming and for future releases.

Product Landing Page:

Release Notes and Product Documentation:

Compatibility Matrix:

Installation and configuration blogs:

Jonathan Frappier has done a brilliant series all about the installation in a sixteen part series

Grant Orchard is just a guru around all things vRA, there are too many blog postings to mention so I have opted to rather just point to his own sections.

Reference Architecture Guide:

Distributed Installation

Sam McGeown has done a series around the distributed installation of vCAC 6.0. The method is exactly the same for version 6.1

Preetam Zare has also done postings based on a distributed installation in a two part series.

VMware have also created a deployment guide for VMware vCenter SSO 5.5 with vRealize 6.1

VMware have also created a installation guide for configuring vRealize 6.1 with an F5 load balancer for high availability

Training

Automation of the Installation

Day 2 Automation

Jonathan Medd as created a brilliant series of postings around vCAC tenant creation

Top orchestration blogs

vRealize extensibility is heavily reliant on the usage of vRealize Orchestrator so the below blogs are great sources on how to learn and use vRO to enable this extensibility.

Orchestrator Videos

VMware Hands On Labs

Videos:

VMwareTV have posted 30 videos covering vRealize features http://www.youtube.com/user/vmwaretv?feature=watch


Leave a comment

Rethink Your vSphere Virtualization Infrastructure for your SMB

I just wanted to repost this just in case people don’t follow the VMware SMB blog page. The below blog posting was posted by me on this blog over a week ago (I’m very busy at work doing cool vRealize Automation stuff which I hope to blog about very soon) . Hopefully this is of interest to a number of people and so keep an eye for my future blog posting via the SMB blog.

In recent years, virtualization has dramatically changed the infrastructure of companies and helped them to consolidate and optimize their environments. With the change and growth of the VMware vSphere® family of products, a number of features and solutions that were only part of the Enterprise and Enterprise plus licencing packages are now available for the small and midsize business (SMB) market as well. This change is causing SMB customers to rethink and re-evaluate their vSphere virtualized infrastructure to leverage these new offerings and realize the benefits of advanced reporting, data protection, enhanced optimization and advanced service offerings, to name a few.

In the past, many of these new features and technologies made a perfect fit for the SMB market, but costs made them prohibitive. That is now changing with a new wave of virtualization 2.0 technologies, including:

As a senior consultant doing work as a VMware partner and as an extension of VMware PSO, this change is something I am evangelising and explaining to all my customers. I especially want the small and midsize businesses I work with to know the capabilities and solutions that are now available at no extra cost to them, which can help enhance and optimize their virtualized infrastructure.

A large portion of these successes have been through the ability of SMB customers to now utilize vSphere with Operations Management to do reporting, monitoring and future planning through smart alerts, built in reports and health dashboards designed to optimize the utilization of hardware resources, such as CPU, memory and storage.

As shown in the screenshot below, this dashboard enables SMB customers to monitor the state of the environment through the current health score, the potential risks to the environment, the future health of the environment and how well the environment is running through the efficiency score. Each of these scores can be expanded to give further information and methods to improve these rankings. I always like to explain these scores like the the health of a person – the higher your health score is, the healthier you are, and the higher your risk factors, the bigger the chance of your health being impacted. Your efficiency is how well you are doing things and how you could do things better.

Download Here

I’ve written a whitepaper around the need for SMBs to rethink their virtualization infrastructure and to elaborate on a number of the features and solutions that are now available to SMB customers, like vRealize Operations built into vSphere with Operations Management, as briefly detailed above. Download the whitepaper to learn how these solutions can help your business and your customers.

If you require any more information or consultancy about the solutions and technologies covered in the whitepaper, then please don’t hesitate to contact VMware Professional Services.


Leave a comment

VMworld Day 2

VMworld EMEA day 2 kicked off with the keynote from Carl Echenbach, Ben Fathi and Raghu Raghuram. Unfortunately the keynote was again largely a repeat of the VMworld US day 2 one with all of the same jokes and mock up pictures also. Due to this I’m not going to break down the keynote but rather recommend you watch the keynote recording here.

After watching the keynote and writing up my VMworld Day 1 blog posting I helped the vBrownbag crew with preparations for the TechTalks for which the recordings are now available on the vBrownbag YouTube channel. I would highly recommend watching these as there were some really great presentations from some very big vendors and names within the industry. I then went to the hands on labs and did  HOL-SDC-1420 – OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX. The lab was really good and I plan to do the second part of it today.

Talking about containers VMware released a blog posting yesterday around Docker containers performance in VMware vSphere. some of the highlights from the article are that:

  • VMware find that for most of these micro-benchmarks and Redis tests, vSphere delivered near-native performance with generally less than 5% overhead.
  • Running an application in a Docker container in a vSphere VM has very similar overhead of running containers on a native OS (directly on a physical server).

To view the full blog post, you can visit :  http://blogs.vmware.com/performance/2014/10/docker-containers-performance-vmware-vsphere.html

After the HOL I attended the Solutions exchange and spoke to some of the vendors whose solutions interest me such as Nutanix, Hitachi Data Systems, PernixData, Simplivity , SolidFire and Colt stalls. Some amazing solution from these guys as well as many others, it’s scary how much the virtualisation ecosystem is changing.

From the solutions exchange I attended session STO2997-SPO The vExpert Storage Game Show EMEA which was really good fun and filled by really smart guys on the stage. I watched the recording of the one from the US a few weeks ago and it too was very informative and is a session I would recommend watching from both VMworld’s.

I then made my way back to the solutions exchange for the hall crawl where Hitachi were serving up sake and sushi at their stand which is two of my favourite things so I had to make sure I got myself some and they even gave us nice sake cups which I will personally use for a double espresso cup. A big thanks to Paul Meehan too for chatting us through their solution.

hitachi

I stuck around in the solutions exchange until the VMworld party as the party is in the convention centre. The party seemed smaller this year although there was a big roller rink in the middle last year so possibly this was the reason. It was good to chat to very vNerds and even some ex-colleagues whilst waiting for Simple Minds to come on. I’m only 31 so I only knew two or three of their songs but they were hands down better than Taio Cruz last year and most of the crowd seemed to really enjoy it and they even did an encore. From the party I met up with some of my Xtravirt colleagues for a night cap.


Leave a comment

VMworld Day 1

Tuesday is the real start of VMworld where both partners and customers of VMware come to attend sessions, do hands on labs, talk to vendors in the solutions exchange and attend the keynote/general session.

The day kicked off with the general session, I opted to not go into the general session hall but instead go into the hang space across from the hall where the keynote was being shown on big screens. This enabled me  to sit at the bloggers table to ensure my scheduled blog postings around a number of announcements could go out smoothly and in San Francisco the keynote overran into the first sessions and I had one booked at 11am. The blog postings I posted which the ones I had to make sure the scheduling worked for are:

I was planning to mention quite a bit about the keynote but it was 98% exactly the same as the VMworld US one with even the same jokes. If you missed the keynote you can watch it again here. The big announcements from the keynote for me was the announcement that there is now a vCloud Air datacentre in Germany allowing the selection of this datacentre as the location of your data. For those who aren’t from Europe, many countries in Europe have strict regulations about information leaving their countries and Germany is one of the strictest so giving the ability to have customers data in Germany makes things a lot simpler. The second big announcement for me was that HP and Hitachi Data Systems are  have joined the VMware EVO:RAIL program.

Just like in VMworld US, the keynote ran overtime so I started walking to my first session which was MGT1969 vCloud Automation Center and NSX Integration Technical Deep Dive . The session was really informative and the two speakers gave some great insight into the integration and capabilities of the two products as well as doing a live demo at the end. I always appreciate a good demo so i would highly recommend watching the session once the recordings are available.

I had a quick lunch as most of the 11am sessions were delayed due to the keynote and then went up to the solutions exchange to talk to some vendors I wanted to hear more things about. The solutions exchange certainly doesnt seem to have as many vendors as last year and it was also very interesting to see how some vendors stalls have doubled in size whereas a few others have got a lot smaller and moved to the outer edges.

I then went to the hang space to watch a few vBrownbag Techtalks which were really good and also to chat to some fellow vExperts. for me one of the best parts about VMworld is being able to chat to your peers about technology and also make good connections professionally with partners companies. whilst i was in the hang space I also attempted my paper airplane challenge for project Destination Give Back which allows you to create a paper airplane and then depending on how far you throw of if you land on one of the circles you “win” money for a charity cause of your choice. Yet again I threw mine too hard Smile but it’s a quick and easy way to give back to good causes and I applaud VMware for doing it. giveback

My next session to attend was TEX1991 vCenter Orchestrator – What’s Next? which was a good session giving insight into you guessed it, what’s new in vCO. it was a good session and there really are some great things coming out in vCO that will help both SMB and enterprise customers.

I again did a walk around the solutions exchange after this as it was then the hall crawl where drinks and snacks are supplied before making my way to the vExpert/VCDX party where I managed to chat to loads of people about my previous VCDX attempt and my plans for my next one and lastly I attended the Cisco vJamon party. Both parties were really good and I must be getting old as I quite liked that there was good food and no thumping music so that I could chat to people with ease.

If you spot me at the conference please do come say hi. I will be wearing a vBrownbag shirt with my name on the front and back.