TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 2.3 – Build Availability Requirements into the Logical Design

Knowledge

Evaluate which logical availability services can be used with a given vRealize Automation solution.

For logical availability services this comes down to making sure there are multiple instances of a component if possible and that it is load balanced either via a physical load balancer like F5 or a virtual one like NSX and it is protect via HA and DRS rules are configured for anti-affinity for hosts placement and storage placement. I did a blog posting about designing an enterprise level distributed VRA . As you can see from the diagram I have split out the vRA appliances, IaaS Managers, IaaS Web servers, DEM workers and vSphere Agents and load balanced all the management components via NSX load balancers. The exam is supposedly based on vRA 6.2 so the postgres database is now clusterable between the vRA appliances so it being on an external vRA appliance instance isn’t required anymore.

Differentiate infrastructure qualities related to availability.

This is being able to tell what things apply to what infrastructure quality. If you dn;t know what the infrastructure qualities are then they are Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability and Security. A great definition and break down of what availability is has been done in a blog posting by Rene van den Bedem. This will most likely be drag and drop where you take certain pieces and place them under the different qualities.

Analyze a vRealize Automation design and determine possible single points of failure.

I think this is really self-explanatory as you need to understand how a highly available design is achieved and then pick up on any SPOF. For example if the vRA databases are on a SQL installation that isn’t clustered or protected by HA then this is a SPOF.

Determine potential availability solutions for a logical design based on customer requirements.

Availability can be achieved either via separation of components to allow resiliency in the event of one of the components failing, load balancing components to ensure services aren’t lost if one portion goes down and protection via HA or BC/DR to allow a quick MTD. Look at the vRA reference architecture for a good overview of how to design for resiliency and high availability. Also my blog posting I mentioned earlier covers it nicely if I do say so myself. There is also the two VMware articles around Configuring VMware- vRealize Automation High Availability Using an F5 Load Balancer and Configuring VMware- vCenter SSO High Availability for VMware vRealize Automation

Create an availability plan, including maintenance processes.

Here is where in an ideal world you have done a Business Impact Analysis and determined what their RTO and RPO values are and then started to work out how various design methods and solutions can ensure these SLA’s are maintained as well as maintenance windows where these SLA’s don’t apply. Rene’s posting I mentioned earlier gives a brilliant amount of ideas of what to think about to ensure availability of a solution.

Balance availability requirements with other infrastructure qualities.

This is a part of an design where you need to holistically look at the design and ensure if one decision is made it doesn’t cause impacts to requirements or other decisions and if so if it is worth keeping that method or changing the other one. For example if you are requested to provide 99.999% of availability then this is going to cost the customer a serious amount but also some high level solutions are going to be required to ensure this is met which can impact manageability if the current team don’t have the skill set to manage it once you walk out the door.

Tools

If you think I have something wrong then please let me know as I don’t claim to know everything by any stretch.

Gregg


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VCP6-CMA

A number of weeks ago I sat my VCP6-CMA exam (I’ve been working on my VCDX6-CMA submission hence the delay in posting this) after being told that passing one of the hopefully soon to be released VCAP6-CMA exams doesn’t automatically get you the underlying VCP6.

So with three days to go before the exam I managed to sit down and study for the exam. Now this isn’t something  would recommend and it wasn’t something I had planned but with my having been working on a very large scale vRA 6 design and deployment for the last 18 months I took a chance. The blueprint covers everything you need to know just like all the other exams and there are no tricks where things aren’t on the blueprint but in the exam.

For study resources I used everything mentioned on my VCP6-CMA page to prepare. The resources available are perfect and the Pluralsight courses as well as the ICM on demand course were integral in my preparations (albeit i had watched these quite a while ago so didn’t re-watch them due to time constraints).

The exam is extremely fair and if you have used vRA for a while either in production, test or in your lab and you learn all the parts on the blueprint around vRA and vRB then you should have no issues passing the exam.

I finished the exam with 20 minutes to spare and got a reasonable 420 out of 500. 🙂

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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 2.1 – Map Business Requirements to the Logical Design

Due to my decision to aim for my VCDX6-CMA this year and thereby to get it in in time for the only VCDX-CMA defence of the year (so far) I have signed 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

Analyze requirements for functional and non-functional elements.

  • Analysing requirements and determining if they are functional or non-functional is the same method as you would do for the DCD or DTD exams. I mentioned in an earlier objective breakdown that if it is a constraint it is a non-functional requirement. Although the way I always did it for my DCD is that functional is when something should DO something & non-functional is HOW that something should be done. Scott Lowe covers them nicely in his vSphere Design Trainsignal videos.

Build non-functional requirements into a specific logical design.

  • This I’ll take it that you will be given non-functional requirements such as the usage of certain storage or networking or a front end portal and have to include it in a Visio style diagram. So using the storage one they might say they have iSCSI storage and you have to ensure you have it designed correctly for the usage of this storage.

Translate stated business requirements into a logical design.

  • Just like I covered in a previous objective you have to take down the objectives in a number of design workshops and interviews and now that they are defined and are accurate and signed off you can apply this into a logical design. So for example if they have stated they want the solution to cover two sites then you will design for maybe a stretched cluster or two instances running with two clustered vRA appliances with one on each site and the underlying vRA infrastructure below it. The vRA reference architecture gives a great overview of different design outlines and methods.

Incorporate the current state of a customer environment into a logical design.

  • Really straight forward in my opinion. If they say that their environment has certain storage or number of sites or limitations of networking etc then incorporate that into the design. This will have all been collected from design workshops, current state analysis as mentioned in the previous objective and interviews with SME’s.

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 2.2.

Gregg


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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


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What’s New in vRealize Automation 6.2

Today at VMworld Europe, VMware are going to announce vRealize Automation 6.2 which is the renamed vCloud Automation Center solution but obviously the next version which is due to be available in Q4 this year. It does seem like there is a new version every six months of the solution as vCAC 6.1 was only GA 6 weeks ago which added a whole host of new features.

Below is an overview of what is being added in the vRealize Automation 6.2 product, fortunately there isn’t a change to the architecture so for those who have recently deployed vCAC 6.1 to customer like I have recently you don’t have to stress about doing the upgrade like it was between previous versions.

Upgrade and Migrate to vCAC 6.1

Release 6.0.1.1 to release 6.1

  • 6.0 must first be upgraded to 6.0.1.1
  • In-place upgrade from 6.0.1.1 to 6.1
  • Application Services (AppD) requires side-by side migration

Release 5.2.1 to release 6.1

  • Older versions must be first upgrade to 5.2.1
  • 6.1 will be installed side by side with 5.2.1
  • A migration utility will move data from 5.2.1 to new 6.1 deployment
  • Will require some system down time
  • Does not include AppD

vRealize Automation 6.2 Summary

Enhanced integration between vRealize Operations and Automation

  • Health status displays
  • Reclaims inactive VMs

Admin Friendly CLI

  • Simplify scripting of vRealize Automation commands

Enhanced Endpoint Support

  • vSphere 6 (Q1-15)
  • XenDesktop 7
  • Enhancements to vCloud Air

Proxy Support

  • Pay as you go support (Q1-2015)
  • OpenStack (Havana)

vRealize Automation 6.2 In-Depth

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CloudClient

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CloudClient Overview

  • Command-line utility that provides verb-based access with a unified interface across the vCAC APIs (including IaaS, Applications, vCO)
  • Focused on providing an easy-to-use command-line interface for the IT administrator where scripting and CLI use is more feasible than direct API calls
  • Stable interface while underlying APIs may change over time
  • Provides common security; exception handling; JSON, CSV and tabular formatting; file export; auto login for scripting (password and keyfiles); and auto-generated documentation.
  • Available as a separate Download in Early Q4 (supports 6.1)

Make sure you  watch the live VMworld keynote to learn more.


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vRealize Operations 6.0

Today at VMworld EU there are going to be a number of announcements and as has become the norm for VMworld Europe, VMware are making a number of announcements around their new management solutions. One of these announcements is vRealize Operations 6.0.

If you are wondering what I mean with the vRealize name then below is a very quick summary:

vRealize Suite

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VMware vRealize is changing the name of the management solutions into simpler packaging and suites and as announced at VMworld US, vRealize Air Operations,Automation and Business will be available soon to provide a new SaaS solution for VMware customers via the renamed vCloud Air offering.

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vRealize Operations 6

There are a number of new features and enhancements in vRealize Operations 6.0 one of these is the new scale-out architecture allowing high resiliency and availability as well as self monitoring to ensure that if an instance/slice is lost, it is reported and brought back seamlessly.

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vRealize Operations 6.0 is now providing a public set of RESTful API’s to allow customers and partners to extend as well as get information in and out with ease so that it can be used for custom reporting or in the case of a project i have been on recently will allow monitoring of vCAC DEM’s and automatic provisioning of more if required.

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The management dashboard of vRealize Operations 6.0 has maintained the same three panels on health Risk and Efficiency to  provide viewing and reporting of immediate and future problems as well as opportunities to optimise. With vRealize Operations 6.0 you now have a new section below each of the three panels there are now problem alerts which give you correlation of problems and the ability to click the alerts to see the details as shown below.

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There is also the ability to dig deeper into the problems by using vRealize Log Insight which can send alerts into vRealize Operations 6.0 if certain problems arise and allow custom reporting and alerting for partners and bigger customers who are looking for custom reporting and deep analysis.

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Below is a summary of all the new features and solutions in vRealize Operations 6.0 allowing reporting of public and private architecture as well as simplistic single pane of glass management.

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One of the biggest abilities of vRealize Operations 6.0 that I really like and i think will make all the customers I see as a consultant very happy is the support for new SDDC and hybrid cloud platforms meaning you can now monitor and report on networking,storage, OpenStack and vCloud Air. This will truly allow you to manage and report on your whole SDDC environment.

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vRealize Operations 6.0 NSX Management Pack

With vRealize Operations 6.o as shown above is the ability to monitor and report on SDN solution NSX. With vRealize Operations 6.0 there is a new management pack for NSX.In the image below, you can see the heat map showing the transport layer. The transport layer is effectively all of the transport nodes (NSX term for hypervisors). These boxes are the ESX hosts registered with NSX, grouped by a particular transport zone. Transport zone is a group of hypervisors that share the same transport behaviour. On the bottom, the widget shows the top talkers. If there is a lot of traffic, this widget can help us figure out which VMs are responsible for the most network traffic.

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There are three NSX dashboards: NSX main dashboard, NSX logical topology and NSX Edge services.

The current view is from the NSX main dashboard. Currently, we are a seeing information for a particular NSX Manager instance. The control plane widget is all the objects corresponding to the NSX Manager (API and connection to the vCenter Server for configuration), Controllers (responsible for configuring switches), Edge (VMs that deploy certain logical network services like DHCP, Load balancer etc. ), Logical Routers (Distributed routers responsible for configuring the routing software on each individual host).

All the alerts related to NSX are captured in Open Alerts widgets. This is based on hard threshold violations. We can see a number of High Availability violations. We have 40-50 alerts that are configured out of the box. We have detailed documentation on each of these metrics and what the alerts mean.

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vRealize Operations Management Pack for OpenStack

OpenStack is emerging as the leading cloud platform for enterprises and some SPs. VMware are going to provide a management pack to support OpenStack providers. It will mostly be sold to existing vSphere customers who have OpenStack deployments currently.

Based on vRealize Operations 6.0image

  • Unified UI for vSphere, NSX, OpenStack and other resources
  • Health, Risk and Efficiency badges for OpenStack objects
  • Sub-badges for OpenStack objects (workload, faults etc.) and capacity model
  • Problem detection and remediation for OpenStack infrastructure and tenants
  • Reporting templates for activity, capacity and issue frequency

OpenStack Compute, Storage & Network Infrastructure Analytics

  • Inventory, availability and capacity of ESX and non-ESX hosts, NSX and vSphere data stores registered with OpenStack
  • Integration with vSphere and NSX Multi Hypervisor Management Packs

OpenStack Controller Services Dashboard

  • Correlation of OpenStack Controllers to vSphere VMs
  • Services availability monitoring

Availability

  • Target GA date is Dec 2014

vRealize Operations Management Pack for vCloud Air

’Hybrid Cloud ‘Analytics

  • Provides utilization for cloud resources and deep VM performance data
  • Supports shared and dedicated/private Cloud
  • Includes 40 VM metrics related to CPU/memory/disk/network
  • Collects change events and resource topology from vCloud Air

Comprehensive vSphere like Out-of-box Dashboards

  • One operations console across private and public clouds
  • Out-of-the-box dashboards enable isolation and quick resolution of performance issue

Multiple Resources Supported

  • vCHS Cloud, vCHS Region, vCHS vApp, VDC ,VM, Cloud Type

All Form Factors Supported

  • vApp, Standalone – Windows and Linux

What’s Coming Next

  • Storage and networking service resource details or metrics

Summary

vRealize Operations 6.0 is going to enable both SMB and Enterprise customers who have either or both on premise and off premise workloads in their private or public clouds to monitor, report and make more efficient their environments.  I am looking forward to working with vRealize Operations 6.0 and seeing all the capabilities especially through the RESTful API availability to enable my customers both large and small to get all the reporting and management they require integrated into their existing solutions.Make sure you  watch the live VMworld keynote to learn more.


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What’s New In vCloud Automation Center 6.1

Not long after VMworld Europe vCAC 6.1 was released. For the past year I have been very fortunate to have been on some very large vCAC projects as an extension of VMware PSO and have seen the product change dramatically. there have certainly been some challenges but I’m super excited about vCAC 6.1 and from the experience I have gained of it so far it is looking very solid and now can work seemlessly with vCO along with a number of other great new feaures. So below is an overview of what is new in vCAC  6.1.

vCAC Extension

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Interested in Developing a VCO Plugin?
Free Access to the vCO Plug-in SDK

  • The SDK has samples and documentation to facilitate development
  • http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/developer/forums/orchestrator
  • Additional Resources

    Distribution on VMware Solutions Exchange
    – Contact: Meenakshi Nagarajan
    mnagarajan@vmware.com for additional info

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    Automating Application and Infrastructure Services

    Simplifying the deployment and management of single machines and complex multi-tired applications.

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    User Experience

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