TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 2.5 – Build Performance Requirements into the Logical Design

Knowledge

Evaluate logical performance considerations for a given vRealize Automation solution.

Performance considerations will be the number of virtual machines the solution has to provide sufficient resources for as well as future growth (20% growth over the next 3 years) . This is very much like vSphere sizing but now with the speed with which solutions can be created, modified and deleted especially if you are doing CDCI you need to also prepare for the number of continuous deployments and workflows at once. For example a DEM worker can only process 15 concurrent workflows at a time so if you are likely to be doing 60 workflows simultaneously due to the lifecycle of your machines then you are going to need at least four DEM workers to be deployed to handle this.

Performance also entails using mechanisms such as Storage DRS to automatically load balance provisioned workloads as they are requested, DRS to load balance the workloads across the hosts in the solution and performance of the vRA management components by isolating them in a management cluster, ensuring they are load balanced so one side isn’t always hit and the other is doing nothing. They don’t mention it in the tools but for this section and the exam as a whole I would recommend reading the latest vCAT documentation as well as the vRA 6.2 Reference Architecture document .

Differentiate infrastructure qualities related to performance.

Just like I have mentioned for the availability and management sections, the infrastructure quality for performance will need to be applied to certain requirements and designs decisions in the exam via drag and drop questions (I have done the exam so I am basing this on experience) . The performance infrastructure quality is defined as:

Indicates the effect of a design choice on the performance of the environment. This does not necessarily reflect the impact on other technologies within the infrastructure.

Key metrics:

  • Response time
  • Throughput

Analyze the current performance of an environment and address gaps when building a logical design.

So this is down to you deploying the vRA solution in an existing environment where there are workloads running and you need to analyse the performance of the environment to ascertain if the environment meets the performance requirements or if additional resources/another environment is required for the solution to work.

There are a number of methods to do this:

  • Get a VMware partner or VMware to run an analysis via VMware Capacity Planner to work out what your current environment is doing.
  • Use vRealize Operations Manager to give you a current state analysis as well as use historical data to work out trends and if there are month end increases in performance requirements or seasonal increases depending on the company’s business.
  • vSphere performance charts can also give you a not bad idea of what is happening if the above two aren’t possible as well as 3rd party tools.

Use a conceptual design to create a logical design that meets performance requirements.

In the conceptual design you will have defined and signed off the requirements. In these requirements there should be a number of them that apply to the performance infrastructure quality for example “The solution must be able to support the provisioning of 500 workloads a day” and “the solution must be able to service 5000 workloads with a 20% increase year on year for the next five years”

You will also have requirements where due to BC/DR requirements you will need spare capacity in the event of a failure so for example “The production workloads in Site A which makes up 20% of the 5000 workloads need to run on the secondary site in the event of a planned or emergency failover” .

Determine performance-related functional requirements based on given non-functional requirements and service dependencies.

Non-functional requirements are normally constraints imposed by the customer so for example the customer has defined you have to use existing networking in the datacentres and these are only 1GB switches which will severely impact what is possible from the solution. So if we keep to my example then having a service dependency that needs to talk to a physical SQL server where large amounts of data is transferred between the services to the database a single 1 GB link won’t be sufficient so either the service will have to be scaled down or the SQL database created as part of the service to allow inter virtual switch connectivity thereby allowing higher network throughputs.

Define capacity management practices and create a capacity plan.

For the exam they are looking for you to define this via the reservations on the compute resources to ensure capacity doesn’t run out. Fellow Xtravirt colleague Craig Gumbley has defined this nicely in relation to the VCP6-CMA blueprint

Incorporate scalability requirements into the logical design.

This has been covered above already but what they are looking for is for you to design for future growth of the environment as the number of workloads increases and/or the amount of workload requests increases. The vRealize Automation reference architecture document also gives great coverage of scalability

Determine a performance component for service level agreements and service level management processes.

I covered this in the availability section where you have done a business impact analysis and worked out what theirs RPO and RTO values are. Part of availability also ties into performance as if the solution is running so slowly that users can’t use it then the service is essentially down and SLA’s are possibly not being met.

Tools

 

 


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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 2.4 – Build Manageability Requirements into the Logical Design

Knowledge

Evaluate which management services can be used with a given vRealize Automation Solution.

Management of vRealize Automation is achieved via various methods and solutions. You have management of the underlying vSphere infrastructure via the vSphere client and web client, management and monitoring of both vSphere and vRA via vRealize Operations with management packs for vRA, logging via vRealize LogInsight, change management via third part CMDB tools as well as VMware tools such as vRealize Configuration Manager and Hyperic.

There is also the standard vRA management via the vRA portal and the VAMI portals for management of the vRealize Appliances. I haven’t done the exam but based on previous exam experience I would make sure you know what tabs and options there are for all the vRA VAMI portals.

Differentiate infrastructure qualities related to management.

I partly covered this in the previous 2.3 posting, what they are likely to do from previous experience ( I have not done the exam nor the beta) is to give you a whole bunch of infrastructure qualities and you have to match them up. Manageability is all about ease of management and having the most optimal amount of manageability without impacting other infrastructure qualities or any of the requirements.

Build interfaces into the logical design for existing operations practices.

My take on what they are looking for here is that the customer you are doing the design for has existing operations practices and solutions and you need to take these into account and then design the solution to meet these. So for example if the customer has a CMDB and every time a machine is requested, built, edited and destroyed CI’s need to be passed to the CMDB to track these changes. Another example is syslogging and setting up syslog’s to go to a customer existing logging solution. Reading through the reference architecture and getting an understanding of what kinds of external solutions and services you might need to plug in to is great prep for this. Also adding the vRA management to AD,NTP,SNMP and DNS is very applicable and is required for all deployments (maybe not SNMP for every one)

Address operational readiness deficiencies.

This is where either the customers IT team who are going to look after the solution when you leave aren’t skilled up enough or they don’t have anyone to manage it at all (I’ve seen both in my experience). To fix this knowledge transfer workshops are required, or to link to the manageability infrastructure quality you simplify management as much as possible and try use their existing management mechanisms if they fit so allow easier management of the solution building on existing knowledge. You can also put it as a constraint the lack of existing knowledge to manage the solution and the risk mitigation is training of the team via formal training or learning from yourself and/or the person deploying the solution. You should also read the recommended Operational Readiness Assessment document from VMware.

Define Event, Incident and Problem Management practices.

These are where the logging of the solution and the management of the solution by tools such as vROps, LogInsight, vSphere alarms and event management via 3rd party tools such as Arcsight. The use of LogInsight and vROps is a great combination as they integrate brilliantly together and with the use of the management packs for vRA and LogInsight give amazing manageability of events, incident and problems with intelligent alarms. These can also be tracked by tools such as Service Now which is a fairly popular option for large enterprises in my experience and VMware have even written blogs about the integration http://blogs.vmware.com/management/2015/01/integrating-vrealize-automation-servicenow.html

Design a log management solution.

As mentioned above log management can be done via VMware solutions or 3rd part solutions. LogInsight is most likely the one they are going to reference in the exam seeing as it is VMware’s solution and you can get a vRA management pack for it to allow it to alert on vRA specific alerts https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/products/vra-6-1-log-insight-content-pack .

Determine request fulfilment and release management processes.

Request fulfilment I am taking as the fulfilment of all the required parameters to provision as service from the vRA catalogue. You would do this via the service design that you have done for each service where you have defined what parameters need to be fed in and that incorrect values aren’t inserted to ensure service requests are successful. In regards to ASD this is where you make sure the request form is using optimal selection boxes to make sure letters aren’t used where only number should be inserted and drop down lists are used so that only applicable options can be selected.

Release management would also be done in the service design document although it might be the same across all the service offerings or might differ per service offering based on the lifecycles. This would be the definition of when new blueprints are published, where they are published, who they are published to and version control.

Define change management processes based on business requirements.

Change management can be done via logging to ensure if any changes are made they are tracked, this can also be done via the Service Now method I mentioned earlier as well as change management via vRealize Configuration Manager. During design workshops you should ascertain what change management processes they need to follow and then make sure those are met via usage of API’s to the CMDB solution or logging to LogInsight or Arcsight for example.

Based on customer requirements, identify required reporting assets and processes.

Very much like above the customer will define what kind of reporting they are looking for or what you think they should be getting and then producing these reports via tools such as vROps or LogInsight. For the exam I think they are going to have certain reporting requirements given to you such as the Infrastructure manager wants to get a daily report around any alerts that were found in vRA for the past day or sent an email if an alarm is triggered in vRA.

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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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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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 1.2 – Gather and Analyze Application Requirements.

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

Gather and analyze application requirements for a given scenario.

  • What I believe is being looked for here is for you to having spoken to the stakeholders and more importantly the application owners and worked out what exactly they require for their applications and the interdependencies the applications have. Applications can be standalone and require no outside communication or could be multi-tiered and require access to the internet or a public git repository for example. Asking the right questions and fully understanding what the applications do and require will then allow you to provide what is required or if it isn’t available start making plans to make it available.

Determine the requirements for a set of applications that will be included in the design.

  • This is exactly the same as above in my opinion but now instead of just one application you need to get a holistic idea of all the applications in a multi-machine blueprint for example and all the requirements these have to work whilst also not impacting other workloads.

Collect information needed in order to identify application dependencies.

  • This is done by speaking to the application owners and then validating yourself as even though the application owners say they need certain things you need to validate this and ensure that they are correct and that putting it into the vRA solution doesn’t require another method of doing something. For example maybe the physical F5 load balancers can’t be used for load balancing applications deployed within the vRA solution so you either need to open firewalls to allow this or deploy maybe NSX load balancers within the environment to allow this capability. In the blueprint they recommend the Foundations and Concepts document which is good but personally I think you need to know much much more than the foundations to understand application dependencies and how they would fit within vRA.
  • They recommend the vRealize Infrastructure Navigator User-s Guide as a study tool and this is certainly a great method of looking at existing applications and understanding heir interdependencies and what the applications are talking to. This also makes sure that the application isn’t talking to some old database server in the background that Joe Blogs setup before he got retrenched and no one has known about since. VIN is a great tool and there’s loads of free videos and resources you can use to learn about the product like this VMware YouTube video.

Given one or more application requirements, determine the impact of the requirements on the design.

  • Again this is understanding holistically what the applications are talking to and require and then ensuring it is available within the environment or communicable from the environment (services like AD, DNS,IP Management etc). I’m not really sure how you can learn more about this without experience of differing products but understanding how multi-tiered applications work and require resilient back-end resources to function is very important (think of a web applications with multiple web servers, application server and a DB)

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 1.3.

Gregg


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VCAP6-CMA Design Study Resources

A very quick posting around the creation of my new VCAP6-CMA Design study resources page now that the beta exam has been released. As I have done in the past for the VCP5 and VCAP5-DCV exams, I have started building a list of resources I will be using for the beta and if I don’t make the mark then the GA exam for the VCAP6-CMA design. If you feel I’ve missed any resources please do let me know as these pages seem to be very popular and so everyone can benefit with top class resources.

For those signed up for the beta, good luck!

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight: Eric Shanks

Name: Eric Shanks

Twitter Handle: @eric_shanks

Blog URL: theITHollow.com

Current Employer: Ahead

VCDX #: 195


How did you get into using VMware?

I was at a Chicago Microsoft Users Group and a company called Altiris was speaking about virtualizing applications with their solution. The whole idea was pretty eye opening to me so when my boss suggested some enhancements to our infrastructure the virtualization concept was brought up again. After some testing we decided that VMware was the clear leader in the space so we virtualized our infrastructure on 4.0.


What made you decide to do the VCDX?

The VCDX certification was a challenge I wasn’t convinced that I could achieve, but I had to know for sure. A few other co-workers already had the credentials and I decided it was the time to find out what I was capable of doing.


How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

The whole process took me about six months to complete. I already had my VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD before I decided to try the VCDX so that helped, but I left myself plenty of time to work out my design before submitting it.


What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

Talk with your family first about the endeavour. The VCDX is challenging, but more than that time consuming. Expect to spend nights and weekends working on it. The VCDX journey is personal achievement but can’t be done without some support from family, friends and co-workers.

Aside from talking with your family first, the second piece of advice I’d give is don’t be afraid to fail. This isn’t an easy challenge and many really qualified people have stumbled on it. It doesn’t mean you’re not awesome, it just means you need to tweak your design or presentation skills a bit.


If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I would have made sure to understand the defense blueprint better from the start. I felt that there were specific sections of the blueprint where I didn’t have enough things in my design to present. Specifically my design didn’t have a lot of “Security” related items so I wasn’t able to talk in depth about it in my defense. If I could have done it over I would have added an additional security requirement and supported it with my design so that I could talk about it in the defense.


Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

After the process was over I was recognized at our company’s Tech Summit and given a bonus for the achievement. The feeling of a sense of accomplishment from meeting a personal goal made the process worth it.


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VCDX Spotlight: Nick Bowie

Name: Nick Bowie

Twitter Handle: @nickbowienz

Current Employer: ViFX Ltd.

VCDX #: 202


How did you get into using VMware?

I’d had exposure back in the earlier days with GSX and ESX Server through David Manconi (@dmanconi), when we worked together previously. I remember he was pretty excited about it, so I figured there must be something to it😉 But I didn’t really have the opportunity to pursue it professionally until late 2009 when I became involved in a large data centre migration project which included establishing an SRM enabled ESXi 3.5 infrastructure.


What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I had heard about it through my go-to places like Yellow-Bricks, as I tried to soak up as much as I could about virtualisation. It wasn’t until I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Michael Webster (@vcdxnz001), who had just achieved his and, later in 2011, Travis Wood (@vTravWood) who was so excited to be pursuing it that I started to understand the level it represented. When I joined ViFX I realised the calibre of people I was fortunate enough to be working with and felt I really needed to lift my game.


How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

It’s been such a gradual, incremental process it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it started in earnest. If I measure from obtaining the VCP5-DCV in September 2012, it took almost three years. It became a realistic goal after joining ViFX in August 2013 though.


What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

It’s not a race:) Each qualifying exam (VCP, VCAP DCA/DCD) are challenging in their own rights. Focus on the immediate, realistic goals and you’ll find your capabilities grow significantly through those achievements. When you’re at the point where you can submit the design: read the blueprint. Everyone says that, and I must admit I’d get a little frustrated at hearing it so often, but it’s true. Read it, understand it as best you can and make sure you touch on all the points.


If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I would do it too differently. The design I based it on was light on some components of the blueprint requirements, due to certain constraints and challenges, which meant some extra work was required on my own time. While working on that project I completed a few others in between that were more “blueprint-friendly”, in BC/DR and vBCA Oracle based engagements, but this was the one I had invested myself into with the goal in mind so I was determined to use it all the way through.


Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

It’s only been a week, so it’s early days yet😉 ViFX are extremely proud to have the 2nd VCDX in New Zealand, and the only one in the VMware partner space. We definitely have more VCDX’s in progress – watch this space!

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