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Monthly Archives: May 2012

[Video] Monitoring vCloud Director Overview

By: David Davis

With vSphere and vCenter, so much time is focused on configuring it, many times, a very small amount of time is spent actually monitoring it to ensure you are achieving your goals of solid performance, reliability, and security. This statement is also true for VMware vCloud Director. Thus, while installing and configuring is certainly crucial, the ability to monitor vCloud Director is also crucial.

In the video below (a full-length video taken from my vCloud Director Essentials training course), I show you, step by step how to:

  • Monitor tasks and events in vCloud Director, at multiple levels, just like you already do in VMware vCenter or vSphere.

Monitoring1

  • Monitoring blocking tasks, used when you have integrated vCloud Director with other management tools, connected through an AMQP broker, like RabbitMQ.
  • Check the status of provider and org vDC cloud infrastructure usage.

Monitoring2

  • How to view vCloud Director log files from the command lie.

 

For more information on vCloud Director, see my posts:

David Davis is a VMware Evangelist and vSphere Video Training Author for Train Signal. He has achieved CCIE, VCP,CISSP, and vExpert level status over his 15+ years in the IT industry. David has authored hundreds of articles on the Internet and nine different video training courses for TrainSignal.com including the popular vSphere 5 and vCloud Director video training courses. Learn more about David at his blog or on Twitter and check out a sample of his VMware vSphere video training course from TrainSignal.com.

From the Financial Times: The VMware Hybrid Approach “Pays Off”

13984-logo-autoscout24.jpg

The hybrid cloud provides significant value to companies according to a recent article in the Financial Times.

In an interview with VMware customer AutoScout 24, the Financial Times found that the company now has the flexibility to adapt to varying traffic flows, source additional computing capacity, and migrate between two infrastructures in order to best meet customer demand, all thanks to VMware’s private and hybrid cloud technology.

AutoScout24 is an online vehicle marketplace with a catalog of over 1.8M cars. With over 100,000 commercial vehicles and 90,000 motorcycles up for sale, the site receives roughly 10M visitors every month, which places huge pressures on the company’s IT infrastructure.

To relieve unnecessary pressure, AutoScout24 is close to completing a hybrid cloud deployment based on VMware technology, in order to support the company’s new “Workshop portal” project. According to the Financial Times, the Workshop portal enables customers to “search for local garages qualified to service their vehicle, based on manufacturer, model, age and mileage, as well as the request quotes from mechanics and schedule appointments.”

Joachim Rath, head of IT production at AutoScout24, shares that a hybrid cloud is the best way of sourcing the additional computing capacity needed to roll out the service to other European cities. To deploy their hybrid cloud, the company plans to integrate their existing private cloud environment with the public cloud capacity provided by Wusys, a provider of vCloud Powered Services in Germany.

AutoScout24 is aiming to have their hybrid cloud operational by June. Once live, data will be able to migrate dynamically between the company’s private and public cloud infrastructures, allowing AutoScout24’s systems to offload intensive workloads to Wusys, thereby giving the company to quickly and affordably offer the Workshop portal to a far wider audience of car buyers.

Visit Another VMware Cloud to learn more about other companies who have successfully deployed a public, private, or hybrid cloud model through VMware. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @vCloud and @VMwareSP for more stories about VMware cloud customers!

Another VMware Cloud – Ducati Runs Their Private Cloud on VMware

According to Daniel Bellini, CIO at Ducati Motor Holding, “Flexibility and agility was benefit number one” when deploying a private cloud with VMware. With VMware vCloud Director, Ducati has been able to “deploy applications, solutions, services, and new architectures in an incredibly short time."

Ducati Motor Holding is a high-performance motorcycle designer and manufacturer, based out of Bologna, Italy. Though Ducati is a relatively small company with around 1,000 employees and sales of 40,000 units a year, they have all the complexities of a multinational manufacturing company in terms of product configuration, supply chain, and distribution network articulation.

With a server virtualization rate approaching 100%, Ducati has embraced VMware virtualization solutions, as they have made it possible for the company to match all of its business requirements with available human and economical resources. In a recent interview with Dana Gardner, Bellini discussed Ducati’s move to the cloud with VMware, saying: 

“Private cloud is already a reality in Ducati. Over our private cloud, we supply services to all our commercial subsidiaries. We supply services to our assembly plant in Thailand or to our racing team at racing venues. So private cloud is already a reality.”

In the video below from VMworld 2011, watch Bellini discuss how VMware virtualization and private cloud technology has helped Ducati out-perform their larger competitors:

  

According to Bellini, VMware virtualization and private cloud solutions have supported the business and the growth of the company by delivering solution infrastructures in a very short time and with very limited initial investment. 

“VMware has never failed us. We have grown in terms of demands and requirements, and VMware has grown in capabilities and ability to support us.”

For those thinking about undertaking virtualization, Bellini advises, “to not be scared by the initial investment, which is something that is going to be repaid in an incredibly short time.”

Visit Another VMware Cloud to learn more about other companies who have successfully deployed a public, private, or hybrid cloud model through VMware. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @vCloud and @VMwareSP for more Another VMware Cloud stories! 

Preparing your vCloud Director SQL Server Database Server

By: David Davis

If you haven’t tried installing vCloud Director yet in your virtualization lab, you should. However, be prepared that the install is more complex than the typical virtualization management tool that might happen in just a single vApp deployment. While vCD is available in a vApp (for pilot and test use only), even that requires a bit more configuration than you may be used to. 

Assuming you are using the full production installation version of vCD, the biggest hurdle for most vSphere Admins is getting a database server installed and prepared to support it. To help make this process easier, I created the video below that walks you through the process of:

  • Installing MS SQL Server Express, used as your vCD database
  • Running SQL Server Management Studio to add a new user and database
  • Running a SQL script from KendrickColeman.com’s website to prepare the database configuration for vCD
  • Configuring SQL networking for vCD

Before you watch the video I would like to point out that, as this was for a lab environment, I opted for the free SQL Server Express with the Management Studio. In a production environment, you would of course want to use the full / commercial version of SQL Server.

Now, here is your 11-minute video on the preparing your vCloud Director SQL Server Database:
 

For VMware’s official vCloud Director documentation, checkout the vCD Installation and Configuration Guide.

And, for more information regarding vCloud Director Installation check out these resources:

David Davis is a VMware Evangelist and vSphere Video Training Author for Train Signal. He has achieved CCIE, VCP,CISSP, and vExpert level status over his 15+ years in the IT industry. David has authored hundreds of articles on the Internet and nine different video training courses for TrainSignal.com including the popular vSphere 5 and vCloud Director video training courses. Learn more about David at his blog or on Twitter and check out a sample of his VMware vSphere video training course from TrainSignal.com.

Regional VMware User Group Networking and Learning in Charlotte North Carolina

By: David Davis

Yesterday I attended the Charlotte regional VMware user group for the third year in a row. It was an amazing event with top-notch speakers including the likes of Chris Colotti, Scott Lowe, Eric Siebert, Cody Bunch, Alan Renouf, and more. 

Before I delve into the topics that these experts covered I want to first point out the power of the regional user groups from a social networking perspective. No matter who you are or what stage of your career you're in, you should be looking to better yourself and your career. User group meetings like these provide networking opportunities only rivaled by VMworld. Not only do you get to talk to virtualization experts and VMware admins from hundreds of different enterprise and 25+ virtualization partners, but these partners are also glad to give you the opportunity to learn about the various products they represent (and are potential sources for job opportunities). After all, to be a successful VMware admin, consultant, product manager or tech marketer you need knowledge of VMware’s solutions and the many third-party products making up the VMware ecosystem. 

Virtualization consulting groups like eGroup and Varrow offer full-featured hands-on labs where you can gain experience configuring just about every VMware product feature. If you have never been to one before, events like these are a lot more than just a bunch of guys sitting around swapping war stories. 

With over 25 different sessions and just five time slots during the one day, it was so difficult to make my selection as to what sessions to attend. So who did I get to meet and what did I learn? Here's the list of topics and experts.

Scott Lowe, vExpert, VCDX, and Author of Mastering vSphere 5 presented on vSphere and Network Attached Storage Storage Best Practices

Scott

Alan Renouf, vExpert and co-author of the vSphere PowerCLI Reference book presented “PowerCLI 201.”

Alan

Cody Bunch, vExpert and author of the VMware Press book on VMware Orchestrator, covered the same topic.

Cody

Chris Colotti, vExpert, VCDX, and vCloud Guru from VMware provided a vCloud Director Deepdive.

Chris

Eric Siebert, vExpert of HP covered how to understand and optimize vSphere Storage.

Jonathan Klick of vKernel covered The Top 20 vCenter Metrics That Matter.

Jonathon

And Jason Nash, vExpert and VCDX of Varrow presented a vSphere Distributed Switch deepdive.

Jason

These were some amazing sessions where I learned so much. I encourage you to attend your local VMware user group meeting – don't miss it!

You can download presentations from the conference here.

I'll be at the central Ohio regional VMware user group next week in Columbus Ohio speaking about VMware VCP certification.

David Davis is a VMware Evangelist and vSphere Video Training Author for Train Signal. He has achieved CCIE, VCP,CISSP, and vExpert level status over his 15+ years in the IT industry. David has authored hundreds of articles on the Internet and nine different video training courses for TrainSignal.com including the popular vSphere 5 and vCloud Director video training courses. Learn more about David at his blog or on Twitter and check out a sample of his VMware vSphere video training course from TrainSignal.com.

[INFO] vCloud Director Fast Provisioned Catalog Virtual Machines

By: Chris Colotti, Consulting Architect, VMware Global Center of Excellence

This is a repost from Chris' personal blog, ChrisColotti.us.

A while back I was messing around with Fast Provisioning in vCloud Director and I noticed something I wanted to dig a little deeper into.  My Co-Worker Cormac Hogan (@VMwarestorage) also wrote a little about this as well which does a great job showing the linked clone aspect.  Also William Lam (@lamw) wrote up some nice scripts to find the linked chains.  However, it took me up until now to get my home lab back into a clean state to test things a little differently specifically with how these interact with the vCloud Director Catalogs.  The premise of what I am looking at is a very simple setup, but could change some operational ideas about how and when you enable Fast Provisioning, which is a great, and handy thing to have in test and development environment.  However, you need to understand a little about how they work before you check the box to enable them.

FP_OptionThere is a couple of things you need to know first about vCloud Director Fast Provisioning.

  1. It is Enabled on a PER organization vDC level so it is either on or off.
  2. ONLY System Administrators can consolidate Fast Provisioned virtual machines, Organization Administrators cannot
  3. Once disabled existing machines will remain fast provisioned

The real key that I wanted to look at here was deploying items back and forth from the catalog with the feature enabled.  So what I setup was pretty basic.

  • Master Organization with a published catalog and Fast Provisioning DISABLED
  • Customer organization with local catalogs and Fast Provisioning ENABLED
  • Both Organization vDC’s are Pay-As-You-Go for reference
  • The template is CentOS 6.2 minimal exported/imported from vCenter.

The rest of this post will be various operations in certain orders to see what happens with and without fast provisioning enabled on a consumer organization.

The Shadow Virtual Machine

In some cases, in order for fast provisioning to work it will use the concept of a Shadow VM on each datastore where a linked clone will live, but in many cases it may not get created for some time.  This VMware KB has a lot of good information, and a couple of key points taken from it are as follows:

  • The source template virtual machines are called primary virtual machines
  • Shadow virtual machines are created on demand
  • Subsequent copies to the same datastore are fast
  • Org Admin/User only sees the ‘source’ virtual machine. Shadow virtual machines are an implementation detail that are only visible to vCloud Director administrators.
  • Shadow virtual machines stored in System vDC
  • Shadow virtual machines disk space billed to the service provider

Shadow virtual Machines are only created once a clone needs to be placed on a storage volume different from where the original one is located.  Until that needs to happen everything else is done on the same storage.

Initial vApp Template Import Into the Catalogs

The first thing I wanted to see was taking an OVF, and importing to each catalog to see what happens.  Obviously on the Master organization the catalog item will be imported as a thick copy, but I was not 100% sure on the Fast Provisioned vDC.  Interestingly, From what I saw both vApp templates were brought in as full copies into the catalog by the initial import from OVF.

However I actually tested COPYING the vApp template from the Master Catalog to the Org’s local catalog.  In this case the copy was actually a linked clone.  It created the initial snapshot and then made the local Org’s catalog version a linked clone to the original just as if it was deployed to the cloud itself.  I found this interesting as it leads me to something we will discuss later about updating and re-adding items to the catalog.

The Use Case

What we see is a pretty common use case for why I am testing this.  It has also been asked how does someone deal with patching and updates once these catalog’s are linked together.  The consumer wants to deploy the Guest Operating System from the provider’s published catalog, customize it, and save a copy to their local organization catalog.  The consumer’s organization is enabled for Fast Provisioning, but they may want to ensure their local catalog chain does not link back to the master catalog.

Deploying from vCloud Director Shared and Local Catalogs

Where this gets really interesting is on the deployment of each version of the vApp Catalog item.  Now we are going to only work off the Master Shared Catalog since that’s what most people would do.  The first time a deploy operation of a vApp Template to a Fast Provisioned vDC is requested, the original virtual machine is put into snapshot mode.  This means the actual virtual machine that is the catalog vApp in the master organization is now in snapshot mode indefinitely.  If there happens to be a Shadow VM required, that would be created, then a snapshot taken.  At this point forward anything deployed from that catalog virtual machine will be deployed from the base snapshot.

Now that we have a deployed vApp as a linked clone, we can update it, patch it, add new applications to it, whatever we want to treat it like a normal virtual machine.  Let’s say we want to save this to our LOCAL catalog at this point.  When we make that copy to the local catalog, we will get a full copy however there is a catch.  The full copy appears to be a full copy of the deployed virtual machine’s Delta Disk as you can see in the info below.  As we can see below the VMDK is still pointing back to the original catalog base disk.

Let’s take this one step further, and now deploy a vApp from this new local catalog virtual machine.  What we see here is that the newly deployed virtual machine from the local catalog is also linked back to the original master VMDK.  This means that as this consumer edits, saves, and re-deploys they are always saving Delta files and referencing back to the original disk.

Catalog Fast Provision Flow

Master Catalog VM (Orange)

VM_orange
First Consumer VM (Green):

VM_green
Consumer Local Catalog VM (Green):

CatalogVM_green
Consumer Re-Deployed Catalog VM (Purple):

CatalogVM_purple

Something to Consider – Break The Chain

Based on now knowing how some of this works, you want to decide how you to handle fast provisioned Org vDC’s since once they are enabled you can see how everything from that point on will be based on linked clones.  Something many providers and consumer organizations alike may want to do is break the link chain of their local catalog so they are always deploying from a full copy within their local organization catalog.

This can in fact be done with a few steps.  Remember in the beginning when I stated that only a System Administrator can consolidate?  That comes into play here, as once a vApp is checked into the local catalog a system admin OR something with system administrator credentials, like vCenter Orchestrator or other scripting method, can consolidate the virtual machines in the consumer’s local catalogs.  Below you can see the vCloud Director interface option on the virtual machine in the consumer’s catalog.  Using a service to do this for you would certainly be a better way to go.

VApp_consolidate

This will break the chain so that only the deployed virtual machines will have a link to the local catalog VMDK only instead of back to the master catalog’s VMDK.  This would isolate the local consumer’s deployed virtual machines and catalog chains from the Master Catalog.  However, this process will still exist anytime a virtual machine is deployed for updates then placed back into the catalog in the fashion described above.  The advantage to this is that the consumer’s can all deploy in this fashion and in THeory the provider can have nothing linked to their original templates allowing them to patch them and replace them as they need:

  • Start with the provided templates
  • Customize them
  • Add them to their catalog
  • Consolidate to break the chain
  • Remove the linked customized vApp

To accomplish this of course you need some custom intervention and have your consumer’s deploying via custom tools that interface with things like vCenter Orchestrator.  Either way it can be done such that the original virtual machines have no links to them and the consumer’s all have the links to their own local copies.  Figuring out all the hooks to leverage the API’s to make this happen…..well….that’s for you to figure out.

It should be noted that vCloud Director is smart enough to know that if you delete the item from the catalog and there are virtual machines linked to it, the base disks will remain on storage.  They will not be removed from storage until all linked VMDK’s are eventually removed.  So you can deploy, patch, and remove a catalog virtual machine from vCloud Director, and the linked ones will still function.

Chris is a Consulting Architect with the VMware vCloud Delivery Services team with over 10 years of experience working with IT hardware and software solutions. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Systems from the Daniel Webster College. Prior to VMware he served a Fortune 1000 company in southern NH as a Systems Architect/Administrator, architecting VMware solutions to support new application deployments. At VMware, in the roles of a Consultant and now Consulting Architect, Chris has guided partners as well as customers in establishing a VMware practice and consulted on multiple customer projects ranging from datacenter migrations to long-term residency architecture support. Currently, Chris is working on the newest VMware vCloud solutions and architectures for enterprise-wide private cloud deployments.

[Video] How to Setup VMware vCloud Director

By: David Davis

Once vCloud Director is installed (through the virtual appliance or a full install in Linux), there are a number of steps you must take to get it up and running. In one of the lessons in my new vCloud Director Essentials video training course, I show you:

  • Basic administrative of vCD – demonstration of the web-based interface and how to login
  • Connect vCD to vCenter – you’ll need to link your vCenter server and your vCloud Director server so that vCD can manage hosts, resource pools, and clusters in the vSphere infrastructure
  • Conncet vCD to vShield Manager – you must connect vCD to your vShield Manager so that vShield Edge VMs can be automatically deployed, as needed, for vCloud networks
  • Create a Provider VDC – the first piece of the virtual cloud infrastructure you create is a provider virtual data center, or pVDC. It maps to a single resource pool in the vSphere infrastructure, which is usually the root of a HA/DRS cluster.
  • Create a VM Deployment Template – the only optional step of this setup, if you have older operating systems you will want to create a virtual machine deployment template to perform guest customizations

The following is a full video from the course (in two pieces) that walks you through all the steps above.

 

 

David Davis is a VMware Evangelist and vSphere Video Training Author for Train Signal. He has achieved CCIE, VCP,CISSP, and vExpert level status over his 15+ years in the IT industry. David has authored hundreds of articles on the Internet and nine different video training courses for TrainSignal.com including the popular vSphere 5 and vCloud Director video training courses. Learn more about David at his blog or on Twitter and check out a sample of his VMware vSphere video training course from TrainSignal.com.

 

Another VMware Cloud: Charles River Laboratories Runs Their Hybrid Cloud on VMware

With VMware, Charles River Labs has been able to create a solution that enables them to seamlessly manage the transition between their on-premise infrastructure and the cloud, giving end-users more flexibility as to where their applications can run from.

Charles River Laboratories is a contract research organization in the Life Sciences industry with a presence of 60 locations across 16 countries. The company partners with customers to help them in their drug discovery and development processes, and employs between 7,000-7,500 staff members worldwide.

Charles River Labs is already a highly virtualized company, with 60-70% of their server environment virtualized. Because of this, they saw moving to the cloud as the next logical step in further improving their IT operations. When developing their cloud strategy, one of the company’s main objectives was to make sure they didn’t throw away or waste their existing IT investments. VMware’s vCloud solution was therefore a natural choice for Charles River Labs, as it enabled them to leverage their existing investment in their VMware-based on-premise infrastructure.

According to Steve Speirs, Chief Technology Officer at Charles River Labs, VMware’s hybrid cloud solution fit the company’s goals nicely, as it enabled them to transfer resources as needed between their on-premise infrastructure and the cloud from a single pane of glass. With vCloud Connector, the company had all the tools they needed to transfer and manage their existing applications through a vCloud provider. 

 

Now the company sees the cloud as being key to their overall strategy moving forward, with Speirs sharing, “The days of us investing heavily all of our capital into building hardware and infrastructure are past now. With the options that are available now from cloud partners, they bring agility, flexibility and in some case cost savings as well, for using that model.”

What’s next for Charles River Labs? Because they see the cloud as a key factor in the company’s success, a long-term goal is to make sure their team is trained in the new operating model – from managing hardware to working with a cloud provider. Additionally, the company would like to take the information from their hybrid cloud pilot and use it to inform their strategy in expanding their use of the cloud.   

Visit Another VMware Cloud to learn more about VMware’s Hybrid Cloud Activate service and other companies who have successfully deployed a public or hybrid cloud model through VMware. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @vCloud and @VMwareSP for more Another VMware Cloud stories! 

Riverbed and VMware Improve Performance for Moving Workloads Between Clouds

By: Matt Sarrel

Earlier this week, Riverbed Technology announced a continued partnership with VMware that is designed to help enterprises make better (and faster) use of cloud technologies. Riverbed makes WAN optimization gear that accelerates and makes WAN traffic more efficient. They’re integrating the Riverbed gear with VMware vCloud Connector to help IT departments optimize the transfer of VMs from one data center to another.

Built upon VMware vSphere 5 and VMware vCloud APIs, VMware vCloud Connector allows customers to connect VMware vSphere and VMware vCloud Director-based private and public clouds and manage them through a single interface. Many times the WAN links between private and public clouds are expensive and bandwidth constrained – plus these links are far from perfect and suffer from high latency and packet loss. Moving and replicating VMs, which are typically 20+ GB each, across these links has been time consuming and costly.

According to Riverbed, their solution “delivers significant performance gains when moving large VMs across the WAN”. I think this can be of great value because I have heard from IT staff in the field that they just don’t have the time to shuttle gigabytes and gigabytes of VMs across the WAN or even across the Internet. Riverbed and VMware recently confirmed full interoperability between their solutions and lab-tested the use of WMware vCloud Connector with the Steelhead appliance and found that it reduced transfer time up to 75x.

Optimizing and accelerating the transfer of VMs between VMware vSphere and VMware vCloud should help ease bandwidth related pain (come on, we’re all feeling it) while making it easier to use public/private/hybrid clouds.

Matthew D. Sarrel (or Matt Sarrel) is executive director of Sarrel Group, a technology product testing, editorial services, and technical marketing consulting company.  He also holds editorial positions at pcmag.com, eweek, GigaOM, and Allbusiness.com, and blogs at TopTechDog.

vCloud Director Ultimate Resource Guide (URG) – Spring 2012

By: David Davis

With hundreds of thousands of VMware vSphere admins out there, resources to learn vSphere and troubleshoot vSphere are plentiful. However, those same vSphere admins are now making the push to try out and learn about vCloud Director. This post is intended to be the ultimate vCloud Director Resource Guide, providing links to all the resources you need to learn about and troubleshoot vCD.

(go ahead, press Ctrl-D now to bookmark this as you will need it later)

This guide is a replacement for my Top Resources to Learn vCloud Director – August 2011 post as a number of new resources have come out since then (and vCD 1.5.1 has been released since that post was created).

I have broken this list of vCloud Director resources down into categories to help group similar resources together. Here you go:

VMware Official Resources

Since my last guide, all of these resources have been updated for vCloud Director 1.5.

VMware vCloud Blog

With hundreds of posts on the vCloud blog (most about vCloud Director), there are many resources but here are the most popular:

Besides the vCloud blog, there are a ton of other vCD resources on the web.

vCloud Director Resources on the Web

vCloud Director Videos on the Web

Special Thank You to Hany Michael at Hypervizor.com for the following list of vCD Videos from VMware, on YouTube:

vCloud Director Training Courses

With VMware vCloud Director now in its third revision with version 1.5.1, it’s gaining popularity with service providers and enterprises alike. More and more VMware Admins are wanting to learn about vCD and downloading the 60-day vCloud Director eval is the right way to start.

Stay tuned to the vCloud Blog and this blog post for updated links to download vCloud Director 1.5 bits and documentation as soon as it becomes available! And be sure to follow the @vCloud handle for future updates!

Are there new resources that aren’t listed here? Do you have a great article or link that needs to be added? Post your comments to let me know and we’ll get the ultimate guide updated! 

David Davis is a VMware Evangelist and vSphere Video Training Author for Train Signal. He has achieved CCIE, VCP,CISSP, and vExpert level status over his 15+ years in the IT industry. David has authored hundreds of articles on the Internet and nine different video training courses for TrainSignal.com including the popular vSphere 5 and vCloud Director video training courses. Learn more about David at his blog or on Twitter and check out a sample of his VMware vSphere video training course from TrainSignal.com.