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Category Archives: Automation

Configure DHCP and TFTP for Auto Deploy

In the previous post, we covered Enabling Auto Deploy on vCenter Server Appliance 6.

There are several more steps that need to be taken to get Auto Deploy configured correctly.

In this post we discuss the next step in our journey to running Auto Deploy in your environment, which is Continue reading

vSphere Hardening Guide 6.0 Public Beta 1 available

I’m happy to announce that the vSphere 6 Hardening Guide Public Beta 1 is now available.

The guide is being provided as Excel spreadsheet. I’m also making a PDF doc available for easier viewing. In addition,  I’ve also included an Excel spreadsheet of the guidelines that have moved out of the guide and into documentation. THIS IS INCOMPLETE. We are still working on some of that content. (that’s why this is a beta!)

Please read the blog on the changes that have happened to the guide. LOTS of changes and the blog will explain.

vSphere 6.0 Hardening Guide – Overview of coming changes | VMware vSphere Blog – VMware Blogs

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Enable Auto Deploy on vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) 6

Many customers are now converting over to use the vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 since vSphere 6 has reached feature parity with the Windows vCenter Server.

For those of you who are new to using the appliance, I figured I would walk you through setting up the Auto Deploy portion of the server. Continue reading

vSphere 6.0 Lockdown Mode Exception Users

In vSphere 6.0 we now have a new concept called Exception Users. The intent of Exception Users is that they are not general admin users. I would consider them more of a “Service Account” type of access.

As a matter of fact, just the other day I got an email from someone internal at VMware that brought up a great use case for Exception Users. They were talking to a customer that wanted to access ESXi via a PowerCLI cmdlet (Get-VMHostAccount) to list out the local accounts on an ESXi server as part of their normal security reporting.

But they also wanted to enable Lockdown Mode and were finding it difficult to comply with both things. In vSphere 6.0 this is now much easier to address. Let’s get started.

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Enhancing User Experience: Customization of vRealize Automation 6.2.x Email Notifications

User Experience (“UX”) focuses on the intimate understanding of your users. What is it that they need or desire, what do they value, what are their abilities, as well as their limitations?

As you embark upon the journey to the software-defined data center (SDDC), think and architect in terms of the user experience in addition to “boxes and arrows.”

  • What are the desired UX outcomes for those consuming the service(s)?
  • Have you considered the UX in terms of its usefulness, usability, desirability, accessibility, credibility, and its value?

In addition to fundamental tenant and business group designs, entitlements and service catalogue designs, one such area for UX consideration is the messages provided to those consuming services of the software-defined data center.

For a moment, imagine you are providing automated infrastructure delivery to multiple business segments of a large media and entertainment organization, each with their own distinct brand. The segments are built upon their individual brand and identity.

  • Do you centrally brand the service that you offer or do you tailor the service to each tenant business segment?
  • How would this change if instead the services were used to provide automated infrastructure delivery only to your IT Operations team and not direct end users?

The messages that appear in the inbox of the user are part of the experience. VMware vRealize Automation can send automatic notifications for several types of events, such as, the successful completion of a catalogue request or a required approval workflow.  System Administrators can configure global email servers, senders and recipients that process email notifications.

Tenant Administrators can override those defaults, or add their own servers, senders and recipients if no global attributes are specified. They may even select which events will cause notifications to be sent to their users. Each component, such as the service catalog or infrastructure-as-a-service, can define events that can trigger notifications.

scenarios

Additionally, each user can choose if they wish to receive notifications. Users either receive all notifications configured by the Tenant Administrator or no notifications.

Notification may also have links that allow the user to perform interactively. For example, a notification about a request that requires approval can have one link for approving the request and one for rejecting it. When a user clicks one of the links, a new email opens with content that is automatically generated. The user can send the email to complete the approval.

Messages can be easily and beautifully customized using a simple, powerful template engine. These may be customized per-locale, per-tenant, and per-notification scenario. You have the ability to define and craft the desired user experience for any notification.

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vSphere 6.0 Lockdown Modes

 

Lockdown mode has been around in various forms for many releases. The behaviors have changed a few times since 5.1 with varying levels of usability success. For vSphere 6.0 we are trying to address some of these issues. Personally, what I’d love to see happen with all customers running V6.0 is that you run at a minimum the “Normal” Lockdown Mode.

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vSphere APIs for IO Filtering

I’ve been fortunate to have one of our super sharp product line managers, Alex Jauch (twitter @ajauch), spend some time explaining to me one of the new enabling technologies of vSphere 6.0: VAIO.  Let’s take a look at this really powerful capability and see what types of things it can enable and an overview of how it works.

VAIO stands for “vSphere APIs for IO Filtering”

This had for a time colloquially been known as “IO Filters”. Fundamentally, it is a means by which a VM can have its IO safely and securely filtered in accordance with a policy.

VAIO offers partners the ability to put their technology directly into the IO stream of a VM through a filter that intercepts data before it is committed to disk.

Why would I want to do that? What kinds of things can you do with an IO filter?

Well that’s up to our customers and our partners. VAIO is a filtering framework that will initially allow vendors to present capabilities for caching and replication to individual VMs. This will expand over time as partners come on board to write filters for the framework, so you can imagine where this can go for topics such as security, antivirus, encryption and other areas, as the framework matures. VAIO gives us the ability to do stuff to an IO stream in a safe and certified fashion, and manage the whole thing through profiles to ensure we get a view into the IO stream’s compliance with policy!

The VAIO program itself is for partners – the benefit is for consumers who want to do policy based management of their environment and pull in the value of our partner solutions directly into per-VM and indeed per-virtual disk storage management.

When partners create their solutions their data services are surfaced through the Storage Policy Based Management control plane, just like all the rest of our policy-driven storage offerings like Virtual SAN or Virtual Volumes.

Beyond that, because the data services operate at the VM virtual device level, they can also work with just about any type of storage device, again furthering the value of VSAN and VVOLs, and extending the use of these offerings through these additional data services.

How does it work?

The capabilities of a partner filter solution are registered with the VAIO framework, and are surfaced for user interaction in the SPBM Continue reading

vRealize Operations Management Pack for Virtual SAN Beta – Early Sign-up

If you already heard the exciting news about VMware new offerings – vSphere 6, Virtual SAN 6 and vSphere Virtual Volumes – and thought it can’t get any better, we have a small surprise for you. Virtual SAN 6.0 includes a host of new features including high performance snapshots and clones, all flash Virtual SAN with intelligent 2-tier model, failure domains and more. One of the most requested features among Virtual SAN 5.5 customers is enabling greater visibility to what happens “under the hood”. The Virtual SAN team developed a new health dashboard that will help customers tackle underlying hardware issues as part of the v6.0 release, but in addition to that the vRealize operations team developed an advanced set of dashboards aimed at making Virtual SAN users life much easier.

The Virtual SAN team along with the vRealize Operations team are thrilled to offer you a unique opportunity to beta test the new vRealize Operations Management Pack for Storage Devices. The management pack will feature advanced insight into Virtual SAN through advanced analytics to enable rapid troubleshooting and cluster optimization.

 vrops1 vrops2

 

We will share more details closer to the start of the beta program which will kick off in Q1 2015. If you would like to get more information and be on the list of people who get an invitation to participate in the beta, please sign up here – www.vmware.com/go/vrops4vsan-beta

Check out the vROps MPSD blog post for more details - http://blogs.vmware.com/management/2015/02/vsan-simplifying-sddc-storage-operations-with-vrealize-operations-management-pack-for-storage-devices.html

Assess the Performance Impact of the Security Change in Transparent Page Sharing Behaviour

As VMware continues to use a “secure by default” policy, there are some up-coming security changes to the Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) memory mechanism you need to be aware of and should assess for potential performance impact.

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Operationalizing VMware Virtual SAN: Automating vCenter Alarm Configuration Using PowerCLI

powercli 5.8 icon

Welcome to the next installment in our Operationalizing VMware Virtual SAN series. In our previous article we detailed “How to configure vCenter alarms for Virtual SAN”. In today’s article we will demonstrate how to automate that configuration workflow leveraging PowerCLI.

(Many thanks to VMware genius Alan Renouf (@alanrenouf) for his contributions to this topic) [Joe Cook: @CloudAnimal]

The PowerCLI code required to automate the configuration of vCenter Alarms for Virtual SAN is considerably straightforward.

1. Connect to vCenter

Connect-VIServer -Server 192.168.100.1 -User Administrator@vsphere.local -Password vmware

2. Define the the Virtual SAN cluster where you would like the rules to be created

$Cluster = "Cluster Site A"

3. Next we create a hash table with the desired VMware ESXi Observeration IDs (VOB IDs) for Virtual SAN and include a description for each VOB ID.

If you are not used to programming, the concept of arrays and hash tables may be a bit confusing. Using variables is generally much easier to understand. One way of understanding variables is to think of them simply as a short amount of text used to represent a larger amount of text in your program or script ($x=”larger amount of text”). Instead of typing “larger amount of text” continually, you can simply type $x and the language interpreter (in our case PowerShell), will substitute the string “larger amount of text” wherever it finds $x in your script. Variables can be used to greatly reduce the amount of code you have to type, make your scripts much easier to read, and have many other uses as well.

If we think of variables as ways to store one value to reference, we can think of arrays as a way to store multiple values to reference. In our example today, we would have to create at least 32 variables to perform the same work that we can with one hash table.

A hash table is a type of array that is also known as a dictionary. It is a collection of name-value pairs (e.g. “name”=”value”) that can be used . Here we have an example of a basic hash table:

$HashTableName = @{
VOB_ID_A="VOB Description";
VOB_ID_B="VOB Description";
VOB_ID_C="VOB Description";
}

In the table below we have a breakdown of the components of the code used to create a hash table:

Syntax Component Description
$HashTableName = Replace “HashTableName” with the text you wish to use to reference this list of key-values pairs.
@{ Indicates the start of the hash table or array
VOB_ID_A=”VOB Description”; Key-Value pair to store within the hash table. VOB_ID_A will be the VOB ID from the VMware ESXi Observation Log (VOBD) (e.g. “esx.audit.vsan.clustering.enabled”). “VOB Description” will be the description of the associated “VOB ID” (e.g. “Virtual SAN clustering service had been enabled”). Make sure to use quotation marks whenever spaces are used and to separate each key-value pair with a semicolon (;).Examine /var/log/vobd.log on your vSphere host to obtain possible VOB IDs. See here for a list of VMware ESXi Observation IDs for Virtual SAN.
} Indicates the end of the hash table or array

Here is an example of a hash table with a single key-value pair representing a single vCenter Alarm for Virtual SAN:

$VSANAlerts = @{
"esx.audit.vsan.clustering.enabled" = "Virtual SAN clustering service had been enabled";
}

Below is the actual hash table that we will use in our example Virtual SAN Alarm Configuration script. It is fully populated with all of the recommended VOB IDs for Virtual SAN along with the description for each. We have labeled this hash table as “$VSANAlerts”. You will see $VSANAlerts referenced further along in the script as we reference the items within our hash table.

$VSANAlerts = @{
 "esx.audit.vsan.clustering.enabled" = "Virtual SAN clustering service had been enabled";
 "esx.clear.vob.vsan.pdl.online" = "Virtual SAN device has come online.";
 "esx.clear.vsan.clustering.enabled" = "Virtual SAN clustering services have now been enabled.";
 "esx.clear.vsan.vsan.network.available" = "Virtual SAN now has at least one active network configuration.";
 "esx.clear.vsan.vsan.vmknic.ready" = "A previously reported vmknic now has a valid IP.";
 "esx.problem.vob.vsan.lsom.componentthreshold" = "Virtual SAN Node: Near node component count limit.";
 "esx.problem.vob.vsan.lsom.diskerror" = "Virtual SAN device is under permanent error.";
 "esx.problem.vob.vsan.lsom.diskgrouplimit" = "Failed to create a new disk group.";
 "esx.problem.vob.vsan.lsom.disklimit" = "Failed to add disk to disk group.";
 "esx.problem.vob.vsan.pdl.offline" = "Virtual SAN device has gone offline.";
 "esx.problem.vsan.clustering.disabled" = "Virtual SAN clustering services have been disabled.";
 "esx.problem.vsan.lsom.congestionthreshold" = "Virtual SAN device Memory/SSD congestion has changed.";
 "esx.problem.vsan.net.not.ready" = "A vmknic added to Virtual SAN network config doesn't have valid IP.";
 "esx.problem.vsan.net.redundancy.lost" = "Virtual SAN doesn't haven any redundancy in its network configuration.";
 "esx.problem.vsan.net.redundancy.reduced" = "Virtual SAN is operating on reduced network redundancy.";
 "esx.problem.vsan.no.network.connectivity" = "Virtual SAN doesn't have any networking configuration for use."
 }

(For more information on working with PowerShell hash tables, see this handy Microsoft TechNet article)

4. Next we use the Get-View cmdlet to query the vCenter Alarm Manager for each VOB ID listed in step 3.

The Get-View cmdlet returns the vSphere inventory objects (VIObject) that correspond to the specified search criteria.

$alarmMgr = Get-View AlarmManager
 $entity = Get-Cluster $Cluster | Get-View
 $VSANAlerts.Keys | Foreach {
 $Name = $VSANAlerts.Get_Item($_)
 $Value = $_

5. Create the vCenter Alarm specification object

 $alarm = New-Object VMware.Vim.AlarmSpec
 $alarm.Name = $Name
 $alarm.Description = $Name
 $alarm.Enabled = $TRUE
 $expression = New-Object VMware.Vim.EventAlarmExpression
 $expression.EventType = Vim.Event.EventEx
 $expression.eventTypeId = $Value
 $expression.objectType = "HostSystem"
 $expression.status = "red"
 $alarm.expression = New-Object VMware.Vim.OrAlarmExpression
 $alarm.expression.expression += $expression
 $alarm.setting = New-Object VMware.Vim.AlarmSetting
 $alarm.setting.reportingFrequency = 0
 $alarm.setting.toleranceRange = 0

6. Create the vCenter Alarm in vCenter

 Write-Host "Creating Alarm on $Cluster for $Name"
 $CreatedAlarm = $alarmMgr.CreateAlarm($entity.MoRef, $alarm)
 }
 Write-Host "All Alarms Added to $Cluster"

As you can see, the steps to create vCenter Alarms for Virtual SAN are actually pretty straightforward. If you have not yet began monitoring your Virtual SAN environment, these steps can accelerate the process quite rapidly and you really do not have to be an expert in PowerCLI to do so.

VMware Hands on Labs

Here is a great tip brought to you by our friends at the VMware Hands on Labs. If you would like an excellent shortcut to getting “hands on” creating vCenter Alarms for Virtual SAN, using PowerCLI cmdlets, try out the lab below:

HOL-SDC-1427 – VMware Software Defined Storage: Module 5: Advanced Software Defined Storage With SPBM and PowerCLI (30 minutes)

 

We have many more articles on there way so share, re-tweet, or whatever your favorite social media method is. You will not want to miss these!

(Thanks to @millardjk for his keen eye)


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