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Category Archives: vCloud Suite

Confessions of an Energy Consciousness Mind

I have a confession. 

My data center kit has been using too much energy.

Having kit available at my disposable is great, but I have been wasting this resource when it’s not required by my workloads. And if there’s one thing I try to be conscious of, it’s energy consumption. Just ask my kids who I chase from room to room turning off lights, screens, and the lot when they aren’t using them.

But why not in the data center? Did you know that hosts typically use 60%+ of their peak power when idle?

Until recently, I had overlooked configuring my kit to use the vSphere Distributed Power Management (“DPM”) feature to manage power consumption and save energy.

With the release of vSphere 6.0 it’s a good time to review and take deeper look into the capabilities and benefits of this feature.

What is VMware vSphere Distributed Power Management?

VMware vSphere Distributed Power Management is a feature included with vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions that dynamically optimizes cluster power consumption based on workload demands. When host CPU and memory resources are lightly used, DPM recommends the evacuation of workloads and powers-off of ESXi hosts. When CPU or memory resource utilization increases for workloads or additional host resources are required, DPM powers on a required set of hosts back online to meet the demand of HA or other workload-specific contraints by executing vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (“DRS”) in a “what-if” mode. DRS will ensure host power recommendations are consistent with the cluster constraints and resources being managed by the cluster.

Beneath the covers there are key challenges that DPM addresses to enable effective power-savings capabilities:

  • Accurately Assessing Workload Resource Demand
  • Avoiding Frequent Power-on/Power-off of Host and Excessive vMotion Operations
  • Rapid Response to Workload Demand and Performance Requirements
  • Appropriate Host Selection for Power-on/Power-Off within Tolerable Host Utilization Ratios
  • Intelligent Redistribution of Workloads After Host Power-on/Power-Off

Once DPM determines the number of hosts needed to satisfy all workloads and relevant constraints, and DRS has distributed virtual machines across hosts to maintain resource allocation constraints and objectives, each powered-on host is free to handle its power management

Hosts Entering and Exiting Standby

When a host is powered-off by DPM, they are marked in vCenter Server in “standby” mode indicating that they are powered-off but available to be powered-on when required. The host icon is updated with a crescent moon overlay symbolizing a “sleeping” state for the host.

DPM can awaken hosts from the standby mode using one of three power management options:

  1. Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI)
  2. Hewlett Packard Integrated Lights-Out (iLO), or
  3. Wake-On-LAN (WOL).

Each protocol requires its own hardware support and configuration. If a host does not support any of these protocols it cannot be put into standby by DPM. If a host supports multiple protocols, they are used in the following order: IPMI, iLO, WOL. This article is focused on the use of the first two.

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Help us improve vSphere!

Are you a vSphere user? If so, we want to hear from you. Attached is our new survey. Help us build a better product and make sure our features are aligned with your business needs.

http://www.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?B094F8E0B1F6ECE7B3

 

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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vCenter Server 6 Deployment Topologies and High Availability

Architectural changes to vSphere 6:

vCenter Server 6 has some fundamental architectural changes compared to vCenter Server Server 5.5. The multitude of components that existed in vCenter Server 5.x has been consolidated in vCenter Server 6 to have only two components vCenter Management Server and Platform Services Controller, formerly vCenter Server Single Sign-On.

The Platform Services Controller (PSC) provides a set of common infrastructure services encompassing

  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Licensing
  • Certificate Authority

The vCenter Management Server consolidates all the other components such as Inventory Service & Web Client services along with its traditional management components. The vCenter Server components can be typically deployed in with either embedded or external PSC. Care should be taken to understand the critical differences between the two deployment models. Once deployed one cannot move from one mode to another in this version.

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vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide

VMware_vSphere6_Box

Over the course of the last few months I’ve been working on a pretty massive deployment guide for vCenter Server 6, the result turned into a 100 page guide. Before getting scared off by the size the guide it goes into details for installing and upgrading many different scenarios including new installs and upgrades from the most common configurations.

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VMware Certificate Authority overview and using VMCA Root Certificates in a browser

 

With vSphere 6.0 the vCenter Virtual Server Appliance (VCSA), now has a component called the Platform Services Controller (PSC). The PSC handles things like SSO and the License Server and ships with its own Certificate Authority called VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA). In this blog post we’ll quickly go over some of the modes of VMCA operation and how to download and install the VMCA root certificate into your browser.

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vSphere 6 Feature Walkthroughs

The Technical Marketing team has put out a series of vSphere 6 related feature walkthroughs. We’re covering vCenter Server install and upgrades for many different scenarios as well as vSphere Data Protection and vSphere Replication.

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vSphere 6 Web Client

With the recent announcement of VMware vSphere 6, I can finally start talking about the improvements we’ve made for vSphere 6 Web Client.  Over 100 enhancements, with some user actions performing 5x faster.  There are excel sheets and graphs full of performance data, but the best way to see the difference is to experience it yourself.  If you’ve been wary of using vSphere Web Client in the past, you should give it another shot with vSphere 6.

In my time here I’ve heard of many tips on using Web Client that I didn’t learn during training or while using it directly.  I thought it would be helpful to put all of these learnings in one place.  I’m sure many of you reading this know about some of these tips, but hopefully there are some new ones in there that are helpful to you as well.  This is a living document, so if there are tips and tricks not on the list, please share with the rest of us by adding it to the list.  I should stress that this is not an official VMware document:

https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=VSphere_Web_Client/UI_Tips

Short url: http://tiny.cc/webclientwiki

 

There are also many enhancements in the vSphere 6 Web Client, some of which are highlighted below:

  • Controlling “All Users’ Tasks” for performance

We know that the All Users’ Tasks view of Recent Tasks is an important feature, but  it also turns out to be an incredibly “heavy” feature, which can quickly spiral out of control and impact vCenter Server performance.  The focus of this version of vSphere Web Client was improving performance and giving you more control on customizing your experience.  In order to achieve both of these goals, we had to make it a bit harder to get to All Users’ Tasks.  This will help ensure that your systems will run smoother out of the box, with the option to enable the feature if you need it.  We are also actively working on a better solution for this feature, but couldn’t get it in time for this release.

You’ll see some instructions when you first select All Users’ Tasks, and more detailed steps are in the Release Notes, but I included them here for reference.  Once you’ve enabled this feature, it becomes the default view:

A) Click More Tasks in the Recent Tasks panel to view all users’ tasks.

OR

B) Edit the webclient.properties file and change the “show.allusers.tasks” setting. For large vSphere environments, changing the “show.allusers.tasks” setting can potentially impact performance.

1. Locate the webclient.properties file

For the vCenter Server Appliance, the file is located in the /etc/vmware/vsphere-client/webclient.properties directory.

For vCenter Server on Windows, the file is located in the C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\cfg\vsphere-client\webclient.properties directory.

2. Edit the file using a text editor and change show.allusers.tasks=false to show.allusers.tasks=true.

3. That’s it!  No restart of anything should be required.  Go to vSphere Web Client, select “All Users’ Tasks” and it should work.

  • Many performance enhancements

Performance was the primary goal of this release of vSphere Web Client.  Efforts were made to improve the performance of every portion of the interface, and you should see these improvements when you start using vSphere 6.  Here are some of the major areas we worked on: Login and Home page, Summary pages, Networking pages, Related Objects lists, General Navigation, Performance Charts, Action Menus (right click), and reducing unnecessary data retrieval, which also serves to lighten load on vCenter Server.

The net result is that the vSphere 6 Web Client is an entirely new experience and easier to use than previous versions of vSphere Web Client.

  • Tasks where they belong

This was shown at VMworld, but is worth another mention: The tasks pane is now back at the bottom, giving you room to see the information you need.

Tasks at bottom

This comes along with the ability to move and resize panes (we call this Dockable UI), allowing you to customize it to your liking, such as below where Alarms and Work in Progress have been moved to provide a larger workspace.

Dockable UI

  • Reorganized Action menus (right click)

Action menus have been reorganized and flattened so that your actions are easier to find, and placed more familiarly.  It should be much easier to pick up as you transition from the old desktop client to vSphere Web Client.

Action Menus

  • Home menu navigation

The new and improved home button now shows a navigation menu which allows you to jump from wherever you are to one of the common views.  You can now get back to any of the major inventory trees from anywhere in one click!

Homeburger

I hope this overview encourages you to upgrade your existing vCenter Servers to vSphere 6 so that you can experience these improvements (and more!) that we’ve made.

What’s New with vSphere Data Protection 6.0 and vSphere Replication 6.0

There are many interesting items coming out of VMware’s 28 Days of February where customers can learn more about “One Cloud, Any Application, Any Device”. A couple of the biggest items are the announcements of vSphere 6.0 and Virtual SAN 6.0. In this article, we will look at what is new with two of the more popular vSphere features: vSphere Data Protection and vSphere Replication. Perhaps the biggest news with these two features is around vSphere Data Protection. Before vSphere 6.0 and vSphere Data Protection 6.0, there were two editions of vSphere Data Protection: vSphere Data Protection, included with vSphere, and vSphere Data Protection Advanced, which was sold separately. With the release of vSphere Data Protection 6.0, all vSphere Data Protection Advanced functionality has been consolidated into vSphere Data Protection 6.0 and included with vSphere 6.0 Essentials Plus Kit and higher editions. Keep reading to learn more about the advanced functionality now included as part of vSphere Data Protection 6.0.

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vSphere 6 – Clarifying the misinformation

With the Announcement of vSphere 6 this week there is a lot of information being published by various sources. Some of that information is based on old beta builds and is much different than what we’ll see in the final product. In this post I aim to correct some of the information based on the beta builds that’s floating around out there.

First off there’s confusion on the maximum number of virtual machines per cluster vSphere 6 supports. This is in part my fault, when we wrote the What’s New in vSphere 6 white paper the number was 6000. Additional scale testing has been done and that number is now 8000. The what’s new paper will be updated soon to reflect this.

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