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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Virtual SAN: An Ideal Choice for Management Storage

MHoskenBy Martin Hosken

The practice of separating management components onto a dedicated vSphere cluster has become common practice in recent years. However, such a cluster should aim to have no dependencies on the production systems with one of the key requirements being that any type of incident or outage affecting the production system does not affect the management cluster, and likewise any management cluster outage cannot affect the production workload systems.

In the past, providing dedicated out-of-band storage for management-only clusters could be cost-prohibitive. It was necessary to purchase additional independent storage hardware for management clusters that could provide the performance and availability required for I/O-intensive and highly available virtual machines, as well as to provide expensive isolated storage fabric to provide connectivity to the management-only array. VMware Virtual SAN provides a highly performant shared storage platform across the vSphere cluster making it possible to significantly reduce costs whilst maintaining enterprise levels of availability and performance.

Martin Hosken Whitepaper

This makes Virtual SAN the ideal choice to provide true out-of-band management storage to a dedicated management cluster, making this type of truly independent management environment a viable and affordable option for most medium and large organizations.

This white paper provides a detailed rational and design for utilizing Virtual SAN in a dedicated management environment.


 

Martin Hosken is a Global Cloud Architect, VCDX and vExpert 2015 in the Global Cloud Practice – vCloud Air Network

VMware User Environment Manager Deployed in 60 Minutes or Less

By Dale Carter

With the VMware acquisition of Immidio, announced in February 2015, VMware has now released VMware User Environment Manager (UEM). In the last several weeks I have been doing some internal testing with UEM and looking at the different things the software can do, and how this will help administrators manage users and improve the user experience.

After the acquisition was complete I kept hearing internal conversations about just how easy UEM is to deploy and get up-and-running, as there is no extra infrastructure needed to configure UEM. All that is required to configure UEM is:

  • A couple of file shares
  • Configuration of group policy objects (GPOs) on the User organizational unit (OU)
  • Installation of UEM agent and manager software

Unlike a lot of other management software, VMware UEM only requires that the software is installed on one or more administrator desktops. There is no management server component other than network file shares and configuration of a few GPOs.

Given the simplicity of the installation, I decided to document how easy it is to get an enterprise-ready solution deployed in less than 60 minutes. Now, this is a basic deployment for 50 linked clone virtual machines, but you’ll see just how easy it is to deploy and configure them. For an enterprise with many sites, decisions need to be made about configuring network shares and where to place them on the network. But most of the work, as you will see, can easily be accomplished in 60 minutes or less. Read the VMware User Environment Manager Guide below:

DCarter UEM 5

 


Dale is a Senior Solutions Architect and member of the CTO Ambassadors. Dale focuses in the End User Compute space, where Dale has become a subject matter expert in a number of the VMware products. Dale has more than 20 years experience working in IT having started his career in Northern England before moving the Spain and finally the USA. Dale currently hold a number of certifications including VCP-DV, VCP-DT, VCAP-DTD and VCAP-DTA.

For updates you can follow Dale on twitter @vDelboy

Perform Proactive Load Testing to Build a Successful Environment

Hans BaderBy Hans Bader

So, your company has bought a new set of hardware, referenced the latest white papers and reference architectures, and now will get the virtual machine (VM) densities promised, right? Well, maybe not. White papers and reference architectures are great starting points for designing and building your environment, but unless you are running the same workloads, your mileage may vary. The key to knowing what your infrastructure will support is to proactively perform load testing – before going into production.

Successful load testing is a considerable amount of work; it involves creating synthetic workloads, and understanding the metrics and the impact on the end-user experience. Holistic load testing will bring in different teams: storage, networking, compute, application development, software distribution and virtual infrastructure. Each of these teams has a stake in ensuring a good end-user experience.

Manage, Understand, and Set Expectations

Understand that the performance of a virtual desktop is all about the performance the end user (your customer) is seeing and perceiving. Gathering all the metrics from VMware vCenterTM, PCOIP logs and storage IOPS are all important, but ultimately it is the end-user’s perception and experience that is most important. It is easy for an administrator to say, “The VM has 2 GB out of 4 GB of memory free,” but if the user is experiencing poor performance due to network contention, the end user is still unhappy.

You must set the proper expectations and understand what you can test. Generating CPU and memory load inside the guest is relatively easy with tools such as Iometer. Iometer does a great job of generating compute load, but does not provide any user experience metrics. With remote desktops the challenge becomes testing PCOIP and client-desktop communication.

Have Your Plan in Place

Have your testing methodology, objectives and metrics documented in advance. It is important to develop your test design before starting the actual load testing process. Think it through completely; map the information flow for the entire load test process, entry points and process dependencies. If you are going to create a view pool of 1,000 desktops, will the LAN segment where you will be creating the desktop have enough IP addresses available? Do you know that anti-virus updates are a known pain point? Include these in your testing scenarios. Also include software updates if applicable.

Understand what is going to be tested and how the testing will impact end users. The end-user experience with virtual machines is more than just performance graphs of the VM in your vCenter inventory. Are you testing a local install of Microsoft Word, or a larger client-server based application? Many of the applications running in a virtual desktop are dependent on systems (databases, web services, etc.) that exist outside the desktop. Do you have an information flow diagram that shows all the systems an application may interact with? Do you know where the choke points are? Adequate desktop resources are not sufficient if you are load testing 1,000 desktops running a CRM application – but the environment can only scale to 750 users.

Your End Users Can Help You

During testing do not rely solely upon metrics: your testing must include “eyes on the glass.” Have actual users run through the test scenarios to understand how—as the load increases—the user experience may be impacted. An end user can establish what a good baseline is, what acceptable performance is, and when the end-user experience starts to degrade. These subjective user perceptions can be roughly mapped to network metrics, storage latency or memory usage.

Documented Test Plans

Leverage existing test plans where possible. Many times there are existing test plans for applications that have been developed in-house. These are company- specific and require domain subject matter experts to create and execute on. Utilizing these people can decrease the time and effort required to create and document your current test plans.

Test What is Real

This very important concept is often overlooked. Don’t simply consider CPU and memory consumption of a virtual machine. Running CPU Busy and generating 100 percent CPU usage inside a VM is not realistic. To generate accurate user experience loads you must use appropriate tools, such as:

Proper load testing of your new environment means testing both your architectural and physical designs. It is important to understand how the user load may impact your initial physical design. The number of hosts per cluster, desktops deployed per data store, and network connectivity all come into play. You may find you have been overly conservative in your resource assumptions; but you can change your cluster sizing and therefore obtain greater desktop densities.

During your load testing, use this time to understand the impact on typical administrative tasks while running the hosts. For example, how long does it take to spin up a new pool of 500 desktops when you are running a load test with 1,000 desktops? Or how long does it take to put a host in maintenance mode when it has 80 desktops running? The outcomes of these ancillary tests may change the way you administer your environment.

Expose the Weak Links

What if, during your load testing, you break something? Perhaps you’ll run out of DHCP addresses, the KMS server and your hosts start swapping, LUNS run out of space, and VMs crash. These events should not be considered failures, but rather successful tests. These events show you where to focus attention prior to the next load test so real users do not experience these problems during live operations. Yes, load testing can be a lot of work, and take a considerable amount of effort to do effectively, but the end results are worth it: end users and administrators are happy.

Plan for Remediation

Exposing a weak link during load testing is not a failure, but a positive result. You should ensure your testing plan has time built in to address any weaknesses that are uncovered or that you may have time to test again. The amount of time that has to be added depends on the amount of load that broke the system. If load testing early on with fewer users exposed a lack of DHCP addresses this is a relatively easy fix to a DHCP scope. On the other hand, if testing at full predicted load uncovered a storage performance bottleneck, the time to procure additional storage, install and configure could be much longer.

Testing Scenarios

Your first fully automated test should be a single system test—a single test to ensure your test plan runs through to completion. With no resource contention and no over-commitment on the hosts, this is your baseline. This should also be correlated with an actual user single system test, ensuring the user experience is what is expected.

For the second test, ramp up to 50 percent of what the calculated capacity is. This gives enough wiggle room so you can determine if your design assumptions are accurate. Do you have enough IP addresses? Is storage able to keep up? How are the memory stats?

Run a third test at 100 percent calculated capacity. This is where getting real users into the system is critical. How long does it take to login? Are the test scenarios within the acceptable parameters? Is the user experience acceptable? Have you met all your design criteria and business requirements?

Finally, a fourth test at more than 100 percent expected capacity should be run. Add more desktops, start a full anti-virus scan, perform a software update. No matter how well we design, we always have to plan for the worst-case scenarios. The unexpected removal of a host from a cluster dramatically impacts capacity. Put a host in maintenance mode or reboot it without putting it in maintenance mode. How does your environment perform under these extreme conditions?

“We must contemplate some extremely unpleasant possibilities, just because we want to avoid them.”

– Albert Wohlstetter, American nuclear strategist, 1960

For more information, be sure to check out the following VMware Education Courses:


Hans Bader Consulting Architect, VMware EUC. Hans has over 20 years of IT experience and joined VMware in 2009. With a focus on helping organizations being operationally ready, he works with customers to avoid common mistakes. He is a strong advocate for proactive load testing of environment before allowing users access. Hans has won numerous consulting awards within VMware.

Managing VMware NSX Edge and Manager Certificates

Spas_KaloferovBy Spas Kaloferov

di·ver·si·ty

“Diversity” was the first word that came to my mind when I joined VMware. I noticed the wide variety of different methods and processes utilized to replace certificates on the different VMware appliance products. For example, with VMware vRealizeTM OrchestratorTM, users must undergo a manual process to replace the certificate, but with VMware vRealizeTM AutomationTM administrators have a graphical user interface (GUI) option, and with VMware NSX ManagerTM there is another completely different GUI option to request and change for the certificate of the product.

 

Figure 1. SSL Certificates tab on the VMware NSX ManagerTM 

SSL Certificates tab on the VMware NSX Manager

This variety of certificate replacement methods and techniques is understandable as all of these VMware products are a result of different acquisitions. Although these products are great in their own unique ways, the lack of a common, smooth and user-friendly certificate replacement methodology has always filled the administrators and consultants with anxiety.

This anxiety often leads to certificate configuration issues among the majority of VMware family members, partners and end users. As a member of this family—and also of the majority—I recently felt this anxiety when I had to replace my VMware NSX Manager and NSX EdgeTM certificates.

pas·sion

I must say that up to the point where I had to replace these certificates, I had pretty awesome experiences installing and configuring VMware NSX Manager, and even developed advanced services like network load balancing. But I hit a minor roadblock with the certificates, and my passion to kick down any road block until it turns to dust wasn’t going to leave me alone.

ex·e·cu·tion

I got in touch with some of my awesome colleagues and NSX experts to get me back on the good experience track of NSX. As expected, they did (not that I have ever doubted them). Now, I was exploring the advanced VMware NSX Manager capabilities with full power – like SSL VPN-Plus where I had to again configure a certificate for my perimeter gateway edge device.

Figure 2. Server Settings tab of the SSL VPN-Plus setting on the VMware NSX EdgeTM

Server Settings tab of the SSL VPN-Plus setting on the VMware NSX Edge

This time I wasn’t anxious because I now had the certificate replacement process under control.

cus·to·mer

As our customers are core to our mission, we want to empower them by freeing them from certificate replacement challenges so they can spend their time and energy on more pressing technological issues. To help empower other passionate enthusiasts, and help keep them on the good experience track of NSX, I’ve decided to describe the certificate replacement processes I’ve been using and share them in a blog post to make them available to everyone.

com·mu·ni·ty

We are all connected. We approach each other with open minds and humble hearts. We serve by dedicating our time, talent, and energy – creating a thriving community together. Please visit Managing NSX Edge and Manager Certificates to learn more about the certificate replacement process.


Spas Kaloferov is an acting Solutions Architect member of Professional Services Engineering (PSE) for the Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC) – a part of the Global Technical & Professional Solutions (GTPS) team. Prior to VMware, Kaloferov focused on cloud computing solutions.

Using Super Metrics to Populate Widgets in VMware vRealize Operations Manager

Jeremy WheelerBy Jeremy Wheeler

When setting up dashboards in VMware vRealizeTM Operations ManagerTM, I’ve found a lot of customers are trying to locate specific metrics, such as how much memory is available to a cluster after honoring N+1 and 80 percent max memory utilization per host. These types of metrics can be located through a “super metric,” but in many cases you need to edit the XML file(s) correlated to the widget before you can present the super metric to the GUI widget.

In VMware’s previous version of VMware vCenterTM Operations ManagerTM, XML files were used heavily when a specific widget interaction was needed. With VMware vRealize Operations Manager, the process of injecting super metrics into an XML file has changed. This blog specifically talks about the steps needed to populate a widget with your super metric. View the document here: vRealize Operations Management Supermetrics and XML Editing.

For more information, be sure to check out the following VMware Education courses:

 

vRealize with Operations Management Supermetrics_Jeremy Wheeler


Jeremy Wheeler is an experienced senior consultant and architect for VMware’s Professional Services Organization, End-user Computing specializing in VMware Horizon Suite product-line and vRealize products such as vROps, and Log Insight Manager. Jeremy has over 18 years of experience in the IT industry. In addition to his past experience, Jeremy has a passion for technology and thrives on educating customers. Jeremy has 7 years of hands-¬‐on virtualization experience deploying full-life cycle solutions using VMware, CITRIX, and Hyper-V. Jeremy also has 16 years of experience in computer programming in various languages ranging from basic scripting to C, C++, PERL, .NET, SQL, and PowerShell.

Jeremy Wheeler has received acclaim from several clients for his in-¬‐depth and varied technical experience and exceptional hands-on customer satisfaction skills. In February 2013, Jeremy also received VMware’s Spotlight award for his outstanding persistence and dedication to customers and was nominated again in October of 2013