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Monthly Archives: April 2016

VMware App Volumes Backup Utility Fling: Introduction

First published on VMware’s End-User Computing blog

By Dale Carter, Chris Halstead and Stéphane Asselin

In December 2014, VMware released VMware App Volumes, and since then, lots of new features have been added, and people love using App Volumes. Organizations use App Volumes not only in VMware environments, but also in many Citrix environments.

However, there has been one big request from our App Volumes users: Every time I talk to people about App Volumes, they ask about how to back up their AppStacks and writable volumes. Normal virtual-machine backup tools cannot back up App Volumes AppStacks and writable volumes because the AppStacks and writable volumes are not part of the vCenter inventory unless they are connected to a user’s virtual machine (VM). As I talked to other people within VMware, I found this question coming up more and more, so I started to think of how we could help.

Last summer during an internal conference, Travis Wood, Senior Solutions Architect at VMware, and I were throwing around a few ideas of how to address this request, and we came up with the idea of an App Volumes backup tool.

Because I do not have any programming skills, I started talking with Chris Halstead, End-User-Computing Architect at VMware, about the idea for this tool. Chris was instantly excited and agreed that this would be a great solution. Chris and I also enlisted Stéphane Asselin, Senior End-User-Computing Architect, to help with creating and testing the tool.

Over the last couple of months, Chris, Stéphane, and I have been working on the tool, and today we are happy to announce that the App Volumes Backup Utility has been released as a VMware Fling for everyone to download.

Use Case and Benefits

The issue with backing up App Volumes AppStacks and writable volumes is that these VMDK files do not show up in the vCenter inventory unless they are currently in use and connected to a user’s virtual desktop. The standard backup tools do not see the VMDKs on the datastore if they are not in the vCenter inventory, and you do not want to back up these files while users are connected to their desktops.

The use case for this tool was to provide a way to make your backup tools see the AppStack and writable-volume VMDKs when they are not connected to a user’s virtual desktop. We also did not want to create other virtual machines that would require an OS; we wanted to keep the footprint and resources to a minimum, and the cost down.

The benefits of using the App Volumes Backup Utility are

  • It connects AppStacks and writable volumes to a VM that is never in use and that also does not have an OS installed.
  • The solution is quick and uses very few resources. The only resource that the tool does use is a 1 MB storage footprint for each temporary backup VM you create.
  • The tool can be used in conjunction with any standard software that backs up your current virtual infrastructure.

How Does the Tool Work?

DCarter_app-volumes-backup-utility-19

In the App Volumes Backup Utility, we made it easy for your existing backup solution to see and back up all of the AppStacks and writable volumes. This is accomplished in a fairly straightforward way. Using the tool, you connect to both your App Volumes Manager and vCenter. Then, using the tool, you create a backup VM. This VM is only a shell, has no OS installed, and has a very small footprint of just 1 MB.

Note: This VM will never be powered on.

After the backup VM is created, you select which AppStacks and writable volumes you want to back up, and you attach them to the backup VM using the App Volumes Backup Utility.

After the AppStacks and writable volumes are attached, you can use your standard backup solution to back up the backup VM, including the attached VMDK files. After the backup is complete, open the tool and detach the AppStacks and writable volumes from the backup VM, and delete the backup VM.

For more details on how to use the tool, see the VMware App Volumes Backup Utility Fling: Instructions.

Download the App Volumes Backup Utility Fling, and feel free to give Chris Halstead, Stéphane Asselin, and me your feedback. You can comment on the Fling site or below this blog post, or find our details on this blog site and connect with us.


Dale CarterDale 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 holds a number of certifications including VCP-DV, VCP-DT, VCAP-DTD and VCAP-DTA. For more blog post from Dale visit his website at http://vdelboysview.com

Chris_Halstead

Chris Halstead is an EUC Architect on the End User Computing Technical Marketing & Enablement team. He has over 20 years’ experience in the End User Computing space. Chris’ experience ranges from managing a global desktop environment for a Fortune 500 company, to managing and proving EUC professional services at a VMware partner–and most recently as an End User Computing SE for VMware. Chris has written four other VMware Flings, many detailed blog articles (http://chrisdhalstead.net), has been a VMware vExpert since 2012 and is active on Twitter at @chrisdhalstead

Stephane_Asselin

Stéphane Asselin with his twenty years experience in IT, is a Senior Consultant for the Global Center of Excellence (CoE) for the End-User Computing business unit at VMware. In his recent role, he had national responsibility for Canada for EUC planning, designing and implementing virtual infrastructure solutions and all processes involved. At VMware, Stephane has worked on EUC pre-sales activities, internal IP, product development and technical specialist lead on BETA programs. He has also done work as a Subject Matter Expert for project Octopus, Horizon, View, vCOps and ThinApp. Previously, he was with CA as Senior Systems Engineer where he has worked on Enterprise Monitoring pre sales activities and technical specialist. 

In his current role in the Global Center of Excellence at VMware, he’s one of the resources developing presentation materials and technical documentation for training and knowledge transfer to customers and peer systems engineers. Visit myeuc.net for more information.

Composite USB Devices Step by Step

Jeremy WheelerBy Jeremy Wheeler

Users have a love/hate relationship with VDI: they love the ability to access apps and information from any device, at any time, but they hate the usual trade-offs in performance and convenience. If you’re using VMware Horizon View, you’ve already overcome a huge acceptance hurdle, by providing a consistently great experience for knowledge workers, mobile workers and even 3D developers across devices, locations, media and connections.

But sometimes, peripherals don’t behave as expected in a VDI environment, which can lead to JWheeler Composite USB White Paperuser frustration. For example, when someone wants to use a Microsoft LifCam Cinema camera, they naturally expect to just plug it into a USB device and have it auto-connect to their VDI session. But if anyone in your organization has tried to do this, you already know that’s not the case. Fortunately, there is an easy workaround to fix the problem.

Download the white paper for the VMware-tested fix to this common problem.

 


Jeremy Wheeler is an experienced Consulting 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

How to Configure HA LDAP Server with the vRO Active Directory Plug-in Using F5 BIG-IP

By Spas Kaloferov

In this post we will demonstrate how to configure a highly availability (HA) LDAP server to use with the VMware vRealize Orchestrator Server (vRO) Active Directory Plug-in. We will accomplish this task using F5 BIG-IP, which can also be used to achieve LDAP load balancing.

The Problem

The Configure Active Directory Server workflow part of the vRO Active Directory Plug-in allows you to configure a single active directory (AD) host via IP or URL. For example:

SKaloferov_Configure Active Directory

Q: What if we want to connect to multiple AD domain controller (DC) servers to achieve high availability?
A: One way is to create additional DNS records for those servers with the same name, and use that name when running the workflow to add the AD server. DNS will return based on round robin, any of the given AD servers.

Q: Will this prevent me from hitting a DC server that is down or unreachable?
A: No, health checks are not performed to determine if a server is down.

Q: How can I implement a health checking mechanism to determine if a given active directory domain controller server is down, so that this is not returned to vRO?
A: By using F5 BIG-IP Virtual Server configured for LDAP request.

Q: How can I configure that in F5?
A: This is covered in the next chapter.

The Solution

We can configure an F5 BIG-IP device to listen for and satisfy LDAP requests in the same way we configured it for vIDM in an earlier post.

To learn more on how to configure F5 BIG-IP Virtual Server to listen for and satisfy LDAP requests, visit the “How to set vIDM (SSO) LDAP Site-Affinity for vRA“ blog, and read the Method 2: Using F5 BIG-IP chapter.

In this case we will use the same F5 BIG-IP Virtual Server (VS) we created for the vIDM server:

  1. Log in to vRO and navigate to the Workflows tab.
  2. Navigate to Library > Microsoft > Active Directory > Configuration and start the Configure Active Directory Server
  3. In the Active Directory Host IP/URL field provide the FQDN of the VS you created.
  4. Fill in the rest of the input parameters as per your AD requirements.
  5. Click Submit.

SKaloferov_Active Directory Server

Go to the Inventory tab; you should see that the LDAP server has been added, and you should be able to expand and explore the inventory objects coming from that plug-in.

SKaloferov_LDAP

Now, in my case, I have two LDAP servers lying behind the virtual server.

SKaloferov_F5 Standalone

I will shut the first one down and see if vRO will continue to work as expected.

SKaloferov_F5 Standalone Network Map

Right-click the LDAP server and select Reload.

SKaloferov_LDAP Reload

Expand again and explore the LDAP server inventory. Since there is still one LDAP server that can satisfy requests it should work.

Now let’s check to see what happens if we simulate a failure of all the LDAP servers.

SKaloferov_LDAP Pool

Right-click the LDAP server and select Reload.

You should see an error because there are no LDAP servers available to satisfy queries.

SKaloferov_Plugin Error

Additional resources

My dear friend Oliver Leach wrote a blog post on a similar/related topic. Make sure to check it out at: “vRealize Orchestrator – connecting to more than one domain using the Active Directory plugin.”


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.