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White Paper: Aligning vRealize Operations with Business Outcomes

Peter_Tymbelby Peter Tymbel

Over the past few years, I have been designing, deploying, and customizing vRealize Operations (vROps) Manager for many VMware customers. Working with different clients, I noticed a common theme emerge among various business and IT leaders. Many customers are looking for IT reporting that closely resembles their lines of business such as services, departments, applications, teams, and other logical business constructs. Quantifying performance, utilization, and consumption at the logical business unit level is more important to business leaders than at the vSphere Cluster level. This is because in today’s world, services, applications, and business units can span multiple infrastructures from private, through hybrid, to public. Generally, this has been difficult with traditional tools as they are very infrastructure-centric.Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 9.39.21 AM

vRealize Operations Manager is flexible and ready to answer this challenge. This white paper is designed to serve as a comprehensive guide that ties various distinct vROps functionalities into a cohesive solution and enables IT to become more transparent and aligned with business value. The white paper walks through extending vROps to provide business-oriented reporting that empowers business stakeholders to make better decisions and gain insight into various business services in the datacenter or cloud.

Download the White Paper and learn how to:

  1. Define Custom Groups that align your IT with the business structure of your organization.
  2. Create Super Metrics that quantify the way you do business.
  3. Build Custom Dashboards that provide information business wants.
  4. Explore options for automating the entire process.
  5. Enjoy creating your own business-oriented reporting in vROps!

VMware offers Professional Services that can help organizations design, implement, and automate solutions described in this White Paper.


Peter Tymbel is a Senior Consultant with VMware Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) Professional Services practice. He holds a degree in Computer Science from Webster University in St. Louis and various industry certifications. His work focuses on helping VMware customers operationalize their SDDC investment. He publishes a blog on various vROps related topics at vbulosity.com.

VMware Validated Design for SDDC 2.0 – Now Available

Jonathan McDonaldBy Jonathan McDonald

Recently I have been involved in a rather cool project inside VMware, aimed at validating and integrating all the different VMware products. The most interesting customer cases I see are related to this work because oftentimes products work independently without issue—but together can create unique problems.

To be honest, it is really difficult to solve some of the problems when integrating many products together. Whether we are talking about integrating a ticketing system, building a custom dashboard for vRealize Operations Manager, or even building a validation/integration plan for Virtual SAN to add to existing processes, there is always the question, “What would the experts recommend?”

The goal of this project is to provide a reference design for our products, called a VMware Validated Design. The design is a construct that:

  • Is built by expert architects who have many years of experience with the products as well as the integrations
  • Allow repeatable deployment of the end solution, which has been tested to scale
  • Integrates with the development cycle, so if there is an issue with the integration and scale testing, it can be identified quickly and fixed by the developers before the products are released.

All in all, this has been an amazing project that I’ve been excited to work on, and I am happy to be able to finally talk about it publicly!

Introducing the VMware Validated Design for SDDC 2.0

The first of these designs—under development for some time—is the VMware Validated Design for SDDC (Software-Defined Data Center). The first release was not available to the public and only internal to VMware, but on July 21, 2016, version 2.0 was released and is now available to everyone! This design builds not only the foundation for a solid SDDC infrastructure platform using VMware vSphere, Virtual SAN, and VMware NSX, but it builds on that foundation using the vRealize product suite (vRealize Operations Manager, vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Orchestrator, and vRealize Automation).

The VMware Validated Design for SDDC outcome requires a system that enables an IT organization to automate the provisioning of common, repeatable requests and to respond to business needs with more agility and predictability. Traditionally, this has been referred to as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS); however, the VMware Validated Design for SDDC extends the typical IAAS solution to include a broader and more complete IT solution.

The architecture is based on a number of layers and modules, which allows interchangeable components to be part of the end solution or outcome, such as the SDDC. If a particular component design does not fit the business or technical requirements for whatever reason, it should be able to be swapped out for another similar component. The VMware Validated Design for SDDC is one way of putting an architecture together that has been rigorously tested to ensure stability, scalability, and compatibility. Ultimately, however, the system is designed to ensure the desired outcome will be achieved.

The conceptual design is shown in the following diagram:

JMCDonald_VVD Conceptual Design

As you can see, the design brings a lot more than just implementation details. It includes many common “day two” operational tasks such as management and monitoring functions, business continuity, and security.

To simplify such a complex design, it has been broken up into:

  • A high-level Architecture Design
  • A Detailed Design with all the design decisions included
  • Implementation guidance.

Let’s take an in-depth look.

Continue reading

VMware vRealize Automation 7.0 – Finally the most desirable features and capabilities in a VMware Private Cloud Automation Solution have arrived!

By Cory Allen, RadhaKishna (RK) Dasari and Shannon Wilber

Anyone who has previously worked with vRealize Automation 6.x or earlier versions of VMware Cloud Automation Center 5.x, understands historically just how challenging it can be to manage the overall planning, design, deployment and architecture of an end-to-end Private Cloud Automation solution.

Our Professional Services Engineering team over the past few years have worked extensively with VMware engineering organizations and many diverse customer Cloud Automation deployment scenarios globally.  Our team extensively tests and researches the most effective and proven methodologies to implement vRealize Automation as a solution help mitigate and reduce historical implementation challenges.

So guess what?  We are really excited and impressed with the new vRealize Automation 7.0… 🙂

VMware finally has a new Private Cloud Solution and Product with the launch of vRealize Automation 7.0, that delivers a much easier and user friendly deployment method using the new slick vRealize Automation Installation Wizard. This new installation and configuration wizard enables a simplified and centralized deployment unlike anything you have seen in vRealize Automation before. The challenges of the installation and configuration are a thing of the past, having been solved in a whole new way with this new release of vRealize Automation.

In particular, during early testing and validation our team had performed during betas, we quickly became very impressed with this new feature and capability and immediately realized just how valuable the new vRealize Automation Installation would be for efficiency, ease of use, intuitive, and stability for the VMware field delivery teams and customers globally. The most significant change our team observed that was very cool, was that you do not have to do so many manual installation tasks anymore – which can get really tedious during the deployment of a complex highly available VRA solution.

So now let’s get to the best part – where the fun begins – some basic questions and answers.

  1. How has the installation and configuration of vRealize Automation 7.0 changed from previous versions to include 6.x and 5.x?
    Response: Well, good news! The new installation features and capabilities offered include the option to deploy a Minimal Deployment and an Enterprise Deployment.
  • The vRealize Automation Installation Wizard Minimal Deployment offers a simple non-distributed installation without high availability shown here:
    PSE Deployment 1
  • The vRealize Automation Installation Wizard provides an option for an Enterprise Deployment distributed with or without high availability options shown here:

PSE Expanded Deployment

  1. Now I have two options to perform the installation, so what is the big deal?

    Response: That is not all the installation has to offer, we are just getting started! The new installation wizard now has a cool new Gadget called the “Prerequisite Checker” available within the Wizard. This new feature leverages a new IaaS Management Agent to install on each IaaS Hosts so that the “Prerequisite Checker” that can automatically from a central location within the Wizard, automate the installation and configuration of all Microsoft Windows Server IaaS Prerequisites. No longer do architects and engineers have to manually logon to each server, configure the prerequisites, reboot, or worse – forget to install all required prerequisites. The new vRealize Automation Installation Wizard Prerequisite Check Takes care of it all. Just be careful not to get to comfortable here, there is more fun.

The vRealize Installation Wizard Installation Prerequisites Page to Download Management Agents is shown here:

PSE Deployment 3

vRealize Installation Wizard New “Prerequisite Checker” scanning IaaS Hosts within the Enterprise Deployment option:

PSE Deployment 4

The vRealize Installation Wizard New “Prerequisite Checker” identifies Windows IaaS Server Hosts that may not have “Some prerequisites are not met” notification. The wizard has a “Fix” button that enables this cool new tool too automatically fix each IaaS Host with a simple click of a button.

PSE Prerequisite Checker 1
The cool new “
Prerequisite Checker” will notify you when all Windows IaaS Machines have had all prerequisites installed configured. Guess what? If for some reason a Windows IaaS Machine goes offline during the process, simply wait for the machine to come back online and click “Run” or “Fix” a second time for where you last left off. Pretty cool stuff huh?

PSE Prerequisite Checker 2

 

PSE Prerequisite Checker 3

  1. Wow! That is pretty cool. After the “Prerequisite Checker” is done completing installation tasks, what other cool automated and fancy things can vRealize Automation 7.0 do? What about authoring infrastructure or applications? Has anything changed to enable an easier and more streamlined method for developing infrastructure and applications?Response: Check out the new (and unified) blueprint design canvas for authoring infrastructure virtual machines and applications with Machine Types and Software Components which now include Application Services as standard service. The new blueprint designer is probably the coolest, and most significant, new feature that has been implemented that allows for building simple virtual machines to complex application based blueprints all within a single design canvas.

New Unified Blueprint Design Canvas for Authoring Infrastructure and Applications

PSE Unified Blueprint Design

  1. Now that the first question has been addressed for new unified blueprints, tell me how Application services works with the new service authoring model.Response: Here is an overview of how the new Application Services works compared to previous versions of vRealize Automation Application Services in the 6.x versions:Application Services formerly Application Director used to be an optional application blueprint authoring feature that was a separate, external virtual appliance that had to be manually deployed, configured, and integrated with vRealize Automation 6.x environments. Following the former deployment methods in older Application Services versions, application blueprints had to be manually created as a separate component from single and multi-machine blueprints in vRealize Automation 6.x. Now in vRealize Automation 7.0, Application Services is a standard feature that is offered as part of the overall deployment and is available within the unified blueprint. Application services is no longer a separate virtual appliance or external component. Application Services, which now includes Software Components, have integrated authoring capabilities in the vRealize Automation 7.0. Application Services and runs as a service on each vRealize Automation 7.0 appliances, scaling as appliances are added into the overall scalable architecture.

New Capabilities to Create Applications and Software Components in the Unified Blueprint

PSE Unified Blueprint 2

VMware’s customers will be very impressed that they can now create multi-tier blueprints with combined infrastructure and application dependencies to author software components.

Create a Software Component such as an Apache Web Server Service

PSE Unified Blueprint 3

  1. Wow that is very cool, I can now create infrastructure virtual machines, create Software Components and then add my applications by dragging and dropping my applications onto the design canvas? How can I add networking or security policies to my unified blueprints?Response: In addition, another super cool new feature and capability with the unified blueprint is the option to integrate NSX On-Demand Networking and Security components into these blueprints. This is a radical new networking and security enhancement within the blueprint design canvas that allows authoring of services all in one single unified designer within vRealize Automation 7.0 that can include NSX features and Network Components to include:
  • On-Demand Private Networks
  • On-Demand NAT Networks
  • On-Demand Routed Networks

Security Components:

  • On-Demand Security Groups
  • Existing Security Groups
  • Security Tags

New Blueprint with NSX On-Demand Networking and Security “Drag & Drop” Authoring Functionality

PSE Unified Blueprint 4


Cory AllenCory Allen has been in the IT world for over 18 years and is a Technical Solutions Architect for VMware. He has been with VMware since June of 2015 working on the PSE Cloud Automation Team. Before coming to VMware, he was with Parker Kannifin where he was the Hybrid Cloud Architect where his main task was to Design and Build a Private Internal Cloud that was fully automated and able to scale to the whole organization worldwide.

RK DasariRadhaKrishna (RK) Dasari is a Technical Solutions Architect for the Professional Services Engineering team. He specializes in developing architecture designs and service kits for vRealize Automation and vCloud Air. Prior to VMware, RK had a career spanning thirteen years at Dell as a software developer, software architect and pre-sales solutions architect.

Shannon WilberShannon Wilber is a Technical Solution Architect at VMware with eighteen years of information technology experience with architecture design, implementations and infrastructure management for commercial and enterprise scale IT solutions for Software Defined Data Centers and Hybrid Cloud environments. Proven team leadership and technical experience to guide complex IT projects through the planning, design, implementation, migration and optimization stages for diverse IT solutions for customers globally. Shannon is also a VMware Certified Professional (VCP5-DCV), EMC Proven Professional and EMC Certified Cloud Infrastructure Specialist. 

VDI Current Capacity Details

Anand Vaneswaran

By Anand Vaneswaran

In my previous post, I provided instructions on constructing a high-level “at-a-glance” VDI dashboard in vRealize Operations for Horizon, one that would aid in troubleshooting scenarios. In the second of this three-part blog series, I will be talking about constructing a custom dashboard that will take a holistic view of my vSphere HA clusters that run my VDI workloads in an effort to understand current capacity. The ultimate objective would be to place myself in a better position in not only understanding my current capacity, but I better hope that these stats help me identify trends to be able to help me forecast capacity. In this example, I’m going to try to gain information on the following:

  • Total number of running hosts
  • Total number of running VMs
  • VM-LUN densities
  • Usable RAM capacity (in a N+1 cluster configuration)
  • vCPU to pCPU density (in a N+1 cluster configuration)
  • Total disk space used in percentage.

You can either follow my lead and recreate this dashboard step-by-step, or simply use this as a guide and create a dashboard of your own for the most important capacity metrics you care about. In my environment, I have five (5) clusters comprising of full-clone VDI machines and three (3) clusters comprising of linked-clone VDI machines. I have decided to incorporate eight (8) “Generic Scoreboard” widgets in a two-column custom dashboard. I’m going to populate each of these “Generic Scoreboard” widgets with the relevant stats described above.

anand_vdi_1

Once my widgets have been imported, I will rearrange my dashboard so that the left side of the screen occupies full-clone clusters and the right side of the screen occupies linked-clone clusters. Now, as part of this exercise I determined that I needed to create super metrics to calculate the following metrics:

  • VM-LUN densities
  • Usable RAM capacity (in a N+1 cluster configuration)
  • vCPU to pCPU density (in a N+1 cluster configuration)
  • Total disk space used in percentage

With that being said, let’s begin! The first super metric I will create will be called SM – Cluster LUN Density. I’m going to design my super metric with the following formula:

sum(This Resource:Deployed|Count Distinct VM)/sum(This Resource:Summary|Total Number of Datastores)

anand_vdi_2

In this super metric I will attempt to find out how many VMs reside in my datastores on average. The objective is to make sure I’m abiding by the recommended configuration maximums of allowing a certain number of virtual machines to reside on my VMFS volume.

The next super metric I will create is called SM – Cluster N+1 RAM Usable. I want to calculate the usable RAM in a cluster in an N+1 configuration. The formula is as follows:

(((sum(This Resource:Memory|Usable Memory (KB)/sum(This Resource:Summary/Number of Running Hosts))*.80)*(sum(This Resource:Summary/Number of Running Hosts)-1))/10458576

anand_vdi_3

Okay, so clearly there is a lot going on in this formula. Allow me to try to break it down and explain what is happening under the hood. I’m calculating this stat for an entire cluster. So what I will do is take the usable memory metric (installed) under the Cluster Compute Resource Kind. Then I will divide that number by the total number of running hosts to give me the average usable memory per host. But hang on, there are two caveats here that I need to take into consideration if I want an accurate representation of the true overall usage in my environment:

1)      I don’t think I want my hosts running at more than 80 percent capacity when it
comes to RAM utilization. I always want to leave a little buffer. So my utilization factor will be 80 percent or .8.

2)      I always want to account for the failure of a single host (in some environments, you might want to factor in the failure of two hosts) in my cluster design so that compute capabilities for running VMs are not compromised in the event of a host failure.  I’ll
want to incorporate this N+1 cluster configuration design in my formula.

So, I will take the result of my overall usable, or installed, memory (in KB) for the cluster, divide that by the number of running hosts on said cluster, then multiply that result by the .8 utilization factor to arrive at a number – let’s call it x – this is the amount of real usable memory I have for the cluster. Next, I’m going to take x, then multiply the total number of hosts minus 1, which will give me y. This will take into account my N+1 configuration. Finally I’m going to take y, still in KB, and divide it by (1024×1024) to convert it to GB and get my final result, z.

The next super metric I will create is called SM – Cluster N+1 vCPU to Core Ratio. The formula is as follows:

sum(This Resource:Summary|Number of vCPUs on Powered On VMs)/((sum(This Resource:CPU Usage|Provisioned CPU Cores)/sum(This Resource:Summary|Total Number of Hosts))*(sum(This Resource:Summary|Total Number of Hosts)-1))

anand_vdi_4

anand_vdi_5

This formula is fairly self-explanatory. I’m taking the total space used for that datastore cluster and dividing that by the total capacity of that datastore cluster. This is going to give me a number greater than 0 and less than 1, so I’m going to multiply this number by 100 to give me a percentage output.

Once I have the super metrics I want, I want to attach these super metrics to a package called SM – Cluster SuperMetrics.

anand_vdi_6

The next step would be to tie this package to current Cluster resources as well as Cluster resources that will be discovered in the future. Navigate to Environment > Environment Overview > Resource Kinds > Cluster Compute Resource. Shift-select the resources you want to edit, and click on Edit Resource.

anand_vdi_7

Click the checkbox to enable “Super Metric Package, and from the drop-down select SM – Cluster SuperMetrics.

anand_vdi_8

To ensure that this SuperMetric package is automatically attached to future Clusters that are discovered, navigate to Environment > Configuration > Resource Kind Defaults. Click on Cluster Compute Resource, and on the right pane select SM – Cluster SuperMetrics as the Super Metric Package.

anand_vdi_9

Now that we have created our super metrics and attached the super metric package to the appropriate resources, we are now ready to begin editing our “Generic Scoreboard” widgets. I will tell you how to edit two widgets (one for a full-clone cluster and one for a linked-clone cluster) with the appropriate data and show its output. We will then want to replicate the same procedures to ensure that we are hitting every unique full clone and linked clone cluster. Here is an example of what the widget for a full-clone cluster should look like:

anand_vdi_10

And here’s an example of what a widget for a linked-clone cluster should look like:

anand_vdi_11

Once we replicate the same process and account for all of our clusters, our end-state dashboard should resemble something like this:

anand_vdi_12

And we are done. A few takeaways from this lesson:

  • We delved into the concept of super metrics in this tutorial. Super metrics are awesome resources that allow you the ability to manipulate metrics and display just the data you want to.  In our examples we created some fairly involving formulas, but a very simple example for why a super metric can be particularly useful would be memory. vRealize Operations Manager displays memory metrics in KB, but how do we get it to display in GB? Super metrics are your solution here.
  • Obviously, every environment is configured differently and therefore behaves differently, so you will want to tailor the dashboards and widgets according to your environment needs, but at the very least the above examples can be a good starting point to build your own widgets/dashboards.

In my next tutorial, I will walk through the steps for creating a high-level “at-a-glance” VDI dashboard that your operations command center team can monitor. With most organizations, IT issues are categorized on a severity basis that are then assigned to the appropriate parties by a central team that runs point on issue resolution by coordinating with different departments.  What happens if a Severity 1 issue happens to afflict your VDI environment? How are these folks supposed to know what to look for before placing that phone call to you? This upcoming dashboard will make it very easy. Stay tuned!!


Anand Vaneswaran is a Senior Technology Consultant with the End User Computing group at VMware. He is an expert in VMware Horizon (with View), VMware ThinApp, VMware vCenter Operations Manager, VMware vCenter Operations Manager for Horizon, and VMware Horizon Workspace. Outside of technology, his hobbies include filmmaking, sports, and traveling.