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Tag Archives: Automation

There’s someone in my lab !?!

dont_panic
It is a rare occurrence, but it is possible that you may see windows open and a cursor moving in a lab that you have just deployed in the VMware Hands-on Labs. Before you reach for the End button to kill the lab, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!”

Does this mean that you have been assigned the same lab that someone else is already using? Based on the way that lab entitlements are managed by the VMware Learning Platform, that is unlikely. Instead, this probably has to do with some new monitoring and proactive failure notification we implemented in a subset of our 2014 labs.

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Hands-on Labs – End of Year 2014

It has been a long time since my last post. Lest you all think we’re just sitting back and waiting for VMworld 2015, I wanted to give an update on what we have going on in the Hands-on Labs and some of the exciting work we are doing to prepare for 2015.

  1. Updated Labs: new builds, wallpaper
  2. Enhanced LabStartup
  3. FAQ
  4. Maintenance

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Hands-on Labs: Differential Replication

blocksForgive me. It has been more than six weeks since my last post. To make up for it, this post is pretty long, weighing in at around 3,000 words. On the plus side, you only need to read all of those words in the example code output you’re really interested.

Part of the reason I have been slacking on the blog front is that our team has been working to get our new content and infrastructure built, upgraded and ready for all of you to enjoy at the VMworlds this year. We have some pretty exciting new labs in coming, as well as a some of VMworld sessions about how we run things and how some people are using our labs: INF1311 – Deploy and Destroy 85K VMs in a week: VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage and SDDC2277 – A New Way of Evaluating VMware Products and Solutions – VMwareHands-on Labs

Got Bandwidth?

There are some cases when you have plenty of bandwidth between your source and target, and other times when that is just not possible. Sill, the data must go through! So, if bandwidth between clouds is on the lower end, or if we are refreshing a version of an existing vPod, our second replication mechanism using rsync may save us quite a bit of time.

It has been said in a variety of different ways that the best I/O is the one you don’t need to do – that is especially true for moving data over great distances and/or via low-bandwidth connections. For the 2013 content year, as we developed this solution we transferred our base vPods using the LFTP method, then used the base pods as “seeds” for an rsync differential replication.

This solution is a combination of the right tools and the right process. Either one used in isolation would not provide us as much benefit as using them together. I know it sounds a bit gestalt and maybe a little cheesy, but I hope you see what I mean when you read through this post.  Continue reading

Hands-on Labs: Seeding the Clouds

This is the first part of a post that I have been promising for quite some time. We have large amounts of data that we need to replicate to many locations. For the 2013 Hands-on Labs “season,” we used two methods to move our data. One of them is generally applicable while the other is more specialized and tailored to our use case.

In this post, I will cover the more general use case because that process is used when we must “seed” a new cloud. I think the more specific use case is the more interesting of the two cases, but we will need to save that for the next post.

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Hands-on Labs: Importing vPods

This is the fourth in my series on managing content for VMware Hands-on Labs. You can find the previous posts in the following locations:

The next phase of our multi-cloud vPod management process is sometimes a data replication, but there are times when we have multiple clouds at the same physical location. In that case, the next phase is simply an import to the target cloud. Doing this by hand is tedious and error-prone, so we employ some PowerCLI to keep us sane.

We use the built-in Import-CIVAppTemplate cmdlet for importing vApp templates. It usually does the job pretty well, but I have noticed a couple of things about the cmdlet that are worth sharing. First off, in my experience, it does not do very well with high latency links. At high latency, its bandwidth utilization is terrible when compared to even the Java-based uploader that is part of the vCD web UI. The capability to script the import process can be a worthwhile tradeoff in many cases. If the source and target clouds are geographically distributed, we usually replicate the export files to a “library” host that is LAN-connected to the target cloud and then perform the import locally anyway. I will go into more on that process in a future post in this series. Beyond that, I find that Import-CIVAppTemplate can use a little help in the resiliency department and I’ve created a little wrapper to help it out:

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Announcing VMware Hands-on Labs BackStage Pass Webinars

Webinar Series VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass

Join our Webinar Series VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass

Friends,

We are announcing the VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass Webinars Series.  These sessions are for Administrators, Architects and IT Managers running VMware environments of any size. Our talks are easygoing , focus on technology and provide tips and tricks to help make your life easier.

The VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass Webinars Series will run the first Wednesday of the month 9:00 AM PDT. All sessions will be recorded and posted on our Hands-on Labs blog if you cannot attend session. Please join us as these are a great opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback and learn how we use our products to run the VMware Hands-on Labs service.

VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass – Webinar Schedule / Abstracts

March 25, 2014

Session #1  VMware vSphere Operations Management 101 – Online Workshop
In our vSphere with Operations Management 101 online workshop, you will learn first-hand how vCenter Operations Manager can help you manage your vSphere environments. We will walk you through the steps to access the live vCenter Operations labs.  Using the Hands-on Labs online portal you will be able try vCenter Operations Manager and chat with our VMware experts who use this product to monitor the Hands-on Labs infrastructure. Attend this online workshop to see how vCenter Operations Manager provides comprehensive visibility into the health and performance of your vSphere environments, helps you improve the efficiency of your virtual infrastructure, increase your consolidation ratios, and how it provides capacity management with “what if” planning capabilities.

This online workshop is targeted at customers who are running vSphere and who are new to vSphere with Operations Management. Registration is closed thanks for your interest.

April 2, 2014

Session #2Backstage with VMware Hands-on Labs – vPod and Data Sync

In this Session Bill Call and Doug Baer will walk you through an overview of the Hands-on Labs infrastructure, design considerations when creating our vApps (vPods) and how we move them across multiple datacenters around the world.

This technical session is for architects, and administrators running datacenters. The content level is intermediate to advanced. Please plan to attend and be prepared to ask questions at the end of the talk.  We also encourage you to start thinking about joining us for VMworld 2014 in San Francisco or Barcelona and visiting us in the Hands-on Labs room. 30 minute talk /presentation with plenty of room for questions and answers.

Backstage with Bill Call and Doug “Trevor”

PDF and MP3 Recording

May 7th 2014

Session #3Backstage with VMware Hands-on Labs Performance Testing Tuning Hands-on Labs Architecture with @jpschnee and Joeyd.

This session will discuss how we tested and tuned our Datacenters for optimal performance. Josh will discuss the tools he used to test our multiple clouds and Joey will go into details on the infrastructure we have deployed and our planning for VMworld. This is a great session for folks getting ready to roll out their Clouds and a great opportunity to ask questions.

Recording and PDF

Session #4 Backstage with VMware Hands-on Labs Project NEE & OneCloud – Delivering Hand-On Labs at Cloud Scale
Wednesday June 4th 2014
Time: 9:00 AM PDT
Length: 60 minutes
We have had tons of requests for more information on Project NEE and more details on how we run and operation our Hands-on Labs Infrastructure. In this session we will have the guys from the ProjectNEE team and OneCloud walk us through the architecture and go into details on how we manage our infrastructure.
The first part of this session we will cover details on Project NEE. The second part of the session will go into OneCloud – our internal Cloud infrastructure service. The OneCloud team will discuss how they use the vCloud Suite – vCenter Operations Manager, vCenter Log Insight and various tools.  This is a great session for folks interested in learning how we run and operated our infrastructure.
Agenda
– What is ProjectNee
– What is OneCloud
– Solving the Delivery Problem
– Operating Cloud at Scale
– Questions and answers
This meeting will be recording for folks that cannot attend.

Hands-on Labs: Exporting vPods

This is the third post in my series on Hands-on Labs behind the scenes. You can find the previous post on comparing cloud catalogs here.

To date, my biggest problem with synchronizing data between vCD instances has been the time required to export vApp templates from one cloud and import them into another. If you want to preserve vApp structure and (most) metadata, there is really only one way into or out of a vCD cloud. Simply having the VMDKs and VMX file from the backend vSphere is not enough. For those who have had to deal with these mechanisms on a regular basis, you know what I mean.

A vPod containing our base infrastructure for VMworld 2013 development looked something like the following. Most of our final vPods are quite a bit larger than this, but this is a pretty standard starting point.

Single Site Base vPod
VM Name vCPU vRAM (GB) Disk (GB)
controlcenter 1 2 20
esx-01a 2 4 2
esx-02a 2 4 2
stgb-l-01a 1 2 68
vc-l-01a 2 4 33
vpodrouter 1 0.25 0.25

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Synchronizing Cloud Catalogs

This post is part 2 in a series on the backend processes we use to manage the Hands-on Labs. The first part is available here.
CatalogSync-Clouds
Before I get into the guts of handling export, replication and import, I think it is important to understand how to identify which templates we need to work with. Sure, starting from scratch is simple: you have a bunch of templates in cloud A that you need to replicate to cloud B. Typically, that is going to take quite a bit of time. The problems involved with initial transfer to the cloud are similar to those encountered when standing up a new DR facility. Namely, how do you “seed” the DR site with the data from production. Shipping a box of tapes and performing a restore is often the least expensive option, but may not provide what you expect if your data change rate is high. That discussion is beyond the scope of this post, but I can come back around to it if there is enough interest.

“Version Control”

Back to the topic at hand. Once we have a set of clouds that host our content, we need to ensure that the templates available in each cloud are the same. As we revise our content, we check in new versions with new names. Each of our labs have a “Lab Code” or “SKU” that we use to identify them internally. For example, our wildly popular NSX lab has a SKU of “HOL-SDC-1303,” which is easier to track than the full name, “VMware NSX Network Virtualization Platform.” The first template for this lab might be called HOL-SDC-1303-v1. When we make a change to that lab, we check it in as HOL-SDC-1303-v2, then HOL-SDC-1303-v3, and so on. This is a rather simplistic practice, but it serves its purpose. Continue reading

Nine New VMware Hands-on Labs – Now Posted Online

Just in time for your Friday morning coffee, we are pleased to announce nine new 2013 VMware Hands-on Labs freshly brewed in the HOL Online portal. The focus today is all about your cloud, how you can automate it and how you can deploy big data applications. Register, sign-in and start taking labs in less than five minutes.

http://labs.hol.vmware.com/

Big Data

HOL-SDC-1309 – vSphere Big Data Extensions

Hadoop has emerged as a powerful new technology that provides users with an inexpensive and efficient way of storing and processing large amounts of data. Did you know that through VMware vSphere Big Data Extensions you can run clustered, scale-out Hadoop applications through vSphere, with only a single virtual appliance to install. Yeah, you should definitely check this out.

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1309

Cloud Automation

HOL-SDC-1307 – VCLOUD AUTOMATION SOLUTIONS

This lab puts all of your favorites together under one roof. Explore vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), Orchestrator, PowerCLI and AutoDeploy working harmoniously to solve real issues that real architects and admins face. Loaded with hours of content, you will need at least two lab sittings to complete all of the modules.

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1307

HOL-SDC-1305 – Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery In Action

VMware offers complete solutions to your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery needs. From Site Recovery Manager to vCenter Heartbeat to vSphere Data Protection to vCenter Heartbeat, this lab has you covered.

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1305

vCloud Suite

The vCloud Suite Use Cases labs have been refreshed with new content for VMworld 2013. The labs in the online catalog have now been updated, as well. These six labs highlight practical ways in which the VMware vCloud Suite empowers you to do more with your Hybrid Cloud solution.

HOL-SDC-1313 – vCloud Suite Use Cases – Infrastructure Provisioning (IaaS)

See how vCloud Director (vCD) and vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) work together to deliver Infrastructure as a Service.

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1313

HOL-SDC-1314 – vCloud Suite Use Cases – Application Provisioning (PaaS)

The VMware vCloud Suite goes well beyond simple infrastructure delivery. Gain hands-on experience deploying and managing a 3-tier web application with App Director and vCloud Automation Center (vCAC).

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1314

HOL-SDC-1315 – vCloud Suite Use Cases – Control & Compliance

How is your posture? This lab will get you straightened out! Control and Compliance can be critical areas of need for today’s IT organizations. Learn the elegant solutions available through the vCloud Suite.

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1315

HOL-SDC-1316 – vCloud Suite Use Cases – Quality of Service

Do you always keep your promises? With the QoS lab you can learn how the vCloud Suite allows you to identify key metrics and then measure your service quality. Set targets and then deliver. Sounds like a plan!

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1316

HOL-SDC-1317 – vCloud Suite Use Cases – Business Critical Applications

How do you ensure that your most critical applications get the high-quality infrastructure that they deserve? Deliver them using vCenter Operations Manager and Hyperic. This lab shows you how.

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1317

HOL-SDC-1318 – vCloud Suite Use Cases – Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

Dive deeper into BC/DR use cases and explore vSphere Replication working in tandem with Site Recovery Manager.

Enroll in HOL-SDC-1318