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SDDC Architectures: Faster and Reliable BCDR for your cloud using NSX, SRM and vRealize Suite

This is a repost from Hany Michael‘s personal blog, Hypervizor.com.

Nearly six years ago, when VMware first introduced Site Recovery Manager (SRM), it was quite a big hit in the world of enterprise customers. Being a VMware customer myself at that time, I remember how this represented a significant improvement in how we handle our DR scenarios. Specifically, we shifted from long and exhausting runbooks full of manual instructions to simply constructed recovery plans. In fact, I was so grateful for this solution that I immediately started evangelizing about it and created a full series of videos, covering everything from installation all the way to configuration.

Fast-forward 6 years, and the conversations that I have with my customers are completely different now. Disaster recovery for them is already a given. SRM is a part of almost every environment that I have seen over my past 5 years at VMware, and customers use it on regular basis for planned or unplanned VM recovery. What has changed since then, and what do customers require as we stand today are, hopefully, that questions that this blog post and the associated reference architecture will provide the answer to.

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Abu Dhabi Department of Transport Accelerates IT Service Delivery

by Rich Bourdeau

Abu Dhabi DOTThe Abu Dhabi Department of Transport (DoT) was established to deliver an effective transport system that contributes to the economic growth, quality of life and environmental sustainability of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. DoT serves the public interest by enhancing mobility and delivering safe, secure and environmentally responsible aviation, maritime, public transport and highways sectors. With the expansion of  the groups they needed to support as well as their service offerings, the ICT group was looking to implement a more dynamic IT infrastructure that would reduce downtime and make it more effective to manager their resources.

This Abu Dhabi Department of Transport case study will provide you with insights about how VMware ‘s software defined services and cloud management capabilities helped the accelerate service delivery times while at the same time driving more efficient use of their IT infrastructure.  An even shorter summary of their story is provided below.

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Exploring the vRealize Automation 6.1+ Content Pack for Log Insight

The recently released vRealize Automation 6.1+ Content Pack was designed based on versions 6.1 and 6.2. See the announcement made by Steve Flanders last week.

Given the many different possible components of a vRealize Automation implementation, collecting and collating logs can be a challenge. This content pack will help bring views of all logs together and provide a view across all components within a single UI and query tool. In this article, we will explore the details of the content pack in more depth.  The content pack includes dashboards for the following:

  1. General Overview – Get an overall sense of usage and event volume across components
  2. General Problems – Queries and alerts to help you keep your vRealize Automation environment running smoothly and troubleshoot specific issues
  3. SSO – For the Identity VA, the vCenter embedded SSO, or SSO installed on Windows, to capture authentication logs and errors
  4. vRealize Automation Appliance – Events by tenant, CAFE sub-components, and for service catalog
  5. vRealize Automation IaaS – Queries for the IaaS components running on one or more Windows hosts in your vRealize Automation environment, and IaaS workflow
  6. vRealize Automation Tomcat – General Tomcat log overview
  7. vRealize Automation Notification – Warnings specific to notification service by recipients, tenants, business groups
  8. Application Services – Events by node, task, and user for application services
  9. Telemetry (for vRealize Automation 6.2+ only) – Queries designed to extract specific system configuration information over time
  10. vRealize Orchestrator – Content for vRealize Orchestrator which can be from the embedded instance on the vRealize Automation virtual appliance, or an external instance
  11. vRealize Code Stream – Content for Code Stream and the JFrog Artifactory instance, which is included with it

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Arista Network Log Management with vRealize Log Insight Content Pack

One of the biggest challenges for virtual and network administrators is monitoring and analyzing the status of their network; specifically for detecting any impacts to their virtual servers. The Arista Networks Log Insight Content Pack gives operators a powerful tool to monitor their Arista network with vSphere specific event triggers.

Arista Networks Content Pack

Display of network related vMotion events

Using the powerful graphing and log analysis tools of Log Insight, an operator can see trends and issues, as well as trigger alerts on network events. Having both server and network events logged in the same tool allows an administrator to correlate events that happened, to aid in troubleshooting and root cause analysis.

The Arista Content Pack provides a number of dashboards including an event overview, interface errors/counters, virtualization information, inventory/platform information, and routing.  Event overview gives a summarized view of the events that have been recorded on the network.  Interface errors and counters give interface statistics not normally available in a logging tool, but are enabled through the extensibility of the Arista EOS platform.  The virtualization dashboard leverages the Arista VMtracer feature to track VM events such as vMotion, with what the network sees.

Inventory/platform information displays software versions, serial numbers, and power statistics for the Arista devices.  The routing dashboard reports on BGP/OSPF errors.  The richness of these dashboards is due to both the extensibility of Arista EOS, and the flexibility of vRealize Log Insight.  Together, these tools give administrators a valuable tool in monitoring and troubleshooting their networks in a virtualized environment.

The Arista Networks Content Pack requires a minimum Arista EOS version 4.13.8, and Log Insight 2.0 or greater.

vRealize Automation Content Pack for Log Insight Now Available!

I am happy to announce that the vRealize Automation content pack for Log Insight is now available! You may be wondering why the announcement given that a vCloud Automation Center content pack for Log Insight has been out for some time now. Is this just a rebranding update? No. This is a major update to the content pack!

In this post, I would like to discuss the changes in the new vRealize Automation content pack as well as prerequisite and configuration information required to use the content pack.

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Catching up with Cricket World Cup 2015 using vRealize Operations Manager 6.0

This post is to add a little fun to how we use the VMware management solutions in our day to day lives at our workplaces. We know the power of vRealize Operations Manager that allows us to capture structured and unstructured data from literally any object in your datacenter, run smart analytics on this data and then produce meaningful output based on which you can take some intelligent decisions, which would help IT and ultimately your business. While all this helps the IT organization to keep the lights on as well as drive new initiatives, I thought about using the same solution to bring in some fun in the daily life of an IT admin.

With this, let’s move our discussion to cricket. For those who do not know, cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players each on a field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. Each team takes its turn to bat, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields. Each turn is known as an innings. Cricket was first played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, it had developed to be the national sport of England. The expansion of the British Empire led to cricket being played overseas and by the mid-19th century, the first international match was held. ICC, the game’s governing body, has 10 full members. The game is most popular in Australia, New Zealand, England, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies and Southern Africa.

Like soccer, cricket has it’s own world cup and it happens every four years. In the year 2011, India won the championship and now, the 2015 World Cup is already on it’s way. It started on the Valentine’s Day and would run for 49 days. Since I am a big fan of the game, I used vRealize Operations Manager to create a dashboard which would give me the insights into each game of cricket happening in this tournament. This is how my dashboard looks like:

WC15

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Network Log Management with vRealize Log Insight Content Packs

This blog post is authored by Bill Erdman and Sudhir Bhatti.

The use of unstructured data, for better understanding operational issues within the data center infrastructure, is fast becoming a mainstream technology. And where this data was once relegated to the propeller heads, who had intimate tribal knowledge of “machine generated data,” given the ability to collect this data at scale, slice and dice the data into meaningful trends, graphs, and events, there is a broader applicability of this unstructured data, for today’s operation management teams.

The key enabler is the management application itself, and its ability to collect multi-terabits of data, filter for significant activities, structure for human intelligence, and to report up into other systems in the form of events, alerts, and key trend indicators. vRealize Log Insight, as one of the core vRealize Operations products from VMware, is a key product here.

NSX vSphere Dashboard - Log Insight Content Pack

Network Log Management  - NSX for vSphere Overview Dashboard 

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How to Work with Capacity Projects – vRealize Operations Tech Tips #10

In our last blog post in the Tech Tips series, we talked about managing capacity in the virtual environment, which has long been a critical area for vSphere administrators.  It has also been, at times, a very challenging area!

As you saw, that is now significantly simplified and enhanced with vRealize Operations through the use of Capacity Projects. Capacity Projects allow you to simulate and model capacity changes to the environment. Projects can be made up of one or more capacity scenarios (Is there new demand planned and new resources being added?) and can also have different statuses (planned or committed).  These flexible projects will help you drive a better overall capacity plan for your environment.

Let’s take a look at how the Project UI works as we walk through creating two Capacity Projects in the project builder and instantly visualize their impact.  Then, from the Projects view, learn how to look at the impact of one or more projects on capacity within the environment.  We will also look at changing the status of a Project to “committed” to see how that impacts the capacity information on the “Time Remaining” analysis badge page.

vRealize Code Stream – Governance and Visibility into the Release Process

by Rich BourdeauvRealize Code Stream Release Train

Automation is what makes the software delivery process go faster, but faster does not guarantee the software will be more stable and reliable.  Governance policies are the rails that assure your release train stays on track and that the software delivered will run reliably.

Throughout the release delivery process you will also want visibility into the status of your release to allow authorized users to rapidly take corrective action keeping your release train on schedule.  Enhanced visibility also allows for better communication and collaboration across teams and less finger pointing if something should go wrong.

Governance of the Release Delivery Process

Let’s explore how vRealize Code Stream provides the governance controls necessary to complement an automated delivery process.  Code Stream has two types of governance policies.  The policies specified directly in Code Stream we will refer to as “Native” governance policies. And the policies specified in the tools that Code Stream invokes will be referred to as “Inherited” governance policies.

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Creating DISA STIG Checklists with vRealize Configuration Manager

In my previous life as an InfoSec guy, I was responsible for assessing, enforcing, and ensuring continuous compliance with all the various baselines for which my organization was responsible. At the forefront of this list were a long list of DISA STIGs (Defense Information Systems Agency Security Technical Implementation Guides) – a daunting task in any size environment with any size staff. Of course, this particular environment was fairly large, and the information assurance technical staff consisted basically of me. So, automating these processes became something of a necessity.

This is where one of VMware vRealize Configuration Manager comes in. This gem of a tool provides unified, cross-platform configuration and compliance management, and enforcement of over 80,000 distinct controls from a single interface, complete with fully customizable reports, dashboards, and a whole host of other fun features.

Anyway, enough sales. On to the how-to.

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