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Author Archives: juliap

VMware Infrastructure Navigator

Antonin_PerronBy Antonin Perron

Have you ever questioned yourself about the environment you are responsible for and wondered how your servers and applications interact?

VMware Infrastructure Navigator (VIN) is a very powerful tool within VMware’s Cloud Management Platform that can answer such questions and provide application dependency mappings across your environment. Unfortunately, VIN is often forgotten in discussions. Why? Great question! VMware needs to do a better job of showing its value and ensuring our customers utilize this forgotten gem in our toolset. Application dependencies mapping is lacking from competitive Cloud Management offerings, so VIN is a differentiator that could provide tremendous value when trying to deploy and secure applications.

Background

I have had various conversations with customers who are trying to find a quick and easy way to understand their applications workflow and how their environments are actually communicating at various levels, from a virtual and physical standpoint. Leveraging VIN will help in IT consolidation projects, workload migrations, defining firewall flows, and understanding communication from and to the virtual and physical environments.

Used in conjunction with other VMware products, VIN will help with architecture and design. As an example, when defining a disaster recovery (DR) fail-over plan within Site Recovery manager, knowing the applications workflow will help build that plan and prioritize application recovery by grouping the virtual machines. Finally, leveraging the network information (i.e. IPs, ports, services, etc.) captured by VIN will help define NSX distributed firewall (DFW) rules and implement micro-segmentation.

Benefits

Virtual Infrastructure Administrators can leverage visibility of day-to-day operational management for quicker problem triage, proactive virtual environment resource planning, managing changes, accurate business continuity, recovery planning, and more.

VIN is provided in OVA format (single virtual machine appliance) and has a pre-built application database with easy and accurate labeling of application names and version numbers.

Application relationships extend to virtual machines, hosts, clusters, datastore folders, and virtual networks. VIN can map one hop away to gather information and offers the dependencies via maps and tabular presentations. It is also possible to extract the database information via PowerShell to an Excel format, helping you with internal and external communications. The following diagram shows incoming and outgoing dependencies for each object in the tree. Dependencies from the tabular and maps are exportable to a CSV format.

APerron_VDP CSV

VIN Architecture and System Requirements

VIN registers with a vCenter server and installs a plug-in in the vSphere Web Client. It probes guest virtual machines with supported operating systems that are running compatible versions of VMware tools. Virtual machines must be powered on and accessible for VIN to gather the information. Data is inserted into the vCenter Inventory service with a default retention period of 72 hours, which can be extended if necessary.

APerron_Infrastructure Navigator Virtual Appliance

User-Defined Services and Application Definitions 

Services that are not part of the vCenter Infrastructure Navigator database are categorized as unknown services. VIN allows you to custom define unknown services within the database. Once defined, these services will be utilized for all discovered instances of the application.

From a VIN perspective, the manual application feature allows you to mark a collection of virtual machines with an application name. From a vCenter Operations Manager standpoint, it can then show the health of that application group, rather than individual virtual machines.

APerron_Infrastructure Navigator Virtual Manage Appliance

APerron_vCenter Operations Manager

VMware NSX and VIN

As mentioned, application definitions, customized services, and all the other information contained in VIN can help with NSX deployments. Using VIN will help to define security groups, tags, and IP sets necessary to develop micro-segmentation rules.

Similar to application definitions, security groups are a collection of assets or grouping objects in the vSphere inventory. They can be used to allow or deny security policies for applications and or solutions. A subset of virtual machines will belong to the same security group and can then be used in Source and/or Destination fields or be applied to other fields of DFW policy rules.

APerron_NSX Manager

Having the network information of all objects helps when defining a collection of IP addresses necessary to create the IP sets.

APerron_vSphere Web Client

For example, security tags can be assigned to virtual machines using the services, user-defined services, or the application definitions from VIN, for use in NSX DFW rules.

APerron_vSphere Web Client Manage

Important Links

Community
http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/server/vcenter/infrastructurenavigator

Product documentation:
https://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vcenter-infrastructure-navigator-pubs.html


Antonin Perron is a Technical Account Manager for VMware based in Ontario, Canada. He has over 17 years of IT experience filling various roles and after 12 years, 5 overseas deployments as a Communications Specialist in the Canadian Armed Forces, he joined VMware in 2015. He works with Shared Services Canada, Government of Canada, as the only one VMware resource on site and he his using experience to provide technical guidance, optimization recommendations to facilitate their workload migration across their 43 departments.

How to Prepare for Your VCP6 Exam

Daniel_Mizrahi_Pic2By Daniel Mizrahi

For many, VCP training and examinations can be a complex, nerve-racking process that often leads to the question, “Where do I start?” If you find yourself already asking this question, you came to the right blog! I will outline my recent experience, which will guide you through your VCP6 in the most efficient and effective way possible.

First, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the different types of certifications and learning paths by visiting the VMware Certification webpage.

I chose the Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV) track accompanied by an On Demand training course. The DCV certification gave me the tools I needed to perform my role here at VMware as a technical account manager. The On Demand course gave me the scheduling flexibility I needed to complete the training. It includes a series of lectures you can complete at any time, and a pre-built lab environment—all available for 45 days!

Regardless of the VCP option and learning path you choose, you’ll be required to take the online vSphere 6 Foundations Exam prior to your proctored VCP examination. Do not underestimate the Foundations Exam. It is difficult and designed to prepare you to successfully complete your VCP exam. You will need to take the online vSphere 6 Foundations Exam Prep course to fill in any gaps in the training course and better prepare yourself for the exam.

I highly recommend the following as best practices during examinations:

  • Spend more time reading questions than answering them
  • Focus on finding incorrect answers before looking for the correct one
  • Flag questions you are uncertain about, and return to them later
  • Use all or most of the allotted time for the exam

Treat your VCP certification as a project, and use the following checklist as a tracker:

I am approaching the one-year mark in my VMware career and, as required, I have recently passed my VCP6 exam. The process outlined above worked for me and will work for you. Some things that may seem overwhelming now will actually be very simple.

If you are still concerned, try not to worry. Clarity will come naturally when you follow the process. Add a little bit of time to the equation and, before you know it, you’ll have your VCP!


As a TAM, Daniel helps drive the implementation of VMware products and service offerings while cultivating customer use cases and feedback. He collaborates with key stakeholders and technical teams to ensure a successful implementation of the VMware SDDC by creating processes that reinforce best practices.

Virtualize SAP HANA with Confidence in Application Availability

Damian_Bieniek

By Damian Bieniek

The SAP HANA platform has been surging in popularity, especially since support for virtualization in production environments on VMware vSphere® 5.5 was announced just a year and a half ago. And it’s no wonder, as this in-memory platform helps you run analytics applications smarter, business processes faster, and data infrastructures simpler…so you can really compete in the new digital economy.

However, minimizing the downtime associated with application failures within virtual machines (VMs) has posed a challenge for some organizations considering virtualizing a business-critical application like SAP HANA. But no more.

As a part of my role as a VMware TAM, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a cross-organizational SAP/VERITAS/VMware team that’s focused on improving virtualization performance for SAP HANA. The team recently released a paper called, “Virtualizing SAP HANA with Confidence using Veritas™ ApplicationHA.” In it, you will learn how you can operate SAP HANA in virtual environments with extremely high application availability.

Through integration with VMware vCenter Server™ and Veritas™ Operations Manager, ApplicationHA significantly enhances application visibility and manageability in VMware virtual SAP HANA environments. It does this by allowing you to gain visibility and control of SAP HANA and other applications inside VMware VMs to minimize the risks associated with application downtime by monitoring not only the VMs, but also the applications running inside them. When appropriate, it coordinates with the VM to restart. Other benefits include:

  • Increased availability for SAP HANA environments with automated application recovery
  • No compromise on advanced VMware functionality
  • Simple administration and full integration with vCenter reduces training costs and the need for additional tools
  • Integration with image restoration software

Click here to download your copy.

Click here to learn more about VMware TAM services.


Before joining VMware Damian was acting as a Senior Consultant in the SAP Basis Team of a SAP Managed Services Provider and worked for several companies as Consultant SAP Basis and SAP Business Intelligence. His responsibility was to plan, design and implement SAP Solution Landscapes for his Customers as well as Troubleshooting and Support.

 

Network Troubleshooting with VMware Native Tools

Petr McAllisterBy Petr McAllister

Recently, a network team of one of my customers expressed interest in getting gradual statistics of workloads in the virtual environment. Any network interface cards (NICs) – physical or virtual – were under the definition of virtual environment. However, the focus was more on physical uplinks.

In this post we will look at the steps of collecting the network stats in vSphere environments by moving from very specific stats to a more aggregated analysis. In real life situations, it’s very likely that you’ll have to follow the opposite path – look at the environment from 30 thousand feet and then get closer and watch the item that concerns you.

So, in our troubleshooting scenario, we connect directly to one of the hosts using SSH protocol. You always have a choice of running commands locally on the host or using centralized tools called vSphere Management Assistant (vMA). (Details on the tool can be found here: https://blogs.vmware.com/kb/2010/03/what-is-the-vsphere-management-assistant-vma.html.)

After connecting to the host, we issue the following command: “esxcli network nic list”. This returns the list of physical NICs that are installed on this specific host.

PMcAllister Network NIC List

After checking with the network team and figuring out what exact NIC is the point of interest, we could execute “ethtool –S <NIC Name>” command to get the detailed stats. Here is a possible output:

PMcAllister ETH Tool

Next, we wanted to see life statistics of all physical and virtual NICs on the host in real time. So we started esxtop utility (if you use vMA it will be ‘resxtop’). To switch to the network data, you simply hit the letter “n”. To adjust columns displayed, the letter “f” is used, and then fields can be chosen. A more detailed description of esxtop can be found at Duncan Epping’s blog at http://www.yellow-bricks.com/esxtop/

PMcAllister Port ID

As you can see, stats for both physical and virtual are displayed here. If you’re interested in what “Shadow of vmnicX” lines are – they’re simply heartbeat instances of uplink ports to monitor these uplinks. More details are in William Lam’s blog – http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2013/01/what-are-shadow-of-vmnic-in-esxtop.html

Now to the next question. Let’s say there is a significant number of hosts and we are required to check network stats on all those hosts. Connecting to each of those hosts and running ‘esxtop’ would be a time-consuming operation. Is there a way to aggregate this information and look at summarized numbers?

Fortunately, my customer owns and runs vRealize Operations Manager 6. I can’t thank my colleague enough who demonstrated to my customer how easy it is to get the following screen in vRealize Operations Manager 6.

Just follow these three simple steps after you log in to vRealize Operations 6:

  • Select the object on the left (can be your whole environment, data center, cluster, etc.)
  • Click on ‘Details’ tab at the top right
  • Select ‘Host Network Diagnose List’ in the middle of the screen

That’s it – you have a summary screen of exactly the same stats that every host would individually report through ‘esxtop’ utility. Isn’t it wonderful?

PMcAllister vRealize Operations Manager

As was mentioned at the beginning of this article, you can go in an opposite direction – look at the vRealize Operations report, select a specific host, and then go to command line at this host and run additional commands there.

Also, we must mention here that VMware Virtual Distributed switch (vDS) provides you with the ability to supply its stats through Netflow protocol. More details can be found here: https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2011/08/vsphere-5-new-networking-features-netflow.html

To learn more about using vRealize Operations Manager, use the FREE VMware Hands-on-Labs at http://labs.hol.vmware.com/. Specifically, “HOL-SDC-1610 Virtualization 101: vSphere with Operations Management 6” and “HOL-SDC-1602 vSphere with Operations Management 6: Advanced Topics.”


Petr McAllister is a VMware Technical Account Manager based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Use Your Shelf Space for Industry Awards…Not Unused Software

Why the VMware America’s TAM organization is rated higher than the Apple iPhone

By Martha Bellens-Martin

Martha BellensMartinAfter being in this business for more than 25 years, I have worked with hundreds of customers—most of them from a pre-sales perspective. That means I have spent a lot of time working with organizations to help them envision how a proposed solution will lower risk and address their pain points.

But one of my personal pain points was walking away after the sale and watching the software gather dust on a shelf. Sometimes it was because the customer lacked the internal capabilities to successfully implement the solution. Sometimes it was because they were not able to fully leverage all of the features that would allow them to realize the power of the whole solution. And sometimes it was because the goals of the business simply changed direction. Whatever the reason, it still bothered me to see those well-thought-out solutions turning into shelf ware.

Now that I have joined the VMware America’s TAM organization, I have the opportunity to make sure those software boxes never hit the shelves. That’s because the TAM organization is completely focused on making sure you realize all the benefits of the software you have purchased from VMware. If you have never worked with a TAM, it might be difficult to envision what the TAM will do for your organization. Of course everything your TAM does would be hard to capture in a single blog post, but the main objectives of your TAM can be summed up with the following points.

1. Ensure you are getting the most value from your solution

Pre-sales is focused on helping you identify a solution to your problems. After the sale, your TAM continues to work with you to make sure the licenses you purchased are delivering the value you envisioned before the sale. We start the process by helping you plan implementation and training as well as working with you to ensure the project aligns to your original goals. And over the course of our engagement, we help make sure the alignment stays in place.

2. Find new ways that your VMware solution can impact the whole business

While you may have purchased a VMware solution for one reason, your TAM can show you ways that your purchase can help the business in other ways. In fact, one of your TAM’s main objectives is to look at how VMware can benefit your business as a whole. TAMs often have a unique perspective on your business due to the fact that they are approaching it with fresh eyes, from a perspective that sees other businesses and other industries.

3. Turn you into an enthusiastic VMware ambassador

Ensuring you are satisfied and receiving the maximum value for your solution helps you, but it also helps us, too. We work hard to ensure your solution exceeds your expectations so you will be thrilled to recommend VMware and VMware TAMs to your network.

VMware TAMs work hard to accomplish all of this, and it pays off for our customers. The way we know it is working is by looking at our Net Promoter Scores (NPS). If you’re not familiar with the NPS benchmark, it is calculated using the answer to a single question: “How likely is it you would recommend a VMware America TAM to a friend or colleague?” (You can visit www.netpromoter.com/know for more details.)

We are very proud of the fact that our TAMs have received an NPS of 67.5 percent. To put that in perspective, one of the most popular and beloved tech gadgets in recent history—the Apple iPhone—has an NPS of 64 percent.*

Find out for yourself why our customers love us more than the Apple iPhone. Contact VMware to learn about how you can tap the expertise of your own VMware TAM.

*www.npsbenchmarks.com/apple_iphone



Martha manages and leads a team of Technical Account Managers for VMware. Martha believes, “too often we see companies make a significant purchase of a solution yet stumble in the implementation or even the full realization of the power of the whole solution.” Martha Bellens-Martin has worked in the Software Solutions industry since 1990, primarily focused on demonstrating Software Solutions to help businesses run more efficiently, and effectively and to drive value to the bottom line. Her specialties include Effective Technical Presentations and Coaching of Technical Resources. Connect with her on
LinkedIn.