Brisbane VMUG – October 2022

The October 2022 edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Wednesday 12th October at the Cube (QUT) from 5pm – 7pm. It’s sponsored by NetApp and promises to be a great afternoon.

Two’s Company, Three’s a Cloud – NetApp, VMware and AWS

NetApp has had a strategic relationship with VMware for over 20 years, and with AWS for over 10 years. Recently at VMware Explore we made a significant announcement about VMC support for NFS Datastores provided by the AWS FSx for NetApp ONTAP service.

Come and learn about this exciting announcement and more on the benefits of NetApp with VMware Cloud. We will discuss architecture concepts, use cases and cover topics such as migration, data protection and disaster recovery as well as Hybrid Cloud configurations.

There will be a lucky door prize as well as a prize for best question on the night. Looking forward to see you there!

Wade Juppenlatz – Specialist Systems Engineer – QLD/NT

Chris (Gonzo) Gondek – Partner Technical Lead QLD/NT

 

PIZZA AND NETWORKING BREAK!

This will be followed by:

All the News from VMware Explore – (without the jet lag)

We will cover a variety of cloudy announcements from VMware Explore, including:

  • vSphere 8
  • vSAN 8
  • VMware Cloud on AWS
  • VMware Cloud Flex Storage
  • GCVE, OCVS, AVS
  • Cloud Universal
  • VMware Ransomware Recovery for Cloud DR

Dan Frith – Staff Solutions Architect – VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware

 

And we will be finishing off with:

Preparing for VMware Certifications

With the increase of position requirements in the last few years, certifications help you demonstrate your skills and move you a step forward on getting better jobs. In this Community Ssession we will help you understand how to prepare for a VMware certification exam and some useful tips you can use during the exam.

 

We will talk about:

  • Different types of exams
  • How to schedule an exam
  • Where to get material to study
  • Lessons learned from the field per type of exam

Francisco Fernandez Cardarelli – Senior Consultant (4 x VCIX)

 

Soft drinks and vBeers will be available throughout the evening! We look forward to seeing you there!

Doors open at 5pm. Please make your way to The Atrium, on Level 6.

You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Random Short Take #77

Welcome to Random Short Take #77. Spring has sprung. Let’s get random.

Finally, the blog turned 15 years old recently (about a month ago). I’ve been so busy with the day job that I forgot to appropriately mark the occasion. But I thought we should do something. So if you’d like some stickers (I have some small ones for laptops, and some big ones because I can’t measure things properly), send me your address via this contact form and I’ll send you something as a thank you for reading along.

VMware Cloud on AWS – Supplemental Storage – A Few Notes …

At VMware Explore 2022 in the US, VMware announced a number of new offerings for VMware Cloud on AWS, including something we’re calling “Supplemental Storage”. There are some great (official) posts that have already been published, so I won’t go through everything here. I thought it would be useful to provide some high-level details and cover some of the caveats that punters should be aware of.

 

The Problem

VMware Cloud on AWS has been around for just over 5 years now, and in that time it’s proven to be a popular platform for a variety of workloads, industry verticals, and organisations of all different sizes. However, one of the challenges that a hyper-converged architecture presents is that resource growth is generally linear (depending on the types of nodes you have available). In the case of VMware Cloud on AWS, we (now) have 3 nodes available for use: the I3, I3en, and I4i. Each of these instances provides a fixed amount of CPU, RAM, and vSAN storage for use within your VMC cluster. So when your storage grows past a certain threshold (80%), you need to add an additional node. This is a longwinded way of saying that, even if you don’t need the additional CPU and RAM, you need to add it anyway. To address this challenge, VMware now offers what’s called “Supplemental Storage” for VMware Cloud on AWS. This is ostensibly external dat stores presented to the VMC hosts over NFS. This comes in two flavours: FSx for NetApp ONTAP and VMware Cloud Flex Storage. I’ll cover this in a little more detail below.

[image courtesy of VMware]

 

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

The first cab off the rank is Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP (or FSxN to its friends). This one is ONTAP-like storage made available to your VMC environment as a native service. It’s fully customer managed, and VMware managed from a networking perspective.

[image courtesy of VMware]

There’s a 99.99% Availability SLA attached to the service. It’s based on NetApp ONTAP, and offers support for:

  • Multi-Tenancy
  • SnapMirror
  • FlexClone
​Note that it currently requires VMware Managed Transit Gateway (vTGW) for Multi-AZ deployment (the only deployment architecture currently supported), and can connect to multiple clusters and SDDCs for scale. You’ll need to be on SDDC version 1.20 (or greater) to leverage this service in your SDDC, and there is currently no support for attachment to stretched clusters. While you can only connect datastores to VMC hosts using NFSv3, there is support for connecting directly to guest via other protocols. More information can be found in the FAQ here. There’s also a simulator you can access here that runs you through the onboarding process.

 

VMware Cloud Flex Storage

The other option for supplemental storage is VMware Cloud Flex Storage (sometimes referred to as VMC-FS). This is a datastore presented to your hosts over NFSv3.

Overview

VMware Cloud Flex Storage is:

  • A natively integrated cloud storage service for VMware Cloud on AWS that is fully managed by VMware;
  • Cost effective multi-cloud Cloud storage solution built on SCFS;
  • Delivered via a two-tier architecture for elasticity and performance (AWS S3 and local NVMe cache); and
  • Provides integrated Data-Management.

In short, VMware has taken a lot of the technology used in VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery (the result of the Datrium acquisition in 2020) and used it to deliver up to 400 TiB of storage per SDDC.

[image courtesy of VMware]
The intent of the solution, at this stage at least, is that it is only offered as a datastore for hosts via NFSv3, rather than other protocols directly to guests. There are some limitations around the supported topologies too, with stretched clusters not currently supported. From a disaster recovery perspective, it’s important to note that VMware Cloud Flex Storage is currently only offered on a single-AZ basis (although the supporting components are spread across multiple Availability Zones), and there is currently no support for VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery co-existence with this solution.

 

Thoughts
I’ve only been at VMware for a short period of time, but I’ve had numerous conversations with existing and potential VMware Cloud on AWS customers looking to solve their storage problems without necessarily putting everything on vSAN. There are plenty of reasons why you wouldn’t want to use vSAN for high capacity storage workloads, and I believe these two initial solutions go some ways to solving that issue. Many of the caveats that are wrapped around these two products at General Availability will be removed over time, and the traditional objections relating to VMware Cloud on AWS being not great at high-capacity, cost-effective storage will also have been removed.
Finally, if you’re an existing NetApp ONTAP customer, and were thinking about what you were going to do with that Petabyte of unstructured data you had lying about when you moved to VMware Cloud on AWS, or wanting to take advantage of the sweat equity you’ve poured into managing your ONTAP environment over the years, I think we’ve got you covered as well.

Random Short Take #76

Welcome to Random Short Take #76. Summer’s almost here. Let’s get random.

 

Brisbane VMUG – August 2022

The August 2022 edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Wednesday 31st August at the QUT, Science and Engineering – P block from 5pm – 7pm. It’s sponsored by Dell Technologies and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

Transitioning from a Cloud-first to a Data-first Strategy to Drive Business Value

With the major trends in industry – the unpresented growth in data; increased distribution of data with the rise of Edge computing; greater diversity of data types based on industry specific use cases; increased security threats – the need for Data Management in a multi-cloud & distributed world are more important than ever. In the last few years we’ve seen the pace of digitization increase as business needs to be conducted in a virtual and digital way. Being able to manage and extract value from data is more critical than ever. In this session we will discuss how a move to a data-first strategy can drive business value, and look at an example of how an F1 racing team has put this into practice.

Presented by Ryan Tassotti – Principal Systems Engineer, Dell Technologies

This will be followed by a pizza and networking break.

Accelerate Cloud Transformation with VMware: Fuel Growth and Innovation

Help your organisation modernise existing data centre infrastructure, operating model and apps. Aging infrastructure in data centres doesn’t scale, is inefficient, lacks resiliency/agility and is not secure. Organisations do not have time, enough talent or capital to maintain the rigid data centre. Optimise capital by running and managing in a cloud model.

During this presentation, we will discuss the following use cases:

  • Take the fastest path and lowest costs to cloud-based infrastructure
  • Optimise service delivery, costs, and performance with consistent operations
  • Adopt a comprehensive platform to run modern applications

Presented by Sean Kopelke – Senior Director, Solution Engineering, VMware

And we will be finishing off with the Community Session (speaker and topic TBA)

Dell Technologies has gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Random Short Take #75

Welcome to Random Short Take #75. Half the year has passed us by already. Let’s get random.

  • I talk about GiB all the time when sizing up VMware Cloud on AWS for customers, but I should take the time to check in with folks if they know what I’m blithering on about. If you don’t know, this explainer from my friend Vincent is easy to follow along with – A little bit about Gigabyte (GB) and Gibibyte (GiB) in computer storage.
  • MinIO has been in the news a bit recently, but this article from my friend Chin-Fah is much more interesting than all of that drama – Beyond the WORM with MinIO object storage.
  • Jeff Geerling seems to do a lot of projects that I either can’t afford to do, or don’t have the time to do. Either way, thanks Jeff. This latest one – Building a fast all-SSD NAS (on a budget) – looked like fun.
  • You like ransomware? What if I told you you can have it cross-platform? Excited yet? Read Melissa’s article on Multiplatform Ransomware for a more thorough view of what’s going on out there.
  • Speaking of storage and clouds, Chris M. Evans recently published a series of videos over at Architecting IT where he talks to NetApp’s Matt Watt about the company’s hybrid cloud strategy. You can see it here.
  • Speaking of traditional infrastructure companies doing things with hyperscalers, here’s the July 2022 edition of What’s New in VMware Cloud on AWS.
  • In press release news, Aparavi and Backblaze have joined forces. You can read more about that here.
  • I’ve spent a lot of money over the years trying to find the perfect media streaming device for home. I currently favour the Apple TV 4K, but only because my Boxee Box can’t keep up with more modern codecs. This article on the Best Device for Streaming for Any User – 2022 seems to line up well with my experiences to date, although I admit I haven’t tried the NVIDIA device yet. I do miss playing ISOs over the network with the HD Mediabox 100, but those were simpler times I guess.

StorONE Announces Per-Drive Licensing Model

StorONE recently announced details of its Per-Drive Licensing Model. I had the opportunity to talk about the announcement with Gal Naor and George Crump about the news and thought I’d share some brief thoughts here.

 

Scale For Free?

Yes, at least from a licensing perspective. If you’ve bought storage from many of the traditional array vendors over the years, you would have likely paid for capacity-based licensing. Every time you upgraded the capacity of your array, there was usually a charge associated with that upgrade, beyond the hardware uplift costs. The folks at StorONE think it’s probably time that they stopped punishing customers for using higher capacity drives, so they’re shifting everything to a per-drive model.

How it Works

As I mentioned at the start, StorONE Scale-For-Free pricing is on a per-drive basis, so you can use the highest capacity, highest density drives without penalty, rather than metering capacity. The pricing is broken down thusly:

  • Price per HDD $/month
  • Price per SSD $/month
  • Minimum $/month
  • Cloud Use Case – $ per month by VM instance required

The idea is that this ultimately lowers the storage price per TB and brings some level of predictability to storage pricing.

How?

The key to this model is the availability of some key features in the StorONE solution, namely:

  • A rewritten and collapsed I/O stack (meaning do more with a whole lot less)
  • Auto-tiering improvements (leading to more consistent and predictable performance across HDD and SDD)
  • High performance erasure coding (meaning super fast recovery from drive failure)

 

But That’s Not All

Virtual Storage Containers

With Virtual Storage Containers (VSC), you can apply different data services and performance profiles to different workloads (hosted on the same media) in a granular and flexible fashion. For example, if you need 4 drives and 50,000 IOPS for your File Services, you can do that. In the same environment you might also need to use a few drives for Object storage with different replication. You can do that too.

[image courtesy of StorONE]

Ransomware Detection (and Protection)

StorONE has been pretty keen on its ransomware protection capabilities, with the option to run immutable snapshots on volumes every 30 seconds and store over 500,000+ snaps per volume. But it has added in some improved telemetry to enable earlier detection of potential ransomware events on volumes, as well as introducing dual-key deletion of snapshots and improved two-factor authentication.

 

Thoughts

There are many things that are certain in life, including the fact that no matter how much capacity you buy for your storage array on day one, by month 18 you’re looking at ways to replace some of that capacity with higher capacity. In my former life as a diskslinger I helped many customers upgrade their arrays with increased capacity drives, and most, if not all of them, had to pay a licensing bump as well as a hardware cost for the privilege. The storage vendors would argue that that’s just the model, and for as long as you can get away with it, it is. Particularly when hardware is getting cheaper and cheaper, you need something to drive revenue. So it’s nice to see a company like StorONE looking to shake things up a little in an industry that’s probably had its way with customers for a while now. Not every storage vendor is looking to punish customers for expanding their environments, but it’s nice that those customers that were struggling with this have the option to look at other ways of using the capacity they need in a cost-effective and predictable. manner.

This doesn’t really work without the other enhancements that have gone in to StorONE, such as the improved erasure coding and automated tiering. Having a cool business model isn’t usually enough to deliver a great solution. I’m looking forward to hearing from the StorONE team in the near future about how this has been received by both existing and new customers, and what other innovations they come out with in the next 12 months.

VMware Cloud on AWS – TMCHAM – Part 7 – Elastic DRS and Host Failure Remediation

In this edition of Things My Customers Have Asked Me (TMCHAM), I’m going to delve into some questions around managing host additions and failures on the VMware-managed VMware Cloud on AWS platform.

Elastic DRS

One of the questions I frequently get asked by customers is what happens when you reach a certain capacity in your VMware Cloud on AWS cluster? The good news is we have a feature called Elastic DRS that can take care of that for you. Elastic DRS is a little different to what you might know as the vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS). Elastic DRS operates at a host level and takes care of capacity constraints in your VMC environment. The idea is that, when your cluster reaches a certain resource threshold (be it storage, vCPU, or RAM), Elastic DRS takes care of adding in additional host resources as required. 

The algorithm runs every 5 minutes and uses the following parameters:

  • Minimum and maximum number of hosts the algorithm should scale up or down to.
  • Thresholds for CPU, memory and storage utilisation such that host allocation is optimized for cost or performance.

Note also that your cluster may scale back in, assuming the resources stay consistently below the threshold for a number of iterations.

Settings

There are a few different options for Elastic DRS, with the default being the “Elastic DRS Baseline Policy”. With this policy, a host is automatically added when there’s less than 20% free vSAN storage. Note that this doesn’t apply to single-node SDDC configurations, and only the baseline policy is available with 2-node configurations. Beyond those limitations, though, there are a number of other configurations available and these are outlined here. The neat thing is that there’s some amount of flexibility in how you have your SDDC automatically managed, with options for best performance, lowest cost, or rapid scale-out also available.

Can I Turn It Off?

No, but you can fiddle with the settings from your VMC cloud console.

Other Questions

What happens if I’m adding a host manually? The Elastic DRS recommendations are ignored. Same goes with planned maintenance or SDDC maintenance, where the support team may be adding in an additional host. But what if you’ve lost a host? The auto-remediation process kicks in and the Elastic DRS recommendations are ignored while the failed host is being replaced. You can read more about that process here.

 

Thoughts

One of the things I like about the VMware Cloud on AWS approach is that VMware has looked into a number of common scenarios that occur in the wild (hosts running out of capacity, for example) and built some automation on top of an already streamlined SDDC stack. Elastic DRS and the Auto-Scaler features seem like minor things, but when you’re managing an SDDC of any significant scale, it’s nice to have the little things taken care of.

Brisbane VMUG – July 2022

The July edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Wednesday 20th July at the Atrium (Level 6), QUT Science & Engineering Centre (P Block) from 5pm – 7:30pm. It’s sponsored by VMware and promises to be a great evening. Agenda as follows.

 

What is Azure VMware Solution and Why Would You Choose it?

Azure VMware Solution allows you to run VMware workloads on a private cloud in Azure. Not only is it the fastest way to migrate to workload, but it is also the most sensible in many cases.

In the session we will help you understand what AVS is, how it delivers a VMware environment that allows customers to take advantage of Azure, and also how it’s different to other VMware hyperscaler offerings. We’ll cover the platform and deployment, how can be AVS is networked to on-prem and the Internet, and how AVS is managed through a familiar VMware toolset.

We’ll show how VMware HCX can dramatically simplify migration or workloads from an existing on-prem VMware environment to AVS, minimising technical risk and significantly lowering migration costs. And we’ll also explain the benefits of Azure Hybrid use Benefit and Extended Security Update savings that are unique to AVS.

Finally, we’ll present a typical TCO as an illustration of the typical savings in moving to AVS versus on-prem or public cloud alternatives.

Delivered by:

  • Anthony Higgins – Cloud Solution Architect (VMware)
  • Greg Cetinich – Senior Sales Manager (VMware)
  • David Wymer – Global Black Belt (Microsoft)

 

Pizza and Networking Break

This will be followed by:

 

Ensure Clear Skies with Inbuilt Cloud Security

Cloud projects in 2022 are less about adoption, but more about optimisation, migration and security as “cloud-first” has become “cloud-default”. In this session we will discuss how systems, applications and hosts are migrating, optimising, transforming and securing their cloud workloads with little to no added effort. How VMware customers and net-new environments can leverage next-gen platforms to gain added functionality and extend their visibility, control and protection platforms to all locations.

Agenda:

  • Cybersecurity 2022 Recap
  • Cloud Adoption and Optimisation Priorities
  • Workload Security – Integrated awareness & protection for cloud workloads
  • Container Security – Pre & Post Deployment security
  • Demo
  • Q&A

Delivered by:

  • Sean Scott – Endpoint & Workload Security Practice Lead (VMware, QLD)
  • Vikram Kumar – Senior Solutions Engineer (VMware)

 

Other Notes

Soft drinks and vBeers will be available throughout the evening! We look forward to seeing you there! Doors open at 5pm. Please make your way to The Atrium, on Level 6. VMware has gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Random Short Take #74

Welcome to Random Short Take #74. Let’s get random.