Brisbane VMUG – September 2019

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The September 2019 edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Tuesday 10th September at Fishburners (Level 2, 155 Queen Street, Brisbane City) from 4 – 6pm. It’s sponsored by StorageCraft and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware Presentation
  • StorageCraft Presentation
  • Q&A
  • Light refreshments

StorageCraft have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about what they’ve been up to. 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 #19

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 19 – let’s get tropical! It’s all happening.

  • I seem to link to Alastair’s blog a lot. That’s mainly because he’s writing about things that interest me, like this article on data governance and data protection. Plus he’s a good bloke.
  • Speaking of data protection, Chris M. Evans has been writing some interesting articles lately on things like backup as a service. Having worked in the service provider space for a piece of my career, I wholeheartedly agree that it can be a “leap of faith” on the part of the customer to adopt these kinds of services.
  • This post by Raffaello Poltronieri on VMware’s vRealize Operations session at Tech Field Day 19 makes for good reading.
  • This podcast episode from W. Curtis Preston was well worth the listen. I’m constantly fascinated by the challenges presented to infrastructure in media and entertainment environments, particularly when it comes to data protection.
  • I always enjoy reading Preston’s perspective on data protection challenges, and this article is no exception.
  • This article from Tom Hollingsworth was honest and probably cut too close to the bone with a lot of readers. There are a lot of bad habits that we develop in our jobs, whether we’re coding, running infrastructure, or flipping burgers. The key is to identify those behaviours and work to address them where possible.
  • Over at SimplyGeek.co.uk, Gavin has been posting a number of Ansible-related articles, including this one on automating vSphere VM and ova deployments. A number fo folks in the industry talk a tough game when it comes to automation, and it’s nice to see Gavin putting it on wax and setting a great example.
  • The Mark Of Cain have announced a national tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their Battlesick album. Unfortunately I may not be in the country when they’re playing in my part of the woods, but if you’re in Australia you can find out more information here.

VMware – VMworld 2019 – See you in San Francisco

This is a quick post to let my loyal readers know that I’ll be heading to VMware’s annual conference (VMworld) this year in San Francisco. This will be my fourth VMworld. I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends and meeting some new ones. If you haven’t registered yet but feel like that’s something you might want to do – the registration page is here. To get a feel for what’s on offer, you can check out information about the VMworld 2019 sessions here. The Content Catalog [sic] is available now too, so if you’ve registered you can start filling up your schedule. You can also read the FAQ here.

Big thanks to Tej at VMware for organising the blogger pass. I’ll also be publicly thanking some other folks when I have some more logistics locked in. Keep an eye out for me at the conference and surrounding events and don’t be afraid to come and say hi (if you need a visual – I look like Wolverine would if he let himself go).

Brisbane VMUG – August 2019

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The August edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Tuesday 20th August at Fishburners from 4 – 6pm. It’s sponsored by Dell EMC and should to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware Presentation: TBA
  • Dell EMC Presentation: Protecting Your Critical Assets With Dell EMC
  • Q&A
  • Refreshments and drinks.

Dell EMC have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about their data protection portfolio. 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.

VMware vRealize – Operations Without Operators

Disclaimer: I recently attended Tech Field Day 19.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

 

VMware recently presented at Tech Field Day 19. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

Operations, And No Operators

VMware has a pretty comprehensive suite of management tools that you can use to manage your VMware cloud products, including:

  • vRealize Automation
  • vRealize Operations and Network Insight
  • CloudHealth, Operations SaaS, Wavefront, Log Intelligence, Network Insight

One of the keys to building successful management and monitoring tools is delivering the ability to perform activities in an autonomous fashion. To wit, there are parts of your infrastructure that you want to be “self-driving”. Taruna Gandhi talked about the “4 Tenets of self-driving operations”. These are:

  1. Continuous Performance Optimisation – Assure application performance with atomic workload placement and balancing workloads based on business and operational intent
  2. Efficient Capacity Management – Run infrastructure like a public cloud – optimal densification, proactive planning, and procurement
  3. Intelligent Remediation – Predict, prevent, and troubleshoot across SDDC and multiple clouds, from apps to infrastructure
  4. Integrated Compliance – Reduce risk and enforce IT and regulatory standards with integrated compliance and automated remediation

The idea behind tools like vRealize Operations is that you can run your VMware-based infrastructure in an autonomous fashion.

It’s A Small Thing, But It’s Really Quite Useful

One small thing that VMware bought up was the ability to use tags for licensing enforcement and VM placement using DRS. You can read about how to do that here. I think the capability was first introduced in vROps 6.7. Why would you need to move workloads around for licensing enforcement? Just five years ago I was working with enterprise environments that had to have limited amounts of CPU sockets exposed to various operating systems (when virtualised) or line of business applications. The way to combat the requirement was to deploy dedicated clusters of compute for particular software packages. Which is pretty stupid when it comes to getting value from virtualisation. Nowadays the cluster is no longer the barrier to VM mobility, so you can move workloads around in an easier fashion. The general feeling on the Internet might be that the likes of Microsoft and Oracle have made these kinds of workarounds harder to do (and stay compliant), but there are still plenty of smaller software vendors that have odd requirements when it comes to the number of sockets consumed in virtual environments. Being able to leverage tags shounds like just the sort of thing that we’ve talked about for years in terms of operational overheads that shouldn’t be overheads. It strikes me as something that many enterprise customers could be interested in. As VMware pointed out though, some of the enterprises needing this capability ironically may not have upgraded yet to the required version yet.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

I’m the first to admit that I haven’t spent nearly enough time keeping up to date on what VMware’s been delivering with the vRealize Operations product. I used it early on and then moved into roles where it became someone else’s problem. So it was nice to get up to speed on some of the capabilities they’ve added to the product in the past few years. It’s my opinion that if you don’t have to do certain operations in your environment, that’s a good thing. Infrastructure operations is a hectic business at the best of times, and the requirement to intervene in a manual way is not just potentially a burden on your workforce (particularly when something goes awry at 3 in the morning), it’s also an opportunity for other things to go wrong. The good thing about automating the management of infrastructure is that things get done in a consistent fashion. And there are, generally speaking, fewer opportunities for human error to creep in. This does require a certain amount of intelligence to be built into the platform, but VMware seem to have a pretty good grasp of what’s happening in the average vSphere environment, and they’ve coupled this with many years of field experience to build a platform that can get you out of a spot before you get in one.

vRealize Operations is more than just a glorified dashboard application with some cool traffic lights that keep management happy. If you’re running any type of reasonably sized virtual infrastructure, and you’re not leveraging vROps, I think you’re making things unnecessarily difficult for your operational staff. Obviously, vROps isn’t some silver bullet when it comes to IT operations, but it has a lot of power under the hood, and I think there’s some great potential that can be leveraged in the platform. You still need people to do stuff, but with tools like this you won’t need them to do quite as much of that tedious stuff. I’d also recommend you check out the other parts of VMware’s presentation at Tech Field Day 19, because they covered a lot of really cool stuff in terms of their vision for cloud management tools.

Cohesity Basics – Excluding VMs Using Tags – Real World Example

I’ve written before about using VM tags with Cohesity to exclude VMs from a backup. I wanted to write up a quick article using a real world example in the test lab. In this instance, we had someone deploying 200 VMs over a weekend to test a vendor’s storage array with a particular workload. The problem was that I had Cohesity set to automatically protect any new VMs that are deployed in the lab. This wasn’t a problem from a scalability perspective. Rather, the problem was that we were backing up a bunch of test data that didn’t dedupe well and didn’t need to be protected by what are ultimately finite resources.

As I pointed out in the other article, creating tags for VMs and using them as a way to exclude workloads from Cohesity is not a new concept, and is fairly easy to do. You can also apply the tags in bulk using the vSphere Web Client if you need to. But a quicker way to do it (and something that can be done post-deployment) is to use PowerCLI to search for VMs with a particular naming convention and apply the tags to those.

Firstly, you’ll need to log in to your vCenter.

PowerCLI C:\> Connect-VIServer vCenter

In this example, the test VMs are deployed with the prefix “PSV”, so this makes it easy enough to search for them.

PowerCLI C:\> get-vm | where {$_.name -like "PSV*"} | New-TagAssignment -Tag "COH-NoBackup"

This assumes that the tag already exists on the vCenter side of things, and you have sufficient permissions to apply tags to VMs. You can check your work with the following command.

PowerCLI C:\> get-vm | where {$_.name -like "PSV*"} | Get-TagAssignment

One thing to note. If you’ve updated the tags of a bunch of VMs in your vCenter environment, you may notice that the objects aren’t immediately excluded from the Protection Job on the Cohesity side of things. The reason for this is that, by default, Cohesity only refreshes vCenter source data every 4 hours. One way to force the update is to manually refresh the source vCenter in Cohesity. To do this, go to Protection -> Sources. Click on the ellipsis on the right-hand side of your vCenter source you’d like to refresh, and select Refresh.

You’ll then see that the tagged VMs are excluded in the Protection Job. Hat tip to my colleague Mike for his help with PowerCLI. And hat tip to my other colleague Mike for causing the problem in the first place.

Brisbane VMUG – July 2019

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The July edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Tuesday 23rd July at Fishburners from 4 – 6pm. It’s sponsored by Pivotal and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware and Pivotal Presentation: Rapid and automated deployment of Kubernetes with VMware and Pivotal
  • Q&A
  • Refreshments and drinks.

Pivotal have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing more about what they’re doing. 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 #14

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 14 – giddy-up!

Dell Announces Dell Technologies Cloud (Platforms and DCaaS)

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Dell Technologies recently announced their Dell Technologies Cloud Platforms and Dell Technologies DCaaS offerings and I thought I’d try and dig in a little more to the announcements here.

 

DTC DCaaS

[image courtesy of Dell Technologies]

Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service (DTC DCaaS) is all about “bringing public cloud simplicity to your DCs”. So what do you get with this? You get:

  • Data residency and regulatory compliance;
  • Control over critical workloads;
  • Proximity of data with cloud resources;
  • Self-service resource provisioning;
  • Fully managed, maintained and supported; and
  • Increased developer velocity.

VMware Cloud on Dell

At its core, DTC DCaaS is built on VMware Cloud Foundation and Dell EMC VxRail. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is “cloud infrastructure installed on-premises in your core and edge data centres and consumed as a cloud service”.

[image courtesy of Dell Technologies]

  • Cloud infrastructure delivered as-a-service on-premises
  • Co-engineered and delivered by Dell Technologies; ongoing service fully managed by VMware
  • VMware SDDC including compute, storage and networking
  • Built on VxRail – Dell EMC’s enterprise-grade cloud platform
  • Hybrid cloud control plane to provision and monitor resources
  • Monthly subscription model

How Does It Work?

  • Firstly, you sign into the VMware Cloud service account to create an order. Dell Technologies will then deliver and install your new cloud infrastructure in your core or edge DC location.
  • Next, the system will self-configure and register with VMware Cloud servers, so you can immediately begin provisioning and managing workloads with VMware’s hybrid cloud control plane.

Moving forward the hardware and software is fully managed, just like your public cloud resources.

Speeds And Feeds 

As I understand it there are two configuration options: DC and Edge. The DC configuration is as follows:

  • 1x 42U APC NetShelter rack
  • 4 – 15x E560 VxRail Nodes
  • 2x S5248FF 25GbE ToR Switches, OS10EE
  • 1x S3048 1GbE Management Switch, OS9EE
  • 2x VeloCloud 520
  • 6X Single-phase 30 AMP PDU
  • No UPS option

The Edge Location configuration is as follows:

  • 1x 24U APC NetShelter rack
  • 3 – 6x E560 VxRail Nodes
  • 2X S4128F 10GbE ToR Switches, OS10EE
  • 1X S3048-ON 1GbE Management Switch, OS9EE
  • 2x VeloCloud 520
  • 2x Single-phase 30 AMP PDU
  • 2x UPS with batteries for 30 min hold-up time for 6X E560F

 

Thoughts And Further Reading

I haven’t explained it very clearly in this article, but there are two parts to the announcement. There’s the DTC Platforms announcement, and the DTC DCaaS announcement. You can read a slightly better explanation here, but the Platforms announcement is VCF on VxRail, and VMware Cloud on AWS. DTC DCaaS, on the other hand, is kit delivered into your DC or Edge site and consumed as a managed service.

There was a fair bit of confusion when I spoke to people at the show last week about what this announcement really meant, both for Dell Technologies and for their customers. At the show last year, Dell was bullish on the future of private cloud / on-premises infrastructure. It seems apparent, though, that this kind of announcement is something of an admission that Dell has customers that are demanding a little more activity when it comes to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions.

Dell’s ace in the hole has been (since the EMC merger) the close access to VMware that they’ve enjoyed via the portfolio of companies. It makes sense that they would have a story to tell when it comes to VMware Cloud Foundation and VMware Cloud on AWS. The box slingers at Dell EMC are happy because they can still sell VxRail appliances for use with the DCaaS offering. I’m interested to see just how many customers take up Dell on their vision of seamless integration between on-premises and public cloud workloads.

The public cloud vendors will tell you that eventually (in 5, 10, 20 years?) every workload will be “cloud native”. I think it’s more likely that we’ll always have some workloads that need to remain on-premises. Not necessarily because they have performance requirements that require that level of application locality, but rather because some organisations will have security requirements that will dictate where these workloads live. I think the shelf life of something like VMConAWS is still more limited than some people will admit, but I can see the need for stuff like this.

My only concern is that the DTC story can be complicated to tell in places. I’ve spent some time this week and last digging in to this offering, and I’m not sure I’ve explained it terribly well at all. I also wonder how the organisations (Dell EMC and VMware) will work together to offer a cohesive offering from a technology and support perspective. Ultimately, these types of solutions are appealing because companies want to focus on their core business, rather than operating as a poorly resourced IT organisation. But there’s no point entering in to these kinds of agreements if the vendor can’t deliver on their vision. “Fully managed services” mean different things to different vendors, so I’ll be interested to see how that plays out in the market.

Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service, delivered as VMware Cloud on Dell EMC with VxRail, is currently is available in beta deployments with limited customer availability planned for the second half of 2019. You can read the solution overview here.

Brisbane VMUG – May 2019

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The May 2019 edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Tuesday 28th May at Fishburners from 4pm – 6pm. It’s sponsored by Cohesity and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • Cohesity Presentation: Changing Data Protection from Nightmares to Sweet Dreams
  • vCommunity Presentation – Introduction to Hyper-converged Infrastructure
  • Q&A
  • Light refreshments.

Cohesity have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about how they can make recovery simple. 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.