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.

VMware Cloud on AWS – TMCHAM – Part 6 – Sizing

In this edition of Things My Customers Have Asked Me (TMCHAM), I’m going to touch briefly on some things you might come across when sizing workloads for the VMware Cloud on AWS platform using the VMware Cloud on AWS Sizer.

VMware Cloud on AWS Sizer

One of the neat things about VMware Cloud on AWS is that you can jump on the publicly available sizing tool and input some numbers (or import RVTools or LiveOptics files) and it will spit out the number of nodes that you’ll (likely) need to support your workloads. Of course, if that’s all there was to it, you wouldn’t need folks like me to help you with sizing. That said, VMware has worked hard to ensure that the sizing part of your VMware Cloud on AWS planning is fairly straightforward. There are a few things to look out for though.

Why Do I See A Weird Number Of Cores In The Sizer?

If you put a workload into the sizer, you might see some odd core counts in the output. For example, the below screenshot shows 4x i3en nodes with 240 cores, but clearly it should be 192 cores (4x 48).

Yet when the same workload is changed to the i3 instance type, the correct amount of cores (5x 36 = 180) is displayed.

The reason for this is that the i3en instance types support Hyper-Threading, and the Sizer applies a weighting to calculations. This can be changed via the Global Settings in the Advanced section of the Sizer. If you’re not into HT, set it to 0%. If you’re a believer, set it to 100%. By default it’s set to 25%, hence the 240 cores number in the previous example (48 x 1.25 x 4 nodes).

Why Do I Need This Many Nodes?

You might need to satisfy Host Admission Control requirements. The current logic of Host Admission Control (as it’s applied in VMC sizer) is as follows:

  • A 2-host cluster should have 50.00 percent reserved CPU and memory capacity for HA Admission Control.
  • A 3-host cluster reserves 33.33 percent for HAC

And so on until you get to

  • A 16-host cluster reserving 6.25 percent of resources for HAC.

It’s also important to note that a 2-host cluster can accommodate a maximum of 35 VMs. Anything above that will need an extra host. And if you’re planning to run a full HCX configuration on two nodes, you should review this Knowledge Base article. Speaking of running things at capacity, I’ll go into Elastic DRS in another post, but by default we add another host to your cluster when you hit 80% storage capacity.

What About My Storage Consumption?

By default there are some storage policies applied to your vSAN configurations too. A standard Cluster with 5 hosts or less is set to 1 Failure / RAID-1, whilst a standard Cluster with 6 hosts or more is set to tolerate 2 Failures / RAID-6 by default. You can read more about that here.

Conclusion

There’s a bunch of stuff I haven’t covered here, including the choices you have to make between using RVTools and LiveOptics, and whether you should size with a high CPU to core ratio or keep it one to one like the old timers like. But hopefully this post has been of some use explaining some of the quirky things that pop up in the Sizer from time to time.

VMware Cloud on AWS – TMCHAM – Part 5 – VM Management

In this edition of Things My Customers Have Asked Me (TMCHAM), I’m going to delve into some questions around managing VMs running on the VMware-managed VMware Cloud on AWS platform, and talk about vCenter plugins and what that looks like when you move across to VMware Cloud on AWS.

How Can I Access vCenter?

VMware vCenter has been around since Hector was a pup, and the good news is that it can be used to manage your VMware Cloud on AWS environment. It’s accessible via a few different methods, including PowerCLI. If you want to access the HTML5 UI via the cloud console, you’ll need to ensure there’s a firewall rule in place to allow access via your Management gateway – the official documentation is here. If the rule has already been created and you just need to add your IP to the mix, here’s the process.

The first step is to find out your public IP address. I use WhatIsMyIP.com to do this.

In your console, go to Networking & Security -> Inventory -> Groups.

Under Groups, make sure you select Management Groups.

You’ll find a Group that was created that stores the IP information of folks wanting to access vCenter. In this example, we’ve called it “SET Home IP Addresses”.

Click on the vertical ellipsis and click Edit.

Click on the IPs section.

You’ll then see a spot where you can enter your IP address. You can do a single address or enter a range, as shown below.

Click Apply and then click Save to save the rule. Now you should be able to open vCenter.

Can I run RVTools and other scripts on my VMC environment?

Yes, you can run RVTools against your environment. In terms of privilege levels with VMware Cloud on AWS, you get CloudAdmin. The level of access is outlined here. It’s important to understand these privilege levels, because some things will and won’t work as a result of these.

Can I lockdown my VMs using PowerShell?

You will have the ability to set these advanced settings on your VMs in the SDDC, but this is limited to per-VM, rather than on a per-cluster basis. So if you normally ran a script on a pre-VM basis to harden the VM config, you’d need to run that on each VM individually, rather than on a per-cluster level.

What about vCenter plugins?

We don’t have a concept of vCenter plugins in VMware Cloud on AWS, so there are different ways to get the information you’d normally need. vROps, for example, has the ability to look at VMware Cloud on AWS, using either the on-premises version or the cloud version. There’s information on that here, but note that the plugin isn’t supported with VMC vCenter.

What about my Site Recovery Manager plugin? The mechanism for managing this will change depending on whether you’re using SRaaS or VCDR to protect your workloads. There’s some good info on SRaaS here, and some decent VCDR information here. Again, there is no plugin available, but the element managers are available via the cloud console.  

What about NSX-V? VMware Cloud on AWS is all NSX-T, and you can access the NSX Manager via the cloud console.

Conclusion

A big part of the reason people like VMware Cloud on AWS is that the management experience doesn’t differ significantly from what you get VMware Cloud Foundation of VMware Validated Designs on-premises. That said, there are a few things that do change when you move to VMware Cloud on AWS. Things like plugins don’t exist, but you can still run many of the scripts you know and love against the platform. Remember, though, it is a fully managed service, so some of the stuff you used to run against your on-premises environment is no longer necessary.

Random Short Take #73

Welcome to Random Short Take #73. Let’s get random.