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.

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.

Random Short Take #18

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 18 – buckle up kids! It’s all happening.

  • Cohesity added support for Active Directory protection with version 6.3 of the DataPlatform. Matt covered it pretty comprehensively here.
  • Speaking of Cohesity, Alastair wrote this article on getting started with the Cohesity PowerShell Module.
  • In keeping with the data protection theme (hey, it’s what I’m into), here’s a great article from W. Curtis Preston on SaaS data protection, and what you need to consider to not become another cautionary tale on the Internet. Curtis has written a lot about data protection over the years, and you could do a lot worse than reading what he has to say. And that’s not just because he signed a book for me.
  • Did you ever stop and think just how insecure some of the things that you put your money into are? It’s a little scary. Shell are doing some stuff with Cybera to improve things. Read more about that here.
  • I used to work with Vincent, and he’s a super smart guy. I’ve been at him for years to start blogging, and he’s started to put out some articles. He’s very good at taking complex topics and distilling them down to something that’s easy to understand. Here’s his summary of VMware vRealize Automation configuration.
  • Tom’s take on some recent CloudFlare outages makes for good reading.
  • Google Cloud has announced it’s acquiring Elastifile. That part of the business doesn’t seem to be as brutal as the broader Alphabet group when it comes to acquiring and discarding companies, and I’m hoping that the good folks at Elastifile are looked after. You can read more on that here.
  • A lot of people are getting upset with terms like “disaggregated HCI”. Chris Mellor does a bang up job explaining the differences between the various architectures here. It’s my belief that there’s a place for all of this, and assuming that one architecture will suit every situation is a little naive. But what do I know?

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!

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.

Random Short Take #12

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find it interesting too. Maybe.

  • I’ve been a fan of Backblaze for some time now, and I find their blog posts useful. This one, entitled “A Workflow Playbook for Migrating Your Media Assets to a MAM“, was of particular interest to me.
  • Speaking of Backblaze, this article on SSDs and reliability should prove useful, particularly if you’re new to the technology. And the salty comments from various readers are great too.
  • Zerto just announced the myZerto Labs Program as a way for “IT professionals to test, understand and experiment with the IT Resilience Platform using virtual infrastructure”. You can sign up here.
  • If you’re in the area, I’m speaking at the Sydney VMUG UserCon on Tuesday 19th March. I’ll be covering how to “Build Your Personal Brand by Starting and Maintaining a Blog”. It’s more about blogging than branding, but I’m hoping there’s enough to keep the punters engaged. Details here. If you can’t get along to the event, I’ll likely publish the deck on this site in the near future.
  • The nice people at Axellio had some success at the US Air Force Pitch Day recently. You can read more about that here.
  • UltraViolet is going away. This kind of thing is disheartening (and a big reason why I persist in buying physical copies of things still).
  • I’m heading to Dell Technologies World this year. Michael was on the TV recently, talking about the journey and looking ahead. You can see more here.

VMware – vExpert 2019

 

I’m very happy to have been listed as a vExpert for 2019. This is the seventh time that they’ve forgotten to delete my name from the list (if you think I’ll ever give up on that joke you are sadly mistaken). Read about it here, and more news about this year’s programme is coming shortly. Thanks again to Corey Romero and the rest of the VMware Social Media & Community Team for making this kind of thing happen. And thanks also to the vExpert community for being such a great community to be part of.