Brisbane VMUG – New Year VMUG Beers

Now that holiday season is over, Brisbane VMUG would like to say thank you to its Community and Sponsors, who supported them as they got back in to in-person meetings last year. They’ve secured The Terrace at QUT from 2pm until 5pm on Friday 17th February, and would like to invite you to join them for some drinks, nibbles and networking.

There will be some prize giveaways and an opportunity to chill out and mingle with like-minded people from the vCommunity.

Please register here!

Random Short Take #82

Happy New Year (to those who celebrate). Let’s get random.

Random Short Take #81

Welcome to Random Short Take #81. Last one for the year, because who really wants to read this stuff over the holiday season? Let’s get random.

Take care of yourselves and each other, and I’ll hopefully see you all on the line or in person next year.

VMware Cloud on AWS – TMCHAM – Part 8 – TRIM/UNMAP

In this edition of Things My Customers Have Asked Me (TMCHAM), I’m going to delve into some questions around TRIM/UNMAP and capacity reclamation on the VMware-managed VMware Cloud on AWS platform.

 

Why TRIM/UNMAP?

TRIM/UNMAP, in short, is the capability for operating systems to reclaim no longer used space on thin-provisioned filesystems. Why is this important? Imagine you have a thin-provisioned volume that has 100GB of capacity allocated to it. It consumes maybe 1GB when it’s first deployed. You then add 50GB of data to it. You then delete 50GB of data from the volume. You’ll still see 51GB of capacity being consumed on the filesystem. This is because older operating systems just mark the blocks as deleted, but don’t zero them out. Modern operating systems do support TRIM/UNMAP though, but the hypervisor needs to understand the commands being sent to it. You can read more on that here.

How I Do This For VMware Cloud on AWS?

You can contact your account team, and we raise a ticket to get the feature enabled. We had some minor issues recently that meant we weren’t enabling the feature, but if you’re running M16v12 or M18v5 (or above) on your SDDCs, you should be good to go. Note that this feature is enabled on a per-cluster basis, and you need to reboot the VMs in the cluster for it to take effect.

What About Migrating With HCX?

Do the VMs come across thin? Do you need to reclaim space first? If you’re using HCX to go from thick to thin, you should be fine. If you’re migrating thin to thin, it’s worth checking whether you’ve got any space reclamation in place on your source side. I’ve had customers report back that some environments have migrated across with higher than expected storage usage due to a lack of space reclamation happening on the source storage environment. You can use something like Live Optics to report on your capacity consumed vs allocated, and how much capacity can be reclaimed.

Why Isn’t This Enabled By Default?

I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it has something to do with the fact that TRIM/UNMAP has the potential to have a performance impact from a latency perspective, depending on the workloads running in the environment, and the amount of capacity being reclaimed at any given time. We recommend that you “schedule large space reclamation jobs during off-peak hours to reduce any potential impact”. Given that VMware Cloud on AWS is a fully-managed service, I imagine we want to control as many of the performance variables as possible to ensure our customers enjoy a reliable and stable platform. That said, TRIM/UNMAP is a really useful feature, and you should look at getting it enabled if you’re concerned about the potential for wasted capacity in your SDDC.

Brisbane VMUG – November 2022

The November 2022 edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Thursday 24th November at the Cube (QUT) from 5pm – 7pm. It’s sponsored by Pure Storage and promises to be a great afternoon. Register here.

Raise Your Kubernetes Infrastructure Status From Zero to Hero

If your developers or platform architects are asking you for storage features commonly found in your vSphere infrastructure but targeted towards Kubernetes, you are not alone – let Portworx help you go from “I don’t know” to “No problem”!

Locking yourself into a storage solution that is dependent on specific infrastructure is a sure way to reduce efficiency and flexibility for your developers and where their applications can run – Portworx elevates you to “Hero” status by:

  • Providing your team a consistent, cloud native storage layer you can utilise on ANY Kubernetes platform – whether on-premises or in the public cloud
  • Giving you the capability to provide Kubernetes native DR and business continuity not only for your persistent storage, but all of the Kubernetes objects associated with your applications (think SRM and vMSC for Kubernetes!)
  • Enabling you to provide Kubernetes-aware data protection, including ransomware protection and 3-2-1 backup compliance with RBAC roles that can fit the existing policies within your organisation
  • Delighting your developers that need access to modern databases such as Kafka, PostgreSQL, Cassandra, and more by delivering self-service deployments with best practices “built-in”, which accelerate development cycles without a dinosaur DBA or learning complex Kubernetes operators

Come join us to see how we can create your “Better Together” story with Tanzu and give you the tools and knowledge to bring agility for your developers to your underlying infrastructure for modern applications running on Kubernetes!

Mike Carpendale

Mike joined Pure Storage in April 2021 as the APJ Regions Platform Architect. He has 20+ years experience in the industry, ranging from his expert level hands-on experience of designing and managing large scale on-prem as-a-service offerings underpinned by VMware, to his more recent work in the public cloud. 

 

PIZZA AND NETWORKING BREAK!

 

This will be followed by:

VMware Session

Peter Hauck – Senior Solutions Engineer

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 Cube.

VMware Cloud on AWS – I4i.metal – A Few Notes …

At VMware Explore 2022 in the US, VMware announced a number of new offerings for VMware Cloud on AWS, including a new bare-metal instance type: the I4i.metal. You can read the official blog post 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.

 

By The Numbers

What do you get from a specifications perspective?
  • The CPU is 3rd generation Intel Xeon Ice Lake @ 2.4GHz / Turbo 3.5GHz
  • 64 physical cores, supporting 128 logical cores with Hyper Threading (HT)
  • 1024 GiB memory
  • 30 TiB NVMe (Raw local capacity)
  • Up to 75 Gbps networking speed
So, how does the I4i.metal compare with the i3.metal? You get roughly 2x compute, storage, and memory, with improved network speed as well.
FAQ Highlights
Can I use custom core counts? Yep, the I4i will support physical custom core counts of 8, 16, 24, 30, 36, 48, 64.
Is there stretched cluster support? Yes, you can deploy these in stretched clusters (of the same host type).
Can I do in-cluster conversions? Yes, read more about that here.
Other Considerations
Why does the sizer say 20 TiB useable for the I4i? Around 7 TiB is consumed by the cache tier at the moment, so you’ll see different numbers in the sizer. And your useable storage numbers will obviously be impacted by the usual constraints around failures to tolerate (FTT) and RAID settings.
Region Support?
The I4i.metal instances will be available in the following Regions (and Availability Zones):
  • US East (N. Virginia) – use1-az1, use1-az2, use1-az4, use1-az5, use1-az6
  • US West (Oregon) – usw2-az1, usw2-az2, usw2-az3, usw2-az4
  • US West (N. California) – usw1-az1, usw1-az3
  • US East (Ohio) – use2-az1, use2-az2, use2-az3
  • Canada (Central) – cac1-az1, cac1-az2
  • Europe (Ireland) – euw1-az1, euw1-az2, euw1-az3
  • Europe (London) – euw2-az1, euw2-az2, euw2-az3
  • Europe (Frankfurt) – euc1-az1, euc1-az2, euc1-az3
  • Europe (Paris) –  euw3-az1, euw3-az2, euw3-az3
  • Asia Pacific (Singapore) – apse1-az1, apse1-az2, apse1-az3
  • Asia Pacific (Sydney) – apse2-az1, apse2-az2, apse2-az3
  • Asia Pacific (Tokyo) – apne1-az1, apne1-az2, apne1-az4

Other Regions will have availability over the coming months.

 

Thoughts

The i3.metal isn’t going anywhere, but it’s nice to have an option that supports more cores and it a bit more storage and RAM. The I4i.metal is great for SQL workloads and VDI deployments where core count can really make a difference. Coupled with the addition of supplemental storage via VMware Cloud Flex Storage and Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, there are some great options available to deal with the variety of workloads customers are looking to deploy on VMware Cloud on AWS.

On another note, if you want to hear more about all the cloudy news from VMware Explore US, I’ll be presenting at the Brisbane VMUG meeting on October 12th, and my colleague Ray will be doing something in Sydney on October 19th. If you’re in the area, come along.

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.

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.

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.

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.