Author Archives: Ranjit Singh Thakurratan

vCloud Air Disaster Recovery Enterprise Ready?

vCloud Air DR subscription is pretty impressive and is a blessing for SMB environments but when it comes to Enterprises it might not be as flexible as expected. Below are some important points from the FAQ to be noted when trying to decided if vCloud Air DR is the right way to go.

Some key features first

• Self-service disaster recovery protection with failover and failback workflows per virtual machine

• Recovery point objectives (RPO) from 15 minutes to 24 hours

• Multiple point-in time snapshots to revert to previous known states

• Runbook creation for failover workflow plan possible using vRealize™ Orchestrator™ plug-in

• Elastic cloud compute and storage capacity

• Support for ofine data seeding

• Unlimited quantity of failover testing

Now some gotchas!

Q. Will VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager be supported as a part of the service?

A. No. Current releases of VMware vCenter™ Site Recovery Manager™ (5.x) are not interoperable with vCloud Air Disaster Recovery. This means no orchestrated failover capabilities however vCloud Air does offer vRO plugins to be used to create a DR recovery workflow.

Q. What types of service levels will be included in vCloud Air Disaster Recovery?

A. Recovery point objective (RPO) service levels will be configurable on a self-service basis per virtual machine and will range from 15 minutes to 24 hours (variable based on actual data change rates and available bandwidth). VMware will guarantee a recovery time objective (RTO) of four (4) hours or less, per the vCloud Air Level Agreement (SLA). This means there are no subminute RPO’s. This means critical data cannot really be replicated with an RPO of 5 minutes.

Q. Are there scalability limits with the core subscription?

A. Your vCloud Air Disaster Recovery core subscription can scale up to 500 VMs. For enterprises with >500 vms vCloud Air can be a limiting factor.

Q. When a customer has declared a disaster and has failed over to their vCloud Air Disaster Recovery environment in vCloud Air, how long can they operate before requiring failback or migration?

A. A customer has 7 days to run a test failover and for an actual failover, a customer has 30 days to run active in their Disaster Recovery instance. The customer may operate from their vCloud Air Disaster Recovery environment for up to 30 days without incurring any penalties. After 30 days a daily usage fee will be applied. Customers will have the option to failback their virtual machines to their primary data center at any time, or, optionally, migrate their virtual machines to another class of service offered by vCloud Air. This certainly is an issue for any customer who wants to get more out of their DR environment and also wants the flexibility to switch to their DR being promoted as a production environment.

Q. Can I use my credit card to get started with vCloud Air DR on demand?

A. No vCloud Air DR is a subscription model with contracted billing.

Q. What is the cost of per instance of vCloud Air?

A. A base configuration gives you 10GHz of CPU, 20 GB of RAM and 1TB of storage with 10Mbps of network throughput. You also get 2 public IPs. This base configuration costs around 800$ per month. Now you can add more CPU/RAM and storage as well. The CPU and RAM are proportionally added so adding one increases the other.

Maxing out an instances we can add about,

CPU = 120GHz, RAM = 240GB, 12 additional public IPs and upto 12 TB of storage.

The total cost of such a built out instance of vCloud air ends up being around 10,000$ per month. You could go beyond 12 IPs and 12 TB of storage by directly checking in with VMware sales teams but more storage and IPs equate to more VMs and more resources that are needed in a DR scenario.

It is important to understand the scale of your DR environment and the expected functionality such as failover orchestration etc to be able to properly validate if vCloud Air DR is infact a cost effective solution or not. There will be a point in the graph where vCloud Air DR will be more expensive and restrictive than building your own dedicated DR environment.

A Quick Intro to vCloud Air Hybrid Cloud Manager

I wanted to give you a quick-read introduction of vCloud Hybrid cloud manager.

vCloud Air Hybrid Cloud Manager enables bidirectional VM mobility and migration to the cloud and back, and hybrid networking to extend on-premises vSphere vCenter networks into vCloud Air. Data transport features include network extension, WAN optimization, Multi-tenant WAN with Intelligent Routing, and path fail-over.

Security features include Suite B-compliant AES-GCM with IKEv2, data de-duplication and compression, AES-NI Offload, Flowbased Admission Control. It gets interesting because Hybrid Cloud Manager owns the source and destination encryption and decryption, ensuring a consistent security policy and providing admission for hybrid workflows like virtual machine migration and network extension.

These features can be deployed in several ways. Hybrid Networking (Layer 2 Extension) can securely extend your vSphere vCenter to integrate with a vCloud Air Virtual Data Center (vDC). We can also stretch multiple L2 segments  and can route stretched networks via Cloud Gateway for encryption and through the WAN optimization appliance to provide a secure and optimized path through the Internet to vCloud Air.

Read more at the official doc here.

Teaser – Learning VMware NSX – Virtxpert Repost

I have been working on my book for a while now and have picked two of the best reviewers to keep me honest. The book is about VMware NSX and is the only NSX book as far as I am aware(that isn’t focussed on certification only). 

The book is now available for pre order and below is what Jonathan from www.virtxpert.com has posted. Enjoy the read.

I have been fortuneate enough in my day job to get hands on experience with VMware NSX, even before the bits were available to download I was supporting NSX via the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, as it is one of the core components. For people still looking to get a jump start on learning NSX, I wanted to give you a bit of a teaser for an upcoming book by Ranjit Singh – Learning VMware NSX.

  

Since I am a technical reviewer for this book, which is being published by Packt Publishing, I can’t give away to much but can tell you it is packed with step by step examples on how to get up and running quickly with NSX and understand the various components and how they interact. Keep an eye out on the Packt site, and I expect you’ll here more from me and @rjapproves when it is released!

VMware NSX Session at Atlanta VMUG UserCon Today! 

For anyone in and around Atlanta, make sure you make it to GWCC convention center for the VMUG UserCon 2015!

Atlanta has one of the busiest VMUG and I will be presenting on getting started with VMware NSX!

You can also meet up with Mariano Maluf – the president of VMUG and other big wigs as well.

Also get to meet Kelley O’Hara – from the national football team and am hoping to take a picture with her. She’s awesome!

See you there! 

Bare Metal VSphere provisioning session #liveblog

In this session at VMworld we are talking about bare metal provisioning using Hanlon and Ansible.

Hanlon loads a micro kernel and allows a boot for the machine.

Project Kragle – is an automation node that is the glue where everything comes together – including dhcp, DNS, Ansible play books etc..

Project Emmet – bare metal provisioning of ESXi using Hanlon. The infrastructure is configured using Ansible. This project is being positioned as a proof of concept as of today but development is swift

Talking about Ansible modules

Ansible modules for Hanlon include,

  

These modules have not been released yet but are on the path of getting them out there. 

Ansible modules for vSphere include,

  
The recorded demo was great and below are some more links! 

 

VMworld 2015 Party #LiveBlog #Lastnight

This 2015 VMworld party was off the charts. Last year it was barely ok.. And we didn’t really like but this year was a completely different story!

Busses picked up attendees – yes you have to have a pass and a guest pass valid for concert only costed somewhere around 300$ is what I was told.

We then headed to the Att center where Neon trees and Alabama Shakes rocked the house. 

   
 
There were plenty of games and rides and yes alcohol was free too including food. Wine and beer flowed like water!

   
 And surprise surprise there was a skating rink inside as well! I fell a number of times. Enjoy the pics and the verdict was that this party was certainly better than before! Good job VMware!

   
    
    
 

Inside the VMworld HOL – Expert Led Workshop #Liveblog

I enrolled in the NSX Advanced Workshop and it was great. The session floor is awesome with about 74000 vms spun up already! The HOL labs for these sessions will be live in about a week so you will get to use them as well. Totally worth it. Below are some awesome pictures!

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

Fancy Ping-Pong Table at Hang Out Lounge #livestream

A must stop for all bloggers and enthusiasts is the hang out lounge at Moscone North.

Take a moment to play at the fancy ping pong table!

  

Advanced DRS vSphere 6.0 Concepts

Doing a DRS running blog on some advanced and best practices from the #inf5306 sessions

Let’s begin with what metrics it collects to asses the state of your environment

  • Host level and VM level stats and metrics 
  • Host memory and CPU reserved for doing various host based tasks such as FDM agent memory and CPU requirements. Another example is vMotion task requirements of CPU memory and networking
  • VM metrics include Active memory, memory overhead and growth rate. Other metrics include CPU active, run and peak loads. Shared memory pages are also looked at.
  • DRS also looks if the demands and the entitlement for vm resources are being met
  • During initial placement DRS checks if any performance impact occurs to the currently running virtual machines

Initial placement and constraints which play a big role in decision making for initial VM placement

  • HA admission control policies i.e slot based, reserved % for failover etc
  • Affinity and anti-affinity rules to ensure virtual machines are not misplaced
  • DRS looks into total number of concurrent vMotions and time to vMotion. Limit the number of vMotions to ensure your management network is not flooded and resources are not consumed on both sides unless absolutely necessary
  • DRS checks for data store connectivity as well to ensure that a VM is not moved to a host with bad connection 
  • DRS looks at the vCPU to pCPU ratio
  • Reservations, limits and shares act as a constraint that is looked by DRS 
  • Agent vms also act as a constraint for example a VM which has a dependency with an agent VM will not be moved.
  • Special vms such as SMP-FT, vFlash and latency sensitive vms

New features for DRS in vSphere 6.0

  • Network aware DRS (NDRS v1) – allows admins to specify network bandwidth reservation for critical vms. Initial placement of the VM is based in VM bandwidth reservation. Any remidiation is also handled such as a when a pNIC saturates or fails.
  • Cross virtual center xVmotion placement involves unified host and data store recommendation. This means when a VM moves from one vc to another vc – recommendations are made based on characteristics in both vc’s. VC here is virtual center. This is done by running a combined DRS and SDRS algorithm. 
  • Rule migration is a feature in DRS where a virtual machines’ rules are carried over as part of the migration either within a vc or between virtual centers. The rules here does not include VM to host affinity rules 

vSphere 6 has also done some overhead resource consumption improvements. There are improvements in static overhead which is the minimum memory needed to power on the VM. The good thing is DRS will now compute the static overhead. In ESXi worst case scenario the static over head is at 986.06 MB – is what should be available on the hypervisor to be able to power on virtual machines without affecting performance

DRS Advanced Options

Now it’s not common to tweak these options but these will come in handy to many unique deployments.

  • Uniformly distribute vms across all hosts – set value of 1 or 2 for LimitVMsperesxhost or Limitvmsperesxihostpercent
  • vCPU to pCPU ratio – MaxVcpuspercore and maxvcpusperclusterpct
  • vMem to pMem ratio – maxhostmemovercommitpct and maxclustermemovercommitpct
  • Active memory vs consumed memory management – percentidlembinmemdemand 

Hope this was helpful! 🙂

Kaminario K2 Flash Array #livestream

Cost effective Flash storage array!