More bigs news from Microsoft – Microsoft's Cloud Platform System (CPS) – (I call it Azure Cloud "Private Edition") – a joint announcement from Microsoft and Dell, which offers a bundle including Dell Racks with expandble computing, storage and networking, running a private Azure cloud (on premise) that should look and work the same as Microsoft's public Azure offering.
You can create multiple tenants to represent different groups, organizations or sub-companies and lauch Windows and Linux instances. You can expand the hardware to support hundreds or thousands of VMs.
Here are my VMWorld 2014 notes about the conference's top new solutions.
Bottom line, I expect most of those features and solutions become popular and although it starts to feel like there is "too much", that's our role as IT Professionals, to pick the right tools for use in the right time and place.
EVO: Rail – "Data Center in a Box" – allows hardware and software ISVs to package their multi-suite software appliances into a single kit that includes shrink-wrapped manageability options (no need for vCenter and similar management tools, but they can be used if you have them). All deployed within 15 minutes!
EVO: Rack – "vHardware v2.0". Yes, "vHardware" is my term to describe the offering of integrated, data center scale hardware to support quick deployment of VMware at mass scale. In the past years it featured products such as Cisco UCS, EMC vBlock, NetAPP FlexPod). I'd say EVO: Rack is the second "vHardware" major effort, now fueled by the new "SDDC" (Software Defined Data Center) standard, including extensible racks including servers, storage, networking (from various hardware vendors) and the complete suite of VMware's data center management products, all deployable within 2 hours and aimed to allow launching multiple Virtual Data Centers, within a single physical Data Center.
vCloud Air – Allows for easy transparent secure migration of VMs into and from the cloud, or across the world into and from other data centers. The policies, including network and security rules of a VM will migrate with it, and be enforced, no matter where it is migrated to. All based on the new vSphere 6.0 (Beta) engine.
vCloud Realize – Management and monitoring of Operations, Automation, Business, provided on internal external or Hybrid Cloud via vCloud Air.
Contributing to and integrating with Dockercontainers as well as with Google Kubernetes Docker management software, both are becoming a strong standard for agile development, testing, packaging and deploying software. Essentially you can deploy and maintain Docker containers within the well-known VMware management tools, such as VMware vCenter.
vSphere 6 Beta now allows migration of live VMs from one GEO location to another one across the world, providing transparent network access to the VMs without any adjustment of their IP network details independently of the actual local network details for each GEO location, all based on VMware NSX technology)
Policy based deployment and enforcement of SDDC: network, storage, availability, etc. Those policies automate the setup and maintenance of our VMs, and reduces the need to create and monitor operation and monitoring related scripts.
Virtual Volumes (Beta): Using the Sphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA), it allows for the offloading of VM operations to the most common storage solutions. For example, creating a VM snapshot can be done by the storage system (EMC, NETAPP, etc), using its own means to do what until now, the VMware ESX server had to do. This complements past offering of VMware's Virtual SAN, which aimed to replace the need for expensive physical storage solutions, by offering many of the SAN storage features through software on top of economic commodity hardware.
Rapid mobile deployment of apps (temporary desktop) streamed from VMware cloud assisted by the Air-Watch technology. As an example, allows one to send a document that requires a specific APP, to another person. If the receiving party is entitled to use the relevant app, it will be available for him as soon as he tries to open that document.
Federated App / Desktop Delivery via VMware AirWatch. As an example this allows a doctor to securely send a patient health test result to another expert's mobile device, even though the expert works in another hospital. Only the doctor and the expert can collaborate on this document. All done seamlessly. App delivery and usage is streamed through VMware cloud data centers in the background so it seems delivery is instant.
That's it for now.
Do let me know what you found out so far (I am still going through the VMWorld Brown Bag sessions).
This was right on for me and I got free access to the book copy for review, within few hours.
I will be using it through my journey to get more intimate relations with our VMware operations. But I can say the quick "I need to" test came out with flying colors. I mean, you could read the book chapter by chapter, but you would also want to quickly find how to do something specific. In this case I was looking for Data Store latency information and within 5 minutes found the background materials as well as the specific commands.
Having a trusted guide (Robert), I also took on his warm advise to finally look into the automated comprehensive vCheck Script as well as the PowerGUI tool and wonderful set of ready to use packs (more on this on a separate post). One word of caution – I would not use just any library pack offered there, before I take a look at the author and the scripts, and I always run them under a user with read-only permissions, preferring a quick test on a test environment first, just to quickly see it actually works.
This resulted in a quick report I was able to construct within an hour, showing a possible savings of ~ $15,071.
For now I think I'd replace Yoda's blessing with "May the Power(CLI) be with you" 🙂
More on my review of the book soon…
What are your favorite Power CLI resources?
Until 26 March this book is on the packt's buy 1/get 1 free book sale, along with all their catalog here: http://bit.ly/1j26nPN
Here is my pick of the VMware vSphere 5.5 cool new features:
1. Support of ~52 TB on a single vmdk allows big storage VMs, closer to real server capacities
2. The vCenter appliance now supports up to 100 hosts and 3000 VMs with the internal DB takes it into SMB plus size or moderate Development shops level
3. Official support of latest 4 virtual hardware versions reduce the need to upgrade VMware tools component, when new vSphere version ships, hence less reboots for VMs
4. Utilizing better reliable memory section in a hardware, leverages the protection for the more critical parts of the ESX hypervisor. This adds to the overall stability of the virtual VMware based data center.
5.latency issues in the hypervisor are addressed in new, easy to configure settings.
6. vSAN (beta) included in the core vSphere aiming to address the massive need for low-cost storage for VDI deployments. It allows defining VM storage needs in terms of speed, reliability, caching, raid level and other operational factors. vSAN then dynamically assigns the VM resources off the storage pools it had found avail with those capabilities. vSAN turns any local disk on any commodity ESX hardware into a part of the aggregate vSAN based datastore.
Here are some VMware vSphere 5.1 Cool features I did not have time to post about until now…They are still great!
Voma – VMFS on disk meta data analyzer finally! Checks for file system errors but does not fix them yet
New sparse disk efficient can reclaim unused guest (!!) disk space – Only for sc sparse disks and VMware View machines
Storage I/O control turned on by default to get more I/O info about VMs and assist storage DRS mechanism
You now get SSO (Single Sign On) server which you can hook to multiple Microsoft Active Directory domains as well as vCenter servers. Once you authenticate, the SSO server provides your VI Client with a certificate, it can later use to authenticate all the VMware v5.1 solutions
That's the last time vi Client has a non web version
The new web client option has a new 'pause' feature allowing you stop a wizard walk through saving its data and state to continue later on as you do other actions first. Very nice time saver!
Third party plugins need update to fit the new server-based / web GUI client
That's it for now folks! What features did you like the best?
Listen to this post here:
As I am reviewing the design considerations for the processes of updating and upgrading Virtual Appliance's software, I decided to take a look at how leading Virtual Appliance vendors are updating their appliance's software.
The method I used for this quick research was very simple: I looked at the Virtual Appliance's documentation, where it discussed the update and upgrade process. I then deduced how the software update process was designed. The "Known Issues" and "Troubleshooting" sections in the vendor's release notes, were a very good resource as well.
Stay tuned for my design considerations checklist, while this article reviews the flaws of the leading Virtual Appliance Software Update Design.
VMware ESXi Host
That's not a virtual appliance, as it usually runs on real hardware, except for testing purposes where it can run as a virtual machine. Still I thought it is worth a look at, due to its core role in VMware's virtual solutions, as they should have used methods to update its software, that may be worthy for a Virtual Appliance as well.
Upgrade across major versions (4 to 5) seem to work seamlessly if you use the update manager via vCenter, because it preserves virtual machines, even if they reside along with the Hypervisor and it goes through all the steps in the process (verify, stage updates, update, test, reboot), without your intervention.
However, if update is interrupted during upgrades or updates, the system may become unusable (no quick rollback option).
The basic vCenter update manager, update process requires your input. But you could automate it if you can standardize on your hardware and configuration and then use options such as customized ISOs and other methods offered by VMware as well as 3rd party hardware vendors.
In general you could automate the process of a specific update, but you still have to screen and test new updates, review their impact and effect on your environment, to customize your own automated process. You can't really automatically stream updates to your ESXi.
VMware vCenter Server Appliance (Linux Based)
The main method described for an update required creation of a new fresh vCenter Server Appliance instance, then creating a trust relationship of the new and current vCenter Server, allowing the transfer of the current appliance configuration settings to the new fresh appliance. As this process completes, you could shut down the current appliance and leave the new fresh appliance running.
This does not look like a process that could be easily automated or simplified.
To apply updates rather than an upgrade, you are supposed to manually run the process through your browser. So this process is manual as well and it is not clear if and how you can quickly and easily recover if the updates cause issues.
VMware Storage Appliance
As you upgrade the appliance you may be required to uninstall the current version, adding complexity to the process.
You are required to manually address dependencies, such as upgrading ESX hosts only AFTER you upgrade the Storage Appliance software. This is very disturbing if you are looking for an automated, bullet proof simple process.
There is a mentioning of a rollback the update process may activate in case of an upgrade failure, but it is not clear how it works.
It is not clear how and if updates / patches can be applied, since all documents I reviewed refer to upgrades only.
Indeed in most cases we refer in this case to hardware based appliances (routers), and yet, I'd expect the design concepts of such a major, long term appliance vendor, have lots of wisdom implanted in its update architecture. Of course Cisco has incorporated various platforms and solutions it either developed or acquired through the years. Still I reviewed the common IOS update process.
Updates can be activated interactively or for a group of appliances via update manager software.
Although in general they recommend running the update at the physical console, I believe remote consoles and remote power controllers could suffice in most cases as well.
The update process seems to be pretty failsafe, as you could upload an update to the appliance's flash memory. The flash memory, if properly sized, could hold up several update images, which you could select from to boot the appliance. So if you stumbled into a bad update, you could easily reboot the appliance with the previous good image.
All together the basic design concepts of simple, automated, safe process that can be mass deployed seem to apply in this case. Of course in my future Appliance Software Update design considerations checklist, I will try to highlight additional innovative ideas.
F5 BIG-IP Virtual Edition (top performer in the VMware Appliance Market)
I found lack of automation and mass deployment options. You basically have to download the update ISOs, use a web browser to import them, check for their MD5 checksum, and execute them on the appliance.
There is no mentioning of automated or manual recovery or options for mass-deployment.
Looking at the cases I inspected, you could be critical of those solutions (except for Cisco's solution). However, we should also consider, maybe after all, it is not worthy enough to address those lacks. Those vendors are still massively selling those products…
Maybe it is because in the IT arena, people do not take the time to show management, how much the lack of better software update features, resulting in extra down time, really costs…
Or maybe that's because the Virtual Appliance is just an in-between phase, leading us from computers to cloud services. Maybe the lack of robustness of the Appliance maintenance mechanisms cause, is that vendors are merely taking the minimum amount of effort required to dump their software, as is, into the virtual appliance, knowing that the real effort should be invested in restructuring their solutions as generalized cloud services. That's where the computer entity is irrelevant. In this case the whole Virtual Appliance market is destined for doom, in spite of the seemingly vibrant state it appeaars to be nowadays.