VMware vCloud Director – the what and evalution

Last week I was asked about vCloud Director. I haven’t worked with vCloud Director the last couple of projects (single users of their private infrastructure). I thought I can use this question to buff up my vCloud Director skills, update my lab to 5.5 and do a blog post in one.

vCloud director, what’s that?

vCloud director is a solution from VMware to enable organisations to build multi-tenant private clouds. This is done by creating virtual data centers on infrastructure resources. Users (or tenants) of those virtual data centers can use vCloud Director to consume their resources in a service that is offered through a Web portal. The web portal enables self service to cloud provider customers (Infrastructure as a Service, IaaS) or internal tenants for multi-tenant organisations.

And what do you need? – A litte vCloud Director architecture first.

vCloud director consist of the following components:

– A vCloud director “cell”. A single instance of vCloud Director is known as a “cell.” This can be vCloud Director installed on a VM with supported OS or this can be a vCloud Directory appliance. Important Note here: the vCloud Director appliance is not for production (5.5 still not supported). It is designed for Proof of concepts or demo environment (lower scale single cell). Appliance are designed for removing complexity. So yes.. I’m using the appliance in this evaluation.
– vCloud Director database. Information about objects, users and other vCloud related data is stored in a MS SQL or Oracle database. With more then one cell in your environment, all cells communicate with one vCloud Director database. This component is critical and should be high available.
– vCenter Server. The vCenter instance supplies a connection for vCloud Director with the needed resources, such as CPU and memory. vCloud can be connected to one or more vCenter instances. For my demo I’m using a vCenter Server Appliance 5.5.
– ESXi hosts. They provide the computing power. They are grouped in clusters or resource pools via vCenter. With these hosts also comes attached storage resources, which in their case can be clustered also. I have 5.5 in my lab.
– vCloud Networking and Security Manager (again 5.5). To enable the support of automated management of vCloud networking and security (integrating vShield), an instance of vCloud Networking and Security Manager is required for each vCenter Server attached to vCloud Director.

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The above model shows all the mentioned components brought together.

Lab time – evaluation with initial installation of components

I have one vCSA and one ESXi host added in my notebook lab. I’m downloading the vCloud director appliance and vCloud Networking and security vShield manager appliance.
These can be easily deployed to your inventory as an OVF template. These deployments are really straightforward.
One note for the networks of the vCloud director: a vCloud Director appliance requires two network adapters and IP addresses. The one is used for HTTP traffic and to connect to the vCloud Director user interface. The other is for the console proxy connection that is used for all VMware Remote Console (VMRC) connections and traffic. When the networks are on the same IP subnet, the lowest number (eg. 132 when the other ends with 133) is assigned to the web service (https://<lowest_Ip>/cloud).

In a production environment these should connect to two different networks. For the lab I’m connecting both network adapters to the same network (and thus ignoring the warning shown).

I’m using the internal database option, so my demo lab does not need a database server.

My Lab now looks like this:

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So with VCSA 5.5 deployed and initially setup (accepting EULA and accepting defaults). I’ll add a ESXi host. Nothing fancy. Minimum 4GB memory. Well it actually can go down, but you first have to install ESXi with 4GB and then downsize when finished. And vCD needs some memory for Oracle XE. So better stick to 4GB minimum.

I will go a head and initially configure vShield Manager…. ehhrm I mean vCloud Networking and Security Manager.
I add the VM to the same network, minimize memory for lab purpose and power on. When booted the manager login is shown. I logon with admin and password default. Go to the privileged mode (by using enable, at that time my Cisco days are passing in my memory) and enter set-up. Here I configure the IP address in the same range as my other hosts (that are DHCP clients). Open up a web browser to the configured IP address and the interface is shown. We can the same default user as the one used at the manager login.

The minimal item we have to setup is a connection to vCenter. Click the edit button next to it and add the vCenter server to the VSM.

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After this we can close VSM and check that vCloud networking and security manager is successfully manageable from vCenter.

Next up deploying vCloud Director appliance. We will need to do this from the vCSA and deply as ovf.

So deploying to correct datacenter, storage and getting the warning for the same networks, setting root and guest password and adding IP’s or using DHCP (the latter for now)

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And deploy when complete (and yes I switched from web client to vSphere client for the screen shots).

Start your engines. When the VM is booted, you will have to complete the initial installation by open https://<your VCD ip>/cloud. I have not changed the default user and password so root and vmware it is.

Accept the license agreement, add a valid (trial) license, and a administrator account. Add a unique system name and ID. The system name will be used to add a folder to your infrastructure. The ID should be unique to prevent conflicts. Starting with 1.

And finish. You are now returned to the vCD login screen. The last items for this eval:
Login and choose attach New vCenter from the Quick Start you are shown. Insert the name, ip, port and users for your vCenter. And next add to VSM. Ready to complete.

After this you will have to configure a provider data center and define resources (storage, networking) that will be consumed by organisations. You will have to create these organizations as well.

But for now this will be enough.

– Enjoy!

Evaluations – Veeam Backup and Replication version 7- What and Installation.

And now for something completely different… Well different, still has to do with a virtual infrastructure. Evaluating the version 7 of Veeam Backup and Replication.

What is Veeam Backup and replication?

Veeam Backup and replication is a data protection and disaster recovery solution for virtual infrastructures. It supports virtual infrastructures from VMware or Hyper-V.
It brings features such as instant file-level recovery and VM recovery, scalability, backup & replication, built-in de-duplication and bringing centralized back-up and replication management to your infrastructure.

To produce a backup, Veeam Backup leverages VMware snapshot capabilities. When you need to perform backup. The VMware snapshot technology lets you back up VMs without suspending them; also known as online hot backup.

Architecture

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The picture above (picture credits to the Veeam Evaluation guide. Get this guide at  http://veeampdf.s3.amazonaws.com/guide/veeam_backup_evaluators_guide_7_vmware.pdf) shows the components that make up the Veeam Backup and replication infrastructure:

  • Veeam Backup server—a physical or virtual machine. The Veeam Backup server is the core component: responsible for configuration and management.
  • Backup proxy—a “data mover” component used to process VM data and transfers to the datastore targets.
  • Backup repository—a storage location for storing backup files, VM copies and replicas.
  • Virtual infrastructure servers—ESXi or Hyper-V hosts which are sources and targets for backup and replication operations.

Evaluating

For the evaluation I’m doing a simple deployment with a Server 2012 host as backup server and repository, and a VMware ESXi host managed by a vCenter Server Appliance. I’m not using multi core/processors so you will get a warning about data processing times.

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The wizard starts when you push the appropriate installer. You can input your license file or use the free edition when you have got one. I’m using a NFR license for demo purposes.

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I’m doing the complete setup. Not changing the default install, I currently just have one disk connected. Prerequisite software checks are done next. If you are not compliant push the install button to get the required software.

Connect with a local admin (from domain or not) and use a existing SQL instance or let the installer add a MS SQL Express 2008R2 one for you (I’m currently going for the latter). Ports can remain the default ones. Same goes for the locations, be sure to change them to your needs. And hit the install button to start the engines….

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And have a little patience for the installer to finish. And lift off..

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Now let’s add the virtual servers. Go to Backup Infrastructure – Managed Servers and right click to select add server. You can select vSphere, vCloud, Hyper-V and Windows hosts. Add the VCSA via the vSphere option.

Add the VCSA credentials to the Wizard (in my case the standard root vmware combo). It takes a while as my lab has not enough resources…
The Wizard will create a new VMware object in the backup inventory.

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Next up, the backup proxy. As described earlier, this is the data mover and needs access to the source and destination datastore. This is a Windows server with either a physical connection (physical server with LUN’s attached) or a VM. Add it as a managed server (add a windows server at managed servers) and assign the backup proxy role (add at backup Proxies.). I am using the same server for all roles, so it is already added to the server list and to the VMware proxy by the Veeam Wizard.

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Next up: a backup repository. This can be a:
– Windows Server with storage attached.
– Linux server with local or NFS mounted storage.
– a CIFS share.

I have added a vmdk to my server, and am using this as the backup repository. So I add a repository to a Microsoft Windows server, to this server and use populate to find the appropriate disk. For additional features I’m also adding this as a vPower NFS server. image

And boom, your Veeam infrastructure is up and running in minutes. Just know the architecture components and prepare in advance. Surely this test lab is not sufficient for production as I haven’t taken retention, archiving, access and RTO/RPO in mind.

Next up is creating some jobs and fill up the repository. Go to backup & Replication pane, and add a backup job.

The add backup job is straightforward  Select the source machine and th what. Select the destination and which proxy to use.

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One of the important screens is the Advanced Settings.

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here the mode can be selected, storage and methods (use vSphere CBT).

And viola start you engines, a test job can be run.

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This concludes the Veeam Backup and Replication introduction and basic installation.

– Enjoy Veeaming across your virtual infrastructure.

Evaluation – VMware vCenter Log Insight – Part one the what, why and installation

A few posts back I wrote about the vCenter Collector services to centrally collect logs and dumps. There is also the VMware vCenter Log Analyzer appliance, a collector and an analyzer (with the collectors you have to do the analyzing part yourself). The appliance is an OVF/OVA download, that you can add to your environment.

What does it gives you:

  • Log file collection and analysis.
  • Alert and events collection and analysis.
  • vCenter en vCenter Operation Management integration.
  • Connect to everything. Everything? Well everything that’s able to generate log data. Several partners have content packs for their logs that you can import that gives you an additional layer for analyzing.

So you were writing about the vCenter collectors, why will we not use them? Well you can for you virtual environment. And you will if you are budget constrained. You will have to do the analysis all by yourself, with your own expertise.

How do I get it?

What does it cost?

VMware vCenter Log Insight is licensed on a per operating system instance (OSI) basis, which is defined as any server, virtual or physical, with an IP address that generates logs, including network devices and storage arrays. You can analyze an unlimited amount of log data per OSI. vCenter Log Insight price is currently announced as $200 per OSI.

And it really depends on the amount of log generating devices you want collected or analyzed (not only VMware related).

Installation

Installation of the appliance is straightforward, just like any OVF: Right click datacenter or cluster for Deploy OVF Template. Select your source location, and don’t forget to change the file type in the browse window (else it defaults looks for *.ovf and not the ova extension the Log Analyzer has) and select the downloaded version.

Accept license agreement (O yes, you want to read it first 😉 ), choose your hostname and location, disk layout, datastore location and network. If you want you can customize by setting a GW, DNS and IP for log insight. Default or blanks will give you DHCP. And let it fly.

Start your engines when it is all finished. Log on to the console and press CRTL ALT F1.

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Login with root and blank password. This enables you to set a new password for root.

The vCenter Log Insight Web interface is available at http://log_insight-host/. The HTTPS-based secure Web interface is available at https://log_insight-host/.

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When you access the vCenter Log Insight Web interface for the first time after the deployment, you must complete the initial configuration steps:

  • set the admin password and optionally a e-mail address.
  • set up a permanent or evaluation license key,
  • type in the e-mail address of the mailbox to receive notifications (some notifications about Log Insight are only send via e-mail notifications),
  • if you want you can participate in the Customer Experience Improvement Program select the thickbox of the send weekly option,
  • save and continue.
  • On the time page setup a NTP server, when none is available you can optionally sync with the ESXi host.
  • save and continue.
  • Setup the SMTP server details.
  • save and continue.
  • You can now setup the optional retrieval of vCenter events/tasks/alerts or send alert notifications to vOPS. (well optional, if you want central management set those options up. Leave out ops if you don’t have this.)
  • save and continue.
  • Set up an optional NFS archival location. You can also add more vmdk’s to your system for online data locations. But you will want to have some archiving in the future. For the evaluation I’m skipping this one.
  • save and continue.
  • Restart to complete the initial setup.

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After the restart open a browser and viola the vCenter Log Insight home screen is shown. That was a smooth install.

This concludes the first part of the vCenter Log Insight evaluation. In the next part we will handle the following:

What to do next?

We need to configure some hosts to send syslogs to vCenter Log Insight. We can use to provide script configure-esx or we can use PowerCLI to setup a syslog host at the ESXi host advanced settings. We will use Log Insight to query log messages, set up alert notifications, import content packs and more. When I got my lab a bit more setup (I have a little resource issue) I will follow-up in a second post.

-Enjoy for now.