VMworld Barcelona from the notebook: VMware Strategic Summary

At the VMworld conferences in San Francisco and Barcelona VMware we learned that VMware is continuing the strategic priorities it started almost a year ago. Not a real surprise as the road still has a lot of opportunities but also some bumps to take. These are some of the notes that I crafted during my visit of keynotes, sessions and such at VMworld Barcelona. While there where not mind blowing new technical announcements, it does tell about the ever changing world in which we are and what VMware is bringing to help IT business with these changes and challenges.

The VMware strategic priorities are divided in to three pillars to continue to serve the liquefying IT world. Within this strategies there are no limits, and this was also the theme of VMworld this year is (maybe no limits is not that good for the VMworld parties 😉 ).

As we learned from the keynotes the current IT world is moving from a rigid, known, limited IT environment to a more liquid, unknown, unlimited, accessible from everywhere and every device IT environment. Here new business models are needed where data and applications are presented in a uniform way to the users and the devices they are using.

Strategy - Overview 1

These IT business models need more AND decisions instead of the OR decisions it currently sees. We don’t build the infrastructure for traditional application or cloud applications, on or off-premise, we build the infrastructures for traditional and cloud applications available on and off-premise depending on the users and application requirements. The power of AND. And this also includes for the mentioned VMware strategic pilars where cloud is the returning component in the SDDC, Hybrid Cloud and EUC for cloud mobility. Cloud in all it’s glory, private, hybrid, mobile, cloud applications and public cloud services.

Strategy - Power of AND

Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC)

Continuing to further virtualize the data center from the compute virtualization via flagship vSphere (now in vSphere 6.0 Beta) and continue to virtualize the network (via NSX) and storage (via Virtual SAN/VSAN and Virtual Volumes). This can be done by designing and building your own building blocks (as long those blocks are on the VMware compatibilty matrix), VMware ready partner building blocks optimized for vSphere and Horizon View. Since VMworld VMware introduced another building component, the VMware Hyperconverged Infrastructure Architecture in the form of EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK (the big brother of EVO:RAIL for cloud scalability). These are complete OEM hardware building blocks combining compute, networking and storage, and VMware vSphere and VSAN ready to go (a somewhat simplified explanation). This reduces deployment times, complexity, optimizes resources and performance for a number of reasons. Rack, cable and create a initial configuration from defined wizards and their configuration. Deploy VM’s in 15 minutes with pre-defined VM configuration blocks. Or create your own VM configuration based on your needs, security and such. This probably takes a little more than the announced 15 minutes, but still significant less time then when using your own building blocks or VMware ready blocks.
A the partner level of news, HP is introduced as partner in EVO:RAIL, networking and enterprise mobillity, exciting what that will bring from the partner eco-sphere.

Strategy - SDDC Compute Strategy - SDDC Network Strategy - SDDC Storage

End-User Computing (EUC) in a Mobile Cloud Era

This is one of the layers needed for providing applications and data that run on VMware software products. In the last year there where several knowledge investments (or takeovers) that where needed to put the VMware EUC mobile cloud strategy in the right place on the IT world map. This started with the acquisition of Desktone for Desktop as a server (DaaS), Airwatch as leader in enterprise mobile device management and the latest Cloud Volumes acquisition for delivering virtualized applications (announced around VMworld US). Next to this VMware updated it’s own product from a VDI to a hybrid VDI published application/desktop product suite with VMware Horizon Suite updates. Additionally VMware announced Just in time Dekstops for the mobile users, Horizon Flex for offline BYOD desktops and Project Fargo for rapid duplication and sharing of resources of EUC virtual machines. 

Hybrid Cloud

Cloud is everywhere. It could be that a strategic model with the Hybrid cloud pilar positioned between SDDC and EUC pilars is a little unclear as it is not a pilar on it’s own (but that is that whole AND that was in Pat’s keynote). The cloud pilar is partly for transition and partly for allowing new cloud related functionality from and outside of the VMware product groups. You can also see this a different way, SDDC and EUC are delivered in the cloud, for the cloud which cloud definition this is. But I can see that a business model and strategy requires a little more then just a theoretical term that is everywhere.
The VMware strategy breaths and revolves about cloud. The cloud is presented in services for the private (the local on-premise data center services in SDDC) and public cloud (the public accesible services and cloud applications). Around this tools to seamlessly as possible move fast from the one cloud to the other without affecting but serving the user. Users move from on premises workspaces, to traveling workers back to the office workspaces and to home. All those places have there devices and infrastructures and all need a form of interaction with the company data and applications. In the private cloud the important products are the SDDC. To move from private to a hybrid cloud VMware earlier introduced vCloud Hybrid Services. This got more body (more services like DB as a Service) and a re-branding to vCloud Air. At VMworld a new location for vCloud Air for the EMEA market was announced, Germany will offer a new vCloud Air location.
This last year the main usage of the hybrid cloud was a Disaster Recovery endpoint and testing and developing. This needs to be expanded in other vCloud services like (but not limited to) virtual private cloud (starting piont for IaaS in the cloud for old and new workloads), DB as a Service (DBaaS MSSQL and MySQL) and further using DRaaS.

The IT business experimental phase of cloud is over, now the professional phase is starting with more and more production workloads are landing on the cloud.The growth of 2% workloads in the cloud in 2009 to 6% in 2014 does not show a lot of cloud adoption, but the exceptional growth in the last year (the 6%) is showing faster cloud adaption. Are you next?

vCloud Air is not only positioned for VMware related workloads, vCloud Air is also meant to host new cloud applications for mobile devices or for legacy applications created in the own DevOps environment. vCloud air is a central platform that allows other hypervisors then just VMware proprietary. 

vCloud connector (free) as a product or integrated with vCloud Director and vRealize Automation (the artist formely known a vCloud Automation Center or vCAC) is one of the tools to move workloads from the private to the vCloud.

vCloud Air Virtual Private on Demand beta is opened. An on demand services to offer flexibility to rapidly expand capacity and to integrate with the existing local infrastructure. A workspace in minutes and within a few easy steps. Direct access to cloud services that are the same as the onsite VMware infrastructure. Just have a credit card ready. Pay per minute for the resources you use. Support for 5000+ VMware certified applications and 90+ OS.

An overview of this and other Beta programs with these announcement can be found at my previous blogpost: https://www.pascalswereld.nl/2014/10/15/vmworld-barcelona-keynote-mentioned-beta-and-early-access-programs-link-list/.

Docker containers

A combined architecture of VM’s and application containers is nothing new for this VMworld. More and more organizations are rapidly adopting the Docker platform as it allows them to ship applications faster. Whether these applications are delivered to bare metal, virtualized data center, or public cloud infrastructures, it must not matter. For IT businesses seeking to efficiently build, deliver, and run enterprise applications, Docker and VMware deliver the best of both worlds for developers and IT/operations teams. Docker integration is brought to several VMware products.

Cloud management

Management of the private and public cloud, or physical environments, is delivered via the vRealize suite. vRealize is a suite of management tools for SDDC computer, network and storage virtualization, cloud and EUC (vRealize for Horizon). vRealize is a collection partly from re-branding and new features of old known components. Application and infrastructure automated provisioning is done via vRealize Automation (formally known as vCloud Automation Center or vCAC), management and monitoring is done via vRealize Operations (vCenter Operations Management) and IT billing and cost management is done via vRealize Business (ITBM, or IT Business Management). Not just a new name but also improved visualization, proactive alerting, improved capacity planning, project management with what-if scenario’s and automated resolving of found issues. Not just for the VMware products but also provisioning and management of physical or other hypervisor platforms as Hyper-V, KVN or OpenStack clouds. 

Announcement overview Strategy - SDDC Management

 

+++ Are you ready to go beyond your current limits?

Looking to find more information on VMware products, take a start here: http://www.vmware.com/products/?src=vmw_so_vex_pheld_277.

Next up I will be drafting from my VMworld notes some posts about product demo’s and technical briefings from my multiple visits to the partner ecosphere at the VMworld solutions exchange. I will be doing (or at least trying) a series about the technologies these partners and exhibitors are offering so stay tuned.

Sources: vmware.com.

 

VMware NSX Series – Introduction and components

This year VMware introduced some new solutions to the software defined data center (SDDC), namely Virtual SAN (or VSAN) for the storage and available solutions and NSX for the network and security layer. Or software defined storage resp. software defined networking.

Virtual SAN will be general available H1 2014. Beta has been released a while now, so there is plenty of opportunity to test this solution. I have done a little blog posting about the initial configuration at  https://www.pascalswereld.nl/post/62805854730/vsan-beta-part-what-install.

The other solution is NSX where I want to go in some deeper in this blog post. NSX is GA but you will have to contact VMware sales if you want something with NSX. But first a little SDDC.

Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)

So you have heard this SDDC term earlier. That is right, if you have been following the keynotes from this and last years VMworld you will have heard them. And if you are a regular visitor of vmware.com you will have seen even more of that. But what is meant with SDDC?

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Software defined data center (SDDC) is an architectural model to IT infrastructures that extends traditional virtualization concepts to all of the data center’s resources and services. This started a decinia ago with the visualization of computing resources (CPU and memory) to provide server virtualization (the software server) as the base component of SDDC.
Software defined networking or network virtualization, is the process of merging networking resources and functionality into a software-based virtual network. This creates simplicity by creating virtual network component “free” of the underlying physical network and firewall architecture. Well free, you will still need some cabling and switching to go from you computing cluster to the edge and further. But these can be simplified by just providing hardware connectivity. Let the virtualization layer handle the connectivity of VM, tenants, routing and access control (just a few examples).
Software defined storage or storage virtualization, is simple shared storage specifically designed for virtual machines. by simple it is self tuning, easy provisioning, simple managed and dynamically scalaleble. It presents a single data store distributed across multiple hosts in a vSphere cluster (that is where VSAN is enabled)

If underlying hardware fails the virtualization layers automatically redirects workloads to other components in the data center as long as redundant paths exist.

A important reason for the SDDC is to simplify the provisioning of services and providers for application workloads. Yes, it adds more complexity to the virtualization layer, it is not just computing anymore. But it simplifies provisioning while not having to go from and to different IT service silo’s to get something done. Your expertise is there in the virtualization layers.

Well pretty clear isn’t…

Now for a little in about network virtualization via VMware NSX. Will try to keep it little as you can write a book about this subject. I don’t think I’m gonna be finished in one blog post, so I conveniently used series in my title. That is not a promise but a opening, as I am sure this subject will return.

VMware NSX Architecture

NSX is composed of the following components:

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These bring components in the network/virtualization layers by means of virtual appliances, and components close to the hypervisor (on the host) components. As you will notice (or not) the switching supports the open vSwitch which allows NSX to be deployed with other hypervisors (and with other I mean other then VMware in this case). For example KVM, Xenserver can be supported/added to provide a true software defined data center, and not just a VMware software defined data center. For this you will have two flavouors of NSX, one optimized for vSphere and NSX for multi hypervisors.
But the question here is how many organizations use hybrid hypervisors in their environments. Often enough I will only see one flavor install base. But that is a case outside of the scope of this blog post. Back to NSX components.

An overview of the NSX components:

NSX Manager.  A web-based GUI management dashboard for user friendly interaction with the VMware NSX controller cluster. Via the NSX API. Primarily used for system setup, administration and troubleshooting. NSX Manager can take snapshots of the entire state of the virtual network for backup, restores, introspection, and archival. The services are provided via NSX API’s. The NSX manager works together with vCenter for managing cluster and host components.

NSX Controller. The NSX controller cluster is the highly available distributed system of virtual appliances responsible for the programmatic deployment of virtual networks across the entire architecture. The NSX controller cluster accepts API requests from cloud management platforms (e.g. vCloud, OpenStack), calculates the virtual network topology, and proactively programs the hypervisor NSX vswitches and NSX gateways with the appropriate configuration. While not handling packets directly, the controller cluster is the workhorse of the NSX infrastructure.

The NSX Manager and NSX Controller cluster are out of band and never handle data packets. Other way of definition are the NSX Manager is in the management pane (together with a vCenter system) and the NSX controllers are in the control pane of the network virtualization.

NSX Gateways/Edge Router. NSX edge services provide a secure path(s) in and out of the software defined data center. NSX Gateway nodes can be deployed in high available pairs, and offer services such as routing, firewalling, private tunneling, and load balancing services for securing and controlling traffic at the edge of one or more virtual networks. NSX gateways are managed by the controller cluster.

– NSX vSwitch. NSX vSwitch is an component that is added to the hypervisor and replaces the traditional switches. Well sort of, as there still is a distributed logical switch layer but now the NSX vSwitch or Open vSwitch. It can span multiple clusters and provide for example layer 2 and layer 3 logical switching.

– Host loadable modules. Most networking components use the host provided modules. For example to let a host understand the NSX switch and let traffic flow between NSX hosts they need to talk the same language. With the kernel modules your ESXi host is able. The installation of modules can be done using the UI or by bundling the vSphere image with proper VMware Installation Bundles (VIBs). These modules provide port Security, VXLAN, distributed firewall (DFW), distributed switching or distributed router (DR) functions on the host level.

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Okay that is enough theory done for this blog post.

Would you like some hands on? VMware has some hands on lab (HOL) sessions on the NSX subject. Take these labs at at http://labs.hol.vmware.com/ (or www.projectnee.com). You can choose or do both the  HOL-SDC-1303 – VMware NSX: The Network Virtualization Platform and HOL-SDC-1319 – VMware NSX for Multi-Hypervisor Environments sessions.

– Interesting this network virtualization. To be continued for sure.

Evaluations – VSAN Beta – The what and installation

I finally received my new company notebook. I use my notebook as my demo and evaluation lab. Before I was extremely lagging in my labs due to minimal RAM (6GB) and a magnetic none performance HDD. I still can’t believe how patienced I was (cause I normally am not even near patience). But now with a SSD and 16GB RAM (and a supporting virtualization, another plus) I can finally do some VSAN evaluating. So here goes!

What is VSAN?

VMware Virtual SAN or VSAN in short (all capitals for this one), is a new software-defined storage tier. It is simple shared storage specifically designed for virtual machines. By simple it is self tuning, easy provisioning, simple managed and dynamically scalaleble. It works at the cluster layer and presents a single datastore distributed across multiple hosts in a vSphere cluster (that is where VSAN is enabled).

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Architecture

So what are the VSAN components? A model:

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A VSAN Cluster is made out of at least three vSphere 5.5 hosts. A VSAN is activated when a host cluster is created or VSAN is enabled on existing clusters. When enabled, VSAN aggregates all local storage disks available on the hosts into a single datastore (VSAN Clustered Datastore) shared by all hosts (that is, when set to automatic). You can later expand the datastore by adding storage devices or hosts to the cluster. Local storage is at least one empty (that is not formatted with VMFS or other file system) SSD and one HDD (SAS or SATA).

VSAN requires a private 1Gb network, a VMkernel port enabled for VSAN service is added to the vSphere configuration. As a best practice, use 10Gb network and Jumbo frames (end to end). You can add multiple NIC’s for redundancy.

When you use VSAN, you’ll define a virtual machine storage policy, for requirements such as performance and availability. The policy requirements are in place at the VSAN layer when a virtual machine is being created. The virtual machines virtual disk(s) is distributed across the VSAN datastore to meet the policy requirements.

Evaluation

And now for the fun part. VSAN is available as a public beta (personally I find public beta is better then invite only beta’s so hopefully VMware will stay on this road). Want to participate, go to this link: http://www.vmware.com/vsan-beta-register.

My VSAN lab is made of three nested ESXi 5.5 hosts (nested in VMware Workstation 10). These hosts have several networksThe hosts are configured with their required networks with one management VMkernel port, one vMotion and one VSAN. (with several nics in appropriate VSS). The hosts have two virtual disks configured, one standard so SSD is marked (as my notebook has SSD) and one IDE so this is not SSD marked. The three hosts are managed by a vCenter Server Appliance 5.5.

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The hosts are added to a data center. There I have added a new cluster that is DRS, HA and VSAN enabled (This is not the correct order. You actually have to setup VSAN prior to enabling HA). I have set VSAN to automatically claim storage. I added the beta VSAN license to the cluster (that’s were this one goes).

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So host are added, and storage is automatically added. You should see a VSAN datastore setup. You can verify the existing vsandatastore at your datastore view.

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Next one of the important things, setting up the storage policies. You first have to think about your policies. What are your storage requirement scenario’s.  If you just want to try out in a proof of concept, or defaults are good enough, there are also default policies.

Unlike storage profiles that work at the datastore level, storage policies are linked to virtual machine objects. There are applied to one or more virtual machines. Storage  Policies  can  be  found  in  Home  >  Rules  &  Profiles.

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I’m adding a policy to tolerate one failure.It finds my VSAN datastore as a matching provider (fortunately for me).

When creating a VM I can select the storage policy and see my VSANdatastore shows up as compatible. My other VMFS are not (as they are already VMFS provisioned and therefor not part of VSAN).

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I can place a VM on my VSAN.

This concludes the initial setup of VSAN.

One final note; currently VSAN is experimental in vSphere 5.5. VSAN therefor is not for production.

– Enjoy VSAN’ning across the VMware universe!