New Unified Onboarding and Protection with VMware vCloud Availability 3.0

VMware is excited to announce the upcoming launch of VMware vCloud Availability 3.0, a powerful solution built to offer simple, more secure, and cost-effective onboarding, migration, and disaster recovery services “to” or “between” multi-tenant VMware clouds. The new solution will help cloud providers offer end customers new disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and onboarding services across a wider choice of multi-tenant clouds.

 

 

Meeting Increasing End-User Demands for Cloud Choice

Cloud-based disaster recovery is one of the fastest-growing industry segments for cloud services. VMware vCloud Availability 3.0 will give cloud providers the ability to capitalize on that explosive demand and deliver increased choice to their end users.

Additionally, as enterprises increasingly implement a hybrid cloud strategy, vCloud Availability will provide an opportunity for VMware Cloud Provider partners to deliver simple, integrated migration and onboarding services to the cloud and from cloud-to-cloud. These solutions will be key for end users that want to lift and shift workloads into a proven, trusted cloud vSphere environment.

Simple, Cost-Effective Disaster Recovery and Migration

Part of the VMware Cloud Provider Platform, VMware vCloud Availability has been designed from the ground-up to dramatically simplify cloud onboarding, enable cost effective availability and recovery, and better secure operations to cloud providers and their end customers. The solution will integrate tightly with vCloud Director to offer disaster recovery, onboarding and migration with vCloud Director-based clouds.

The new solution has been built to help cloud providers offer a solution to end users of all sizes that is:

SIMPLE

Enjoy unified management built on familiar tools that  combines the capabilities of three previous solutions: vCloud Availability DR2C, vCloud Availability Cloud-to-Cloud 1.5, and vCloud Extender. The simplicity comes from a modern HTML-5 interface, native integration with vCloud Director, new rapid appliance deployment models, and a single role-based access control (RBAC) portal to tenants and service providers.

COST EFFECTIVE

Benefit from a subscription-based, competitively-priced solution designed with core features to minimize costs and tight integration to reduce operational costs. Additional flexibility and compelling economics will be delivered through storage independence from VMware vSphere Replication, tenant self-service protection, failover, and failback workflows, and granular per virtual machine or per-vApp control.

MORE SECURE

Confidently deploy a more secure solution thanks to built-in security capabilities of the VMware software stack, that include encryption for data at rest and data in motion. In addition, the solution will offer built-in compression of replication traffic and TLS encryption end to end.

Availability

vCloud Availability 3.0 is scheduled to be delivered by the end of VMware’s fiscal Q1 2020, which ends on May 3, 2019.

Discover More about vCloud Availability

Read the Digital West Case Study to learn how a cloud provider is using vCloud Availability today for cloud-to-cloud disaster recovery (DR).

You can find more information on the vCloud Availability product page.

 

 

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Extending your managed services to customer data centers through VCPP

 

Today, we’re going to explore one of the least know opportunities about the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP): the ability for cloud providers to extend their managed services to customer’s data centers using VCPP points and products; whether for simple data center modernization, hybrid cloud build out, or cloud repatriation.

VMware has been talking about data center modernization as one of our core strategic IT priorities for a number of years, but much of the market hype and focus has been on public cloud and hyperscale solutions. IDC reported some interesting stats recently that I felt addressed an interesting shift; increased cloud repatriation to private cloud. During this blog, I will explain how our Partners can take advantage of the program benefits to meet this new repatriation drive and support customers who want to modernize their data center environments.

Firstly, the stats that caught my eye: 2018 IDC’s Cloud Repatriation Accelerates in a multi-cloud world # US44185818 reported that most customers reported cloud repatriation activities, a small percentage of which planning to repatriate to an on-premises, non-cloud environment and approximately half to repatriate to an on-premises, private cloud environment. Equally a large share plan to repatriate to a hosted private cloud environment providing significant opportunity for Managed Service Providers hosted private clouds between 2019 to 2022.

Whether it’s cloud repatriation or modernizing data centers, private clouds are growing in popularity. So how do you, a VMware Cloud Provider, meet the customers’ needs for private cloud with a flexible portfolio of consumption aligned cloud services to allow the enterprise to grow and innovate? Including automated minimized delivery costs and risk reduction? Provide cross-cloud / multi-cloud standardized operational model processes and solutions to provide longevity for new service development?

All realities need assessment

Let’s take a typical customer profile – a customer who has lots of infrastructure already and wants to modernize their data center to move to a private cloud environment to meet the business needs. In reality the data center is typically a hyper complicated technological and commercial beast. Technologies will typically be extremely varied, having grown organically with new buying decisions and differing architectural views and capabilities. Commercially the data center is full of contracts, all renewing and existing at differing times, some in support, some out of support, some never used ‘shelf ware’ some mission critical, all most likely on differing unit metrics.

VMware Cloud Provider Partners can immediately run an assessment of the current datacenter to fund out exactly what they are taking on. VMware Cloud Provider Platform provides an Acceleration Kit for this Assessment Service. Providers can deploy vRealize Operations (vSphere Optimization Assessment) and Network Insight (Virtual Network Assessment) for free for 60 days, connect them to the vCenter environments and obtain automatic reports on the capacity, status, performance and security posture of the data center infrastructure.

Level setting the playing field

“So now we know what we are dealing with…..”

The next stage is to modernize their data center and deliver a new private cloud solution. This could be done a number of ways; hyper-converged hardware and software, Hyper-converged software or a DIY cloud software stack. This typically takes time and may involve new hardware. However, in the meantime you a VMware Cloud Provider can manage their existing data center infrastructure as a service using VCPP points and your software and processes.

“Hang on – did you say I can manage the customer’s existing solution using VCPP points?”

“Erm yes”, as per the VCPP Product User Guide:

“Except as expressly approved by VMware in writing, Service Providers may install software only on hardware systems that are (a) owned or leased by Service Provider for its dedicated use, or owned or leased by the End User for the Service Provider’s dedicated use, and (b) located either within datacenter space owned or leased by Service Provider or on an End User’s premises solely to provide Hosted IT Services to the End User, provided that the Service Provider maintains day-to-day management and administrative control of the systems.”

If your customer has hardware and wants you to deploy your VMware management software and licensing from now on, all licensing is covered by VCPP as long as the provider manages the solution for them. I would just qualify that if a customer does this then they get nothing back for their licenses, they are essentially writing these off. The VCPP partner would then deploy new license keys and meter the estate. This is good for the customer, as they can now move on with their business and not the distraction of managing their infrastructure.

Now back to the private cloud build.

Building for a cloud future

There are many choices available, all can be managed on customer premise with VCPP points if it’s a managed service! The core question is whether hardware is needed, resulting in architecting a solution or managing in-situ. With the managing in-situ with VCPP points already discussed, what are the options to architect a new solution? Possibly the easiest is to use our Cloud Provider Pod to build a cloud to your specification, producing the following advantages:

  • Utilize existing (supported) hardware and optionally benefit from software defined storage (provided by vSAN, to move away from the complex LUN storage management)
  • Gain access to vCloud Director and the tenancy models, fully integrated self-service compute, network and security solutions as well as extensibility and 3rd party solutions.
  • Run a common operational model in provider data center and on a customer premise, as a service, using the same solution tooling and processes available.
  • Coming soon; multi-site visibility and multi-site management and day 2 operations in Cloud Provider Pod, it makes absolute sense to get to speed now with Cloud Provider Pod and vCloud Director 9.5 or beyond.

It’s about delivery

So now you have the opportunity to deliver a repeatable private cloud environment to your customers in their premise or in yours as a hosted solution. How do we get the workloads onboard? As previously mentioned, customer data centers or other outsourced environments could be very varied in vSphere versions and typically providers will want to upgrade the vSphere versions to their standards to ensure security and stability as the customer on boards. This is known as staging and requires creating or using an existing ‘staging cluster’ to copy customers workloads into and upgrade before migrating to your cloud. This can be expensive and is usually done by change control out of hours, impacting your ‘time to revenue’ to onboard the customer fast.

“How can VMware help onboard faster and minimise or negate staging?”

Within the VMware Cloud Provider Program, we have a number of solutions for onboarding, whether you wish to do ‘cold’ or ‘warm’ migrations with our vCloud Extender solution – included free within vCloud Director, or you wish to use a premium solution like Hybrid Cloud Extender (HCX) which can provide ‘hot’ migration and complete workload mobility.

For non-critical migrations of small data volumes vCloud Extender customers can drive their own cold or warm migrations using a vCenter plugin, to a target Virtual Data Center (VDC) in the vCloud Director environment.

For critical and larger data volumes we recommend VMware HCX.  HCX has some great advantages and some considerations for example, HCX can upgrade the virtual hardware of the virtual machine to the highest supported version of the target vSphere ESXi server automatically during migration. It can also initiate an update of the VMware Tools on next boot of the virtual machine, removing the need for staging. HCX uses compression and deduplication, therefore greatly accelerates transfer rates and entire data center migrations. HCX is really designed for large scale ‘hybrid’ solutions, although it naturally can be used for migration, it offers complete hybridity for workloads.

HCX is available at a per VM cost, through our MSP program, as well with Hybrid Cloud Bundle. HCX will work with vCloud Director environments or native vCenter. The value of negating staging gives faster time to revenue and seamless simplicity will reduce total cost and time for migration.

Final thoughts

Hopefully this blog has explained how VMware Cloud Providers can manage the customer on-premise opportunity, either a customer’s in situ environment or to a new private cloud using the current VCPP contractual capabilities and some exciting technologies. The value for the provider is very clear; engage the customer on their terms, get to revenue faster and provide a more sustainable service. The value for customers is also a big consideration; as most are looking to achieve a cloud commercial model rather perpetual renewals and data center refresh CapEx costs. As a provider if you can manage their infrastructure immediately then take the time suitable to their needs and their business to minimize impacts of a transition – that is a more preferable route than the business trying to support their own solutions and manage a faster transition.

 

So if you are not familiar with the VCPP program, download the guide from Partner Central and learn about the VCPP program usage and products we have discussed today from VMware HCX to vCloud Extender. If you have any questions about this post please leave a comment or contact us directly by emailing vcpp_gtm@vmware.com.

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Watch the Top vBlog 2018 results show live on 3/21

Join myself along with special guests Eric Wright, Angelo Luciani and John Troyer (hopefully) as we countdown the top 25 bloggers based on the results from my annual VMware/virtualization blog survey. This event will be broadcast via a live webinar at 9:00am PST on Thursday March 21st and also saved to YouTube for later viewing. …

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How to test failure scenarios!

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Almost on a weekly basis, I get a question about unexpected results during the testing of certain failure scenarios. I usually ask first if there’s a diagram that shows the current configuration. The answer is usually no. Then I would ask if they have a failure testing matrix that describes the failures they are introducing, the expected result and the actual result. As you can guess, the answer is usually “euuh a what”? This is where the problem usually begins. The problem usually gets worse when customers try to mimic a certain failure scenario.

What would I do if I had to run through failure scenarios? When I was a consultant we always started with the following:

  • Document the environment, including all settings and the “why”
  • Create architectural diagrams
  • Discuss which types of scenarios would need to be tested
  • Create a failure testing matrix that includes the following:
    • Type of failure
    • How to create the scenario
      • Preferably include diagrams per scenario displaying where the failure is introduced
    • Expected outcome
    • Observed outcome

What I would normally also do is describe in the expected outcome section the theory around what should happen. Maybe I should just give an example of a failure and how I would describe it more or less.

Type Failure: Site Partition

How to: Disable links between Site-A / Site-C and Site-A / Site-B

Expected outcome: The secondary location will bind itself with the witness and will gain ownership over all components. In the preferred location, the quorum is lost, as such all VMs will appear as inaccessible. vSAN will terminate all VMs in the preferred location. This is from an HA perspective however a partition and not an isolation as all hosts in Site-A can still communicate with each other. In the secondary location vSphere HA will notice hosts are missing. It will validate that the VMs that were running are running, or not running. All VMs which are not running, and have accessible components, will be restarted in the secondary location.

Observed outcome: The observed outcome was similar to the expected outcome. It took 1 minute and 30 seconds before all 20 test VMs were restarted.

In the above example, I took a very basic approach and didn’t even go into the level of depth you probably should go. I would, for instance, include the network infrastructure as well and specify exactly where the failure occurs, as this will definitely help during troubleshooting when you need to explain why you are observing a particular unexpected behavior. In many cases what happens is that for instance a site partition is simulated by disabling NICs on a host, or by closing certain firewall ports, or by disabling a VLAN. But can you really compare that to a situation where the fiber between two locations is damaged by excavations? No, you can not compare those two scenarios. Unfortunately this happens very frequently, people (incorrectly) mimic certain failures and end up in a situation where the outcome is different than expected. Usually as a result of the fact that the failure being introduced is also different than the failure that was described. If that is the case, should you still expect the same outcome? You probably should not.

Yes I know, no one likes to write documentation and it is much more fun to test things and see what happens. But without recording the above, a successful implementation is almost impossible to guarantee. What I can guarantee though is that when something fails in production, you most likely will not see the expected behavior when you have not tested the various failure scenarios. So please take the time to document and test, it is probably the most important step of the whole process.

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Happy 4th Birthday VVols! – Is 2019 the year of VVols?

VMware’s new Virtual Volumes (VVols) storage architecture became available exactly 4 years ago today as part of the vSphere 6.0 GA. The vSphere 6.0 datasheet described VVols in this manner: Transform Storage for your Virtual Machines – vSphere Virtual Volumes* enables your external storage arrays to become VM-aware. Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM) allows common management …

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Top 10 VMware tools podcast and RVTools 3.11.6

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Right after we finished recording the Virtually Speaking Podcast on the topic of VMware Tools (Listen to it, great episode featuring Pete, John, William Lam and myself) yesterday I received an email from Rob. Rob mentioned an update to RVTools, bringing it now to version 3.11.6. As I mentioned on the podcast, RVTools has been around for 10 years now, what an achievement! Insane number of downloads, but understandable as it is very useful for anyone and everyone running a VMware environment. If you never looked at it, download it today, I am sure you will find various inconsistencies or issues, we all have! So, what changed in 3.11.6?

Version 3.11.6 (March, 2019)

  • Upgraded RVTools solution to use VMware vSphere Management SDK 6.7U1
  • Windows Authentication Framework (Waffle) is no longer used by RVTools
  • NPOI .NET library for creating excel export files is no longer used by RVTools
  • RVTools now uses OpenXML and ClosedXML for creating the excel export files
  • Performance improvements for export to excel
  • added -ExcludeCustomAnnotations switch to RVTools command line interface
  • added –DBColumnNames switch to RVTools command line interface
  • vInfo tab page new column: Creation date virtual machine
  • vInfo tab page new columns: Primary IP Address and vmx Config Checksum
  • vInfo tab page new columns: log directory, snapshot directory and suspend directory
  • dvSwitch tab page new columns: LACP name, LACP mode and LACP loadbalance Algorithm
  • vNIC tab page new column: Name of uplink port
  • vNetwork tab page new column: Network Adapter DirectPath I/O Parameter
  • vHost tab page new columns: Serial number and BIOS vendor
  • Header row and first column in export Excel file are now locked.
  • First “Select” column is removed from excel worksheet vFloppy, vCD and vTools.
  • added a new executable to merge your vCenter xlsx files super-fast to one xlsx file.
    RVToolsMergeExcelFiles.exe -input c:\temp\AA.xlsx;c:\temp\BB.xlsx -output c:\temp\AABB.xlsx -template c:\temp\mytemplate.xlsx -verbose –overwrite
  • Example script RVToolsBatchMultipleVCs.ps1 is changed. It will now uses RVToolsMergeExcelFiles to merge the xlsx files.
  • Bug Fix: a Single Sign On problem solved
  • Bug Fix: ExportvSC+VMK2csv command was not working
  • Bug Fix: ExportdvPort2csv command was not working
  • Bug Fix: On vNIC tabpage not all Switch/dvSwitch information was displayed
  • Bug Fix: Export now reflect value of “Latency Sensitivity” enumeration
  • Bug Fix: After changing the preference settings the data is not always refreshed as needed
  • Bug fix: Content Libraries vmdk files are no longer reported as possible zombie files

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New KB articles published for the week ending 2nd March,2019

VMware Essential PKS Heptio Support Date Published: 26-Feb-19 VMware ESXi FDM Manager restarts on an ESXi host after vMotion of a VM has completed Date Published: 01-Mar-19 ESXi Firewall Rule configuration continuously updated on the hosts with enable and disable operations for “esxupdate“ Date Published: 25-Feb-19 Host may crash by loading qfle3 driver with an

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VMware Skyline Update – February 2019

We’re back with our February VMware Skyline update. We didn’t release any major enhancements to Skyline this month, however we did add additional proactive findings, as well as updated our documentation to reflect recent changes. Let’s get started by reviewing the proactive findings released in February. For those who are wondering what Skyline is, Skyline

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VMware CloudMasters – Enablement Launch

 

I am happy to announce the launch of VMware CloudMasters enablement training for our providers within the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP). In this post, we will detail out what this program entails in coordination with our aggregators.

What is it?

The genesis of CloudMasters was to provide a fundamental training plan on enabling technical professionals on the VMware Cloud Provider Platform. We’ve done roadshows, specific training to a solution, but nothing that brings the “pieces of the puzzle” together. Moreover, we wanted to make this into a session that can be interactive, drive creativity, and collaborative with others.

Most importantly, this enablement training will be done by the VMware field Solutions Engineering team, including myself. Our overall goal is to provide knowledge and guidance in examples, scenarios, and solution architecture for our Cloud Providers.

This enablement training will be split up into the following sessions:

  • Two online sessions – 2.5 hours each
  • Two onsite days at a centralized location

End goals for attendees:

  • Become a certified VMware CloudMaster
  • Gain fundamental understanding of key VMware solution sets
  • Understand how to achieve Cloud Verified status
  • Learn how to convey the VMware Cloud Provider Platform strategy and products to customers and peers
  • Work together on building a high-level design and defending a solution set

This isn’t your ordinary training however – you’ll see why shortly.

Focus Areas

In the diagram above, the red circled solution sets will be our focused areas within CloudMasters training. Our goal is to cover the following:

  • Solution enablement of the Cloud Provider Platform that encapsulates fundamental / “101-level” training of the following:
    • vCloud Director
    • NSX
    • vCloud Availability and Migration Solutions
    • vRealize Operations / Log Insight
    • vSAN
    • VMware Cloud on AWS / Cloud Provider Hub
  • Understanding the VMware Cloud Provider Program Points Model
  • Achieving VMware Cloud Verified at your provider
  • Typical Cloud Use Cases
  • Work in a team setting on a customer scenario on presenting a VMware solution based on set requirements and challenges

So what’s out of scope?

  • As one would expect, we have a limited amount of time and we have to prescribe a training regiment for CloudMasters. While we might lightly touch on other topics, we will be focusing on the key areas as stated above.
  • There will be very focused technical points on each solution set that will be discussed. However, this is not a substitution for the comprehensive training by VMware Education or our training partners on any of the Install/Configure/Manage, Design, Fast Track, courses.

Agenda

  • Online Workshops
    • We will be covering the basics of our VMware Cloud Provider Platform stack, inclusive of the points model.
    • Also prep and answer questions for attendees for expectations the onsite workshop, which will be the following week.
  • Onsite Workshop – Day 1
    • Day 1 is focused on getting deeper into the solution sets – we will have a significant amount of time dedicated to understanding the Cloud Provider Platform and model, cloud use cases, and each of the point solutions (vCD, NSX, vSAN, etc).
    • We will be making this as interactive as possible and focusing on the key points of each solution. Our team is expected to split up the enablement between live demonstrations, whiteboarding, and presentation material.
    • Our goal is to prepare you for the fun on Day 2.
  • Onsite Workshop – Day 2
    • After doing a recap of any remaining material, we will be breaking the attendees out into groups.
    • Each group will be given a customer scenario that summarizes their business, challenges, and requests. These are typically common situations we’ve seen in the field.
    • Every team will come back to the class with a solution presentation (high-level) – could be a presentation, a whiteboard, or even a demonstration.
    • The onsite VMware Solutions Engineering team will ‘play’ the customer and ask follow up questions on the overall proposed solution.
    • Overall, our goal is to drive discussions about each of these customer scenarios and discuss options available based on the business and technical requirements. Also, let’s have fun with it!

I’m Interested!

Word has been spreading fast about CloudMasters – so I’m sure many of you are wondering how you can participate in an upcoming class. VMware CloudMasters is in coordination and partnership with our aggregators. We are launching CloudMasters initially in the US with availability shortly in other global regions.

If you are interested in CloudMasters, please talk to your aggregator or VMware Cloud Provider field team to find out further info on upcoming CloudMasters events.

Looking for training and information today, browse through technical papers, videos, case studies and more on the Cloud Solutions Resource page.

Thanks and I look forward to seeing you at the next CloudMasters event!

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DQLEN changes, what is going on?

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I had a question this week on twitter, it was about the fact that DQLEN changes to values well below it was expected to be (30) in esxtop for a host. There was latency seen and experienced seen for VMs so the question was why is this happening and wouldn’t a lower DQLEN make things worse?

My first question: Do you have SIOC enabled? The answer was “yes”, and this is (most likely) what is causing the DQLEN changes. (What else could it be? Adaptive Queueing for instance.) When SIOC is enabled it will automatically change DQLEN when the configured latency threshold is exceeded based on the number of VMs per host and the number of shares. DQLEN will be changed to ensure a noisy neighbor VM is not claiming all I/O resources. I described how that works in this post in 2010 on Storage IO Fairness.

How do you solve this problem? Well, first of all, try to identify the source of the problems, this could be a single (or multiple) VMs, but it could also be that in general, the storage array is running at its peak constantly or backend services like replication is causing a slowdown. Typically it is a few (or one) VMs causing the load, try to find out which VMs are pushing the storage system and look for alternatives. Of course, that is easier said than done, as you may not have any expansion possibilities in the current solution. Offloading some of the I/O to a caching solution could also be an option (Infinio for instance), or replace the current solution with a more capable system is another one.

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