Cloud Management of VMware hosts using VMware Go for new admins and SMBs

VMware Go is a is a cloud based management solution for (small) vSphere deployments and includes features such as  the IT Advisor, ESXi and vCenter installation automation and patch/inventory scanning (though my free version is prompting me to upgrade to Go Pro for those right now).

As I am setting up a new lab environment, I thought I would poke around at some of the features.  I did a basic ESXi install leaving all the defaults.  As I drill into the inventory for this host, VMware Go identified two potential configuration problems I should correct – setting an NTP server and changing the IP address.

host

Typically the IP address could be set via the vSphere Client, DCUI or command line and NTP via the DCUI or command line, but VMware Go is targeted (IMO) towards the small business or IT shops with little to no VMware experience so having the ability to set these items via a web interface seems very useful.  Click the Apply NTP Settings button worked flawlessly for the suggested NTP server (you may want to use an internal NTP source in your environment).

ntp

There is an import VM feature, but this only works from a VMware Server instance (VMware on Windows) and since that has long since been out to pasture, not sure how useful that would be.  Being able to communicate with VMware Converter running on the network seems like it would be a more useful feature.  I also have the ability to scan the host for patches, since I installed the latest 5.1 release there were none to install so I downloaded 4.1 Update 2.  Adding the host was again easy and straight forward, though the NTP setting originally threw an error but trying to apply again worked correctly.  Running a patch scan worked as expected this time, I found the missing patches and automated shutting down VMs, putting the host into maintenance mode and rebooting the server.  One thing to remember, these are “updates” not “upgrades” so you cannot bring a 4.1 host up to 5.1 or even bringing a 5.0 hosts up to 5.1.

patches41

One feature I would like to see, especially for the small IT shop who isn’t comfortable managing ESXi directly is the ability to rename the hosts, currently both my hosts are named “localhost” and have the ability to to manage other basic IP settings such as subnet mask, DNS servers and gateways.

If the free version from VMware Go is nothing else, its a great tool to keep your ESXi hosts up to date with latest patches.  As I get further in my lab setup (vCenter etc…) I will write up additional features that are available in VMware Go and activate my VMware Go Pro trial.

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Cloud vendor ProfitBricks Follow-Up – Support is very attentive

Last night I wrote about my experience trying to sign up for an Iaas / Cloud computing vendor called ProfitBricks ( https://jonathanfrappier.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/profitbricks-interesting-offering-needs-a-bit-more-automation/ ).  I hit a wall being able to deploy my datacenter due to a manual approval process but have to say the support thus far has been fantastic.  I emailed support and received a response in less than 20 minutes.  Sales then followed up via email less than 40 minutes later and received a call this morning to see if I needed any assistance using their Data Center Designer (DCD) tool.

So while I couldn’t setup my server last night, the support they provide certainly makes up for it.  I will try and deploy my data center tonight and follow-up with a post on how it went.

ProfitBricks – Interesting offering, needs a bit more automation

Disclaimer:  I had interviewed with ProfitBricks and think they are a very interesting company with a unique offering and very smart and passionate people, everyone I met passed the “Lunch Test”.  This post is not meant to be either positive or negative or as any type of incentive, it is simply the first impression of their service as an end user/customer.

ProfitBricks is a start up in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) / cloud provider market – competing head to head with AWS, Rackspace and the like.  Their key differentiators (based soley on their website) for me is InfiniBand and live upscaling for CPU cores and RAM for your VMs – the only provider in the industry to offer this.  They claim to have the first graphical design tool, but I think that award goes to GoGrid who offered a graphical tool as far back as 2006/2007 (but that is neither here nor their).  The ProfitBricks Data Center Designer (DCD) is very polished and easy to use, as it should be as it is also the crux of their offering as this is the tool you use to build out your virtual data center.

My use case for tonight was simple, a single web server configuration but could also see potential for DR scenarios since I can live scale my CPU cores and RAM, assuming I can install my hypervisor of choice as a VM within their DCD and use some replication technology to get my VMs replicating on a regular basis to my storage devices, but that article will be for a later date – tonight its boring old single web server.

Note:  I emailed their support email address at 8:01PM EST because of the errors I was receiving using the DCD and received a response 17 minutes later.  I have a feeling Amazon might struggle to provide that type of response time.

The DCD, however, is where I ran into my first problem.  I signed up for an account and immediately received my account verification email – par for the course in 2013 but they came through as expected.  Once I clicked the link to verify my account, I headed over to the DCD to build my data center.

activated

Now based on the email above, I figured I was good to go.  The DCD was very intuitive to use, though I did have a little bit of a head start as I got to see it demoed by an SE during my interview.  One item I would have missed in my haste to get it setup was actually linking the components together (internet to server, server to storage) as you can see in the image below (not connected in the first image).

nolinks

linked

Once you see it done it makes all the sense in the world, at least it did to me.  Now my needs are pretty simple right now as I just need a server capable of hosting multiple websites and could have just as easily went to GoDaddy and upgrade my $3 a month account but that doesn’t seem nearly as fun.  Once I finished my single server design I clicked saved and then tried to provision my data center – this is where I received my first error.

provisionerror

Now, as we saw earlier in the article, I had successfully activated my account.  Figured it was a glitch, I was logged in when I activated it so maybe the DCD just needed a refresh so I logged off and back on, same error.  I emailed support (see troubleshooting 101) to find out what I was doing wrong.  I did get a response in 17 minutes, impressive to say the least.  The problem – my account isn’t really activated until someone in sales activates it…. okay – I guess?  I can certainly see wanting an SE or sales person to get in touch with customers to make sure they are using the platform properly, but they are the very definition of “cloud” – I want it now, not in 12 hours, not even in 2 or 3 hours – now.   Cloud = instant, on-demand.  So for now I can’t tell you any more about my experience, other than if I was a person in a garage coding the next great web-app I would have probably moved on to another hosting provider by now if I was told I had to wait 12 hours for sales.  Also, in fairness there is a phone number listed on the error so I might be able to call and have my account activated now but I am sticking to original expectation that this should be automated and available on-demand.

And William if you are reading this, I might suggest making the account activation message more clear that my account isn’t really activated.  Maybe say your account has been verified, your personal contact will be in touch within N hours to finish activating your account.  Well, actually what I suggest is to make this truly on demand.

Update 8:46PM – Sales activated my account.  45 minutes is not to bad, I had to wait about 15-20 minutes for my vCloud Beta account to be ready.  I wonder if the support person who quoted my 12 hours was mis-informed for someone recognized my name!

RSA SecurID Authentication Manager Unexpected Error searching Active Directory Identity Source

For some reason I can’t get Mr. Mackey out of my head on this one – “Quotes are bad…mmmmkay.”  I recently inherited a project to get SecurID working and, it seemed pretty straight forward.  I had setup SecurID at previous companies so I   was sure it was something obvious.

After reviewing the config, and reviewing the documentation from RSA – which is good, it doesn’t read as a “Step-by-step to setting up AD” but it works.  I opened a support ticket with RSA (non-urgent) and they got back to me within just a couple hours.  The documentation provided by RSA for both the Authentication Manager installation and configuration and the firewall configuration were both spot on.

The problem was, when the identity source was originally setup in the RSA Operations Console, “quotes” were used around the user and user group base DN fields.  What was odd, if I entered an OU that didn’t exist I would get an error, so it was seemingly reading the fields with the quotes but when I went to search for users in the Security Console I would get an ‘unexpected’ error.  Removing the quotes around the user and user group base DN fields fixed this problem.

Cisco WLAN Controller not passing traffic – resolved – but not sure why

I ran into a strange problem recently, a Cisco WLAN controller 5508 with 1142N APs (not sure the model and controller matter entirely as I found the fix on a support forum thread for a 4000 series) would allow clients to connect, get an IP address but NOT pass any traffic other than ICMP.  I thought maybe the problem was Windows firewall related but disabled it still appeared.  I thought maybe a driver problem but tried several revs of the driver, and it also happened with different model cards.  A temporary work around was to disable, then re-enable the wireless card.

DHCP is handled by a Windows 2008 server, not the access points or WLAN manager, and again – the client was actually DHCPing an address (as I type that I wonder if there is a problem with the DHCP server now, but it didn’t happen to wired clients or on a temporary access point we brought in…).  There was a thought it was a DHCP problem since ping worked, but I could not access network resources via IP which ruled DNS out.  Yet another test was to isolate the WLAN controller and APs on to a separate switch.  This also eliminated what appears to be a known problem with 2960 switches where APs cannot register with the controller (which wasn’t our problem but worth isolating anyways).  I also removed all but 1 of the APs, but the problem persisted.

Now had I listened to my own Troubleshooting 101 post, I would have opened a support ticket, but this particular company let the support lapse and did not want to renew it.  This also meant I did not have access to download the latest software for the controller or APs.  So for those wondering, thats why there was no all into Cisco TAC on this issue.

What lead me to the fix that ultimately “fixed” the problem was an error I found in the logs “APF−1−REGISTER_IPADD_ON_MSCB_FAILED: Could not RegisterIP Add on MSCB. MSCB still in init state.”  Now I am happy this is fixed, but I am not happy with what the “fix” was yet because I haven’t found good documentation that explains why this fixed our problem.  I had to enable DHCP Addr. Assignment in the advanced section of the WLAN config, according to the documentation from Cisco:

DHCP Addr. Assignment Required setting, which disallows client static IP addresses. If DHCP Addr. Assignment Required is selected, clients must obtain an IP address via DHCP. Any client with a static IP address is not be allowed on the network. The controller monitors DHCP traffic because it acts as a DHCP proxy for the clients.

Thats good and all, but my clients WERE DHCPing  addresses just fine and APs were broadcasting SSIDs just fine.  Oh and by the way this was all working swell through October, for several months actually, and just started to have problems in November.  If anyone has a better description/document that more deeply defines the DHCP Addr. Assignement Required option I would love to read it.

Hidden VNXe Stats

Great post thanks for the write up

Henriwithani

The latest Operating Environment upgrades have already brought some improvements to the statistics that are shown through the Unisphere GUI. The first VNXe OE that I worked with was showing only CPU statistics. Then along with update 2.1.0 Network Activity and Volume Activity statistics came available. I was still hoping to get some more statistics. IOps and latency graphs would have been nice additions. So I did some digging and found out that there is actually lots of statistics parameters that VNXe gathers but those are just stored in the database, maybe for support purposes.

Where is the data stored?

When logging in to the VNXe via SSH using service account and listing the content of the folder /EMC/backend/perf_stats you will see that there are several db-files in that folder.

Now when opening the file with notepad it is quite clear what kind of databases those are:

How to read…

View original post 551 more words

Goals for 2013

This post is geared towards technology goals, and is brief in comparison to my everyday goals of taking care of my family, spending quality time with them while being the best I can be at work.

1.  Earn my VCAP-DCD – I feel like I should have done this last year but a big change became a full time job.
2.  Automate more – I know I need to spend more time automating routine tasks so here I come, looking at you vCenter Orchestrater and PowerShell.
3.  Advance my design ability so I can consider going for my VCDX around vSphere 6.  I look at the current VCDXs and don’t think I am in their class (yet).
4.  Go Cloud – while I will probably focus on vCloud I also want to become more familiar with AWS and Azure.

Build your own private cloud via @rightscale

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Mounting iSCSI volumes in Windows Server 2012

Maybe I am mis-remembering, or maybe not, but I was mounting iSCSI volumes created on a storage appliance today and was baffled a bit.  This should be easy right?  Configured storage, password/authentication go to the iSCSI initiator in Windows and add the IP address of the storage device.

So far, all was working as I thought it should, the two iSCSI volumes showed up, entered the CHAP password that was configured and connected….but no drives showed up – hmmmm.  As it turns out in Server 2012 I have to bring the drives online.  Maybe I am so used to doing this in ESXi that I just forgot but pretty sure I did not have to do this in 2008 or 2003.  Once you see your drives connected in the Microsoft iSCSI initiator go to Server Manager >> File and Storage >> Disks.  You should see your volumes here with a status of “offline.”

servermanager

Simply right click, select Bring Online and accept the warning about other servers (of course if other servers are connected it may be worth while to heed that warning!).

online

My 2013 Cloud Computing Predictions

Seems like everyone is writing a “predictions” post for 2013, so I figured I would join in the fun.  Here are my predictions for 2013:

  • Vendors will continue to use the word “cloud” to describe everything from SaaS to Iaas to Whoknowswhat-aaS and confuse businesses and consumers alike.
  • Start-ups will continue to launch their products on IaaS providers (what I consider to be “cloud”).
  • Established companies will move workloads to Iaas providers.
  • Both will ignore high availability and SLA best practices and blame those vendors when there is an outage instead of building highly redundant/available sites.
  • Companies that make IaaS providers easier to use will pop up more and more.  Companies like Maderia Cloud and RightScale will become more prominent.
  • Everyone will still be talking about OpenStack this time next year.
  • VMware will become a bigger player in the IaaS space when vCloud Service comes out of beta (I wouldn’t trust production workloads to a beta service).
  • Companies that build hybrid architectures for easily moving workloads between local “cloud” and public “cloud” services will have an advantage to those who have purely done one or the other.
  • DRaaS will explode, most will have built their own data centers and not be using public IaaS providers.

Hope that was an entertaining list for you, do you agree or disagree with any of the above?

Wanna be VMware geek since 3.5, VCP5-DV, Social Enterprise advocate, All around IT rock star, fantasy sports guru, dad, husband. VCAP-DCD next? Connect with me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanfrappier and https://twitter.com/jfrappier

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Wanna be VMware geek since 3.5, VCP5-DV, Social Enterprise advocate, All around IT rock star, fantasy sports guru, dad, husband. VCAP-DCD next? Connect with me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanfrappier and https://twitter.com/jfrappier

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Boston vs New York sports thoughts

Default Reasoning

Construction of sensible guesses when some useful information is lacking and no contradictory evidence is present…

Semi-Empirical Shenanigans

Trying automate the world in the clouds

Ramblings through the æther

Reviews of Books, IT Trends, and on occasion technical resolutions.

RightScale Blog

Cloud Management News & Conversations

Grey Cavalier

A fine WordPress.com site

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