Friday, 29 July 2016

An Insight to VMware NSX Layers

In our last blog post related to NSX Overview we discussed about Virtual Networks and seen how they differs from Network Virtualization provided by VMware NSX, 

As promised about writing more blog posts related to VMware NSX i have Dedicated this article to list various NSX Layers.

Data Plane
VMware NSX data plane consists of NSX vSwitch (which helps in abstracting  the physical network and provides access-level switching in the hypervisor) + Kernel Modules ( VXLAN , DLR , Firewall).

NSX vSwitch (vDS Based) is considered as central point for network virtualization because it helps in enabling the logical networks which works independently from physical networks.
 

NSX kernel modules, userspace agents, configuration files,and install scripts are packaged in VIBs and run within the hypervisor kernel to provide services such as distributed routing and logical firewall and to enable VXLAN bridging capabilities.

Control Plane
NSX Control planes runs in NSX controller cluster before we talk about the NSX controller cluster let's have a look what is this NSX controller.

NSX controller is an advanced distributed state management system that provides control plane functions for NSX logical switching and routing functions.It is the central control point for all logical switches within a network and maintains information about all hosts, logical switches (VXLANs), and distributed logical routers.

In order to achieve to achieve a high level of resiliency the NSX Controller is clustered for scale out and HA. NSX Controllers must be deployed in a three-node cluster.

NSX Controller Cluster has several roles to perform like API provider, Switch Manager, Logical Manager, Directory Server.

Management Plane
The NSX management plane is built by the NSX Manager, the centralized network management component of NSX. It provides the single point of configuration and REST API entry-points.

The NSX Manager is installed as a virtual appliance on any ESX™ host in your vCenter Server environment. NSX Manager and vCenter have a one-to-one relationship. For every instance of NSX Manager, there is one vCenter Server. 

Consumption Plane
Consumption plane is the topmost plane and can be driven through NSX manager interface which is available in vSphere Web client.

Well this is the place where we can tie network virtualization layer with our cloud management infrastructure for the dynamic network requirement for all our applications.

Out of Box integration is also available through VMware vCloud Automation Center, vCloud Director, and OpenStack with the Neutron plug-in for NSX.


For More information refer NSX Admin Guide

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

VMware vSphere Design Qualifiers

While delivering VMware vSphere classes i got this question many times where in my audience is interested to know what are the Design Qualifiers for a Good VMware vSphere Design or what are the factors that affects a design.

So let's begin with Answering the first Question whether it's a Product Oriented Design or Solution Solution Oriented Design ! What's the Difference ?

In a Product Specific Design the success is measured based on the performance of the product and it is less tailored towards the Organization Needs, wherein a Solution Oriented Design success is measure how well the Design is achieving the Goals of an Organization because it's tailored uniquely based on the Organization Requirements.

Based on the above types Design Documentation may vary as there is a less documentation in a Product Specific Design compared to a Solution Oriented Design.

True methodology towards a Good Design is to understand that Designing is an iterative process and a lot of Phase, Interviews with stakeholders and Documentation are involved during a Design Phase.

Time to Climb the Design Ladder -

1 - AssessmentThe First and the most crucial stage which involves defining  scope of the Project, understanding the business and technical requirements. Assessment phase also help us understand the Current State Analysis Report (Total amount of Physical Servers available to VirtualizeTotal Amount of CPU and RAM availableAverage/Peak CPU and Memory Utilization.which has been gathered from capacity planning tools tools.

2 - Design- It's time to proceed further with the designing stage first we will be creating a Conceptual Design which is a high level overview and has all the information gathered from the Current State Analysis Report, the technical requirements and the Business requirements with further classifications into (Business Requirements ,Constraints, Assumptions and Risks). 

Constraints are the boundaries within which the Design should be laid, it could be an Organization Policy or could be a Budget Restriction.

Assumptions are the expectations about the implementation of a project which are believed to be true and cannot be confirmed during the assessment and design stage.
For example one common assumption is that the support staff are trained on the Virtualization technologies or the Client will provide all the License required for the implementation of the Project, or could be that Application team will help with all the test plans necessary for the implementation of the project.

Risks are directly proportional to the Business Requirements, Assumptions and Constraints and Risks need to be properly documented with it's priority and the recommendations needs to be provided to avoid that Risks. 

For example while proceeding with the Business Requirements during the Assessment Phase the Client said that they may include some more requirements during the implementation of the Design,now this expectation in making architectural changes in the middle of the project will impact the design and should be properly documented as one of the Risks and the impact should be communicated well in advance to the StakeHolders.

Once the Conceptual design is in place it's time to move forward and create a Logical Design which includes Design Decisions on how to arrange all the infrastructure components so as the business requirements can be satisfied as mentioned in the Conceptual Design, Typically a Logical Design includes Design Decisions for Management, ClustersNetworking, Storage,Virtual Machines and Security.

Ok So what's Next? It's time to Create a Physical Design with all the information i have Gathered from Logical Design and Conceptual Design.

Physical Design is based on Logical Design with a good logical Design we can create one or more Physical Designs. And it includes all the minute details including the specifications about the Hardware, the ESXi version, vCenter Version, vCenter (Windows, Appliance),IP addresses, SSO details, Domain Name, Admin users.

3 - Deploy as the name suggests Deploy stage is that stage where in we build and Configure the Environment based on all the Requirements we have gathered in the above phases and this is the stage for which we have been waiting for a long and busy doing all the documentation and interviews with various stake holders. 

4 - Validate stage is the last stage wherein various tests are conducted to verify that solution is built as per the Design and also to check if the solution behave as required, this is the phase where the end users learn about the operation about the implemented Solution.

Now when we are aware about the design process and the various phases involved during the design it's time to Answer the Original Question What are the Design Qualifiers

VMware vSphere Design Qualifiers

1 ) Availability-  A design which is available is also reliable as it helps in eliminating all single points of failure and implementing the mechanisms to quickly restore the services if in case a failure occurs. 
Common Mechanism to to measure Availability is Class of Nines which refers to the number of nines in a percentage of time the System is available for example if system is available for 90 % of time it's called Class One and if the System is available for 99.999 % of time it's called Class Five. One easy to use calculator is available at uptime.is which can help you calculate the SLA levels. 

When dealing with Redundancy Requirements for a Design we consider N+1 (Which means one additional component is required ) and 2N (Means Twice as many as components are required)

2) Manageability -  The Design should be easy to Deploy, Manage, Administer, Upgrade and should be simple enough so as it would be easy to understand, easier to explain and easier to expand based on the future growths.

3) Performance - A Design performs well if it is able to provide the required amount of work using a minimum amount of time, SLA's has a direct relationship with the amount of work to be done,the time required and the resources to be used.

4) Recoverability - Infrastructure should be recoverable from any type of outage, the method chose to recover can be through backup methodologies or making use of disaster recovery process.

5) Security - Design can only be called a good Design if it minimizes the security risks,is free from Vulnerabilities and doesn't have unnecessary complexities.In short we are looking for multiple layer of protection in the design the more the number of layers the more secure is the environment.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

VMware vCloud Air Overview


  • Secure public cloud service operated by VMware, which is built on the VMware vSphere. The service supports existing vSphere workloads and third party applications as well as new application development.
  • Combine the benefits of your existing vSphere data center with the agility of vCloud Air and you have a true Hybrid Cloud that is scalable, portable and agile enough to meet your growing business needs. 
  • The vCloud Air portfolio includes Infrastructure as a Service, Recovery as a Service and a vast catalog of supported Applications and Operating Systems. vCloud Air is offered as both subscription and pay as you go.
  • vCloud Air Offerings vCloud Air offers three separate service offerings, each includes essential compute, storage, and networking as well as a growing portfolio of add on features. Software you trust is now expanded into an easy-to-use cloud service that makes expanding your environment into the Hybrid Cloud easier than ever. 



Dedicated Cloud

A robust, physically isolated cloud compute offering. Dedicated cloud is a single-tenant cloud compute service that is ideal for enterprise users who need the benefits of a single tenant environment in which to host high-performance, custom and packaged applications, or highly variable Development and Test workloads. 

Virtual Private Cloud

Virtual Private Cloud offers a logically isolated, multi-tenant cloud compute service for utmost cloud agility. Available in either subscription or no-commitment Pay as you Go packaging, Virtual Private Cloud is a cost-effective Hybrid Cloud solution that provides considerable performance, value and expandability. 

Disaster Recovery 

A Recovery-as-a-Service solution that offers native cloud-based disaster recovery capabilities for VMware vSphere virtual environments. Logically isolated VM-based disaster recovery that is affordable and easy to use. Disaster Recovery protects your on-premises cloud infrastructure, providing self-service recovery options that fit your needs.

Why to choose Vmware Vcloud Air
  • Get the broadest OS and application support.
  • Go live faster. Much faster
  • Extend your virtual network without extending your to-do list
  • Keep costs and risks low
  • Stay confident about security and compliance
  • Give your business room to innovate
  • Get support from the people you trust
  • Go ahead, grow all you like.
  • Understand your bill

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Get More Effective, Get Certified, and Get Strategic

This month VMware four new courses span technology, certification, and strategy. All are designed to help you get the most value from your VMware investment:

Horizon 7: Install, Configure, Manage [V7]:
Get the skills needed to deliver virtual desktops and applications through a single virtual desktop infrastructure platform. Learn how to configure and deploy pools of virtual machines, manage access and security, and provide a customized desktop environment to end users.

VMware Certification Exam Prep: VCP6-NV Exam (2V0-641):
This comprehensive 113-video training course focuses on preparing a candidate to pass the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Network Virtualization (VCP6-NV) exam. It includes an overview of the certification program, tips for preparing for the exam, an in-depth review of exam objectives, and sample question breakdowns.

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and VMware Software-defined Storage and Fundamentals:
This free, self-paced eLearning course provides an overview of Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) and VMware software-defined storage (SDS) technologies. It explores how VMware Hyper-Converged Software (HCS) combines Virtual SAN software-defined storage with vSphere and vCenter management to transform compute, storage, and network resources.

VMware vRealize Operations Manager Fundamentals [V6.2]
Learn how to consistently provide intelligent operations management for everything from applications to infrastructure across physical, virtual, and cloud environments using VMware vRealize Operations Manager. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

VMware NSX - Overview

This is my first post dedicated towards VMware NSX we will start with the Basic Overview of  in this blog post and will be dedicating few more posts related to the Architecture, Components, Configuration and Management.

But Before we proceed further with the overview of VMware NSX it's important to understand the concept of Virtual Network ?

Virtual Networks is a Software Construct that has an associated Physical Network,in another Words Virtual Networks is a network of Virtual Machines running on Physical Machine that are connected logically to one another so that they can send data to and receive data from each other.

We can create a Virtual Network even without Physical Network but in that case the communication would be constrained for Single ESXi host.


Now Let's have a look at the definition of VMware NSX.

VMware NSX leverages the underlying VMware vSphere platform and provides Network Virtualization platform to leverage Logical Networks.

Here comes another question in my mind based on the above definition of VMware NSX What is Network Virtualization and how it differs from Virtual Networks or they are same?

Well to Answer Above Question there is a difference and what's that ? let's have a look with the help of an example. 

Assuming we have a Distributed Switch in a normal VMware vSphere environment without NSX being implemented which has 2 Port Groups using VLAN 60 and VLAN 70  and the Trunking Configuration implemented at Physical Switch only contains VLAN 50 

Which means VM's defined with VLAN 60 and VLAN 70 will not be able to communicate with any VM's other than the one which are connected on the same host and on the same Port Group.

Now considering the same example of Distributed Switch with VMware NSX instead of using VLAN we implement VXLAN's (Will Dedicate another article to discuss more about VXLAN's) which removes any trunking dependency from the underlying Physical Network.

Hence helping us to remove the limit of VM communication the one we have seen above and also providing us a broader approach of VM communication across hosts, clusters and data centers.

VMware NSX can be deployed on existing Data Center Networks with the only requirement from the underlying network is IP connectivity and MTU size of 1600 Bytes or more.

Once VMware NSX is deployed in the  Environment Logical Networks can be deployed to provide Network and Security Services to the Workloads.

Logical Network is a collection of Network and Security Services which is required by the applications so as they can be connected on the network and accessed by the users.

VMware NSX provides Network and Security services like Logical Switching, Logical Routing, Logical Firewall , Logical Load Balancing, NAT, DHCP and VPN Services.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

VMware VSAN Overview


  • A VMware Virtual SAN is a hybrid storage system that leverages and aggregates local solid-state drives (SSDs) as cache and local hard disk drives (HDDs) to provide a clustered datastore that can be utilized by virtual machines.
  • Virtual SAN is a distributed layer of Software running natively as part of ESXi.

  • Virtual San Virtualizes Local Physical Storage Resources of ESXi hosts and turns them into Pool of Storage.
  • VSAN can be created on New cluster or can also be enabled on existing cluster.
  • Host contributing its local storage to VSAN datastore it must provide at least one SSD and one HDD.
  • Hard Disks provides a persistent Storage capacity and SSD provides caching tier.
  • Virtual SAN requires A minimum of three ESXi hosts contributing local storage.
  • VMkernel Ports need to be created for Carrying VSAN traffic.
  • Using Virtual SAN in production environments requires a special license that you assign to the Virtual SAN clusters. The capacity of the license must cover the total number of CPUs in the cluster.
  • Depending on the disk group configuration in the cluster, you can assign one of two types of licenses: a license for hybrid configurations, and a license for hybrid and all-flash configurations.

Back to Basics - Part 11 Distributed Switches

In our couple of blog post related to Back to Basics Series we discussed about Virtual Machine Files (Part1), Standard Switches (Part2), vCenter Server (Part 3),Templates (Part4) vApp (Part 5), Migration (Part 6),Cloning (Part 7), Host Profiles (Part 8), Virtual Volumes AKA VVOL's (Part 9) Fault Tolerance (Part10) and we also discussed about the various tasks related to building Home Lab Part1Part 2Part 3,Part 4 and Part 5.

So here we are back again with another back to basics series in which will be focussing on Distributed Switches another important feature in vSphere.


I would Suggest before going further with Distributed Switches make yourself comfortable with the concept of Standard Switches.

  • Distributed Switch Works as a single virtual switch across all the ESXi host unlike the Standard Switch which is meant for single ESXi Host.
  • Distributed Switch is configured in VMware vCenter Server and the configuration done in vCenter Server is consistent across all hosts.
  • Distributed Switches are available with Enterprise Plus License.
  • Distributed Switch Architecture provides two planes Control plane (Resides in vCenter Server) and I/O plane (Hidden Virtual Switch Residing in each ESXi host).
  • Distributed Switch provides some advanced features which are not available with standard switches like PVLAN, NIOC, Net Flow etc.
  • NIOC can be used to configure bandwidth allocation for various type of traffic like (Virtual Machines, Management, vMotion, NFS, ISCSI,Fault Tolerance,vSphere Replication, VSAN, vSphere Data Protection).
  • NIOC allocates bandwidth using Shares, Reservation and Limits.
  • Private VLAN divides existing Primary VLAN into various other VLAN known as Secondary VLAN.
  • NetFlow is a network monitoring tool for monitoring the network and analyzing the Virtual Machine traffic flowing through distributed Switch.
  • Distributed Switch settings provides us to choose Port Binding settings to configure at port group level Static- Default Settings, Ephemeral - No Binding occurs.
  • Further Static Binding Provides us two port allocation options - Fixed (No ports will be created once all the ports are assigned) and Elastic (When all ports are assigned 8 New ports are created).

For Further information refer vSphere Networking Guide 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

VMware vRealize Operations Manager -10 Things You Need to Know

vRealize Operations Manager is Part of vRealize Operations Suite which not only Includes VMware vRealize Operations Manager that (Provides Operational Dashboard, Performance Analytics) but also includes various other components like ,VMware vRealize Configuration Manager (Automates Configuration Management), VMware vRealize Hyperic (Monitors Physical Hardware,Applications), VMware vRealize Infrastructure Navigator (Visualizes Infrastructure dependencies).
  • vRealize Operations Manager acts as a foundation of vRealize operations suite and helps in Analyzing Performance, Capacity and Health of our Environment.
  • vRealize Operations Manager Collects Performance Data from each object in our inventory and provide a Real time information about Issues (Health) or Emerging issues (Risk) and Opportunities to Optimize (Efficiency).
  • With the Help of Alerts we can reduce the time to investigate the issues as it provides us the Recommendations to Resolve the issue and the Symptoms Causing the issue.

  • Scenario based Capacity Planning in vRealize Operations Manager helps infrastructure teams to add Upcoming Projects to Forecast their Capacity Requirements
  • vRealize Operations Manager Includes vSphere Hardening Content with vSphere Solution ensure that all the objects in Our Environment satisfy  Internal Standards.
  • Management Packs which includes Data Adapter (For Collecting the Data from External Source ) and Content (For Monitoring and Analyzing the Environment) can be used to extend the capabilities of vRealize Operations to various third Party Products and technologies.
  • vRealize Operations Manager Provides Two Interface Admin Interface (Used to perform initial setup and installation, Software Updates ) and Product User Interface (Used by all users for day to day operations including Monitoring the environment , Viewing Reports).
  • Prebuilt Dashboards are available that provides views into different aspects of our environment including vSphere Dashboards.
  • Dashboards Includes Widget (Window) which can help in Visualizing the behaviour of one or more objects, Recommendation Dashboard is the Default dashboard that appears when we login for the First time and includes Widgets like (Health, Risk, Efficiency and Top Alerts).
  • vRealize Operations Manager Supports Google Chrome , Internet Explorer 10/11 , Mozilla Firefox and Safari.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Back to Basics - Part 10 Fault Tolerance

In our couple of blog post related to Back to Basics Series we discussed about Virtual Machine Files (Part1), Standard Switches (Part2), vCenter Server (Part 3),Templates (Part4) vApp (Part 5), Migration (Part 6),Cloning (Part 7), Host Profiles (Part 8), Virtual Volumes AKA VVOL's (Part 9) and we also discussed about the various tasks related to building Home Lab Part1Part 2Part 3,Part 4 and Part 5.

So here we are back again with another back to basics series in which will be focussing on Fault Tolerance another important feature in vSphere and must say one of the cool feature that you will come across.

10 Things You Need to Know !

  1. Fault Tolerance ensures zero downtime for your mission critical applications by providing Instantaneous Failover with Zero Data Loss and no Loss of TCP Connections.
  2. Fault Tolerance Supports Virtual Machine Configured with upto 4 Virtual Cpu and 64 GB Memory.
  3. Fault Tolerance works with vSphere DRS when EVC is enabled and HA is required to enable Fault Tolerance.
  4. Fault Tolerance Virtual Machine can be in any of the disks Formats (Thin, Thick Lazy and Thick Eager Zeroed).
  5. The minute we enabled FT the protected VM is known as Primary and a Secondary copy of that VM is created on another ESXi host which can takeover the Primary VM in case of failure.
  6. Primary Virtual Machine is Continuously Checkpointed and and the checkpoint copies are sent to the Secondary Virtual Machine.
  7. Changes that takes place on Primary are not processed on the Secondary only the Memory is updated on Secondary Virtual Machine over FT network.
  8. FT has shared files (shared.vmft which prevents UUID change and .ftgeneration to avoid split brain conditions) residing on a shared datastore.
  9. When FT is Switched On You cannot modify MemoryReservationShareslimit, Virtual CPU on that Virtual Machine.
  10. When FT is ON vCenter Resets the Virtual Machine Memory Limit and set's the Memory Reservation to the Memory size of the Virtual Machine.

For More Information Refer VMware Documentation