Monday 28 December 2015

vRealize Automation Installation Part 2

As we discussed about the installation prerequisites and components of vRealize Automation in last blog post of vRA series vRealize Automation Installation Part 1.

Here we will be focussing on the deployment of vRA and IaaS and will go through various options which are available during the installation.

The installation and configuration of the vRA appliance needs configuration of various related components.

1) Deploy vRA Appliance (Deploying OVF on supported vSphere Environment)

2) Configure vRA time settings at http://vRealize_Automation_appliance_FQDN:5480/

3) Configure CAFE (Cloud Automation Framework for Extensibility)Name

4) Configuration of vRA (Host Configuration)

5) SSL Certificates (Can be imported, Generated and used Existing)

6) SSO Settings (SSO host, Port, Default tenant)

7) License Key (A valid License key is required)

Once the above settings are configured it's time to go ahead and deploy the IaaS components, to download the IaaS installer refer (http://vRealize_Automation_appliance_FQDN:5480/installer page).

Below screenshots will help you understand the options which are available during the IaaS installation.

1) Welcome Screen 

 2 Accepting the EULA

Use Root user name and the password that configured during the deployment of vRA Appliance.

Chose the installation type complete install (configures all components in local machine), custom install select the components you wish to install on local machine, choose this option for distributed enviornment.

5 Prerequisites checker will ensure that all the server configuration and environment setting are correct.

6 Specify the credentials for user which has administrative privileges on machine and SQL server database installation information

7 Confirm the name for DEM worker and DEM orchestrator

8 Configure and test SSO login and the IaaS host name.

9 Proceeding further with the installation by clicking install.

10 Installation Completes

 11 Click Finish to close the installation wizard

For more information on vRA installation and configuration kindly refer.

Thursday 24 December 2015

vRealize Automation Installation Part 1

While going through the installation of VMware vRealize Automation 6.2 (vRA) today, i captured some of the screenshots and find some prerequisites required before the installation of vRA and also what are the components in it, so thought of sharing the same in my blogpost.

It's definitely a long list of steps which i followed and that's why i thought of dividing this post into two parts.

Part 1 talks about vRA in general, prerequisites and components while part 2 series of this article will deal with the installation.

Before we talk about the installation of vRA let's spend time understanding how this products is beneficial for us or what it does?. What are the components? 

vRealize Automation

VMware vRealize Automation is a cloud management platform and delivers Infrastructure as a service (IasS), Anything as a service (Xaas), Platform as a service and has following capabilities.

  • Self Service Provisioning
  • Multi Platform Provisioning
  • Policy Based Governance
  • Automate IT service Delivery
  • Single Solution for application release automation

vRA supports multivendor infrastructure and IT services can be delivered across Virtual, Physical and cloud platforms.It also helps in automating the deployment and delivery of multi-tier applications.

Now when we know what is vRA ,let's have a look how to install it and what are the prerequisites that need to be taken care before installing vRA and what are the components.

vRA Components.

  • Single sign-on (SSO) server (This can be your existing VMware vCenter 5.5 update 1 or later SSO server or can be an identity appliance).
  • vRealize Automation Appliance
  • VMware Infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) Server.
  • Distributed Exchange Management (DEMs)

Prerequisites before Installation 

  • DNS Settings
  • Database requirements 
  • Hardware requirements 
  • IaaS requirements 
  • Network requirements 
  • User Accounts 
  • Certificates
  • Time Settings

Compute Requirements

Component          CPUs        Memory        Storage

Identity Appliance 1                  2 GB       2.5 GB

vRAappliance       2                  8 GB       30 GB

IaaS server           2                4 GB        30 GB

vRB                        2               4 GB      16 GB

Application Director 2              4 GB      16 GB

For more information on vRA overview,components, prerequisites kindly refer below link.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Virtual Printing

Another key feature which always fascinates me is Virtual Printing maybe because of my roots attached to printing.

Virtual Printing technology which is licensed by Cortado ( ( and available as 
one of the feature in VMware Horizon View that provides driver free printing.

Virtual Printing uses a Client Server architecture the server component is installed on desktops with the installation of View Agent and the client is installed on Horizon Client system when horizon client software is installed.

Virtual Printing components on Virtual Desktop Side includes (TPOG - Printer Driver for Virtualizing Printer for Windows Hosts,TPOGPS - Printer Drivers for Virtualizing printers on Linux or Mac Hosts) and on the client system side includes (TPInVM and TPCIntRDP -Redirects .Print Server commands from the virtual desktops to client).

Virtual Printing options on the virtual desktops controls the overall consumption of bandwidth and helps to convert the print data from the application to a common data format.

Wherein the Virtual Printing options which are installed on Horizon Client Machine receivesthe print data decompresses/decrypt and cover the data format into the format which local printer can understand.

Virtual printing automatically discovers, connects and print from any virtual desktop to any local or network printer which is visible at the client.

To Search for the printers follow the steps below
  1. Remove all printers by entering C:\ProgramFiles\VMware\VMwareTools\TPAutoConnect –d. 
  2. Stop the connection service by entering net stop TPAutoConnSvc. 
  3. Restart the connection service by entering net start TPAutoConnSvc

Once the printer is added on the local computer view adds that printer to the list of all the available  printers on the View Desktop.

For each printer which is available through this feature we can set preferences for print quality, colour, double side printing and other options.

Virtual Printing do support both the offline and online desktops but the way the data is exchanged may vary, PC-o-IP ( or RDP channel is used for online desktops. 

Where in Virtual Serial Port is used for the exchange of data between an offline desktop and client machine.

For further information kindly refer.

Monday 14 December 2015

PCoIP Remote Display Protocol

While working with VMware Horizon View (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) by VMware for quite a long time now, thought of sharing an article about one of the intellectual concept of PCOIP (PC-over-IP) which is used as a recommended protocol for Horizon View Deployments.

What's PCoIP ?

  • PC-over-IP (PCoIP) is a proprietary remote display protocol developed by Teradici.
  • PC-over-IP (PCoIP) is a UDP based protocol.
  • VMware and Teradici codeveloped PCOIP for Horizon View.
  • Secure Protocol that uses Encryption and compression.
  • PC-over-IP (PCoIP) can be used with LAN's and WAN's.
  • Provides automatic display scaling and dynamically resizing.

Characteristics of PCoIP

One of the major characteristics of PCoIP is its progressive build operation, means the image quality visible to user on system improves progressively.

With the help of progressive build it automatically reduces image quality in case of congested networks, moreover it maintains the responsiveness by further reducing the screen update latency.

One of the screenshot which I was able to fetch from web shows three different images.

1) Initial Image : Low B/W and Latency

2) Perceptually Lossless: High Quality Picture, Lossless Text.

3) Lossless :  Lossless Image 

PC-o-IP available as both software in Horizon Client and View Agents and also as a Teradici host card to be used in Physical desktop which you have planned to be used as View Desktop.

Refer link for more information.

Friday 11 December 2015

Maximum RDM's to a Virtual Machine?

While working on community got a question how many RDM's can be connected to a virtual machine?

Tried searching various references to find the answer for the same but didn't worked well, finally I came across one of the blog post from 2012 by Cormac Hogan which talks about how much storage can be presented to a virtual machine. 

Thanks to his blogpost which helped me to find the answer, so thought of sharing the same.

It's more of a mathematical calculation that we will be dealing with, considering a VM can have 4 SCSI controllers and 15 devices per controller (Any combination of disk or VMDirectPath SCSI target).

VMDK (Virtual Machine Disks) approach. 

VMDKs have a maximum size of 62TB – 512 bytes. Maximum amount of storage that can be assigned to a VM using VMDKs is as follows: 4 controllers x 15 disks each x 62TB (-512 bytes) = ~3.72PB.

Virtual (non pass-thru) RDMs approach. 

vRDMs also have a maximum size of 62TB – 512 bytes (same as VMDK). Therefore, the maximum amount of storage that can be assigned to a VM using vRDMs is as follows: 4 controllers x 15 disks each x (62TB – 512bytes) = ~3.72PB

Physical (pass-thru) RDMs approach. 

The maximum size of a pRDM since vSphere 5.0 is ~64TB. Hence, the maximum amount of storage that can be assigned to a VM using pRDMs (assuming vSphere 5.0) is as follows: 4 controllers x 15 disks each x 64TB = ~3.75PB

Note: The above calculation is more of theoretical and may vary based on vSphere configuration and maximums. 

For further information refer 

Wednesday 9 December 2015

VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Array Integration (VAAI)

What is VAAI?

  • VAAI is a set of VMware vStorage API and SCSI commands designed to provide and efficient communication between ESXi hosts and storage arrays which implements specific T10 storage standards.
  • The APIs define a set of “storage primitives” that enable the ESXi host to offload certain storage operations to the array.
  • It reduces resource overhead on the ESXi hosts and can significantly improve performance for storage-intensive operations such as storage cloning, zeroing. 
  • The goal of VAAI is to help storage vendors provide hardware assistance to speed up VMware I/O operations that are more efficiently accomplished in the storage hardware.
  • Without the use of VAAI, cloning or migration of virtual machines by the vSphere VMkernel Data Mover involves software data movement
  • The Data Mover issues I/O to read and write blocks to and from the source and destination datastore. 
  • With VAAI, the Data Mover can use the API primitives to offload operations to the array if possible.
  • VAAI provides  Atomic Test & Set (ATS) during creation and locking of files on the VMFS volume.
  • VAAI Provides Clone Blocks/Full Copy/XCOPY, which is used to copy or migrate data within the same physical array.
  • Operations Like ATS/Clone Blocks/Full Copy/XCOPY can be controlled with the help of advanced parameters like HardwareAcceleratedLocking, HardwareAcceleratedMove.

Thursday 26 November 2015

vSphere Update Manager

VMware vSphere Update manager provides centralized, patch management for ESXI hosts, Virtual machine hardware, VMware tools and Virtual appliances.

vSphere update manager helps in reducing security risks, vulnerabilities and makes management and troubleshooting easier.

It includes various components (Server Component which can be installed on the same computer as your windows vCenter Server or can be on a different one) and (Client Components which runs on the desktop) and requires connectivity with your vCenter Server.

vSphere update manager server and the vSphere update manager download service requires a database to store data (oracle, SQL server, and SQL 2008 R2 Express 64 Bit) are the supported databases.

Once the update manager is installed we can configure below vSphere update manager settings.

  1. Network Connectivity Settings 
  2. Download Settings Proxy Settings 
  3. Checking for Updates Settings  
  4. Notification Check Schedule Settings
  5. Virtual Machine Settings 
  6. Host and Cluster Settings
  7. vApp Settings

When it comes to patching, updates and extension in update manager there are 5 thumb rules.

1- Creating a Baseline

Baseline contains collection of patches, upgrades and extension before you can create, edit or delete a baseline ensure you have manage baseline privileges. vSphere update Manager includes two default dynamic patch baselines and three upgrade baselines.

Critical Host Patches (Predefined): Checks ESXi hosts for compliance with all critical patches.
Non-Critical Host Patches (Predefined): Checks ESXi hosts for compliance with all optional patches.
VMware Tools Upgrade to Match Host (Predefined): Checks virtual machines for compliance with the latest VMware Tools version on the host.

VM Hardware Upgrade to Match Host (Predefined): Checks the virtual hardware of a virtual machine for compliance with the latest version supported by the host.
VA Upgrade to Latest (Predefined): Checks virtual appliance compliance with the latest released virtual appliance version.

We can create a fixed baseline which consist of a set of patches that do not change as patch availability changes or we can create a Dynamic baseline which contains set of patches which updates automatically based on the availability and the criteria specified.

2- Attaching a Baseline

In order to view the object is compliant or not we need to attach the baseline to objects like virtual machines, virtual appliances, ESXI hosts and can also be attached to folders, vApps, clusters and data center.

3- Scanning

Scanning is the way through which the attributes of your objects (hosts, Virtual machines or appliances) would be evaluated against the baseline you have attached to that specific object. 

Once the object is scanned either it would be compliant (Means the object is in compliance with the baseline you have attached) or non-compliant (Means the object is missing with patches,extensions, upgrades) that is applied in to the object in form of baseline.

4- Staging

If the scanned object is non-compliant we can go ahead and remediate the object but before remediation we can perform an additional step on host objects i.e Staging which allows us to download the patches extensions from the update manager server to the ESXi hosts, without applying the patches and extensions immediately. Staging in helping us in speeding up the remediation process because now we have the patches and extension available locally on ESXi hosts.

5- Remediation

Remediation is last step where we are applying the patch, extension, upgrade to the objects and this step varies based on the object you are remediating for example in case of ESXi hosts which are part of a cluster the process is sequential, however if you have multiple clusters within your data center the remediation process will run in parallel.

For more information on VMware vSphere Update Manager kindly refer

Friday 20 November 2015

VMware vSphere Auto Deploy

vSphere Auto Deploy

Vmware vSphere Auto Deploy is a method of provisioning ESXi hosts.

With Auto Deploy ESXi Image is streamed across the network to the host and is loaded directly into the memory.

When the host is shut down the state of the host is lost but can be streamed into memory again when the host is powered back on.

vSphere Auto deploy simplifies host management and also eliminates the need of maintaining a separate boot image for each ESXi host.

vSphere Auto deploy can be configured without a boot disk and all the information is stored off the host and managed by vCenter Server (Image State, Configuration state, Running State,Event Recording).

Auto Deploy Architecture

vSphere Auto Deploy server: 
Serves images and host profiles to ESXi hosts. The server is at the heart of the Auto Deploy infrastructure.

vSphere Auto Deploy rules engine: 
Informs the vSphere Auto Deploy server which image and host profiles to serve to which host.

Image profiles
Define the set of VIBs with which to boot ESXi hosts. 

Host Profiles: 
Templates which define an ESXi host’s configuration (networking or storage setup). You can save the host profile for an individual host and reuse it to reprovision that host. 

Answer files: 
Stores host-specific information.

For further information kindly refer

Sunday 15 November 2015

VMware vCloud Director Networking Explained

Dedicated this article to understand how Networking works in VMware vCloud Director but before we proceed further with the concept of VMware vCloud Director networking.

Let's understand about VMware vCloud Director which is a software solution that help us to create Secure, Multi tenant Private cloud by pooling the underlying vSphere resources.

Vcloud Director helps you to provide dynamic networks for your customers without damaging the stability of your corporate IT network.

Types of networks

1 External networks
  • External networks helps providing a connection to the outside the world (internet).
  • External networks are backed up by port group in your vSphere
  • These include distributed switch port groups, standard switch port groups, and Cisco N1000V port groups.

As a best practice use distributed switches as they provides consistency in terms of names and port groups on all ESXi hosts in a cluster.

2 Organization Network
  • Org network is used by virtual machines in the Organization VDC (Tenant) to communicate with each other.
  • Also to access other networks, including Organization VDC networks and external networks, either directly or through an Edge Gateway that can provide firewall and NAT services.
There is a further categorisation that exist for Organization Network as each Organization may have different set of requirements that how exactly they want their Networking to be set up.

Three types of Org VDC Networks are:

  • Direct Connect Org VDC networkAs the name says a Direct Connect organization vDC network is a representation of a specific external networkWhich uses external network to connect directly to the Internet or to systems outside of the cloud.Direct connect Org VDC network are created by System admin and cannot be changed or managed by Organization Administrators

**Source - My Notebook.
  • Routed Organization vDC Networks- This network connects to a vShield Edge gateway device (router). Only a vCloud Director System Administrator can manage external connections to the edge device.Once an Edge gateway has been created for an  Organization, the Organization Administrator can create as many routed networks as necessary, within the limitations of the Edge gateway device that have been defined by the vCloud Director administrator.
  • Isolated Organization vDC NetworkAn isolated network is backed by an Edge device that can provide DHCP and Static IP services to a single organization's network.  Organization Admin can create any number of isolated organization VDC networks. An isolated organization vDC network is defined as a Single Subnet.
3 vApp Network
  • A vApp network is a logical network that controls how the virtual machines in a vApp connect to each other and to organization VDC networks.
  • And a further Categorization does Exist for vApp Network as well likewise Organization Network.
Three types of vApp Networks are:
  • Direct-connect Network- Extension of Org VDC network , in which the Virtual Machines are directly connected to a selected Organization VDC Network.
  • Routed Network. The Routed Network type of connection is the most common vApp network configuration when the virtual machines of a vApp must have Internet access or access to other hosts attached to the network.
  • Isolated NetworkAn isolated vApp network does not connect to an Organization VDC network and a vShield edge device is deployed for isolated networks.

For more information refer VMware vCloud Director Documentation

Friday 13 November 2015

Virtual Machine Component Protection

  • vSphere 6.0 introduces a powerful new feature as part of vSphere HA called VM Component Protection (VMCP). 
  • VMCP allows HA to respond to a scenario where the connection to the virtual machine datastore is impacted temporary or permanently.
  • It protects virtual machines from storage related events, specifically Permanent Device Loss (PDL) and All Paths Down (APD) incidents.

  • PDL occurs when the storage array issues a SCSI Sense code indicating that device is unavailable.SCSI Sense Code
  • When PDL state is detected host will stop sending I/O requests to the array as it considers the device permanently not available so no reason to issue I/O to device.
  • An unplanned PDL occurs when storage device is unexpectedly unpresented from the storage array without the unmount and detach being executed on the Esxi host.
  • Follow an industry standard maintained by technical committee T10, which is part of international committee on IT standards, all storage arrays that communicate with Esxi host conform to this standard.
  • In the vmkernel.log system log file from an ESXi 5.0 host, you see entries similar to.
  • 2011-04-04T21:07:30.257Z cpu2:2050)ScsiDeviceIO: 2315: Cmd(0x4124003edb00) 0x12, CmdSN 0x51 to dev "naa.600508e000000000c9f6baa7c19f6900" failed H:0x0 D:0x2 P:0x0 Valid sense data: 0x5 0x24 0x0.Mar 9 23:53:24 esx405 vmkernel: 2:14:39:54.069 cpu3:4300)ScsiDeviceIO: 1688: Command 0x28 to device "naa.60000970000292600219533031453245" failed H:0x1 D:0x0 P:0x3 Possible sense data: 0x0 0x0 0x0.
  • Example of PDL is a failed LUN or an admin inadvertently removing WWN from the zone configuration. 

  • A situation which occurs when a storage device is removed from Esxi host in an uncontrolled manner either due to admin error or device failure.
  • IF PDL sense codes are not returned from a device than device is in an APD state and Esxi continues to send I/O to request until it receives a response.
  • The APD situation needs to be resolved at the storage array/fabric layer to restore connectivity to host.

Refer Below KB Articles for More information.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Back To Basics- Part 9 Virtual Volumes Aka VVOL'S

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 and we also discussed about the various tasks related to Home Lab Part1Part 2Part 3,Part 4 and Part 5.

Dedicated this article to understand the newly introduced concept of VVOL ,So far we have been using the traditional Datastore centric approach/ LUN Centric Approach and now the focus is more towards VM Centric approach.

In case of LUN centric approach LUN was responsible for providing both the I/O access and the actual space to store VM files however in VM Centric approach with VVOL's we have seen the two tasks which LUN was capable of doing has been divided into two separate components i.e Protocol Endpoint for (I/O access) and Storage Container for VM files.

  • Virtual Volumes is a new virtual machine disk management and integration framework that exposes virtual disks as primary unit of data management for storage arrays.
  • Virtual Volumes Virtualizes SAN and NAS devices by abstracting physical hardware resources into logical pools of capacity (represented as Virtual Datastore in vSphere) that can be more flexibly consumed and configured to span a portion of, one or several storage arrays. 

  • Virtual Volumes defines a new virtual disk container (the Virtual Volume) that is independent of the underlying physical storage representation (LUN, file system, object, etc.).
  • In other terms, with Virtual Volumes the virtual disk becomes the primary unit of data management at the array level. This turns the Virtual Datastore into a VM-centric pool of capacity.
  • It becomes possible to execute storage operations with virtual machine granularity and to provision native array-based data services such as compression, snapshots, de-duplication, encryption, etc. to individual virtual machines.
  • The goal of Virtual Volumes is to provide a simpler operational model for managing virtual machines in external storage while leveraging the rich set of capabilities available in storage arrays. 
  • Virtual Volume transforms the data plane and control plane of supported SAN/NAS storage systems by aligning storage consumptions and operations with virtual machines. 
  • With Virtual Volumes most of the data operations such as snapshot, cloning, and migrations are offloaded to the storage arrays. 
  • VVOL's Requires support of VMware vSphere API for Storage Awareness (VASA 2.0) provided by storage array vendor.
  • VASA use in vSphere provides various features like offloading the VMDK creation and management to the array.
  • vCenter 6.0 and ESXi 6.
How it Work's ?
  • Once we have the VVOL enabled storage array we need to register the Storage provider in vCenter Server (SMS).
  • Storage Monitoring Service is running in vSphere which helps registering the VASA with vCenter Server.
  • Once the VASA provider is registered with vCenter Server the underlying capabilities of the Storage array are pushed to the vCenter Server thus helping vSphere Admins to create storage policies.
  • On the other hand storage admin will be creating Storage container.
  • Storage admins will also set up Protocol Endpoint (PE) which is providing the I/O access (Virtual Volumes VMDK are bound and unbound to PE by vSphere.