Tuesday 27 September 2016

VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 2.2

We already had a detailed discussion about VCAP6 - DCV Design exam, where we discussed about the Path we need to follow and what are the objectives that we need to take care, If in case you missed it here is the link for your reference Kick Start Your Journey Towards VCAP6-DCV Design.

We have also seen VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1, VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.2 and VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.3 in which we discussed about Business and Application Requirements,Risks,Constraints, Assumptions and also discussed how to map the business requirements into VMware vSphere Logical Design here are the links for your reference in case you missed it VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.2 , VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.3 
VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 2.1
Objective 2.2  Map Service Dependencies
Skills and Abilities
  • Evaluate dependencies for infrastructure and application services that will be included in a VMware vSphere design.
  • Create Entity Relationship Diagrams that map service relationships and dependencies.
  • Analyze interfaces to be used with new and existing business processes.
  • Determine service dependencies for logical components.
  • Include service dependencies in VMware vSphere 6.x Logical Design.
  • Analyze services to identify upstream and downstream service dependencies.
  • Navigate logical components and their interdependencies and make decisions based upon all service relationships.
How to Prepare
Recently came across a very informative blog post which talks about the downstream and upstream components and how it affect's the overall design here is the link for your reference VMware Application Dependencies and Entity Relationship Diagrams MK2

Upstream components are those which are more close to the end user and Downstream Components are those which support the upstream components.

So "If a DOWNSTREAM component fails the UPSTREAM components will be affected"

Another important article which help us to prepare for VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 2.2 Datacenter Operational Excellence Through Automated Application Discovery & Dependency Mapping talks about methods for Effective application discovery and dependency mapping.

Active Discovery method uses common network protocols to remotely query servers and obtain supplementary data about network hosts. However, using just active discovery can place an unnecessary burden on the network. 

Image Source - VMware
Passive Discovery method provides more of relationship data by connecting to core span or mirror ports on network switches and sampling network traffic, passive discovery can identify network hosts and servers, their communications and connections, and what services and protocols are being exchanged at what time. 

Discovery Analytics—Complements the first two with the ability to perform deep-packet analysis of observed traffic, and to help establish the relationships between passively and actively discovered entities

The same article also highlights about "VMware Approach to Application Discovery and Dependency Mapping" using VMware vCenter Application Discovery Manager which provides the automated, real-time application discovery and dependency mapping capability we need for effective, dependency-driven change, configuration, incident and problem management across physical and virtual environments.

Image Source - VMware
Active Discovery‐ UNIX Collects data from the configuration objects in our data center and doing IP Discovery (method for detecting hosts or other configuration items with a specific IP address when Passive Discovery fails to discover them) and Detail Discovery (Extending the information received using passive and ip discovery)

Active Discovery‐ Windows is a discovery engine that uses WMI based discovery policies for performing active discovery on Windows machines. 

Passive Discovery observes the network traffic by performing a deep‐packet analysis to discover applications and component relationships in physical and virtual environments.

Aggregator receives data from the discovery components and reconciles the data before transferring it to the database component. 

Database Oracle RDBMS used for storing discovered data and ADM configuration.

vCenter Application Discovery Manager Administration Guide

Monday 19 September 2016

VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 2.1

We already had a detailed discussion about VCAP6 - DCV Design exam, where we discussed about the Path we need to follow and what are the objectives that we need to take care, If in case you missed it here is the link for your reference Kick Start Your Journey Towards VCAP6-DCV Design.

We have also seen VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1, VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.2 and VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.3 in which we discussed about Business and Application Requirements and also talked about Risks,Constraints, Assumptions  here are the links for your reference VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1, VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.2 , VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.3

Objective 2.1 : Mapping Business Requirements to a vSphere 6 Logical Design.

Skills and Abilities
  • Analyze requirements for functional and non-functional elements.
  • Build non-functional requirements into a specific logical design.
  • Translate stated business requirements into a logical design.
  • Incorporate the current state of a customer environment into a logical design.
How to Prepare

As part of the design process conceptual design is the first step when climbing the Design ladder which categories the assessment findings into requirements, contraints, assumptions and risk as discussed in our last post VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.3.

Sharing one  recent example from one of the project on which i worked , wherein we got requirements from customers (Marketing Business Firm) and they were looking to Virtualize their existing workload (Windows + Linux).
When doing the current state analysis and understanding the business requirements as part of the initial design phase we captured Business Requirements and I am highlighting few of them.
  • Virtualize and consolidate all existing physical servers running on the x86 platform
  • Architecture should meet the performance requirements calculated during the initial assessment phase.
  • Geographies Architecture should support both the Prod and Dev data centers.
  • The design should be scalable to support a virtual machine growth of 22 percent year over year growth.
  • The design should provide a centralized management console to manage both data centers.

It's definitely not the real diagram talking about the conceptual design for the same Marketing Business Firm, but it's more of near to real design diagram which talks about the conceptual design.

To maintain the integrity of their design i couldn't used the real picture but was able to manage and document almost everything included in conceptual design.

Now moving towards the original discussion of creating a Logical Design which typically includes the design decisions with proper justifications to arrange all the infrastructure level components (Management, Clusters, Networking, Storage, Virtual Machines) ensuring all the business requirements are satisfied as mentioned in conceptual design.

Design is an iterative phase within which we need to ensure that we are taking care of all the business and application requirements in conjunction with VMware and Industry Best practices.

It's not mandatory when working towards Logical Design all the design decisions should always come from business/application requirements it can also come from the non functional requirements for example Availability (How to ensure that services are available), Manageability (Is the Solution Flexible Enough), Recoverability (How well the solution meets RTO and RPO requirements).

Another example in Non Functional requirement which should be mentioned when working towards logical design (design decision) is Cost, every project has an associated cost if we are not able to lay the project in the defined cost we need to mention the same with proper justifications so as the required stakeholders can take necessary actions.

Let's have a look on Logical Design for the same Marketing Business Firm for which we have seen the Conceptual Design.
Design Justification
Design Implication
vCenter Server Platform

Windows Based vCenter
Marketing Business Firm mentioned they are comfortable with Windows based vCenter Appliance with their trained Windows Admin.
Frequent Patching is required for Windows Based vCenter Server
vCenter Server database

Embedded database is not large enough for complex deployments
Must be Prepared in Advance
Number of vCenter Server instances

Both for Prod and Dev Datacenters
Separate Licenses are required

Saturday 17 September 2016

VMware VSAN is Up and Running Now @ Home Lab

In our last post we have seen overview about VMware vSAN if in case you might missed it here is the link for your reference. VMware VSAN Overview

Spent some time today to setup VMware VSAN in my Home Lab so thought of dedicating an article to understand the configuration of VSAN in your environment.

Those of you who already have their Home Lab setup and are planning to test the functionalities of VMware VSAN this article will help you and those who didn't have the Home lab setup need not to worry as we will be learning something New through this article.

Let's start with the prerequisites that we need to take care of before we set up the VMware VSAN cluster in our environment.

  • A minimum of three ESXi 6.0 hosts contributing local storage.
  • All ESXi hosts must be managed by vCenter Server 6.0 and configured as a Virtual SAN cluster member.
  • ESXi hosts in a VSAN cluster may not participate in any other cluster.
  • For hybrid configurations, each host must have a minimum of a single physical 1 GB Ethernet NIC available solely for Virtual SAN use.
  • For all flash configurations, each host must have a minimum of a single physical 10 GB Ethernet NIC available for Virtual SAN use.
  • VMKernel Port on each host dedicated for VSAN traffic.
In my home lab when i planned to configure VMWare VSAN I only had two ESXi host so quickly created the third ESXi host and added it to the cluster and enabled VSAN.

But it was not that straight forward as all of my ESXI's only had one disk which was initially being used when the ESXi host was installed so added more Disks to my ESXi so as these disks can be leveraged in VSAN Cluster.

VMware VSAN is all about leveraging underlying SSD's and HDD's presented on ESXi's host and creating VSAN shared datastore that's what we will also try to achieve from this post.

Still I was not able to proceed further and create Disk Groups ? What is a Disk Group !

To understand what is a disk group let's go back to Old Days when we took our first Virtualization lesson and learnt the definition of Virtualization "Abstracting the Underlying Hardware Resource and Pooling them together".

That's what we are doing abstracting the underlying HDD's and SSD's from each ESXi host and creating a main unit of storage known as DISK Groups.

When it comes to the creation of Disk Groups it can be created Automatically (Virtual SAN claims all available and usable disks and organizes them into default groups with one SSD and one or multiple HDDs) and Manually (Where we must specify hosts and disks on the hosts to be used for the Virtual SAN datastore.) 

For creation of Disk Groups each ESXi host must have a minimum of One SSD and One HDD in case of Hybrid Architecture (SSD+HDD) whereas in a DISK Group we can also have all the SSD's in ALL FLASH Architecture.

Minimum of one SSD is required but that wasn't the case in my Home Lab because all the extra Disks i added were added as HDD's, which was preventing the creation of Disk Groups.

It was time to play with ESXCLI commands and mark at least one disk as SSD to ensure the successful creation of a Disk Group.

Connected to all my hosts through putty and executed below ESXCLI commands.

esxcli storage nmp satp rule add -s VMW_SATP_LOCAL -d mpx.vmhba1:C0:T2:L0 -o enable_ssd

esxcli storage core claiming reclaim -d mpx.vmhba1:C1:T2:L0

esxcli storage core device list -d mix.vmhba1:C1:T2:L0

*Note: Installation/Configurations/Specifications methods used here has been Tested in My Home Lab Nested Environment.

Now that we have marked one of the Disks from ESXi host as SSD it time to check  if the Disk groups are now created.

I was able to see the disk groups and the VMware VSAN shared datastore created and the disks (SSD+HDD) been leveraged from all my ESXi host, the warning message on ESXi host is because of SSH service still running.

Was not able to wait and see my Virtual Machine spinning on newly created VMware VSAN shared datastore so storage vMotioned Virtual Machine (vMA) on VSAN Datastore.

To Summarize VMware VSAN is a cluster level feature which needs a minimum of 3 ESXi hosts talking to each other on same VSAN network and each host must have a minimum of one SSD and one HDD for creation of Disk Groups.

Will be dedicating more articles talking about the policies and features of VMware VSAN.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Backup/Recover Active Directory Objects with Nakivo

We have already dedicated couple of articles related to Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 wherein we have seen the architectural components and also seen new features available in Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 here is a link for your quick reference if in case you missed it Demystifying Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1

Dedicated this weekend to test Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 functionalities wherein I downloaded the Windows based installer for Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 and integrated the same with my Home Lab environment here is the quick link for you to download the same Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1

When it comes to the installation of Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1  there are lot of options available (Windows,Appliance,Linux).

The option which I used was the windows based installation and is pretty straight forward like running an executable file on windows machine.

For integration specify the credentials we use for logging into our vCenter Server, the one which i used was default SSO administrator credentials (administrator@vsphere.local).

Post successful integration with VMware vSphere Environment, I was able to see my Home Lab environment inventory running with two windows based vCenter Server and four ESXi hosts and couple of Virtual Machines.

Prod-001 is my Active Directory machine which i am planning to backup, and the ultimate goal which I am trying to achieve with this blog post is to test one of the functionality available with Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 i.e recovery of Microsoft Active Directory Objects.

To make this work i created a user account (Recover) and a Group (Recovery Group) in my Prod-001 Active Directory Machine and created a backup Job in Nakivo Backup and Replication and scheduled the Job to run at specific time.

 *Note: Installation/Configurations/Specifications methods used here has been Tested in My Home Lab Nested Environment

The Job Executed Successfully and i logged in to my Prod-001 machine and deleted Recover user account which i created earlier. 

When proceeded further with the recovery of the deleted user account Recover from Prod-001 Active Directory Machine,I selected the last backup job which was executed in my Home Lab Environment.

Post selecting the last backup and recover point, it populated the backed up hierarchy of Active Directory Machine and I selected the same user account Recover which i deleted intentionally from Prod-001 machine and downloaded the selected object details.

Downloaded object is ad.ldif file which has the details about the deleted user account Recover. Below are the contents of the downloaded file ad.ldif

Time to move on to our final step and import this file to our Prod-001 Active Directory machine and execute the command.

ldifde -i -k -f c:\Users\Administrator\Dekstop\ad.ldif 

Post successful execution of the above command I was able to see the deleted user account Recover. :-)

Me personally with not much exposure with Backup and Recovery tools, I Found Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 software as user friendly tool to work with, Never felt like as if i am working with this for the very first time.

I would also like to give special thanks to one of my colleague (The Microsoft Guy) who has always been One Stop Shop for all my Microsoft related technical doubts.

Monday 12 September 2016

VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.3

We already had a detailed discussion about VCAP6 - DCV Design exam, where we discussed about the Path we need to follow and what are the objectives that we need to take care, If in case you missed it here is the link for your reference Kick Start Your Journey Towards VCAP6-DCV Design.

We have also had a detailed discussion about the VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1 and VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.2 in which we discussed about Business and Application Requirements here is the link for your reference VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1
Let's proceed further and understand VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.3 in this article will see what are the Skills and Abilities required to prepare for this objective and what are various toolsUrls we can refer while doing the preparation.

Objective 1.3 – Determine Risks, Requirements, Constraints and Assumptions

Skills and Abilities
  • Differentiate between the concepts of risks, requirements, constraints, and assumptions.
  • Given a statement, determine whether it is a risk, requirement, constraint, or an assumption.
  • Analyze impact of VMware best practices to identified risks, constraints, and assumptions.
How to Prepare
I have already highlighted about Assumptions ,Risks and Constraints in one of the old article which i dedicated towards Design Qualifiers here is the link for your reference VMware vSphere Design Qualifiers let's have a look on these one by one again.

Image Source -VMware

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.

Assumptions are acting as a helping hand for providing guidance within the Design and if not met those Design areas are at Risk.


Situation/Event which has a direct impact on the Design and need to be properly documented during the Design process, and stakeholders should respond to the Risks highlighted with a Plan of Action.

For Example Having vMotion and Data traffic on the same physical network can lead to network disruptions if not designed carefully can lead the Design at High Risks and need to be documented properly.

When working towards the Design the Design Architect has to document each and every Risks and make the stakeholders aware about those Risks so as they can prepare a plan of action in terms of reducing those risks, and also reducing the overall impact of that Risks.

When dealing with the Plan of action it could be related to Prevention of the Risks, Reduction of the Risks or it could also be Transference of the Risks depending on the type of Risks we are dealing with the Stakeholders may come with the any of these approach Constraints, Assumptions (Risk, Requirements) & Dependencies explains the same and other alternatives that can be considered when dealing with Risks.


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

For Example when working towards the Design, Stakeholders specified that we have to make use of the existing hardware and existing Storage arrays, now this is definitely a Constraint because when preparing the Design the Design Architect has to work within these boundaries because he need to find out some ways where he can make use of the Existing Hardware and Existing Storage Arrays.

Thursday 8 September 2016

Adding ESXi Host Thumbprint to vCenter Server Certificate Store

Today when connected to my Home Lab there was something missing in my environment, i checked again and recalled the number of Virtual Machines i created 4 ESXi, 2 vCenter Servers, 1 Domain Controller, 1 Openfiler ,1 NAS, is that all ?

If in case you have missed the old post in which we discussed about the installation of all the above and also the underlying hardware where we have installed here is the link for your Quick Reference In Love with My new Home Lab and My New VMware Home Lab is Spinning.

I missed vSphere Management Assistant AKA vMA in my Home Lab Environment those of you who are not that sure what vMA is and what are the capabilities and functionalities of the same here is the link to refer an old article which i dedicated about vMA. vSphere Management Assistant 

Without wasting time further i Downloaded the vSphere Management assistant appliance v6 installed and configured in my Home Lab because it was really hard for me to imagine my VMware Home Lab running without vMA.

vMA is available as an appliance and entire configuration related IP Address, DNS,Subnet Mask can be done by opening https://FQDN/IP of vMA : 5480.

Once Configured it's time to connect to my new installed vMA through putty, and add all my ESXi and vCenter Server as a Server target by using vifp command, I Have already dedicated an article for the same here is the link if in case you missed it. vSphere Management Assistant 

Now that when we have seen what is vMA and how we can add ESXi and vCenter Server as server targets in vMA it's time to proceed further and play with vMA.

Initially i have added two ESXi's and one vCenter Server in vMA now i can run all ESXCLI command against my ESXi host which was the main purpose of Installing and Configuring vMA in first Place.

Connect to ESXi on which you wish to run ESXCLI command likewise i have connected to my ESXi04.homelab.local.

Post connecting to my ESXi using vifptarget -s esxi04.homelab.local i executed ESXCLI Command to check if i am able to Execute it ! 

No i was not able to do so because of ESXi Thumbprint was not present in vCenter Server Certificate Store and the command returned an error connect to Esxi04.homelab.local failed. Server SHA-1 thumbprint : XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX

Executed another command to add the ESXi thumbprint to vCenter Server Certificate Store.

/usr/lib/vmware-vcli/apps/general/credstore_admin.pl add -s server -t thumbprint.

Where server is the name of my ESXi (ESXi04.homelab.local) and thumbprint is the one which we have collected from the last Failed command.

*Note: Installation/Configurations/Specifications methods used here has been Tested in My Home Lab Nested Environment .

Climb the GPU Ladder with NVIDIA GRID vGPU

Most of the times when working with my audience i got some similar question around Graphical Processing Unit's.Where in they are really keen to understand the Capabilities of vGPU's.

So thought of answering the question and dedicated this article wherein will understand the capabilities of vGPU's.

I have already dedicated an article in which i discussed about few important points related to NVIDIA GRID vGPU here is the link for the same in case you missed it. NVIDIA GRID vGPU 10 Things You Need to Know
NVIDIA GRID vGPU enables Virtual Machines to have Direct Access Simultaneously to underlying Physical GPU

NVIDIA GRID vGPU software when combined with NVIDIA GRID cards offers a platform that delivers GPU hardware acceleration shared between multiple virtual desktops

Below mentioned are the available software editions for NVIDIA GRID vGPU available in different forms like Perpetual License, Concurrent users, Annual Subscription.

GRID Virtual PC
Ideal for users who want a virtual desktop but need great user experience leveraging PC Windows applications, browsers and high definition video.

GRID Virtual PC delivers a native experience to users in a virtual environment,allowing them to run all of their PC applications at full performance.

GRID Virtual Workstation
Ideal for mainstream and high-end designers who use powerful 3D content creation applications like Dassault’s CATIA (Delivers 3DEXPERIENCE platform, delivers CATIA’s Design, Engineering and Systems Engineering applications), SOLIDWORKS,(is a solid modeling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) computer program) and 3DExcite,Siemens NX, PTC Creo, Schlumberger Petrel, or Autodesk Maya

GRID Virtual Applications
For organizations deploying XenApp or other RDSH solutions. Designed to deliver PC
Windows applications at full performance. NVIDIA GRID Virtual Applications allows
users to access any Windows application at full performance on any device, anywhere.

When working with NVIDIA GRID vGPU sharing is accomplished based on different GPU profiles each enable a dedicated amount of video memory suitable for different use cases similar to physical graphics adapters.

For example Grid K1 (K180Q) has Graphics memory of 4GB with 4 Maximum Displays per users and 4 Maximum users per Graphic Board is suitable for Entry level Designer whereas GRID K2 (K280Q) has Graphics memory of 4GB with 4 Maximum Displays per users and 2 Maximum users per Graphic Board.

This is made possible with the help of NVIDIA Grid vGPU Manager which enable the selection and management of GPU profiles assigned to each user based on the available physical GRID graphics adapter.
Image Source - NVIDIA

Few Prerequisites we need to take care before proceeding further with the installation in our vSphere Environment.

  • NVIDIA GRID K1,K2, or Tesla M60M10M6 cards.
  •  A server platform capable of hosting (ESXi) and the NVIDIA GRID or Tesla cards
  • The NVIDIA GRID vGPU software package for VMware vSphere, consisting ofthe GRID Virtual GPU Manager for ESXi, and NVIDIA GRID vGPU drivers forWindows, 32- and 64-bit.
  • VMware vSphere 6 or later.
  • For VMware Horizon with virtual machines running NVIDIA Virtual GPU, we will also need VMware Horizon 6.1 or later.
vGPU Manager is available in the form of VIB's for our vSphere environment and the installation follows by connecting to our ESXI's host through command line and proceeding further with the installation using ESXCLI command (esxcli software vib install).

* Before proceeding further with the installation of VIB's ensure ESXi host is in Maintenance mode and all the VM's are either Migrated to a different ESXi host or are Powered OFF.

GRID vGPU assigned to Virtual Machines are similar to physical GPU because each vGPU has a fixed amount of Frame Buffer (Portion of RAM containing a bitmap that is used to refresh a video display from a memory buffer) which is allocated at the time when vGPU's are created.
Image Source - NVIDIA
All vGPUs resident on a physical GPU share access to the GPU’s engines including the
graphics (3D), video decode, and video encode engines.

After the successful installation of VIB's and using the supported cards we can verify the installation by using NVIDIA-SMI (System Management Interface) which helps in reporting the management information about the Physical GPU and the vGPU system currently there.

Again the scope of NVIDIA-SMI is not only limited to detecting the availability of underlying 
physical and vGPU but it can also help us to monitor the performance of both Physical and vGPU.

VMware vSphere Environment !

Depending on which Virtual Machine we want to configure to use vGPU we can edit the settings of that VM and can select the new device (Shared PCI Device).
* Another Important point that we need to take care is to ensure that the memory reservation for our Virtual machines should be equal to their allocation in another words ensure that we are reserving the entire available memory for that Virtual Machine.

Once we have configured the required settings for our Virtual Machine it's time to Power on the Virtual Machine and check the details on NVIDIA Control Panel to have a look on the vGPU the Virtual Machine is using and its capabilities.

Will be writing more articles related to vGPU series talking about the various NVIDIA GRID Cards and their functionalities with respect to VMware vSphere Enviornment and Horizon Environment.