Sep 25

Learning the vSphere Management Assistant (vMA)

It has been a while since I have worked with vMA. I used it fairly often when I was managing a vSphere environment. I am teaching the vSphere Optimize and Scale class during the winter semester so I spun up the vMA in the homelab to re-introduce myself to it. Using the vMA was part of the VCAP-DCA exam blueprint, but it looks like it has been removed from new VCAP-DCV Deployment exam blueprint (that makes me sad as it is a useful tool).

The vSphere Management Assistant (vMA) is a SUSE Linux virtual appliance which is packaged as an OVF. The vMA includes the vSphere command-line interface (esxcli and vicfg) and the vSphere Perl SDK. The vMA allows you to remotely execute vCLI/esxcli and use resxtop without having to enable SSH on ESXi host.

The vMA has an authentication component, vi-fastpass, which provides a credential store to cache host credentials to allow commands to be executed against target hosts without requiring authentication for each command. The vi-admin user has administrative privileges to add/remove/update servers to the vi-fastpass and the vi-user has read-only privileges to use the vi-fastpass to connect to hosts.

Hosts are added by the vi-admin user using the vifp addserver command. Once the servers have been added to vi-fastpass you can connect to the host using vifptarget. Using vifp listservers will provide a list of the hosts currently configured for vi-fastpass.

As of vSphere 6.0 esxcli/vCLI checks if a trust relationship exists between the machine running the command and the host the command is being run against. To create this trust relationship between the vMA and the ESXi or vCenter Servers registered in vi-fastpass the host’s thumbprint is added to the credential store using /usr/lib/vmware-vcli/apps/general/ add -s [server] -t [thumbprint]. Once the thumbprint is added to the Credential Store this trust relationship will exist between the vMA and the vi-fastpass configured hosts. When a target server is set (vifptarget -s [server]) the esxcli or vCLI commands can be executed from the vMA without requiring credentials.
Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 20

Working with ISO Images in the vSphere Client.

Here are a couple of basic guides I put together for the VMware ITN classes at TCC. Back to basics for sure, but not everyone works with vSphere environments regularly.

Here are the PDF documents I created to help students with the following tasks:

The guides are written specifically for the TCC VMware ITN classes, but someone just learning vSphere/ESXi might find them useful.

Sep 16

SimpliVity Direct Connect to 10 GbE Switched Migration

In a two node SimpliVity deployment there is no requirement for 10 GbE switching. The SimpliVity nodes are directly connected to provide connectivity for the SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform (DVP) between nodes. In this type of deployment 1 GbE is typically used for VM network traffic. This is a common deployment option for Small/Medium businesses and also for Enterprise customers using SimpliVity to provide hyperconverged infrastructure resources for a specific application set.

As an environment grows adding additional SimpliVity nodes or compute nodes may be required. This requires 10 GbE switching for SimpliVity DVP (Storage and Federation) traffic between SimpliVity nodes within the same datacenter and/or between SimpliVity nodes and compute nodes accessing the SimpliVity DVP.

The process for migrating from direct-connect to 10 GbE switched is pretty simple and can be done while the SimpliVity nodes are in production. I recently assisted a customer with a migration to a 10 GbE switched deployment and this post provides an overview of the process.
Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 12

A Few Pictures from VMworld 2016

Great time at VMworld 2016 with the SimpliVity Team!!! Had a fantastic time with the SimpliVity team talking with our partners, current customers, future customers, and the AWESOME people in the VMware community. Even some great chats with competitors. VMworld 3 word: Educational, fun, exhausting… 🙂

A couple weeks have passed and there are plenty of write ups about the show. Just wanted to share a few pictures from the event.

The SimpliVity team looking good in our booth in the Solution Exchange.
TeamsimpliVity3_VMworld 2016_Vegas

Always great to catch up with the #vCoffee crew in real life. Great seeing @tscalzott, @coolsport00, @susangude, and @mattvogt! Wish we could do this in person more often.
Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 11

SSL Certs for View Access to TCC Labs

I have been working on a project for the next generation of lab environments for the VMware IT Academy Program and the Cyber Security Program offered at Tidewater Community College. We now have quite a few classes using this new lab environment we stood up over the summer: the VMware ICM class I teach on Thursday evenings, four Cyber Security classes, and two Linux classes. There are around 120 students using the environment and this will probably quickly expand over the next few semesters.

The primary purpose of the environment is to allow students to access secure and isolated lab environments containing all the resources necessary to complete lab work required for each of the classes. In the past students were required to build out there own labs on standalone machines located on campus. With this project we are also able to allow students to access their lab environments remotely. Each student lab environment is isolated and access is provided through a virtual desktop. Currently we are using VMware Horizon View 6.2 to provide this access.


We are a bit over 3 weeks into the 2016 Fall semester and so far things have been working great. As with anything new there have been a few challenges but most of the issues we have encountered have been easy to correct.

We have been using the default self-signed certificates. One of the things on my project list is to update the self-signed SSL certificates to CA signed SSL certificates. This post covers the process I followed and includes some of the resources I found helpful for replacing the default self-signed certificates with certificates signed by a CA.
Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 19

SimpliVity’s Straight from the vExperts Presentations at VMworld 2016

VMworld 2016 is just a little over a week away. I am very much looking forward to it. Most of my time at VMworld this year will be spent at the SimpliVity Booth, #1911, in the Solutions Exchange. Looking forward to meeting new folks, catching up with many who I have not seen in a while (since last year), drinking lots of coffee, and talking about how SimpliVity continues to provide the most innovative and complete hyper-converged infrastructure solution.

The SimpliVity booth will have a lot of great things going on this year including: Live demonstrations of the SimpliVity solution, partner presentations from Nvidia, Login VSI, Eaton, F5, and Turbonomic, customer presentations, a Genius Bar where you can chat with SimpliVity technical experts, and a series of Straight from the vExperts presentation.

Here is the current schedule of SimpliVity vExpert Presentations:

Sunday 8/28/2016
6:00 PM – What’s New with End User Computing and SimpliVity – Jason Shiplett @jshiplett

Monday 8/29/2016
2:00 PM – Extreme ROBO: Enterprise Grade for the Remote Office – Matt Vogt @mattvogt
4:00 PM – Hyperconverged Infrastructure Market Trends – Scott Lowe @otherscottlowe

Tuesday 8/30/2016
2:00 PM – Data Protection is More Than Just a Feature – Brian Knudtson @bknudtson
4:00 PM – API/Automation – Hersey Cartwright @herseyc

Wednesday 8/31/2016
2:00 PM – Deduplication Fundamentals, Now with Secret Sauce – Alastair Cooke @DemitasseNZ
4:00 PM – Disaster Recover: The Bacon of SimpliVity – Tim Antonowicz @timantz

For the full booth presentation schedule check out SimpliVity VMworld 2016 Booth Presentation Schedule

For most of the show I will be at the SimpliVity Genius bar and the SimpliVity Demo Stations. I am also presenting as part of the Straight from the vExperts series. My presentation is on Tuesday (8/30/2016) at 4:00 PM and I will be talking about the SimpliVity REST API. Stop by and check it out if you can.

Or just stop by the SimpliVity booth (#1911) to talk SimpliVity, virtualization, data protection, EUC/VDI, or coffee with me and the other great members of the SimpliVity team.

Hope to see you there!

Jul 22

DR Automation using SimpliVity’s REST API

I was working with a partner last week brainstorming different ways the SimpliVity REST API could be leveraged to simplify and automate the recovery of workloads protected using SimpliVity’s data protection to a Disaster Recovery site. From that discussion I put together a quick powershell script to demostrate how the SimpliVity REST API could be used to automate the recovery of a predefined set of protected VMs to a disaster recovery datacenter in a SimpliVity Federation.

This script is fairly simple, but it shows how powershell and the SimpliVity REST API can be used to help simplify the recovery process. There are other actions which would also need to be taken as part of the recovery, such as powering on the VMs, connecting the network adapters to a specific PortGroup in the recovery datacenter, or changing the VMs IP addresses, each of these can also be automated using powershell and PowerCLI.

The powershell script to recover a set of VMs from SimpliVity backups is included in this post but the most up-to-date version can be found here
Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 08

VMware vSphere 6.x Datacenter Design Cookbook 2nd Edition Review

Thanks to @Kim_Bottu for the great review of VMware vSphere 6.x Datacenter Design Cookbook 2nd Edition.

@Kim_Bottu did the technical review of the book and provided some great insights which were incorporated into the final copy. Appreciate his time and support. Thanks for the great review Kim.

Jun 07

Migrating vCenter Server to SimpliVity DVP

Running the vCenter Server on SimpliVity has always been an available option but to do so required custom configuration modifications. With the latest release of SimpliVity OmniStack, running the vCenter Server on the SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform (DVP) is now fully supported without any modifications to the standard configuration of the OmniStack software. This allows the vCenter Server to be protected (backed up, replicated, and restored) using SimpliVity data protection features and further reduces the physical infrastructure footprint in the datacenter.

SimpliVity supports both the Windows vCenter Server and the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA). The vCenter Server is required for the SimpliVity deployment, because of this the vCenter Server which will be managing the SimpliVity environment must first be deployed outside the environment and then migrated on to the SimpliVity DVP once the deployment has been completed.

There are several methods which can be used to migrate the vCenter Server into the SimpliVity environment. A few of these methods include:

  • Using vMotion to migrate both the storage and running state of the vCenter virtual machine to a SimpliVity host.
  • Using Storage vMotion to move storage and then removing and re-adding the vCenter virtual machine to inventory on a SimpliVity host.
  • P2Ving or V2Ving the vCenter Server to a SimpliVity host.
  • Copying (using scp for example) the vCenter Server virtual machine files to a SimpliVity datastore and adding the virtual machine into inventory on a SimpliVity host.

In this post I am going to look at the two most common methods: using vMotion to migrate both the storage and running state of the vCenter virtual machine to a SimpliVity host, and using Storage vMotion to move storage and then removing and re-adding the vCenter virtual machine to inventory on a SimpliVity host.
Read the rest of this entry »

May 31

vSphere HA Host Isolation Response in a SimpliVity Design

In this post I am going to look at a few typical SimpliVity deployment topologies and provide a recommendation for the Host Isolation Response setting, along with my reasoning behind the choice. Remember that SimpliVity is below the hypervisor, so even though I am writing specifically about SimpliVity deployments the same concepts can be easily transferred to other types of infrastructures.

By default vSphere High Availability (HA) uses the default gateway of the Management VMkernel to determine host isolation. Additional isolation addresses can, and should, be set to reduce the possibility of hosts falsely becoming isolated. Details on setting multiple isolation addresses and using an isolation address other than the default gateway can be found here

A host becomes isolated if the HA agent is unable to access any other hosts in the cluster and if it is unable to ping the configured isolation addresses. The host is still running and VMs can still be running on the host, but the host no longer has connectivity to the networks it tests. The vSphere 6 documentation provides more details on host isolation.

vSphere HA can be configured to respond to a host becoming isolated in 3 ways:

  • Disabled (Leave powered on) – This is the default setting
  • Shut down and restart VMs – Attempt gracefully shutdown VMs and restart them on a non-isolated host.
  • Power off and restart VMs – Power off VMs and restart them on a non-isolated host.

A default host isolation response is set for the cluster in the vSphere HA configuration and this is set to Disabled by default.

Each virtual machine can be configured with a host isolation response which differs from the cluster default. When vSphere HA is configured in a SimpliVity environment the Host Isolation Response for the SimpliVity OmniCube Virtual Controller (OVC) VM should be configured to Disabled so that it is not shutdown during an isolation event.

Datastore heartbeating is a second mechanism which is used to determine whether a host is isolated or failed. If the host cannot reach other hosts in the cluster or its isolation addresses, but it is still able to write to storage for heartbeating the host will be determined to be up but isolated. This is also a factor in which isolation response to use.

The following table outlines how vSphere HA determines the state of a host:

HA Agent Reachable Isolation Addresses Reachable Datastore Accessible (Heartbeat) HA Event
Yes N/A
Isolation addresses only tested if HA agent connectivity is lost.
Yes No HA Event
Host poweron file indicates it is not isolated.
No Yes Yes No HA Event
Host poweron file indicates it is not isolated.
No No Yes Host is Isolated.
Isolated host updates its poweron file indicating it is isolated.
HA will trigger Isolation Response.
No No No Host is failed.
HA will restart VMs on surviving hosts

Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «