Category Archives: Uncategorized

VXLAN on Ravello between Google and Amazon EC2

v2Ravello_Logo_largeA week or so ago I did a post around a cross vCenter vMotion lab that I had setup utilizing both Amazon EC2 and Google Cloud through Ravello Systems new beta which allows us to run nested ESXi.  It was a fun project to work on, migrating VMs back and forth through the clouds, but I tried to keep a lot of the technical detail out of the post – focusing more on what Ravello had to offer.  One key aspect of the setup was creating a VXLAN tunnel in order to bridge the two VM networks inside of each cloud – allowing me to complete the vMotion without performing any additional network configuration on my VMs once they had migrated.  Anyways, I thought I’d go into a little more detail on how I accomplished this.

Now, keep in mind here I don’t claim to be any sort of network guy – it’s probably my biggest lack in terms of IT skill-sets, therefore I could be going about this all wrong – any advice, comments, just leave the in the box below – I always appreciate any feedback I get.  I also appreciate any help I get, and had a lot with this project – CTO of Ravello Systems Alex Fishman had a couple of calls with me offering up his experience (very very smart guy).  Also, there’s a blog post on Ravello’s blog which goes over the setup as well – that said, I thought go into a little more detail in the case that someone else at the same level of network knowledge as myself might be looking for help.

So to start let’s have a brief look at the Ravello setup.  Firstly we need a couple of applications, one published to the EC2 cloud and one published to the Google Cloud.  Each application (in this case) contains two VMs – one to act as a client and one to act as the gateway/vxlan bridge.  I’ve used Ubuntu 14.04 server for these but you could use any OS you like, so long as the vxlan module is loaded and supported.  The table below outlines each VM and the networking associated with it in my test setup.

Cloud VM Network IP Notes
Amazon EC2 ec2-vxlan eth0 IP: 192.168.0.1
SN: 255.255.255.0
GW: None
Internal
Network Gateway
eth1 IP: 10.0.0.1
SN: 255.255.255.248
GW: 10.0.0.3
External network w/ Elastic IP attached
ec2-client eth0 IP: 192.168.0.100
SN: 255.255.255.0
GW: 192.168.0.1 (in OS) None in Ravello
Internal
Google google-vxlan eth0 IP: 192.168.0.1
SN: 255.255.255.0
GW: None
Internal Network Gateway
eth1 IP: 10.0.0.2
SN: 255.255.255.248
GW: 10.0.0.3
External Network w/ Elastic IP attached
google-client eth0 IP: 192.168.0.200
SN: 255.255.255.0
GW: 192.168.0.1 (in OS) None in Ravello
Internal

I’ve used a /29 subnet on the external networks as I really only need 3 total IPs available, one for each of the vxlan VMs as well as a third for a gateway – Honestly again you could use whatever you wanted here.  I understand that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words so here is a side by side of both the Amazon and Google network canvas.

ec2networking googlenet

So a pretty simply setup when looking at the canvas – essentially the vxlan VM will need two NICs, one connected to the internal lan (eth0 in this case) and one connected to an externally routed network (eth1).  Before we finish up within the Ravello canvas and establish a tunnel let’s first look at the EC2 side of things so we can better understand the settings on the vxlan and client VMs that end up making our network canvas look like the above.

ec2-nic1 ec2-nic2

Looking closer at the network configuration of the ec2-vxlan VM (sorry, couldn’t get it all on one screen cap so I put them side-by-side) we can notice a couple of things; eth0, the internal lan (which will act as a gateway for the client VMs) is setup on the 192.168.0.1/24 network with no gateway.  Also, we have selected public IP for this nic under external access but left the ‘Even without external services’ unchecked.  What this does is ensure that this VM can only be accessed by routing through our vxlan tunnel and cannot be accessed directly from the internet.  The second nic (eth1) is the nic we will use to establish our vxlan bridge.  This nic is subnetted in a way that allows very few IPs within the network, as we only need three anyways (one for ec2, one for google, and one for a gateway).  This nic has an Elastic IP tied to it within the External Access settings.  Since we will need to use this public IP later when we establish the tunnel it’s best that it not change often, and an elastic IP will never change, thus why we used it.

externalservices

Another note in regards to the vxlan VM is the external services provided.  For this case I’ve simply allowed all external traffic on all ports into eth1 – probably not the greatest feat in terms of security but it sure does ensure I get the communication I need. (might be able to change to just other IP).

Note that you will need to setup the Google side of things inside Ravello exactly the same as shown above, obviously replacing the IP addresses of eth1 with those shown in the table earlier.  Once done with that we have completed our setup within Ravello and it’s now time to setup the tunnel.

Again, let’s start with EC2 and work our way over to google.  Take note of both your EC2 and Google elastic IP’s as we will need them for the configuration below.

First is our network configuration (/etc./network/interfaces).  Below is a shot of mine – the key here is that even though we specified an IP in the Ravello interface for eth0 we are not doing it within Ubuntu – we will be using this IP on our bridge instead, however we still want eth0 to be active so we set it as manual.  So as far as network interfaces your setup should be similar to below – of course with address being 10.0.0.2 on the Google cloud.

# The primary network interface
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet manual
auto eth1
iface eth1 inet static
        address 10.0.0.1
        netmask 255.255.255.248
        gateway 10.0.0.3

Once we have our network interfaces set up we can continue with the setup of the vxlan and bridge.  First we will walk through the EC2 side and then move to google.

We begin by adding the vxlan device with “ip link add mtu <MTUSIZE> <VXLAN DEVICE NAME> type vxlan id <VXLAN ID>”.  For example on the EC2 side I ran..

ip link add mtu 65000 vxlan1 type vxlan id 1

Then let’s create a new forwarding database entry on our vxlan device to allow all traffic through using “bridge fdb append <MAC> dev <VXLAN DEVICE NAME> dst <DESTINATION ADDRESS>”.  For example, I used the following on my EC2 instance – ensuring I use the public IP of the Google Cloud.

bridge fdb append 00:00:00:00:00:00 dev vxlan1 dst 31.220.68.229

From here we can add our bridge using “brctl addbr <BRIDGE NAME>” – again, I ran…

brctl addbr br0

Then add both our vxlan and our internal interface to the newly created bridge with “brctl addif <BRIDGE NAME> <INTERFACE> <INTERFACE>”

brctl addif br0 vxlan1 eth0

Now we can assign our internal IP that we wish to use for the internal lans gateway to our bridge, and then simply bring up our bridge and vxlan interfaces.  Lastly, I ran these commands…

ifconfig br0 192.168.0.1/24
ifconfig br0 up
ifconfig vxlan1 up

That does it for the Amazon configuration, the Google configuration is exactly the same, except substituting the Amazon public IP as our destination when adding the forwarding entry.  Once we do this you should be able to ping back and forth between the test client VMs, each located in their separate cloud.  Now think of the possibilities – nested ESXi in each cloud, with a layer 2 VM Network that stretches through the vxlan tunnel – pretty sweet stuff!

One thing that could be a PIA is that this config won’t persist across reboots.  I’ve tried in many ways to get the interfaces added to the persistent rules, but found the quickest way to get this to run on boot is to simply create a small bash script containing the commands; both Google and Amazons are shown below.

ec2script googlescript

Save each bash file in their respective /etc./init.d/ directories and make them executable.  I called the configVXLAN Then run the following on both Amazon and Google to ensure it gets ran on startup

update-rc.d /etc/init.d/configVXLAN defaults 99

And that is it!  A functioning stretched Layer 2 network between Google Cloud and Amazon EC2 using Ravello!  The possibilities are endless…  Again, I’m not a big networking guy, so if you know of any way I can improve this (use NSX?) just let me know…  Thanks for reading!

A Google Cloud to Amazon vMotion – The Ravello Way!

v2Ravello_Logo_largeToday Ravello Systems, a company based out of Palo Alto and Israel announced a new beta, a beta that I think is going to go over very well within the VMware community – one that will allow us to spin up vSphere labs, complete with vCenter Server, ESXi hosts, Domain Controllers, Storage and Network services and all the VMs that go with the punch inside of Google and Amazon’s cloud.  To be honest I was kind of skeptical when I first started working with Ravello?  I mean, come on, an ESXi host in Amazon, let alone and ESXi host running VMs inside of Amazon, an ESXi host running VMs with little to no performance penalty, all running within Amazon – you can see why I might of cringed a bit.  But Ravello gave me a shot to try it for myself – and during the introductory chat as they were showing me how things worked I thought, hey, what a use case for the new cross vCenter vMotion capabilities in vSphere 6!  A lab in Amazon, a lab in Google Cloud, and VMs migrating between them – how cool is that?

Who and what is Ravello Systems?

Now, before I get into the details of the vMotion itself I want to take a step back and explain a little bit about Ravello Systems themselves, and what they have to offer.  Ravello was founded in 2011 with the sole purpose of supporting and driving nested virtualization to the next frontier and did so when they launched their product globally in August of 2013 (You had to of seen the scooters at VMworld :) )  They didn’t just want to simply provide an environment for nested virtualization though, they wanted to make it simple and easy for companies to replicate their data center infrastructure into the public cloud.  The core technology behind all of this is their HVX hypervisor – essentially acting as a Cloud VM, sitting in either Amazon or Google and providing overlay networking and storage to the VMs that are placed on top of it.

RavelloHVX

As per the diagram above the VMs present can be built from scratch or imported via an OVA within Ravello’s very easy to use intuitive interface – but perhaps more interestingly you can utilize the Ravello Import Tool(??), point it to your ESXi host or vCenter, and import VMs directly from your environment into the cloud!  But they don’t stop there, Ravello can also detect and create every network your VM is attached to, deploying an exact duplicate of your network infrastructure!  Now if this wasn’t good enough for you the beta today announces the ability to support Intel VT through HVX – which means we can now run VMs on top of ESXi on top of HVX on top of Amazon or Google!  True inception leaving us with a setup shown in the diagram below.

RavelloHVXVT

A great place to break things!

There is a reason why Ravello dubs their technology as having the ability to create “Smart Labs”!  Throughout my early access to the solution I broke and fixed so many things within my applications – and Ravello always gave me a way to rebuild or reconstruct my labs in a very efficient manner.

RavelloSaveToLibraryFirst up we are able to save our VMs to the library – which is essentially a personal set of VMs and images that we can re-use in all of our applications.  For example I only had to build my ESXi 6.0 image once – after saving this to the library I was able to simply drag and drop this VM as many times as needed to as many applications as needed, simply re-ip and re-naming after I was done.

RavelloSaveToBlueprintHaving the ability to re-use VMs is cool but the blueprint functionality that Ravello provides is really where I see value!  We are able to take a complete application, in my instance an ESXi host, domain controller, vCenter Server, etc and save the entire application as a blueprint.  Blueprints are then available to be used as starting points for new applications – meaning I can build a complete lab on Amazon, save as a blueprint, and then publish a new application to Google which is an exact identical copy, networks and all.  Blueprints are an excellent way to test out the different public clouds as well as version or snapshot your entire lab before making any major changes – if things go awry you can simply republish your saved blueprint to a new application.

RavelloBlueprints

Enough talk – Let’s see the vMotion!

Alright!  Let’s get to it!  Let me first warn you, the environment I built to do this was quick and dirty – not a lot of polishing going on here.

The two applications we will be using are Google-vxlan and EC2-vxlan – I’ll let you guess which public clouds each is published to.

ravellovmcanvas

As shown above these applications are pretty similar; each containing an Ubuntu server (used to establish the vxlan tunnel between EC2 and Google), a pfSense appliance that provides a VPN for my vMotion networks, a vCenter Server (the Windows version), and an ESXi host (just one for now).  The EC2 application also contains a jumpbox VM which provides entry into the local network as well as DNS services.

ravelloNetworkingboth

As far as networking goes the setup at both Amazon and Google is almost identical with the exception of the jumpbox.  The 192.168.0.0/24 network is available at both EC2 and Google.  The 10.0.0.0/24 network is the only network that is routed to the internet, therefore my only access into the labs outside of the Ravello GUI – this is why the jumpbox also has a connection to this network – to act as an RDP gateway of sorts.  The two Ubuntu servers have an elastic public IP attached to them in order to ensure the public IP doesn’t change and mess up my vxlan config.  The free trial of Ravello gives you two elastic IPs, and four other DCHP public IPs (subject to changing every now and then).  The vxlan tunnel is established between the two elastic IPs in order to provide Layer 2 connectivity between Amazon and Google.  The pfSense boxes each have a dynamic public IP attached to them with an IPSEC tunnel established between the 192.168.1.0/24 and the 192.168.2.0/24 networks.

vsphereshotOn the VMware side of things I have two vCenters with embedded PSCs (i know – bad practice) – one in Amazon and one in Google, which are attached to the same SSO domain and configured in Enhanced Linked Mode.  Therefore whatever is at Google can be seen at Amazon and vice versa.  As far as vMotion goes I’ve simply enabled this one my existing management interfaces (more bad practice – but hey, it’s a lab).  There is local storage attached to the ESXi hosts and one VM named EC2-VM1 present.

So my goal was to migrate this VM from Amazon to Google and back again, taking both the compute and storage with it.  Now just writing about a vMotion is not that exciting so I included a video below so you too can see it move :)  It’s my first attempt at a video and had some screaming kids while I made it so yeah, no narration – I’ll try and update with a little tour of the Ravello environment later :)

So there you have it – a VM moving from Amazon to Google and back, all while maintaining its’ ping response – pretty cool!

Is Ravello worth it?

esxi-home-labSo, with all this the question now remains is Ravello worth the cost?  Well, considering as how Ravello estimates the cost of a two ESXi Node, vCenter and Storage lab to be on average $0.81 – $1.71 per hour (usage based, no up front costs) I would certainly say it is!  The ability to run nested ESXi hosts on top of the public cloud provides a multitude of use-cases for businesses – but honestly I see this being a valuable tools for the community.  I plan on using Ravello solely for my home lab usage over the next year or so – it’s just so much nicer to break things and simply re-publish an application than it is to try and rebuild my lab at home.  If you want to give Ravello a shot you can sign up for the beta here – Even after the beta expires you simply swipe your credit card and pay Ravello directly – no Amazon accounts, no Google bills – just Ravello!  You will be limited during the beta’s and free trials in the amount of CPU, RAM and concurrent powered on VMs but they definitely give you enough resources to get a decent lab setup.

Ravello has a great solution and certainly expect more from me in regards to my lab adventures in the public cloud.

Disclaimer: Ravello gave me early access to their ESXi beta in order to evaluate their solution – I first signed up for a free trial and did get the amount of RAM and number of VMs available to me increased.  They didn’t however require that I write this post nor write anything for that matter, or provide any $$$ for anything that was written – these are all my words!

Veeam announces GA of Veeam Endpoint Backup

During their first inaugural VeeamON conference last October Veeam announced the beta of Veeam Endpoint Backup.  I wrote a little overview in regards to Endpoint Backup in case you need a refresher.  Now, Veeam’s Backup and Replication has long been infamous for being purpose built for the virtual data center, and Endpoint Backup is the companies answer to bringing the same great Veeamy-tech to your physical laptops and desktops.  Today, that announced beta has ended and Veeam Endpoint Backup is now generally available.

So what’s changed since the beginning of the beta?

VeeamEndpointA lot actually!  Being in beta for 6 months has really helped Veeam to ensure that they are releasing a genuinely, tried and tested, rock solid product into the market.  In fact, throughout the beta many of the new features now included in Endpoint Backup were suggested by users just like you and me on the community forums surrounding the beta.  Veeam, like always have done a great job taking into account user feedback and delivering a product that’s packed full of useful features and “just works”.  There are a lot of features to VEB and you can see them all here - but, I’d like to go over a few of my favorites.

Integration between VEB and VBR

Coupling Patch #2 of Veeam Backup and Replication (released later this month) alongside the GA of Veeam Endpoint Backup brings some awesome functionality of being able to monitor, control and restore endpoint backups within VBR.  By backing our endpoints up directly inside a Veeam backup repository we are now able to take advantage of many of the traditional VBR restore goodies with our physical backups.  Aside from simply file level recovery, application items, such as being able to restore SQL tables, Exchange and Active Directory objects – they can all be performed on our physical backups now as well.  Although the product is geared towards endpoints, meaning desktops and laptops, I see no reason why you couldn’t install it on some of those last physical servers you have laying around.  In fact, Veeam says themselves that although it isn’t built for servers it will work on Server 2008 and above.

VeeamEndpointToVBR

Veeam has added the ability to export our physical disks from the backups directly into a vmdk, vhd, or vhdx file as well.  Now this isn’t a true P2V process, they aren’t removing any drivers or services or preparing the disk to be virtual in any way – this isn’t their intention.  This is simply another way to recover, another way to get the data you need – and honestly, if you wanted to try and build a VM out of these exported disks I’m sure there will be posts around the process out there in the next few months on how to do so.

SecPermissions

In terms of security Veeam has added the ability for administrators to set access restrictions on their backup repositories.  What this does is allows us to grant access to certain repositories to certain users, while restricting access to others.

Aside from the new integration, Veeam Endpoint Backups which are stored in a Veeam backup repository can also take advantage of existing VBR features, such as encrypting your backups, traffic throttling, monitoring incoming backups, email status alerts and support for Backup Copy and Tape jobs to get those backups offsite.

It’s not just about B&R

Sure, the integration’s with VBR are pretty cool but they aren’t the only thing that’s included.   Yeah, we have all of the traditional endpoint backup features like incremental’s, multiple target options, and scheduling but it wouldn’t be a Veeam product without a few extra goodies baked in.  I’m not going to go in depth about them all, but listed below are a few of my favorites

Full support for Bitlocker drive encryption – This gives you the ability to de-encrypt your Bitlocker backups before restoring, directly from with the Endpoint GUI.

Ability to control the power state of computer post backup – If you have your computer set to backup at the end of your work day, you can leave knowing that once your backup has completed Veeam will, in true green fashion, power down your workstation.

Backup triggers such as “When backup target is connected” – Veeam will monitor for when you plug in that external USB drive or connect to the network that you have setup as your backup target and can trigger the backup process immediately there after.

Support for rotated USB drives – If you want to rotate your backups on one USB drive one week and another the next, Veeam Endpoint Backup can handle this for you, allowing you to backup to one drive while the other goes offsite.

On-battery detection – Backups can be automatically prevented from starting when Veeam detects that your laptop is running on-battery and contains less than 20% run time – ensuring VEB doesn’t chew up valuable power in your time of need :)

So what hasn’t changed?

freeWe talked about what has changed since the beta bits were first shipped in November but perhaps the most important and most cared about feature lands in the “What hasn’t changed?” category.  What hasn’t changed is that Veeam Endpoint Backup was put into beta as a free product and will remain free now that it is generally available.  Veeam has a long history of providing free tools for the community, they have Backup and Replication Free, SQL/Active Directory, Exchange Explorers are free, the old FastSCP which was free and now Veeam Endpoint Backup Free!  There should be no barrier to stopping you from going and checking out VBR for yourself.

Now in my VeeamON post I tried to determine the future of this product, where it would fit in, what features Veeam would add to it – and honestly I was way off on a lot of them – but one I was sure would come would be the integration with Backup and Replication – and it’s here now!  Do I think Veeam are done innovating in this area?  Absolutely not!  From my experiences Veeam is a company that never stops moving.  I’m excited to see Veeam Endpoint Backup go GA, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Friday Shorts – Certs, Tools, Loads, VVOLs and #SFD7

It’s been quite a long time since my last “Friday Shorts” installment and the links are certainly piling up!  So, without further ado here’s a few tidbits of information that I shared over the last little while…

A little bit of certification news!

VMware LogoVMware education and certification has certainly taken it’s fair share of backlash in the last few months, and honestly it’s rightly deserved!  People don’t like when they invest in a certification, both in money and time, just to have an expiry date placed on all their efforts!  Either way, that’s old news and nothing is changing there.  What I was most concerned about was whether or not I would be able to skip my upgrade of my VCP and just take a VCAP exam instead, which would in turn re-up my VCP.  Then the announcement of no more VCAP was made – which through those questions of mine for a loop – but now, after this announcement it appears that their will be an upgrade/migration path for those current VCAP holders to work towards the newly minted VCIX.  Have a read and figure out where you fit in and start planning.   I already hold a VCAP5-DCA so by taking the design portion of the VCIX I would be able to earn my VCIX certification in full – sounds good to me!  Now we just need the flipping exams blueprints to come out so we all can get to studying! :)

New version of RVTools!

rvtoolsYup, the most famous peice of “nice to haveware” has an updated version.  I’ve used RVTools for quite some time now – as an administrator any piece of free software that I can get to help me with my job is gold!  RVTools saves me a ton of time when gathering information as it pertains to my virtual environment and my VMs.  If you haven’t used it definitely check it out – if you have, upgrade – you can see all of the new changes and download here!!

KEMP giving away LoadMaster!

kempKeeping on the topic of free tools let’s talk about KEMP for a moment!  They are now offering their flagship KEMP LoadMaster with a free tier!  If you need any load balancing done at all I would definitely check this out!  Now, there is going to be some limitations right, nothing in this world is completely free :)  Certainly it’s only community supported and you can only balance up to a maximum of 20 MB/s – but hey, may be a great solution for your lab!  Eric Shanks has a great introduction to how to get it up and going on his blog so if you need a hand check it out!  I’ve also done up a quick review a few months back on load balancing your LogInsight installation with KEMP.  Anyways, if you are interested in checking it go and get yourself a copy!

You got your snapshot in my VVOL!

As my mind wanders during the tail end of the NHL season I often find my mind racing about different things during the commercial breaks of Habs games – this time I said to myself, self, do snapshots work the same when utilizing the new VVOL technology.  Then myself replied and it said, hey self, you know who would know this answer, Cormac Hogan.  A quick look at his blog and low and behold there it was, a post in regards to shapshots and VVOLs.  If you have some time check it out – Cormac has  a great  way of laying things out in quick and easy to follow blog posts and this on is no exception.  In fact, before the first place team in the eastern conference returned from the tv timeout I had a complete understanding of it – now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

 #SFD7 – Did you see it?

SFD-Logo2-150x150It appears that most if not all the videos from Storage Field Day 7 have been uploaded from the Silicon Valley internets into the wide world of YouTube!  There was a great list of delegates, vendors and presenters there so I would definitely recommend you check them out!  There were crazy hard drive watches, fire alarms, and best of all, a ton of great tech being talked about!  IMO the show could of done with just a few more memes though :)  With that said you can find all their is to know about Storage Field Day 7 over at GestaltIT’s landing page!

Rock the vote! Top vBlog voting now open!

2014_Award-Banner_Top-25-smallIt’s that special time of year again – a time for the virtualization community to come together and vote for their favorite virtualization blogs.  Yes – the Top vBlog Voting for 2015 is underway over at vSphere-land.com.  As much as this is just simply a ranking of blogs I’m not going to lie – it feels great to be recognized for all the work that I put into this blog and I appreciate each and every vote and reader that I have here on mwpreston.net.  This will be my forth year participating in the Top vBlog voting and honestly I’m so humbled by the way things have turned out.  In 2012 I put myself out there in the contest and came in at #125, 2013 I moved up to a whopping #39, and last year, 2014 I landed in spot #20 (wow!)  Thank you all for the support!

That’s one small step for man, one giant…I have a dream!

black-sheep-1996-02-gI know the sub title above doesn’t make much sense but wanted to somehow sneak a picture of Farley into this post, so there’s that!  – Seriously though, if you are a reader of this blog, or any blog on the vLaunchpad for that matter be sure to get over to the survey and vote!  Help pay respects and give recognition to the bloggers that spend countless hours trying to bring you relevant and useful information.  Be sure to read this post by Eric Siebert outlining a few tips and things to keep in mind while voting.  This isn’t a popularity contest – vote for the blogs you feel are the best – and if you aren’t sure, take a look back at some of the content they’ve produced over the past year.  Eric has links and feeds to over 400 blogs (insane!) on the launchpad if you have a spare 3 or 4 days :)

Speaking of Eric

Don’t forget to give huge thanks and props out to Eric for the time that he spends putting this thing together.  I can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into maintaining something like this.  Honestly I don’t know how he keeps up with it all, the linking, etc.  I have a hard enough time going back through my drafts and creating hyperlinks :)  So props to you Eric and Thank You!  Also, reach out to the wonderful folks at Infinio and thank them for once again sponsoring the Top vBlog Voting!  A lot of what goes on within the community wouldn’t be possible without sponsorships and help from all of the great vendors out there!

You have until March 16

That’s right, this whole thing wraps up on March 16 so make sure you get your choices in before then.  You will find mwpreston dot net front and center on the top of your screen once you start the survey (just in case you are looking for it :)).  Obviously I’d appreciate a vote but be true to yourself, if you don’t think I deserve it, skip me and move on to someone you think does :)

mwpreston dot net vote

I tend to use the Top vBlog Voting as a time to reflect back on what I’ve accomplished over the last year and 2014 was a super one for me!  I had the chance to attend a couple new conferences –  VeeamON, and Virtualization Field Day 4 – all of which I tried my best to cover on this blog.  I’ve also been doing a lot of writing for searchVMware.techtarget.com which has been a blast (if you are looking for a best news blog vote, check them out).  No matter where I end up it’s simply an honor to be part of this community and to have made so many new friends from across the world!  So here’s to an even better 2015

Tech Field Day – #VFD4 – VMTurbo Putting a price on resources!

VMTurboLogoSmVMTurbo closed off the first day at VFD4 in Austin, Texas with an overview and deep dive into their flagship product Operations Manager.  This was one of the presentations that I was most looking forward to as my fellow Toronto VMUG Co-Leader, fellow Canadian and good friend Eric Wright was involved in it, and for the first time I got to see Eric on the “other side of the table” speaking for a vendor.

 Disclaimer: As a Virtualization Field Day 4 delegate all of my flight, travel, accommodations, eats, and drinks are paid for.  However I do not receive any compensation nor am I required to write anything in regards to the event or the sponsors.  This is done at my own discretion.

Demand-Driven Control for the Software-Defined Universe

Eric started off by prompting everyone’s thoughts around what exactly Operations Manager is– not by talking about the product or what it can do, but by briefly explaining a motto that VMTurbo has been built around – Demand Driven Control for the Software Defined Universe.  I know, it’s a long one but in essence it’s something that is lacking within the industry.  With the Software Defined X being introduced into our data centers, it has brought with it many benefits, and perhaps the biggest being control – we can now have software controlling our storage, software controlling our network, and in the case of automation, we have software controlling our software.  And as Eric pointed out this control is great, but useless if there is no real consistency or leverage behind whatever is controlling it – and in fact, having the demand, having our infrastructure be the driving factor behind this control is truly the answer.  VMTurbo’s Operations Manager is a product that helps us along our path to the Demand-Driven Control for the Software-Defined Universe and it does so in it’s own unique way…

Desired State – Datacenter Nirvana

herethereBefore we get into VMTurbo’s unique take on operations management I first want to talk a little bit about desired state.  Looking after a virtual datacenter we are always looking to bring our VMs, our applications, our workloads into what we consider a desired state.  This desired state essentially combines both availability and performance together, all while maximizing the efficiency of the resources and infrastructure that we have to work with.  We begin to see anomalies and performance issues when we veer away from this desired state, and traditionally, we, as administrators are tasked with bring our workloads back into that desired state.  VMTurbo states that this is where the problem lies – this human interaction both takes time – time for humans to find out about this shift, as well as time for humans to try and put the puzzle back together and get back to the desired state.  VMTurbo essentially takes the human interaction out of this equation – allowing software, in this case Operations Manager to both detect the shift from desired state but also, and more importantly take action towards moving your environment back to the desired state – thus the “control” part of the Demand-Driven Control.

And the Demand-Driven part?

This is where we see the uniqueness of VMTurbo’s Operations Manager shine through.  With Operations Manager in control, making the decisions of what VMs should run where, etc. it needs a way to look holistically at your environment.  How it does this is by taking an economic model and applying that to your infrastructure, essentially turning your datacenter into a supply chain.  Every entity of your environment either supplies or demands resources, and just as in economics when there are a lot of resources available, things are a bit cheaper.  As resources go down, things begin to get a lot more expensive.

VMTurbo-Marketplace

So in terms of a VM demanding resources Operations Manager calculates the cost of those resources, again, holistically across your entire environment to determine just how those resources should be provisioned.  Think of adding more disk to a VM –  you need to look at where the disk will come from, how expanding that disk will affect other consumers (VMs) on the same datastore, how the extra capacity will affect other suppliers such as your storage array, your LUN, etc.  Operations Manager calculates all of this information in real time to determine how to best provision that storage capacity to the VM and takes action if need be to free up resources or create more supply, all while maintaining the desired state of all of your applications.

Operations Manager also goes deeper than just the VM when determining who it’s buyers are.  Through the use of WMI, SNMP, or by simply importing metrics from a third-party tools Operations Manager is able to discover services inside of your operating systems and throw them into the crazy economic market as well.  Think of things like Tomcat servers, Java Heaps, SQL Server, etc.  These are processes that may affect the demand for memory, and without insight into them making a recommendation for more memory on a VM isn’t going to help anything.  By taking these granular metrics and statistics from inside of your VMs operating system, Operations Manager can give a complete recommendation or action that will best suit your application, VM, and entire infrastructure.

It still does all the other stuff

Now VMTurbo’s supply chain model definitely sets it apart from other monitoring tools.  Also, the fact that Operations Manager can take action automatically also is a big plus when comparing the product to other tools but  you may be asking yourself what about all of the other stuff that most monitoring tools do today?  Well, Operations Manager does that as well.  Items such as right-sizing a VM, taking away or granting CPU to a VM, placement, capacity planning, etc.  Operations Manager does all of this an in fact it also applies these actions to its supply chain model, allowing the software to see just how granting another 2 vCPUs to a VM will “disrupt” the market and decide whether or not that change is “worth it”.  Operations Manager also has some decent networking functionality built-in as well.  By figuring out which VMs are “chatty” or communicating each other often, Operations Manager can make the recommendation to move these VMs onto the same host, eliminating any performance degradation or latency that could occur by having the communication move out across your network.

When VMTurbo takes action it does so in a manner of a recommendation or an action – meaning we can have the software recommend the changes to the user or we can have the software go ahead and take care of the issues itself.  Honestly this is a personal preference and I can see customers probably using a mix of both.  When calculating these recommendations and actions Operations Manager also places a transaction cost on any move it makes.  What this does is alleviate VMs from essentially bouncing back and forth between hosts trying to achieve their desired state.

Operations Manager really looks like a slick product which takes a different stance on monitoring and healing your infrastructure.  Having the application that is doing the watching do the actual doing makes sense to me, eliminating the need for the human interaction which in turn eliminates risk and certainly increases the time it takes to get back to desired state.  And I know I’ve specifically geared this post towards vSphere but honestly VMTurbo supports just about everything – think OpenStack, Azure, Hyper-V, AWS, vCloud – it’s got them all covered.  If your interest has at all peaked I encourage you to watch all of the VMTurbo #VFD4 videos here – or better yet, get yourself a trial version and try it out yourself.  Oh, and this just in – get your name in on a home-lab giveaway they are having in respect to their newest launch.