Category Archives: Uncategorized
In part 1 of my vCloud Air test drive we went through the vCloud Air UI as well as went over the steps it took to get a VM up and running in the cloud. This is all great except for the fact that our VM had no connection to the internet – nor did we have any way of accessing our VM outside of the default console that vCloud Air provides. This section will deal with just that – we will explore the NAT and firewall rules that need to be setup in order to get our VM access to the internet as well as port forward our public IP in order to provide ssh access into resources within vCloud Air.
Just a note – If you wanted to try out vCloud Air On-Demand on your own you can do so by following this url – and using the promo code Influencer2015. This will get you $500 in service credits to burn in 90 days – more than enough credit to give it a valid test. This code and url expires June 30, 2015 so be sure to register ASAP – also, it’s valid only for new MyVMware accounts meaning you will most likely need to register under a different email than you currently use.
Just as I did in the first post in this series, part 2 will have a video an an accompanying blog post. The video, embedded below along with the blog post both accomplish the same result – so hopefully I’m covering off everyone’s content type of choice!
Connecting our cloud to the internet
As we seen in part 1 our VM was not connected to the internet by default. Thankfully accomplishing this task is not that hard, even automated to a certain extent inside of vCloud Air (notice a recurring pattern here?), basically creating the NAT and firewall rules that we need in order to allow communication out.
Speaking of NAT let’s get a little of the vCloud Air terminology straight before we continue. First up is our firewall – the vCloud Air firewall essentially is closed by default, meaning all traffic both in and out from the public IP is blocked by default. In order to change this, we create what’s called Firewall Exceptions. How vCloud Air interprets NAT is always based on the internal vCloud Air network, as follows
- SNAT (Source NAT). – Deals with traffic originating from within the vCloud Air Network (source) destined for another network (ie Internet)
- DNAT (Destination NAT) – Deals with traffic originating from another network (ie Internet) destined for the vCloud Air network (destination).
Now before we can get into any natting or firewalling we need to create a public ip address to nat out of. This is done by browsing to your gateway configuration and then the ‘Public IPs’ tab. The actual adding of the IP is done by clicking ‘Add IP Address’ – tricky huh?
Once we have our public IP setup we can do one of two things – we can create the SNAT and Firewall exceptions manually or we can right-click our VM and selected ‘Connect to Internet’ The latter option will automatically create the SNAT and Firewall exceptions that we need in order to allow outbound access from our newly created VM.
Just a note here as well – I found it best to simply let the UI report back that everything has completed successfully – not just here but when doing things such as deleting VMs and creating data centers. Sometimes navigating away from a page while a task was in process caused either the task to take and extremely long time or forced me to log back into the UI. Anyways, after the task completes you should see the following rules that were created.
Now if you are wondering how to manually create a firewall rule don’t worry because we are going to do this as well. Although the rules have been created to allow http/https/dns out of our network there is nothing created around ICMP or ping. This is a commonly used method of testing connection to systems, so I’m not sure why this isn’t included in the ‘Connect to Internet’ workflow. Either way it gives us the opportunity to go through the process. Simply clicking the Add button will allow us to configure the following rule, which allows ping out not only from our VM (109.2) but our whole 109.0 network out to our external IP (shown below).
At this point we are almost there in terms of access to the internet. vCloud Air has statically assigned us and IP from our default IP pool, however it hasn’t done any configuration in regards to dns – so if you were to go try and ping google.ca at this point your VM would have no way of resolving it. If you need to add some name servers to your Ubuntu VMs interface you can do so by running the following commands.
echo “dns-nameservers 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124” >> /etc/network/interfaces
ifdown eth0 && ifup eth0
At this point, we should be successful in pinging google.ca or any other network address located on the internet – we have properly connected our cloud to the internet.
Connecting the Internet to our cloud.
Remember back in part 1 when I was griping a bit about not being able to send CTRL+ commands to my VM through the default console? Well, one way around this might be to configure and allow ssh through our firewall, which would allow me to use putty or any other ssh client and issue CTRL+ to my hearts delight. Keep in mind these scenarios would also work for Windows VMs and RDP by simply using port 3389 or whichever port you desire.
So, since our ssh traffic is going to be originating from the internet and destined to our vCloud network we first need to create a DNAT rule in order to port forward port 22 from our external IP to our internal Ubuntu server (Note: The default Ubuntu image already is listening on port 22 for ssh). The setup of the DNAT rule is shown below, remember to wait after clicking ‘Finish’ till vCloud Air reports success back.
Even though we have our DNAT setup now we still need to allow access on port 22 on our external IP through our firewall – remember everything is blocked by default so the following firewall exception will need to be created. I’m left the source IP and port as Any/Any, essentially allowing access from anywhere – if you had a specific IP that you would always be connecting from you could technically be a bit more secure and use that. For my testing though, I don’t care so much…
And there you have it! After waiting for the rules to apply (just wait) you should know be able to open up putty or your favorite ssh client, enter in your external (public) IP and log in to your VM. Any other services and ports you want to open up? Just simply repeat the following steps using whichever port you desire.
Although writing all this down after the fact seems pretty self explanatory and easy, to be honest, I struggled a bit during the networking portion. Not to say it isn’t intuitive, but with everything else being a breeze within the vCloud Air UI I would’ve thought there would be some pre-built workflows around opening up services given the number of steps it takes. Even if it was just common items such as ssh, rdp, or www. That said, it is possible that maybe if I RTFM it might have been a bit easier – but I like to jump right in – helps me evaluate the usability.
All in all VMware has a great service in vCloud Air On-Demand. It’s a piece that was originally missing from their cloud offerings. Having a pay-as-you-go service where you don’t need to fork out long term commitments or budget is key, especially when you think in terms of timely workloads, dev/test, etc. In the end vCloud Air has impressed me – a clean UI, easy to use solution without breaking the bank!
Again, if you want to test out vCloud Air On Demand for yourself go ahead and get a new MyVMware account and sign up at this URL using the promo code Influencer2015. I know I’ve mentioned this a lot over the past two blog posts but it will get you $500 in service credits and that’s more than enough to get a solid judgment on the service. Honestly, who doesn’t want free things! Thanks for reading/watching.
As a vExpert I tend to get a number of opportunities to evaluate different pieces of software and platforms – and as much as I’d like to simply look at every one I just don’t have the time to do so. That said, when the vCloud team reached out with an offer to have a go at their vCloud Air On-Demand service I rearranged some of my priorities – partly because cloud is interesting to me, but mostly because they also gave me the chance to let my readers have the same opportunity! VMware offers everyone $300 in service credits to evaluate vCloud Air On-Demand, but they gave me an extra $200 – and the promotional code to give you guys the same! So, if you register at using this exact link – and use the promo code Influencer2015, you too can have a total of $500 in service credits to play with. Just a note – you have 90 days to use up your credits before they expire – oh, and you need to register before June 30th, 2015 – so hurry! Another caveat, this offer is valid for NEW MyVMware accounts only – so, ummm, uh, yeah, find another email to register with
On to the evaluation
So I’ve recorded a couple of videos in regards to what I’ve done inside of vCloud Air, the first one, attached just below this paragraph takes us through a little tour of the vCloud Air web UI, and shows us the steps to get our first VM up and running.
Now if you don’t feel like listening to my Canadian accenty, cold-infested, whispering (I had a house full of sleeping kids) voice I’ve written the process down as well. Hey, we all learn in different ways right – some people like videos and others can’t stand them – so here’s both.
Judging a book by its’ cover
A simple, clean interface can go a long way when it comes to peoples reaction and opinions on the software that they use. The vCloud Air team certainly kept this in mind when developing the UI supporting their on-demand service. It’s very clean – showing only the basic information that one would really need to see to get a handle on their virtual data centers and VMs. If you have ever used vCloud Director (vCD) you know just how many different tabs and options are available within VMware’s cloud offering – there are a ton of them, and I find the vCD interface cumbersome and hard to use. It’s nice to see that VMware has taken some of the basic functionality that vCD provides, and abstracted it away to the vCloud Air UI – allowing their customers to perform common tasks such as power operations, network setup, and VM creation/snapshotting without having to ever set foot inside of vCD.
Let’s Cloud Bro!
Let’s get to it! The first step after logging into the vCloud Air portal is to create a virtual datacenter. Before we do that though we have to determine exactly what region we want to work in. As shown below we have some options as to where we would like our virtual datacenter to be located – I’ve chosen Virginia for some of my testing – but if you are following along, chose one close to you.
To create our Virtual Data Center select the + icon next to the Virtual Data Centers label. As you can see there isn’t a whole lot of configuration required in this step, simply a name. Also you can see that each VDC allows for 50 VMs containing 130 GHz CPU, 100GB of RAM and 2TB of both SSD accelerated storage and standard storage.
At this point automation kicks in and our virtual data center is created. Once it’s complete we can see that a number of components will be created and configured by default for us. Selecting our VDC from the left hand menu and clicking on the ‘Networks’ tab we can see a number of these pre-configured items such as our public gateway IP address, the default gateway IP for our internal network, as well as the IP range that will be handed out to VMs within our VDC. We can also create new networks from directly within the vCloud Air UI, however if you need to delve a little deeper into the services offered you can do so by using the ‘Manage in vCloud Director’ link in the top right hand corner. This will open an already authenticated vCloud Director session where you can manage your networks and add services such as DHCP, load balancing, etc. Essentially all of the functionality that you would normally have when running a full instance of vCD.
In order to create firewall rules, nat rules, and assign an accessible public IP to our gateway we need to select our default gateway under the ‘Gateways’ tab. Again, we can break out into a vCloud Director window here as well. We will come back to this section in part 2 of this series to connect our VM to the internet and grant ssh access but for now its just good to know where this information is located.
Speaking of VMs let’s get on with the show here and get our first VM created. This is done on the ‘Virtual Machines’ tab (Use the giant “Create your first virtual machine” button). When creating a VM you can select from the catalog which has been provided by VMware, or by creating a catalog, uploading and ISO and creating your VM from scratch. For the sake of this evaluation I just used the 32 bit Ubuntu server provided by VMware.
After selecting your VM from the catalog you can then name it and customize the cpu/memory/storage to your choosing. vCloud Air will default these settings to their preferred amounts but you can change them using their respective sliders. What’s nice about his screen is that you can see how s simple CPU, RAM and Storage change can affect your price per hour. In my case, this Ubuntu VM with 1 CPU, 2GB RAM and 10 GB of accelerated storage is a mere 5 cents/hour – not bad
Once the VM has been created it should now be listed under the Virtual Machines tab. Right-clicking the VM will bring up a context menu showing all the actions available, including power options, console access, snapshotting, etc..
Clicking on the VMs name within our list will also bring us into more details in regards to that VM. The ‘Resource Usage’ tab showing estimated costs, ‘Settings’ tab showing various configurable items, and the ‘Networks’ tab showing the networking information for the VM. As shown below we can see that our new Ubuntu VM has claimed the first address within our IP pool – 192.168.109.2.
Another important note about the ‘Settings’ tab is the ‘Guest OS Password’ section. In order to login to our newly created VM we will need the root password. This can be revealed by clicking ‘show initial password’. By default, all the VMs from the default catalog provided by vCloud Air will prompt you to change the default password after first login. Let’s make note of this password and go ahead and open a console to change it.
As we can see below the console provided by the vCloud Air UI is pretty barebones – allowing us to simply provide input to the VM and a button to send CTRL+ALT+DEL to the VM. I found this a little frustrating at times, especially since I was using a Linux VM. There were times where I had to direct a CTRL+C command to the VM but had no way of doing so, instead I had to proceed with a complete reboot of the VM. An on-screen keyboard may be a better solution here.
At this point we are done with part 1 of my test drive. My goal here was simply to get a VM up and running and we’ve certainly accomplished that. So far my opinion around vCloud Air On-Demand is a good one – Aside from a little hiccup of trying to send CTRL+ commands to the VM through the built-in console everything else has been a breeze. I really like the UI – how they have taken some of the complexity involved with trying to certain tasks within vCD and provided a one-click, automated solution without ever having to touch vCD – yet still giving users the option to move into vCD if needed. In part 2 we will have a look at setting up some of the networking and firewalling in our virtual data center – things will get a bit more complicated as we explore the NAT and firewall rules inside our gateway.
If you have any experience or thoughts about vCloud Air I’d love to hear them – leave a comment below or find me on twitter. And as mentioned before if you wanted to evaluate vCloud Air On-Demand yourself go ahead and register here, using the Influencer2015 promotional code to get yourself $500.00 in service credits.
Am I looking forward to the presentation at Virtualization Field Day 5 from OneCloud? I have no idea! Why? Well, here is a company that I know absolutely nothing about! I can’t remember ever coming across OneCloud in any of my journey’s or conferences! Honestly, I think this is the first company that is the only company that is presenting at VFD that I have absolutely no clue about what they do…
That will certainly change fast
OneCloud will present at VFD5 on June 24th at 1:00 PM where I’m sure we will all be enlightened a little more on the solutions they provide. That said I don’t like going in cold, knowing nothing about someone – thus, this preview blog post will at least help me understand a little bit about everything OneCloud has to offer…
So let’s start from the ground up. OneCloud is essentially a management platform for a hybrid cloud play. Their core technology, the Automated Cloud Engine (ACE) is the base to where they provide other services. From what I can tell ACE essentially facilitates the discovery of your on premises data center, taking into account all of your VMs, physical storage and networking information. From here, ACE can take different business objectives and transform these into API calls in order to essentially replicate all your infrastructure into the public cloud – for now, it appears to be just Amazon’s AWS which is supported.
The service running on top of ACE is OneCloud Recovery. OneCloud Recovery allows organizations to facilitate a disaster recovery or business continuity solution involving the public cloud as the primary target – skipping costs and complexity of implementing a second or third site on premises.
So here is how it all happens from start to finish – OneCloud is deployed into your environment, via the virtual appliance route. Another instance is also deployed into Amazon. From there it auto discovers your environment; your networking setup, storage configurations, data and applications are all tied together and somewhat of a blueprint of your environment is created. You then use their policy engine to apply RTO and RPO objectives to your applications. OneCloud will then provision a fully functioning virtual data center in Amazon – one that mirrors your environment in terms of networking and configuration. OneCloud not only duplicates your environment into Amazon, but it will also optimize both your compute and storage in order to minimize costs. Meaning it will scale down on CPU where it believes it can and place your data onto the most cost effective storage. Once your data is there OneCloud performs ongoing replication in order to meet the RPO you have selected. From there it’s just a matter of performing your normal DR tests and engaging in any failover (and failback) operations.
OneCloud seems to have some interesting technology and I’m looking forward to learning more at VFD5. Some questions for OneCloud that come to mind – How do they compare to VMware’s vCloud Air DR services? Do they plan on expanding out to other public clouds such as Google, Azure, or vCloud Air? With a strong software base in ACE do they plan on moving outside just the DR/BC realm – things such as DevOps and public cloud labs come to mind. I really like how they are abstracting away what can be some very complicated API calls to Amazon – any time a company provides a solution that involves simplicity it’s always a good thing, but especially so when dealing with the complex networking and configuration of public cloud and disaster recovery. If you would like to learn more about OneCloud with me you can do so by watching the live stream on the VFD5 event page. That stream, along with any other content created by myself will be posted on my VFD5 event page as well.
Let’s set the stage here! We got Paula Long – yes, the same Paula Long that co-founded EqualLogic – yes the same EqualLogic that Dell purchased in 2008 for 1.4 billion. We have John Joseph – another long time (as long as you can get in startups) EqualLogic member! These two get together to execute on an idea, hire David Siles, a long term member of the senior leadership team at Veeam to be their CTO and then, on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 at approximately 12:01 am, weighing in at 85 lbs and 26.75” tall DataGravity was born.
DataGravity will present at Virtualization Field Day 5 in Boston on June 25th and I cannot be more excited to hear what they have to say. I’ve spoke with them before, briefly at the craziness that is VMworld – and honestly, the booth was so busy with people wanting to get into to see the new baby that I couldn’t stay long – so having a couple hours with them will be long overdue.
Just another storage startup?
Technically yes and technically no! So in terms of technically yes what I mean is DataGravity is a storage array! They are your primary storage! They can provide storage to your ESXi hosts not only through the traditional NFS mounts and iSCSI targets, but also have a built-in VM-Aware storage provider – allowing you to skip the whole LUN provisioning and treat your VMs as a first class citizen in terms of living on the array! VM-Aware of course makes it easier for us to perform things like monitoring, data protection and provisioning. That said, haven’t we seen all this before? Isn’t the market full of this?
Those questions lead me to the “technically no” part of my answer! Sure, they do the primary storage, they have their flash piece! If this blog post ended here then they would certainly be just another storage startup – but it doesn’t! DataGravity’s differentiator in my opinion is the way they split their nodes of storage, and the unique functionality those nodes provide!
Not just another storage startup!
I’m not going to go too deep into how DataGravity works, partly because they are going to jam 2 hours of awesomeness into my brain at the end of the month so I’ll save it for then, and partly because I don’t really know how it all works…yet.
The main thing I get is that they “optimize, protect, track, and analyze data as its stored” – their words. My words – it does more than just primary storage with the sweet spot being the “analysis”. Basically the primary storage is just that, primary storage – but as data comes in it’s stored on a secondary node – this node can be used for the obvious, data protection, but also for analysis. So think of it this way – it’s easy now to see who created a certain file, but do we have visibility into who has modified that file over time, who else has read that file, where else that file might be stored, what other files this person has created! DataGravity gives us this functionality – and not just on a per VM level, on a complete array level! And all of this analysis and querying being run on a secondary storage node, leaving production to do production like things. Essentially it’s like Google for your storage array!
For now that’s all I have to give you but expect a bit of a deeper post to come the end of June, early July on DataGravity as I hear what they have to say at VFD5. Don’t forget if you want to join in on the Virtualization Field Day 5 action you can do so by watching the live stream and follow along with the #VFD5 hashtag on Twitter! And just a reminder – I’ll try to have the live stream and any event related content on my VFD5 landing page here as well!
Boston is known for many things – as the title suggests they have their lobstah and chowdah, the infamous and tasty Boston cream donut (don’t know if that’s an actual Boston thing but it is at Tim Hortons) – outside of food they have the New Kids on the Block (don’t ask how I know, wait, I mean, I don’t know anything about them ). They have the perhaps the biggest rivalry in the NHL with my beloved Habs having played the Bruins over 350 times. Aside from all this perhaps the biggest thing they are known for, or soon will be, is that they are the host of Virtualization Field Day 5 – and lucky for me I’ll be there to see it all go down live!
If you haven’t had the chance to check out one of the Tech Field Day events then you should probably peruse over to the their site and have a look at all the resources they have to offer. I really like the format of these events, essentially stuffing vendors and delegates into a room together to have a deep, technical discussion about their product or offering. The action is streamed live and the back channel on Twitter is a lot of the time just as, if not more amazing then the discussion in the room.
I was lucky to be chosen as a delegate for Virtualization Field Day 4 in Austin and placed all my content on my VFD4 event roundup here. When approached with the opportunity to follow it up with VFD5 in Boston (I know, Boston/Austin – neat) I jumped on it. If you have a look at the sponsors below I think you might see why…
See what I mean – there is definitely some great tech backing up all those logos and I can’t wait to hear more about it!
Sure you get to hear from each vendor for a few hours and that’s exciting, but what really makes your Tech Field Day experience is all of the delegates (and of course Stephen, Tom and Claire). You are in a room for 8 hours a day with these people, being rushed in and out of offices and cars – you get to know each other pretty well. Without further ado the VFD5 delegates are Alistair Cooke (@DemitasseNZ), Amy Manley (@WyrdGirl), Bob Plankers (@Plankers), Chris Marget (@ChrisMarget), Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl), Eric Shanks (@Eric_Shanks), Ethan Banks (@ECBanks), Justin Paul (@recklessop), Luc Dekens (@LucD22), Sean Massey (@SeanPMassey), Vladen Seget (@Vladan) and myself. That is for sure a smart group of people and I’m excited to get rushed around like cattle with them :).
And of course the Tech Field Day events couldn’t be made possible with the countless hours of work put in by Stephen Foskett and the whole crew at GestaltIT – honestly they treat you like gold while you are there and it’s quite a humbling experience.
I suppose I should leave it at that as June 24th is not that far away, although I’m sure it will feel like an eternity. I’ll just have to take it step by step and hang tough for the next few weeks (see what I did there, ugh!). Watch this space as it is where I will post all of my #VFD5 related material – See yah in Bawston!
And another installment of Friday Shorts – a spot for me to share some awesomeness I’ve found on the interwebs, upcoming events and info from some awesome blog sponsors, and just random thoughts around events and news that might not quite fit within the niche of this blog – basically a mashup of my brain!
First up – free passes to VMworld
VMworld is sneaking up faster than you think! Have you got your conference pass yet? If not why not help ease the pain on your company by letting VMTurbo pick up the conference pass for you? Along with ensuring performance and maximizing efficiency in your data center the folks at VMTurbo are doing their best put a full VMworld US conference pass in the hands of three people – you can sign up here and the drawings for the three passes take place on May 29th, June 19th, and July 10th! Good luck!
More freebies from Unitrends
So VMTurbo has you covered for the conference pass how’s about getting a little money to help cover the travel costs from Unitrends (trust me you will need it – the prices of hotels are crazy this year in San Fran). Just this week Unitrends released Unitrends Free – a completely free, full featured backup solution for up to 1TB of data – I reviewed it here if you missed it! Anyways, asides from putting a completely free backup product into your lab or data center Unitrends has a gig going right now where you can win a $1500 Visa Giftcard, just for downloading and registering FREE software. You have till the end of June on this one so best get signed up!
Upcoming Starwind webinar
Starwind Software, a long time mwpreston.net sponsor and creator of Starwind Virtual SAN have a webinar coming up on May 20 titled Snapshots vs Replication – chosing the right data protection strategy, presented by Chris Evans. If your interested I definitely recommend checking it out as making the choice between snapshots and replication and/or both are key in developing a fool proof data protection strategy! Also, if you haven’t checked out Starwind Virtual SAN I would take a look at it as well. I’ve used their free version in the lab numerous times for different projects!
EMC virtual VNX
Conference season is among us and with that comes a slew of releases and announcements. One that caught my attention coming out of EMCworld was the release of a community edition of the VNXe software. Shipped as an OVA you can simply load it into your environment and get the functionality and software stack of a VNXe, but without the dedicated storage hardware and controllers. I love messing around with all different types of storage and VSA’s in the lab so I’ll for sure be looking at this a little closer!
Au reviour les habitants
And last but not least, and certainly the saddest news of the week is the second round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs for my beloved habs! Honestly the bleu, blanc, et rouge had a great season, picking up 110 points and finishing 2nd overall in the eastern conference. Their goalie, Carey Price had a career year – picking up nominations for both the Hart (League MVP) and Vezina (Best Goalie), and more than likely will take both these trophies home this summer. That said expectations around hockey in Montreal are high and a second round exit overshadows all the success that they had! Anyways we know Carey probably doesn’t care about those two trophies and is now out of the running for the only one he wanted. All that said the Habs have a great core, and they are young – so hopefully we see improvements for years to come – they will need to pick up another top 6 forward though if they want to go anywhere in the post season! At the end, they are now on the links and hopefully that means a little more time for me to work on this blog Au revoir! Ole!