Tag Archives: vSphere Web Client

My first vCenter Orchestrator Worlkflow – Part 1 – Introduction

Orchestrate all of the thingsvCenter Orchestrator in it’s basics is a workflow development tool that can be used to schedule and automate multiple tasks in your environment.  A tool that can be used to create and execute workflows not only on your vSphere environment, but with the use of plugins you can manage other types of applications such as Active Directory, SQL, etc.  In the past I’ve often heard of vCO being described as a hidden gem inside of your vCenter Server; meaning it’s usually already there and licensed  but for the most part, you are probably not using it.  Such is the case with myself. I’ve often thought about trying to learn this technology in order to execute some of my common day to day tasks through a more automated and scripted fashion but I’ve always resulted to things like PowerShell and PowerCLI to do the same job.  Why?  Well, comfort really.  I already have a good handle on Powershell technology and could get things done faster there rather than learning something new.  That being said with the introduction of vSphere 5.1 a bunch of new features and enhancements were made with the vCenter/vCO interoperability.  The biggest IMO was the ability to execute a vCO workflow while directly inside of the vSphere Web Client – contextually!!!  This integration is what enticed to have a closer look at vCO.  Basically I now have the ability to create workflows that can do pretty much anything and grant access to myself or to others to simply right-click a host from within vSphere and execute them.

contextualThus leads me to these series of posts where I will try and take you though my experiences with vCenter Orchestrator; and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time.  I have approx 50 hosts to configure and deploy within the next few months and in effort to keep them consistent I decided to do so with a PowerCLI script that I had written a while back.  The only difference being I will be executing this script through vCenter Orchestrator (to get that super awesome right-click functionality).  Now there is certainly some overlap here.  A lot of the actions that the PowerCLI script performs actually have workflows already created in vCO that do the same thing however in this case I’ve decided not to use them – baby steps right!  Also, it helps to highlight the power of the vCO plugins – I can in fact do things like execute PowerShell commands, run queries against SQL servers, move objects around in Active Directory, etc.

So with that said I guess you could call this post an introduction of sorts with nothing too technical included.  Be sure to check out Part 2 – Installing and configuring vCenter Orchestrator where we will dive a bit deeper into the setup of vCO.

My first vCenter Orchestrator Workflow

Introduction to the new search functionality in the vSphere Web Client

Alright, here is my second attempt at putting together a short video outlining some of the cool new features of vSphere 5.1, more specifically the new Web Client.  In my last video I fumbled through trying to show you a little bit about the new tagging features and this time I decided to have a look at some of the cool search functionality.  Honestly, by combining these two features i think it will really help those large enterprises (and the small ones too) find what they are looking for and find it much faster.  Anyhow, enough of my randomness, check out the video below….

 

 

 

 

Using the new Tag features of vSphere 5.1

So the release of vSphere 5.1 has brought us many new features;  we have integrated backup, integrated replication, the vCloud Suite, Network HealthChecks…way to many to mention.  One however that I haven’t seen very much buzz about is the ability to assign tags to your inventory objects with vCenter.  Now it’s not near as sexy as something like vSphere Data Protection but it still has it’s place within my favourite features.  Why?  Just think, say you have hundreds, or thousands of VMs.  You can now more align the way you categorize things inside of your business within vCenter, and sort/search on those custom tags.

Either way, I think they are cool and I’ve done up a short video outlining how to create and assign them to objects.  This is my first crack at a video so cut me a little slack 🙂  One of my objectives is to try and get more media on this blog so I’m sure I’ll have lots of practice..

The infrastructure behind this post was provided by #vAutoLab.  What?  Serious?  You’ve never heard of it?  Craziness, get on over to www.labguides.com and give it a go!  It’s awesomesauce!

Backup and Replication by VMware – New in vSphere 5.1

There have been a slew of announcements coming out of VMworld in San Francisco this week and also a slew of new products and enhancements to existing products.  During the show I was attempting to look at everything from an SMB point of view and a couple of products that really stuck out for me was that of the new vSphere Data Protection and vSphere Replication.  Below are just a few thoughts around each product, what it has to offer and where it is packaged from within VMwares’ licensing editions.

vSphere Data Protection

First off let’s explore vSphere Data Protection (vDP).  There has been a lot of buzz during and even before the show around vDP and how VMware plans to position it.  Working closely with EMC’s Avamar development team VMware have now packaged their own backup and recovery solution into vSphere 5.1, replacing, yet still supporting its’ predecessor VMware Data Recovery.  In my opinion this is a great move for VMware.  vDR was not gaining too much traction within the SMB or Enterprise market however I believe that vDP will.  Why?  Again, it’s built on top of EMCs Avamar backup and recovery technology therefore leveraging years of experience and ‘lessons learned’ which make the product more seasoned and production ready than vDR ever was.  Also this complete solution is managed and embedded directly from within the new vSphere 5.1 Web Client. From within the same menus that you clone a VM, vMotion, perform power operations you can now apply backup policies and ensure your data is safe and protected.  Simply install the backup appliance and you are good to go.  Now vDP is not for everyone and as with any initial release (either on purpose or not) there are some limitations.  A single vDP Appliance can scale up to 2TB of deduplicated storage or 100 VMs total.  Certainly targeted at the SMB market.  I’m excited to see what vDP has to offer and how widely it is adopted in the SMB space.  vDP is bundled in with the Essentials Plus licensing and above.

vSphere Replication


Again this is nothing new.  With the last release of Site Recovery Manager (SRM) vSphere Replication was included and provided users with the ability to perform replication on a per-VM basis without the need of shared storage or costly SAN replication functionality.  The problem there was it was bundled with SRM, a product in which you probably already were utilizing that costly SAN replication technology anyways.  Well, in vSphere 5.1 that has all changed.  Although still available within SRM, vSphere Replication now is included within the Essentials Plus and above licensing.  And on top of that there have been some new features and enhancements made to vSphere Replication – VSS Support, flexible RTO, and simplified management utilizing the new vSphere 5.1 web client are just a few.  Again, there are some limitations.  The biggest being that there is a 2TB limit (don’t take my word on this, I thought I heard it in the session but am trying to find data to back it up, i know there is most certainly a 500 VM limit) on the amount of data that you can replicate.  If you need more than this you will have to purchase the full SRM suite, that being said, still a great alternative and great news for users in the SMB space.

So, a couple of products coming out of VMworld in the realm of data protection.  I’m interested to see within the next year how many people adopt and use this products.  There are no fancy features being offered that you might get with some of the more established third party products such as the ability to instantly restore your VMs, run VMs directly from backup, Re-IP VMs, etc…  The 2TB lmiits imposed on the backup storage do not really bother me that much, however  I would have loved to also see these bundled into at the very least the Essentials ROBO kits.  It would have been a great way to protect those VMs running in a remote office where only one host resides and Essentials Plus didn’t really make sense.  Only time will tell how widely adopted these products will be but this is certainly a great first step for VMware in my opinion.  The ability to manage all of this from directly inside the web client is huge.  And the ability to protect your virtualized environment with products from your virtualization vendor is even better.  I’d love to hear from you, if you plan to use either vDP or vSphere Replication, if your using it now, or even any thoughts you may have on the releases or any other news coming out of VMworld for that matter…Let me know in the comments…

The vSphere Web Client Server – First Impressions.

 

The release of vSphere 5 brought us many new features and enhancements around the management and operations of our day to day tasks as a VI Admin.  I'm slowly but surely trying to have a look at each and every one of these to try and validate whether they are valuable in a production environment or more suited for a home lab or test/dev.  Next up is the vSphere Web Client server which essentially provides end-users with an OS independent web based version of the original vSphere Client.  Although some new features, such as the vCenter Server Appliance are not quite ready IMO for the production environment I believe VMware hit a homerun with with the Web Client!

Some spots where the Web Client actually provides an improvement IMO are…

  • Obviously OS Independent.  You can can access this client from your Mac, Linux Box, Tablet.  As long as your device supports flash you can run this. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Prerequisites – Just Flash!  No C++, .net this .net that…just a supported browser (IE and Firefox) No Chrome 🙁 and Flash!  That's it!
  • The 'Work In Progress' window/widget/component – not sure what they are calling these little windows.  The ability to minimize your current task or wizard that you are running through, go do a few other things, and pick it up where you left off.  This was something you couldn't do in the vSphere Client (for instance, go look at your storage in the middle of creating a new VM).  You can even pick up this task if you log out and log back in!
  • Customization of UI – you can customize this to your hearts delight, minimize certain windows, maximize others.  Only downfall is it doesn't seem to stick after you logout! 🙁
  • It's Sexy! – Lets face it, we all love a great UI!  The Web Client is no exception.  Built on Adobe Flex framework the client is nicely laid out and very responsive!

There is however a few spots in which the Web Client is lacking; a few that I've noticed so far are listed below…

  • No Access to vSphere Permissions – I can't see the ability to add/edit/modify permissions at all from within the web ui.
  • Cannot create new Datacenters or Clusters, or subsequently connect new hosts to existing ones.
  • No access to apply or generate DRS recommendations.  Better make sure you are running in fully automated mode if you plan to use the web client exclusively.
  • Cannot really modify any entities except VMs.  Meaning you can't change the configuration of a host, switch, cluster, etc.  Basically, outside of editing a VM all you can really do is take hosts in and out of maintenance mode!
  • No access to maps.  I would definitely miss this 🙁
  • No way to deploy an ovf – With a lot of VMware's new management products being pushed out in an ovf format the ability to deploy them would be…well…it's a must!
  • No access to plugins – No Update Manager, no converter, no VCOPS, etc…

I'm sure there are many more differences, but those are just a few that I've noticed right off the hop.  VMware has said that they are going to continue to develop the Web Client and in fact it will eventually replace the vSphere Client so you can bet that all of the features that are in the Windows client will eventually be ported to the Web Client.  That being said, out of the box today I think it is still a great resource, especially for users just looking to manage their subset of VMs and not worry about the infrastructure behind it.  And for the most part as a VI Admin I believe I can probably perform 80% of my daily tasks from within the Web Client interface.  All in all I'd give VMware a thumbs up on the Web Client.  This is a very good release for a 1.0 version with a lot the functionality from an application owners perspective built in and will eventually be a full fledged vSphere Client for everyone to use.  For more information on how to install and configure the vSphere Web Client check out this post.

Installing and Configuring the new vSphere 5 Web Client server

With the release of vSphere 5 came an alternative means of accessing and managing your virtual infrastructure through a web browser called the vSphere Web Client.  The web client doesn't give you all of the functionality that the original vSphere client does, but it is certainly a great first step in porting over the functionality into a more sustainable means of supporting the VI client.  I don't plan on getting into the differences between the vSphere Client and the Web Client in this post as I've already done that here.  This post will focus mainly on the installation and configuration of the new VMware vSphere Web Client server.

Honestly, installation is a breeze and probably doesn't even warrant a blog post but I've already documented it and will throw it up here just in case its' ever needed.  First off you will need to pick a server to install the Web Client server on.  I personally used my vCenter server and that appears to be the target of choice for other users in the community.  Also, on any workstation/server you wish to access the client from you will need to have flash player 10.1.0 or greater installed.

1.  The Web Client server installation software is bundled in with the vCenter Server installation media.  So mount that ISO or extract the zip archive on your server of choice.  The ISO should autorun.  When it does, select the 'VMware vSphere Web Client server' option and click 'Install'.

 

 

2.  From here until the end of the installation you are on your own.  Honestly there isn't much to configure during the installation process.  Essentially you can define what ports you want to run on and change the licensee information, that's about all!  So for the most part it's a Next Next Finish process.

3.  Wow!  That's it!  Done the install, now time to do a little configuration.  Open up a supported browser (IE 7/8, Firefox 3.6+ – No Chrome 🙁 ) and browse to Web Client Administration interface @ https://localhost:9443/admin-app/  (replacing localhost and the port with your information of course).  This task cannot be performed remotely from another workstation, it must be done on the server in which you installed the Web Client role.  What we need to do is attach our vSphere Web Client to an instance of Virtual Center.  You do this by selecting 'Register vCenter Server' in the top right hand corner. (optionally you can use a script called admin-cmd.bat to do this as well).

 

 

4.  Enter the appropriate information and user credentials to connect to your vCenter instance.  If you chose to install the Web Client server on the same server as your vCenter instance then your vCenter Server name and your vSphere Web Client server name should match.  Once done click 'Register'  You may get prompted with an SSL warning, just check to 'Install' the certificate and click 'Ignore'.

 

 

There you have it!  The Web Client server is installed and configured!  In order to access it browse to https://WEBCLIENT:9443/vsphere-client/ replacing webclient with your address of course.  For the most part a lot of the functionality around managing a VM is included, however more infrastructure related tasks such as adding hosts or configuring storage seem to be missing.  Be patient though, VMware has come out and said that this is the future of the vSphere Client so it won't be long until we start to see some new functionality rolled into this product.