Category: Virtualisation

Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 2

As mentioned previously in my previous post on Components of VMware and vSphere 6.0 – Part 1, the aim of the article is to publish a continuous summary of the Data Center Virtualization exam. This article will focuss on the following points:

  • vCenter Server – Introduction
  • vCenter Server – Features

The vCenter Server – Introduction

The vCenter server is the hypervisor core management application of vSphere provides centralized management of vSphere virtual infrastructure. It allows administrators to ensure security and availability, simplifies day-to-day tasks and reduces complexity of managing virtual infrastructure.

vCenter server manages the essential functions of vSphere from any browser using vSphere web client. It provides simplified and integrated management of VMware hosts. It also simplifies management by assembling and automating out of the box work flows. In vCenter orchestrator, vCenter can restart failed virtual machines without any manual intervention. It monitors utilization across resource pools and allocates resources among VMs according to pre-defined rules. vCenter server integrates with the ecosystem partners to extend the capabilities of the virtual infrastructure.

The VMware PSC (Platform Resources Controller) is a component of vCenter server. It contains common infrastructure services such as vCenter single sign-on, VMware certificate authority, licensing and Server Reservation and Registration. This gives customers to single point to manage all vSphere roles and permissions along with licensing.

Photo credits: VMware
Photo credits: VMware

VMware PSC (Platform Resource Controller) has two models of deployments i.e; embedded and centralized. In Embedded, the PSC and vCenter server are installed on a single virtual machine. In a centralized model, the PSC and the vCenter server are installed on different virtual machine.

photo credits: VMware
photo credits: VMware

vCenter server – Features

vCenter server has the following features:

Certificate management – In vSphere 6.0, solution users (the users created) when a solution such as vCenter Server, vCenter Inventory service and so on is registered with vCenter single sign-on utilized as certificate endpoints. These users are issued certificates instead of individual services. This enables the services associated with a solution user to utilize the same certificate, substantially reducing the number of certificates required to manage in the environment. The VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA) is a root certificate authority (CA) that issues signed certificates to all vSphere 6.0 components via the solution users.

Alarms and Alerts – Alarms are notifications that are activated in response to an event, a set of conditions, or the state of an inventory object. Alarm can change state from mild warnings to more serious alerts as system conditions change, and can trigger automated alarm actions. This functionality is useful when you want to be informed or take immediate actions, when certain events or conditions occur for a specific inventory object, or group of objects.

Monitoring Features – vCenter server provides several tools to help you monitor your virtual environment and to locate the source of current and potential problems. It provides performance charts, storage reports and system log files to monitor your environment.

Template Management – The content library simplifies virtual machine template management and distribution by centrally managing virtual machine templates, ISO images and scripts. It also performs the replication of associated data from the published catalog to the subscribed catalog at other sites. As content are updated, old versions are automatically purged and replaced with a new version, offering life cycle management capabilities for virtual machine templates and related files.

Linked mode Deployment – vCenter server linked mode enables a common inventory view across multiple instances of the vCenter server. Linked mode provide a single pane of glass view across geographically separate vCenter servers. This deployment replicates licenses, permissions and roles across multiple vCenter services. Linked mode is automatically enabled for any vCenter server deployment.


Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 1

Last time, I published an article on the introduction of Data Center Virtualization fundamentals. The second module continues here on this blog post which will cover part of the VMware vSphere 6.0. This module focuss on the power of virtualization to transform data centers into simplified cloud computing infrastructures and enable IT organizations to deliver flexible and reliable IT services. Part 1 will cover the following:

  • vSphere 6.0 – Overview
  • vSphere 6.0 – Architechture
  • Topology of vSphere 6.0 Data Center
  • vSphere 6.0 – configuration maximums

vSphere 6.0 – Overview

It manages large collection of infrastructure such as compute, storage and networking as a seamless operating and dynamic environment. vSphere is composed of vCenter server, infrastructure services, application services and clients.

vCenter server – It provides a single point of control for vSphere data center. It provides essential data center services such as access control, performance monitoring and configuration.

Infrastructure services – set of services provided to abstracts, aggregates and allocates hardware or infrastructure resources. It is categorized into compute, storage and network.

Application services – set of services provided to ensure availability, security and scalability of applications. Examples are High Availability and vMotion.

Clients – The vSphere client and vSphere web client are the interfaces that allow users to communicate with the vSphere data center.

vSphere 6.0 – Architechture

vSphere 6.0 represent the core of the SDDC – software defined data center by virtualizing the entire infrastructure servers, storage and network. This is group into simple and unified manageable sets of elements.

  • Infrastructure services such as compute, storage and network will abstract, allocate and Aggregate hardware or infrastructure resources.
  • vSphere makes infrastructure resources resilient with features like high availability, fault tolerance, vMotion, storage Vmotion and DRS
  • Management layer or vSphere 6.0 consist of the vCenter server and vRealize operations.
  • The interface layer of vSphere 6.0 is composed of the vSphere web client that allows user to access the data center.
Photo credits: VMware
Photo credits: VMware

Topology of vSphere 6.0 Data Center

Using vSphere 6.0, administrators can simplifies management of their data center by creating Virtual Data Center (VDC) as a highly available, resilient and On-demand infrastructure that is ideal for cloud environments. It includes components to perform the following functions:

Compute – In vsphere 6.0, clusters can scale up to many as 64 hosts and support 8000 virtual machines in a single cluster. There is also expanded support for the latest x86 chip sets, devices, drivers, guest operating systems.

Storage – Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (FCSAN) arrays, Internet Small Computer System Interface (ISCSI) and Network Attached Storage (NAS) arrays are widely used storage technologies supported by vSphere 6.0 to meet different data center storage needs. Storage policy based management (SPBM) allows common management across storage tiers and dynamic storage classes of service automation. They enable exact combinations of data services (such as clones and snapshots) to be instantiated more efficiently on a per virtual machine basis.

  • Networking – It supports Network I/O control and multicast snooping. vSphere allows dedicated networking stack and simplifies IP address management with a dedicated default gateway for vMotion traffic.
  • Availability – Enhanced vMotion capabilities allow non-disruptive live migration of workloads across distributed switches and vCenter servers and provide a saving up to 95% in time and resources. There is also expanded support for software-based fault tolerance for workloads with up to 4 virtual CPUs
  • Management – vSphere 6.0 provides several interfaces such as vSphere content library and vSphere web client for data center management and virtual machine access. Administrators can used vRealize automation to accelerate the deployment and management of applications and compute services, thereby improving business agility and operational efficiency. For operations management, administrators can use vRealize operations that delivers intelligent operations management across physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures

vSphere 6.0 configuration maximums

vSphere 6.0 clusters can now scale to support more than 64 hosts with 8000 virtual machines in a single cluster.

photo credits: VMware
photo credits: VMware

Each vSphere 6.0 instance can support as many as 480 PHYSICAL CPUs, 12 TB of RAMs and 2048 VMs per host.

photo credits: Vmware
photo credits: Vmware

PS: All of these materials are available freely on the VMware website which i made a resume to have a picture of what is being introduced in this module.


Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals – Introduction course

The VMware Data Center Virtualization course which is freely available on the VMware website provides fundamental understanding of VMware ‘s Data Center Virtualization products. It covers features and components of vSphere 6.0, explain the need for Data Center Virtualization and explain how business  can solve challenges with regard to Data Center Virtualization. Though on the VMware website the course is freely available, i decided to create a post to keep track my own future references. The free course available on the VMware website is composed of three modules which covers an introduction, VMware vSphere components and vSphere solutions to Data Center challenges. The aim of this blog post is to gather maximum interesting main points which will cover the Data Center Virtualization exam.

DCV exam paths- Photo credits VMware
DCV exam paths – Photo credits VMware

Virtualization: An overview

Virtualization is the process of creating virtual versions of physical components such as servers, storage devices and network devices. With virtualization, you can run multiple operating systems and applications to be run on a single server and consolidates hardware to get higher productivity from fewer servers. Virtualization can be done at all levels.

Photo credits: VMware.com
Photo credits: VMware.com

Virtualization: The foundation of Cloud Computing

Virtualization powers cloud computing and helps delivers on its potential by virtualizing, consolidating and automating your data center resources and management. VMware offers several products and service that allows you to do just that. For example

VMware vRealize Suite – is a cloud management platform purposely built for heterogeneous data centers and hybrid cloud and allows you to automate the delivery of infrastructure and applications across multiple hypervisor private and public cloud with both speed and control

VMware vSphere – is the server virtualization platform provides a robust API that simplifies infrastructure management for administrators and integrates with OpenStack APIs that enable developers to manage and run OpenStack infrastructure.

Big Data Extension (BDE) – BDE can be used on the vSphere platform to deliver a new level of efficiency and agility in handling data workloads and it supports next generation application framework such as Hadoop. BDE provides a set of management tools to deploy, run, and manage Hadoop workloads in virtual and cloud environments.

Data Center Virtualization

It is the conversion of the hardware devices in a data center into software resources. Virtualization softwares enable several operating system to run on one  physical host. Here are the benefits of Data Center Virtualization:

Reduce Capital and Operating Costs – Server consolidation allows you to get more out of your existing hardware by running multiple machines on a single physical server. Fewer servers result in lower capital and operating costs.

Deliver High Application Availability – Availability and high tolerance features are an integral part of Data Center Virtualization tools and help protect all your virtualized applications. Using this feature, if a node or a server fails, all of its virtual machines are automatically restarted or continued on another machine, with no downtime or data loss.

Improve business continuity – Virtualization makes it easier to survive potential IT disasters, where one virtual machine can be moved to one location to another different location without data loss.

Increase productivity – Streamlined and automated task allows you to spend less time on maintenance and more time on innovation.

Improve responsiveness – Virtualization lets your business scale rapidly because you can deploy desktops, applications and servers quickly and flexibly.

Virtual Machines, its capabilities and benefits

In brief, a virtual machine is a tightly isolated software container with its own virtual hardware, a guest operating system and one or more applications. It is also a collection of virtualized hardware resources that constitute a physical computer on a native environment. Virtual machines share the hardware of the physical server on which they are mounted. It allows you to quickly replace or upgrade components. It allows you to add components without rebooting the virtual machine.

Virtualization helps organizations to increase their data center availability whether as a protection schemes as common hardware failures or complete site-level disaster. Virtual machines are easy to move, copy and restore which makes disaster recovery simple. Snapshots features enable administrators to capture the entire state of a running machine. There are also other features such as restoration from bare-metal backup, hot add virtual hardware when upgrading.

Here are three benefits of using virtual machines:

Multiple applications on each host : As each virtual machine encapsulates an entire machine, many applications and operating systems can run on a single host at the same time.

Machine host utilization, minimum host count : Every physical machine is used to its full capacity, allowing you to significantly reduce costs by deploying fewer server overall.

Faster and easier provisioning of applications and resources : As self contained software files, virtual machine can be manipulated with copy and paste ease. Virtual machine can even be transferred from one physical server to another while running, via a process called live migration or better knows as vMotion. You can also virtualize business-critical applications to reduce cost and increase performance, reliability and scalability.

The hypervisor and the ESXi hypervisor

A hypervisor provides the virtual hardware and physical resources on which you can create virtual machines. It is managed by vCenter server and is installed on the server to allow multiple, unique and isolated virtual machine to run on the same physical server. There are two types of hypervisor:

Bare metal hypervisor – It is installed on a physical device without an operating systems. They perform the functions of an operating system and have resource management capabilities. Example is VMware ESXi. Data Center Virtualization is typically performed using bare metal hypervisors because the dependency on another operating system is low. There is also less resource overhead as these hypervisors perform both roles.

Hosted hypervisor – Operate as an application on top of pre-existing operating system. The separation of roles can be helpful if the underlying hardware is not supported by  a bare metal hypervisor. Example is VMware workstation.

The ESXi hypervisor is a bare metal hypervisor that performs resource management while directly accessing the underlying physical hardware. It improves resource efficiency because of low operating system overhead. ESXi is not dependant on other operating system. ESXi hosts virtual machine provides management functions to help, deploy and control them.

Photo credits: VMware
Photo credits: VMware

ESXI is commonly installed directly on hard drives of the physical server, in flash drives, SD cards and USB drives. Network boot is also possible using PXE or TFTP servers.

VMware vSphere 6.0, its capabilities and benefits.

vSphere 6.0 empower users to virtualize scale-up and scale-out applications with confidence predefined availability and simplifies the data center. The result will provide a high availability, resilient and on-demand infrastructure. It drives down data center costs, increases system and application uptime, simplify the way IT runs the data center. It is purposely built for next generation applications and serves as the core foundation block for SDDC (Software Defined Data Center).

The capabilities of vSphere 6.0 are that it delivers enhances scale, performance and availability to enables you to easily virtualized applications. You can simplifies virtual data center management to manage the creation, sharing, deployment and migration of virtual machine with powerful and simple tools.It provides the capabilities to perform live workload migration.It provides the capabilities to data center maintenance with zero downtime. It also allows you to transform storage for virtual machines by enabling external storage arrays to operate in a more virtual machine centric manner. You can also built and operate cloud environment with VMware stack or open source frameworks such as OpenStack or the VMware integrated stack addon. vSphere is available in three editions i.e; Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions.

Some benefits of vSphere 6.0 are that is improves efficiency through utilization and automation, maximise uptime in cloud infrastructure, reduces on planned downtime. It lowers IT costs by reducing capital expenditure by 70% and operational expenditure by 30%. vSphere 6.0 provides agility with control and allows quick response to changing business needs without sacrificing security. You can also use a common standard based platform to leverage existing IT assets alongside next generation IT services and enhanced vSphere through open API with solution from global eco systems of leading technology providers. It helps several organizations to address challenges related to availability, scalability, optimization, management, application upgrade and cloud challenges.

PS: All of these materials are available freely on the VMware website which i made a resume to have a picture of what is being introduced in this module.The second module is related to the components of VMware vSphere 6.0


Changing Instance Type on Amazon Web Service – AWS

Some days back, i had to downgrade an AWS (Amazon Web Service) EC2 instance type. I thought it was quite complex, but it is not. Since the disk is a different entity in the AWS service, by downgrading CPU or RAM does not affect the data of the server compared to VPS service where data needs to be migrated. Here are the procedures. I have blurred the name and ID of the instance for security purposes.

1.Once you locate your instance, start first by switching off the instance by right click and stop which will stop the instance.

2. It will prompt you if you are sure that you want to stop these instances. Just click yes, stop.

3. You will notice that it takes some times stopping under the tab ‘Instance state’.

4. Now that your instance is stopped as indicated below, move to next part.

5. Now right click on the instance and click on ‘change instance type’.

6. Now, look up for the Instance type you want and click on Apply.

7. You now start the instance and you are done.

To have an idea of the instances types specifications, click here. Amazon EC2 provides a wide selection of instance types optimized to fit different use cases. Instance types comprise varying combinations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity and give you the flexibility to choose the appropriate mix of resources for your applications. Each instance type includes one or more instance sizes, allowing you to scale your resources to the requirements of your target workload.


Reducing costs with and simplify VM storage with VMware VSAN

I recently attended another meeting on VMware VSAN  by Altaro – How VMware VSAN can reduce cost and simplify your VM storage ? This presentation was carried out by Theresa Miller, vExpert and Andy Syrewicze, Technical Evangelist. A brief explanation of how large group of people use to manage simple solution compared with VMware VSAN technology. Nowadays, there is the creation of single point to manage those virtual machines. This is where hyper-convergence came from as SME’s and SMB’s are looking for high availability.

credits: Altaro.com
credits: Altaro.com

Here are some slides from the presentation (credits: Altaro.com) :

vmwarevsan

Several advantages such as traffic into cluster to ensure if there is a node failure, the system is still up using VSAN. Emphasis on VSAN architectural benefits, tool-sets and use cases to simplify the infrastructure as computation and infrastructure are now being managed as one single point using single software.

Other point discussed on VSAN assessment importance. Never assumed VSAN results without performing an assessment. Other tools such as VSAN TCO and sizing calculator. VSAN is also important for developers to have more access to provisioning during development.