Category: Virtualisation

Recovery Data and Applications with Zerto – Part 1

By doing a failover test with Zerto features, we know that in a real disaster or disruption, everything is configured correctly and working as expected. Because if we put our VMs in a VPG, an entire multi-VM application can be rigorously tested without any interruption to that same application in production.

By clicking on the Failover button on the right bottom, we can start a failover test. The VPG can be ticked and click on next to continue.

Recovery Data and Applications with Zerto - Part 1 1
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The execution parameters are that which have been set up in the VPGs for example, boot sequence and checkpoint dates etc..  The Failover Test section is where you can start the Failover test.

The failover test creates VMs in a sandbox using the test network defined in the VPG settings. All testing is written to scratch volumes. The longer the test, the more space is consumed. At the end of the test, ZVR will power on the test VMs and do so in the correct boot order if one was specified.

The test will keep writing to scratch volumes until either:

  • The hard journal storage limit is reached
  • It’s manually stopped.

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Since Zerto automates the test cleanup, you should only stop a test from within a vSphere client. In a live environment, you would then verify the results of the test in the recovery site and ensure each VM is performing as expected. Assuming a successful test, you can come back to the ZVM and click “Stop” under the running task section.

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The report tab provides detail on the test ran. This can be used for confirmation of test success or failure and aid in compliance. The recovery reports can also be exported in PDF.

A live failover test can also be performed. This is an example from where you can toggle from test to live failover.

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I have to choose the VPG and click on next

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The i click on the checkpoint field to choose the date.

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As mentioned the date can be choosen as well as a recovery can be performed from the latest backup.

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You can also choose if you want to auto-commit, auto-rollback or none.

Auto-commit – Selecting Auto-Commit means that after a designated time (Default is 0 minutes), Zerto will commit the failover which promotes the failed over VMs to the new live production servers. Once the failover is committed, the DR servers will need to be failed back to production once the production site is restored to keep any changes made on the servers while failed over. To complete this, Reverse Replication will need to be enabled to replicate the changes from the target site back to the production site.

Auto-Rollback – The Auto-Rollback option allows you to designate a time after the Live Failover (Default 10 minutes) for the failover to be rolled back to production. This works similar to a Test Failover as you have a window to test your servers and applications and then undo the changes. This will also remove any changes that were made on the servers while at the DR site and does not require reverse replication.

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NoneIf you set ‘None’ for the commit policy, you will have the option to either Rollback or Commit the failover later in time. This may be used in a situation where your production site is down, but could possibly be brought back online quickly. You have the option to commit the failover if you do not foresee a time production will be back online. However if the option is quickly fixed you can perform a Rollback.

After settings parameters in the “Execution Parameters” settings, the failover can start.

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The sucessful failover test can be viewed on the dashboard. A move (or migration) is a more graceful operation than a failover since it is a planned outage It’s great for failbacks, preventive maintenance and site/hardware migrations. ZVM will gracefully powered down the VMs and then, as they are shutting down, grab the very latest copy of the data and use that instead of the journal. To move VPG, click on “actions” and “move VPG”

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Then follow the same step by selecting the VPGs, but this time on the execution parameters, the VM need to be shutdown and click on “move”

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After ZVR, has finished the commit and processed the VPGs, the move is done and we are back to the green circle which means the SLA has been met and the operation is successful.

Protecting Data and Applications with Zerto DRaaS

Zerto can be used to protect Data, Sites, Applications and Files. The best-in-class replication, orchestration and automation that ZVR provides is made by VPGs – Virtual Protection Groups. With Zerto, virtual machines are protected in  VPGs, which are a consistency grouping of VMs you want to protect and recover together. For example, a VPG for an application like Microsoft Exchange might include the VMs for the software, database and web server.

What is a VPG ?

  • Is complete application protection and recovery
  • VM and VMDK level consistency groups
  • Protects across servers and storage locations
  • Fully supports vMotion, Storage vMotion, HA and vApp
  • Journal-based point-in-time protection.
  • Works with Group Policy Protection
  • Has VSS Support

To create a VPG click on the VPG button which will list the VPGs from both the local and peer sites and provides summary details of each VPG. To create a new VPG, you have to click on the “New VPG” button.

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Photo Credits: Zerto

This will bring you to the Create VPG wizard. Once you put a name for the new VPG click on next. Here is an example of the VPG wizard. On the VM’s tab, we are going to see a list of unprotected machine which is in the production site. Once you choose the VM, you click on the arrow in between and can also choose the boot order of each VMs. Then click next to move to the Replication tab.

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Photo Credits: Zerto

The Replication tab covers details of the recovery/target site as well as the default value to use for the replication. If you have multiple site from the ZVM it can be selected in the Recovery Site option. The journal is a powerful feature. The journal is a dynamic record of every checkpoints in the history according to the values specify here. By default the value is one day and a journal is always on and stored on recovery site. If production is down, failovers are still possible by not writing changes locally first. The WAN traffic compression allows data to be compressed first before data is transmitted to the recovery site.

The ZVR journal is dynamic record of every checkpoint in a VM’s history. Checkpoints are inserted algorithmically and allow you to rewind to seconds, minutes or hours in the past to a max of 30 days. A journal is always on and only stored on the recovery site. If production is down, failovers are still possible and you also save storage space by not writing changes locally first.

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The storage tab list the VM in the protection group and are associated with volumes details. If a VM is on thin provision during creation, ZVR uses that same thin provision or dynamic disk set up here by default. The “Edit Selected” button allows you to change this and to replicate swap disk if needed. Storage can also be moved from one datastore to another.

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The recovery tab is for specifying defaults network and any post recovery scripts. You can specify the default recovery network and default recovery folder. For example:

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The NICs tab allows you to specify specific network and IP settings for each of the recovery VMs. By default ZVR keeps the same MAC and IP addresses as the production site. So each VM need to be edited if  a different IP is needed.

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The backup tab is turn off by default whereas the summary tab gives an overview of all the settings chosen.

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You also create a repository for offsite backup. The repository is created by clicking on the Setup tab then on New repository.

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As from here, you can click back on the backup tab from VPG and toggle the backup option ON.

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Photo Credits: Zerto

Backup can also be run manually from the offsite backup menu. The offsite menu will appear once you activate it on the VPG backup menu.

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Initial Configuration of ZVR – Zerto Virtual Replication

In the last article we have an overview of the basics of ZVR and its installation. We will now see how to install VRA – Virtual Replication Appliances as the first step of initial configuration. VRA sits on each ESXi host and performs always on block level replication. Zerto can also replicate on different hypervisors. During installation of ZVM or VRA, there is absolutely no downtime. Here is an example of a Production and Recovery site showing where the ZVM and VRA is located.

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A VRA is simply a virtual machine that is installed alongside the virtual machines on the host. It is a custom 64-bit Debian version of Linux and is designed for security and a small footprint in terms of disks, memory and CPU. Exact requirement for VRA installation varies depending on the hypervisor. Here is the requirement:

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The following information are needed before installation of VRA.

  • The network to be used for replication
  • The IP address, Subnet Mask, Default Gateway (When using static and not DHCP)
  • The network settings to access the peer site

Whilst installing VRA, SSH will be enable on the host and will be disabled automatically after installation. Once you connect to the ZVM main dashboard with the IP address on port 443, click on set up to begin the installation process.

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Each time a VRA is installed, you need to click on New VRA. The idea is to choose the host and installed the VRA on each HOST. It is also recommended to use static IP for the VRA Network details. Details such as the datastore, network, V Ram (The amount of RAM determines the maximum buffer size for the VRA when buffering IOs ) should be entered before the installation as follows:

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Once installation process started, the  VRA Status will be on mode “installing”. The alert notification on bottom left can be clicked. An alert that could be prompted could be “Host has no VRA installed”. Zerto API can also be used to automate the process for installation of VRAs. Once the VRA’s installed on each host, its important to paired with the Recovery site by repeating the same process on the production site.

There is two way to pair with a disaster recovery site. One when login to the ZVR console, it will prompt a licence to pair with which should that of the recovery site or a manual pairing can be done when already connected by clicking on Sites -> Pair and click on the Pair button

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After pairing from source to recovery site, it is to be noted that no replication is happening yet. By setting up Virtual Protection Groups (VPGs) we can start tracking block-level changes and replication across the two sites.

Getting started with ZVR – Zerto Virtual Replication

Zerto Ltd is a company providing disaster recovery software for virtualized infrastructure and the cloud. The product is based on ‘hypervisor-based replication’, a technology that moves asynchronous replication from the physical storage and disk arrays to the virtualization abstraction layer. This allows for storage-agnostic replication; i.e., a virtual machine (“VM”) can be replicated to another VM operating on a different storage technology. – Wikipedia

Getting started with ZVR - Zerto Virtual Replication 2

An another technology which i keep on discovering in DRAAS – Disaster Recovery as a Service. Zerto also provides online certification for beginners and advanced professionals. The ZCP Basic is on the interesting course to start with. The first module is the “Getting Started with ZVR”. I am going to shed a quick overview of the first module. The aim of the ZCP Basic is to:

  • Install Zerto Virtual Replication 5.0
  • Navigate the Zerto Virtual Manager
  • Add VRAs and configure your sites
  • Set up protection with VPGs and the journal
  • Recover data and applications with any of the six key recovery operations

ZCP Basic is designed to get you up and running with ZVR and its key features and functions. There is a minimum requirements before using the ZVR service. First the ZVM should meet a requirement which is as follows. You will need one ZVM for every ZVM management console. For example each vCenter in use in the case of VMware, a ZVM is needed.

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Zerto supports a variety of network configurations but not a NAT firewalling system.

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To start with Zerto Virtual Replication, the Zerto Virtual Replication 5.0 Installer should be run as an administrator. The Zerto Virtual Replication 5.0 Installer will also install

  • ZVM – Zerto Virtual Manager – A window service that manages disaster recovery
  • VRA – Virtual Replication Appliance OVF: A virtual machine that manages replication of data to the recovery site.
  • VBA – Virtual Backup Appliance: A Windows service that manages backups
  • ZUI – Zerto User Interface : The graphical user interface

There are two types of installation i.e; Express installation and Custom Installation. The express installation will consist all configurations and packages by default whereas, the custom installation will allows you to specify values such as ports and connection details. During installation, it will prompt for the IP/Host Name, Username, Password and Site Name. The IP is related to the vCenter server IP address.

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After inserting the information ZVR will validate the information. There are 4 reasons why it might not validate:

  • vCenter Server is not running
  • Can’t connect over correct ports – 443 for vCenter
  • Incorrect access credentials
  • User might not be an administrator

Now that the ZVR is installed, you can access the ZVM from any modern HTML5 compatible browser with the URL https://ZVM IP ADDRESS:9669. If the URL cannot be accessed, the following should be checked:

  • The VM is powered on and functioning
  • If using a proxy server, ensure the ZVM IP is whitelisted
  • Prefaced with HTTPS not HTTP
  • Added :9669 after the IP address


Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 7

Now, that i am in part 7, the last part of the VMware vSphere 6.0 tutorial, i must admit that it is getting more interesting. So far, these parts have been already covered.

  1. An introduction of Data Center Virtualization
  2. Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 1 which include an overview of Vsphere 6.0, its architecture, Topology and configuration maximums.
  3. Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 2 which include an introduction to vCenter servers and its features.
  4. Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 3 which include Shared Storage, Shared Protocols, Data Stores, Virtual SANs and Virtual Volumes
  5. Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 4 which include Networking feature in vSphere, Virtual Networking, Virtual Switches, Virtual Switch types and Introduction to NSX
  6. Components of VMware vSphere 6.0 – part 5 which include vSphere Resource management features, vMotion, DRS, DPM, Storage vMotion, Storage DRS, Storage I/O control and Network I/O control
  7. Components of Vmware vSphere 6.0 – part 6 which include vSphere availability features, vSphere data protection, High Availability, Fault Tolerance and vSphere replication.

In this post, we will get into the following parts:

  • Data Center Virtualization products overview
  • vSphere with Operation Management
  • vRealize suite
  • Software defined storage – Virtual SAN
  • Software defined networking – NSX
  • Big Data Extensions – BDE
  • VMware Integrated OpenStack
  • Cloud Services – vCloud Air
  • EVO:Rack and EVO:Rail

Data Center Virtualization Products overview

The goal of DCV products is to help in the flexibility of computer, storage and networking. These are the various  DCV products:

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vSphere with Operations Management

vSphere with Operations Management offers the virtualization platform with critical operational enhancements in Performance Monitoring andCapacity Management. It is designed for businesses of all sizes and allows them to run applications at high service levels and maximized hardware savings to higher capacity utilization and consolidation ratio. vSphere with operations management provides availability services and policies with simplicity and flexibility for any application from legacy to next generation application such as Hadoop that require intense resources. The platform can also be tuned to meet the performance needs of low latency applications. vSphere with Operations management also reduces the cost and complexity of managing Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery with layered protection against service outages and data loss. The platform provides fast and efficient data recovery for virtual machine, in addition to replicating and running virtual machine to another location. With predictive analytics and smart alerts on the house of the virtualized systems, vSphere with operations management enables proactive identification and remediation of system issues with dynamic threshold that automatically adapt to environments to provide fewer and more specific alerts. vSphere with operations management makes it easier to optimize and manage capacity planning. It allows you to reclaimed over-provisioned capacity, increase resource utilization and eliminate the need for scripts and spreadsheets

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vSphere with Operations Management is a combination of vSphere and vRealize operations standard editions. vSphere with operations management editions is available in the following three editions:

  • vSphere with Operations Management Standard – Server consolidation, business continuity and insight into workload capacity and health management.
  • vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise – Resource Load Balancing and insight into workload capacity and health management.
  • vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus – Enhanced application availability and performance insight into workload capacity and health management.

There is another product called vSphere with Operation Management Acceleration Kits which comes into the following versions:

  • vSphere with Operations Management Standard AK – Server consolidation, business continuity and insight into workload capacity and health.
  • vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise AK – Resource Load Balancing and insight into workload capacity and health
  • vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise AK Plus – Enhanced application availability and performance insight into workload capacity and health

There are add-ons options with vSphere Operations Management such as vRealize operations Insight, to perform advanced operations management for vSphere Operations Management.

vRealize suite

VMware vRealize suite is a cloud management platform purposely built for the hybrid cloud. It delivers and manages infrastructure and application quickly while maintaining IT control. vRealize suite provide a comprehensive management stack on IT services on VMware vSphere and other hypervisors. It extends a unified management experience to external cloud service providers such as VMware vCloud AIR and AWS web services or OpenStack based private and public cloud. With vRealize suite, businesses get the agility and speed needed to maintain competitive advantages. At the same time IT gets the control and efficiency needed to manage and uptime, performance, compliance and cost effective infrastructure and applications. vRealize suite consist of the following products:

  • VMware vRealize Automation – vRealize Automation provides a secure portal where authorized administrators, developers or business users can request new IT services and manage specific cloud and IT resources, while ensuring compliance with business policies. Request for IT services such as infrastructure, applications and desktop are processed through a common-service catalog to provide a consistent user experience. vRealize automation improves cost control by exposing the cost of cloud resources and by providing simplified resource management including reporting on capacity use.
  • VMware vRealize Operations – vRealize operations is built on a scale-out, resilient platformed designed to deliver intelligent operational insights to simplify and automate management of application and infrastructure across virtual, physical and cloud environments. With vRealize operations, IT organizations of all sizes can improve performance, avoid business disruptions and become more efficient with comprehensive visibility across applications and infrastructure in one place.
  • VMware vRealize Log Insight – vRealize Log Insight delivers real-time log management for VMware environments with machine learning-based Intelligent Grouping, High Performance Search and better troubleshooting across physical, virtual and cloud environments. It has an intuitive, easy to use and graphical interface for simple interactive searches as well as deep analytical queries. vRealize Log Insight is best suited for your VMware environment as it has a built-in knowledge and native support for vSphere.

vRealize Operations : Introduction

vRealize Operations is a scalable and resilient platform. It is a part of the vRealize Suite products. vRealize Operations provide control over performance capacity and configuration with predictive analytics to add in pro-active actions and policy based automation. The key features of vRealize operations include the following:

  • Operation Dashboard – The Operation Dashboard feature provides ‘at a glance-views’ into health, risk and efficiency data of your virtual infrastructure.
  • Health and Workload view – is a feature that identifies anomalies, faults and stressed workloads that can impact the performance and health of the infrastructure.
  • Workload Details view – is a feature provides in-depth analysis of the factors that impact the performance and health of virtual machines, hosts, datastores and clusters.
  • Proactive Smart Alert – is a feature which enables you to perform root cause analysis of potential issues. This feature notifies the end users of issues in advance before they are actually impacted.
  • Automated correlation of change events – is a feature that enables you to track back the cause of reduction of performance and health and identify the changes in the infrastructure or those inside the guest operating system. This feature facilitates better configuration management.
  • Heat Map Views – is a feature that provides visibility into all areas of your infrastructure and enables you to identify resource constraints and bottlenecks.
  • Capacity Trending and analysis – is a feature that provides insight into the current and future resource needs and usage. The feature enables informed capacity management and planning through performance trends, forward-looking projections and extended forecast.
  • Right-Size virtual machines – is a feature that helps you to reclaim unused resources to optimize consolidation ratios and virtual machine density without impacting performance
  • Capacity reporting feature – is a feature that enabled automatic generation and dispatch of capacity reports in a variety of formats.
  • Remediation Actions – is a feature that enables problem identification and resolution without the need to exit vRealize Operations 6.0
  • Fully customizable Symptoms, Alerts and Recommendations – is a feature that enables building and bundling of your own customized symptoms into specific alerts that helps your IT staff by defining your own recommendations.

vRealize Operations: Virtual Machine Architecture

VMware vRealize Operations Architecture is a reliable and scalable model that can be use to cross different kinds of environments ranging from smart and wide enterprise organisations. Each install of the VMware vRealize Suite Operations include the entire software stack that includes:

  • User Interface – Are web applications services based on Apache Tomcat
  • Collector – The collector component connects to one or more controller component and sends the collected data.
  • Controller – is responsible for placing or mapping the data across the nodes in the cluster.
  • Analytics – Receives data from the controller components, caches the collected data and processes the collected data.
  • Persistence – takes cached data and writes the data to disks
  • Databases – Data is stored in XML based databases or xDB – A file system database (FSDB) and a vPostgres database

This box refers to the Virtual Machine which runs the full stack of software. Applications disciplines such as Capacity, Performance, Change Management and Compliance works across the stack. The rest of the applications disciplines are enables as common services.

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vRealize Operations : High level Architecture

vRealize Operations collects data from many different sources such as vCenter Server, vCenter Configuration Manager or vCloud Director. The vRealize Operations Analytics virtual machine processes the collected data and presents the result through out the UI virtual machine. Possible UI are the vRealize Operations vSphere UI and the vRealize Operations Manager Customs UI which is only available in the VMware vRealized Advanced and Enterprise Editions. vRealize Operations also features an Admin UI to perform administrative tasks. The monitored resources and collected metrics requires certain computing resources. This should be taken into account when deploying the virtual machine. vRealize Operations is designed as Enterprise solutions. So planning and preparing your environment is critical to successful deployment. You need to take factor like Environment Size, Landscape and Complexity into account. The vRealize Operations architecture needs to take into account how large the environment is including the number of applications, data sources, resources and metrics, the physical environment distribution and the number of users

Software defined storage – Virtual SAN

VMware Software Defined Storage (SDS) transformed storage on virtualized environment by aligning it with applications demands. The hypervisor matches the demands from virtualized applications with the storage supply, makes intelligent placement decisions and optimizes Ongoing Adjustments.

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Virtual SAN is the SDS for the SDDC. Virtual SANs hypervisor converged architecture enables storage and compute to run on the same physical hosts with minimal overhead. It can seamlessly integrate with the vSphere web client and the entire VMware stack to simplified management. When enabled Virtual SAN works together with virtual machines storage policies. Virtual SANs monitors and reports on the policy compliance during the life cycle of the virtual machine.

Software defined networking – NSX

Software Defined Networking – SDN enables you to network with virtual machines on the same way which you use to do with physical machines. You can also built complexed network within a single ESXi hosts or across multiple ESXi hosts for production deployments or for development and testing purposes. NSX network virtualization is a transformed architecture from VMware that makes it possible to create and run an entire networks in parallel on top of existing hardware. This result in faster deployment of workloads as fast as agility and face of increasingly dynamic data centers. NSX reproduce the entire networking environment in software. You can deploy NSX non disruptively on top of your existing physical infrastructure. NSX network virtualization allows you to treat your physical network as a pool of transport capacity. NSX provides you with a platform for advanced networking and security services. NSX allows you to create a network pool of capacity that can be allocated, utilized and repurposed on demand. It decouples the network from the underlying hardware and applies virtualization principles to networking infrastructure. It also deploys network in software that are fully isolated from each other as far as other changes in a data center.

Big Data Extensions – BDE

vSphere Big Data Extension – BDE is a feature in vSphere to support big data in Hadoop or clouds. BDE provided an integrated set of management tools to help enterprise deploy, run and manage Hadoop on the vSphere platform. VMware introduces BDE as a commercially supported version of project Serengeti design for enterprises seeking VMware support. BDE enables customers to run clustered scalar Hadoop applications on the vSphere platform delivering all the benefits of virtualization to Hadoop users.

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BDE delivers operational simplicity with an easy to use interface, improved utilization through compute elasticity and a scalable big data platform to satisfies business changing requirements. A few feature of BDE include:

  • Integrate with vCenter for automated deployment of Hadoop clusters.
  • Provide self service of Hadoop clusters in the private cloud with vCloud Automation Center.
  • Integrate with management tools to manage infrastructure and perform Hadoop installation.
  • Elastically scale compute and data separately.

VMware Integrated OpenStack

VMware Integrated OpenStack – VIO enables IT administrators to deploy and manage a production grade OpenStack quickly and easily on top of their VMware infrastructure. It provides key administration capabilities including install, upgrade, troubleshooting and cost visibility to various VMware management tool. A few key feature of VIO include:

  • Streamlined deployment using vSphere web client
  • Seamless upgrade or patch
  • Available free of charge for use for all vSphere Enterprise Plus Customers
  • Highly scalable network virtualization solution through NSX
  • Simple, high performance and resilient storage using Virtual SAN
  • Predefined workflows for automating operations such as adding or removing capacity

A few advantage of VIO include:

  • Most robust and production proven hypervisor
  • Advanced virtualized network services with massive scale and throughput
  • Advanced storage policies using virtual SAN and vSphere virtual volume
  • Works with any vSphere validated storage

Cloud Services – vCloud Air

vCloud Air is an extension of the of the SDDC that is designed to deliver a true hybrid cloud.

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This service supports existing workloads and 3rd party application as well as new application development giving administrators a common platform to seamlessly extend their data center to the cloud. Administrators can leverage the tools and processes that they are familiar with and move the existing applications and services to the cloud without having to re-architect the infrastructure. vCloud Air offers a seamlessly networking layer between your data center or private cloud and vCloud Air and common management tools for on-premises and off-premises management of workload. Application and data are completely mobile from your premises to vCloud Air and back to premises on demand. It allows you to stay in full control of the cloud environment using your current staff, processes, tools and automatation.

EVO:Rack and EVO:Rail

VMware EVO Rack 

VMware EVO Rack is a hyper converged infrastructure product that can dramatically simplified how companies buy, deploy and operate SDDCs.

  • It help organizations rapidly provision applications and services at data center scale.
  • EVO Rack meets the increasing demands of private clouds at medium to large enterprises.
  • It can run on a range of pre-integrated hardware configurations ranging from Open Compute Project based hardware designed to industry designed OEM servers and converged infrastructure.

VMware EVO Rail

VMware EVO Rail is another hyper converged infrastructure product

  • That would help customers to streamline the deployment and scale-out of software-defined IT infrastructure
  • It is also the first solution in a family of hyper converged offerings from VMware
  • EVO Rails target users in the mid-market and enterprise segments.

It is ideally suited for use CASES such as desktop infrastructure or VDI as well as remote office, branch office for industries such as financial services, Federal, Healthcare, Higher Education, Insurance, Oil and Gas and Retail.