This year, The anual NLVMUG UserCon was on March 17, 2016 in the city of Den Bosch. Last year was my first time at the NLVMUG and this year I was one of the speakers. Together with my colleague Ronald van Vugt we presented “De kracht van de blueprint”, translated to English “The power of the blueprint”. Our presentation was scheduled at 11.30 right after the first coffee break.
The day started with a keynote presentation of Kit Colbert from VMware about Cloud-Native Apps. His presentation began with an example of John Deere, the tractor company, who formerly sold only tractors but now also collects and analyze data from all their equipment. With this data analitics they can advise the farmer about the way they can optimize their equipment and land. Companies like John Deere need a completely different kind of apps, architecture and how they develop and maintain applications. In his presentation he showed how VMware can support these new apps and how the VMware platform can support this. For these new apps VMware has developed the vSphere Integrated Containter architecture and the VMware Photon platform.
After the keynote it was time for us to do some last preparations for the presentation. We checked the VPN connection for the live demo, all demo steps and the presentation script. In the coffee break, just before our presentation we had enough time to setup our equipment and test the microphone. Then it was time for the presentation!
The main subject of our presentation was vRealize Automation and the way you can automate your application environment. In the first part of the presentation we introduced the product and the functionalities. After the background information it was time to start with our live demo. In the demo we showed how you can automate the deployment of a two tier WordPress application with vRA and VMware NSX. Live on stage we composed the application environment, with all network services, relations and policies. After the demo there was some time for questions. If you are interested in our presentation and demo you can download the presentation including screenshots of the demo steps here.
In the afternoon there was a second keynote of Jay Marshall from Google about the Google Cloud Platform. He showed how Google has grown from search engine to a big player in the cloud market. He also showed the partnership between VMware and Google to create a hybrid cloud. After this keynote I attended to some other presentations about vSAN and vRealize Automation and vRealize Orchestration. After the last presentation it was time for the reception and the prize drawing of the sponsors. After the price drawing the day was over.
I look back at a great event and an awesome new presentation experience. It was fun to be on stage to share our knowledge at the biggest VMUG in the world. I want to thanks the NLVMUG organization for all their hard work and I hope to meet you next year.
Last week VMware released a new version of vRealize Automation (vRA), version 7.0.1. In this version most of the version 7.0.0 bugs and issues are resolved. In the release notes you can find the list of all resolved issues. In this blog I will guide you through the upgrade process.
It is possible to upgrade to this new version from any supported vRealize Automation 6.2.x version and the latest 7.0 version. In this blog I will focus on an upgrade from version 7.0.0 to version 7.0.1. If you still use an earlier version of vRA you have to upgrade frist to version 6.2.x. The environment we will upgrade is a minimum deployment based on version 7.0.0.
The following steps are required for a successful upgrade of vRealize Automation.
Backup your current installation
Shut down vRealize Automation Windows services on your IAAS server
Configure hardware resources
Download and install upgrades to the vRA appliance
Download and install updates for IAAS
Post Upgrade Tasks
Backup your current installation
Before you start the upgrade it is important to backup some components of the existing installation. If something goes wrong you can always go back to the current version.
Configuration file backup
First start with a backup of the vRA configuration files. This file can be backupped with the following steps:
Login with ssh on the vRA appliance
Make a copy of the following directories:
First create a directory backup.
Copy now all directories to this folder:
cp -R /etc/vcac/ /etc/backupconf/
Perform these steps for each folder.
Make a SQL backup of the vRA IAAS database. For the integrated postgres database it is enough to snapshot the complete vRA appliance.
Login to the database server
Open the MSSQL Management Console and login
Click left on the vRA database and choose Tasks and choose Backup Up…
Choose the location for the backup and click on OK.
Wait for the completion of the backup.
Screenshots of the tenant configuration and users.
If something goes wrong with the upgrade it could be possible that this configuration information is changed. For safety it is recommended to capture this information.
Login as administrator to the vRA interface
Make a Screenshot of your tenants
And the Local Users of the tenant
And the Administrators
Backup any files you have customized
The vRA upgrade will possibly delete or modify all customized files. If you want to keep this files please backup them. In our environment we don’t use any customized files.
Create snapshot of the IAAS server
To take a snapshot of the IAAS server is the last step in the upgrade process.
Shutdown the IAAS server and the vRA appliance in the correct order.
Login to vCenter
First select the IAAS VM and select shutdown guest. If the shutdown is complete select the vRA appliance and choose again for shutdown guest.
Right-click on the IAAS VM and select Snapshots and Take Snapshot. Fill in the name of the snapshot and click on OK.
Power On the IAAS VM
Disable the IAAS services
Login on the IAAS server, open msc and stop the following services:
All VMware vCloud Automation agents
All VMware DEM workers
All DEM orchestrator
VMware vCloud Automation Center Service
Configure hardware resources of the vRA appliance
For the upgrade it is necessary to extend the existing disks of the vRA appliance. But before we do this, create a copy of the existing vRA appliance.
Right-click on the vRA appliance, select Clone and Clone to Virtual Machine
Give the VM a unique name and select the resources for the new VM and click on Finish.
Wait for completion.
Right-click on the original VM and select Edit Settings.
Extend the first disks (1) to 50GB and click OK.
Create a snapshot of the VM. Select the VM, click on Snapshots and click Take Snapshot.
Wait for the snapshot.
Power on the vRA VM.
Wait for the machine to start
SSH to the vRA VM and login with the root
Execute the following commands to stop all vRA services:
Service vcac-server stopService vco-server stopService vpostgres stop
Extend the Linux file system with the following commands:
Unmount swap table: Swapoff –a
Delete existing partitions and create a 44GB root and 6GB swap partition. This command and the next command return an error about the kernel that is still active at this point. After a reboot at step 13 all changes will be active: (echo d; echo 2; echo d; echo 1; echo n; echo p; echo ; echo ; echo ‘+44G’; echo n; echo p; echo ; echo ; echo ; echo w; echo p; echo q) | fdisk /dev/sda
The most useful information can be found in the vami.log and updatecli.log. In these log files you can see the download progress and information about the upgrade status.
Use tail –f /opt/vmware/var/log/vami/* to show all log files
Wait untill the update is finished.
If the upgrade is finished, reboot the appliance. Click on the System tab and click on
Upgrading the IAAS server components
The next step in this process is to upgrade the IAAS components. The IAAS installer will also upgrade the MSSQL database. In earlier upgrade processes it was needed to separately upgrade the database. To start the IAAS upgrade, follow the following steps:
Click the IAAS installer Save the prompted file. (Do not change the filename!)
Open the installer and follow the wizard.
Accept the license agreement and click on Next.
Provide the Appliance Login Information. Click on Next.
Choose for Upgrade. Click on Next.
Provide the correct Service Account for the component services and the authentication information of the SQL server. Click on Next.
Accept the certificate of the SSO Default Tenant and provide the SSO Administrator Credentials. Click on Next.
Click now on Upgrade to start the upgrade.
Click on Next and finish to complete the IAAS upgrade.
Post upgrade tasks
After the IAAS upgrade first check the correct operation of the vRA appliance. Click on the infrastructure tab and click on endpoint. Verify the endpoint overview is correct. Next try to request a blueprint and check if everything will finish successful.
If everything is correct, the last step is the upgrade of the vRA agents on the OS templates. The new agents also contain some bug fixes. In our environment we use CentOS and Windows Operating Systems. We will first start with the upgrade of the CentOS agent followed by the Windows Agent.
Convert the CentOS template to a VM and boot the VM.
Follow the wizard and provide the correct information. I choose for vSphere, no certificate check and the install Java.
Wait for completion and shutdown the VM.
Convert the VM back to a template.
For the upgrade of the Windows Agent we will use the script made by Gary Coburn. He developed a script that will install all the needed components and the vRA agent on Windows. Thanks to my colleague Ronald van Vugt for this modification on this script because of newer java version. The original script is based on vRA version 7.0.0 which included version jre-1.8.0-66. The java version included in version 7.0.1 is newer, so a modification to the script is required.
Download the original script from here or here. And open the script and search for the following line: $url=”https://” + $vRAurl + “:5480/service/software/download/jre-1.8.0_66-win64.zip”
This line must be edited to: $url=”https://” + $vRAurl + “:5480/service/software/download/jre-1.8.0_72-win64.zip”
If the script is edited run the script with the following parameters:
Shutdown the VM and convert it again to a template.
Verify the installation
Now request some of your blueprints to verify the correct operation of the vRA appliance, IAAS server and the guest agents. If everything is OK, then it is time to delete the snapshots of the vRA appliance and IAAS server.
Select the VM, choose for snapshots and Manage Snapshots
Delete the snapshot you have made before installation.
Do this for both VMs
Before executing this upgrade in a production environment it is recommended to plan the upgrade and verify that all dependencies will work after the upgrade. Also plan enough time for this upgrade, so you have the time to check and verify the installation.
After teasing the market with a photo containing three servers, the word Hyper and some blank puzzle pieces, Cisco announced their own Hyper-converged Solution: Cisco HyperFlex. This solution is an extension of Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS). Until now the UCS platform portfolio did not contain a native Cisco storage solution. Finally Cisco entered the highly competitive Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) market with HyperFlex.
The Cisco HyperFlex solution combines compute, storage and the network in one appliance. Cisco says the solution is unique in three ways: flexible scaling, continuous data optimization and an integrated network. All other HCI vendors do Hyper-converged with compute, storage and networking, but none of these have a complete integrated network solution. As expected of a former networking only company, Cisco also integrated the network.
The platform is built on existing UCS components and a new storage component. The servers used in the solution are based on the existing Cisco UCS product line. Networking is based on the Cisco UCS Fabric interconnects. The new storage component in Cisco’s platform is called the Cisco HyperFlex HX Data Platform, which is based on Springpath technology.
Springpath HALO and Cisco HyperFlex HX Data Platform
Springpath was founded in 2012 and Cisco co-invested the start-up. Springpath has developed its own data platform using HALO (Hardware Agnostic Log-structured Object) architecture. The HALO architecture offers a flexible platform with data distribution, caching, persistence and optimization. Cisco has re-branded this to the Cisco HyperFlex HX Data Platform.
All data on the Cisco HX Data platform is distributed over the cluster. Data optimization takes place by using inline de-duplication and compression. Cisco indicates most customers should reach 20-30% capacity reduction with de-duplication and another 30-50% with compression without any performance impact.
VMware and Cisco HyperFlex
First the HyperFlex solution will only be available with the VMware hypervisor using NFS as storage protocol. A Data Platform Controller for communication with the physical hardware will be used for the HyperFlex platform. This Data Platform Controller requires a dedicated number of processor cores and dedicated amount of memory. The controller integrates the HX Data Platform with the use of two preinstalled VMware ESXi vSphere Installation Bundles (VIBs): IO Visor and VAAI. IO Visor provides a NFS mount point and VAAI offloads file system operations.
The HyperFlex storage is managed with a vCenter plug-in. There are currently no details available about the layout and functionality of this plug-in. We expect the plugin will be the same as Springpath with Cisco branding.
The physical server and network is managed like any other Cisco UCS server. Each server will be connected to the Fabric Interconnect and managed from the UCS manager interface.
Cisco HyperFlex range
The HyperFlex platform is available in three different models, an 1U and 2U rack based server and a combination of rack servers with blade servers. The first model is for a small footprint, the 2U model is for maximal capacity and the last option is for maximal capacity and high compute.
All configurations must be ordered with a minimum of four servers. As far as we know at this stage the maximum number of servers in a HyperFlex cluster is eight. Each server will be delivered with VMware pre-installed.
The hardware configuration of the HyperFlex nodes is not fixed. You can choose your type of processor, amount of memory and the amount of disks. On the Cisco Build & Price website all available configuration options can be found. You can always scale your cluster by adding storage and/or compute nodes.
Cisco has an interesting licensing model for the HyperFlex HX Data Platform. The HX Data Platform will be licensed on a per year basis. In the configuration tool by default a server is configured with a license for one year. This licensing model deviates from other HCI vendors who base their license model on raw or used TB’s, or use a perpetual license.
Cisco is a new and interesting player in the rapidly growing Hyper-converged market. The technology used provides some nice features, capabilities and an interesting licensing model. Time will tell if the product will be successful and what the roadmap will bring for the future. But at first sight it looks like a good alternative for the leading Hyper-converged solutions.