vCloud Air DR to Cloud with vRealize Automation

Traditionally organizations have reserved their Disaster Recovery capabilities to their most critical workload leaving some important workloads without proper disaster recovery due to the high cost of disaster recovery.

Imagine if you went shopping to buy a car with a friend. When you hit the dealership, your friend tell you that you should buy two cars. The first one will be the one you will be using, where the second one is only for you to use if your first car break? Do you find that as an odd advice or at least too costy one? Was not that exactly what you are doing when building your Disaster Recovery Datacenter? You build a full datacenter and fully pay for it and its compute, storage, cooling, space, and operation 24/7.  Luckily, you did not have a disaster this year, but does not that mean you just paid tons of cash for compute, etc that you never used?

What if you can get the same protection, but almost at the cost of only your storage? That’s what DR to Cloud allow you to do. In fact, vCloud Air DR to Cloud offering is great at that, as the cost you are normally paying for storage covers the cost of protecting your VMs in vCloud Air Disaster Recovery.… Read More

Replacing Certificates in vRealize Automation 7

If you worked with vRA 6.x and earlier, you will definetly know that replacing certs was a very involving process. The great news is that vRA 7 has eliminated most of the work required to do so and automated a good part of the process. Unfortunately, this is not clearly documented in vRA 7 documentation, although in my opinion this is one of the major improvements in vRA 7.0. As I have discovered those improvement the hard way through going through engineering and support, I thought It’s worth sharing as it can save you tons of time.

Let’s start by the scenario where you have setup the vRealize Automation 7.x system up and running, and you want to replace your certificates. Let’s assume you have already generated the certs for the different services, but if you did not and need help with that keep reading as I will give you guidance on that later on in this article. Below is how to replace the certs of each of the services making up your vRA 7.0.

– SSO/Identity Appliance: As vRA 7.0 does not make use of vCenter SSO any more and it moved to embeded vIDM, you will not have to worry about the certs of this any more.… Read More

vRealize Automation 7 Bootstrap Installation

vRealize Automation 7 converged blueprint is now offering you the capabilities to go beyond VMs deployment to being able to design/deploy a full application stack. In order to enable application deployment in vRA, you will need to install vRA 7 bootstrap in your VM template. In this post, I will cover how to install vRA 7.0 bootstrap into your Windows & Linux VM templates.

vRA 7 converged blueprint

Note: vRA 7.0 enterprise license is required to use the software deployment capabilities of vRA 7.0. If you have a license that does not include this, you will need to depend solely on the Gugent to run your scripts in similar fashion to what was done in previous versions of vRA, which I have document previously at: vCAC Guest Agent Installation

vRA 7 bootstrap installation in Windows 7:

(Certs)

  1. Make sure your root cert is trusted by your template.
  2. Make sure your Manager Service cert is trusted by your template as well.

(Gugent)

  1. Download the Gugent installer from https://vRealize_VA_Hostname_fqdn:5480/installer/GuestAgentInstaller_x64.exe.
  2. Extract the Gugent to C:\VRMGuestAgent (Do not rename this directory).
  3. Do not install the Gugent service, as the bootstrap installer will take care of that for you.

(Bootstrap)

  1. Download and install the supported Java Runtime Environment from https://vRealize_VA_Hostname_fqdn:5480/service/software/index.html.
Read More

VMware Hybrid Cloud Manager vs vCloud Connector

While some readers might be surprised of me comparing Hybrid Cloud Manager and vCloud Connector as many might assume that Hybrid Cloud Manager is replacing vCloud Connector, so why compare them. While this might be true in the long term, its still not the case today. While Hybrid Cloud Manager Excel at some of the features vCloud Connector used to deliver and add few that vCloud connector did not have, it still lack some of the features vCloud Connector had that you might still need. I have put this post to help you decided which one fit your need better or do you need both. Yes, there will be cases where you will need both products to co-exist.

Let’s compare Hybrid Cloud Manager and vCloud Connector on their merits in the different use cases:

Hybrid Cloud Manager vs vCloud Connector

Target Cloud it support:

  • Hybrid Cloud Manager is only meant to support VMware vCloud Air (Previously known by VMware Hybrid Cloud Service) Dedicated Cloud at the momement, where it will expand to the other vCloud Air offering in the near future. This might even expand to VMware vCloud Air Network providers in the future, but its not there yet.
  • vCloud Connector is currently supported with VMware vCloud Air, vCloud Director, and most VMware vCloud Air Network providers.
Read More

Get your PBX Cloud Ready with 3CX VoIP Phone System V14

Is your PBX system cloud ready? Does your PBX system support virtualization? Have you considered running your PBX system in the Cloud? Have you considered the benefits of any of these for your business? If any of this sounds interesting, you might want to check out 3CX Phone System. It is not only virtualizable, it is not only Cloud ready, but they even offer it as a hosted service in the Cloud. It is a PBX system that’s Cloud ERA ready.

3cx Phone SystemIf you have not got to read my previous review of 3CX VoIP Phone System, I would highly recommend you check it out at: http://www.virtualizationteam.com/various/pbx-in-the-cloud.html. In my previous post, I have covered how straight forward the installation was and how I got things running in my lab in no time, and the vast amount of features this simple PBX is offering. Now, as they have released V14 of their VoIP Phone System, 3CX has added tons of valuable features highlighted below:

  • Integrated Virtual PBX Server option
  • Completely redesigned Android client, it is a much slicker and seemed to be snappier on my Samsung Galaxy S5.
  • New iPhone client with integrated tunnel, I could not verify this as I don’t have an iPhone, but I am sure it will be appreciated by the Apple fans.
Read More

How to Pass Encrypted Custom Properties to vRealize Automation Guest Agent

Have you ever needed to pass an encrypted custom property to your vRealize Automation (previously known as vCloud Automation Center) gugent? I have been asked for this frequently by customers and below are just two of the most common use cases for this.

1- The customer wanted the Gugent to run a script that map a share drive to the deployed VM using the Net Use command where they need a different user credential to login to the map drive.

This is easy to do by letting the Gugent run a command similar to: “net use s: \\tower\movies /user HTG Pa$$word”. The challenge here is who wants to pass his password in clear text or store it in clear text in a script? Yop, I have deployed vRA for banks and government customers and none of them can accept that.

2- The customer want to be able to join the VM to one of many domains. They wants to achieve this without having to create tons of Custom Specifications in each vCenter they have as that will be a management nightmare in the long run.

This as well can be easily achievable by having a script as the following:

==================================

REM JoinDomain.bat script start here

If %1==firstdomain netdom join %%computername%% /domain:firstdomain.COM /userd:%2 /passwordd:%3
If %1==2nddomain netdom join %%computername%% /domain:2nddomain.COM /userd:%4 /passwordd:%5
If %1==3rdomain netdom join %%computername%% /domain:3rddomain.COM /userd:%6 /passwordd:%7

REM JoinDomain.bat script End here

==================================

You will then run the above script from vRA using a command like: JoinDomain.bat {domainname} {firstdomainUser} {firstdomainPassword} {2nddomainUser} {2nddomainPassword} {3rddomainUser} {3rddomainPassword}

Again the above resolve the problem, but you will need to pass the password in clear text.… Read More

VMware Cross-Cloud vMotion is another major milestone on VMware Seemless Hybrid Cloud Vision

If you are like me or many of VMware customers who has been following the VMware Hybrid Cloud Story closely for a while, you have probably asked yourself or your sales rep when will you be able to move your Virtual Machines back and forth between On Premise (Private Cloud) to vCloud Air (VMware Public Cloud) without encountering downtime. Many of us are used to the concept of VMotion and being able to move our VMs across hosts within a site and in vSphere 6 we had the capability to move VMs across sites and vCenters.

The next logical step in that vMotion evolution is being able to vMotion VMs to the Cloud and back, and that is just what VMware has announced at VMworld today. In fact, a live demonstration of what is called Cross-Cloud vMotion was shown during today VMworld General session. This exciting news has been a part of  Technology Preview of Project SkyScraper, a new set of hybrid cloud capabilities for VMware vSphere that will enable customers to confidently extend their data center to the public cloud and vice-a-versa by seamlessly operating across boundaries while providing enterprise-level security and business continuity.

VMware Hybrid Network Cross Cloud VMotion

Below is the two features of Project SkyScraper that was shared today at VMworld:

  • Cross-Cloud vMotion is a new technology based on vSphere vMotion that allows customers to seamlessly migrate running virtual machines between their on-premises environments and vCloud Air.
Read More

Serve NFS and CIFS from your VMware Virtual SAN

I have seen the question of being able to serve NFS and CIFS storage from VMware Virtual SAN comes up often lately, as customers want to be able to serve files storage to their VMs for different reasons, below is couples of reasons I have heard often:

  • My applications requires file sharing via NFS or CIFS/SMB protocol.
  • I want to store my users documents in a centralized location in the data-center while still controlling access using AD permissions.

There is more reasons behind this, the idea is that this is being requested by different corporate for a reason or another. Unfortunately, the canned answer for this question is that VMware Virtual SAN does not offer this out of the box. While that statement is 100% accurate, I don’t think the answer should stop there, as there is many ways around this, that allows you to consume VMware Virtual SAN Storage as a file level storage using NFS and CIFS/SMB protocols. Let’s discover few of these.

Three different ways to Serve NFS and CIFS/SMB using VMware Virtual SAN:

1. Using NFS on a Linux Box and CIFS on a Windows Box  

While this is the least elegant way of the three, it is the most obvious route for many as they own these operating system licenses and they can just create a VM that is running on top of Virtual SAN and then mount enough storage from Virtual SAN to the VM which in turn you will configure the VM OS to serve CIFS or NFS.… Read More

vRealize Automation Modifying Approval E-mails

One of the questions I get often asked by customers is how to modify vRA e-mail templates. To be honest the most one customers usually care to modify is the Approval e-mail to include more information than what is provided in the out of the box template. In this article, I will show you how to simply modify the vRA Approval e-mail to include additional custom properties. I will not drill into more advanced e-mail modification topics to keep this as simple as possible and get you straight to the point if that all you needed to do, though I will have more advanced vRA e-mail template modifications links at the end of this post.

First, you will need to upload the vRA e-mail templates to vRA using the below steps:

  1. Download the 2088805_vrealize_automation.tar.gz file from KB208805
    • Windows: Use a program such as WinSCP to copy the 2088805_vrealize_automation.tar.gz to the VMware vRealize Automation
    • Linux: Run these commands:scp 2088805_vrealize_automation.tar.gz root@vCAC VA:/
      ssh root@vCACVA
      cd /
      tar -xvzf 2088805_vrealize_automation.tar.gz
      find /vcac -type d -exec chmod o+rx {} \;
      find /vcac -type f -exec chmod o+r {} \;
  2. Restart VMware vRealize Automation by running this command:service vcac-server restart.

The above steps should get you to a position where you are ready to modify the vRA e-mail templates as needed, and changes to these templates going forward will take effect without needing to restart the service, but might take up to 2 minutes to see the changes.… Read More

Free VMTurbo Datacenter Stencils for Microsoft Visio and OmniGraffle

If you often create Architecture Diagrams using Microsoft Visio or OmniGraffle, then you are always in the look for new stencils and shapes that you can reuse into your design. VMturbo has just released a good Datacenter Stencils that work for both Microsoft Visio and OmniGraffle. The free VMturbo  Topology Stencils covers all of the following:

  • Host
  • Cluster
  • Virtual & Physical SAN
  • Thin & Thick Provisioned Datastores
  • Public, Private, Hybrid, & Virtual Datacenter Clouds
  • And More!

Below is a teaser of what these stencils look like. If you want to download these stencils, then you can get it at: http://info.vmturbo.com/NI00yZpg0003ydH0MZ6011g

 VMTurbo free Visio StencilsRead More

How to Downgrade VM Hardware Version

I have often got the question if you can downgrade your Virtual Machine Hardware version from the latest version to a previous version. There is many reasons why you might want to downgrade your VM Hardware Version, but below is few common ones I have heard:

  • VM hardware version you upgraded to is not supported in the vSphere thick client version you are using, this used to be the most common one in vSphere 5.5. Luckily this has dramatically improved in vSphere 6.0.
  • VM hardware version you upgraded to is not supported on older versions hosts that you still keeping or waiting to upgrade.
  • VM hardware version you upgraded to is not supported by your cloud vendor, so you can’t sync your internal VMs/templates to your cloud.

I guess if you had hit this post, you already have a reason of why you want to downgrade your VM Hardware version, so I will not spend too much time on that. Let’s look on how to downgrade VM Hardware Version.

I have to first admit that there is no straight out of the box button that allow you to downgrade your VM Hardware version, unlike when you upgrade it. This might be the reason why when you ask many people about it out there, they will tell you there is no supported way of doing it, but that’s not exactly true.… Read More

My Home Lab Converged Infrastructure Challenge

As I had some challenges with my Home Lab due to some hardware failure, I had to revert from using a dedicated storage box (White box + Windows + bunch of disk + StarWind Virtual SAN) as I no longer have the luxury of having that extra machine to use. I have ended up with two ESXi hosts (Specs: White box with i5 + 16GB RAM + 1x SSD + 2x Sata Drivers + 2 NICs). I have though to investigate if I could still come up with a way that would provide me with a reliable storage without having to acquire any extra hardware.

While I have considered to buy another dedicated box to use as storage, converged infrastructure seemed as a great viable alternative. I decided to investigate, which option I had within the popular converged infrastructure offering that I knew of would fit my needs best. I can see quite few small businesses that might fall in the same boat where they have been limited to two lower specs servers to run their small environment. Here are the different options I have considered, and why I could not use them.

Simplivity: I wanted to check them out as they have a very interesting offering especially when it comes to deduplication which could save me a good amount of disk space.… Read More

vRealize Automation Gugent stuck and machine deployment timeout

After installing the vRA 6.2.2 Gugent into our Windows 2012 R2 template, blueprint deployment started to time out. As I had followed the exact steps I have previously used to install the Gugent for quite few customers before which in turn I have already documented on my following blog post: vRA Guest Agent Installation, I was surprised with the issue and thought to document the issue and resolution of it in this blog post in case others encounter it. Before I start, just few words of the environment versions:

vRA: 6.2.2
Gugent: 6.2.2
vCenter: 6.0
ESXi: 6.0
VMware Tools: 6.0
OS: Windows 2012 R2

While above these are the exact versions I have seen the issue with, you might face it with previous or future versions, as I am not sure yet which versions this specifically apply to, I wanted to ensure to point out the exact versions where I have observed it. Below is the timeout error I saw in vRA while trying to deploy from a blueprint that uses the Gugent: “Request failed: Machine vttest001: Timeout Customizing Guest OS.”

Request failed machine timeout customizing guest os

 

The error logs within the vRA portal was not providing me with enough info to debug the error with, so I started digging into one of the machines deployed through the problematic blueprint and after digging around I have found the following error in Windows Applications event log:

“faulting application name: DynamicOps.agent.guest.exe libeay32.dll”

 vRA Gugent Faulting Application name: DynamicOps.Agent.Guest.exe

For some reason the issue end up being caused by the vRA Gugent not being able to locate the VMware Tool libeay32.dll package, although VMware tool 6.0 was installed.… Read More

vRealize Automation deployment to vCloud Air fails

After configuring vRealize Automation Center to be ready to deploy to vCloud Air (End Point, Fabric Group, Reservation, Reservation Policy, Blueprints, etc), my initial vAPP blueprint deployment to vCloud Air has started to fail with the below error message.

“Request failed: Machine VTTest001: an error occurred while customizing the vapp..”

vRA vAPP deployment to vCloud Air fails error occurred while customizing the vAPP

 

Checking the vRA logs under monitoring has given me a bit more descriptive error, which has definitely helped me resolve the issue much more than the original error: “vCloud Customize VM failed for vApp: VTTest001 Error occurred while customizing vAPP. Inner Exception: Auto-logon count must be within 1 to 100 range if enabled or 0 otherwise.”

vAPP deployment fails in vRA autologin error under monitoring log

This has reminded me that I has never setup the auto-logon setting under customization on the VMs building my vAPP template. You will need to check mark the “Automatically log on as Administrator” option as shown in the below screenshot. I would leave the number of automated log on to 1 as well.

vRA deployment to vcloud Air fails Automatically login as an administratorThis has done the trick for me and things worked afterward. I assume others might miss this step as well, and as the initial error might not be obvious indication of the issue, I thought I will try to save you the hassle of trying to figure out how to fix it.… Read More

Unable to establish an SSL connection with vCenter Server

While trying to export one of my VMs into OVF from my virtual infrastructure using the vSphere Web Client, I kept getting the following error:  “Could not connect to the remote resource: SSL connect error”. I have as well tested to import OVF templates into my VMware vSphere environment, and I was getting the same error, but this time I was getting one more additional error which states: “Unable to validate that the OVF can be imported on the vCenter Server”. The below screenshot demonstrate what the error look like in my environment.

Could not connect to the remote resource ssl connect error

I have tried to connect to the vSphere Web Client from a jump box within my lab environment and that seemed to work perfectly without a glitch, while my laptop machine kept to suffer from the same error. This lead me to compare my jump box with my own laptop config and the two obvious difference that I were able to identify is my laptop is not in the same domain as my jump box(which is joined to my lab domain), as well I am using a different DNS on my own laptop.

Changing the dns configuration on my laptop to match the machine in my lap seemed to get things working on my laptop as well (I did not need to join the domain).… Read More

Sponsors