No Excuse for not having backup!

If you are working in the SMB market, you might be facing with the usual challenge of having a very limited to no budget for backup. Please don’t take that as an excuse to skip backup all together, as your management will not tolerate not having backup when things go south. It’s important to recognize that Virtualization availability features while help improve your availability should not be considered a replacement to backup.

The good news, there are quite a few good SMB focused free backup solutions for virtualized environments. In this post, I will be covering one of those options by Unitrends that is not only free, but offer some advanced features that you can usually only find in paid versions of other solutions like Instant VM Recovery.

Unitrends LogoYou will be happy to know that an advanced free backup solution such as “Unitrends Free”, does not require advanced knowledge or training to run. The installer will guide you through the installation and deploy the virtual appliance for you and get you ready in no time and ensure you get it right the first time.

Below are the top features of Unitrends Free:

  • Deployed as a Virtual Appliance – This not only save you on OS licensing, but as well streamline the installation process and ensure a consistent experience for customers.
Read More

How to change the certs for VAMI on VMware vCAC Appliance

I have been working with several customers & after changing the certs for things like vRealize Auotmation using VAMI, they notice that when they access VAMI at port 5480 (ex: https://vra.vt.com:5480), they noticed they still get the self signed cert instead of the signed cert they have installed. The reason for that is the cert that you install through VAMI is not used for VAMI, but to secure connection to the application where in the vRA/vCAC example it’s used to secure connections to the vRA/vCAC portal that is being served at 443.

vRA 62 VAMI invalid security Certificate

For those who want to have a secure signed certs for VAMI, you will have to do it through the command line for now. Below is the instructions provided to me by GSS on how to do so for both the vCAC/vRA identity appliance as well the vCAC/vRA appliance. Please note you can use very similar steps for most of the other VMware appliances that uses VAMI.

Logon to the appliance console (EXVMware Identity Appliance console and execute the following commands:

  1. Copy the rui.pem file (certificate pem file) to the /tmp folder
  2. ls -l /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem and make a note of the server.pem timestamp
  3. cp /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem.bak
  4. cp /tmp/rui.pem /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem
  5. ls -l /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem and verify the server.pem has been updated
  6. service vami-lighttp restart

Logon to the vCAC Appliance console

  1. ls -l /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem and make a note of the server.pem timestamp
  2. cp /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem.bck
  3. cp /etc/apache2/server.pem /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem
  4. ls -l /opt/vmware/etc/lighttpd/server.pem and verify the server.pem has been updated
  5. service vami-lighttp restart

Hope this help!… Read More

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 & vCenter Customization Specifications

While on a vRealize Automation 6.2 engagement, the customer wanted to be able to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 VMs from a blueprint. The customer has prepared a RHEL 7 Template for me to use for deployment. I have created as well a vCenter Customization Specification to customize the VM and apply the desired IP Address & Host Name to VMs as they get deployed. While VMs deployment worked smoothly,  I have noticed no customization was carried out. I have tried to deploy VMs from the template directly using vCenter to test my vCenter Customization Specification and that did not work either, which eliminated vRA of being the source of the issue.

Red Hat Logo

As many others can still face the same issue with or without vRA, as its a vCenter Customization Specification related issue rather than vCloud Automation Center, I have decided to document what we had to do to fix it:

1- Make sure you are running vSphere Components (vCenter/ESXi/VMware Tools) versions that support your version of Red Hat Enterprise. For RHEL 7 the guest customization started being supported at vCenter 5.5U2 as per VMware Guest OS Customization support in vCenter Document.

2- Make sure to install VMware version of VMware tools.Read More

vCAC 6.x using gugent to run scripts

Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions about how to use the vCAC Gugent to run scripts within the guest OS of your deployed VM. While if you are deploying simple VMs using vCAC this use case might not sound obvious, it has a lot of uses to it in the real world. Before I go through how to get your vCAC Gugent or now called vRA Gugent (Guest Agent) to run scripts, let’s take few examples of why you want to do this:

– Imagine the use case where you want to assign an IP Address in a Guest OS that is not supported by VMware Customization tool. You can actually assign an IP Addess to it by running after deployment  script using the Guagent to change the IP Address of that machine. Actually while I had this post in mind for a while, it end up getting to my top priority today as a colleague was asking me about this use case scenario.

– Imagine the use case where you want to run some security scanning scripts after the OS was fully deployed. This is will be any easy way of doing it.

– Imaging the use case where you want to initialize a client or agent for application deployment/management tool (Ex: Puppet, Chef, Altiris, TSM Client, …)

– It can be even be used as a cheaper dirty way of deploying applications or services.… Read More

Is it time to upgrade your homelab? VMTurbo is giving you the chance to win it!

If you are like me, you are always looking for a new hardware to upgrade your home lab. Unfortunately, maintaining your home lab up to date has proven to be not cheap. For that reason, it seems VMturbo is giving away home labs for three lucky winners who register for their upcoming  VMTurbo 5.1 Release Webinar. The lab they are offering can be a great test bench for many of the Virtualization/SDDC/Cloud product that you love to test/play with. Below is the specs of the Home Lab they are offering you a chance to win!

  • Intel NUC with Intel Core i5-4250U
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (2x8G) 204-Pin DDR3 Memory
  • SAMSUNG 840 EVO 250GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive
  • Synology DS415+ Diskless System DiskStation 4-Bay NAS
  • 2x Dell 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Hard Drive
  • Cisco SG300-10 10-port Gigabit Managed Switch
  • Rosewill 7ft. Cat 6 Network Cable

VMTurbo has valued this Lab configuration at $1600 USD, and would be really nice to put your hands on it for free. Below is what VMTurbo ad look like:

VMTurbo Home Lab Offer

 

I have registered for my chance to win, what about you? Remember its like the Lottery, you can not win unless if you Sign Up, beside this one is free!… Read More

Myth busted: vCenter Site Recovery Manager using vSphere Replication for Datacenter migration causes data loss

It seems there is a lot of confusion out there on how vCenter Site Recovery manager work with vSphere Replication when used for a data center migration, thanks in big part to competing products FUDs. Many admins still believe that using vSphere Replication with vCenter Site Recovery Manager for data center migration you will still lose up to 15 minutes of Data. This confusion has evolved due to the following two limitations of vSphere Replication:

  • Lowest RPO possible using vSphere replication  is 15 minutes
  • You cannot replicate powered-off virtual machines. Replication begins when the virtual machine is powered on. You cannot use vSphere Replication to replicate virtual machines templates. <== This statement right of the vSphere documentation.

Here is how the confusion came to life. If you have experienced or read about vCenter Site Recover Manager with storage replication and looked at the sequence of events when doing a data center migration, you will notice it will do a final sync of the data between the two sites right before it cut the replication between the the two sites. If you try to compare the same method with what is happening in vSphere replication and knowing the above two limitations, you will think that when the Data Center Migration is initiated in SRM, it will shutdown the VM and at that time the VM replication was lagging with up to 15 minutes behind based on the provided RPO and as vSphere replication can not replicate after the VM is turned off, the VM will be losing up to 15 minutes of data when coming on the other site, but that is not true as its missing a very minor but important detail that many people seems to over look.… Read More

Configure VBuzzer as a VOIP Provider in 3CX Phone System

After creating my previous post PBX in the Cloud, there was a small detail that grabbed a surprising attention from the community. I have mentioned that I have setup VBuzzer as a VOIP Provider in 3CX Phone System, and the only reason I did that was it was I had a  readily available VBuzzer account, but there seems a good amount of users interested in how I got VBuzzer to work as a VOIP Provider in 3CX, as it was one of the none out of the box providers and as I got the question from few different readers, I thought I will document how I have done it.

1- Make sure the following ports are forwarded in your firewall to your 3CX Phone System:

5060
5090
9000 – 9099

2- Using the ADD VOIP Provider Wizard, choose ‘Generic’ from the Country drop down menu and ‘Generic VOIP Provider’ from the Provider drop down menu. Click Next.

3CX add VBuzzer as a VOIP Provider

3- Configure the VOIP Provider general tab as in the below screenshot.

3CX VBuzzer SIP Configuration

– Extension Number: is the phone number assigned to you by VBuzzer

– Authenication ID: is your VBuzzer username

– Authenication Password: is your VBuzzer user account password

– The rest of the field fill them exactly the same as in the above image.… Read More

PBX in the Cloud

Most companies today have one sort of PBX or another. It no longer makes sense to buy a phone line from the telecom for each employee. This over time has made PBX a very attractive solution from a cost perspective and companies have rushed to adapt it. Unfortunately, it does not take long after a traditional PBX solution is installed for the business to notice the amount of required specialized equipment and skills they need to maintain it. Actually after a few years, most PBX systems seem to get out of hand with how many wires are running loose with no one figuring out which user it belongs to. Further, simple features like voicemail, call forwarding, and call conferencing might require you to change your full PBX system or require additional expensive systems.

When VOIP PBX systems came out, they seemed like the knights in shining armour who will be saving the day for business owners. It sounded like a very appealing alternative, as it uses the same network infrastructure the company has already invested in, and provides tons of features that were never possible with a traditional PBX. Further, large VOIP PBX players made it look very easy to setup and maintain.… Read More

vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) 6 limitations removed.

If you have been using the vCenter Appliance (vCSA) in vSphere 5.5 or been considering it, then you are more likely aware of its limitations. You might have in the past as well looked at my blog post that highlighted the vCSA 5.5 limitations found at: vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 limitations. The good news in vCSA 6.0 seems to over come the biggest one of these as follow:

– vCenter Linked mode is now supported with vCSA 6.0. This one by far was the biggest limitation of the vCSA 5.5 and the one that had been most mentioned by my customers who were considering vCSA 5.5 at that time. Now this has been resolved for you and you can use vCenter Linked mode with vCSA 6.0. Wohooooo!

– You were limited to 100 hosts and 3000 VMs when using the embeded DB with vCSA 5.5, where you had to use an external Oracle Database to expand beyond these limits, which did not make larger customers happy. The good news these limits were waived in vCSA 6.0 and you will be able to use up to 1000 hosts and 10,000 VMs using the embedded database. I am sure between this one and the availability of vCenter Linked mode, many customers who were considering to move to the vCSA appliance, they will be eager to put their hands on the vCSA 6.0 to make the shift.… Read More

VMware vCenter 6 Installation Steps

I wanted to demonstrate how VMware vCenter 6 installation is a bit different than vCenter 5.x, and the below post show the installation steps of VMware vCenter 6 basic install.

1. Make sure you have minimum requirements and the OS you are using is on the compatibility list of vCenter 6.0. The below table demonstrate the minimum hardware requirements for vCenter 6.0.

2. Make sure the user to run vCenter Server service under has the log on as a service rights

3. Run the vCenter installer executable

4. Hit Install

5. Hit next

6. Accept license agreement and hit next

7. Choose your deployment type and hit Next.

8. Choose System Network Name and hit next

9. Provide the Single Sign-On Configuration & make sure your password meet the password complexity requirements ad demonstrated in the below screenshots

10. Choose the service account to run the vCenter Service under

11. Choose your vCenter DB Configuration

12. Confirm the network ports to use

13. Confirm the installation destination folder

 

14. Hit install

 

 

15. Hit launch the vsphere web client to start using it and hit finish the installation

 

16. Check out your new vCenter in the vSphere web client

 

You are now ready to enjoy your vCenter 6!… Read More

VMware vSphere 6.0 is here!

Today VMware has made a big announcement of the long waited VMware vSphere 6.0, while the bits are not available for download yet, it will follow shortly. The all new vSphere 6.0 is loaded with new features, that many of you were waiting for it for years. In this post, I will cover what’s new with VMware vSphere 6.0 and to get you excited it to try it as soon the bits come out. Please note the bits out there today is only the beta, and the GA bits will follow shortly. Let’s start going through what’s excite me about the new release.

  • VMotion Enhancements seams to break new ground in vSphere 6 with the availability of:
    • Cross vSwitch vMotion
    • Cross vCenter vMotion
    • vMotion L2 adjacency restrictions are lifted
    • vMotion of MSCS VMs using pRDMs
    • Long Distance vMotion – Enable vMotion to operate across distance of greater than 100ms RTTs.
    • Sound to me we are building the ground for vMotion to the Cloud!
  • vSMP Fault Tolerance is finally here where vSphere 6 will allow up to 4 vCPU VMs to be protected by VMware Fault Tolerance.
  • NFS v4.1 with Kerberos support. If you are an NFS shop, then I am sure you have been waiting this for a while!
Read More

VMware vRealize Automation 6.2 and the missing vCO

If you have tried to upgrade your current vCloud Automation Center distributed install to vRealize Automation 6.2 or if you have tried to plan for the upgrade lately, you will notice one piece of the puzzle seems to be missing. At the time vRealize Automation 6.2 was released, vRealize Orchestrator 6.0 was not released yet as it suppose to be a part of the vSphere 6.0 release(not yet released).

While the vRealize Automation 6.2 appliance has came up with a builtin vCO 6.2 with the 6.2 plugin installed which was sufficient for small deployment that did not require a distributed install, customers with distributed install are wondering what to do. In this article I wanted to highlight the three options available to you and when to approach each of these routes.

1- vRealize Orchestrator(vRO) 6.0 has been made available to vRealize Automation 6.2 customers before vSphere 6.0 go GA, where you will have to open a support ticket to obtain it. Here is the KB article documenting that: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2100951

2- Convert a vRA 6.2 appliance into vRO 6.2 appliance, again here is the KB documenting this: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2100951     (Almost there is no more use case for this with vRO 6.0 available to you through GSS.… Read More

Host Virtualization Candidate Checklist

While I am a Virtualization advocate, & I believe you can virtualize almost every application out there. Yeah note the bold almost in there, as there still some applications or hosts you might want to take further consideration before virtualizing them. Why this topic now? I am currently working with a customer on a P2V engagement plan, where the customer wanted to identify their top virtualization candidates, where I have pulled this list to help them eliminate bad candidates to start with.

Below is a good check list that I frequently use when I want to check if a an application/host is a good candidate for moving to a virtual environment as a fresh install or even P2V conversion. I thought I will share in case others are curious if their particular app or host is a good candidate or what they should be checking for:

- Does the physical machine use serial ports? (Work around available)

- Does the physical machine use parallel ports? (Work around available)

- Does the physical machine use USB devices? (Work around available)

- Does your system require any physical hardware dongle?

- Does your host use any special hardware devices like a special telecommunication pci card that cannot be virtualized?Read More

Learn VMware vSphere resource management

As a part of my learn vSphere from Scratch video training, I have just released my latest lesson “Learn VMware vSphere resource management”, unlike other lessons in the series which were focused solely on someone learning vSphere from scratch, this lesson can be useful to more versed vSphere admins as well any one starting from scratch. This lesson cover the following topics in a great details:

– Learn about virtual machine autonomy.
– How does VMware vSphere Manage its resources?
– How is resource scheduling in vSphere work?
– How does Virtual Machines resource allocation, limit, & reservation work?
– How does ESXi host manage CPU & Memory over commitment?
– Learn more about ESXi extensive memory management techniques such as TPS (Transparent page sharing, ballooning, & swaping)
– What is memory compression?
– Find out what a VM is made of, & learn more about the files that make  up a VM.
– What the type of Virtual Machines disks VMware ESXi support, & when to use each format?
– What is a snapshot,  what to use it for, & how to use it?
– Learn how to manage virtual machines in the vSphere interface.
– Learn what each of the virtual machines setting mean & what is it used for.… Read More

vCloud Automation Center 6.x Time Bomb Issues

As I know quite few of my vCloud Automation Center 6.x (lately renamed to vRealize Automation) customers are following my blog, I wanted to share this important information of a two different time bombs issues that affect the 6.x releases of the product.  The purpose of this post is to highlight these two time bomb issues and the simple changes required to avoid them affecting the availability & manageability of your vCAC environment. If you have not done this or not sure if it was done during the installation time, please take the time to do it now. It is worth checking even if your environment was setup by a vCAC expert as it might have not been known during the the time your setup was installed:

1- vCAC 6.x VAMI Root account time bomb.

In vCAC 6.x There is a one year expiration time bomb in the VAMI Root account. This will prevent you from logging in to the VAMI consoles. To fix run this command…

# chage –M 99999 root

 This will change the timeout  and should prevent future issues. This occurs in both the vCAC Identity Appliance , and the vCAC Appliance.

2- vCAC 6.x SSO internal tenant admin password  time bomb.Read More

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