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

Last chance to win your VMworld 2015 Ticket from VMTurbo

If you still have not got your VMworld 2015 ticket, it is not yet the time to quit your hunting for a free VMworld ticket. VMTurbo is still offering you the chance to win one of a pair of Two VMworld 2015 tickets through their sweepstakes taking place on July 9th. VMworld is the most looked after Virtualization/Cloud Computing event, and here is your chance to be there this year. Good luck everyone and looking forward for a winner within my blog readers.

Below is more details about VMTurbo VMworld 2015 Ticket Sweepstakes: (Click on the image below to be directed to the Sweepstakes page)

VMTurbo VMworld 2015 Sweepstakes

VMTurbo is giving 2 more lucky winners two Full Conference Passes to VMworld 2015 in San Francisco. The epicenter of all things virtual, VMworld is our industry’s biggest stage. VMTurbo will be there, and they want you there too.

VMTurbo will be giving away the last pair of tickets on July 9th, make sure to enter for your chance to win!

Who? 2 Winners (maybe you!)
What? 2 VMworld 2015 Passes
Where? San Francisco, California
When? August 30th – September 3rd… Read More

vRealize Automation iaas-service does not register after installation

While doing the usual vRA 6.2.2 large deployment distributed install, and after everything in the installation went smoothly without any errors, the vRA infrastructure tab was not working. Checking the vRA Services through the vRA Appliance VAMI, and noticed all of my services are up and running as  expected with its status being registered, beside the iaas-service which its status was left blank. Look at the below screenshot and notice where the service column ” iaas-service        com.vmware.csp.iaas.blueprint.service” status being blank.

vrealize automation iaas-service not starting

Going through every test I can think of, I could find no meaningful error in any of the logs, till I opened my infrastructure tab again but in Chrome this time and rather than getting the usual 404 error it was giving me earlier the below message came up: Invalid Argument. Host name may not be null

vra Infrastructure tab Invalid Argument Host name may not be null

 

After a bit of digging/research, I have found out that the VIP names the customer is using included under scores which is not supported by vRA for both hostnames or VIP names. This has been documented in the vRA 6.2 Installation and configuration document here as well in KB2086553.

Resolution for this issue: You will need to avoid this scenario before hand, else you will have to redo the full installation.… Read More

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist features

Did you ever want to manage or monitor your vSphere infrastructure from your mobile device? You are in luck, VMware has a mobile application available for Android and iOS which helps you to manage virtual machines and hosts on your vSphere infrastructure . While this application is optimized for smartphones, it will work on tablets too.

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist brings the following key capabilities to vSphere administrators on the go:

  • Easily create VM or Host watchlists: Search for and select a subset of VMs and hosts from your VMware vCenter or standalone ESXi server to monitor in one or more watchlists.

 

  • Awareness: Review the status of selected vSphere Mobile Watchlist VMs and hosts from your device:

• View VM or Host state
• View health alerts, resource usage, and related objects
• View configuration details
• View tasks and events for a VM or host

vSphere Mobile Watchlist interface

  • VMs and Hosts at a glance: Review the status of selected Watchlist VMs and hosts from your device including state, configuration details, resource usage, health alerts, view of the VM console, and related objects.

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist Monitoring

  • Understanding: When an alert occurs on a VM or host, vSphere Mobile Watchlist allows you to view a number of different information sources to determine the root cause:

• View KB articles that are automatically retrieved based on a
given alert
• Continue the search for web articles related to the alert
• View performance charts of CPU, memory, disk, and network usage

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist Alert and KBs

Remediate Remotely: Remediate problems directly from the phone:

 

• Initiate VM power operations: powering on or off, resuming/suspending, connecting/disconnecting, or restarting VMs and or hosts
• Initiate basic host operations, set maintenance mode, or connect and reconnect hosts
• Configure the VM’s CPU and memory
• Manage snapshots: taking a new snapshot, deleting an old snapshot, or reverting to a previous snapshot
• Interact with the VM console

  • Delegate to your team: For those situations where you are not able to fix an issue from the device, VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist will enable you to share the VM and alert information along with any suggested KB articles and other web pages relevant to the current problem.
Read More

vRealize Automation 6.2 moving to Internal replicated vPostgres

When delivering a vRealize Automation 6.1 and prior in a distributed install, the recommendation was always to have an external vPostgres instance. This has changed in vRealize Automation 6.2 and it’s briefly touched upon in the vRA 6.2 reference architecture found at: vRealize Automation 6.2 reference Architecture. I wanted to make sure to highlight this, as many have missed this change and others are still wondering how it can be implemented or why this change. It’s important to mention as well, you can use this replication architecture for any version of vCAC/vRA that’s higher than 6.0.1.

Let’s start by highlighting the change, we are moving from having a separate/external vPostgres  machine to host the vPostgres (being a vRA appliance that is re-purposed to be used as vPostgres or a full vPostgres install) to using the internal built-in vRA Appliance vPostgres and replicate across the two vRA Appliances. The below image demonstrate this change:

vRA internal vPostgres replication
So what do you get of moving to this new model? Actually there is few advantages of implementing your vRA 6.2 this way, below is couple of them.

1- You have less machines to manage by eliminating the extra one or two external vPostgres machines you needed in the 6.1 reference architecture setup.… Read More

Resource Actions does not show up in vRealize Automation 6.2.1

I had an instance of vRealize Automation 6.2 with few resource actions that were built under Advanced Services with things like take snapshot and move VMs to a different folder in vCenter. These were working like a charm in vRealize Automation 6.2, but as soon I upgraded to 6.2.1 they stopped showing in the items actions menu. I have re-checked my configuration and tried few additional resource actions with no luck.

After a bit of research I have found out that its a known problem caused by a bad DLL within the 6.2.1 and its easy to fix by following KB2111713. I have as well happen to be able to reproduce the same issue with a fresh install of vRA 6.2.1, so if your resource actions does not show up in the actions menu, although you have done all the right steps KB2111713 or the step below is your way to fix it.

1- Download the new DLL by following the download link in KB2111713, the download name is vRA_621.zip, where it includes a single DLL file which in turn called  “DynamicOps.Api.v61.dll".

2- Stop all of your vRA IaaS Services in the following order: 1- Proxy Agents 2- DEMs, 3- DEM Orchestrator 4- vCloud Automation Center Manager service

3- Backup your old DynamicOps.Api.v61.dll found at C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\vCAC\Web API\bin by copying it to a different location.… Read More

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

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