Bye Bye Spreadsheets! Hello (New) VMCSizer!!!! Part 2

In a previous blog, I highlighted Workload profiles and how they should be used in right sizing your VMWonAWS environment. Since my last blog, the sizer has been updated not only with a new URL but with several new features. One of which is that you can now choose either i3 or R5 instances depending on your workload needs. You will notice that when you select an r5 instance, you are automatically assigned 15 TB of AWS Elastic Block Storage (EBS) aka Elastic VSAN. For more information regarding Elastic VSAN, click here.

r5 instance type

Similar to the previous version, you will be able to see the results of your workload inputs. Another new feature is ribbon across the top that allows you get into the data!! Information is key when sizing your environment and this section of the sizer gives you everything you need.

Recommendation buttons that allow you to go deep into your data inputs and results

As a part of the recommendation, you can see below that the sizer has identified my SDDC to be storage bound due to my storage requirements. This gives me a good idea where I will need to grow going forward.

SDDC Recommendation Dashboard

With the continued interest and adoption of VMware Cloud on AWS come two topics that always come to the forefront once you get passed how cool it is…..HOW MUCH DO I NEED? and HOW MUCH IS IT GOING TO COST?! To get the full picture, you will need to capture the details of your environment. There are several tools available and luckily enough, Bill Roth from VMware highlighted these tools in a blog a few weeks ago. In addition to his mention of RVTools, which is very popular, I would also encourage you to reach out to your….shameless plug…VMware Technical Account Manager. They have an additional toolset that can help you right-size the environment. Take a test drive and size today!!

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Just Make It To The Next Cone…..

This blog entry is a bit on the personal side but I hope it will help those who are feeling overwhelmed with life whether it be personally or professionally. Like most, I have been dealt some pretty bad hands throughout the years. Actually, the entire deck of cards has been filled with Jokers at times. Several years ago a mentor of mine reminded me to always have an “eternal perspective” and that most things don’t lasts forever. While this is true, I’ve found it difficult to keep that perspective when I’m in the thick of it. Life happens. Things break, relationships fail, you get passed up for a promotion, you don’t get the job you want, on and on it goes until you question your circumstances and how can you escape?!

A month ago, one of my children reminded me of a core life principal I was taught long ago. Just make it to the next cone……aka “win the day”. To provide a bit more context, every July 4th, Provo, UT has the Freedom Run where individuals and families enter in a 1 mile, 5K or 10K race followed by a parade down University Ave. This year, my youngest son wanted to run a race so we signed him up for the mile. At packet pickup, he was stoked to get his bib and SWAG bag and couldn’t wait to get on the course the next morning (EARLY the next morning)! Once the gun sounded to start the race, he took off like a shot even though I recommended he slow down and pace himself. No more than 2/10 of a mile had passed when it began…”I so tired”, “I can’t do this”, “this is too hard”, “can we stop?!” One of the guiding principles at the Lambert House is “if you start something, you finish…don’t quit”. As I was trying to not push my five year to the point of tears, I looked up and saw a bright orange traffic cone in the distance and it hit me! “Hey see that cone up there?! Run to that cone and touch it!” He ran and touched it. “Ok, you see that other cone ahead? Go touch it!”. Once again he ran and touched it. Whether it was a cone or a tree along the rest of the course, he worked on just getting to the next stop.

My son, running to the next cone

After 14 minutes and several seconds, my son had finished something he said he couldn’t do. FINISH!!

Life is tough. Social media is great for many things but I personally think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, make it way too easy for us to compare ourselves to others and we are left feeling inadequate in some ways. For me, I’ve been in IT for 15 years and some days I feel like I’m being passed by like I’m standing still. There are so many smart and talented people at VMware and our partners that I find it hard to keep up. I’ve failed at becoming a vExpert (finally made it this past year though!), failed certifications, failed at maintaining customer relationships, etc. However, I’ve had my share of successes to! To those who are struggling to keep up and/or find their place in the ever changing world of IT….or just life in general…take a step back! Take time to reflect and see what you HAVE accomplished…then ask yourself what you want to do next. Decide what you want that next cone to be and got for it! Then repeat over and over. Before you know it, like my son, you will have reached your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)!!!

My little big man and his finisher medal!

P.S. I won’t deny that at some point your cone may be moved by something or someone. To assist with that challenge, I have found the following books to be of assistance. Dr Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese” and the Steven Covey classic “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

VMware Cloud on AWS – Identity Access with Microsoft AD

For years I have been Window (see what I did there) shopping Intel NUC, HP Microservers, Mac minis, and others to setup my home lab v 2.0. However, with the onslaught of Cloud Services, I continue to balk at the thought of dropping thousands of dollars every few years for new hardware, as well as the electric bill and management overhead that comes with it. With VMware Cloud on AWS, I wanted to see how I could create a lab environment and continue to use Active Directory for vCenter authentication. Due to not having an vCenter on prem, Hybrid Linked Mode (HLM) wasn’t an option for an identity source. VMware has existing documentation where you can see the options for Identity Sources. This blog will walk you through the setup and configuration steps I took to get AD working within VMWonAWS vCenter. Like with all things in Public Cloud, it’s critical to have your networking straight before you begin adding subnets, etc.

  • Create your subnet via SDDC > Networking & Security > Network > Segments > Add Segment
  • Login to vCenter with the cloudadmin account.  We can see the network segment is added in vCenter. Note that we cannot add networks from vCenter. We must use the SDDC Console to add logical networks
Networking View from vCenter

One of the great things about vSphere 6.7 and later is the additional functionality built into the Content Library. I have already loaded several OVF Templates and will deploy my Domain Controller from a Win2016 Std OVF template. For more content library goodness, check out William Lam’s blog here. I’m a huge fan and I recommend you use Content Libraries!!

During OVF deployment, place the VM on the correct network

With the Network Segment selected and IP assigned, the new Domain Controller will be able to communicate with the SDDC vCenter after a few more configurations.

Now that we have the DC on the proper network segment, we need to allow traffic to flow between the SDDC Management Gateway and the DC. To do this we need to create a Management Group. This is done by going to the SDDC Console > Networking & Security > Inventory > Groups > Management Group > Add Group. Add your domain controller to the Management Group with its assigned IP.

Once the Management Group assignment has been configured, we can now add a Gateway firewall rule to allow the domain controller to talk to the SDDC vCenter. To enable communication, go to SDDC Console > Networking & Security > Gateway Firewall > Management Gateway > Add New Rule. This is where adding the user defined group comes into play as we need to be able to select the group to add as the destination for the firewall rule.

We now need to allow communication via the DNS settings on the management gateway. We must remove the default DNS settings and add the domain controller(s) IPs so LDAP/AD can communicate with the SDDC vCenter. If we don’t change the IPs from default, we will get an LDAP error that the URL cannot be reached. Here’s a video that ties together the final piece of adding the DNS server and assigning the GlobalCloudAdmin role to the user I want to login to vCenter with the s2c.local domain credentials. In addition, you can read Nico Vibert’s blog that shows how to use AWS Directory Services as an identity source. Enjoy!!

AWS re:Invent 2018 – Takeaways

re:Invent 2018 was a week full of exciting announcements that kept me running from one session to another as well as took me out of my comfort zone as a technologist. There was so much going on that it was difficult to digest every session let alone keep up with all of the services and industries that AWS is in. However, these are my takeaways…..

  1. The AWS-VMware partnership runs deep! As previously mentioned, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger was the only other CEO to join Andy Jassey on stage during his keynote where they announced AWS Outposts. I’m excited to see how customers use the service and the use cases behind them. In addition to the keynote, the VMware Code booth was busy from opening to close as we covered IoT (Raspberry Pi with sensors), Wavefront, VMware Cloud on AWS, and more. It was great to see so much activity and help customers realize that VMware is heavily invested in the cloud and can bring immediate value as customers continue to develop their cloud strategy.
  2. If you haven’t heard the words, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Reinforced Learning, or Neural Networks….you WILL!! With services like SageMaker, RoboMaker, DeepRacer, DeepLens, Polly and more, intelligent software is here. From a VMware standpoint, we changed the SDDC acronym at VMworld 2018  from Software Driven Data Center to the Self Driving Data Center as we are working to build intelligent software in products such as vRealize Operations, NSX Data Center, and AppDefense as well as services like NSX Cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS. I would advise everyone to get a base understanding of AI and ML. It will benefit you greatly as skills will need to shift due to learning being built into software. I personally believe that things such as host and server configurations will be a thing of the past. Infrastructure as code is here and we all must learn to adapt. I recommend picking up Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artifical Intelligence by Ajay Argwal, Joshua Gans,  and Avi Goldfarb.
  3. Get outside your comfort zone! re:Invent hosts some of the smartest people I have ever been around. re:Invent is not the time to keep to yourself and only bounce from session to session. Go see the exhibit halls, demo booths and more. Although you may get your badge scanned countless times and receive pointless swag, you may come away with some valuable connections and insight. Take this amazing opportunity to grow your professional network!
  4. There is too much to learn in one week! Consider re:Invent a conference that you will never be able to attend every session you want. The sheer scale of this event makes getting to everything impossible. However, with YouTube at your fingertips, you have an opportunity to review sessions you attended as well as see some you may have missed.

I know this post is a little late. I have been wanting to post this for some time. re:Invent was awesome and I can’t wait to attend next year!

AWS re:Invent 2018 – Day 4

Last full day at re:Invent for me but it ended on a really good note. The morning was spent attending Werner Volgels’ Keynote that covered new database services, serverless, and more! I highly recommend watching.

The next session I attended put me on my heels. My background is in systems administration and operations. I am not a developer but my main goal in attending re:Invent was to stretch myself and learn more about what Andy Jassy refers to as “builders”. I believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are going to be major disruptors in all industries so I jumped at the chance to learn more about them. I attended a session on the newly announced AWS Deep Racer. This was a 2.5 hour workshop where I learned about Reinforcement Learning (RL). This is the main type of machine learning behind Deep Racer. The standby line to get into the session was at least 100 people so I’m lucky I pre-registered for this one. This session was attended by developers, robotic specialists, ML scientists, and those who simply wanted to learn more about AI. The surprise of the session was that each of us was given a Deep Racer for attending!!! The irony was that we had to pick up the car and then take it to the FedEx store to have it shipped to our homes if we didn’t want to carry it on the plane. I’m pretty sure AWS could have leveraged someone who’s really good at shipping things to my door….but who cares….I got one!!!!

My last session for the conference ended on a high note. ENT215-R1 – Top Strategic Priorities You Can Tackle with VMware Cloud on AWS. With yesterday’s announcement of AWS Outposts, this was a highly attended session. Well-known VMware technologists such as William Lam, Kyle Ruddy, Emad Younis, and Alan Renouf were all in attendance. AWS VP Sandy Carter and VMware VP Mark Lohmeyer along with Emad covered more uses cases for VMWonAWS and introduced AWS Outposts. This is a must watch if you are interested in Hybrid Cloud.

After sending my Deep Racer off for home delivery, it was time for some R&R at the hotel before re:Play. Re:Play is the party held on the last night of the conference. The only time I have seen so many people in tight spaces have been at major sporting events or amusement parks. PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!! Even the line for the men’s restroom was insane! The laser show and dodgeball were entertaining. It was great to see all the excitement after a long week of sessions. After about an hour of bumping into people, I decided to call it a night. Day 4 = 20,545 steps (10.18 miles)

 

AWS re:Invent 2018 – Day 3

Day 3 I attended a breakfast to celebrate the great things that VMware and CloudHealth are doing with our partners and customers. I’m excited about the multi-cloud functions the service has and how it will help customers get their arms around better managing their public cloud instances from security to costs. Here’s a link to VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and CloudHealth CEO Tom Axbey discussing the acquisition and strategy going forward. During breakfast, we watched the live steam of Andy Jassy’s keynote. The next 2.5 hours of announcements were announced at an insane pace as I struggled to keep track. Once Andy started telling the story of Hybrid Cloud, I knew something cool was coming. Low and behold, Pat Gelsinger (VMware CEO) joins him on stage to announce AWS Outposts!!! There are so many exciting things about this announcement. In a nutshell, we are letting users choose between on-premises servers and storage, which can be ordered in quarter, half, and full rack units. AWS Outposts can be upgraded with the latest hardware and next-generation instances to run all native AWS and VMware applications. A second version, VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts, will let customers use the VMware control plane and APIs to run the hybrid environment. Andy Jassy Keynote at AWS at The Venetian, Las Vegas, NV on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018.After the keynote, I headed back to the Expo Hall to see what kind of attention the AWS Outposts message was getting and it was fairly packed! There’s a lot of interest around this technology. Very exciting! I spend a few hours there talking to several other VMware attendees at our booth and on the floor. It was awesome to see all the customer meetings. VMware and AWS are going to continue to innovate together, that much is clear.

My last session of the day was ENT313-S Running Production Workloads in VMware Cloud on AWS. VCSA and Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX) all-pro Emad Younis and VMWonAWS Director Alex Jauch presented. Alex and Emad focused on the deep partnership between VMware and AWS that makes this service possible. If you want to know more about use cases, how the service is built, and how to quickly migrate workloads between on-prem and VMWonAWS, look no further than this session.

Day 3 = 14,509 steps (7.18 miles)

 

AWS re:Invent 2018 – Day 2

After seeing the VMware Code Facebook and Twitter accounts blow up on Day 1, I decided to check it out for myself. I’ll admit that we have a sweet set up with a barista and tons of tech toys to play with; in the form of Raspberry Pi and various sets of sensors.  I didn’t have time to do the hands-on activities but I plan on coming back on Day 4. I spent pretty much all morning at the Code booth watching Brian Graf deliver various demos highlighting how to build hybrid applications with VMWonAWS and AWS. The coolest demo that set what hair I have left on fire was showing how to leverage various APIs with VMWonAWS with Lex and other services to use Slack to deploy a Photon VM.

Another fantastic session was an Eric Nielsen deep dive on Raspberry Pi sensors. It was packed! If you’re up for it, you can run through the lab here if you feel like going nuts.  It only takes a few dollars of capital to get started.

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After spending considerable time at the VMware Code booth, it was off to go really deep on AWS Direct Connect. This was great to gain a detailed understanding of what makes up Direct Connect (DX). Click on the link above to see the full session on YouTube!

Next, it was off to spend some time in the Expo Hall to do some SWAG shopping.  I was on the hunt for socks but came away with plenty of other stuff. Hopefully, our spam filters are work will block most of the email that is going to come through. I really wanted the LEGO Millennium Falcon but that will have to wait….

To end the day I went to a session on Machine Learning on AWS Storage.  There was a lot of content in this one. It’s fascinating to see how customers are leveraging data to make critical business decisions. The first half it a bit dry but there’s some good content if you want to dive in. Day 2 was a good one….14,253 steps (7.05 mi)…..using the shuttle and staying in one casino has its benefits.

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