Category Archives: cloud

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!!

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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)

 

VMC Sizer: Understand your VMware Cloud on AWS Costs

As multi-cloud strategies continue to evolve, the cost of moving to the cloud will continue to be an important topic among decisions makers. In order to better understand the total cost of ownership (TOC), VMware Cloud on AWS has created a simple cost estimating tool for customers. Introducing VMC Sizer. With VMC Sizer, you can choose your workload type (VDI, Databases (Oracle or MSSQL), or General VMs), as well VM specifics such as vCPU, vRAM, IO, storage requirements and much more. With this tool, we have taken the guesswork out of understanding the costs associated with running workloads in VMware Cloud on AWS. In order to get a holistic view of costs, you have the option of adding several workload profiles to your profile where you can see all the costs of your Oracle, Microsoft SQL, VDI, and General Purpose VM configurations.

Getting the recommendations and TCO for your workloads only takes three simple steps.

  • Define your workloads
  • Review the recommendations based on your inputs
  • Create an account and review your VMConAWS TCO.

Workload Profiles

This is where the rubber meets the road but it’s important for you to understand that the information you enter from this point forward will determine the results of the recommendations and TCO of your SDDC in VMConAWS. The first settings you need to verify is your Cluster Settings, specifically your desired CPU Headroom and Fault Tolerance. The Server Configuration is static as all VMware Cloud on AWS hosts are all i3 instances.

Cluster Settings

Once you are comfortable with your cluster settings, you have the option of creating more than one workload profile so why not create one for your General VMs as well as your databases and VDI?! After selecting your workload type and VM count, you have two options for calculating storage. You can enter the amount of storage per VM or, if you are unsure how much you need per VM, you can enter the cluster storage requirement.

Workload ProfileStorage-Cluster

The next step in the process is to define additional workload settings such as vCPU, vRAM properties as well as IOPs and Dedup.  Keep in mind that your choices around IOPs and Dedup will change the size of your SDDC clusters.

Sizer-Workload

Once all the data has been entered, select “Recommendation” to move to Step 2. I will cover the Recommendation and TCO section in Part 2. In the meantime, take the tool for a spin and enjoy!! VMCSizer

 

 

VMware Cloud on AWS Connection Options

Happy New Year!!! This is going to be an exciting year for VMware Cloud on AWS and I wanted to kick off 2018 by highlighting the way in which you are going to connect into and out of VMware Cloud on AWS.

First of all, VMware Cloud on AWS is optimized (VMware Cloud Foundation) to run on dedicated, elastic bare metal infrastructure at a very high level inside Amazon’s data centers. For security purposes, the VMware Cloud on AWS SDCC is bifurcated to the components that manage the SDDC itself such as ESXi, VSAN, NSX, and vCenter.

Here’s a simple explanation of how you can setup the connectivity framework.

The first thing you need to setup is a connection to the management components of the SDDC.  You will first need to create a Management VPN and choose a set range of IP addresses that will be used by management components such as the ESXi hosts and vCenter. This range will be in the form of a simple CIDR block. We recommend using a /20 CIDR block for management purposes. After you connect the management portion of the SDDC, you will then need to setup an IPSec VPN between your on-prem data center and management components. This VPN can be setup over the Internet or AWS Direct Connect (DirectX). After this connection is established, you can then build firewall rules on the VMware Cloud on AWS Console. With these rules you can control access to the  vCenter from your on-prem data center.

VMCMgtVPN

There is an optional connection you can setup if you need access to your vCenter Server directly from the Internet. A public IP is automatically provided during the provisioning process. It is important to note that all access to this IP is restricted. To provide access, you will need to configure firewall rules in the VMware Cloud on AWS console to allow this direct type of Internet access.

PublicAccess

The second VPN you will need to setup is between your compute workloads and your on-premise data center. Several logical networks are required to provide the IP addresses for the workloads you plan on migrating or build in VMware Cloud on AWS. This VPN secures these workloads and allows them to connect back to your on-prem data center. This can be an IPSec VPN or L2VPN. The L2VPN advantage is that you can stretch a single L3 IP space from on-prem to the cloud and is also required for live migrations. This VPN can go over the Internet or AWS DirectX. You can again create firewall rules as needed to access on-prem workloads.

ComputeVPN

The next connection is between your SDDC workloads and your Amazon VPC. This is automatically configured and built during the SDDC provisioning process. Once you select the Amazon VPC subnet that will be associated with your VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC an elastic network interface (ENI) will be created allowing traffic to flow between both environments.  In order to control security, you will need to configure AWS IAM policies as well as firewall rules on the VMware Cloud on AWS side to allow access between both. Lastly, you will likely need to give direct public internet access to some of your SDDC workloads. To make these accessible to the Internet, you will need to leverage AWS elastic IPs along with NAT and firewall configurations to allow this type of access.

ENI

That’s it! Now you are ready to leverage your SDDC on VMware Cloud on AWS!

Also, here’s a video that covers the content discussed above.

-SL

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Some of you may remember the movie Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella hears the phrase “if you build it, they will come.” Ray interprets this to mean he needs to plow under a portion of his corn field to build a baseball field and risk the economic and emotional stability of the family he loves dearly. The ending of the movie is open to interpretation but we assume Ray and his family lived happily ever after even if seemed like a crazy idea to everyone else.

With all the industry buzz around Cloud, many customers believe that if they build a Cloud solution (on or off premises) people will adapt and use it. This could not be further from the truth. Those of you wanting to disrupt the status quo need to first ask the question “what problem am I trying to solve”? Without specific use cases, you can end up wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars building a solution that no one will use. Once you have determined the problem(s) you would like to solve and fully understand what the goal is, you can then begin looking at solutions.  Without a true problem to solve and full understanding of the cloud solution of choice, you risk building a cloud solution with no customers.

This past week VMware Staff Solution Architect Sudhir Balasubramanian authored a blog covering Oracle RAC on VMware on AWS.  One of the  most compelling things around VMware Cloud on AWS is the fact that it’s underlying architecture is built on vSphere, VSAN, and NSX. This makes moving  Business Critical Application  workloads to a public cloud easier.