Category Archives: VMware Cloud on AWS

Deploying a VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC End to End

For those of you who are ready to deploy your first Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) on VMware Cloud on AWS, there is a little bit more than meets the eye when it comes to the initial deployment. As a part of the VMware TAM Lab series, I demonstrate how to deploy an SDDC from start to finish, including the configuration of the VPC in AWS.

**SHAMELESS PLUG** – Subscribe to the TAM Lab YouTube channel. We are covering all VMware Technologies and use cases….including how to go about building your own home lab. Check it out!!!

Dive in!!!!! Learning all about VMware Cloud on AWS and HCX

Lately, I’ve been asked by peers and customers alike “How can I learn more about VMware Cloud on AWS?!” Many of us are finding ourselves in front of screens much more than normal these days so what better way to fill in some time gaps than by learning more about VMware Cloud on AWS and HCX?! While search engines are helpful, I hope my “definitive list” helps!!! If you need more, feel free to reach out!!! Happy Learning!!!

VMware Cloud on AWS

YouTube

VMware Cloud on AWS Customer Success YouTube Channel

VMware Cloud YouTube Channel

VMware Cloud on AWS Blogs

Nico Vibert – https://nicovibert.com/

Gilles Chekroun – http://www.gilles.cloud/

Ryan Kelly – http://www.vmtocloud.com/

William Lam – https://www.virtuallyghetto.com/

Tom Twyman – https://occasional-it.com/

Dustin Spinhirne – https://dspinhirne.github.io/vmcbook/

VMware Cloud Blog – https://cloud.vmware.com/community/blog/

Community Sites

VMware Cloud on AWS Blog Community – https://cloud.vmware.com/community/vmware-cloud-on-aws/

VMTN Forum –https://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/vmc-on-aws/overview

VMware Cloud on AWS VMUG- https://community.vmug.com/communities/community-home169?CommunityKey=df5b4c52-4f7b-48dc-b5ad-ea0be799e128

Documentation

VMware Cloud on AWS Sizer and Workload Profiles – https://vmc.vmware.com/sizer/workload-profiles

VMware Cloud on AWS Documentation – https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-on-AWS/index.html

Configuration Maximums – https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-on-AWS/services/com.vmware.vmc-aws-operations/GUID-10A0804B-04F4-4B8A-9EBA-85169F533223.html

Getting Started – https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-on-AWS/services/vmc-on-aws-getting-started.pdf

Operations Guide – https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-on-AWS/services/vmc-aws-operations.pdf

Feature Walkthrough – https://featurewalkthrough.vmware.com/t/vmware-cloud-on-aws/

Hands on Labs

HOL-2052-01-ISM – VMware Horizon on VMware Cloud on AWS – https://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/lab/6542

HOL-2087-01-HBD – VMware Cloud on AWS – Getting Started – https://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/lab/6593

HOL-2087-91-HBD – VMware Cloud on AWS – Lightning Lab- https://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/lab/6053

Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX)

Blogs

Gabe Rosas – https://hcx.design/ THIS IS A ONE STOP SHOP FOR HCX!!!!!

Emad Younis – https://emadyounis.com/

Communities

https://cloud.vmware.com/community/vmware-hcx/

Documentation

HCX Overview – https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-HCX/services/user-guide/GUID-A7E39202-11FA-476A-A795-AB70BA821BD3.html

Hands on Labs

HOL-2081-01-HBD – VMware HCX – Getting Started with Cross-Cloud Mobility- https://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/lab/6352

NSX Inventory Groups and Memberships to Manage Edge Firewall Rules in VMware Cloud on AWS

I have been using this feature of NSX heavily as of late so I wanted to highlight the power and flexibility of inventory groups that allow you to configure firewall rules that best fit your organization. The grouping of VMs and network services within VMware Cloud on AWS allows you put VMs that have common characteristics such as databases, web servers, operating systems, IP addresses and tags together to more easily publish firewall rules. By default, VMware Cloud on AWS creates two primary management groups and a service inventory when the SDDC is created. The two “parent groups” as I will call them are the Management Group and Workload Group respectively. The Management groups are system defined groups of infrastructure components such as ESX hosts, vCenter, NSX Manager or any other management appliances such as HCX. Workload groups are user defined groups of Virtual Machines or IP addresses.

Network and Security Inventory Groups

As you can see above, I added sub groups to the Workload Group based on function (Web, SQL, etc.). Recently, I have been testing the Membership Criteria option as this feature leverages tags and can also group based on Virtual Machine names that contain or start with a defined string. To add a new group, select Add Group, name your group, and then choose one of three membership types, Virtual Machine, IP Address or Membership Criteria. For this example, I used Membership Criteria. Once Membership Criteria is selected, pick the member VMs based on one of the two criteria (VM Name or Tag). For VM name you can choose contains or equals to categorize your VM grouping. The tag criteria can only be leveraged by having the tag name be equal to the VM(s) that is defined. In order to leverage the tag membership criteria, the the VM must be already tagged.

**Public Service Announcement** vCenter Tags and Attributes are NOT manifest in Networking & Security in the SDDC. These tags can only be added via Virtual Machines under Networking & Security > Inventory > Groups > Virtual Machines. Right click on the VM, select Edit and add your tag.

For the sake of this blog, I have created several VMs with different names but the same tag to show how tagging is leveraged.

VMs with their respective tags

Once VMs are tagged correctly, verify tagging is working by going to the Workload Groups by selecting the group > View Members.

Web Server members based on tags.

Now that VMs are properly grouped and tagged, Compute Gateway rules can now be configured and published. Go to Networking & Security > Compute Gateway > Add New Rule > Name the rule and select your source and destination. You should see your newly created group in the selection.

To verify that the rule is applied correctly, go to Networking & Security > Inventory > Groups > Workload Groups > Select the group that was added to the edge firewall rule > Select View Reference.

Below is a demo showing how VMs (tagged “Web”) on different Network segments can all access the internet with one rule.

Refer to the Networking & Security Guide what was updated on January 27,2020. Lastly, if you want to see how to leverage the Distributed Firewall (DFW) to protect 3 Tier Applications be sure to check out Michael Armstrong’s latest blog!!!

My Guide for Passing the AWS Solution Architect Associate Exam

If you are reading this then you probably already have an understanding how fast Amazon Web Services rolls out new features and services. It’s impossible to know everything about AWS and I definitely struggled in my preparation for this exam. I set out to get certified almost two years ago but simply never could find the best time to take it. Truth be told, after rescheduling three times in 2018, I let my test expiration lapse because I literally didn’t have time to sit for it. In 2019 I was determined to pass the Solution Architect Associate exam as my 2018 failure was hovering over me like a black cloud. I am excited and relieved that I recently passed and I want to pass along some tips for those of you who want to be a certified AWS Solutions Architect. **Once I set a test date, I prepped for about six weeks.**

  1. Leverage AWS Free Tier – This exam was not easy for me as I spend over 90% of my time with VMware solutions and all my AWS exposure was after hours. That being said, leveraging the AWS Free Tier proved to be a lifesaver when preparing for the exam. There are some things that you will use in practice labs that may cost a few dollars but every cent is worth it. You will need hands on experience setting up S3, EC2, and VPC from scratch. The free tier makes it all possible with next to zero dollars in cost. My advice….look at as an investment.
  2. A Cloud Guru – Ryan Kroonenburg and team have done all of us a great service in making several AWS constructs easy to understand. The cost was well worth it. I didn’t get a membership but did purchase the AWS Certified Architect Associate course. I reviewed each session twice and went through the VPC, S3, Databases, and HA Architecture content several times. Make sure you understand all the labs!! I went through the practice tests as well but I didn’t quite find them deep enough to help me prepare. I had to find another test prep course…Whizlabs!
  3. Whizlabs! – I can confidently say that without Whizlabs AWS Practice Tests , I would not have passed the exam. Whizlabs provides great content that is similar to the exam and detailed explanations to each test question. I purchased the practice exam questions for under $10 at Udemy. As a matter of fact, they are having their Black Friday sale right now! DON’T TEST PREP WITHOUT IT!!!
  4. AWS.com FAQs – For S3, EC2 also read all about Database Services. There will be some questions that come straight out of the FAQs.
  5. AWS Certified SA Official Study Guide – I wouldn’t say this is a must have but for those of you who like having something physical in your hand to study, this will do the trick. I found some of the diagrams and summaries helpful.
  6. Architecting on AWS – This three day course helped me with better understanding AWS concepts and best practices. I don’t view this as a must but it was well worth my time.
  7. Practice, Practice, Practice – Understand the exam format helped me prepare. You will have plenty of time to answer all 65 questions if you practice beforehand. Understanding the concepts around VPCs and networking is a must. Also know RDS and DynamoDB inside out!!

As the VMware-AWS partnership continues to grow, it’s important for both companies to understand each others’ services. This exam was on the tough side but I felt well prepared by the time I sat for it. Preparing for this exam has definitely helped me in conversations with customers as they not only move vSphere workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS but also look for ways to innovate with AWS native services such as S3, RDS, Lambda and more. I highly recommended getting this certification. It’s well worth it!! Good luck in your studies and feel free to reach out to me if you have questions via Twitter @vSeanLambert or reply to this blog!

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!!

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!