Tag Archives: AWS

Native AWS VPC Connecting to VMware Cloud on AWS (Part 2) – Route Tables and Transit Gateway Attachments

Welcome to Part 2 of VPN connectivity to VMC via AWS VPN. For this post, I will walk through how to attach an AWS VPC to an AWS Transit Gateway in order for route tables to be learned by the VMC SDDC and AWS VPC that will ultimately allow communication from workloads in AWS and workloads in VMC. If you immediately try to ping across the VPN from an EC2 instance to a VMC VM, it will fail as there is more work to do in order to create communication pathways in the form of adding a VPC to the Transit Gateway as well as configure some NSX rules.

In the diagram above I created two EC2 instances with an AWS VPC. For the sake of testing and validation, I first had to create a jump VM with access to the internet in order to remote into the workload VM. This is because, in order for the workload VM to ping across the VPN, 0.0.0.0/0 must be routed through the Transit Gateway and not an Internet Gateway. The goal here is to have a VM on the 10.0.10.32/27 subnet ping a VM on the 10.250.10.0/24 subnet.

To start, the first thing to check is the routing table for the Transit Gateway. This is done by selecting “Transit Gateway Route Tables” on the sidebar with the VPC.

You will then see a list of learned routes from the VMC SDDC. For the sake of this blog, I have deployed AWS EC2 Instances on a subnet that I plan on attaching to the Transit Gateway (10.0.10.0/24). However, notice below that only the learned routes for the VPN to VMC are listed below. While the 10.250.10/0/24 subnet is learned, in order to open communication via the AWS VPC, we first need to attach the VPC to the Transit Gateway so the 10.0.10.0/27 subnet is included. Here are the steps to create the VPC attachment to the Transit Gateway.

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Step 1: Select “Transit Gateway Attachments” then “Create Transit Gateway Attachment”. Find correct Transit Gateway ID.

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Step 2: Add tag for attachment name.

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Step 3: Select the correct VPC and ensure you have the correct subnet selected. Select “Create Attachment”

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As you can see, now that the VPC is attached to the TGW, the 10.0.10.0/24 subnet is now listed. This will now allow for the routing of traffic from my EC2 instance to my VM on VMC.

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The final step is to create groups and add inbound and outbound firewall rules within the Network & Security section of the SDDC console. Make sure to apply the rule to the VPN Tunnel Interface and NOT “All Uplinks“. The reason for this is that a firewall rule applied to All Uplinks does not apply to the VPN Tunnel Interface (VTI), which is a virtual interface and not a physical uplink. The VPN Tunnel Interface must be specified explicitly in the Applied To parameter of any firewall rule that manages workload VM communications over a route-based VPN. In addition, you can see how groups are created on an earlier blog here.

Now that the routing table is complete and Compute Gateway Firewall rules are in place, you can test!

EC2 Windows VM
Ping results from EC2 VM to VMC VM

Native AWS VPC Connecting to VMware Cloud on AWS (Part 1) – Native VPC Connectivity via VPN

With the release of VMware Cloud on AWS 1.12, we delivered additional connectivity options with the addition of transit connect (VMware managed AWS Transit Gateway). Over the past few weeks, I have been working on a project that has specific success criteria as well as challenges that prevent certain connectivity options so I thought what better way to show how we got around the issue than to show how we did it as Transit Connect and AWS Direct Connect were out of scope. The plan is to have this be a multiple part blog series that details how to setup and test a route based VPN, attach to native AWS EC2 workloads via ENI in the VMC VPC as well as leverage a Transit connect that makes connectivity easier to configure, manage and maintain. The diagram below is the overall architecture for those already leveraging AWS native services via a Direct Connect and Transit Gateway but can only connect to VMC via IPSEC VPN for certain reasons (shout out to fellow VMC Architect Will Lin for the assist!). While Direct Connect provides much better speeds and feeds, you may still be able to accomplish what you need depending on your application requirements.

STEP 1: To get things started, we need to either identify or create a VPC that we want to communicate with the VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC. If you already have a VPC configured you can skip to Step 2. To create a new VPC, log into your AWS account go to Services > VPC> Create VPC. Similar to creating your VMC SDDCm it is paramount that plan your CIDR range appropriately so can assign subnetting correctly based on what you are trying to accomplish. ** Make sure you are selecting the correct AWS Region based on your requirements! **

Next, create a subnet that you will assign to the VPC. This is why understanding the CIDR ranges is important as you cannot have any overlap between your VPC CIDR and VPC subnets so keep that in mind as you build things out.

Creating a subnet assigned to the AWS VPC

Step 2: Deploy a AWS Transit Gateway (TGW). For reference, an AWS Transit Gateway connects VPCs and on-premises networks through a central hub. Keep in mind the default ASN number for the AWS TGW is 64512. If you are going to use an existing TGW, get the correct number from your team. For the sake of this blog, I setup the TGW with all the default settings.

Step 3: Create a Customer Gateway (CGW). A CGW is a resource that you create in AWS that represents the customer gateway device in your on-premises network, or VMC in this situation. 

In order to configure the CGW, you need to enter the VPN Public IP listed in the Networking & Security section of the SDDC console.

Step 4: With your transit and customer gateways configured, it’s time to create the VPN connection from the AWS side. Go to Services > VPC > Site-to-Site VPN Connections > Create VPN Connection. Name the VPN connection and select “Transit Gateway” as the gateway type and add your CGW. Take note that you can also add a new CGW didn’t as a part of the previous steps. We want to set the routing options to dynamic so we take advantage of BGP. My personal preference is to define the CIDR and per AWS documentation, this needs to be a /30 within a certain range. I also created a basic preshared key rather than have AWS create the key randomly.

AWS VPN Configuration

Step 5: Download the VPN configuration as a generic file. This is where you can validate the configuration and use it for configuring the VPN from the VMware Cloud SDDC Console.

Step 6: Configure the VPN on the SDDC. Go to the VMC SDDC Console > Networking & Security > VPN > Route Based > Add VPN. Here you want to take the Virtual Private Gateway Outside IP and enter that into the Remote Public IP Field. Take the Customer Gateway Inside IP Address and enter that number as the BGP Local IP. Next, take the Virtual Private Gateway Inside IP and enter that into the BGP Remote IP field. All that’s left is to enter the BGP ASN number that your configured earlier as a part of the TGW creation. It should also be listed in the config file you downloaded. If all numbers are correct, you should see the VPN Tunnel and BGP come up in a matter of minutes! If the VPN comes up and BGP does not, check your IPs and ASN numbers. Additional help can also be found here!!!!

You now have a working VPN from AWS to VMC!!! While the tunnel is up, there is more work to do so you can fully test traffic. In Part 2 I will cover routing tables and SDDC Gateway rules to enable two way communication. Stay tuned!!!!

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!!!

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!!

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 1

This is where things really get moving. I’m happy to say I didn’t regret gorging myself with wings the night before and was ready to hit the ground running to see re:Invent in full swing. Day 1 step count…15,308 (7.57 mi). I started off the morning by attending everyone’s favorite topic….SECURITY!!! This session was spent debunking 13 Cloud Security Myths. A few things that I already knew were reinforced. One, public clouds are more secure that on-prem data centers. Two, security should be the first thing you think about when deploying everything from applications to infrastructure. Three, if you continue to follow older security models that have been around for years, you are missing the entire point of the cloud!

 

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Next up was a two-hour workshop getting some hands-on experience with the AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). VPCs are the backbone to everything AWS including VMware Cloud on AWS. Although I have taken some online classes via AWS and A Cloud Guru, it was great to spend more time setting up VPCs as it is core to understanding how AWS works. We worked in groups of six where we set up VPC peering with each other. My main takeaway….have a concrete plan for the CIDR blocks you choose for your VPCs. If you don’t plan correctly, you will have to start over. A tool given out by the architects running the session was http://subnet-calculator.org/cidr.php . Bookmark it! An added benefit to the workshop was $25 in AWS credits!

Next stop was the Expo Hall and welcome reception. Of course, the hall was massive with hundreds of booths and all the SWAG you can handle. I decided to take a look around beforehand so I knew where to get “the good stuff.” Since I’m a VMware guy, it was awesome to see us well represented we even have our newest members of the family in Heptio (met Joe Beda at the booth) and Cloud Health with booths of their own.

The last session of the day was a VMware Cloud on AWS Deep Dive with Andy Reedy and Jin Zhang. If you ever get a chance to spend time with Andy, I would recommend it. I met him two years ago at some customer meetings and he is a fantastic architect. He got into the weeds with VMWonAWS regarding the host hardware and the interconnectivity between the vSphere hosts and AWS native services. We even went into the i3 and r5 models for EBS backed VSAN. It was a great session. As I have said before, AWS and VMware have a deep partnership to make this service available. The pace of innovation is blinding! Day 2 is next!!

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AWS re:Invent 2018 – Day 0

Being my first year at re:Invent I wanted to give my insights regarding the conference. First and foremost….like most conferences this size….WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! With 50K+ attendees spread across 5 different venues up and down the strip, you will definitely hit your step goals for the week. Day 0 count = 16,230 (8.03 miles).

Check-In 

Compared to some conferences I have been to, AWS pulled registration off beautifully by allowing you to register at Terminals 1 and 3 at McCarran International Airport plus the Aria and Venetian. I only had to wait about 5 minutes at the Aria. The SWAG pick up at the Venetian was a snap and there was even a place to try on the famous AWS re:Invent hoodie beforehand. No more guessing on the fit.

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Midnight Madness

Next, it was back to the hotel for some rest before the night’s activities. I can attest that while at the conference, use the shuttles!!! Saves your legs and feet, you may even have some interesting conversations with others along the way. Once back at the Venetian, I waited in line for what I thought was going to be a cheap easy way to get a free meal…..the Tetonka Challenge! AWS re:invent was at it again with trying to break last year’s Guinness World Record for the largest chicken wing eating competition.  400+  waited in line to compete to see who would take home the crown. I met some great people as I waited in line but I am sorry to say that after only 22 wings I bowed out. Something about soggy-ish wings didn’t quite hit the spot. The winner ate 70+ which is absolutely insane! I even got my one second of fame. You can see me standing behind the man in the green jacket off to the left when they awarded the winner.

Coupled with the Tatonka Challenge were Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen’s best attempt at live comedy. In my opinion, it fell pretty flat but at least they tried. They were the on-stage cheerleaders for two more world record attempts in the largest Air Drum Ensemble (Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” was selected for the Air Drumming) and Most People Lighting Glow Sticks Simultaneously. I have no idea if we broke all three but I think we did!! It was a good time but if it weren’t for the Tetonka Challenge I would not have missed much by not attending. Let’s see what Day 1 brings!! All I know is that I will not be eating wings for the rest of the week!!!