VMware sells off vCloud Air to OVH

Hmm…. so that was an interesting announcement from VMware last week!….. although if I’m honest it makes perfect sense!

OVH Group announcing it’s intent to acquire the vCloud Air Business from VMware: https://www.vmware.com/radius/vmware-cloud-air-evolves/

Last year when VMware announced their tie up with AWS – vCloud on AWS – many had already started wondering what that partnership would do to VMware’s own cloud offering. The talking point was made more real when VMware also announced their Cross-Cloud Architecture which would allow a customer to choose which cloud platform to deploy their workloads onto – all from a single common operating environment. Then to make things worse, VMware announced VMware Cloud Foundation on IBM Cloud (or what was Softlayer)… an SDDC stack running VMware goodies on IBM Cloud compute!

That triple whammy pretty much made everyone think that vCloud Air’s time was up!!

I had a number of discussions at VMworld Europe last year where we talked about whether VMware would just shut down vCloud Air, or would they migrate it all onto AWS. Although the general consensus was that maybe they would sell off/spin off that part of their business – after all, VMware is a software business and vCloud Air was always seen as a ‘weird’ sibling…. not to mention that it competed against all it’s vCAN (VSPP) partners who were offering their own cloud services built on VMware technology!

I guess there’s no shame in what VMware are doing, Cisco, Dell and HP tried and failed to do what Amazon and Google are doing well at… although surprisingly Microsoft have managed to get Azure up and running well!

In a way, VMware are getting rid of what they probably saw as a hefty investment on infrastructure and hosting for little returns (I doubt there were many customers using vCloud Air to justify the expense of keeping it). Makes more sense to sell it to an existing cloud provider who knows how to sell Public Cloud services and IaaS! Although, I kind of have to wonder what OVH will do given VMware hosted vCloud Air in Equinix/Telstra data centres around the world….. guessing they’ll run down the contract with those providers and bring it all back in house!

In my opinion, selling off vCloud Air is probably a smart move….. VMware’s vision is to enable a customer to run “Any Application on Any Cloud, accessed by Any Device”, and it was going to be difficult to be Cloud-Agnostic if they owned a Public Cloud service! The whole Cross-Cloud Architecture would have produced a conflict of interest if they kept vCloud Air…. now that they’re shot of it, they can concentrate on pushing out their vCloud stack onto Azure and maybe even GCP given that they’re well on their way with the AWS partnership. Why try and beat them at their own game? It’s far easier to embrace them and partner!!

VMware are positioning themselves to be the broker of cloud services…. a single management point that allows end users to decide which public cloud is best for their workloads! In a way it’s a clever move, firstly because it puts the decision-making back with the end user, and secondly it now means that VMware can state that it’s the only virtualisation company that doesn’t tie you into a single cloud vendor (much like how Microsoft tries to ram Azure down the throat of Hyper-V customers).

Interesting times ahead……

End of Availability of vSphere Data Protection

Wow…. ok….. so this was an interested announcement to receive. Whilst I kind of understand that VDP wasn’t really deployed by the masses, it was still nice to be able to have a free backup solution if you were deploying a small VMware environment.

The EoA of vSphere Data Protection pretty much means anyone wanting to backup their VMs will now need to pay for a 3rd party product! That kinda sucks!

VMware vSphere 6.5 is the last release which includes the VDP product!

You can read more about the announcement here: http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/data-protection.html

Also worth checking out the VMware KB article for more info: https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2149614

And if you have VDP deployed then don’t worry, any installations where you have an active Support and Subscription (SnS) will continue to be supported until the End of General Support (EOGS) date – the EOGS date can be found on the VMware Lifecycle Product Matrix.

It’s worth noting that this does not affect the vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection (VADP) which most 3rd party vendors utilise.

It’s also worth noting that Dell EMC are helping those who have VDP deployed by offering them 3 years of free Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) licensing to protect the first 4TB of protected data – although Maintenance costs will continue to apply during this 3-year period. Offer valid through October 15, 2017.

The offer can be found here: http://dellemc.com/vdpeoa

 

Finally, the FAQ released will assist with any questions you may have: http://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/products/vsphere/vmw-vdp-eoa-faqs.pdf

Opinion Piece on VMware Licensing

So over the past few months I’ve been seeing a lot of customers within the Public Sector and Education looking at transitioning off VMware vSphere and onto Microsoft Hyper-V! With tightening budgets or even budget cuts, IT admins in these industries are looking for quick wins in slashing their IT bills and many see dropping VMware for the ‘free’ Microsoft hypervisor as an obvious choice!

The problem is, you can argue about VM densities per host, resource scheduling, live migrations, DR, and other technical aspects of why vSphere trumps Hyper-V…. However, the reply is always the same…. “Well Hyper-V is Good Enough for our environment…. and it’s Free!!”

Yes, Hyper-V is good enough as a hypervisor… and yes it’s free…. but when you have a large estate, the density ratio impacts the amount of servers you need to buy and you still need to invest in System Center with Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) if you want to effectively manage a cluster of Hyper-V hosts.

Unfortunately, I’m now of the impression that VMware advocates can no longer keep using the same argument when doing comparisons between vSphere and other hypervisors…. IT admins just don’t care any more…. “if the hypervisor is free and can virtualise my servers, then that’s the one I’m going for!!”

Anyways, I ended up sitting down and writing an opinion piece for SearchVMware.com on this topic….. you can view it here:

http://searchvmware.techtarget.com/opinion/Could-market-saturation-push-VMware-to-make-vSphere-Standard-free

vSphere 6.0 update 3 released

With all the news around vSphere 6.5, one might forget that the majority of customers are still probably running 6.0….. at least VMware haven’t forgotten about you guys! =)

vSphere 6.0 Update 3 was released last week and with it updates to vCenter Server, vSAN, vSphere Replication.

I can’t see anything major within the new update for vSphere/vCenter – minor update to ESXi Host Client, and support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.

Biggest update seems to be with vSAN 6.2 with some important fixes to aid with vSAN performance issues relating to large sequential writes and large file deletes when vSAN data services is turned on (such as dedupe and compression). Optimisation has also been made to the checksum code path. Details are available through VMware KB article vSAN performance enhancements delivered with vSphere 6.0 Update 3

 

Other products released:

VMware NSX – IOChain and how packets are processed within the kernel

During a meeting with a client when I was going over how packets are processed within the IOChain between a VM and a vSwitch, I was asked a question that stumped me…. what happens at Slot 3?

It’s common knowledge that the first 4 and last 3 slots in the IOchain are reserved for VMware and slots 4-12 are reserved for 3rd parties where services are inserted (or traffic redirected).

During my discussions I’ve only ever spoken about Slots 0-2 and 4-12…..

After much digging around and questioning the NSBU SEs, I was told that there was no real answer apart from it’s probably a VMware reserved slot for future use. =)

It’s also worth noting that Slot 15 used to be classed as a “reserved slot for future use” but is now intended to be used for Distributed Network Encryption when it becomes available (makes sense that encryption is the last thing that happens on the IOChain for packets leaving a VM, and decryption being the first for packets entering the VM).

Anyways, decided it’s probably worth blogging about IOChain slots. =)

 

So when a VM connects to a Logical switch there are several security services that each packet transverses which are implemented as IOChains processed within the vSphere kernel.

Slot 0: DVFilter – the Distibuted Virtual Filter monitors ingress/egress traffic on the protected vNIC and performs stateless filtering and ACL.

Slot 1: vmware-swsec – the Switch Security module learns the VMs IP/MAC address and captures any DHCP Ack or ARP broadcasts from the VM, redirecting the request to the NSX Controller – this is the ARP suppression feature. This slot is also where NSX IP Spoofguard is implemented.

Slot 2: vmware-sfw – this is where the NSX Distributed Firewall resides and where DFW rules are stored and enforced (so firewall rule and connection tables).

Slot 3: reserved for future use by VMware

Slot 4-12: 3rd party services – this is where traffic is redirected to 3rd party service appliances

Slot 13-14: reserved for future use by VMware

Slot 15: Distributed Network Encryption (when it becomes available)

Introducing VMware NSX for vSphere 6.3 & VMware…

Introducing VMware NSX for vSphere 6.3 & VMware NSX-T 1.1. Plus the all new NSX for ROBO edition!

Introducing VMware NSX for vSphere 6.3 & VMware…

This past week at VMware has been quite exciting! Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO, reported on the Q4 2016 earnings call that VMware NSX has more than 2,400 customers exiting 2016. Today, we continue that momentum by announcing new releases of our two different VMware NSX platforms – VMware NSX™ for vSphere® 6.3 and VMware NSX-T 1.1.


VMware Social Media Advocacy

vSphere 6.5 Product Interoperability – brain fade moment!

So it’s probably worth reminding everyone that there are still VMware products that are not yet supported on vSphere 6.5!

I unfortunately found out the hard way when I broke my work’s demo environment (or at least half of it).

Now even though I’ve blogged about compatibility issues previously eating too many mince pies and drinking too much bucks fizz over the Christmas and New Year festivities has obviously taken its toll on my grey matter, and coming back to work in the new year I decided it would be a nice idea to upgrade a part of my works demo environment to vSphere 6.5 so that we can use it to demo to customers!

The problem was I upgraded the part of the lab running NSX and when I got to the point of trying to push the NSX VIBs onto the ESXi hosts (when preparing the hosts to join the NSX cluster), it was having none of it and failing! After several unsuccessful attempts, it slowly dawned on me that NSX was one of those ‘unsupported’ products that doesn’t work with vSphere 6.5…..

Damn…..

Fortunately I didn’t destroy my old vCenter Server 6.0u2 appliance so was able to roll back by re-installing the ESXi hosts with 6.0.

 

Anyways, the products still not supported are:

  • VMware NSX
  • VMware Integrated OpenStack
  • vCloud Director for Service Providers
  • vRealize Infrastructure Navigator
  • Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode
  • vCloud Networking and Security
  • vRealize Hyperic
  • vRealize Networking Insight

 

Definitely worth keeping an eye on this VMware KB: Important information before upgrading to vSphere 6.5 (2147548)

And if you do end up upgrading to vSphere 6.5, then make sure you follow the recommended upgrade sequence in this VMware KB: Update sequence for vSphere 6.5 and its compatible VMware products (2147289)

MTI/IDG Whitepaper

My company – MTI Techology – recently undertook an engagement with IDG to produce a whitepaper highlighting how VMware NSX could be used to address Security, Automation and Innovation within the Financial market.

TBH, the whitepaper can apply to any market who are experiencing the same business challenges!

http://www.idgconnect.com/view_abstract/41130/security-automation-innovation-steps-drive-success-financial-services

EDIT: Forgot to mention that you need to sign up for a free account in order to download the whitepaper. =)

What’s new with VMware vSAN 6.5?

Given that I’m a VMware vExpert for vSAN, I guess I’m kind of obliged to write about what’s new with the latest iteration of vSAN – 6.5….. =)

vSAN 6.5 is the 5th version of vSAN to be released and it’s had quite a rapid adoption in the industry as end-users start looking at Hyper-Converged Solutions. There are over 5000+ customers now utilising vSAN – everything from Production workloads through to Test & Dev, including VDI workloads and DR solutions! This is quite surprising considering we’re looking at a product that’s just under 3 years old… it’s become a mature product in such a short period of time!

The first thing to note is the acronym change…. it’s now little ‘v’ for vSAN in order to fall in line with most of the other VMware products! =)

So what are the key new features?

1. vSAN iSCSI

This is probably the most useful feature in 6.5 as it gives you the ability to create iSCSI targets and LUNs within your vSAN cluster and present these outside of the vSAN Cluster – which means you can now connect other VMs or physical servers to your vSAN storage (this could be advantageous if you’re trying to run a MSCS workload). The iSCSI support is native from within the VMkernel and doesn’t use any sort of storage appliance to create and mount the LUNs. At present only 128 targets are supported with 1024 LUNs and a max. LUN size of 62TB.

vsan-iscsi

It seems quite simple to setup (famous last words – I’ve not deployed 6.5 with iSCSI targets yet). First thing is to enabled the vSAN iSCSI Target service on the vSAN cluster, after that you create an iSCSI target and assign a LUN to it… that’s pretty much it!

Great thing about this feature is because the LUNs are basically vSAN objects, you can assign a storage policy to it and use all the nice vSAN SPBM features (dedupe, compression, erasure-coding, etc).

2. 2-node direct connect for vSAN ROBO + vSAN Advanced ROBO

Customers find it quite difficult to try and justify purchasing a 10GbE network switch in order to connect together a few nodes at a ROBO site. VMware have taken customer feedback and added a new feature which allows you to direct connect the vSAN ROBO nodes together using a cross-over network cable.

In prior versions of vSAN both vSAN traffic and witness traffic used the same VMkernel port which prevented the ability to use a direct connection as there would be no way to communicate with the witness node (usually back in the primary DC where the vCenter resides). In vSAN 6.5 you now have the ability to separate out vSAN and witness traffic onto separate VMkernel ports which means you can direct connect your vSAN ports together. This is obviously great as you can then stick in a 10GbE NIC and get 10Gb performance for vSAN traffic (and vMotion) without the need of a switch!

vsan_2node_robo

The only minor issue is you need to use the CLI to run some commands to tag a VMkernel port as the designated witness interface. Also the recommended setup would be to use 2 VMkernel ports per traffic flow in order to give you an active/standby configuration.

vsan-2node2nic

It’s also worth noting that the new vSAN Advanced ROBO licenses now allow end-users to deploy all-flash configurations at their ROBO site with the added space efficiency features!

3. vSAN All-Flash now available on all license editions

Yup, the All-Flash Tax has gone! You can now deploy an All-Flash vSAN configuration without having to buy an advanced or enterprise license. However, if you want any of the space saving features such as dedupe, compression and erasure coding then you require at least the Advanced edition.

4. 512e drive support

With larger drives now coming onto the market, there has been a request from customers for 4k drive support. Unfortunately there is still no support for the 4k native devices, however there is now support for 512e devices (so physical sector is 4k, logical sector emulates 512bytes).

More information on 4Kn or 512e support can be found here: https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2091600

5. PowerCLI cmdlets for vSAN

New cmdlets are available for vSAN allowing you to script and automate various vSAN tasks (from enabling vSAN to the deployment and configuration of a vSAN stretched cluster). The most obvious use will be using cmdlets to automatically assign storage policies to multiple VMs.

More info on he cmdlet updates available here: http://blogs.vmware.com/PowerCLI/2016/11/new-release-powercli-6-5-r1.html

6. vSAN storage for Cloud Native Apps (CNA)

Integration with Photon means you can now use a vSAN cluster in a CNA enviroment managed by Photon Controller. In addition, now that vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) is included with vSphere 6.5, you can now use vSAN as storage for the VIC engine. Finally Docker Volume Driver enables you to create and manage Docker container data volumes on vSAN.

For more information about vSAN 6.5, point your browsers to this great technical website: https://storagehub.vmware.com/#!/vmware-vsan/vmware-vsan-6-5-technical-overview