A New VMware Badge Appears: VMware Specialist – Cloud Provider 2019

Many of you may be aware of the new VMware Specialist – Cloud Provider badge.¬†However, I am going to spend some time to highlight the effort and provide some guidance on this new badge/exam. Also, it’s officially announced with many of our other great announcements at VMware Europe!

What is it?

Well, the Specialist Cloud Provider badge is a renewed effort that the VMware Cloud Provider team is establishing a solid, fundamental certification/qualification platform for our Cloud Service Providers. This is the first step on setting a level of qualification to present solution knowledge around the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP) stack and solution-set, especially VMware vCloud Director for Service Providers 9.x.

This is an online, un-proctored, exam that can be scheduled through Pearson Vue. The only prerequisite we’ve established is an active VCP certification. I was honored to be part of the team to develop this exam while Wade Holmes led the overall effort with many of my esteemed peers. It is 40 questions and you have 60 minutes for the exam.

What does it cover?

Just like with any other VMware certification – read, read, and read the blueprint: all of the answers are there. I believe the team did a great job of putting many links into this blueprint for material to prepare for. However, I’m going to highlight a few points that everyone should be aware of –

  1. This exam covers vCloud Director 9.1 functionality. Even though 9.5 is out as of this blog post, this was written when 9.1 was the current release.
  2. Sections 3, 5, and 6, are not present on this exam. Therefore, there are no troubleshooting questions. Be prepared to focus on core fundamentals and conceptual features of vCD.
  3. vCloud Availability for Cloud-to-Cloud 1.5 is present also on this exam, there is no vCloud Availability for DR questions. Moreover, vCD Extender is also present.

How can I prepare?

This answer is simple – work with vCD and the VCPP stack and you’re golden! ūüôā

On a serious note, there’s a lot of great material on the blueprint, but we have two great VMware Education courses on vCloud Director:

VMware vCloud Director Fundamentals [V8.x] – this is an on-demand course that goes over core fundamentals of vCD. While it is dated for 8.x, it is very applicable. This is a self-paced course and can be done in about 3 hours.

VMware vCloud Director: Install, Configure, Manage [V9.x] – if you are very new to vCD, I recommend taking this course after the Fundamentals course. This provides a comprehensive experience (including lab time) of building out a vCD environment. This can be done online or in-person.

Read the documentation – we have a mess of many different docs we’ve referenced. Also, check out the many YouTube videos we have under our Cloud Provider page!¬†

Final thoughts

I believe this is a very fair exam for individuals that work with the VMware Cloud Provider solution set. The questions and concepts focus on the value and core fundamentals.

I’ve been receiving a lot of great and positive feedback, which is excellent.¬†This was my first exam creation experience and I truly enjoyed the process, and look forward to the next step for our VMware Cloud Providers. If you’re at VMworld Europe, please don’t hesitate to contact me to meet up! Thank you.

-Daniel

My five favorite things about VMware vCloud Director 9.5!

The VMware Cloud Provider Software Business Unit has released the next iteration of vCloud Director – version 9.5. We’ve been holding to a six month cadence on major releases and this vCD version does not disappoint.

As expected, Tom Fojta did a great job of summarizing many of the new features of 9.5, but I am going to focus on a few of the top of mind things that are pertinent to many Cloud Service Providers.

Advanced HTML5 UI

UI continues to get better and better for Tenants and Providers. With 9.5, I would say the UI is about 98% completed – most of the tenant functions should able to be accomplished through the H5 UI. In this release, RBAC capabilities are also introduced (more on that shortly).

As we can see here, we now have a ribbon at the top along with recent tasks.

RBAC Roles

This is a nice function that’s native to the H5 UI – we now have the concept of roles within the roles based access control. A Provider Admin can now “templatize” roles based off of specific functions and make it easier to manage specific tenant rights.

Cross-VDC Networking / Cross vCenter NSX Support

With vCD 9.5, we now have the ability to support xVC NSX objects inclusive of setting this up the vCD UI. Moreover, vCloud Director will instantiate the stretched network functionality to up to four orgVDCs.

This is done from the Provider set up by establishing a network provider scope –

And as expected, requires a single SSO domain between linked vCenters to support cross vCenter NSX. I am underway in my lab to test this out and will have a post soon on demonstrating this functionality and what’s possible.

vCloud Director Cell Appliance!

Yes, you heard that right – with this release we’ve introduced the vCloud Director cell appliance. This is pre-built PhotonOS appliance with the vCD code but still requires your backend vCD database (please use Postgres!), Cassandra, RMQ, and NFS share.

Please also deploy this with the Flex client as I have not seen success with the vSphere H5 client. This is the first iteration and I’m hoping the next version we will see a “database” appliance for the backend functions.

Plugins

I love this, especially when I’m using vCloud Availability for Cloud to Cloud. With 9.5, the UI extensibility continues to grow. There are some amazing plans as it relates to plugin support for our ecosystem partners and I’m seeing MANY of our partners create plugins for vCD. The possibilities are great here to showcase value added services for your tenants.

As we can see below, this is one of my deployments with C2C and showcasing the C2C plugin for 9.5 –

Again, an exciting release for vCloud Director – and more on the way.

-Daniel

Recap from VMworld 2018 and VMware Cloud Provider Sessions

VMware VMworld is always an amazing experience, but taxing for VMware personnel – from meetings, sessions, and nightly events, it can wear one down. However, I truly enjoy seeing everyone and this was my first time speaking at a VMworld, which I’m very grateful for.

I wanted to provide a recap of my two sessions along with sessions all VMware Cloud Providers should watch.

Why vSAN is the Best Solution for Cloud Provider Environments

This was done with my colleague, Greg Kaffenberger, who is part of our Cloud Strategy team. Our intent was to provide a high-level summary of items we’ve learned when collaborating with Providers on vSAN designs and implementations.

One thing I learned from this process of creating a session is it’s VERY difficult to cover everything you want. Moreover, you want to hit the high-level points. Some of the initial feedback we received was our material was too complex. Greg and I did quite a bit of summarization or sticking the detailed points in the speaker notes section.

Anyway, I thought this session went pretty well. Here’s the YouTube video along with the link to the slides for anyone to utilize –

 

Slide Deck on Google Drive

Case Study: Hybrid Cloud with vCloud Extender from Customer to Provider

This was a very exciting session with¬†Raff Poltronieri¬†at CloudItalia on a solution I’ve spent a lot of time with, vCloud Director Extender. We partnered together to review vCD Extender in technical detail along with the architecture. Raff covered CloudItalia’s experience along with a demonstration of one of their customers migrating from their on-prem environment to CloudItalia’s vCD instance. Furthermore, CloudItalia’s business is now growing because of their utilization of vCloud Director Extender.

vCD Extender, vCloud Availability, our new Data Protection solution for vCD, is just the start of these value-added products for vCloud Director. I am very excited to see what comes in the next 9 to 12 months for vCloud Director, especially around our availability, migration, and data protection products for Cloud Providers.

Video and Google drive to the slide deck below –

Slide Deck on Google Drive

Other Sessions to Review

William Lam did a great job of summarizing and providing the ability to download all recorded sessions here.

These are the other ones I suggest reviewing if you did not catch them live:

  1. Introducing VMware Cloud Provider Pod 
    1. VCPP’s¬†new solution on instantiating a vCD environment, inclusive of all Cloud Provider components. Presented by Yves Sandfort and Wade Holmes.
  2. Delivering Custom Services Through vCloud Director
    1. There are endless possibilities on providing custom services and integration through vCD. This session reviews some of the use cases we worked on so far.
  3. VMware Data Protection Simplicity Meets Power: Converged, Cloud and Beyond
    1. This is covering our new partnership with Dell/EMC on Data Protection capabilities built into vCD.
  4. Cloud Provider Transformation with vCloud Director, NSX, and vRealize Suite
    1. John White at Expedient does a great job going through their environment and how they’ve utilized the VMware Cloud Provider architecture to provide services to their tenants.
  5. Multitenant Managed Service Provider Platform for VMware Cloud Services
    1. This is reviewing our new MSP solution / Cloud Provider Hub and what’s possible with VMC in regards to Cloud Providers.

There’s many more here – this link should be filtered to sessions that have been marked for Cloud Provider Program.¬†

I truly look forward to the next opportunity to speak and share what I’ve learned on this incredible journey at VMware.

-Daniel

VMware vCloud Usage Meter – BND to Bundle Translation Technical Discussion

Recently, we received a post on VMware Communities forum for vCloud Usage Meter requesting clarification on the “BND” column on the Virtual Machine History Report.¬†I’d like to spend a little more time discussing this further for others and some of the logic under the covers.

Moreover, I’m going to review a sanitized¬†customer collection and discuss something I even learned.

Luis Ayuso and I spend a lot of time with Usage Meter, so over time, we’ve come intimately close to the inner workings of UM logic (more¬†Luis, follow him for further updates and direction!). While UM has its quirks, it has quite a bit of logic and intelligence integrated for billing purposes.

First, here’s the BND mapping to current VCPP bundles –

Items that I want to point out:

  1. The BND identifier does not reflect the actual bundle point value. This is by design due to the variances of past bundles.
  2. The Standard Bundle is being retired, but will still show up in any existing or previous Usage Meter instances.
  3. While we have a unique ID for the Standard SP Bundle with Management or Networking, the point bundle value remains the same.

The second thing I’d like to cover is the BND column inside of the Virtual Machine History report – this is column P –

We can see in the above screenshot three important columns:

  1. Bnd¬†Column – which is the bundle identifier. In the above example, we see VM’s reporting ID 7, which is the Standard Bundle.
  2. vROps Column – we would see a “Y” or “N” here depicting if this VM is registered inside of vRealize Operations. What we can conclude from the above screenshot is the following:
    1. Running vSphere Enterprise (NOT Enterprise Plus)
    2. vRealize Operations Itemized Breakout
    3. How?¬†Well, Usage Meter will always pick the most cost-effective option as a bundle for the Providers. We know that the 7-point/Advanced Bundle has vSphere Enterprise Plus while the 5-point Standard bundle uses vSphere Enterprise which was EoL’d a few years ago. Moreover, if the Provider utilizes Advanced or Standard vROps, this is not in any VCPP bundle, so this will be itemized billed out. This could also be the Enterprise version since we are using the 5-point bundle.
  3. NSX Column – in this example, we do not have any NSX detection. However, if we did, we would see:
    1. B – NSX SP Base Version. Included in Advanced/7-Point Bundle
    2. A – Advanced SP Version. Included in Standard with Networking (8-Point) OR Advanced with Networking Bundle (9-Point).
    3. E – Enterprise SP Version. Included in Advanced with Networking and Management/12-Point Bundle.

As a quick refresher, here are the different versions of NSX inside of VCPP –

We can see in the below screenshot where the VM state changed РVM was registered inside of vROps. Therefore, the bundle went from BND 8 (Advanced SP) to BND 10 (Standard with Management). Why? Well, it was not utilizing vCloud Director nor NSX, so this is the most cost-effective option for this VM. 

Makes sense. Moreover, this is AVERAGED over the month, so if you utilize the Advanced bundle for half of the month while utilizing Standard with Management for the rest, you only pay for the specific hours of use.

Let’s talk about an interesting scenario. I noticed that a VM was “flapping” between BND 7 and BND 13 – that’s a big change. We can see that it’s utilizing vROps and NSX Advanced, but why wasn’t defaulting to a lower point bundle?

Well, Usage Meter will append a new line for VM state change – that includes vMotions. What we can see if this VM vMotion from host-30 to host-31 (sanitized names) but were using different vSphere licenses. Ah ha!

We can see on the top line which is host-30, it was using a vSphere Enterprise license while the next three line items (host-31) were on an vSphere Enterprise Plus license.

Interesting! So, how did this look in the Monthly Usage Report?

We can see NSX Advanced in the Monthly Report. While there is no itemized NSX Advanced in the Product Usage Guide, I believe the Provider would have to just report NSX Enterprise for these VM’s.

So, what did we learn from this scenario?¬†Make sure your licensing is configured in a uniform fashion! This will be very unlikely in the future as Enterprise is not supported after September 2018, but it’s imperative to have proper hygiene for the same hosts in the same cluster.

Happy Metering,

-Daniel