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! 🙂

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

Migrate VMs and Networking to vCloud Director – Video Walkthrough

I wanted to provide a quick walkthrough on how easy it is to import a VM (or adopt a VM) into a tenant organization for vCloud Director.

Tomas Fojta covers a lot of great detail on when this was introduced in vCD 8.20 here. 

In this video, I go through and show how I moved a tenant workload (DanielApp) along with a 172.16.102.0/24 network to vCloud Director and NSX.

While this does require a stepped process, it’s a pretty seamless process.

Migration Steps:

  1. Move the routing interface from the current physical underlay to the NSX Edge inside of the vCloud Director tenant organization (DCP-Edge-01)
  2. Switch over the VMNIC for the workloads to the logical switch presented by DCP-Edge-01
  3. Drag the VM to the orgVDC resource pool that’s provisioned by vCloud Director. Done!

Note 1 and 2 do require some level of coordination with your network team with a brief maintenance window (route changes and validation). Moreover, the important distinction is we are allowing a tenant to utilize NSX functionality alongside vCloud Director.

Step 3 is the easiest. vCloud Director does all of the work and shows it in the UI without any further intervention. This is a great feature that demonstrates vCD can be utilized for existing tenant workloads that may be in a “naked” vCenter environment (or utilizing an existing CMP they are moving away from).

Anyway, here’s the video I created that shows me moving DanielApp to vCloud Director under my “Daniel” organization.

 

Last bit I’ll leave you with – while it’s great to migrate both the network and to vCD, this may not be possible based on use case. Other migration method could be exposing the existing distributed virtual portgroup as a vCD External Network to the pVDC, then the oVDC. Then it’s as simple as just dragging in the VM(s) to the resource pool.

However, I do lose any self-service and NSX functionality, which could include overlapping networks when I scale out tenants.

Happy migrating!

-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

VMware vCloud Availability for Cloud to Cloud 1.5 is announced! What’s New?

I am excited to announce that vCloud Availability for Cloud to Cloud 1.5 (vCAv-C2C) will be released for VMware Cloud Providers at end of September. This has been a long and fruitful journey between strategic design partners and our internal teams.

In this post, I will review what’s new inside of vCloud Availability for Cloud to Cloud 1.5.

Don’t know what vCloud Availability for Cloud to Cloud is – don’t worry, check out this intro post!

To start, our lightboard video as an intro to C2C and what’s new with 1.5 –

A quick summary of what I’ll be discussing:

    1. Enterprise Scale
    2. Service Provider Policies for Offer Management
    3. Seamless and unified experience with integration to vCloud Director
    4. vRealize Orchestrator Integration (Compatible with C2C 1.0)
    5. vRealize Operations Day 2 Monitoring Pack (Compatible with C2C 1.0)
    6. Public API
    7. Enhanced Usage Reporting

Scale

Let’s talk about scalability for C2C for a moment. The BU has certified the following for C2C 1.5 –

  • 110 concurrent failover protections
  • Over 3,000 active protections across 100 tenants. This is a variable number as it will depend on the number of active tenants along with protected operations. However, in discussing this with Engineering, we’ve seen 4,000 VM’s protected by vCAv-C2C.
  • Scale up to 7 tested replication instances.

Again, this has been an important enhancement as we have received multiple requests regarding scale. I would also say this is the maximum configuration we’ve tested so far. This does not mean our technology is limited to these numbers. If there’s something specific you’d like to see, please talk to your VMware Cloud Provider field team.

Policies

With C2C 1.5, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) can now manage access control for vCloud Availability – Cloud to Cloud DR on per tenant organization basis. By default, all tenant organizations are disabled and CSPs can choose to enable C2C DR service for one or many organizations. This allows CSPs to deliver Cloud to Cloud DR as a value-added service to their tenants.

As we can see from above, I have the Default Policy along with “Org1 Policy” that I created that I applied to my Org1 organization.

So, if an org that has not been whitelisted for Cloud to Cloud usage, what do they see? Well, they would get an error when attempting outgoing or incoming replications such as the below:

In addition to white-listing organizations, C2C DR also allows a CSP to create and assign new policies for select organization, thus giving them an opportunity for tiered offering and providing them better control on their capacity management. Following new policies have been added:

  1. Limit the maximum number of outgoing and/or incoming replications per organization
  2. Limited maximum number of replicated VM’s per organization
  3. Limited maximum number snapshots created by VM
  4. Allow to set lower limit on RPO per organization

Again, providing a granular application to specific orgs. We could create multiple policies and have different policies associated with each of them.

Last of all, we can see the compliance state on each org –

Integrated vCD UI

While using the vCloud Director portal extensibility capability, the team has now introduced an integrated C2C plugin for vCD!

Once C2C is deployed and registered to your vCD instance, we will see the Availability link in the context switching menu (or what we like to call the hamburger menu).

From there, the tenant user can navigate to C2C from the vCD interface, thus providing fully integrated and seamless experience and alleviating need of any console hopping.

vRealize Orchestrator Integration

While this is something that will be released post version 1.5, this is an awesome addition as now we can provide unique workflows on a per tenant/use-case basis in an automated fashion. Now, combine this with the power of the new vRO/vCD integration within the Content Library!

From vRO, we can see we have a new section vCloud Availability –

The first thing we would need to do is connect to each respective site –

From here, we have multiple options available that were built by our team, including IP address change after failover:

vRealize Operations Day 2 Monitoring Pack

We are now introducing a management pack for vRealize Operations. This will be also released post version 1.5, however, this will allow the Provider team to have a single monitoring and analytics tool for providing vCAv-C2C statistics and rollups of the environment.

There a few out of the box dashboards available –

From here, we can get a picture of what’s going on from an operational perspective, including any RPO violations set by vCAv policies. While my test environment is clean, this gives you an idea of what to expect.

As a last note – vRealize Orchestrator and vRealize Operations plug-in have their own release cycles and would typically lag a little bit behind the core Cloud to Cloud releases. The vRO and vROPs plug-ins for Cloud to Cloud are currently supported only for C2C 1.0 release). Please reach out to your VMware Cloud Provider field team if you’d like to discuss these further.

Public API

There is now an API available for C2C operations. Public API are generated through Swagger which is quickly becoming a de-facto standard for generating APIs. This allows for additional extensibility to Providers on managing C2C operations along with potential opportunity to integrate their Cloud to Cloud DR use-cases into their own Cloud management portal if this wish to do so.

Start off by going to the API documentation here

The steps to set up the Swagger client is fairly easy. I was able to do this in a Windows environment by using the PowerShell commands.

Start with downloading the JSON file –

Then, download the swagger-codegen client and run the generate command to generate the Java client –

And now the build is ready for .java files with the C2C parameters. I hope to have time to play around with this further.

Enhanced Usage Reporting

While Usage Meter integration is underway, we can pull reports from the C2C appliances by logging into the application console – documentation is here. 

We start by SSH’ing or opening the console to the C2C appliance. From there, we need to authenticate again in the h4 context so we can type in the ‘usage-report’ command –

Now, I am able to run ‘usage-report’ and find out my usage –

Again, a lot of great content and additions to C2C 1.5. Please check it out!

-Daniel