Using vApp resource management capabilities?

This post is for those who are using vSphere vApps in their environment today. I’ve been talking with various Product Managers about the vApp and how it is used and we have made certain assumptions which we would like to validate. So far it seems to us that most of  you are using the vApp to define startup order and perform administrative operations as a group, like power-off / power-on.

Personally I have seen’t (m)any customers using the resource management capabilities of a vApp so far, most seem to treat the vApp as a way to group VMs. Now I do assume that there are customers out there using the resource management capabilities of the vApp. If so, I would be interested in knowing how you use it, why / when / what. Please leave a comment and please do so using a valid email address as there may be a desire for us to follow up on it.

Thanks,

Requirements Driven Data Center

I’ve been thinking about the term Software Defined Data Center for a while now. It is a great term “software defined” but it seems that many agree that things have been defined by software for a long time now. When talking about SDDC with customers it is typically referred to as the ability to abstract, pool and automate all aspects of an infrastructure. To me these are very important factors, but not the most important, well at least not for me as they don’t necessarily speak to the agility and flexibility a solution like this should bring. But what is an even more important aspect?

I’ve had some time to think about this lately and to me what is truly important is the ability to define requirements for a service and have the infrastructure cater to those needs. I know this sounds really fluffy, but ultimately the service doesn’t care what is running underneath, and typically the business owner and the application owners also don’t when all requirements can be met. Key is delivering a service with consistency and predictability. Even more important consistency and repeatability increase availability and predictability, and nothing is more important for the user experience.

When it comes to user experience and providing a positive one of course it is key to figure out first what you want and what you need first. Typically this information comes from your business partner and/or application owner. When you know what those requirements are then they can be translated to technical specifications and ultimately drive where the workloads end up. A good example of how this works or would look like is VMware Virtual Volumes. VVols is essentially requirements driven placement of workloads. Not just placement, but of course also all other aspects when it comes to satisfying requirements that determine user experience like QoS, availability, recoverability and whatever more is desired for your workload.

With Virtual Volumes placement of a VM (or VMDK) is based on how the policy is constructed and what is defined in it. The Storage Policy Based  Management engine gives you the flexibility to define policies anyway you like, of course it is limited to what your storage system is capable of delivering but from the vSphere platform point of view you can do what you like and make many different variations. If you specify that the object needs to thin provisioned, or has a specific IO profile, or needs to be deduplicated or… then those requirements are passed down to the storage system and the system makes its placement decisions based on that and will ensure that the demands can be met. Of course as stated earlier also requirements like QoS and availability are passed down. This could be things like latency, IOPS and how many copies of an object are needed (number of 9s resiliency). On top of that, when requirements change or when for whatever reason SLA is breached then in a requirements driven environment the infrastructure will assess and remediate to ensure requirements are met.

That is what a requirements driven solution should provide: agility, availability, consistency and predictability. Ultimately your full data center should be controlled through policies and defined by requirements. If you look at what VMware offers today, then it is fair to say that we are closing in on reaching this ideal fast.

Not submitted a VMworld session yet? How about a “quick talk”?

I was submitting some VMworld sessions and noticed there was a new type of session called a quick talk. It is something new so I started digging and found the following in the VMworld CFP Q&A:

Quick Talk – 30 minutes (NEW!)
Quick Talks are abridged breakouts focused on non-technical topics. More consumable, the Quick Talk will take the traditional business topic and whittle it down to essential messages, information and clarity in a targeted half-hour. These presentations do not have Q&A, but can be scheduled in tandem with Group Discussions and/or Meet the Experts appointments.

I reached out to the VMworld team as I felt that “non-technical” and “business topic” was a missed opportunity. 30 minute talks can be excellent as well for a deepdive on a specific feature or on a specific aspect of a product. The VMworld team told me that the Quick Talks are indeed not going to be limited to non-technical or business, but that (deep) technical will also be accepted when the content is appropriate for VMworld. These sessions will all be held on a Monday in the US and EMEA is still under discussion.

I submitted a couple with Lee Dilworth. I figured I would share an example of what we proposed for this quick talk, just to give you an idea and hopefully we will see many of these types of sessions, don’t steal our idea though 😉

  • Five common customer use cases for Virtual SAN
    • In this quick talk Lee Dilworth and Duncan Epping will discuss the five most common use cases seen within the Virtual SAN install base. This session will not just focus on the use case but also include some common hardware configuration details to provide a better understanding of the flexibility which Virtual SAN offers.

Migrate from Windows vCenter to the vCenter Appliance

I thought that most people would have seen this awesome fling by now, but I received a couple of questions if it was already possible to migrate from the Windows vCenter Server to the vCenter Server Appliance. Surprisingly enough as William Lam wrote an excellent blog post on this subject. Anyway, this blog is just a simple short pointer to the Windows vCenter to vCenter Appliance migration tool and to William blog post. Read it, and go for it!

vMSC for 6.0, any new recommendations?

I am currently updating the vSphere Metro Storage Cluster best practices white paper, over the last two weeks I received various questions if there were any new recommendation for vMSC for 6.0. I have summarized the recommendations below for your convenience, the white paper is being reviewed and I am updating screenshots, hopefully will be done soon.

  • In order to allow vSphere HA to respond to both an APD and a PDL condition vSphere HA needs to be configured in a specific way. VMware recommends enabling VM Component Protection. After the creation of the cluster VM Component Protection needs to be enabled.
  • The configuration for PDL is basic. In the “Failure conditions and VM response” section it can be configured what the response should be after a PDL condition is detected. VMware recommends setting this to “Power off and restart VMs”. When this condition is detected a VM will be restarted instantly on a healthy host within the vSphere HA cluster.
  • When an APD condition is detected a timer is started. After 140 seconds the APD condition is officially declared and the device is marked as APD time out. When the 140 seconds has passed HA will start counting, the default HA time out is 3 minutes. When the 3 minutes has passed HA will restart the impacted virtual machines, but you can configure VMCP to respond differently if desired. VMware recommends configuring it to “Power off and restart VMs (conservative)”.
    • Conservative refers to the likelihood of HA being able to restart VMs. When set to “conservative” HA will only restart the VM that is impacted by the APD if it knows another host can restart it. In the case of “aggressive” HA will try to restart the VM even if it doesn’t know the state of the other hosts, which could lead to a situation where your VM is not restarted as there is no host that has access to the datastore the VM is located on.
  • It is also good to know that if the APD is lifted and access to the storage is restored before the time-out has passed that HA will not unnecessarily restart the virtual machine, unless you explicitly configure it do so. If a response is desired even when the environment has recovered from the APD condition then “Response for APD recovery after APD timeout” should be configured to “Reset VMs”. VMware recommends leaving this setting disabled.