VMware vRealize – What is vRealize Orchestrator(vRO)?

Overview

This is my interpterion of VMware vRealise Orchestrator at a high level. VMware vRealise Orchestrator is a centralised location to create workflows, create actions and define configuration elements to automate tasks. In ddition there is a useful tool built-in which can auto generate documentation based on your workflows created.

so, how does vRO compare to my previous work?

My first impression of vRO, is the tool reiterates the structure I have been putting in place via PowerShell scripts on previous projects and demonstrations.

Previously I would create a simple CSV which contained all the server / virtual machine information

See my previous work on bulk virtual machine deployments:

The logic is :

Within vRealise the procedures are all done in work flows. Its worth noting scriptable tasks are in JavaScript. Scripts can be added to workflows

The scriptable tasks are more interesting. You can predefine properties/variables to use within the script tasks.

Some nice key features :

  • Descriptions area for workflows
  • Version control work flows.
  • Simple Output to System.log

Is there a similar alternative product I’ve used.

Some of vRO features do have similarities to an alternative product I have recently been using called Octopus. Octopus has the options to create processes, add scripts including PowerShell and version control each release and control releases.

Scripting
Moving on to more advance scriptable tasks in vRO, decisions can then be defined based on If …Else statements to define the output. When scripting within workflows, a simple but effective feature is when a variable is entered in a script, the variable name changes colour.

Out the box options
There are some out the box options such as VMware tools and Virtual Hardware upgrades with vRO workflows.
There are many more advanced topics and work flows. Feel free to share your favourite work flows or developed work flow on twitter @stephenhackers

Note : All opinions are my own.

 

 

Add VM Custom Annotation and Create a Report on Annotations

Add Custom Attributes for Notes Annotation
………………

A request to add custom attributes for Virtual Machines when using the fat client. (Web client in 5.1 and 5.5 requires a plugin, see “vsphere-web-client-plugin-for-custom”) 6.0 doesn’t see the attributes in the Web Client, 6.5 does, see the 6.5 KB.

Fields required : Applications, Company Name, Owner, Role, VM Cost

Code Below

Connect-VIServer VC6.test.domain
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Company Name” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “VM Cost” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Role” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Owner” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Applications” -TargetType VirtualMachine
disconnect-VIServer VC6.test.domain -Confirm:$false

………………..

Add the details required

………………..

Bulk Virtual Machines Deployment and Zero Clicks Part 1

Add additional code code to add annotation in to the bulk script

$companyname = $item.companyname
$applications = $item.applications
$owner = $item.owner
$role = $item.role
$cost = $item.cost

#Get the Specification and set the Nic Mapping
New-OSCustomizationNicMapping -Spec $custspec -IpMode UseStaticIp –Position 1 -IpAddress $ipaddr -SubnetMask $subnet -DefaultGateway $gateway -Dns $pdns,$sdns

#Create VM using Template with the adjusted Customization Specification
New-VM -Name $vmname -Template $template -Datastore $datastore -VMHost $vmhost -ResourcePool $resourcepool | Set-VM -OSCustomizationSpec $custspec -Confirm:$false

#Set the Network Name
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Get-NetworkAdapter | Set-NetworkAdapter -NetworkName $vlan -Confirm:$false

#Set the CPU and Memory
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Set-VM -MemoryGB $ram -NumCPU $cpu -Confirm:$false

#Set some custom attribute fieds
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “VM Cost” -TargetType VirtualMachine
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “Role” -TargetType VirtualMachine
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “Owner” -TargetType VirtualMachine
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “Applications” -TargetType VirtualMachine

#Set annotation value for custom attributes
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “CompanyName” -Value “$companyname”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “Applications” -Value “$applications”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “Owner” -Value “$owner”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “Role” -Value “$role”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “VM Cost” -Value “$cost”

 

Reports

RV Tools can be used to produce an MS Excel file to output a list of virtual machines and custom annotations RV Tools download

………………

Alternative Report function used
https://psvmware.wordpress.com/tag/get-vm-annotation/

Function Code Below
(greg-get-annotations tested successfully in our lab)……………….

function greg-get-annotations {
<# .DESCRIPTION Greg-get-annotations function stores information about annotation fields for vms in given cluster or in all clusters in VC. It stores the result in an arraylist $vms, you can either create a csv report from this object or display it on screen greg-get-annotations |export-csv -NoTypeInformation c:\file1.csv will export it to csv file etc… greg-get-annotations |format-table VMname,Cluster,CreatedOn,Notes will just display on screen a table with annotations that include : vm name, its cluster and field “CreatedOn” and Notes   .PARAMETER clustername Specifies the clustername against wchi report will be built   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations -clustername ‘cluster01’|Export-Csv c:\annotation-report.csv Will procude report on vms that resides in ‘cluster01’ and store it in csv file   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations -clustername ‘cluster01’|ft * Will procude report on vms that resides in ‘cluster01’ output it to screen   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations |Export-Csv c:\annotation-report.csv Will procude report on vms that resides in all clusters and output it to screen   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations Without specified -clustername switch, it will do report regarding all clusters in VC   .NOTES AUTHOR: Grzegorz Kulikowski LASTEDIT: 05/30/2011     #>
param ([string]$clustername)
if(!($clustername)){$clusters=Get-Cluster}else{$clusters=Get-Cluster $clustername}
$VMs=New-Object Collections.ArrayList
foreach ($cluster in $clusters)  {
foreach ($vmview in (get-view -ViewType VirtualMachine -SearchRoot $cluster.id)) {
$vm=New-Object PsObject
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name VMname -Value $vmview.Name
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name Notes -Value $vmview.Config.Annotation
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name Cluster -Value $cluster.Name
foreach ($CustomAttribute in $vmview.AvailableField){
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name $CustomAttribute.Name -Value ($vmview.Summary.CustomValue | ? {$_.Key -eq $CustomAttribute.Key}).value
}
$VMs.add($vm)|Out-Null
}
}
return $VMs
}

greg-get-annotations |Export-Csv c:\annotation-report.csv

……………………………………..

CSV Out Put

 

 

Bulk Virtual Machines Deployment and Zero Clicks Part 1

A recent project revisited deploying virtual machines via PowerCli. Its fair to say this isn’t a new tool but sometimes over looked.

Part 1 /  Part 2

My requirements were to deploy :

  • 100+ virtual machines (within a few hours)
  • domain join all machines
  • license the OS
  • various virtual machine specifications
  • various Windows OS versions.
  • to two different data centers within a linked vCenter setup
  • to resource pools
  • to different data stores
  • to different networks

 

The constraints:

  • vSphere 6.0 update 2
  • no budget for third party automation tools
  • small window of opportunity to deploy the VMs

 

On the plus side there was:

o    Loads of available CPU and RAM
o    Large datastores presented
o    Subnets prepared
o    Stretched VLANs across Data Centers

 

The tools I used to the task

  • Excel (CSV)
  • Notepad++
  • PowerCLi

 

The CSV file example

# Example Bulk_VMs_Deploy.csv

Template Datastore VMhost Custspec VMname IPaddress Subnet Gateway
2012_Template Storage1 ESXi.domain 2012_Spec test2003VL1 192.168.0.191 255.255.255.0 192.168.0.1
PDNS SDNS ResourcePool RAM CPU VLAN Size Format
192.168.0.10 127.0.0.1 resource1 2 2 VM Network 10 thin

 

The Script

# Automate the deployment of customised virtual machines deployed in vSphere 6.0. Tested against u2
#
# Prereq’s
# 1) Populate the a CSV file called Bulk_VMs_Deploy.csv
# 2) Create a Windows Server template
# 3) Create a customization spec within vSphere for Windows
# 4) Run Bulk_VMs_Deploy.ps1 script via PowerCli as administrator (CSV file must be stored in the same location where the script is run from)
#
#https://blogs.vmware.com/PowerCLI/2015/03/powercli-6-0-introducing-powercli-modules.html
if ( !(Get-Module -Name VMware.VimAutomation.Core -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) ) {

###### IMPORTANT, Check this file path is correct##########
. “C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\PowerCLI\Scripts\Initialize-PowerCLIEnvironment.ps1”
}
Connect-VIServer VC6.test.domain
#connect to a VC. This also works with Linked VC’s
$vmlist = Import-CSV .\Bulk_VMs_Deploy.csv
foreach ($item in $vmlist) {

#set variables to read from CSV
$template = $item.template
$datastore = $item.datastore
$vmhost = $item.vmhost
$custspec = $item.custspec
$vmname = $item.vmname
$ipaddr = $item.ipaddress
$subnet = $item.subnet
$gateway = $item.gateway
$pdns = $item.pdns
$sdns = $item.sdns
$resourcepool = $item.resourcepool
$cpu = $item.cpu
$ram = $item.ram
$vlan = $item.vlan
$size = $item.size
$format = $item.format

#Get the Specification and set the Nic Mapping
New-OSCustomizationNicMapping -Spec $custspec -IpMode UseStaticIp –Position 1 -IpAddress $ipaddr -SubnetMask $subnet -DefaultGateway $gateway -Dns $pdns,$sdns

#Create VM using Template with the adjusted Customization Specification
New-VM -Name $vmname -Template $template -Datastore $datastore -VMHost $vmhost -ResourcePool $resourcepool | Set-VM -OSCustomizationSpec $custspec -Confirm:$false

#Set the Network Name
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Get-NetworkAdapter | Set-NetworkAdapter -NetworkName $vlan -Confirm:$false

#Set the CPU and Memory
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Set-VM -MemoryGB $ram -NumCPU $cpu -Confirm:$false

#Additional Disk
#Get-VM -Name $vmname | New-HardDisk -CapacityGB $size -StorageFormat $format -Confirm:$false

#Remove the NicMapping
Get-OSCustomizationSpec $custspec | Get-OSCustomizationNicMapping | Remove-OSCustomizationNicMapping -Confirm:$false

#PowerOn VM
Start-VM $vmname

}
#Disconnect from VC.
disconnect-VIServer VC6.test.domain -Confirm:$false

 

 

Disclaimer Please take the code and evolve it into a different project? Credit / Tag me on your project Twitter #StephenHackers

Any use of this code is at your own risk. Remember bulk automation jobs require the right resources to be available.

This project & code was based on :
https://communities.vmware.com/thread/315193
Which progressed to : https://communities.vmware.com/thread/436734

Part 1 /  Part 2

Learn NSX  Day 6 : NSX and Logical Switches

Replication Modes on Logical Switches

logical-switch options
logical-switch options

 

Broadcast (BUM)
Hybrid Mode Logical Switch

 

broadcast
broadcast

 

Sort of utilises both Unicast and Multicast traffic

 


Unknown Uni-cast replication

unicast
unicast


Reason to use :
Opposite to Multicast. Separation of the Physical and Logical networks
 
No PIM or IGMP on physical network. Non-ESXi don’t receive BUM option
Configurable in the Transport Zone (VTEPS Send Uni-cast and can remote proxy in transport zone)

Multicast Replication

multicast
multicast


Reason to use :
NSX relies on Layer 2 and Layer 3 multicast for physical network for VXLAN encapsulated multi destination is sent to all VTEPS
(page  26) 
Required PIM and L3 multicasting routing
Least amount of bandwidth used on physical network architecture

 

Logical Switches

Prep work :
Config VXLAN tunnel endpoint (VTEP) VLAN on trunk in physical switches

A good article on logical switching and transport zones was available this page by  Alex Hunt – Logical Switching and Transport Zones 


Spine – Leaf architected networks

spine-leaf
spine-leaf

A great description by Ethan Banks below :
“In modern data centers, an alternative to the core/aggregation/access layer network topology has emerged known as leaf-spine. In a leaf-spine architecture, a series of leaf switches form the access layer. These switches are fully meshed to a series of spine switches.

Network overlays such as VXLAN are common in highly virtualized, multi-tenant environments such as those found at Infrastructure as a Service providers. Arista Networks is a proponent of layer 3 leaf-spine designs, providing switches that can also act as VXLAN Tunnel Endpoints.” By Ethan Banks

 

Topics :
Learn NSX – Home
Learn NSX Day 1 : NSX Requirements
Learn NSX Day 2 : NSX Deployment Best Practice
Learn NSX Day 3 : NSX Manager and NSX Controller
Learn NSX Day 4 : NSX Roles
Learn NSX Day 5 : NSX HA, Edge, REST API
Learn NSX  Day 6 : NSX and Logical Switches
Learn NSX Day 7 : Deploying ESXi
Learn NSX Day 8 : vDS (vSphere Distributed Switch)
Learn NSX Day 9 : Load Balancing Feature
Learn NSX Day 10 : Layer 2 Bridging
Learn NSX Day 11 : NSX EDGE
Learn NSX Day 12 : Spoof Guard
Learn NSX Day 13 : Distributed Router and Distributed Logical Firewall
Learn NSX Day 14 : Monitoring
Learn NSX Day 15 : NSX Backups
Learn NSX Day 16 : Useful Commands & Errors

 

These are notes made during my study of VMware NSX for vSphere. Apologises if any of the detail is incorrect. Hopefully posts under “Learn NSX” help others to start learning about VMware NSX for vSphere.

 

VMware discussing NSX Notes

Agenda

  • NSX 201 cross centre metro cluster, data centre migration / DR use case
  • NSX futures – distributed network encryption, management of containers, securing multiple clouds
  • VMware strategy for the cloud native applications and dev ops
  • Deep dive on Photon, lightwave, container management

NSX Discussion
How does NSX protect against bank attach or Twitter hack

NSX micro segmentation (isolation of apps)  ..DFW

3rd party integration like trend , Mcafee .. Steer traffic for layer 7 traffic.. For malware inspection.. Security tag VM.. It tells NSX to automate a policy, possible a quarantine policy

3rd party’s develop the tags ( protects against bank attach or Twitter hack etc ). NSX relies on the 3rd party NSX tags to apply a policy. NSX does have some features for tagging using activity monitoring an VM tools. VM tools can see what is running within the VM.

DMZ anywhere .. How long to provision a VM web facing and secure. NSX can spin it up instantly.

Secure user environment ..

Overlay virtual networking ( abstract )
Stretch across sites
Tunnelling ( change from vLans etc )
Logical layer 2. Packet in envelope. Encapsulate the traffic.
Vxlan

NSX is distributed across hosts rather than all going via a central physical firewall.

Develop cloud – Strategy vRealise but also others such as openstack
Others doing networks , Neutron in theory not as scale able. Challenge is abstraction layer.

Time to setup a PoC!!!

VMware do a NSX 2 day training

 

Containers – Cloud Native Apps

Contains, Windows 2016 ,G1 -> G2 -> G3 photon
Challenges with containers
Containers sit in the same user space on the same VM. Deploy multiple containers only appear as one VM in vcentre.

PowerCLI – Setup Host networking and storage ready for ISCSI LUNs

Useful script. Additional details and screen shots can be found using the following link

Script below provided by @Saintdle

( All scripts should be tested in a Lab environment only )

#Setup which host to target
$VMhost = ‘hostname’

#Create vSwitch2 for storage, add vmnics, add two vmkernels with Storage IPs, setup NIC teaming (based on the fact you probably have vSwitch0 for mgmt and vSwitch1 for VM traffic)

$vswitch2 = get-vmhost $VMhost | new-virtualswitch -Name vSwitch2 -Nic ‘vmnic2′,’vmnic5’ -Mtu 9000 -NumPorts 120

New-VMHostNetworkAdapter -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -portgroup iSCSI_ESX_01 -ip IP_ADDR -subnetmask SUBNET_MASK -Mtu 9000

New-VMHostNetworkAdapter -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -portgroup iSCSI_ESX_02 -ip IP_ADDR -subnetmask SUBNET_MASK -Mtu 9000

Get-VirtualPortGroup -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -Name iSCSI_ESX_01 | Get-NicTeamingPolicy | Set-NicTeamingPolicy -MakeNicActive vmnic2 -MakeNicUnused vmnic5

Get-VirtualPortGroup -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -Name iSCSI_ESX_02 | Get-NicTeamingPolicy | Set-NicTeamingPolicy -MakeNicActive vmnic5 -MakeNicUnused vmnic2

#Create Software iSCSI Adapter

get-vmhoststorage $host | set-vmhoststorage -softwareiscsienabled $True

#Get Software iSCSI adapter HBA number and put it into an array

$HBA = Get-VMHostHba -VMHost $VMHost -Type iSCSI | %{$_.Device}

#Set your VMKernel numbers, Use ESXCLI to create the iSCSI Port binding in the iSCSI Software Adapter

$vmk1number = ‘vmk1’
$vmk2number = ‘vmk2’
$esxcli = Get-EsxCli -VMhost $VMhost
$Esxcli.iscsi.networkportal.add($HBA, $Null, $vmk1number)
$Esxcli.iscsi.networkportal.add($HBA, $Null, $vmk2number)

#Setup the Discovery iSCSI IP addresses on the iSCSI Software Adapter

$hbahost = get-vmhost $VMhost | get-vmhosthba -type iscsi
new-iscsihbatarget -iscsihba $hbahost -address IP_ADDR

#Rescan the HBA to discover any storage
get-vmhoststorage $VMhost -rescanallhba -rescanvmfs

Trouble shooting a Disconnected Host in VMware vCenter

When your ESXi hosts are all setup up in vCenter and using HA and DRS but a blip happens, the power goes or  a host has a moment “not responding”.

disconnected host

In this  scenario we powered off the ESXi host.

What can you check?

Possible options. Try reconnecting the host if there has been no other changes

normal state reconnect

Watch the status bar for progress

Reconnecting host

What if it fails to connect like in the image below

failed to connect

  1. Don’t forget a few basic connectivity checks like…Can you ping the host?
  2. Can you connect to the ESXi host by DNS name or IP & local user and password using the vSphere client?
  3. Can you connect to any VMs which were / are still running on the disconnected host?
  4. Can you restart the management service on the ESXi host?
  5. Can you ilo to the ESXi host? Any errors /events logged on the host
  6. Any network switch down?
  7. Any SAN issues?

These are just a rough guide, it is no responsibility of the Author if you try any of these actions. Try at your own risk.

VMware vCenter 5 – NFC Server error

Issue

NFC Error

In vSphere 5 we moved an ISO from a local drive to a datastore using the VMware Infrastructure Client. Upon instigating the upload it immediately failed.

Error message :  Failed to log into NFC server.

Possible DNS issue with servers for the host?

Solution:
We found missing DNS entries for the ESXi hosts. The servers specified were referencing DNS IP addresses that had no entries for the ESXi hosts being administered.

VMware ESXi 5.1update3 and deploying Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64

Deploying a Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64 virtual machine on ESXi 5.1update3.  

Issue
The “Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64” OS options is not available in the drop down list when trying to deploy a new VM from the vSphere client.

Supported
Just to confirm, it is supported in ESXi 5.1 update 3 (others might say update 2). (See VMware compatibility guide http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=software&testConfig=16 )

Solution
However, to deploy with the option to select Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64 for the OS, you will need to deploy from the web client and not the usual vSphere client.

Just tested with web client with SSO an the VM deployed successfully.

Useful 5.5 article https://communities.vmware.com/message/2401557