April 23rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

In my last two posts I touched on what ViPR SRM can do, and the quick installation.

With the ViPR SRM installation out of the way, it’s time to start adding Solution Packs. Solution Packs are use to connect to various systems, such as VMware vCenter, so ViPR SRM can collection information about virtual machines, ESXi hosts, datastores, and HBA’s. Additionally, you connect ViPR SRM to your switches and storage for, quite literally, an end to end view of your environment.

  • First, log into http://:58080/APG and click on Administration (upper right corner)
  • Once you are in the Administration interface, click on Centralized Management on the left navigation menu, a new window or tab will open
  • In the new window, click on Solution Pack Center (back in the upper right corner)


  • In the search box in the upper right corner, type vCenter to filer the results, and click on VMware vCenter
  • When the vCenter box opens, click on the install button.


  • Follow the wizard and review the options; it’s a basic wizard – next, next; if using PowerPath click Enable the Host PowerPath alerts for example and click next, next, next, next, and finally install. ViPR SRM will go through and install the selected components.


  • Click OK. Repeat the above steps for your environment. At the very least, the Storage Compliance pack is useful. Here is the EMC XtremIO solution pack which I will be installing to show examples from.


  • With the solution packs installed, we need to provide each some information. Expand Discovery Center in the left navigation menu, expand Devices Management and click on VMware vCenter
  • Click on the Add new device… button and fill in the information to connect to vCenter. I suggest using dedicated accounts for external services, so for example here is my app_viprsrm user account which has admin privileges in vCenter. Click the test button to confirm the account has access, and then click OK. Repeat for multiple vCenters or the storage in your environment you added a pack for.


Don’t forget to click the Save button!


vcenter-vipr-srm-credsDepending on your environment, you may also want to add your FC switches as well. Switch monitoring is done by adding a Solution pack for your switch, and connecting to it via SNMP. While logged in as admin go to http://:58080/device-discovery, click Collectors, click New Collector, and Save. This will add an SNMP collector to the local VM. Once the collector is added click on Devices, New Device, and fill in the appropriate information.


With all switches added, click the check box next to it, and click the magnifying glass icon under actions; this will discover the switch.

ViPR SRM will now start collecting data, to expidite the process click on Scheduled Tasks (left navigation menu), check box for the “import-properties-default” task, and click the Run Now button. If you return to the User Interface (back in the Administration page, click User Interface) and go to Explore >> Hosts you should see your vCenter hosts as well as virtual machines.


If you navigate to Explore >> Storage you should also see the storage devices you added.


With the configuration out of the way, I can now start to explore my environment with the various reports available, which I will do in the next post!

ViPR SRM Solution Packs for vCenter and XtremIO

Posted in Tech Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 25th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Some time around the release of vSphere 5.5 (Update 2 maybe?) VMware officially(?) didn’t not support vCenter on a Windows Failover Cluster. I say didn’t not support because there still seems to be very limited documentation and KB’s on how to do this. The VMware vCenter Server Availability Guide documents available options such as using HA for vCenter availability, but also how to install vCenter on a Windows Failover Cluster, and configure the services appropriately since the application itself is not other cluster aware, for example like installing SQL on a failover cluster.

If you have done a failover cluster on Windows before, the process is a bit different so don’t just dive in as I did. So what does my environment look like:

  • SSO has been already deployed and working
  • A management vCenter is running; you will need this or some other means to clone the first virtual machine after installation

So wait why are you clustering vCenter if there is already a vCenter you ask? Many reasons, but primarily our availability of our management vCenter is less of a concern. The clustered vCenter is being deployed to support vRealize Automation so end users will rely on this vCenter to be able to request catalog items. Availability was more of a concern for this purpose than strictly management.

  • Start with only a single Window 2012 R2 64-bit virtual machine (not 2) as you will later clone this virtual machine to act as the 2nd node
  • I placed the original, and clone on two separate physical hosts
  • Each virtual machine has a single 60GB (C) drive for the OS
  • 2 additional volumes will be added which, in my case, are XtremIO volumes presented as a physical RDM. This should also work using in-guest iSCSI for example
  • 1 of the 2 additional volumes is a 60GB (D) drive which vCenter will be installed on and the other a quorum disk for the failover cluster
  • Each virtual machine has two NICs – one for production/client access the other for cluster communication
  • The Windows Failover Cluster will have an IP address, as well as the vCenter Service role which you will create; in total this is 6 IP address
  • An AD account was created for the vCenter services, added to the local administrators group and given permission on the SQL server as required

A few notes before I review the process;

  • If you are using RDMs, make sure you read this KB to mark the RDMs as perennially claimed otherwise storage rescans and boot times will be drastically affected (hosts were taking roughly an hour to boot)
  • The directions have you install the vCenter Web Client, Inventory Service, and vCenter services to the D drive. There is a known bug that causes the web client to not function properly when installed to a non-default location (though it seems more that it doesn’t work when not installed to the C drive). You’ll need this KB article which walks you through creating a symbolic link, after implementing this the web client operated as expected. Also, once installation is complete and working on the primary node, you’ll need to failover to the secondary node to create the sym link (well at least I did, would it let you create a sym link to a drive that didn’t exist? hmmm)

So, with that out of the way there is a few things to define before you bring up your first virtual machine – specifically the names and IP addresses of both virtual machines, the Window cluster, and the vCenter cluster. For example:

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(‘#table_95684235’).dataTable( {“bPaginate”: false,”bLengthChange”: false,”bFilter”: false,”bSort”: false,”bInfo”: false,”bStateSave”: true,”bAutoWidth”: true,”sPaginationType”: “full_numbers”,”oLanguage”: {
“sLengthMenu”: “Display _MENU_ records per page”,
“sZeroRecords”: “Nothing found – sorry”,
“sInfo”: “Showing _START_ to _END_ of _TOTAL_ records”,
“sInfoEmpty”: “Showing 0 to 0 of 0 records”,
“sSearch”: “Search: “,
“sInfoFiltered”: “(filtered from _MAX_ total records)”
}} );});

Purpose Name IP
vCenter Cluster VC2
Windows Cluster VC2Win
Primary vCenter Node VC2-1
Secondary vCenter Node VC2-2


This is important, and I misinterpreted this step the first time I did this: When you create the first virtual machine – give it the name and IP address of what will ultimately be the vCenter cluster – using the example above you will name the computer VC2, with an IP address of and join it to your domain. After the initial install this will be changed.

Create the virtual machine, with 2 NICs and the RDMs. Mount one of the RDMs as D and one as whatever letter makes you happy, for my OCD that would be Q for quorum. Create your system DSN as you normally would, log in as your vCenter service account and perform a custom installation (not simple), installing each of the components to the D drive. During the installation process note that the name being added to SSO is the name that will ultimately be the vCenter cluster.

Before removing the RDMs, make sure to note their original file name, volume ID, and SCSI controller; they need to be added back in the same order.

These steps are pretty straight forward in the guide, change all of the vCenter services to manual, shutdown the virtual machine, remove the RDMs, and make a clone of the virtual machine. One item not clear was when to re-add the RDMs, I chose to play it safe and kept them out of the virtual machine for now. Once the clone is complete, power on the cloned virtual machine and rename it to the secondary vCenter node hostname and IP address. Power on the original virtual machine, unjoin it from the domain, rename and IP it with the hostname for the primary vCenter node, and rejoin the domain. Now you can power off the virtual machines, re-add the RDMs to the primary node, then the secondary as you typically would, making sure the SCSI controller is set to physical sharing.

Power on the virtual machines and install the Failover Cluster feature on each. Once complete, create a new cluster on the primary node – during the creation you will be asked for a cluster name and IP address – use the Windows Cluster name (VC2Win) from the example above – this is NOT the vCenter cluster name and IP address which you used on the initial virtual machine during installation. Unlike with the SQL post I wrote, you can add all available cluster storage as both additional drives are used for the cluster (D – App, Q – Quorum). Now that the cluster has been created, you should have an AD object called VC2Win. Using option #2 from this MSDN blog post, create your vCenter cluster AD object. Failing to do this will cause the cluster to fail when you attempt to start it.

The rest of the steps for creating the vCenter cluster role are well documented with one caveat, so rather than copy paste them here finish reading the VMware vCenter Server Availability Guide. That caveat, because your vCenter services were set to manual, and thus not started after the reboots, when you create the initial vCenter role service it will come us as failed – which made me go  ZOMG not again! This message is actually just the status of the clustered service, which is stopped, thus failed from a Windows Failover cluster perspective – it is okay to proceed with creating the remaining services and setting the dependencies.

At this point, you should be able to start the cluster and have all services come up.

vCenter services on Windows Failover Cluster

vCenter services on Windows Failover Cluster

Once it is up, access the web client and set permissions as required. For example, as you can see in this screenshot, here is both vCenters in the web client after since my account was given the appropriate permissions to both.

vCenter on a Windows Failover Cluster

vCenter on a Windows Failover Cluster

The last item I have to tackle is automating the backup, copy, and restore of the ADAM database. There are a lot of words in the doc which basically says – xcopy the backup to the correct location. The document talks about stopping/starting services before placing the file. But if the services aren’t running on VC2-2, I should just be able to drop it in. Now when the services start there is an up to date file which will get loaded.

So, quick a dirty like…

del d:backup*.* /Q
%windir%system32dsdbutil.exe “ac i VMwareVCMSDS” ifm “create full D:backup” q q
xcopy /osy d:backupadamntds.dit “VC2-2C$ProgramDataVMwareVmware VirtualCenterVMwareVCMSDS”

VMware vCenter on Windows 2012 Failover Cluster

Posted in Tech Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 9th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Generally, installing virtual appliances has been pretty straight forward – import an OVA and enter the necessary details in the deployment wizard, or access the virtual appliances management interface (such as those typically on port 5480 from VMware). However, as of the Release Candidate for VMware vSphere 6.0, the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation takes a much different approach than what you’ve been used to.

A few vCenter Server Appliance prerequisites

First, it should be noted that you can only install the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) from Windows. I was first turned onto the VCSA because I was at an all OSX/Linux shop so it made sense to use something we were accustomed to using already. For now, you’ll need a Windows box to at least get the appliance deployed;  then you can punt (please note also this is based on Release Candidate (RC) code and could change in the final release).

You CAN deploy the VCSA 6.0 to both ESXi 5.5 or 6.0 host. If you currently have a 5.5 environment you can deploy the VCSA without upgrading your hosts, but if you did not take  the plunge into 5.5 you’ll have to bring at least one host online running 5.5. or 6.0.

Finally, before getting started, you MUST create DNS records before running the installer. I was struggling with the new installer because I’ve just been used to doing my DNS records after I deployed the VCSA, but before running the setup through the management interface. However with a little help from Emad Younis (@Emad_Younis) I was able to point me in the right direction. With 6.0 all of the configuration is done from the initial setup wizard. When it’s finished installing, vCenter is ready to run.

The installation wizard will NOT give you an error if this does not exist, instead it will fail during the installation!

As you can see here I have my forward and reverse DNS records ready to go on .9


Installing the vCenter Server Appliance

As with the older versions of the VCSA, it all starts with a download; however in this case you will be downloading an ISO image. Once the ISO image is downloaded either mount the ISO on your Windows box or extract the ISOs into a folder (as seen here).


Now that you have access to the files, drill down into the vcsa folder, there you will find the VMware-ClientIntegrationPlugin-6.0.0. Install this application on your Windows box (double click, Next, Accept/Next, Next, Install, Finish). Once the plugin finishes installing, back up one folder level and open the index file. As you can see here I am on Windows Server 2012, thus at least IE10 however opening the index in IE10 gives me a warning that I need to upgrade to at least IE10 or 11, so yea I’m going with Chrome. As with any plugin, you must enable it in Chrome. Click on the puzzle piece with the red x, then click Always allow and refresh the page and click the Allow button.


You should now see the vCenter icon along with a large Install button, click on it. You will get a UI very similar to what you would get deploying a virtual appliance.

vmware-vcsa-6 -installer

1.  After carefully reading the license agreement, printing it for your records, and having it signed by an attorney, click the I accept… check box and click Next.

2.  Now you can chose to deploy to your target server. Specify your ESXi host (5.5 or above!), username and password – now click Next.

If you are using self signed/untrusted certificates click Yes when prompted.

3.  The next step is to name your appliance. In my case, like I have created in DNS, my appliance name will be vxprt-vc02.vxprt.local. Click Next

4.  On the deployment type you can chose to install an embedded Platform Services Controller (which includes Single Sign-On in vSphere 6.0), just the the PSC, or just vCenter. You can have multiple Platform Services Controllers, and they can be different types. For example you could do a stand-alone PSC and have an embedded one with the VCSA. When the installer says “embedded” it really just means the components will be installed on the same virtual appliance as vCenter. I’ll be doing embedded here. Click Next

5.  Chose whether you have an existing SSO domain or you will be creating a new one. I will do this install as a greenfield type deployment, so select Configure Single Sign-On. Now enter the administrator password, and domain. To stay consistent with what I know about SSO, I’ll enter vsphere.local here. Click Next.

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) step 5 - configure SSO

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) step 5 – configure SSO

6.  Select the appliance size that supports your environment, including the new “tiny” deployment for up to 20 hosts. Click Next

7.  Select the datastore you will to install to, and whether to THIN PROVISION the vmdk (no VMware, I’m not calling it “Thin Disk Mode” – THIN PROVISION!). Click Next

8.  If you’re an Oracle shop, you have a choice on step 8, otherwise just click Next.

9.  Chose a network (this will be based on the host you deployed to), and how to assign IP information including the host name – This MUST match DNS. I’ll select static as that is what I would want to do for this type of server. Finally enter the NTP server and click next (I’ve also enabled SSH so I can connect directly to the virtual machine.

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation - Network Settings

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation – Network Settings

10.  Review the settings you’ve enter, make sure your IP information and host name are all correct and click Finish. The installation of vCenter and the VCSA will start. You’ll even see it installing packages, that’s right this is a ground up build, not just a bunch of packages pre-installed on a virtual machine!

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation process

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation process

Once the installation is complete, you can connect to https://fqdn/vsphere-client (no more 9443! One less question on the VCP6 I guess :) ).

vmware-vcsa-6-installation-completeLog in as the [email protected] you configured during the installation.


So far on the release candidate I’ve had trouble deploying to a port group on a VDS (it gives errors almost immediately) even though it appears as a valid port group on the network settings page. It would be nice if VMware added more validation on the various steps to ensure there will be no errors during the installation. If you do run into an error, you need to re-run the installation wizard.

Installing the VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 VCSA

Posted in Tech Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 5th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

During the #vDM30in30 challenge I started playing with Ansible to get to know it a bit better. One of the things I was curious about is the ability for Ansible to provision virtual machines directly to vCenter. After all if I am using Ansible to manage the configuration of my servers, it would certainly be nice to have a playbook that also deploys my virtual machine, rather than another provisioning tool.

If you don’t already have Ansible up and running, you can get the dependencies installed and Ansible project cloned from GitHub pretty easily with a vanilla CentOS box. Once Ansible is running and you have a playbook or two under your belt you can take a read at the Ansible vsphere_guest docs. This particular module is a bit lacking, I hope to add some updates soon and see if they get accepted.

As they mention in the docs, you will need to have pysphere installed; PySphere being a Python API to support interaction with vSphere/vCenter. PySphere is easy to install if you were able to follow along with my Installing Ansible from Git post; simply run

sudo pip install -U pysphere

With PySphere installed, you are now ready to create your playbook. The playbook example in the Ansible docs seemed to be missing something. Recall from my other posts you typically specify a host (linux box, not vSphere host) in your inventory file and direct the playbook that that host or groups of hosts, for example:

- hosts: db
  remote_user: virtxpert
  sudo: yes
  - name: update mysql-libs-latest 
    yum: pkg=mysql-libs state=latest

But, as you can see in the document ion, you specify the vSphere/ESXi host and vCenter server in the vsphere_guest task. So after a few iterations of trying to get that to work, I came across this page on GitHub. It shows what appears to be essentially dummy text to satisfy the host requirements in the playbook. So my playbook ends up looking like this:

- hosts:
  connection: local
  user: root
  sudo: false
  gather_facts: false
  serial: 1

  - vsphere_guest:
      vcenter_hostname: vxprt-vc01.vxprt.local
      username: [email protected]
      password: ********
      guest: testansible
      state: powered_on
        size_gb: 1
        type: thin
        datastore: vxprt-esxi01-gold-local
        type: vmxnet3
        network: vm
        network_type: standard
        memory_mb: 1024
        num_cpus: 1
        osid: centos64Guest
        scsi: paravirtual
        datacenter: dc01
        hostname: vxprt-esxi01.vxprt.local

With this playbook format in place, I am now able to run the playbook and have the virtual machine created in vCenter.

Playbook success provisioning virtual machine to vCenter

Playbook success provisioning virtual machine to vCenter

vCenter with virtual machine provisioned from Ansible playbook

vCenter with virtual machine provisioned from Ansible playbook

Up next, play around with vars_prompt in place of some of the item names so when the playbook is run, it will prompt the user for input and using Ansible to clone an existing vSphere template.

Deploying Virtual Machines to vCenter with Ansible

Posted in Tech Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 4th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Configuring the ESXi management interface via the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) is the first step, post installation, needed to make your ESXi host accessible (unless of course it obtains an address via DHCP). Once the management interface is setup and working you can then log into the server from the host based client or use tools such as PowerCLI to manage and configure the host.  In fact, since the basic features of ESXi are free, you could start virtualizing with just 1 host and the management interface configured.

virtualize-all-the-thingsOnce the install is complete and you have restarted your server, you will be at the DCUI.

  • Press the F2 button on your keyboard and enter the password you set during installation (see, no copy and paste here which is why I start with something easy).


  • Use the arrow key to “Configure Management Network” and press enter
  • Select “Network Adapters” and hit enter; here you can choose which network interfaces you want configured as a vmkernel adapter to support management traffic.  In this example only have 1 NIC but you may  have many in a production environment (you can very easily run  small workload traffic over 1 interface, but you won’t have redundancy)


  • Depending on your network configuration, you may need to go into “VLAN (optional)” to set your VLAN ID for this interface if you require all traffic to be tagged (for example in a UCS environment).  For simple configurations, this step is probably not needed.
  • Next, use the arrow keys to go to “IP Configuration” and press enter.  You can set either a dynamic or static IP address.  If you go the dynamic route via a DHCP server I’d suggest using a reservation so your IP address is consistent.  Using DHCP here also adds some considerations for availability.  For example if your DHCP server is not available, your host won’t get an IP address.
  • If you use IPv6, select “IPv6 Configuration” and configure as needed.
  • Now, go to “DNS Configuration” and press enter.  Here you define your DNS servers as well as your host name.  If you opted for DHCP, these will be provided otherwise enter these as appropriate and make sure you host name matches the DNS record you created.
  • Once finished, hit the ESC key.  Here you will be prompted to restart the management network (unless you didn’t make any changes, which if you are using DHCP is certainly possible)


If you have not already done so, create the appropriate DNS records for your host(s). You should now be able to access the Welcome page and download the Windows client. You could also connect to the host using PowerCLI at this point.


The basics are now in place for you to start creating virtual machines!

Back to basics – Configuring the ESXi management interface via DCUI

Posted in Tech Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,