TIPS: Explain the Cloud to your Boss

littlecloud.svg

I am calling this article “TIPS” hoping it serves a dual purpose. On one instance, it should help you understand what the cloud is from a high level view if you are still fuzzy about the subject, but it will also remind you of the Techniques to Inform, Present and Show (TIPS) details about the cloud.

I recently completed my Masters degree in Cyber Security, and just so happened that I did my research paper (Thesis) on the cloud. I thought this would be an easy topic since I knew everything about cloud computing, so I thought. As I dug deeper, I found interesting aspects, vulnerabilities, compliance advantages and disadvantages, but also some use cases where the cloud was a perfect fit, and some where it did not.

So, the cloud is not a new concept, as it has been around for quite some time. Cloud computing is the convergence of resources that allows for a centralized location of shared resources that can be deployed quickly as needed. This methodology has been in place for many years. What has changed is the location, availability, accessibility and pricing, which is what executives care the most about in most instances. There are 4 types of cloud, also known as Deployment Models:

  • Private – On Premise
  • Public – Hosted by a service provider
  • Hybrid – Combination of Public/Private
  • Community – Cloud composed of organizations in the same field or common interests that drives a requirement. For example, a group of hospitals the require a cloud service provider to be HIPAA compliant.

cloudtypes

Aside from the Deployment Models of Cloud Computing, we also have service models. Although you may have heard many, many service models being offered, there are three official service models where different services may fall into. So, a vendor’s marketing strategies that create their own service models, is only causing confusion to potential users as well as delaying the adoption of the technology. There are three service models plus the highly utilized on premise option.

  • Private – On premise. All service models are available within a company’s data-center.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Offers only software available through the internet. Think of it as your iTunes, or GMAIL.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Offers a platform where customer can develop, and run web applications without having to worry about servers, network, etc.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – This offering provides everything but the kitchen sink. It may include compute, storage, networking, management, security, hypervisors, etc.

cloudmodels

 

From a high level view. This is what the cloud is about. The term has gained interest in the last several years thanks to the advances in technology, and communications which allows for fast, scalable, and cost effective solutions to the business. Before you jump on the cloud band wagon, you should do your due diligence and investigate the pros and cons of cloud computing, especially as it relates to compliance, and security. I won’t go there, I promise.

To wrap things up, remember to follow TIPS. Use the Techniques such as the need to Inform yourself before you tell others, Present accurate information in a simplistic way, and Show the pros and cons of the solution, as well as a high level logical design highlighting the differences between the different offerings.

cloud-overview

Image source: rividium.com

vExpert: So What the Fuss

vExpert

“So What the Fuss” is not just a Stevie Wonder song, it is also what many people are thinking about the vExpert announcement. This past Thursday, VMware announced the selected vExperts for 2015.

What is vExpert?

Let’s start with what is not. A lot of people think of it as the highest cert available from VMware, and confuse it with the VCDX certification. Well, it is not. Although some VCDXs are vExperts, not all vExperts are VCDXs. A vExpert is an individual that is passionate about his/her job and cares enough to share knowledge with others without compensation. People become a vExpert based on their quantitative and qualitative contribution to the community, not by taking a test; therefore, vExpert is not a certification.

What’s in it for me?

This program not only helps VMware get the word out about their products, but it also helps aspiring vExperts push the limits and dig down into the technology and capabilities. This not only benefits the individual’s knowledge base, but also his/her employer. For those of us that are customers, the employers win by having the best infrastructure they can have. For vendors/consultants, it makes their jobs easier. For start-ups, well, this should be required, IMHO.

So What the Fuss?

So, what is the big deal? Well, it is a big deal in my opinion. Individuals spent countless hours of their personal time, including nights, weekends, and being away from family in order to contribute to the community. So, to be recognized by VMware, is a nice pat on the back for those of us that make the sacrifice. VMware has a great community and a great program led by Corey Romero and his team, so thanks to them for the all the great work they do. I am humbled and honored to be named a vExpert once again.

vSphere 6 Web Client: Yes, Let’s go there…

Since the introduction of vSphere 5.1, VMware introduced the new Web Client. Yes, there was another web client out there, but it was not widely used. A lot of people questioned the change towards a web interface, so here are many reasons for the Web Client:

  • Access from any device with Web access
  • No need to install binaries in multiple locations to access the vSphere environment
  • Multi OS friendly
  • Scalable solution
  • API friendly

This first version was well received by many, but others noticed some slow response within the browsers. Well, I am happy to say that the new Web Client in vSphere is anything but slow. I know for a fact that the VMware team has spent countless hours working to get the slow response issue resolved. I was privileged to be part of a private customer Alpha test for vSphere x.y , and the difference made since the Alpha up until Beta 2 has been tremendous. I had the chance to voice concerns in many areas and obviously the Web Client was one of them, and let me tell you, VMware listens very well and does whatever needs to be done to make customers happy.

I will list some of the changes to the Web Client that I believe most customers will REALLY like.

  • Fast response times for Web Client interaction
    • Very noticeable
  • Faster log on process
  • Browser Friendly
    • Previous version had best results using Google Chrome
  • Recent Tasks (at bottom) is back
  • Drop down menu from home icon for easy, 1-click navigation
  • Core items added to left pane (Networking, Storage, VMs, Hosts)
  • vCenter Inventory Lists
  • 1-click task filtering

 

These are some of many improvements in the new vSphere release that will satisfy the requests of many customers. I was extremely impressed about the speed of the Web Client, but the additional features are icing on the cake.

As you may infer, the “fat client” will play a small to non-existent role moving forward. The C# client may still be used to access the individual hosts, as well as having read only capabilities for objects with virtual hardware version 9 and above, but vCenter tasks will be have to be done through the new an improved Web Client. Based on the huge improvements and new features, I don’t think many people will miss the old client.

Web_Client

DTv6

Not your next Internet protocol…

For those of us that like to test our knowledge with certifications, I got good news (or bad news, depending on how you look at it). VMware has released a new End User Computing certification for VMware Horizon View. This certification will validate your skills and experience with Horizon View.

The previous version (VCP5-DT), has not been deprecated as of now.

More information on VCP6-DT as well as blueprint info can be found here.

VCP6-DT

vCOPS Upgrade 5.6 – 5.8.2

vCOPS upgrade 5.6 – 5.8.2

Today I decided to write about one of the tasks that I consider trivial. This task; however, threw me a few curve balls.

It’s been a while since I have looked into upgrading vCOPS. My setup consists of 1 vCOPS environment per data center and they are all running version 5.6.

The first thing I noticed when downloading the upgrade PAK was that there was an additional PAK file. The OS PAK states that an OS upgrade of SLES is required in order to run vCOPS 5.8.2.

PAK_Files

Procedure:

  • Download PAK files
  • Upgrade vCOPS to 5.8.2
  • Upgrade vApp VMs to SLES 11 SP2
  • Reboot
  • Verify

To upgrade to 5.8.2, log on to vCOPS/admin and attach/upload the PAK file and click update.

vCOPS_Bundle

You will get a little pop-up message stating that you cannot revert back to previous versions. (Exchange admins should be familiar with this…).

vCOPS_confirm

After accepting the EULA… I mean reading and accepting, the status showed as failed. Looking further at the status, it was evident that there was not enough free space on the UI VM. When more space is needed for vCOPS, all you need to do is add a drive to either or both VMs within the vAPP, and vCOPS will mount the new drive and format it into the same logical drive where all the data is being stored. The normal procedure applies to adding disks. VM>Edit Settings>New Device:New Hard Disk> Assign a size and modify advanced features if needed. VMware recommends that you add Eager Zero thick drives whenever possible for better performance.

vCOPS_vApp

vCOPS_Drive2 vCOPS_Drive_Result

 

While vCOPS is updating, you can log back in and check the status.

vCOPS_status        vCOPS_status_after

The next step is to upgrade the OS.

In order to upgrade the OS, you will need to copy the PAK file (VMware-vcops-SP2-1381807.pak) to the data drive of the UI server. You can use SCP or WinSCP (If you are a GUI person) and copy the file. Initiate the SLES 11 SP2 upgrade by running the command below. The nice thing is that this command upgrades both UI and analytics servers in the vApp. Reboot the vApp after the upgrade and check to make sure everything looks good afterwards.

/usr/lib/vmware-vcops/user/conf/upgrade/va_sles11_sp2_init.sh /data/VMware-vcops-SP2-1381807.pak

vCOPS_sles_1 vCOPS_sles_2

vCOPS_sles_Completed

 

Once done, reboot the vApp and enjoy.

publickey,password error

IF… you did not check your root password before the OS upgrade and it is expired, you will need to change it. To check your password use the command: chage -l root. If you do have to change your password before/after the reboots you may run into a potential issue where you will have a key mismatch. You can ssh to/from each server to make the servers exchange keys by running these commands:

From UI VM: ssh secondvm-internal

From Analytics VM: ssh firstvm-internal

Also make sure the correct permissions are in place. Run this commands on both VMs.

usermod -G vami,wheel root

usermod -G root,wheel admin

echo “ALL : ALL : ALLOW” >> /etc/hosts.allow service sshd restart

Then follow the instructions from KB2032750

rsa