• Category Archives Automation
  • Things just got real: Varrow Enterprise Hybrid Cloud

    Varrow just announced their release of its hands-on enterprise hybrid cloud environment they are showcasing at the Carolina Panthers game on Oct 30th. I got to see a live demo and it was impressive to say the least and I don’t impress easily. A lot of work obviously went into it led by Josh Coen and Chris Horn of Varrow.

    This demo was exciting to see and it showed what these solutions can do when combined and set up properly. I have seen a lot of demos and several companies talk about setting up a true hybrid cloud envionrment but this was one of the first time I saw all of the puzzle peices put together.

    From the release regarding the goals of the lab.

    In the design of its hands-on enterprise hybrid cloud, Varrow set out to build a hybrid cloud environment where both public and private cloud resources could be monitored and managed from one point of control, where workloads could easily be moved to and from public and private clouds, and where normally complex and time-consuming tasks are automated and reduced to a few mouse clicks.

    Cloud has always been a bit of hype and buzzwords but this is the closest I have seen to the “vision”

    Automation is something I find near and dear to my heart and can be a complex undertaking but is well worth the effort and was one of the highlights for me. It is one of the lynchpins of a true Hybrid Cloud in my opinion. There is a lot that goes into this solution from a technology standpoint.

    The infrastructure platform for Varrow’s hands-on enterprise hybrid cloud is built upon industry leading solutions from VMware, Cisco and EMC.  The VMware software stack is built around VMware’s vCloud vRealize suite and includes integration of VMware’s vCAC, vCO, LogInsight, and vCOPS with Cisco UCS compute and Nexus 9000 switches, providing full 40Gb connectivity and a solid foundation for software-defined networking (SDN).  EMC storage infrastructure includes Isilon, XtremeIO, VPlex, VNX, VNXe and VMAX; all storage platforms are abstracted and managed via EMC’s software defined storage platform, EMC ViPR. The Varrow Enterprise Hybrid Cloud is currently federated with Peak 10, Amazon AWS, Azure, and vCloud Air, allowing for the seamless migration of workloads from the Private to Public Cloud.

    From what I saw in the demo I think they nailed it and it was very compelling. This was not just another cloud presentation or bullet in a product brief talking about product capabilities.  This was not vaporware. They actually pulled together all of the pieces you would imagine in a real hybrid cloud scenario and showed it from an Administrator’s view and how people at various levels of the business could see and interact with it.

    Things just got real.

  • vCenter Certificate Automation Tool

    VMware announced a new tool on 4/4/2013 that aims to help with the certificate deployments in vSphere 5.1, you can read the notes on the product below and download the vCenter Certicate Automation Tool here.

    From the Installation Document:

    VMware is announcing the release of the vCenter Certificate Tool 1.0. This tool will help customers’ update the certificates needed for running vCenter Server and supporting components. This is mostly for customers who use custom certificates either generated internally from Corporate CAs or from public CA’s like VeriSign.

    Various components within vSphere and vCenter platform use certificates for identifying themselves as well as for secure communication with external software entities (browsers, API clients).  These can broadly be classified into the following categories:

    a)    STS Certificate – Certificate used by vCenter Single Sign On (SSO) for encryption the SAML 2.0 tokens
    b)   Solution User Certificates – Certificates used by each solution to identify themselves as users to SSO
    c)    SSL Certificates  – certificates needed for SSL communication for the UI and API layer
    d)   Host Certificates – These certificates are deployed in each ESXi host and used for secure vCenter to ESXi communication.

    The certificate tool automates the update of certificates in the management layer only (a, b, c above). This tool does NOT handle replacement of certificates in ESXi hosts.

    The vCenter Cert Tool aims to automate the process of uploading certificates and restarting the following components within the vCenter platform:

    1.     vCenter Server
    2.     vCenter Single Sign On
    3.     vCenter Inventory Service
    4.     vSphere Web Client
    5.     vCenter Log Browser
    6.     VMware Update Manager (VUM)
    7.     vCenter Orchestrator (VCO)

  • Autolab – Packaged VMware Nested Lab

    Recently Autolab, a new tool promising to make deploying your labs a LOT easier was released. I deployed my new lab yesterday using this tool and it couldn’t be simpler.


    This lab builder kit is designed to produce a nested vSphere 5.0 or 4.1 lab environment with the minimum effort. Prebuilt shell VMs are provided along with automation for the installation of operating systems and applications into these VMs. The lab build was originally created to aid study towards VCP5 certification however it has many other possible uses.

    This is version 0.5 – Please submit bug reports to feedback@labguides.com

    Installation Instructions PDF
    Nested AutoLab on Workstation 8
    Nested AutoLab on ESXi 5

    Hardware Requirements

    The hardware requirements for the lab are moderate. Hopefully you won’t need to buy a new computer, although you may need to do some upgrades.  If you can dedicate a computer to the role then the lab runs extremely well under ESXi.

    Hardware Minimum Great Choice Used to build the lab (laptop bought in 2009)
    CPU Dual Core, 64Bit Quad Core, i7 Core2 Duo
    RAM 8GB How much can you afford? 8GB
    Hard Disk 60GB free space 120GB SSD free space Second SATA hard disk, Laptop OS on small SSD
    Operating System 64 Bit ESXi 5.0 Windows 7 64Bit
    Virtualization Software VMware Player (untested) ESXi 5.0 VMware Workstation 8.0.2

    Additional software

    The AutoLab kit contains open source software and so can be freely redistributed. The full lab requires licensed software components some of which are quite large. Below is a list with download links where these are easily  available.

    For the older vSphere versions and for PowerCLI you will need an account with VMware or a good contact at VMware or a VMware partner.

    The version 4.1 components are only required if you plan to build a 4.1 environment, usually so you can run the upgrade to 5.0.

    • vCenter 5.0 Install DVD
    • ESXi 5.0 Install CDROM
    • vCenter 4.1 Install DVD
    • ESXi 4.1 Install CDROM
    • ESX 4.1 Install CDROM
    • VMware PowerCLI installer
    • VMware vSphere CLI Installer
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 180 day trial DVD
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Client 64bit
    • Microsoft Windows 2003 Server 32bit or Windows XP 32bit CDROM