New fling: Autopology – wysiwyg Designer for NSX

NSX is a very powerful network virtualization platform that allows the users to spin up large scale complex networks within seconds. For new users, the inventory-based interface that NSX exposes might be a little overwhelming. To ease the network creation process and the workloads’ attachment to such networks we present ‘Autopology’ – a graphical interface aimed to complement NSX and simplify workflows for customers and people stepping into the realm of virtual networking.

What Autopology Offers

  • Drag and drop interface to create logical networks so that the customers can design topologies tuned to their environments
  • Single click replication of sections of topologies
  • Ability to view the drawn network for future reference
  • Ability to easily navigate to NSX Manager interface to further customize the logical entities as and when needed
  • Ability to attach multiple VMs to logical entities. VMs could be residing on ESX or KVM hypervisors

Benefits

  • One cohesive view to design logical networks as opposed to filling out tedious forms across multiple views
  • Intelligent defaults help bypass advanced configuration for network objects
  • Rapid scaling of logical networks
  • Inventory of workloads across multiple hypervisors
  • Combine compute and network in a single view

Requirements:

VMWare Products
Autopology Server

Ubuntu 16.04 with the following packages installed:

  • apt-get install python-pip
  • apt-get install python-libvirt
  • apt-get install libssl-dev
  • apt-get install python-dev
  • apt-get install libffi-dev
Autopology Web Interface
  • Chrome, the latest version from Google
  • Firefox, version 35 and above from Firefox

Installation instructions

  1. Download the autopology-1.0.20170421-py2-none-any.whl package from this page on the Ubuntu 16.04 machine
  2. Install the package on Ubuntu 16.04 machine using the command:
    pip install autopology-1.0.20170427-py2-none-any.whl
    l
  3. Start Autopology Server using the command:
    autopology.server
  4. Follow the prompts to complete server startup
  5. Post install, use the Autopology Web Interface URL, typically, https://<Ubuntu machine ip>:<port number> to design and deploy NSX topologies.

For detailed instructions, please refer to the Autopology Installation & Quick Start Guide.

Get new fling: Host Profiles CLI

The Host Profiles CLI Fling (hostprofilescli) is a command-line utility that allows vSphere administrators to perform several operations with Host Profiles that are either not currently possible through existing user interfaces, or possible only through graphical interfaces.

Recall that Host Profiles is a feature of VMware vSphere that allows identical configurations to be applied to multiple hosts. Customers typically use one profile per cluster, but depending on hardware and storage consistency, a single profile can be used more broadly.

This CLI utility can be used to perform the following operations:

  • Customize Auto Deploy stateless hosts prior to booting and joining vCenter Server
  • Import/Export Host Profile to or from local file
  • Attach a profile to an existing cluster
  • Set root password in a profile or configure a profile to use unique root passwords per host
  • Configure system image cache setting (stateless, cached, or stateful install)
  • List all host profiles in vCenter Server

Administrators of large VMware vSphere deployments who regularly deploy new clusters of VMware ESXi hosts can benefit from this additional automation for Auto Deploy and Host Profiles.

Overview of Capabilities

Pre-Customization of Auto Deploy Hosts

When using Host Profiles, most configuration settings apply equally to every host in a cluster, but certain items are unique to each individual node. These unique settings, such as a hostnames or static IP addresses, are known as customizations and are sometimes referred to as answer files. Administrators normally input these customizations with a graphical vSphere interface during the deployment process. vSphere 6.5 introduced a mechanism that allows editing customizations through a CSV file, but the feature only applies to hosts that have already been added to the vCenter Server inventory.

The stateless-template feature of this CLI utility allows administrators to pre-populate a vSphere cluster with all customizations applicable to the associated Host Profile so that VMware ESXi hosts can be fully configured and ready for use with zero manual intervention – without a GUI. The customization data, such as static IP addresses or unique root passwords, are specified using a standard CSV file. As such, this configuration data can be generated programmatically and tracked though version control mechanisms.

See the Instructions tab for more information on how to use this feature.

Host Profile Import and Export

The hostprofilescli utility can also be used to export a specific profile to a local file for backup or, in some cases, to move between test and production environments. Keep in mind that Host Profiles are very closely tied to specific hardware, I/O devices, and storage. Attempting to use a profile in another environment that is not virtually identical may require significant troubleshooting to become operational.

Examples:

hostprofilescli hostprofile --profile esxi65-nfs-gen8 export --file esxi65-nfs-gen8.vpf
hostprofilescli hostprofile --profile esxi65-nfs-gen8 import --file esxi65-nfs-gen8.vpf

(Examples on this page omit the authentication parameters for brevity.)

Root Credential Management

Host Profiles can be used to specify passwords for ESXi accounts. However, since passwords are not extracted from the reference host during profile creation, they must always be set by an administrator afterwards through the Host Profile editor. The hostprofilescli utility can be used to set the root password on a profile, eliminating the need to log in and use a vSphere GUI.

Alternatively, Host Profiles can be configured to prompt a user for host passwords during customization – useful if security standards require unique root passwords for each individual ESXi host. This utility can also enable such a configuration, and if it is selected then root passwords can be specified in the customization data through the stateless-template feature described above.

Examples:

hostprofilescli hostprofile --profile esxi65-nfs-gen8 useraccount-password set --type allhosts
hostprofilescli hostprofile --profile esxi65-nfs-gen8 useraccount-password set --type perhost

Attach Profile to Cluster

Once a Host Profile exists in vCenter Server, either by extracting from a host or uploading form a file, it can be attached to an existing cluster using the attach subcommand.

Example:

hostprofilescli hostprofile --profile esxi65-nfs-gen8 attach --entity dbcluster

System Image Cache Configuration

Although the most common deployment architecture for Auto Deploy is to use stateless, diskless VMware ESXi hosts, there are two other options: stateless caching and stateful installation. The hostprofilescli utility can also be used to modify this setting.

Stateless caching is used to mitigate potential performance degradation during boot storms, such as during recovery after a mass outage. With this configuration, hosts boot from a cached copy of ESXi on local storage if PXE or Auto Deploy services are not available. Important to note is that these hosts will boot and wait until Auto Deploy is available before they are re-connected to vCenter Server. Therefore, caching is not a high-availability architecture.

Stateful install is a means of using Auto Deploy to perform a traditional installation of ESXi to disk. After installation, the host is identical to hosts installed from ISO image and is no longer dependent on Auto Deploy. Choosing this option requires that physical hosts be configured to boot first from hard disk, not from network, after installation is complete.

Examples:

hostprofilescli hostprofile --profile esxi65-nfs-gen8 system-image host set \
--type stateful-install --firstdisk_arguments localesx,local --ignore_ssd --overwrite_vmfs

For more information on system image cache, see the product documentation

Requirements

The hostprofilescli binary was tested on the following Linux distributions

  • CentOS Linux release 7.3.1611
  • Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS
  • VMware PhotonOS 1.0 build 13c08b6
  • vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 6.5

Alternatively, the Python source is included and can be copied and executed directly on vCenter Server for Windows or VCSA 6+.

Tested with vSphere 6.0U3 and vSphere 6.5, on both Windows and VCSA platforms, with the following specific requirements:

All versions and platforms

  • Auto Deploy service functional
  • Host Profile adequately tested with intended target host hardware and storage
  • Cluster in vCenter Server with above Host Profile attached

Additional prerequisites for vSphere 6.5 only

  • Image Builder service functional
  • Software Depot (online or custom) with desired ESXi image profile accessible

Additional prerequisites for vSphere 6.0U3 only

New fling: vCenter Cluster performance tool

vCenter Cluster Performance Tool is a Powershell script that uses vSphere PowerCLI to obtain performance data for a cluster by aggregating information from individual hosts. You have the following options to specify in the script.

  • An “interval” of 20s or 300s. The default is 20s, and corresponds to real time statistics. 300s corresponds to the 5 min interval statistics.
  • A stats query flag to obtain the list of counter IDs available on the vCenter Server. You can then pass the desired counter ID from that list to obtain Performance metrics for the cluster.

Features

  • Gathers all data of the specified interval type that is available on each host in the specified cluster
  • Easy and a quick way of obtaining performance data for a vCenter cluster
  • Data is saved in a CSV file, which can then easily be fed into any charting software
  • A chart, in PNG format, is also generated for visualization

Note:The core distribution model for VMware PowerCLI was changed from Snapins to modules in PowerCLI 6.0. Which means that we will have to modify our scripts to not use snapins any more, in order to make them work with newer versions of vSphere.

Requirements

  • VMware vCenter Server 5.0 and above
  • PowerShell supporting Windows system (Windows XP and later)
  • VMware vSphere PowerCLI that is compatible with the vCenter Server
  • Microsoft Chart Controls for Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5

New version VMware Fling: ESXi embedded host client

Yesterday VMware released a new version of the ESXi embedded host client.

The ESXi Embedded Host Client is a native HTML and JavaScript application and is served directly from your ESXi host! It should perform much better than any of the existing solutions.

Please note that the Host Client cannot be used to manage vCenter.

We welcome any feedback and bug reports. You can post your feedback here on the VMware Labs site, in the VMware.com community forums, or using the Host Client’s built-in Feedback tool under the Help menu.

Download the VIB here. If you are looking to automate installation of the latest VIB, we also provide a copy of the latest VIB here.

Known Issues
  • On hosts using ESXi 6.0 Update 1 or lower and ESXi 5.5 Patch 8 or lower which are assigned a VMware vSphere Hypervisor license (the free license from VMware.com), all modification operations will fail silently. This issue has been resolved in ESXi 6.0 U2 and 5.5 Patch 8.
  • Hosts with ESXi 6.0 before Update 2 which have a sub-domain name with a combined cookie size of >8KB in-browser web console sessions may fail to initialize. A workaround is to clear cookies or run the host client in an incognito-type window, or alternatively, use the standalone VMware Remote Console application.
  • For ESXi 5.5 hosts, in-browser consoles are not supported. Please use VMware Remote Console (VMRD) to access guest VM consoles.
  • For ESXi 5.5 hosts before Update 2, you must ensure to append a trailing / (forward slash) to the URL after /ui. The URL must be https://<esxhost>/ui/
What’s missing?

The Embedded Host Client is currently undergoing development. We are working hard to bring the functionality level to that of the vSphere Client, but we’re not there yet. Here’s what we know is missing:

  • Resource pool management
  • Comprehensive performance chart UI with access to all performance counters
  • Exporting performance counter data to Excel/CSV
  • Multi-NIC vMotion configuration
  • Deploying VMs from a URL
  • Exporting VMs to an OVA
Offline Bundles

Offline bundles are packages that can be loaded into VMware Update Manager to facilitate easy installation of the Host Client onto a cluster of ESXi Hosts

VMware Remote Console VIBs

Installation of the VMRC VIBs is optional and intended to facilitate downloading VMRC in situations where access to VMware.com is not possible. The VIBs are installed into the /locker partition of your host’s locally attached disk. This partition has limited space, and so care should be taken to ensure that sufficient space is available. Each VIB is roughly 20 MB in size.

 

New VMware Flings released

Last Friday, 15th of december, VMware released three new flings.

VMWARE ENDPOINT OPERATIONS AGENT UPGRADE KIT

This Fling allows you to easily upgrade your Endpoint Operations (EPO) agents registered to vRealize Operations Manager (vR Ops). It works with 32/64 bit agents running on Linux and Windows. For this Fling to update the agents, the agents need to be in the “Collecting” collection state and have the version numbers of 6.2.1 or 6.3. The way this Fling works is that it uses the internal vR Ops APIs to get a full list of all installed agents and are in the “Collecting” collection state. It then upgrades those agents asynchronously. The main advantage of using this Fling is that because the process is automated, you can easily update all the agents you have running with one command.

View Client Resizer

The View Client Resizer is a utility that resizes VMware Horizon Client for Windows desktop to a specific resolution.

Features

  • Polls and displays all active View Client sessions
  • Pick from a pre-set list of common resolutions, or enter an arbitrary resolution
  • Works on any version of Windows
  • Remembers previously set resolution

vSphere Content Library Assistant

vSphere Content Library is a feature that was introduced with vSphere 6.0. It provides a simple and effective way of managing content, such as VM templates, vApps, ISO images, and others files. Content Library can also distribute this content across sites and vCenter Servers.

Let us introduce vSphere Content Library Assistant. The Assistant will help you easily on-board your VC templates (.vmtx) on to Content Library.

The Assistant will perform the following steps automatically:

  • Scan datastores to discover VC templates
  • Recommend optimal inventorying intelligently
  • Create content library(s)
  • Convert VC templates into OVFs
  • Import these OVF Templates into the newly created content library

More information about flings and also the download page of the flings can be found here

Latest fling : DRS Doctor

DRS Doctor is a command line tool that can be used to diagnose DRS behavior in VMware vCenter clusters. When run against a DRS enabled cluster, it records information regarding the state of the cluster, the work load distribution, DRS moves, etc., in an easy to read log format.

The goal of DRS Doctor is to give VI admins better insight into DRS and the actions it performs. It is very useful for analyzing DRS actions and troubleshooting issues with very little overhead. This is also an easy way for support engineers to read into customer environments without having to rely on developers to debug DrmDump logs in order to troubleshoot simple DRS issues.

DRS Doctor connects to the vCenter server and tracks the list of cluster related tasks and actions. It also tracks DRS recommendations generated and reasons for each recommendation, which is currently only available in a hard-to-read format in DrmDump files. At the end of each log, it dumps the Host and VM resource consumption data to give a quick overview of cluster state. It also provides an operational audit at the end of each log file.

drs-doctor-screen-shot-1

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