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How to lose a cloud by doing 10 things wrong..

There was this awesome session abstract that was submitted for this years VMworld by Will Huber (@huberw, VCDX #81) and Tim Gleed (@timgleed, my manager 🙂 ) titled “How to lose a cloud in 10 days”. I would’ve loved to hear from these 2 guys what they thought were critical mistakes for a cloud environment.  But unfortunately it wasn’t the case, the session was not selected for VMworld. So here is my take on that session:


Why a cloud POC should never be “productionised”

Its been a while since my last post. Truth be told, I have been busy with work mostly during the last few weeks. But my little one has been having some medical issues owing to which I havent been able to socialise as much or spend time on blogging even though I have a backlog of articles in my drafts 🙂

Now lets look at this. We all know of companies who start with a POC for a product or a technology and then as mysteriously as it can be, it will turn into production at the snap of a finger. It is never OK for a POC to turn into production. As long as there is an architect who is worth thier salt, they wont let it happen. Now lets look at reasons why a cloud POC or specifically a Hybrid Cloud POC should never be ‘productionised’. (more…)

EMC EHC Federation SDDC : PaaS with Pivotal CF.

I recently had a discussion with a couple of my colleagues while working on a PaaS / IaaS EHC project recently. We were trying to come up with test cases for testing PaaS capability for Applications. So while discussing that I figured I would blog about the testing process and the kind of model that a company needs to adhere to while testing. Do you test all aspects of the solution including the infrastructure and middle ware layer? or do you test just the application layer? The answer is that it depends on the platform you are going to use. Are you are using a publicly available PaaS platform like AppEngine, Azure, AWS Beanstalk, or whether you want to have to have the development capability hosted internally in a private / hybrid cloud. The testing process for both of them different quite significantly. Or Does it? Bear with me.. (more…)

EHC Disaster Recovery Edition – vRA and SRM Integration

Returning to the blog post series about EHC, this blog will cover the EHC Federation Edition with Disaster Recovery. In this post, we will be looking at the intergration between VMware SRM and vCAC. Yes that’s right. Some of you might be unaware that vCAC or vRA is supported for DR by VMware SRM. Let us look at the conceptual diagram how this would work.

Note: This blog doesn’t discuss the DR/HA Availability of vCAC. That will be discussed in subsequent posts. (more…)

Change is the only constant.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “Change is the only constant” around 500 AD. What he might not have realised is how true it is even after 1500 years. While change is inevitable, it brings with it new challenges and new responsibilities. (more…)

My Thoughts on EMC EHC – Part 2 – Pod Architecture.

In part 1  we saw the various components that make up the EHC Solution. In this blog, lets discuss how these components interact to make up the solution pod architecture.

 The Pod Architecture:

Pods are a fancy name for a cluster (in EHC) which perform a very specific and distinguished function in EHC. There are 3 management pods which are created in EHC.

  1. EHC Core Pod
  2. EHC Automation Pod
  3. EHC NEI Pod

In addition to the above, there is usual “EHC Tenant Pod” which is exclusively used for the end users or to host multiple Business Groups or Tenants.

To make it simpler, lets think that there are going to be 3 management clusters and n number of resource clusters.

 EHC Core Pod:

The components of the EHC Core Pod can be deployed in an existing environments. Although this is the only pod that can be deployed on existing hardware, all the other pods have to be deployed on a green fields environment. Not sure how the expansion aspect of this will play out but lets tackle that when we get to it.

The EHC Core Pod has the following components:

  • External vCenter Server – Manages the EHC Core Pod (Can exist on an external environment depending on whether it’s an existing or greenfields deployment).
  • Cloud vCenter Server – Manages everything else. Acts as the endpoint for vCAC/vRA to deploy end user machines.
  • SQL Server 2012 – Hosts the respective SQL Server databases used by the External vCenter Server, Cloud vCenter Server, VMware Update Manager and VMware vCAC IaaS databases. .
  • NSX Manager VM – Used to deploy and manage the Tenant Resource Pod and the management infrastructure virtual networks  (see NSX Release notes, architecture for more info on this).
  • EMC ViPR – Provides Automated Storage provisioning for the Cloud Infrastructure. Provides a single pane management for Storage provisioning across multiple hardware systems (XtremIO, VMAX and VNX).
  • SMI-S VM – Provides the interface for ViPR to talk to the Physical Storage systems.

The core pod is deployed on storage that is not managed by ViPR. It can be deployed on existing EMC storage. If using the same storage as the cloud resources, EMC VSI client (on vSphere) can be used to deploy storage for this environment.

Though not mandatory, Fibre Channel connectivity between the EHC Core Pod and the EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud array is strongly recommended. All storage should be RAID protected and all ESXi servers should be configured with EMC PowerPath/VE for automatic path management and load balancing. This storage configuration applies to all the pods except the “tenant pods”which will have the storage provisioned by ViPR.

Components of the EHC Core Pod
Components of the EHC Core Pod

EHC Automation Pod:

EHC Automation Pod hosts all the VMs required for automating and managing the cloud infrastructure.  This doesn’t manage or automate any of the components of the EHC Core pod. The EHC Automation Pod is managed and controlled by the Cloud vCenter Instance. Although this is the case, the automation pod hardware is disntinctly separate and will NOT be used by the vCAC/vRA endpoints.  From a storage point of view, none of the components here are deployed on ViPR provisioned Storage.

The EHC Automation Pod has the following components:

  • VMware vCAC/ vRA Appliance VM
  • VMware vCAC/vRA Identity Server VM
  • VMware vCAC/vRA IaaS Server Windows VM
  • VMware vCOps/vROps Instance (2 VM vApp)
  • VMware vCenter Log Insight VM
  • VMware ITBM Suite VM
  • EMC Powerpath/VE Server VM
  • EMC Data Protection Advisor VM
  • EMC Avamar Proxy  Server 01 VM
  • EMC Avamar Proxy Server 02 VM

Most of the components above are self explanatory. If further clarification is required, then please visit VMware/EMC Documentation for the appropriate products.

Components of the EHC Automation Pod
Components of the EHC Automation Pod


EHC NEI (Network Edge Infrastructure) Pod is used to  host all the Networking and Security components for the virtualised network. These are responsible for the North-South communications. If using NSX for virtualising network, it also hosts the NSX Controllers.

This environment becomes the point of convergence for physical and virtual networks. Dedicated vSphere clusters will be used to simplify the configuration. Dedicated environment eliminates contention among the networking resources.

This environment is also provisioned on non-ViPR provisioned storage. This environment is managed by the Cloud vCenter Instance. As with the Automation Pod, this is also hosted on separate hardware.

The following components are deployed in EHC NEI Pod:

  • NSX Controllers ( if NSX is used)
  • NSX Edge Appliances.
  • vCNS Components.
Components of the EHC NEI Pod.
Components of the EHC NEI Pod.

EHC Tenant Pod:

This is exclusively used to deploy the end user machines. This environment will be completely automated and managed by

  • vCAC – Compute and Automation
  • ViPR – Storage Virtualisation and Performance Management
  • NSX. – Network Virtualisation

That’s end of Part 2 folks..

In the next blog I will cover the architecture and integration in more detail.

My thoughts on EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud – Part 1

I recently attended EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud training. EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud is a mouthful to say and also to type so here on in its going to be referred as EHC. This blog post is to provide an overview of the solution architecture and what I like / dislike about this. Before we head down the deep technical or not so technical stuff, make a note of what your definition of cloud computing is. At the end of this blog post series, lets see if we have come close to your definition of Cloud Computing.


This post in no way reflects or speaks for EMC/VCE/VMware about EHC or anything else. These are purely my thoughts. This is also not a step by step training module. If you want to get trained on EHC, contact your EMC representative or Account Manager. All the material covered in the blog post is copyright protected content of EMC. No part of this has to be reproduced without proper authority of EMC and its subsidieries. I am also not sure of how much of the roadmap is public so if its violating any NDA please let me know and I will take it down.

Now that its done.. Lets go ..

Part 1: Introduction

EHC is a pre-tested and pre-validated solution which comes in three distinct flavours.

  • EHC with VMware Eco System (vCAC / vRA, vROps, ITBM / vR Business) for private cloud and vCloud Air for the public part of the Hybrid Cloud
  • EHC with Microsoft SCVMM connecting to Microsoft Azure for the Hybrid Cloud. (expected to be announced Q1/Q2 2015)
  • EHC built on Open stack to work with whatever Open stack works with (expected to be announced Q2/Q3 2015)

This Blog post is focused mainly on the EHC with VMware EcoSystem. The other posts will follow once I have had a chance to play around with them and may be talk to a few customers who want to implement it. For now, lets focus on EHC with VMware.

When implementing or designing a cloud solution we have to take into consideration the scale and scope of the environment that the solution can support. Having said that, it also needs to be infinitely repeatable and scalable. To enable enterprise as well as SMB, EHC deployments can support from 1000 users to 10,000 users per each deployment mode. Although its not a hard limitation, this is what is has been tested upto. This will definitely increase with future versions.

In addition to the three different hypervisor based options which will be available soon, EHC for each eco system will also provide options for EHC with Business Continuity Option and EHC with Backup/DR functionality. More on this later.

Base Solution Architecture:

As of this release (2.5.1) EHC is only supported on VMware Eco system. The following components make up EHC VMware Solution.  Listed below are all the components (including optional for EHC BC or EHC DR) .

 Cloud and Orchestration Components:

  • vCAC 6.1

VMware vCloud® Automation Center (vCAC) enables customized, self-service provisioning and lifecycle management of cloud services that comply with established business policies. vCAC provides a secure portal where authorized administrators, developers, and business users can request new IT services and manage existing computer resources from predefined user-specific menus.

  • vCO 

VMware vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) is an IT process automation engine that helps automate the cloud and integrates the vCloud Suite with the rest of your management systems. vCO enables administrators and architects to develop complex automation tasks within the workflow designer. The vCO library of pre-built activities, workflows, and plug-ins help accelerate the customization of vCAC standard capabilities.

  • vSphere 5.5.x

VMware vSphere is a virtualization platform for building cloud infrastructures. vSphere enables you to confidently run your business-critical applications to meet your most demanding service level agreements (SLAs) at the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). vSphere combines this virtualization platform with the award-winning management capabilities of VMware vCenter Server. This solution gives you operational insight into the virtual environment for improved availability, performance, and capacity utilization.

 Network Virtualisation Components:

  • VMware vCNS

VMware vCloud Networking and SecurityTM (vCNS) is a software-defined networking and security solution that enhances operational efficiency, unlocks agility, and enables extensibility to rapidly respond to business needs. It provides a broad range of services in a single solution, including virtual firewall, virtual private network (VPN), load balancing, and VXLAN-extended networks.

  • VMware NSX

NSX is the next generation of software-defined network virtualization and offers additional functionality and improved performance over vCNS and traditional network and security devices. This additional functionality includes distributed logical routing, distributed firewalling, logical load balancing, and support for routing protocols. Where workloads on different subnets share the same host, the distributed logical router optimizes traffic flows by routing locally. This enables substantial performance improvements in throughput, with distributed logical routing and firewalling providing line-rate performance distributed across many hosts. NSX also introduces Service Composer, which integrates with third-party security services.

Storage Virtualisation Components:

  • EMC ViPR

EMC ViPR® is a lightweight, software-only solution that transforms existing storage into a simple, extensible, and open platform. ViPR extends current storage investments to meet new cloud-scale workloads, and enables simple data and application migration out of public clouds and back under the control of IT (or vice versa). ViPR gives IT departments the ability to deliver on-premises, fully automated storage services at price points that are at or below public cloud providers


EMC VPLEX makes Virtual Storage a reality with its ability to federate information across multiple data centers. Virtual Storage enables new approaches for delivering IT as a flexible, efficient, and reliable service. The combination of Virtual Storage and virtual servers is a critical enabler for the journey to the private or hybrid cloud.

  Monitoring and Chargeback Components:

  •  EMC ViPR SRM (for Storage Monitoring and Reporting)

EMC ViPR SRM, storage resource management software, provides comprehensive monitoring, reporting, and analysis for heterogeneous block, file, and virtualized storage environments. It enables you to visualize applications to storage dependencies, monitor and analyze configurations and capacity growth, and optimize your environment to improve return on investment.

  • VMware vCOps/ vRops 5.8   with Storage Analytics Plugin installed

VMware vCenter Operations Manager (vC Ops) is the key component of the vCenter Operations Management Suite. It provides a simplified approach to operations management of vSphere, and physical and cloud infrastructures. vC Ops provides operations dashboards to gain insights and visibility into the health, risk, and efficiency of your infrastructure, performance management, and capacity optimization capabilities

  • VMware Log Insight

VMware vCenter Log Insight delivers automated log management and aggregation. With an integrated cloud operations management approach, Log Insight provides the operational intelligence through log analytics and search for enterprise-wide visibility. It provides service-level awareness to ensure operational efficiency in dynamic hybrid cloud environments.

  • VMware ITBM 1.x (Chargeback/ Costing Analysis)

VMware IT Business ManagementTM (ITBM) Suite provides transparency and control over the cost and quality of IT services. By providing a business context to the services that IT offers, ITBM helps IT organizations move from a technology orientation to a service-broker orientation, delivering a portfolio of IT services that aligns with the needs of business stakeholders.

(Optional) Backup and Recovery Components (Any one or Multiple Options):

  • EMC Avamar

EMC Avamar enables fast, efficient backup and recovery by reducing the size of backup data at the client–before it’s transferred across the network and stored. Avamar’s variable-length deduplication dramatically reduces network traffic by only sending unique blocks, compressed and encrypted over local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs). Blocks that were previously stored are never backed up again.

  • EMC DataDomain

Data Domain utilizes target-based deduplication. The Data Domain appliance is simply a disk target that you point your backup software at. Backups leave the server in their full format and are deduplicated on the fly as they hit the Data Domain appliance. The data flowing out of the server and across the network is not reduced, but the amount of data stored on disk is reduced significantly.

  • EMC RecoverPoint

EMC RecoverPoint provides continuous data protection with multiple recovery points to restore applications instantly to a specific point in time.

EHC Supported Hardware:

  • EMC XtremIO All Flash Arrays
  • VCE vBlock 340 / 720/ 740 Systems
  • My wishlist includes EMC EVO:RAIL /RACK but well one step at a time ..

A picture is worth thousand words.

EMC EHC Solution Components.
EMC EHC Solution Components.

Future posts will discuss the components and integration in more detail.


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