IMO: #VMworld 2014 recap Automation & Orchestration (part 5)

Sitting here at the airport in Bucharest I thought I can finally write down my IMO thoughts about the whole automation/orchestration topic.

As I had more fun in writing about automation instead of vSAN/vVol I did it like George Lucas and mixed the orders of my parts/episodes 😉

IMO: #VMworld 2014 recap on VMware NSX (part 1)

IMO: #VMworld 2014 recap VMware EVO:RAIL (part 2)

IMO: #VMworld 2014 recap VMware vCloud Air (part 3)

IMO: #VMworld 2014 recap vSAN and vVol (part 4)

IMO: #VMworld 2014 recap Automation & Orchestration (part 5)

I visited a lot of breakout sessions regarding automation and scripting. Some of them were really really good with some great core-messages, for other sessions my skill-set of scripting or programming was not honestly not good enough to get it all ;-).

2014 was kind of a PowerCLI year for myself. I was automating a lot of stuff in a huge project with PowerCLI. I did not just used PowerCLI for interacting or automating vSphere object (VM, Clusters, Datastore,…) related things, but also to automate/optimize operational or implementation tasks (vCenter / SQL installation, Automatic Setup …). There are just so many amazing things you can do with Powershell/PowerCLI.

So IMO whoever is going to read this (if you are one of my students you will know this message):

Don’t be afraid of learning automation via scripts because it is related to programming.

In my opinion (and I meet/teach around 100 people a year from all kind of IT-infrastructure background) so many people are afraid because they have never been good at programming. This might be definitely correct, but there is no need to worry. I am definitely not a programmer and to be honest I am not considering me as a powershell/powercli professional as well. Nevertheless Powershell/PowerCLI makes it really easy to get started, because …

  • … the community is so f***** great.
  • … you have some sense of achievement pretty soon (I mean having an output of ‘hello world’ never really made me proud, but creating 50 VMs out of a template within 1-line in 2 minutes is somehow a really cool thing.
  • … the community is so f***** great ;-).

Automation is the future in the IT-infrastructure especially now that we are heading step-by-step towards the software-defined datacenter. Each component in the infrastructure is opening itself up via an API where we can run our code against. So what is the next step for me personally? Evolve from scripting to orchestrating.

During VMworld the session MGT2525 Chasing the White Rabbit all the Way to Wonderland: Extending vCloud Automation Center Requests with vCenter Orchestrator ()had a great outcome which order of automation is the best.

Policy driven (think about vVol/vSAN) things are probably not the things in the nearer future I will implement (I’m not a developer…….yet :P). Anyway I might be able to get much more into the whole orchestration (vCenter/vRealize Orchestrator) topic.

Working a lot in the automation field with script languages like Powershell, I realized the benefits and weaknesses of purely scripted solutions. If you want to have an automation engine done via a script language (e.g. Powershell/PowerCLI) it works pretty fine. But among other features you have to reinvent the wheel all the time. How can an object within a workflow be stored persistently? How can a workflow be pause/resumed? Functionality-extension via standardized plug-ins? How can I scale such an automation engine up? A lot of thinks will come up during the development, which have to be dealt with. Those topics are reasons where I believe that professional Orchestration solution are a much better choice. I will try to find this out and be more specific within the next months ;-).

So do we start learning this stuff? Having some chats after a #vBrownbag Session with Joerg Lew ( @joerglew – He was introduced to myself and is obviously the orchestration guru) he gave me some good advices how to start with when I want to learn about vR/vC Orchestrator.

That’s exactly what I am going to do in the next months…. When 2014 was my year of PowerCLI, 2015 will be my year of Orchestration.

So you wanna see how I am doing learning it? I try to keep you informed right here on this blog…stay tuned…

(And if I have not made any progress on automation at the end of next year…feel free to kick my ass if you see me 😉 )

vCloud Director: Low Performance Powering On A vApp

I am working in a project including vCloud Director as well as most other parts of VMware’s cloud stack for a while now. Until a couple of days ago, everything was running fine regarding the deployment process of vApps from vCloud Director UI or through vCenter Orchestrator. Now we noticed that starting and stopping vApps takes way too long: Powering on a single VM vApp directly connected to an external network takes three steps in vCenter:

  1. Reconfigure virtual machine
  2. Reconfigure virtual machine (again)
  3. Power On virtual machine

The first step of reconfigure virtual machine showed up in vCenter right after we triggered the vApp power on in vCloud Director. From then it took around 5min to reach step two. Once step 2 was completed, the stack paused for another 10min before the VM was actually powered on. This even seemed to have implications on vCenter Orchestrator including timeouts and failed workflows.

We spent an entire day on trying to track the problem down and came up with the opinion that it had to be inside vCloud Director. But before we went into log files, message queues etc, we decided to simply reboot the entire stack: BINGO! After the reboot the problem vanished.

Shutdown Process:

  1. vCO
  2. vCD
  3. vCD NFS
  4. VSM
  5. vCenter
  6. SSO
  7. DB

Then boot the stack in reverse order and watch vCloud Director powering on VMs withing seconds 😉

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