April 29

Part 66: My vCloud Journey Journal: VMware Cloud Evaluation

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One of the things I’ve been looking at is ways the vCommunity can learn more about cloud and vCloud Director with minimal effort. After all not everyone has a homelab or colocation like I do. It’s worth saying that the physical resources required to learn more about vCloud Director are not insignificant. So it was with those thoughts in mind that I started to look at the VMware Cloud Evaluation – as a possible route in. One of the interesting things about the evaluation is that it demonstrates how a customer could wrap their own UI shell around vCloud Director, as well as or instead of exposing the native vCloud Director interface to the consumer.

The sign-up process for the eval is pretty  slick and I would  recommend  any SP who is thinking of entering this space  to take a look at this enrollment process. Along side taking essential user data, the evaluation uses SMS text messages to verify the sign-up process along with the more common email method. Its something I’ve seen banks do frequently to sign up new payees in my Internet banking.

It takes about 15mins once all the details have been taken instantiate a new cloud evaluation account. That might sounds a long time to you, but believe me this actually pretty quick – especially as I heard only a couple of weeks ago that one SP’s idea of an acceptable onboarding process was 6 months!  I guess that’s corporate compliance for you – previously it took a year – so things are getting better! The Organization name is a numerical value that is assigned along with your password when your account is created. Once logged in to your evaluation account you have the option of using a simplified UI interface or the more sophisticated vCloud Director.  The simplified evaluation UI  is on the “My Cloud” tab while on that tab you can choose to view in vCloud Director if you want to. As the OrgAdmin you have the right to create vApps and vApp Networks using the core vCloud Director interface.

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Note: This name is system generated. You can make it more personal to you if you select the “Administration Tab” and the “General” gear – where you modify the “Organizations Full Name”.

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Remember, although the vCloud Director UI is displayed, I found some of the options were not available – that’s because you’re an Organization Admin, not a System Admin. This is because of the way the Eval works rather than any “permissions” issue. It looks as if the vApps in the evaluation are configured to directly Organization Networks, which in turn are connected directly to External Networks. That means for example there isn’t an “Edge Gateway” to control/configure unless you make a new vApp with a vApp Network. I guess this is “fair” as Organization Admin in a private vCloud Director environment you have no rights to add or modify an Organization Network. I created a “Test vApp” requesting a vApp Network at the same time – and that passed through without a problem. Anyway, the upshot of this is to manage for example the firewall you must use the UI provided by the eval, rather than the one provided by vCloud Director – and use the UI for the vApp Network.

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If you look at any VM you create from the catalog it’s configured with two nics, one connected to a public and private network like so:

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If you have access to existing VMs that you can export (from vCenter or vCloud Director) into the .OVF format these can be uploaded directly into the vCloud Director catalog and deployed in the same manner as you would any VM/vApp if you were running vCloud Director on your own terra-firma. If you select Catalog, browse the catalog and using the “Upload” button you can import the .OVF that way. The Eval has been recently upgraded to vSphere5.1/vCloud5.1 so hardware level 9 VMs will run it (a problem I came up against a couple of months ago).

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This is all well and good, but you might also want to take a look at the front-end of the evaluation which allows you to quickly deploy VMs and vApps from a gallery of different configurations. In the main “My Cloud” tab you can use the “Add New Server” button…

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Your not required to use the vCloud Director UI to upload .OVFs to the Cloud. It does come with its own upload front-end. Under “Administration” and “View My Media and Templates” the “Upload an .OVF File” option does much of the same function. This option uses a .MSI installer to add the “Cloud Upload” to your management machine. This is actually quite common amongst our vCloud Service Providers who use vCloud Director concepts to construct the cloud for the tenant – but build their own slick UI’s using the vCloud APIs and their own development talents.

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As you would expect your able to name the first server in the vApp, as well as giving the vApp a starting name – the fun starts with the different template options. There are 3 options here – Operating Systems, Applications and VMware Utilities. The Operating System list builds a VM for either:

  • Windows 2008 R2 – 32/64bit
  • CentOS 5.5 to 6.2 – 32/64bit
  • Debian 6.04 – 64bit
  • Fedora 16 – 64bit
  • JeOS 8.04 -32bit
  • Ubuntu 10.10 or 12.04 – 32/64bit
  • Bare Metal Virtual Machine (No OS)

Applications contains pre-packaged versions popular Linux technologies. So you will find your usual blends of software design to build web-site and content management (Drupal, Joolma, LAMPstack, Redmine, TomcatStack)), SugarCRM (a customer relationship management platform), and WordPress which is a popular blogging platform – one that I use actually.

  • *Alfresco
  • *DokuWiki
  • Drupal
  • *Gallery
  • *JasperReports
  • Joolma
  • LAMPstack
  • *Mantis
  • *MediaWiki
  • *Moodle
  • *phpBB
  • Redmine
  • Ruby on Rails
  • SugarCRM
  • TomcatStack
  • *Tracks
  • WordPress

* New to the Cloud launch….

The Personal Template option allows you to pick out OVFs/vApps you have uploaded to the catalog.

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I thought it would be interesting to have a mirror of this blog in the cloud. That means I could test upgrades and changes to the mikelaverick.com blog without needing to try them out on the live site. Of course this mirror my blog would only be powered on when I need it for testing, and wouldn’t be configured to take the massive amounts of hits I receive (I’m kidding there by the way!)

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It takes a short while for the VM/vApp to be created (I think it was less than 5mins), you can also expand the vApp to reveal the internal, isolated and external IP address (my external IP starts with 74.x.y.z)

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Note: I found the Cloud UI works best over Windows, as I found some features on the Apple Mac (regardless of web-browser type) are not supported. For example, Google Chrome will bring up a warning to vCloud Director (which you can bypass), and Mozilla on FireFox doesn’t support the “VMRC” which is the Remote Console plug-in. In the end I found the best place to manage vCloud Director generally has been Mozilla on Windows virtual desktop. Mozilla handles my untrusted certificates in the lab with aplomb, and is fully functional with the vCloud Director and the Cloud as well. For example you can gain full console access to the VM…

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Note: “Run Console” someone should make a T-Shirt with that written on it! 😉

This 74.x.y.z address merely takes you to a welcome page, as WordPress is stored in a sub-directory /wordpress. The welcome page that is built with just the raw IP address is actually generated by the Cloud Evaluation.

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The how to guide essentially runs you through the same steps as I have here – but it does include what the default username and password is for the WordPress logins. Once you are armed with these details its quite easy to login into the blog /wordpress/wp-admin, and then change your password (users tab on the right-hand sidebar) and also do an update (3.4.2 is actually quite an old release – 3.5.1 is the current release of the WordPress software).  The “Access my application” merely takes you to the blog itself at /wordpress – and “Access phpMyAdmin” gives very detailed instructions on how to get to the CPanel-style configuration to manage things like databases, and database passwords.

Next, I used WordPress “import/export” function to export all my posts, pages and feedback. This also imports user accounts, as well as downloading and importing file attachments as well.

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Import my “greyzed” theme – I had imported that by downloading the zip. When I did it I discovered that greyzed theme hasn’t been updated in two years. That probably goes a long way to explain why it doesn’t display that great on the IPAD. Greyzed was included as theme by hosting provider “dreamhost”. Perhaps I should look for a more up to date theme? I picked it because I hadn’t seen anyone else in the community use it before.

Set the Title “Mike Laverick” or the sub-heading, my rather snappy “Laverick by Name, Maverick by Nature”.

Other things not handled by the import process – did not delete sample page from new blog; plug-ins install & configure; preserve the menu structure (but that could have been me to be honest…)

Anyway, at the end of the process I had pretty good mirror of the mikelaverick.com website – notice the test.mikelaverick.com URL as opposed to www.michellelaverick.com

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BTW. This part was written before my recent theme change on this blog!

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As we saw in earlier in the definition of the vApp a number of firewall ports are opened if you enable the option “Allow traffic for incoming ports”. Just because a port is opened on the firewall it doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything “listening” on the other side – as I discovered my WordPress VM is not enabled for FTP. Under the “My Cloud” menu is where you will find the “View my Virtual Networks” options:

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So from here you can see your internal IP (192.168.1.100) as well as the External IP (72.x.y.z). This allows you to control the mapping of the Internet facing IP address to the Internal address of the system – so in my case the VM “mikesblog” in the vApp “Mike Blog” has the internal IP of 192.168.1.00 mapped to the external IP of 74.1.2.3. There are no prizes for working out what the “Add external IP” button does – but would have thought merely the act of creating a new VM/vApp is enough to consume another external IP. However, being the kind of guy I am decided to see if I could do this all manually (yes, I know the future is about automation!).

So I deployed a new vApp this time a Windows 2008 32-bit instance. Creating the new VM/vApp without enabling the “Assign this server an external IP address”, resulted in the vApp being created without any assignment at all. What I needed to do was click the “Add External” IP button, and the portal then assigned IP address to my new VM/vApp.’

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All I had to do next was open up the Firewall ports for that IP address for Microsoft RDP and I was able to connect. All I needed to do was click the “Create New Rule” at the bottom of the page and add in the appropriate settings for my 72.x.y.88 address.

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I was now ready to try to RDP into my new Windows 2008 R2 32-bit box, all I would need is the admin password. For Windows based VMs, the “Show more details” button on the thumbnail of vApp

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shows the autogenerated password – created by I assume by vCloud Director during the cloning process:

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For the hell of it I enabled IIS on Windows and then update my firewall configuration to reflect that and jobs-a-good-un (as they say where I come from…)

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Note: You can see what a multi-tasker I was being here. Writing this blogpost and another at the same time. If I go on like this I will need two keyboards and another pair of arms!

Of course when you are done with a VM/vApp you should shut it down or suspend it (depends if its production I guess. I’m not in the habit of powering down production servers, unless the power cord gets accidentally caught in my sleeve…)

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Conclusions:

I think the VMware Cloud Eval is pretty good place to try out vCloud Director. Try to see the evaluation as an agnostic sandbox environment for folks to use for experimentation and learning. Once you have finished the trial, with the right knowledge and experience at hand, you can choose the Service Provider that’s right for you [TW1] for a long-term commitment. We don’t encourage folks to stay a long time or run production workloads in our evaluation. And remember this “evaluation” despite the name – has nothing to do with that big announcement a couple of weeks ago to do with launching our own Hybrid Cloud platform



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Posted April 29, 2013 by Michelle Laverick in category "Cloud Journal