VMware Support Summit #vTechSummit Cork Feb 24-25

On Tuesday and Wednesday I finally made it to the VMware EMEA Tech Support Summit in Cork, sponsored by GSS. I’d never been before and wasn’t sure what to expect.  Would it be a waste of time ?

Not quite. In fact it was the opposite.

I met up with my good buddy and fellow VCAP Ross Wynne @rosswynne. So both of us were looking for good quality tech content.

To save you reading through this whole post I can confirm the complete absence of product marketing. There was one presentation which was borderline which I really didn’t get, but that was the exception. It was all informative, interactive, technical and suited to the audience.

The Presenters

With maybe one exception the presenters had a command of their subject matter that  was right up there with any I’ve seen. When you think about it, that’s to be expected of support and product experts (escalation engineers).

But what I didn’t expect was that these guys might not do this every day (some of them anyway), but most of them were very accomplished presenters and explainers of deep tech concepts.

And because the slides will be shared with the attendees you didn’t need to worry about writing stuff down. You couldn’t anyway as within each 1 hour session there was so much packed in. This is one to sit back and listen and don’t bother note-taking. I even decided on a self-imposed tweeting ban.

Design Do’s & Don’ts

What I also didn’t expect was the focus on sharing of examples from the field of what architectures worked, didn’t work, and what best practices you should following with your designs. So this was best practices based on reality. Real examples of upper limits you might hit, and upper limits you shouldn’t attempt to hit.

How to get out of jail

And then the most obvious part.

  • What are the worst problems ?
  • What is the root cause ?
  • How can you fix them ?
    • What logs can you check
    • Should you use TCPDUMP ? vmkping or some other utility
    • Which ones are well-known to support.
    • In each case where there either was or wasn’t a fix the KB’s were listed

I particuarly enjoyed the top-10 issues session just for the range of items that arose.

In many cases there were no fixes. The nature of this session meant that it was a case of full disclosure and sharing of information. I like that a lot !!.

vCloud Director

Take the case of the vCloud preso which was really awesome. Some of the others were excellent too, but it had a really nice mix and flow.

This one was focused on designing and scaling a cloud and included a walkthrough of the product, how to go about building and scaling a cloud as well as building types of  allocation models – reservations, pooled with overcommitment, pay as you go. So walking through the practical impacts of these decisions and how that might end up arising in an SR.

There was a case study to look at:

  • What are the Small, Medium and Large options for building a 30,000 VM cloud, based on 10, 20 or 30 hosts in a cluster.
  • What does each solution look like when you push it through configuration maximums for VSAN, vCD, vSphere, vCenter, cluster limits etc.
  • Where will most such designs fall down in the real world.
  • What are the top issues GSS see on a day to day basis and how can you resolve them.

One thing I took from that I don’t come up against too often and that is the GSS view that you always stay comfortably within the maximums. And I mean specifically when sizing. So don’t ever deploy a 32-host vSphere cluster. Limit it to a maximum of 30 hosts, just to leave headroom to stay within acceptable tolerance. Even though it’s supported.

Other highlights/points of interest

Things that left an imprint in my head:

  • VSAN is mission-critical workload-ready – in my opinion.
    • I still have question marks regarding it’s interoperability with other VMware and third-party products, but that’s gonna happen. It’s a matter of time.
    • As I’ve always said … it’s baked into the kernel. You just tick a box to turn it on which offers almost zero barrier to adoption. Which is what also appeals about Pernixdata.
    • For VSAN we’re talking about a queue depth of 256 due to higher performance capability.
  • for vCloud Air I think it’s got all the features an enterprise will need – HA, good storage performance, but failback (for now) is still not an option. So for the moment moving an entire enterprise workload to the cloud in DRaaS sounds good, but like SRM used to be, failing back won’t be trivial.
    • So seems like Development/Test or more tactical use is more likely.
    • The interesting piece of information provided was that on an Exchange system, due to the fact that reading an email generates a database entry, 30% of data changes daily which will not help any attempt to keep Exchange synced up with the cloud.
  • NSX for me is still the only game in town. A great solution but from speaking to people cost is still an issue. Considering what it can do it doesn’t seem prohibitive but it is what it is.
  • Biggest potential screwup with vCD Is deletion of vCenter inventory objects in vCenter prior to vCloud. Always delete from vCloud first … otherwise you’re potentially looking at a DB restore for vCloud and vCenter as recommended remediation.
  • for VSAN in SSD/SAS we’re looking at a 70/30 read/write split for cache.
  • forVSAN All-flash we’re talking about a 100% write cache (potentially)
    • Suggested figures are 20-40000 IOPS in hybrid config. 100,000 potentially per host in all-flash VSAN.
  • Everyone still loves vCloud Director and I don’t think that will change, and the audience echoed that sentiment.
  • The new VMware View Cloud Pod architecture will support up to 20,000 desktops, and in v6.1 there will not be a UI to configure it. Up to know it’s been configurable in the CLI only.
  • Some stuff many will know already aboutvROps but worth mentioning again.
    • Now there is a single combined GUI for vROps 6.0 and a single virtual machine inside the vApp.
    • You can have replica nodes as part of a master-slave type arrangement for redundancy
    • The Custom UI is now included with the regular UI inside the same interface.
  • For VVols the presentation made me think about the fact that for the storage admin it doesn’t mean the end …
    • As was mentioned, this can mean to storage admin can spend his time properly managing “data” and understanding what’s going on and making more informed decisions.
  • The/Certificate automation tool is awesome
    • The new version pretty much does everything for you which is very important considering the major architecture changes with the PSC and VMCA and how this can impact on use of certificates from CAs.
    • You can make the VMCA a subordinate of your internal CA to make things simple.
    • Machine SSL certificate is the key object … to talk to port 443 on vCenter
    • There are 4 further component certificates that may need to be changed. I’m not going into that here. Normally Julian Wood over at wooditwork.com has a great writeup on certificates.

I could go on and on and on and on ……

Anyway there’s so much more but I hope this shows how much I enjoyed it. A lot of people feel VMworld is more of a networking event now, but that sessions don’t always go deep enough. So this is an opportunity to redress the balance for free.

Until the next one.

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