Cloud Director 10.1 released

Been using vCloud since version 5.1. After a brief love affair with something called “Azure Pack” we put all our focus into vCloud.

8.20 was the first sign of heartbeats coming from VCD. We got confirmation that vCloud was for sure the platform that we were and had been looking for. Now we see the 10.1 released and from my point of view it’s a big one, may things change in GUI as in infrastructure. This release is also the final farewell to the old flex GUI.

First off we have to address the naming, I always liked the vCloud term, for me a strong brand. So a bit sad to see that go and now we have to get used to the Cloud Director instead. Thankfully we can still use the acronym VCD for VMware Cloud Director. #LongLiveVCD.

In the next few points, I will address some of the major things within this release.

APIs

We use a lot of the functionality of the APIs of VCD. Since we see that the development of VCD is changing into higher gear, so is the deprecation of the older API versions. For a small service provider, it’s always hard to revisit automation already working with existing APIs. When going on board 10.1 we have to go through a couple of workflows to update the to use the new 34.0 API. But on the other side, it’s also a good chance to refactor and optimize.

  • VMware Cloud Director API version 29 and below are not supported.
  • VMware Cloud Director API version 30.0 is deprecated and will become unsupported after VMware Cloud Director 10.1
  • VMware Cloud Director API version 31.0 is deprecated.

NSX-T feature improvements

More of the core NSX-T features is now available through VCD.

  • IPSec VPN
  • Dedicated External Network
  • BGP and Route Advertisement

We have been looking from the side for NSX-T development to reach an acceptable level for some time. NSX-V is still doing a good job. As someone who right now is standing up a new 16 node VMware cluster as a new provider VDC, I would have wished for it to be 6 months later so that all NSX-T functionality was ready and we could hopefully solo use NSX-T.

But we have to look into maybe having two 8 node clusters for NSX-V and on for NSX-T so we can already now start to transition to NSX-T…

But the good thing about being a VMware customer is that you are not left in the dust. There have been already been created migration tools for NSX-V > NSX-T, NSX-T Data Center Migration Coordinator, but it had no integration to VCD. which bring me to the next point!

NSX-V to NSX-T VCD Migration Tool

This is a way of helping us transition from NSX-V to NSX-T as we are seeing NSX-V lacking to the end of support in January 2021.

Before we could still do a new provider VDC that was backed by NSX-T controller and then start to move workloads over to the new cluster and at the time had to use NSX-T functionality, but all in a manual process.

There is now an automated way to do it, which is VCD aware. The approach will require a new cluster since NSX-V and NSX-T can’t coexist in the same cluster. From the Whats New in 10.1 it stats that the workflow will help with following

  • Automates migration of vCD metadata and workloads from NSX-V to NSX-T
  • Migrate per Org VDC migration to reduce maintenance window to single tenant
  • Minimize network downtime with bridged networks during migration
  • Live migrate with vMotion to ensure non-disruption to user workloads
  • Keep source VDC configuration and environment as-is to allow rollback
Before live migration
After live migration

Tomas did a good discussion on this subject

SSL and Certificate Management

This seems like something to read up on carefully. In short, VCD does not trust endpoint certificates unless they have been imported to the trust store.

There is a tool helping with the import, trust-infra-certs, that automatically connect to the endpoint, grabbing and importing the certificate. If this is not done successfully you will not be able to talk to those endpoints after upgrading to VCD 10.1.

App Launchpad

A new feature to help introduce a marketplace with the help of the content from Bitnami. From there we can now offer customers to easily find, deploy and manage new workloads. Not just as VMs but also as containers.

Daniel did an excellent write up on this subject.

Conclusion

There is still a lot more in this release to talk about, CSE2.6, OSE1.5, Terraform 2.7 provider, etc. read more from the official release notes.

Might have had to write a disclaimer for the length of this post and the lack of interesting pictures, will try to improve for next time.

I love to see VCD take flight. We are looking forward being part of the future journey where things like Bitnami and App Launchpad together with more NSX-T functionality and a whole lot of other features helps us Cloud Providers to help other business to there digital transformation .

Big shout out to VMware and the VCD team!

vCloud SAML authentication – Automation

Cant say that I did everything by my self in this post, I had a great great help from my college and friend Kasper Hansen. Also gotten a great help from the vExpert community, especially Tom Fojta.

In my last post I found out how to setup vCloud SAML against AzureAD. Now we are gonna look on how to automate each tenant to use the same AzureAD. In these days everybody have either a Microsoft og AzureAD account, so this way its easy to invite them as guest users and this way have controlled access but also ensure that vCloud users have MFA enabled.

We use VRO for the creation of vCloud tenants, in this flow we are now going to introduce a new workflow that will do following. Although the workflow is just a restcall to trigger an event in Azure Automation.

  • Create AzureAD Groups for admin and viewer
  • Post federation metadata to vCloud tenant
  • Post federation groups to vCloud tenant

Enable SAML

Fojta have some very good articles on his blog on the basic setup of SAML to different IDP systems. I also did a piece on it where Azure where the IDP provider.

Because we want to have all organisations linked to the same SAML app in Azure we need to have the same SAML certificate on all organisations. You can only do this with the API, but what the documentation did not say was that the certificate needs to be trusted by the keystore, the java keystore of the cells.

Create a self-signed certificate and make vCloud trust it

These commands will help you create a certificate and a private key in the needed pkcs8 format and certificate in the x509 format.

When you have done the new self-signed certificate you need to import it to each and one of your cells. After import you will need to restart the cells. One of the errors I did here way that I tried to import a .pem where the private key and certificate where combines, that won’t work. Only import the certificate.

Publish federation settings to API

We where having a lot of trial and error in this step, because that vCloud did not trust the certificate. Each time a put where done to the API the log complained. /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/logs/vcloud-container-debug.log it showed “Failed to generate keystore | requestId=<id>,request=PUT.”

Following is a example done in PowerShell, insert your self-signed certificate where it says —–END/BEGIN CERTIFICATE—–

Publish SAML groups to API

Now that the SAML metadata/certificate is uploaded and in place we need to add groups to tenant. You can read more about what groups/users should be imported in my other SAML blog post.

Each tenant have its own role ids, so when doing automation with group import we need to query the vCloud API and get the role ids. There is a specific query API to get data. When using a system account we need to specify a “VCLOUD-TENANT-CONTEXT” in the header of the request. This we we can query a tenant context from a system account.

After we got the role id we can now send up the group together with the role id and this was be able to authenticate based on a SAML group from AzureAD.

Conclusion

Now we have all the pieces for making automation where we can enable a tenant for SAML authentication and afterwards import f.eks. a viewer and admin group. External users will then be invited to the AzureAD, imported into the right group and now they have access to the their tenant. We can help the organisation secure the access to their virtual datacenter with MFA and they will have single sign-on with there own user that originates from their own AzureAD or Microsoft account.

A service library will be made where users can be invited to the tenant organisation. So that when one user have been invited that user will be able to invite its colleagues.

Homelab – v1

This will be a short blog series of the new setup and how you can start to do your own homelab.

The basic idea of a homelab

I have always had a homelab, small, but enough to learn and the more you learn the bigger your need is. The first homelab consisted of 2* Apple Mac mini. The Apple Mac mini is very power efficient and very quiet. Not the beefiest hardware, but just enough to be able to run a vCenter and have vSAN running.

  • Apple Mac Mini v5.1 mid-2011 A1347
  • 2.3 GHz Core i5 (I5-2415M)
  • 16GB DDR3 memory
  • Dual Drive kit
  • 256GB Cache disk
  • 600GB capacity disk

They were mounted in a Sonnet MacRack mini 1U enclosure. Which have been perfect for many years. In my small setup I have been running my pFsense firewall and all sorts of small VMs, due to the small memory amount I was primary FreeBSD VMs with services as Zabbix, Weewx, OpenHAB, Unify controller, TOR and things like that. All stuff to play around with besides VMware of cause.

“Homelabbing” is where is see people learn and are having fun, without breaking too much.

The idea of new homelab

I have always had a way higher power bill than other “normal” people”. Servers, NAS and home automation gear standing around are not good for you power bill. And that’s also why my first homelab was made of Mac mini.

So instead of having huge servers in the garage or basement, I have always tried to keep the footprint down. The WOF(WifeAprovalFactor) also makes a hit here 🙂

I have a wall-mounted 19″ rack with 12U and 600mm depth. Placed in the garage where noise is not a problem anymore.

I want to run an all-flash VMware vSAN cluster with three nodes. I don’t want only two hosts and a witness appliance, even if it works and it is a fully supported concept for small- or branch offices. I want a real scale. Each server should have one cache device and at least one SSD for the capacity tier. I went all-in and decided to go with two SSDs for capacity. All servers have to be connected with 10Gbit SFP+ for vSAN and vMotion.

Conclusion of upcoming homelab

  • Small footprint, both power, and space.
  • 3 node all-flash vSAN cluster
  • 10Gbit SFP+ networking
  • Formfactor must be rack

The new hardware

Decided to go with Supermicro hardware. They have IPMI and actually some of the E300 series is now on the VMware compatibility list.

Supermicro kits such as the E300 are a very popular choices amongst the VMware community. It got a powerful Xeon-based CPUs and support for up to 128GB of memory, it is perfect for running a killer vSphere/vSAN setup and still keeping cost, noise and power bill down.

BOM

Here is a list of what the hardware consists of. This gives a hell of horsepower for a homelab and plenty of memory and CPU for doing nested environment so test our NSX-V to NSX-T migrations etc.

NumberItem
3Supermicro E300-8D 4core Intel D-1518 2Ghz
3Intel 790p 128GB disk for cache tier
3Supermicro Riser card
3Supermicro SATA-DOM 32GB
12Samsung 32GB DDR4 memory modules
3Intel 600GB SSD for capacity tier
3Supermicro Rackmounts

Now the hardware is documented. Next will be rack and stack and how the environment will be designed 🙂

vCloud SAML authentication

vCloud have LDAP, SAML and local users as an option for tenant authentication. In this post, we are looking into SAML integration. With AzureAD.

The cool thing about AzureAD is that you will gain the MFA option out of the box, and when tenants want access we can also invite them from their own AzureAD tenant into the resource AzureAD tenant. This gives flexibility and overview of who has access.

ADFS is also an option, but there you need to keep your own infrastructure with a resource AD/ADFS and furthermore need a 3. party MFA solution.

Process:

  • Setup Enterprise app in desired resource AzureAD
  • Setup claims
  • Set federation entity id for tenant
  • Import vCloud federation metadata to AzureAD
  • Import AzureAD enterprise app federation metadata to vCloud
  • Setup allowed users/groups in vCloud

AzureAD

Let’s get started with Azure AD configuration. Login to your AzureAD portal https://portal.azure.com. Navigate to “Azure Active Directory” > “Enterprise App” and press “New Application”. Choose “Non-gallery application”. Give it the name “vCloud SAML test” and press “Add”. This will take a couple of minutes.

Navigate back to “Enterprise Apps” > “All applications” and choose your newly created App.

For test purpose, add/assign a test user to the app. This is under “Users and groups”. This user will be able to login to the enterprise app with AzureAD.

Now go to “Single Sign-on”. This will now ask for the sign-on method, and here we will choose “SAML”. This will then take us to the SAML setup. The first thing to do is importing the metadata from the cloud.

You will find the metadata by logging in to vCloud, go to the tenant, under “administration” > “federation” tab. Enter the URL for the tenant as a entity id, apply and afterwards download the metadata from the link.

You will find the metadata by logging in to vCloud, go to the tenant, under administration choose the federation tab. Enter the URL for the tenant as a entity id, apply and afterwards download the metadata from the link.

In azureAD “Upload Metadata” and chose the downloaded file from vCloud. This will give AzureAD the knowledge of where to redirect and accept request from.

vCloud can validate a couple of user/group parameters. Vmware documentation. So we will add some claims to Azure AD.

Now we will need to download the AzureAD metadata and import into vCloud. Fetch the data by pressing “Download” to the “Federation Metadata XML”.

Head over to vCloud tenant federation page again. Paste the content from the download metadata file. check the “Use SAML identity” and apply. Now we are almost ready to try it out. But first, head over to “Users” tab in vCloud. We need to add the user/role to whom are allowed to gain vCloud Access.

Here we put in the mail address and role of the user from Azure AD. When the SAML response then returns to vCloud then vCloud can see it been authenticated in Azure AD and that the user is an Org admin.

Next step would be to use groups and roles so that we can put users into groups in Azure AD and that way manage access for the tenant. But after this, we can now head to the tenant URL. We will then be redirected to the Azure AD login page, login and accept to MFA so that we can be redirected to our vCloud tenant.

And voila, we have logged into our vCloud tenant with Azure AD.

Troubleshooting:

When I first started this project I was using a GUID as a vCloud entity id. That meant that I could get it to work with ADFS but not AzureAD. I went full mole on the troubleshooting.

In the end, I intercepted the SAML responses. These are encoded in base64, easy task to decode. And afterwards, I got the XML that either ADFS or AzureAD is sending back. I could then compare them, and I saw som <ds> tags to the cert that wasn’t on in the response from AzureAD. Unfortunately, that was a duck and meant nothing.

By tailing the log from vCloud, tail -f /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/logs/vcloud-container-debug.log, I could get some hints when the SAML auth failed.

org.opensaml.common.SAMLException: Local entity is not the intended audience of the assertion in at least one AudienceRestriction

doing a bit more googling and found out that I should be looking at the <audience> tag from the two SAML responses. And yes, that made some sense.

Azure AD sets the value of this element to the value of Issuer element of the AuthnRequest that initiated the sign-on. To evaluate the Audience value, use the value of the App ID URI that was specified during application registration.
Like the Issuer value, the Audience value must exactly match one of the service principal names that represents the cloud service in Azure AD. However, if the value of the Issuer element is not a URI value, the Audience value in the response is the Issuer value prefixed with spn:.

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/38978298/azuread-jwt-token-audience-claim-prefix-makes-jwt-token-invalid

And that was the problem, spn: prefix when not using a URL as entity id. Changing it to the URL made it work.

Maybe this is obvious to the world, but I didn’t know it, but glad my troubleshooting skills where sufficient 🙂

Install and use MegaCLI on VMware host

Over the last decade, I had the fun of how having to manage an LSI based RAID controller. Never on Windows machines, where the GUI based Storage Manager tools are simple to work with.

Even though I usually find the vib and get it installed I always struggle to remember how it’s installed and what the commands are. This time I will write it down for future me, or you?

Procedure

  • Find the MegaCLI vib file and download it…
  • Copy vib to ESXi host
  • Install vib
  • use MegaCLI to whatever purpose you got

Finding the vib

This is where I struggle the most. LSI was bought by Avago and soon after Avago was bought by Broadcom. So the support links for the downloads have been 404 and using Broadcom’s support site is an education degree that I do not own. This time the link was this, giving you a zip file containing the MegaCLI package for all platforms.

If the link does not work for next time, or maybe a newer version is out. I also managed to find it on https://www.broadcom.com/support/download-search. Make a keyword search for megacli, expand the “management software and tools” from the results and choose the newest “MegaCLI x.x Px” For now its MegaCLI 5.5 P2 version 8.07.14.

Install MegaCLI

We now got the zip, extract it and under the “VmwareMN” folder there is the vib that we are gonna be needing.

### SCP it to the host
jr@mbp:~ jr$ scp /Users/jr/Download/8-07-07_MegaCLI/VmwareMN/vmware-esx-MegaCLI-8-07-07.vib root@[ESXHOST]:/tmp/

### SSH to the ESXi host and install. Reboot afterwards
[root@esxhost:~] esxcli software vib install -v /tmp/vmware-esx-MegaCLI-8-07-07.vib

If you are lucky and get a “Could not find a trusted signer” when trying to install the vib the workaround is to add “–no-sig-check” at the end of the esxcli command, after the file path. Since I downloaded it from Broadcom’s own site, I trust it.

After the host reboot(which is very annoying, but necessary). We can not find MegaCLI binary under /opt/lsi/MegaCLI/

Useful MegaCLI commands

### Enclosure information
 ./opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -EncInfo -aALL

### Virtual drive information

/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -LDInfo -Lall -aALL

### Physical drive information
/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -PDList -aALL

### Silence active alarm
/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -AdpSetProp AlarmSilence -aALL

### Disable alarm
/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -AdpSetProp AlarmDsbl -aALL

### Enable alarm
/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -AdpSetProp AlarmEnbl -aALL

### Prepare for removal
/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -PdPrpRmv -PhysDrv [E:S] -aN

### Unconfigured Bad to good
/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -PDMakeGood -PhysDrv[E:S] -aN

I could a guy how did some bit more advanced MegeCLI scripting, its bit old but still very useful. You can find the site here. I have done some copy-pasting from the script, but all credit goes to the guy behind the link.

### List disk status
/opt/lsi/MegaCLI/MegaCli -PDlist -aALL -NoLog | egrep 'Slot|state' | awk '/Slot/{if (x)print x;x="";}{x=(!x)?$0:x" -"$0;}END{print x;}' | sed 's/Firmware state
://g'

Conclusion

CLI is awesome, so many possibilities and so flexible. In my opinion its a bit hard to find, but after you got it installed its easy. I have tested this on ESXi6.7 and it world as it should. I hope you can use some of it.

vCloud – Changing SSL certificate

In this post, I will explain how to install a public certificate into vCloud Director cell(s). This exact environment has a public signed cert that is up for renewal. A new certificate has been bought and signed and is ready to import.

vcd cells have 2 IP addresses that allow support for 2 different SSL endpoints (http and consoleproxy). Each endpoint requires its own SSL certificate. vCloud Director uses a java keystore to read its SSL certificates from.  In a multi-cell environment, you need to create 2 certificates for each cell and import the certificates into the vcd java keystore. But since we hare here using a wildcard certificate the same certificate will be used to but endpoints.

The new certificate have been created with a CSR that was not generated from the vCloud cells, so we need to import both private and public key from an export of the certificate. In this case it’s a .PFX.

Certificate is a wildcard. If you are using a UCC SAN certificate with the exact names then be sure that the names in certificate are matching accordingly to vCloud settings.

I assume you got

  • Already working/configured vCloud environment
  • New public signed certificate exported to a .PFX format (contains both public and private key)

We will

  • Connect to cell with winscp and transfer the .PFX to /tmp/
  • Connect to cell with Putty
    • Create a new keystore with the new certificate
    • Stop vcd service
    • Swap old keystore with new
    • Start vcd service

Initialize certificate change…

winscp copy the .pfx to the cell tmp directory

The commands for creating the new keystore and importing the cert is below. Change the STOREPASS and KEYPASS to something meaningful for your environment. It is also important to notice that the alias of each certificate must be “http” and “consoleproxy”. Else vcd won’t find the certs.

### Stop vCloud Director service
service vmware-vcd stop

### Add the certificate to a new created certificates.ks keystore.
/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/jre/bin/keytool \
-keystore /tmp/certificates.ks \
-alias http \
-storepass STOREPASS \
-keypass KEYPASS \
-storetype JCEKS \
-importkeystore \
-srckeystore /tmp/wildcard2020.pfx

### List certificate alias and rename
/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/jre/bin/keytool \
-storetype JCEKS \
-storepass passwd \
-keystore /tmp/certificates.ks \
-list | grep -i alias

/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/jre/bin/keytool \
-storetype JCEKS \
-changealias \-alias "te-d487d1c7-2c76-482a-8e61-69107ee3027f" \
-destalias http -keystore /tmp/certificates.ks

### Add the Remote Console Proxy certificate to a new created certificates.ks keystore.
/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/jre/bin/keytool \
-keystore /tmp/certificates.ks \
-storepass STOREPASS \
-keypass KEYPASS \
-storetype JCEKS \
-importkeystore \
-srckeystore /tmp/wildcard2020.pfx

### List certificate alias and rename
/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/jre/bin/keytool \
-storetype JCEKS \
-storepass passwd \
-keystore /tmp/certificates.ks -list | grep -i alias

/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/jre/bin/keytool \
-storetype JCEKS \
-changealias \
-alias "te-d487d1c7-2c76-482a-8e61-69107ee3027f" \
-destalias consoleproxy \
-keystore certificates.ks

### Make a backup of the existing keystore 
cd /opt/vmware/vcloud-director
cp certificates.ks certificates.ks_old 

### Copy the new keystore file to the vCloud Director environment
cp /tmp/certificates.ks /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/certificates.ks

### Set correct permissions to the keystore file
chown vcloud:vcloud /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/certificates.ks
chmod 600 /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/certificates.ks

### Make cells generate proxy console certs based on new keystore.
./cell-management-tool certificates -p -k /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/certificates.ks -w KEYSTORE_PASSWD

### Start vCloud Director service
service vmware-vcd start

To see if the cell have booted correctly you can tail the cell log. It will give you a “startup completed in x”.

 tail -f /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/logs/cell.log

I got more than one cell…

That’s awesome – me too. You can scp the certificate from the cell with the new cert to the other cells. So let’s get that newly created keystore over the other cells.

### SSH to next cell and stop the vCloud Director service
service vmware-vcd stop

### Go to keystore path
cd /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/

### Move the existing to new filename with .old surfix.
mv certificate.ks certificate.ks.old

### Copy the new certificate into place
scp root@dc1svcdcell01:/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/certificates.ks .

### Make cells generate proxy console certs based on new keystore.
./cell-management-tool certificates -p -k /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/certificates.ks -w KEYSTORE_PASSWD

### Start vCloud Director service
service vmware-vcd start

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Feel free to share this on social media if it is worth sharing.

Disk mapping Windows/VMware

Since I’m working in a datacenter department at a service provider automation is a big thing. We have lots of different automatic workflows already. Everything from reading out power usage for co-location customers to creating a fully functional virtual datacenter with VMware vCloud Director.

The latest idea was to create an automatic disk expansion service. We monitor the customer’s environments with PRTG and call to help them with an expansion when more disk space is needed. But that’s only within business hours and of our service desk are busy we don’t always make the expansion in a timely fashion. For an exchange server, this is bad, full-disk means no mail flow.

Our backend developer(super skilled guy) extended the service agent that we run on all customer servers, with a new data collector that looks for free space and disk-identifiers. If a disk is running full he will create a RabbitMQ ticket that will trigger a vRealize Orchestrator workflow that finds the disk and expands it. Then reports back to his services so that his service can expand the disk from within Windows.

Identifying Windows disk from VMware environment

Our google foo was giving the same result over and over again, we should look at the SCSI ID. From within Windows, you can get the LUN ID and what controller its located. That position should then be the same as seen from VMware side.

While testing it on Windows 2016+ this worked ok. BUT we have customers that are still on Windows 2012, and here it didn’t work. *Sigh*. If the VM where having multiple controllers then we could not see what UnitId were to attach to the corresponding Controller Id. So back to the drawing board.

### From VMs Id and ControllerId and UnitId the disk that needs expansion is found. 
#$vmDisk = (Get-VM -Id $vmid | Get-HardDisk) | where { $_.ExtensionData.ControllerKey -eq ((Get-VM -id $vmid | Get-ScsiController ).ExtensionData | where { $_.BusNumber -eq $ControllerId }).Key } | where { $_.ExtensionData.UnitNumber -eq $SCSITargetId }

### Afterwards the disk can have the added capacity.
$vmDisk | Set-HardDisk -CapacityGB ($vmDisk.CapacityGB + $ExpandSizeGb) -Confirm:$false

We then kept looking but could not find anything in particular. Thinking about a physical disk having a serial number we began to pursue that idea, the VM should see the UUID that VMware where presenting. And yes, this sure seems to be working a Windows 2008 through Windows 2019.

VMware VM extension data – UUID

With the disk serial number approach, it was also easier to find the disk.

### UUID can be found in the VM extension data.
$vmDisk = (Get-VM -Id $vmid | Get-HardDisk) | Where-Object {$_.ExtensionData.Backing.uuid.Replace("-","") -eq $disksn } 

Conclusion:

Don’t know why other people are not suggesting the disk serial number approach instead of the SCSI ID. But my theory is that many looks at what data they can get from the vCenter GUI. And here the SCSI ID based on controller id and unit id is the only thing really available.

But there is a lot of nice data when using PowerCLI to look at the data. Especially when doing automation.

Prevent Drive Failure at 32,768 Hours

This is one of the nasty bugs. Some SSD models will fail after they have been powered on for more than 32768 hours. Imagine running vSAN and you bought x amount of disks that where affected. They will all fail at the same time, so you are left alone with your backup(hopefully).

I seen this one time before, where Intel disks where the problems. Unfortunately the Intel SSDs where metadata disks in a Ceph storage cluster, and since they all failed at the same time, the cluster died!

This is of cause due to that nobody where informed of the bug. When buying hardware from HPE and other enterprise hardware vendors we cat a mail letting us know of the problem before it becomes a disaster.

https://support.hpe.com/hpsc/doc/public/display?docId=emr_na-a00092491en_us

Update procedure – VMware

We had to do a firmware update of the disks, we are running VMware and vSAN. And gladly HPE have allready released the patch. Also with guidance for VMware.

https://support.hpe.com/hpsc/swd/public/detail?swItemId=MTX_6089c15599b647aca0c049ce24#tab2

  1. download the patch, copy it to /tmp of the ESXi servers.
  2. Unzip and make the .vmexe file executable chmod +x CP****.vmexe
  3. Put one of the hosts into maintenance mode.
  4. Run the CP***.vmexe – ./CP****.vmexe. It will lists the disks that it found and you tell it the disk numbers for those you want to have firmware upgraded.
  5. After upgrade I did a reboot anyway.

Remember that reboot of vSAN nodes can take a long time, 10-30 min. On the console of the server it says: “vSAN initialising SSD XXX” Give it time, it will boot.

Fetching firmware version

When you use the HPE custom VMware image then we have all the HPE tools on the server, so that we can query hardware etc.

  1. cd /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin
  2. Execute ./ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd all show detail

For more a command cheat sheet you could look at https://wiki.phoenixlzx.com/page/ssacli/ or the official documentation https://support.hpe.com/hpsc/doc/public/display?docId=c03909334

This will give you all info on the disks behind the controller. The model number is the one that you can look up on HPEs site to see if its affected.

vRO – start a workflow with AQMP message

System to system interaction can be hard. API integrations are a way of doing it, but we can also use a message bus. Actually I think that using a message bus is a very awesome way of doing it, it’s a very loose couple between systems and we can queue multiple things and have the task or messages in RabbitMQ until system is ready to consume the messages.

This is a guide of using vRO to pick up the RabbitMQ message and start a workflow with the payload of the message.

Adding RabbitMQ to vRO:

  • Open vRO legacy client, login
  • Expand Library > AMQP > Configuration
  • Start the workflow Add a broker. This will pair vRO and RabbitMQ.
  • Follow the wizard. I’m using a virtual host, but input all depends on your RabbitMQ config.
Running the workflow “Add a broker” to pair vRO and RabbitMQ.

Subscribe vRO to a RabbitMQ queue:

From the same position in vRO, now run the workflow “Subscribe to queues“. This will make vRO aware of the queue and be able to use it as a trigger.

Subscribing to a RabbitMQ queue.
Give the queue subscription a name.
Choose the broker we added in the section before.
Add the name of the queue from RabbitMQ, must be identical from what the queue name is in RabbitMQ.

Now vRO is monitoring the queue, we are ready to proceed.

Creating a policy:

Now we need to create a policy that can tie the event of a message from RabbitMQ into a starting a workflow.

Navigate to the policy fane in vRO and create a new policy.
Inside the new policy, add a new policy element.
Choose the AMQP:Subscription.
From the popup you can now filter for the queue that you earlier made a subscription on.
Right-click the queue name and chose Add trigger event
Choose onMessage
Holding focus at the “onMessage” event we can choose a workflow that the policy will start on message.
You will need to search, this time its for the workflow that you want to start when there is a message in the queue.
Now we will need to map a variable to the payload of the message that we have received. You need to have an in variable declared as a string in the workflow that you have mapped to.
The in variable from your workflow will show and by double-clicking on the name of the variable you are able to choose the “event.key.body” to it. This will make the payload of the message become a variable for your workflow.

Wrap-up:

That was a lot of screen dumps, I hope it still makes sense.

Now you should make the policy start when vRO starts and for now also start the policy so that you can see it works. The case that is shown in the screen dumps will have a JSON as the message payload, it then sends it to the messageBody variable and then inside the script it will extract the values that it needs in for the workflow to run.

Example of how to parse the JSON to a JavaScript object and afterwards parse the needed parameters over to a new variable. In this case its parameters for a PowerShell script.

ESXCLI host upgrade procedure

Most of the time you would want to use VMware Update Manager when doing upgrade. Its part of vCenter and is necessary tool when having to maintain your environment. But for smaller deployments, with standalone hosts and no vCenter the following upgrade methods are desired and can help the upgrade time. Instead of having to upgrade with IPMI and an ISO.

Online mode:

This method is for getting the update online, no need to download ISO/offline bundles, etc. This will work for most of the upgrade use cases.

1: Connect to your ESXi host via the host client and enable SSH. Afterward ssh to the ESXi host and enable ESXi firewall rule to allow the host to access the internet.

esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient

2: With the beneath command you will get a list of available ESXi packaged that are on the VMware repos. Enter this command to list all available profiles. We filter only those which are relevant to our case – upgrade to ESXi 6.7

esxcli software sources profile list -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml | grep -i ESXi-6.7

3. Chose the desired profile and use the following command for choosing and upgrading the ESXi version. Before upgrade its a good idea to enter maintenance mode.

esxcli system maintenanceMode set --enable true
esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-6.7.0-20190402001-standard -d https://hostupdate.vm
ware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml

4. After it’s done, you will need to restart the host, after its rebooted you will run on the new ESXi version.

Custom, with Offline bundle:

This method is for when you desire to install a custom update, or that your hosts down have access to the internet.

1: Download the offline bundle from the VMware webpage, in this upgrade I will use an HPE custom version. But if you run a generic version, that will also work.

2: After downloading the “VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-8169922-depot.zip” file, place it (upload it) to a datastore which is visible by your ESXi host. Best would be a local datastore if this host has some. If not, it can also be a shared datastore too.

3: Find the profile name from the depot offline bundle

 esxcli software sources profile list -d /vmfs/volumes/prd.r60lun01/ISO/VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-Up
019-depot.zip

Put your host into maintenance mode, enable SSH if you haven’t done yet.

3: Execute this command to upgrade your ESXi 6.x to 6.7

esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-6.7.0-13006603-standard -d /vmfs/volumes/your_datastore/VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-13006603-depot.zip

esxcli software profile update -p HPE-ESXi-6.7.0-Update2-Gen9plus-670.U2.10.4.1.8 -d /vmfs/volumes/prd.r60lun01/ISO/VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-Update2-13006603-HPE-Gen9plus-670.U2.10.4.1.8-Apr2019-depot.zip

After checking that your upgrade was successful, reboot your host. You should see a message saying that the upgrade completed successfully.

Troubleshooting

I have tried to get an error with:

Failed updating the bootloader: Execution of command /usr/lib/vmware/bootloader-installer/install-bootloader failed: non-zero code returned…. return code: 1”

Error when upgrading, due to “insufficient space”.

This problem is due to the SWAP is but on the installation of the ESXi, not a good thing. So let’s change it.

Go to the UI of the ESXi Hosts https://IP/ui, login and proceed to the following:

Manage > System > Swap > Edit Settings

Chose the dropdown and select a datastore. Apply and the swap space is not freed from the ESXi install device so that you can try to upgrade again.

Conclusion:

After the upgrade, it’s a good idea to disable the ESXi firewall rule for “HTTP outside access”. Stop and disable SSH again, but it’s optional 🙂

esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e false -r httpClient

Now you should have an upgraded host.