Horizon View Connection Server – Install and basic setup 2/2.

Got the install done and now on to the setup. We’re going to look at doing 4 bits of config and 1 check:

  1. Check the certificate is recognised.
  2. Licensing your install
  3. Connecting to a vSphere server.
  4. Configuring the events Database
  5. Adding a syslog server.

Before you begin any of the below login to your Connection server https://<full_server_name>/

 

Licensing your install

  1. On the right hand panel labelled Inventory.
    1. Expand View Configuration.
    2. Select Product Licensing and Usage
    3. Click Edit License…
  2. Enter in your serial number and click OK.
  3. Your license info should now be shown.

Configuring the events DB

  1. On the right hand panel labelled Inventory.
    1. Expand View Configuration.
    2. Select Event Configuration
    3. Click Edit…
  2. To see how to create the events database here is a previous post where we looked at creating the events database using SQL Express. Fill in the details that you used to create the database.
  3. If the connection is successful you’ll see the following:

 

Connecting to the vCentre Server Server

  1. On the right hand panel labelled Inventory.
    1. Expand View Configuration.
    2. Select Servers.
    3. Click Add…
  2. Enter in the details of the VCSA and a user that has the correct privileges. For most medium sized deployments the default Advenced Settings will be fine. Generally speaking you need to determine how much connection traffic your environment will receive and how the storage will cope.
  3. This warning will pop up if you are using the default certificates generated by the VCSA. Click View Certificate…
  4. Click Accept…
  5. Select Do not use View Composer (we’ll do this later) and click Next.
  6. Select Reclaim VM disk space and Enable View Storage Accelerator and click Next. Changing the Default host cache size can help with storage acceleration but will take the memory away from the host that it dedicates to VM’s and use it for storage caching.
  7. A final check your selected options, if all looks good click finish.
  8. If the connection is established successfully then you see the VCSA added to the vCenter Servers tab.

So now we’re configured and ready to go, except for the vRealise and Log Insight server which well add as we build them out. The next post will look at installing the bits needed for connecting to a Windows Desktop as well as putting together the first pool.

Horizon View Connection Server – Install and basic setup 1/2.

Apologies to the three people who read this blog regularly,  The last month has been very busy.

So far we have configured a Root CA, and imported a certificate into what will become our first connection server, and a setup a SQL database. Now we are ready to install and do a basic setup our first connection server.

Installing the Horizon View Connection server.

  1. Connect to the server you will be using as your connection server.
  2. Copy across the installer and double click to run.
  3. Click Yes. To accept the UAC warning.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Select “I accept the terms in the license agreement” and click Next.
  6. Here you can change the installation location if you prefer. Click Next.
  7. On the Installation Options window:
    1. Select Horizon 7 Standard Server as the install.
    2. Select  “Install HTML Access”, this is technically not necessary but I would recommend it.
    3. Select the IP protocol you use. IPv4 would be the most common I expect
    4. Click Next.
  8. Enter in a password for Data Recovery and a hint if you prefer. Click Next.
  9. Select whichever is appropriate for your environment, bearing in mind that most companies will have the servers firewall controlled via GPO. So check with your Windows and Security guys. In this case I want the firewall of this server to be configured automatically. Click Next.
  10. Select whether you’d like the local Administrators Group to have Admin rights to view. This can be changed later but I generally prefer not to from the start. Click Next
  11. Choose whether you want to join the VMware Customer Experience Program or not. If your company policy allows it I would recommend you do. Click Next.
  12. Click Install.
  13. Once the installer is done, click Finish.

Now we have the Horizon View Connection Server installed which can be verified by going to http://<your_full_server_address>/admin.

In part 2 we’ll get the basic config done. Adding a vCenter server, connecting to the events DB and licensing your install.

 

Preparing for Horizon View – Setting up the Database – 1 of 2

Part 1 of 2

In the first part of this post I’ll go though installing SQL express and the SQL Management Studio.

You can download SQL express here and the SQL Management Studio here.

Installing SQL Express 2017

  1. Copy the SQL Express and Management Studio Files across to the Windows server you’ll be using as your DB server. I’m my case the Composer server is going to double as the DB server.
  2. Connect to the windows server with a user that has been granted local administrator rights.
  3. Locate and run the SQL Express installer.
  4. Accept the security challenge. Click Yes.
  5. Click Basic.
  6. You can read the license terms if you like. Click Accept.
  7. Click Install.
  8. Click Close. You can click Install SSMS. It won’t actually install SSMS, It’ll just take you to the page where you can download the installer

Installing SSMS 2017

  1. Locate and run the SSMS Installer.
  2. Accept the security challenge. Click Yes.

  3. Click Install.
  4. The install will take a good few minutes.
  5. Click Close.

Nice and easy.

Next post. Creating and setting up the databases.

Preparing for Horizon View – Setting up a root CA.

While Horizon View does come with self signed certificates but it is always best, in a production environment, to your own SSL certificates.

I connect to my lab remotely using, either my laptop, or other mobile device and like to know that my connection is secure.

If you don’t want to setup your own cert server Lets Encrypt is a public CA and does offer certificates (wild card certs too) for free. If you do choose to use them please consider donating. They are an opensource and free setup and could use your help.

Installing a root CA.

I used a windows 2016 server for this deployment.

  1. In the Server Manager window click on Add roles and features.
  2. Select Role-Based or feature-base installation and click Next.
  3. Select the local server and click Next.
  4. Select Active Directory Certificate Services, and click Next.
  5. Check Include management tools (if applicable). Click Add Features.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Select Certificate Authority. Click Next.
  11. Click Install.
  12. Once the install is complete Click Close.
  13. Once the Install is finished we need to complete the post install tasks. Navigate to Server Manager and click on the alert icon. Click on the post deployment task that needs to be completed.
  14. If you need to change the credentials do so here. I just used the creds I was logged in with. Click Next.
  15. Select Certification Authority and click Next.
  16. Select Enterprise CA and click Next. You can select Standalone CA if that’s what you need. The options might be slightly different.
  17. Select Root CA and click Next.
  18. Select Create a new private key and click Next.
  19. Select the following:
    1. Cryptographic provider – RSA#Microsoft Software Key Provider
    2. Key length – 2048
    3. Algorithm – SHA256
    4. Click – Next.
  20. Leave the defaults and click Next.
  21. Select the validity period of your certificate. (I chose to leave it at 5 years. In a prod environment you might want that to be less). Click Next.
  22. Leave the defaults and click Next.
  23. In the final window check your settings and click Install.

And that’s it, we now have a working root CA!

 

Getting William Lam’s Awesome ESXi 6.5u1 Virtual Appliance to run in Fusion and Workstation (The Lazy Way!)

William Lam, The Official (to me anyway) master of nesting just about everything, has been putting together ESXi virtual appliances for quite some time.

You can find them over here:

Before you read on, please note that all the hard work has been done by William Lam and if you live under a rock and haven’t come across his website  before please go and check it out over at https://www.virtuallyghetto.com.

Honestly, once you’ve rebuild your lab more then twice the novelty wears off fast. That’s what makes these appliances are incredibly convenient.. It takes literally 2-3 minutes to have a fully functioning deployed Nested ESXi host, with all the little bits and pieces of config and vibs you would normally have to go in and setup yourself. Only one small problem, while it deploys into ESXi just fine and dandy, it doesn’t deploy onto fusion/workstation because it has virtual hardware that just isn’t compatible with Fusion/Workstation. 🙁

BUT the 6.0u3 VA does deploy without a problem.

Lazy Method:

  1. Download both the ESXi 6.0 Update 3 Virtual Appliance and the ESXi 6.5 Update 1 Virtual Appliance.
  2. To keep things neat create two folders called “ESXi6.0” and “ESXi6.5u1”.
  3. Extract both OVA’s into their respective folders. You can do this with with winrar (on widows) or if you’re using Linux/Max, from the console move into the directories and run “tar -xvf <name_of_ova>”
  4. Browse into ESXi6.5u1 and delete the ovf file.
  5. Copy the ovf file from ESXi6.0 to ESXi6.5u1. 
  6. Using your favourite editor open Nested_ESXi6.0u3_Appliance_Template_v1.0.ovf
  7. Do a search and replace for anything that reads “Nested_ESXi6.0u3_Appliance_Template_v1.0” with   “Nested_ESXi6.5u1_Appliance_Template_v1.0”
  8. Save “Nested_ESXi6.0u3_Appliance_Template_v1.0.ovf”
  9. Rename “Nested_ESXi6.0u3_Appliance_Template_v1.0.ovf” to “Nested_ESXi6.5u1_Appliance_Template_v1.0.ovf”
  10. Delete “Nested_ESXi6.5u1_Appliance_Template_v1.0.mf”
  11. Import into Workstation or Fusion
  12. Once the Nexted ESXi host has booted for the first time and run the config scripts. You’ll need to power it down and set VT-x/EPT support for the virtual machine. (I’ll add it in to the ovf instructions soon).

It’s really that simple (or lazy)!!!

 

 

PBM Error migrating VM’s from VSAN Datastore

Occasionally, and by that I mean very rarely, VM’s can refuse to migrate on or off VSAN storage (I know, I know, why would you every want to migrate off VSAN?).

The error will look something similar to:

A general system error occurred: PBM error occurred during PreMigrateCheckCallback: pbm.fault.PBMFault; Internal error during SPBM validation;
No VASA Provider for schema namespace (VSAN) found.

You’ll also find that you can’t create new storage providers.

The official reason is: Official: This issue occurs due to inconsistent data between the Storage Management Service (SMS) and the Storage Based Policy Manager (SPBM).

While VMware claim that this is only an issue with VSAN 5.5, I have seen it occur in VSAN 6.0. To be fair it was in my lab, and I was testing “dirty” power down of VSAN hosts.

So to the Fix

NB: As this is a VASA related issue it might work for other storage providers too. In the testing I’ve done its been non-disruptive but as always proceed with caution.

  1. In the vSphere Web Client Navigate to the vCenter Server (Not the VSAN Cluster)
  2. Select the Configure tab on the right.
  3. Select the Storage Providers Menu Item.
  4. In the Storage Providers window pane: click the storage icon with the red circular arrows. 
  5. Once done, the Cluster with VSAN will be scanned and you should be able to move your VM’s about.

VCAP6-DCV Design beta exam review.

On Saturday the 5th of March, I had the pleasure of sitting the beta of the VCAP6-DCV design exam.

Since more exam centers are now able to host the exam I chose a center near me, which was really convenient as they are also open on a Saturday. After passing all the usual security checks and getting shown to my seat and logging in, the familiar NDA popped into view and I was away.

The beta exam was 4 hours and I finished with time to spare. Was the exam difficult? Sure, but there were no questions that were outside the blueprint.

Most of the experience was a massive improvement over the VCAP5 exam. No lag, fast, and easy to navigate. However every silver lining has a cloud, in the middle of one tricky design question, everything locked up and up popped an error with the Pearson exam engine. I signaled to the exam monitor that I had a problem. She spent the next few minutes on the phone with an incredibly unhelpful Pearson. They claimed that everything but themselves was to blame. Suddenly, as soon as it began the problem mysteriously resolved itself. Weird *cough* Pearson messed up *cough*. One or two of the questions were also incomplete and didn’t provide all the info I needed but I did add notes and suggestions where appropriate so hopefully that will help.

If I’ve managed to do enough to pass I’ll get myself lifted to the VCIX-DCV cert, which would be a bonus.

Exam Tips:

  • The exam itself is filled with all the new vSphere 6 goodness, so if you’ve just passed the VCAP5-DCD and are expecting to walk this exam you’ll most likely waste your money.
  • As is obvious from the many blogs about, the VMware design exams are difficult but not impossible.
  • Having design experience is ideal but not essential. You can work this to your advantage which I’ll explain in a bit.
  • If you think the question or scenario is incomplete, there is the option to add a note to any question.
  • Get a lab together, it you can. There are cloud services out there you can use to run a virtualised lab.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get rattled. If you are struggling, flag the question for review and come back to it later.
  • Put a study plan together based on the official blueprint. There is a large body of information to absorb so make sure you budge your time appropriately.
  • Know your Requirements, Risks, Assumptions, and constraints.
  • Some scenarios have a large amount of information, some relevant to the design, some not, but all must be considered. Take notes while reading the question or scenario and focus on what they’ve asked you. It’s a valuable time saver.
  • If you have time at the end of the exam, use it to review your questions but try not to second guess yourself.

And finally as I mentioned before, if you don’t have real world design experience make it work to your advantage. Wait, what, how’s that? As anybody who’s run through a few designs know, there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat. Well VMware likes you to do your designs in a specific way and they have certain methodologies and ways of looking at the world. For example, the whole upstream, downstream, thing drives me crazy, and different companies either consider the user upstream or downstream. If you learn how to do designs the way VMware wants you to, without outside influence, it’ll be easier to visualise what they are after.

I’ve often heard techies who’ve sat this exam complain that technical designs are subjective, but it shouldn’t really be the case here. It’s a VMware exam and should be done the VMware way. Follow the blueprint, read the study guides and provided you also put in the study time, you’ll do just fine.

Veeam Backup Free Edition – Install

Just over a couple of weeks ago now, Veeam released version 9 of their product suite. Most notable of those are Veeam Backup & Replication and Veeam One (their monitoring and backup products)

Veeam have done an amazing job with their backup product and it wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted to backup your VM’s then Veeam was the only realistic choice. The other backup vendors are catching up and more choice is starting to appear in the market but Veeam still have the edge and because of this are the clear leaders, in my opinion, for VM backups.

What Veeam have always done, as far as I can remember, is offer free versions of their products. There are limitations,  of course, but you can still monitor and backup the products. Where I used to work we used the free version of Veeam One for quite a while before we made the jump to the paid version.

With the free version of the backup product you can only backup one VM at a time in the GUI, which could be cumbersome. In addition it doesn’t work on the free version of ESXi. I’m guessing that VMware called in a favour there. However you can do some scripting around this as sometime last year Veeam decided to allow some powershell CMDLETs to be called in the free version. This is great because you can now script around the limitation of “one VM at a time” and I use this script myself to backup my home lab. For a small shop, home lab, small engineering environment its perfect. I tend to do some fairly destructive things to my lab and this saves time rebuilding.

However I would still recommend going with one of the paid for versions if you are looking at backing up VM’s in a production environment. There is much goodness and value in the paid versions.

Installing Veeam Backup Free edition V9.

Before you continue you’ll need to go to Veeam’s website and create an account to download the Backup software ISO. The ISO is large at 1.2TB. I’m using a Windows 2012 R2 server for this install guide and it allows me to mount an ISO as a virtual DVD. If you are using an older version of windows you’ll need to extract the ISO.

  1. Right click the ISO and select mount.veeam_free_7
  2. Browse to the mounted ISO and double click Setup.
    veeam_free_8
  3. If you get a User Account Control warning click yes.veeam_free_9
  4. Click on the Backup and Replication panel.veeam_free_10
  5. If, like me, you skimp on resources in your lab you’ll get this message. Click Yes.veeam_free_11
  6. One of the cool features of the Veeam installer is that it actually offers to install the missing requirements. Click OKveeam_free_12veeam_free_13
  7. Once the .NET requirement is met the installer starts. Click Next.veeam_free_14
  8. Select “I accept the terms in the license agreement” and click Next.veeam_free_15
  9. If you have a license key you can click Browse and select it but as we are using the free version you only need to click Next.veeam_free_16
  10. The default on this window is to have all three features selected for installation, however you can decide not to install the console for example. I have left the three features enabled. Select Next.veeam_free_17
  11. Again, trying to make things as easy as possible by offering to install the missing requirements. If you, like me didn’t have them installed, select Install.
    veeam_free_18
  12. Once the requirements have been met, click  Next.veeam_free_20
  13. The default configuration should work for most free installs, for most licensed installs too, but its good to have to option there if you need it. Click Install.veeam_free_21
  14. Once the update is done click Finish.veeam_free_23
  15. On your desktop you’ll now have the Veeam Backup & Replication Console icon. A quick double click will open up the login screen for Veeam Backup.veeam_free_24

So really easy and simple. Most people don’t really think about the installer for an APP but I’m always impressed that its so simple with veeam. How many times have you had to go and download an obscure patch or track down a particular version of .NET. Many vendors could learn a thing or two here, yes NetApp, I’m looking at you..

VMware designs using Mindmaps

I was introduced to mind maps at school as a way to take notes during class but never really worked with them. Earlier in the year, while studying for my DCD I happened to see somebody at the library referring to a mind map while they were working.

That got me thinking; mind maps are quite personal as in you put it together. In effect, its your mind map, its put together in a way that you can reference information clearly as it relates to how you have stored it in your mind.

I was going through Jason Grierson excellent DCD 5.5 Study pack at the time and decided to create a series of mind maps from the info. This allowed me to very quickly go and look for the detail I needed. If you are studying towards your DCD the DCD 5.5 Study pack is a really good collection of information that you should download and go through.

Lets take a look at the map I created for the three different types of designs that VMware references. This is quite a small map but allowed me to quickly get the differences between Conceptual, Physical, and Logical designs.Design_Types

The next map looking at the four design factors has a bit more detail giving examples and definitions of risks, assumptions, constraints and, requirements.

Design_Factors

And as a better example this map dives into the design requirements of manageability, recoverability, availability , security, and performance. Still not a big mind map by any means (the ones I’ve been working on for my VCDX are getting a bit on the big side).

Design_Requirements

Many of the maps I create will only ever be seen by me. I use them as references when working on designs. Actually I’ve been using them for any projects I now have, both professional and personal. I’m looking at doing some work on my kitchen and this tool has helped keep all my ideas together in a way that I can easily reference them.

The reason I chose to show these maps is to give you another tool when putting together designs and working out what the client/your boss is trying to get you to do.

The software I use to create my maps is Simplemind. It’s avaliable for PC, MAC, Android, and IOS. There is less featured free version for IOS and Android. The map can be shared through all platforms via Dropbox.

Book Review – Essential Virtual SAN

VSANI have a confession to make. I am a Virtual SAN junkie. From the performance, to the expandability, to the simplicity, it’s an amazing product. The whole concept makes me wonder why the big storage players didn’t come up with the idea first.

Looking forward, the future forVSAN is very bright. This is a massive development and I think it will have wider reach than NSX. It’s so easy to get up and running, that a business of any size could spin it up with little effort. Just don’t forget to validate against the HCL.

Now, if you are happy with that and don’t really intend to do much with it then click away now, but if you want to understand more about the technology you are running then Duncan Epping and Cormac Hogans book Essential Virtual SAN is one of the best resources you can sink your money into.

Before we carry on, one thing to note is that this book is written around VSAN 1.0. While VSAN 6.1 is out it’s not 6 versions further on but more like 1 full release and 1 point release further on. VMware changed the version numbers to reflect the vSphere versions. So that said, this book isn’t obsolete. Far from it. The new versions really only build on what is already an amazing platform. It is still completely relevant, just missing some new goodies, like stretched clustering and info about the updated file system. For all the updated info have a crawl through Cormac’s blog and the VMware Technical Papers.

I’ve ready a couple of Duncan’s other books, the vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deep dive written with Frank Denneman for example,and found them to be very easy to read. Often a book aimed at techies can be very dry, which makes then a struggle. Cormac is Mr VMware Storage and his blog, read by many people, is always informative and good to read.

Essential Virtual SAN on the other hand reads well. The sections are well thought out and the book takes you from introducing VSAN all the way through to using the vSphere ruby console to look in real detail at what the individual disks are doing.

The authors do state that this is not a starters guide, while they are right, I found this book to be more than enough for both beginners and the more experienced to really find useful.

Duncan and Cormac’s enthusiasm for VSAN really comes through in this book. Obvious, I know, when you look at their blogs, but it does feel like this is more than a 9-5 for them.

At the office we have recently deployed VSAN. This went through the usual steps of putting it in engineering, running a successful POC and finally getting senior management buy in to roll it out. This book was a huge help in helping me boost my knowledge and fielding any concerns raised by the business.

I did attend the VSAN deploy and manage course, this book is better.

The future for VSAN is bright and, to me it’s clear that this should be on your roadmap, if it isn’t already.