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23Jun/14Off

VMware #vForum London and bloggers VSAN/vCHS lunch

Posted by Simon Eady

VMware_Forum_2014_Banner_v3Fairly recently i attended the annual VMware vForum London 2014 at Wembley stadium!

If you have never been to a vForum i would certainly recommend it as it offers the chance to not only attend excellent and pertinent sessions but there is also the opportunity to network and visit the large vendor hall which as ever was a busy place!

 

Keynote and sessions

The opening keynote by @joebaguley (Joe Baguley) was excellent and as challenging as ever one aspect that stood out to me personally was the question "where are you on your journey?" (see pic/slide below)

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Filed under: vCHS, vForum, VSAN Continue reading
23Jun/14Off

VCAC 6.0 build-out to distributed model – Part 1: Certificates

Posted by Sam McGeown

This is the first article in a series about how to build-out a simple vCAC 6 installation to a distributed model.

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Simple vCAC deployment

In a simple installation you have the Identity Appliance, the vCAC appliance (which includes a vPostgres DB and vCenter Orchestrator instance) and an IaaS server. The distributed model still has a single Identity Appliance but clusters 2 or more vCAC appliances behind a load balancer, backed by a separate vPostgres database appliance. The IaaS components are installed on 2 or more IaaS Windows servers and are load balanced, backed by an external MSSQL database. Additionally, the vCenter Orchestrator appliance is used in a failover cluster, backed by the external vPostgres database appliance.

The distributed model can improve availability, redundancy, disaster recovery and performance, however it is more complex to install and manage, and there are still single points of failure – e.g. the vPostgres database is not highly available and although protected by vSphere HA could be the cause of an outage. Clustering the database would provide an improved level of availability but may not be supported by VMware. Similarly the Identity Appliance is currently a single point of failure, although there are also options for high availability there too.

An overview of the steps required is below:

  • Issue and install certificates
  • Deploy an external vPostgres appliance and migrate the vCAC database
  • Configure load balancing
  • Deploy a second vCAC appliance and configure clustering
  • Install and configure additional IaaS server
  • Deploy vCenter Orchestrator Appliance cluster
9Jun/14Off

vCenter 5.5 Certificate Toolkit for Distributed Environments

Posted by Sam McGeown

SSL PadlockIf you've had the dubious pleasure of generating and installing vCenter certificates, you’ll know that it’s not the greatest of fun. When VMware released the SSL Certificate Automation Tool, it helped hugely, especially when you use Derek Seaman’s excellent SSL toolkit. I know that there are hours and hours of work put into this script by Derek and I want to thank him for that – it’s a massive time saver. This modification is to fit a different set of circumstances – “standing on the shoulders of giants” – and should in no way be seen as me criticising or stealing Derek’s work.

This week, while using the SSL Certificate Automation Tool and Derek’s script, I encountered a couple of things I felt could be improved for a more complex environment.

  1. The script is not written to handle distributed setups – e.g. different vSphere components on different servers.
  2. The script will handle root and a single subordinate CA, but not a third level – this requires some manual fudging.
  3. The script still creates Java Keystore .jks files, .pfx and .p12 files and properties and ID files for the SSO – these are all no longer required for vSphere 5.5 with the SSL Certificate Automation tool.

Distributed Setups

I’ve modified the script to use an array of PSObjects for $WServices rather than listing the service names. This means I can provide an FQDN for each service as a property: these are used throughout the script to generate certificate requests for each service with the correct FQDN.

The function CreateCSR now uses the FQDN property of the $WServices array – and I have added a DNS lookup to add the IP address to the CSR automatically as an IP and DNS subjectAltName. Each generated CSR is specific to the FQDN provided at the start of the script.

Multiple Subordinate CAs

The environments I am working on have a fairly standard Microsoft Certificate Services PKI setup: at the top there’s a Root CA, under that there’s a Policy CA, and under that there are Issuing CAs.

I have modified the script to use an array variable $CAs, which contains a list of CA FQDNs. The function DownloadRoot cycles through those and attempts to download each CA’s certificate in turn. The certificates and saved as “CA64-x.cer”, where x is the number of the CA in order.

For example, the Root CA is first in the $CAs array, and is downloaded first. The file is saved as CA64-1.cer. The next CA in the list is my Policy CA, which is saved as CA64-2.cer. Finally, the Issuing CA is saved as CA64-3.cer.

The naming and ordering of the CAs and their certs is important because it’s important to get the chain correct in the .pem files used in the SSL Certificate Automation tool.

As with Derek’s original script, if you’re not able to access the CAs from the vCenter Server (or wherever you’re running the script) then you need to manually download the files and create the CA64-x.cer files and place them in the $Cert_Dir folder – they will be detected and used by the script.

Generating only required files

The only files required by the SSL Certificate Automation Tool are a .pem file containing the entire chain and a .key file containing the private key for the issued certificate.

To generate the .pem file, we need to copy the contents of the CA certificates from root to leaf, starting with the leaf certificate, then the issuing CA, any intermediate CA and finally the root CA. The image below shows the order the certificates need to be pasted into the file.

PEM Certificate Format

I’ve modified the CreatePEMFiles function to generate “RootChain.pem”, which is a concatenation of the root certificates in the correct order. It then cycles through the Services and copies the contents of the generated certificate file and “RootChain.pem” to create the .pem file required by the SSL Certificate Automation Tool.

I’ve removed the additional steps for the Java KeyStore (.jks) files, which were required for SSO 5.1 but aren’t actually needed for 5.5. Similarly, steps to create the .pfx and .p12 files are removed as they are no longer required.

Functionality I’ve removed

There are certain functions I’ve removed when it made no sense to keep them, for example generating certificates for the Linux appliance. This makes no sense as by definition they’ll be on the same server/FQDN.

The function VCFQDN has been removed since the FQDN of services is provided in the $WServices array.

The function DownloadSub has been removed since the DownloadRoot function has been modified to download all the CA certificates, including the Subordinate CAs.

The function WinVCCheck has been removed, this checked for the SSO install path and set up an alias to the keytool.exe installed there. These were used in functions that are no longer required.

The function CAHashes, which created the <hash>.0 files of the root certificates has been removed – again these are no longer required in 5.5.

The function CreateSSOFiles has also been removed, since the SSL Certificate Automation tool no longer requires these files to be manually generated.

Running the script

The script runs in the same way as Derek’s original – albeit with a few options removed. You need to edit the script before your first run to populate the details of your environment.

If you can’t access all the CA’s in your environment (e.g. offline root, or firewalled) then you will need to download your CA certificates as base64 encoded certs. Start at the top-most level – the root CA – and export it as CA64-1.cer. The next one should be CA64-2.cer and so on.

Other than that, the script runs as Derek’s. When it’s run, you will have a folder with the certificates in .pem format, and the matching private keys in a .key format. Copy the ssl-environment.bat in to replace the one in the folder for the SSL Certificate Automation Tool and run the tool to update your environment.

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Download the script

The modified script is available to download here: http://vexpert.me/ToolkitDistributed

8Jun/14Off

Another fantastic South West UK VMUG

Posted by Simon Eady

vmug_logoOn the 3rd of June we had our second South West UK VMUG and I am pleased to say it went superbly well.

As before we held it at the Mshed facilities in Bristol.

We had a great day with many sessions from sponsors,vendors and community speakers alike!

Big thanks go to our speakers that day who were..

One of the South West UK VMUG leaders Barry Coombs took a fantastic time lapse video of the day which can be viewed on his blog site.

Here are a few shots from the day

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Filed under: VMUG No Comments
28May/14Off

Book Review: Learning Veeam Backup and Replication for VMware vSphere

Posted by Sam McGeown

I was recently sent a copy of Christian Mohn's new book "Learning Veeam Backup and Replication for VMware vSphere" to review, and as ever this is my honest opinion of this book. I am not receiving anything other than the copy of the book for this review. I don't work for a vendor, so I have no axe to grind!

Content

The book starts of with explanations of basic backup strategies and explains principals like Grandfather-Father-Son media rotation and RPO/RTOs. From there it dives into the architecture of Veeam BR and its components. The remainder of chapter 1 covers a walk through of the installation of the product.

Chapter 2 covers the configuration of backups, and gives some background into the different types of backups within Veeam, their drawbacks, and how Veeam have addressed them. For example solving the problem of having to combine incremental backups with the last full, which Veeam solve with synthetic full backups. The chapter also covers backup proxies, and configuring backup jobs, copying to tape or remote repository, and the WAN accelerator.

The next chapter walks through performing restores with Veeam, including full VMs, VM files (like a vmx) and VMDKs, and guest OS files.

Chapter 4 covers the replication part of Veeam Backup and Replication, and after explaining the differences between backup and replication it covers the infrastructure required before stepping through the set-up of a replication job. It also covers the process for fail over and fail-back, and here is one example of where I'd like to see some comparison - e.g. with VMware's SRM, which has a similar feature set.

The fifth and final chapter covers some of the more unique features of Veeam's offering, and I thought it provided a good explanation of those features - here is where I think walk through of setup/config would be most valuable, but it reads more as a feature list than a learning guide.

Summary

I found the writing style easy to read and I thought it flowed quite well throughout the book - this is always impressive when the author's first language isn't English.

I did find that I had to keep reminding myself that the book is specifically written about a single product rather than a more agnostic approach - I felt it read more like a vendor produced document. Personally, I would have liked some comparison with other well-known backup products to ground it a little and perhaps some more real-world explanations to distinguish it from vendor install documentation.

Perhaps that's a little unfair as the book is specifically about that one product, and there is added value in the explanations provided. The introduction specifically states that it's aimed at "vSphere administrators looking for an introduction to Veeam Backup & Replication v7 for VMware" and it definitely does provide that.

Learning Veeam Backup and Replication for VMware vSphere is available on Amazon and Packt

 

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