VMUG UserCon 2017 Germany

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Kap Europa

Kap Europa

Last Wednesday (14.06.2017) this year’s german VMUG UserCon event was taking place in Frankfurt (KAP Europa, congress building of Messe Frankfurt). These conferences are taking place once in a year and complement regional VMUG conferences – it’s really worth a visit! Beside plenty of exhibitors, about 40 interesting talks were part of the program. Some of them focussed on future ideas and roadmaps and thus were protected by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

I decided to visit the following talks:

  • A Closer Look at VMware Cloud on AWS (Frank Denneman, VMware)
  • Virtual SAN 6.5/6.6: Neuigkeiten, Tipps zur Einführung, Troubleshooting und Monitoring (Andreas Scherr, VMware)
  • vSphere 6.5 : Host Resources Deep Dive (Frank Denneman, Niels Hagoort)
  • Mastering vCenter Upgrade and Migration (Ivaylo Loboshki, VMware) – NDA
  • vSphere 6.5 WebClient (HTML5, Web Client) + Future Roadmap (Rekha Belur, VMware) – NDA
  • VMware & AWS together! (Julien Simon, Amazon)

I hope you understand that I can’t summarize the NDA talks in this article.

Keynote

Markus Klein (Senior Director Systems Engineering CEMEA, VMware) was talking about VMware’s future vision which focusses on enhanced Public Cloud integration possibilities – such as VMware Cloud on AWS that was presented later. Together with the topic “Digital Workspaces“, “IoT” was also named – I’m excited to see which product updates will be announced in the future.

Dr. Heinz-Hermann Adam (member of the VMUG steering committee) gave an overview about the various regional and interest groups of the german VMUG. While listing advantages of a VMUG Advanced membership the EVALexperience program was mentioned. This program offers evaluating various VMware products without support for test and learning environments for one year. Recently, the products NSX and vRealize Network Insight were added to this program – in addition to that, there are also some new groups in the VMUG portal.

Jens-Henrik Söldner (Söldner Consult), who was co-authoring the book “Mastering vRealize Automation 7.1“, offered free eBook copies of the book for visitors- really cool! I’m really looking forward to improve my skills. 🙂

VMware Cloud on AWS

I found the talk about VMware Cloud AWS really interesting. This product is currently a technical preview, but will reach the GA state also enabling productive workloads this summer. In two keynotes, the product was presented by Frank Denneman (VMware) and Julien Simon (Amazon Web Services).

VMConAWS focusses reproducing enterprise-proven VMware infrastructure on affordable AWS infrastructure (Amazon Web Services). From a technical perspective this means a AWS VPC (Virtual Private Cloud), which is paid by VMware, is running several VMware products:

  • vSphere ESXi 6.5
  • vCenter Server
  • vSAN
  • NSX

The customer will not need NSX on-premise, it is also possible to use a VPN endpoint for connection. Customers with special network throughput requirements can establish a 10G connection between AWS and the on-premise NSX installation – AWS DirectConnect. In this case, an uplink between “the” on-premise and AWS switch is created. As vCenter Server is used, it is also possible to connect additional products such as the vRealize suite and vSphere Integrated Container. The AWS vCenter instance can be integrated into the on-premise vCenter system. It is also very interesting, that those products will run on dedicated hardware within the AWS infrastructure – an very important aspect from a data privacy view. By implementing APIs, additional AWS services (such as EC1, S3, RDS,…) should be usable in the future.

VMware Cloud on AWS is defined as service by VMware which means that from a customer perspective VMware will act as SPOC (Single Point of Contact). Hypervisor and management products are maintained by VMware while AWS offers the hardware. This also brings some restrictions:

  • No root access
  • No VIB file installation
  • Network configuration can’t be changed (as it’s pre-defined by VMware)

So in other words, the customer can focus on his workloads – some use-cases would be:

  1. Expanding the local infrastructure for disaster recovery
  2. Consolidation or migration pre-existing infrastructures and applications
  3. Flexible workloads by balancing resource peaks
AWS Rekognition

AWS Rekognition

In the second keynote additional Amazon services were presented – a topic I have missed in the last time. The services Rekognition and Polly which are profiting massively by Deep Learning looked very interesting to me. Both services offer numerous APIs enabling the implementation in various programming languages (Python, Java, iOS, Ruby,…).

Rekognition focusses on mechanical typecasting of picture – it is capable of automatically detecting pictures, objects, scenes and faces (including facial expressions). The service returns compliance and tendencies (emotions, scenes, persons).

Polly is a Text2Speech service, which does not only offer various language but also dialects (e.g british, american and indian english). The voices sound very human – which is not certain for voice systems.

vSAN 6.5/6.6

Andreas Scherr (VMware) present the latest vSAN product updates and some tips and tricks.

Beginning with vSAN 6.6, updates for the Software Defined Shared Storage solution are also distributed independently from hypervisor updates. The reason for this decision was the rapid development of vSAN which is now used by more than 8000 customers.

Some of the highlights of the latest versions:

vSAN 6.5 vSAN 6.6
  • iSCSI targets support for external systems
  • Maximal LUN size of 62 TB
  • 2-Node quorum support (Host-to-host without switch)
  • 512e drive support
  • 100 GBe network adapter support
  • Unicast instead of Multicast (no network changes needed anymore)
  • Disk encryption (KMIP-compatible vendor required)
  • Higher IOPS by optimized checksum/dedup algorithm
  • vRealize management pack
  • Enhanced maintenance mode
  • vSAN Config Assist is nowHCL-aware and offers driver/firmware updates
  • PowerCLI integration

The tips were informative as some of them were not given at first sight in the product documentations. As an example, beginning with version 6.5 ESXi also offers native driver modules that are loaded directly into the kernel. Linux drivers are loaded as third-party module into the kernel. From a performance perspective, it is advisable to prefer native drivers rather than Linux drivers (e.g. ixgben instead of ixgbe or igbn/igb).

When choosing a storage controller it is important to ensure that the queue depth is at least 256 – otherwise, performance will lack. When focussing on SSDs, it is advisable to go for SAS SSDs rather than SATA SSDs as they use an performance-optimized protocol.

I also appreciated the hint that a vSAN cluster automatically initiates rebalancing if the storage consumption exceeds 70%. Depending on your workloads and infrastructure this can have a significant impact on performance. After implementing or updating a vSAN setup it is advisable to utilize the fling HCIBench (Hyper-converged Infrastructure Benchmark). This tool is distributed as appliance and automatically provisions various workloads to benchmark the storage.

Host Resources Deep Dive

Full House!

Full House!

Frank Denneman (VMware) and Niels Hagoort (Freelancer) have been working on a book focussing on computing, storage and network resources. The talk was well visited and focussed on some topics of the book which will be released soon – e.g. profitable and unprofitable memory module quantities. It is advisable not to assign more than two DIMM modules per memory channel as using three modules can lower the total memory throughput by up to 28% langsamer. Expanding expensive modules can also lower the overall system performance in worst-case scenarios. The Intel Skylake architecture offers two additional memory channels – so in comparison with the predecessor generation Broadwell up to 6 memory channels can be used.

Another interesting hint was that virtual machines only utilize one thread on an ESXi host for network traffic by default. When using the VMXNET3 network card it is possible to use multiple threads by altering the VM configuration file:

ethernet0.ctxPerDev = "1"

It might be necessary to replace ethernet0 with the appropriate network card number.

I’m really excited for the final book! In the meantime you can get further suggestions in the following talk from the last VMworld event: INF8430 – VMworld 2016: vSphere 6.x Host Resource Deep Dive

The session is also available on YouTube.

Conclusion

If you’re focussing on VMware virtualization, you really should visit a VMUG UserCon. There are always lot of interesting talks and plenty of possibilities for idea exchange and networking. I really appreciated the event – looking forward for the next conference. 🙂

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