UK VMUG 2015 Report – part 2

This is the second part of my report on the UK VMUG 2015 conference held as usual at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

The second session I chose to attend was “How Healthy is your Disaster Recovery Plan?” run by Zerto.

I was almost 10 minutes late arriving for this as a result of a detailed conversation with VMTurbo in the Exhibitor Hall, so unfortunately missed the introduction and a significant part of the session. Note to self, save these sort of discussions for the longer breaks next year!

What I took away from the remainder of the session was that Zerto provide a DR product which is Hypervisor agnostic, allowing it to be used for migrations between Hyper-V and VMware (for example) or even between Cloud vendors. I know that we use Zerto at CSC for precisely this use-case, so it was interesting to hear more about it.

Positives: Cloud/Hypervisor agnostic, 2 license models (time limited or perpetual), Non-disruptive testing
Negatives: Async only, n-d testing requires manual config of networking


For the pre-lunchtime session I attended “Cloud Automation: Finding the Silver Lining” run by two people from Xtravirt and one formerly from the same firm.

I scribbled copious notes during this session as automation is an area I’m heavily involved in but not specifically with vRealize Automation/vCAC, but I will summarise my take-aways as best I can.

  • vRA/vCAC has breakout stubs for integration, but for more in-depth integration CDK is required.
  • Using built-in blueprints lack flexibility, but employing the Advanced Service Designer can increase project scope.
  • Adding rollback capability to a workflow can significantly increase the complexity – for an Orchestrator/UCS/ServiceNow project, it took 4 workflows up to 123.
  • Projects using vRA usually end up requiring vRealize Orchestrator.
  • Don’t assume that the availability of a plugin means things will be easy – they might not cover what you want to do, or be any good, or have version issues.
  • To use vRO you need to know JavaScript, even if it’s just the basics of IF, FOR, Variables, Properties, as well as datatypes and endpoints such as SQL, xml, json, REST and SOAP.
  • Planning:
    • Requirements – have to get these right, make sure Specific, Unambiguous, Comprehensive
    • Produce a Conceptual Design
    • Design the process flow
    • Agree Agile vs Waterfall delivery
    • *Expect* changes – agree the change process before you need it
  • Testing – As soon as you write code, you’re a coder, even “just for scripts”. Need to have some way of testing scripts before implementing into production, so have a representative test environment.
  • Ideally work on “Idempotence”- an operation that can be applied multiple times without changing the result. Example: job that creates a Logical Switch, only create it the first time, make sure that re-running doesn’t result in multiple identically name Logical Switches.
  • Error handing:
    • Plan this up front – it’s massively harder to add in at the end
    • Validate inputs
    • Control errors – remember to provide feedback, automate handling where possible, include diagnostic info if possible)

Lunch was then provided by Webroot, and I have to say it was pretty  good for a conference buffet. Again there was ample opportunity to wander round the Exhibitor Hall and chat to the vendors there.

First up after lunch was “Automating the Next Generation Data Centre” with Josh Atwell

This was a discussion of the tools, methodologies and new paradigms that are in play for automating modern highly abstracted datacentres.

  • Policy Based Management – reduces manual effort, is consistent and flexible, and can control and monitor configuration drift.
  • VASA Provider evolution:
    • 5.5 – Basic capability profile, Block devices
    • 6.0 – Add storage DRS, IO Stats, Events, Alarms
    • 6.0 VVOLs – Add VVOL Profile, VVOL Management, SPBM v2, Unmap capability
      – These improving capabilities improve automation potential.
  • VMware Tags – Great for automation. Stop using “Notes”
  • Desired State Tools –  Many available including Puppet, Chef, Powershell DSC, Salt. Each have own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Software Defined – this is IT as a service:
    • Needs infrastructure extensibility
    • Policy based management
    • Automatic actions
  • Scripts are code and need version control
  • Next Generation Skills
    • Understand all that the App needs
    • Work to enable Self-Service
    • DevOps is culture, not tools
    • Rise of the Infrastructure Developer

This was another compelling presentation that has given me a lot to think about, and DO!


One thought on “UK VMUG 2015 Report – part 2

  1. Pingback: UK VMUG 2015 Report – part 1 | YAVB - Rich Dowling

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