VVD tools series: VVD documents

Next in the VVD tools series is one that you might consider cheating, but I want to include as it may be non-obvious for folks not familiar with the VVDs. Ergo a short post to explain how super useful the VVD published documents themselves are, even if you don’t intend to fully deploy a VVD design.

The VVD document set

Describing the VVD programme itself leads into all sort of interesting discussions around standardization, VMware-wide recommended design practices, the value of shared operational guidance, increased time-to-value, automated deployments, engineered systems approach, etc. However at the heart of VVDs is the prescriptive guidance we give to design, deploy and manage your SDDC – and our primary route to delivering that guidance is through an awesome set of documentation. In my humble opinion, the best documentation that VMware creates, and the best validated/engineered systems approach by a single vendor.

First off, let’s make it clear that the documentation is available for FREE, for anyone to download and use. The easiest way to get the full set is from the My VMware portal: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-sddc

vvd-unicorn-bacon

 

In the current package you’ll find the following documents:

Introducing VMware Validated Design for Software-Defined Data Center

This provides a short overview of VVDs and why they’re so valuable; lays out the design objectives, explains where to find things in the documentation set, and provides a 10,000-foot view of the SDDC design. I highly recommend you take the time to peruse the twenty-odd pages here as it really provides a great overview and lets you cut straight to where you’re likely to gain the greatest value.

Reference Architecture Guide

This is true bread and butter behind the VVDs, covering both the architecture and the detailed design of the VVD. It best describes itself as follows:

The Architecture Overview discusses the building blocks and the main principles of each layer SDDC management layer. The Detailed Design provides the available design options according to the design objective, and a set of design decisions to justify selecting the path for building each SDDC component.

If you are at all interested in data center design solutions, then carving off a few hours this week to sit down and read this cover-to-cover is time very well spent. This document alone is worthy of its own article, but I’ll let you dig through it and discouver for yourself why it’s such a valuable resource.

Planning and Preparation Guide

This is a step-by-step guide to getting everything lined up prior to the deployment phase, so you’re ready to hit the ground running. All the things that you might need to arrange with external teams, such as network configuration, DNS entries, directory service accounts, storage requirements, etc. Even if you don’t plan to deploy a VVD per se, this is a great checklist for any data center engineer that’s about to tackle a new project, as it’s comprehensive, provides examples, and lays out the detail that you’d need in your own environment.

Deployment Guides

Next comes two deployment guides. The VVD is inherently based on a dual site scenario providing recovery options, hence we publish two guides. The region A guide explains how to deploy all the components needed on the first site including items that are only installed once. If you only have one data center then you can just follow this guide. The region B guide obviously includes components for the second site, but also had additional guidance on the recovery setup which is only needed if you have both sites (e.g. vReplication and SRM).

Upgrade Guide

One of the benefits of deploying your SDDC software in VVD form is that clearly documented upgrade guidance is provided to show you how to upgrade through the major versions. Each VMware product has its own upgrade path, however, if you’ve ever had to think about how to coordinate the upgrade of multiple products you’ll know that it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Providing a clear path of compatibility through each step, with rollback options when things don’t go according to plan, carving up the process into business-feasible outage windows, ensure that any pause points are still viable and working, when to take backups, etc. It’s not a simple process.

Fortunately, the current upgrade guide is relatively short as the differences in design and in particular software between VVD 2.0 and VVD 3.0 meant less guidance is required. One thing that’s not apparent from the documents is the behind the scenes work that goes on to provide feedback and improve the cross-SDDC upgrade path. We’re working hard to make these kinds of upgrades easier, and to keep this guidance as minimal as possible.

Operational guidance

There are several guides currently under the Operational Guidance section:  Monitoring and Alerting, Backup and Restore, Site Protection and Recovery, and Operational Verification. All come under the banner of Operational Guidance. One of the benefits of adopting, or at least aligning to a VVD design, is making use of the operational guidance, or Day 2 guidance as it’s often known.

For example, nowhere that I know of in the wealth of VMware resources available, explained in what order you should safely power down (and power-on) multiple VMware products. This is included in our guidance papers. Again, even if you’re not using a full VVD, this is very handy information to have at your disposal if you work with VMware products. The operational guidance is an area we’re keen to add more detail to in 2017, so let me know if there are specific areas you like to see us cover.

Use-case documents

Another growth area for the VVD documents are the use-cases. These are subsets or supersets of the VVD to address common scenarios, while still providing the same building blocks as the VVD. If you start with one use-case, you can expand your solution in the future to incorporate additional use-cases or the full VVD for SDDC design. This allows you to target the real-world needs that your business is demanding.

Rest assured, the VVD team are generating even more great content for 2017
Rest assured, the VVD team are generating even more great content for 2017

How to use them

Like most technical documentation there are several ways you can extract value from them. You can use them to literally design/deploy/operate your next data center – we have lots of customers doing just that and reaping enormous benefits from it. You can use the documents as reference material that can enhance your own documentation (and designs) and align to our standards where appropriate. You can use them to educate you and your team about the process of deploying a full SDDC stack, and how all the parts come together.

There are countless more ways you can use these hidden gems, but by merely reading through the content you’re definitely taking the next step towards a better data center in 2017. The real value from the VVD documents is understanding where you can standardize on common practices. It’s time to stop sweating the small stuff and instead focus on the important aspects that are unique to your business.

 

Get more details about the VVD

Need to know more about VVDs:
– VVD Download package: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-sddc
– Product page: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd
– Individual documents: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-docs
– Community page http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-community

VVD logo

VVD tools series

  1. Intro and CertGen
  2. Firewall port spreadsheet
  3. VVD documents
  4. Coming soon…

VVD tools series: Firewall port spreadsheet

Ports and protocols spreadsheet

Following on from the CertGen tool post, here’s a look at another indispensable SDDC tool. This time it’s a spreadsheet which details the ports and protocols used by the products in the latest VVD release (3.0). Much of this information is scattered around in different KBs and internal threads, but our Professional Services team pulled this together as a resource for customers, and as ever the VVD team was super keen to get it out in the hands of as many of you as possible.

I really appreciate the way it’s done. As a long-time customer of VMware, I struggled to determine a solid canonical source for this information. Usually, you had to dig around to find it, and often when it was published for a particular VMware product, it didn’t tell the whole story, e.g. didn’t provide the protocol, or didn’t specify which endpoint was the source or the destination. You know, things you really need if you’re actually trying to configure a firewall 🙂   I still host (although very outdated now), Dudley Smith’s firewall poster and spreadsheet which was at the time (circa 2010) probably the best resource for this information across multiple VMware products.

Fast forward to the present day and the VVD ports and protocols spreadsheet splits out each product as a separate tab, with functional areas highlighted in colour bands to make it easier to pick out blocks.

Firewall spreadsheet

Just like the CertGen tool, the really great thing about this resource is that it’s valuable not just to folks deploying a VVD, but anyone using one or more of the SDDC related products: vSphere, NSX, SRM, VDP, vROps, etc.

Thanks to the members of VMware’s Professional Services team that created it and allowed the VVD team to release it more widely.

Grab the spreadsheet here:

https://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-33303

Get more details about the VVD

Need to know more about VVDs:
– VVD Download package: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-sddc
– Product page: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd
– Individual documents: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-docs
– Community page http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-community

VVD logo

VVD tools series

  1. Intro and CertGen
  2. Firewall port spreadsheet
  3. VVD documents
  4. Coming soon…

VVD tools series: Intro and Certgen Tool

Introduction

I’m publishing a series of short blog posts covering some of the great tools available from the VMware Validated Design (VVD) program (disclaimer: these days I’m one of the team at VMware working on the VVDs).

For anyone that isn’t familiar with the VVDs, they are VMware’s blueprints for a “Build Your Own” datacenter. Prescriptive guidance for all the elements in a VMware SDDC, and in my opinion they’re the best documentation set available. Better yet – they’re FREE for you to download. Like now! http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-sddc

Just as Director Krennic tells Darth Vader:

The power that we are dealing with here is immeasurable

(click the link) The power that we are dealing with here is immeasurable
(click the photo)

Along with the documentation, a number of super handy VVD utilities are scattered around in various places. Unfortunately, it isn’t that intuitive to find some of them, so that’s where this blog series comes in. I’m going to make sure they get a bit more exposure. All the tools are freely available to grab, and I’d say they’re valuable to anyone that designs, builds or operates a VMware-based datacenter, even if you don’t follow the VVD path.

Without further ado, let’s introduce the first: the CertGen tool…

CertGen tool

The Certificate Generation Utility, know colloquially as the CertGen tool, is a PowerShell script that will:

generate custom certificates for the products that you use to build a Software-Define Data Center (SDDC) based on VMware Validated Design for Software-Defined Data Center. Use the utility to reduce the number of steps for end-to-end certificate replacement.

It’s not intended as a long-term VMware solution to the certificate headache. It’s a tool the VVD team developed because it helped us more efficiently deploy a full VVD onto a testbed. It ended up attached to a KB article, primarily because we were keen to get the tool out there and available to as many folks as possible, as quickly as possible.

Currently, the CertGen tool is capable of generating certificates for most of the SDDC stack (host certificates are not included today). We’re working hard on some new capabilities and have some great plans for 2017. Can’t mention specifics right now, but I’m taking feature requests on what other options you’d like to see.

Please get in touch (or via twitter: @forbesguthrie) if there’s anything specific functionality you want – we’re keen to add value.  I can’t make any promises, but if it makes sense for customers of VMware’s SDDC, then we’ll work on it.

The neat thing is even if you’re not a VVD user per se, if you use any of VMware’s SDDC stack (vSphere, vRealize, NSX, vSAN, etc), then there’s going to be some bits of value. The tool isn’t compiled code, just simple PowerShell, so you can pull it apart and use whatever you need to get the job done. Let us know if you customized in interesting ways for your environment.

You’ll find the script attached to this KB with some usage instructions:
https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2146215

Get more details about the VVD

Need to know more about VVDs:
– VVD Download package: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-sddc
– Product page: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd
– Individual documents: http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-docs
– Community page http://www.vmware.com/go/vvd-community

VVD logo

VVD tools series

  1. Intro and CertGen
  2. Firewall port spreadsheet
  3. VVD documents
  4. Coming soon…

My Design Session at VMworld 2016

Next week is VMworld 2016 (US) and I wanted to put the word out that I’ll be presenting again this year. In previous years I’ve had the honour to share the stage with Mr Scott Lowe, as we discussed Infrastructure Design with a holistic approach across the datacenter. This year is a little different, as apart from anything else, I’m now a VMware employee working on a specific product. However the great news is I’m back to talk about high-level design topics in #SDDC9025 “VVD 101: Build Your Cloud the Right Way, First Time”.

I must sign up for #SDDC9025. I must sign up ...
   I must sign up for #SDDC9025 now. I must sign up for …

Before I explain why you want to attend this session more than any other session next week, let me explain a little bit about the product that I’ve been involved in at VMware.

 

VMware Validated Designs

So about 4 months ago I joined VMware, staying on the Product Management side of things, to an engineering team focussed on something called VMware Validated Designs, or VVD for short. This is a pretty amazing team of technical folks including plenty of well known vRockstars personalities and VCDXs.

Here we see two VVD engineers contemplate the impact of a particularly thorny design decision
   Here we see two VVD engineers contemplate the impact of a particularly thorny design decision

I could spend some several hundred lines of blog post explaining the what and the why of VVDs, but something amazing happened last month which is far more instructive. TL;DR it is the BEST up-to-date design documentation for your datacenter. Bar none.

Although VVDs were lightly mentioned at VMworld 2015, the team released version 2.0 last month and we made it openly available to everyone. For FREE! Yep, you can now download this previously professional-services-only toolkit and implement it yourself, DIY-style. If you’re even moderately interested in the design process and datacenter solutions, then these are the docs you’ve been looking for. There are lots of good, sensible, reasoned arguments why you want to use this guidance (some of which my colleague and I will talk about during my VMworld session), but I think the interesting point right now is to grab the documents and take a look yourself.

Want to look like an SDDC guru? Download the VVD design docs today.
   Want to look like an SDDC guru? Download the VVD design docs today.

There’s several ways you can get them, but the easiest if you have a myware.com account is to grab them here as they are all bundled into a single tarball archive.
Alternatively you can pick-and-mix by going to the documentation center.

Another great resource is to jump on over to the VMware community site we’ve just refreshed, and join in the discussion. Among other things, you’ll find Ryan Johnson’s  awesome VVD poster over there which helps sets the stage for the design.

VVD_poster_2
VMworld 2016

Love talking about datacenter design? Sign up for the VVD 101 session, spaces are limited. Although this is an introductory session and we won’t be digging down into the technical nuts-and-bolts level, we will be talking about design level goals.  We will be explaining how a VVD can improve your datacenter design and why it’s the best design approach.  I’ll be revealing some of the hidden work that the VVD team do behind the scenes to solve problems so you don’t need to. And we’ll be talking about the future direction of the VVDs programme and announcing some breaking VVD news.

There are a lot of other VVD based sessions on next week, many looking at specific technical areas. Check out the link to Blaine’s post below for a good set of links.

Come and grab me at any point during the week for some snazzy VVD laptop stickers and to discuss the VVD approach.

stickers

Related external VVD blog posts:

Kill Your Combinatorics Before They Kill You by Blaine Christian

Announcing the VMware Validated Design for Software-Defined Data Center 2.0 by Ryan Johnson

VMware Validated Design for SDDC 2.0 – Now Available by Jonathan McDonald