VCDX56 lab environment in the public cloud

My lab environment crashed a few weeks ago and runs with very limited capacity for the moment. Until i have a new in place i have used a Swedish based public cloud solution, provided by the company Ipeer, to host my lab environment.
This is not an advertising blog post for Ipeer, i just wanted to share my experience with a public cloud solution build on VMware vCloud Director (vCD)

I signed up for their Hosted VMware offer which includes one month testing without any cost. There is a resource utilization limit which is capped to 4 000 Swedish Krona, about 600 USD. It took about 1-2 hours before i received my login details.

To start using the Hosted VMware solution you login via their portal.
Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 09.04.09

The user portal looks like to following and to get access to your vCD based environment you click the green “Open your vCloud Panel” button.
Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 09.05.14

For those of you familiar with vCD you will manage to start creating your workload immediately and for those of you that have never played with vCD you will have to learn:)
Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 09.18.31

The preconfigured resources available for you in the Ipeer Hosted VMware solution includes:

  • 1 x Edge Gateway so you can connect your services to e.g. the Internet.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 09.09.15
  • 1 x Organization virtual datacenter (VDC) network.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 09.09.51
  • 3 x Storage Profiles to get different price and performance.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 09.08.49

The first thing i did was to create a vSphere 5.5 lab environment. I uploaded the ESXi server iso-image, the SoftNAS storage appliance and the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA). To upload OVA files to vCD catalog i used the instruction published in my blog post here.
Next thing i created the vApp including:

  • 4 x ESXi hosts
  • 1 x vCSA
  • 1 x Domain Controller
  • 1 x SoftNAS virtual appliance
  • 1 x Admin VM

I created 3 vApp networks (MGMT, VM and vMotion) according to the below vApp Diagram:
Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 09.50.17

After creating an Edge Gateway Destination NAT (DNAT) RDP rule pointing to my Admin VM i could access the Admin VM and my entire lab environment from Internet.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 08.28.18
The 172.16 network is the Org vDC network used in vCD. The required firewall rule, incoming port 3389, was preconfigured by Ipeer along with a few more well known ports so no action required.

Thanks to Ipeer i could fast and easily develop and test a PowerCLI based vSphere failover scenario for one of my customers.

Next thing i wanted to do was uploading one of my very few still existing lab environment based VMs to the public cloud. This is one of the really nice things with the Ipeer solution, a vCloud Connector is available so you do not need to convert/export your VMs to an OVF, simply use vCloud Connector.
Read more about VMware vCloud Connector here and download the software here.

After the deployment and configuration of the vCloud Connector solution it is available in the vSphere Client under the Solutions & Applications.
Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 08.29.51

I connected the vCloud Connector to my existing lab environment, VCDX56-Internal, and to the Ipeer public cloud environment, VCDX56-external.
Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.10.06

I uploaded my Red Hat based VM, rhel02.vcdx56.com, by following the below steps.

  • Select the VM to upload.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.13.55
  • Select a target, give the new vApp Template a name and provide a description.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.14.45
  • Select resources, in this case a vCD based Organization Virtual datacenter (Org vDC)Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.14.54
  • Deployment options. I just wanted a vApp Template created so no vApp deployment needed initially.
    Heads up! If you select the option to “Deploy vApp after copy (in fenced mode)” and “Power on vApp after deployment” the vApp VM will go through the “Guest customization phase”.
    This includes e.g. creating a new VM hostname and a new user password and you can not select these options.
    This is not something i wanted, i needed an exact copy of my original VM, so i only uploaded the VM to the public cloud.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.15.26
  • Verify your settings and continue.Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.15.47

Verify the newly uploaded vApp Template VM settings via:
vCD Catalogs -> vApp Templates -> Open your vApp Template -> right click the vApp VM and select Properties -> select “Guest OS Customization”
Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.33.22

Next step, right click your vApp Template and select “Add to my cloud” to create a vApp. During this wizard you need to provide the following information:

  • vApp name
  • Virtual datacenter
  • VM Name
  • Storage Profile
  • Computer name – in my case the same name as the original one since i wanted to keep it.
  • Networks
  • Do not power on the vApp after the wizard is finished.

When the vApp was created i change the vApp VM Guest OS Customization options according to the below figure before powering on the vApp:
Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 14.30.25

When the vApp VM was running i configured it to get network access by following the two below steps.

  1. Remove the line with the old MAC address in the VM file:
    I describe why this is necessary in the blog post vCloud Director cell – change network adapter
  2. Change the MAC address to reflect the new MAC address in the file /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0
  3. Restart the network to receive an IP address by running:
    /etc/init.d/network restart

Last thing i did was to create the necessary DNAT rule to enable SSH from the internet according to the following:
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 08.28.33

Apart from creating a new vSphere 5.5 test environment and uploading an existing VM using vCloud Connector i tested the Ipeer support organization. I submitted a couple of questions, both easy and difficult, and i must say i’m impressed by the response and resolution times.

A few of my customers have raised concerns about where the data is physically located when using a public cloud solution since they must keep, based on e.g. regulatory requirements, all their data physically located in Sweden. Ipeer uses data centers in Sweden so based on the above mention regulatory requirement and my experience so far i can with confidence tell them to try/use the Ipeer solution.

Remember my needs regarding e.g: backup, restore, SLA, might not be the same as yours so read the Ipeer agreement before start using the service.

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