Tag Archives: vSphere

VMware & DataGravity Solution – Data Management For the Digital Enterprise

 

 

Yesterday, I had the priviledge to be invited to an exclusive VMware #vExpert only webinar oraganised by the vExpert community manager, Corey Romero and DataGravity, one of their partner ISV’s to get a closer look at the DataGravity solution and its integration with VMware.  My initial impression was that its a good solution and a good match with VMware technology too and I kinda like what I saw. So decided to post a quick post about it to share what I’ve learned.

DataGravity Introduction

DataGravity (DG from now on) solution appear to be all about data managament, and in perticular its about data management in a virtualised data center. In a nutshell, DG is all about providing a simple, virtualisation friendly data management solution that, amongst many other things, focuses on the following key requirements which are of primary importance to me.

  • Data awareness – Understand different types of data available within VMs, structured or unstructured along with various metadata about all data. It automatically keeps a track of data locations, status changes and various other metadata information about data including any sensitive contents (i.e. Credit card information) in the form of an easy to read, dashboard style interface
  • Data protection & security –  DG tracks sensitive data and provide a complete audit trail including access history helpo remediate any potential loss or compromise of data

DG solution is currently specific to VMware vSphere virtual datacenter platforms only and serves 4 key use cases as shown below

Talking about the data visulation itself, DG claim to provide a 360 degree view of all the data that reside within your virtualised datacenter (on VMware vSphere) and having see the UI on the live demo, I like that visualisation of it which very much resemblbes the interface of VMware’s own vrealise operations screen.

The unified, tile based view of all the data in your datacenter with vROPS like context aware UI makes navigating through the information about data pretty self explanatory.

Some of the information that DG automatically tracks on all the data that reside on the VMware datacenter include information as shown below

Some of the cool capabilities DG has when it comes to data protection itself include behaviour based data protection where it proactively monitor user and file activities and mitigates potential attacks through sensing anomolous behaviours and taking prevenetive measures such as orchestratin protection points, alerting administrators to even blocking user access automatically.

During a recovery scenario, DG claims to assemble the forensic information needed to perform a quick recovery such as cataloging files and incremental version information, user activity information and other key important meta data such as known good state of various files which enable the recovery with few clicks.

Some Details

During the presentaiton, Dave Stevens (Technical Evangelist) took all the vExperts through the DG solution in some detail and its integration with VMware vSphere which I intend to share below for the benefit of all others (sales people: feel free to skip this section and read the next).

The whole DG solution is deployed as a simple OVA in to vCenter and typically requires connecting the appliance to Microsoft Active Directory (for user access tracking) initially as a one off task. It will then perform an automated initial discovery of data and the important thing to note here is that it DOES NOT use an agent in each VM but simply uses the VMware VADP, or now known as vSphere Storage API to silently interrogate data that live inside the VMs in the data center with minimal overhead. Some of the specifics around the overhead around this are as follows

  • File indexing is done at a DiscoveryPoint (Snapshot) either on a schedule or user driven. (No impact to real-time there access from a performance point of view).
  • Real time access tracking overhead is minimal to non existent
    • Real-time user activity is 200k of memory
    • Network bandwidth about 50kbps per VM.
    • Less than 1% of CPU

From an integration point of view, while DG solution integrates with vSphere VM’s as above irrespective of the underlying storage platform, it also has the ability to integrate with specific storage vendors too (licensing prerequisites apply)

Once the data discovery is complete, further discoveries are done on an incremental basis and the management UI is a simple web interface which looks pretty neat.

Similar to VMware vROPS UI for example, the whole UI is context aware so depending on what object you select, you are presented with stats in the context of the selected object(s).

The usage tracking is quite granular and keeps a track of all types of user access for data in the inventory which is handy.


 

Searching for files is simple and you can also use tags to search using, which are simple binary expressions. Tags can be grouped together in to profiles too to search against which looks pretty simple and efficient.

I know I’ve mentioned this already but the simple, intuitive user interface makes consuming the information on the UI about all your data in  singple pane of glass manner looks very attractive.

Current Limitations

There are some current limitations to be aware of however and some of the important ones include,

  • Currently it doesn’t look inside structured data files (i.e. Database files for example)
    • Covers about 600 various file types
  • File content analytics is available for Windows VMs only at present
    • Linux may follow soon?
  • VMC (VMware Cloud on AWS) & VCF (Vmware Cloud Foundation) support is not there (yet)
    • Is this to be annouced during a potential big event?
  • No current availability on other public cloud platforms such as AWS or Azure (yet)

 

My Thoughts

I lilke the solution and its capabilities due to various reasons. Primarily its because the focus on data that reside in your data center is more important now that its ever been. Most organisaitons simply do not have a clue of the type of th data they hold in a datacenter, typically scattered around various server, systrems, applications etc, often duplicated and most importantly left untracked on their current relevence or even the actual usage as to who access what. Often, most data that is generated by an organisation serves its initial purpose after a certain intial period and that data is now simply just kept on the systems forever, intentionally or unintentionally. This is a costly exercise, especially on the storage front and you are typically filling your SAN storage with stale data. With a simple, yet intelligent data management solution like DG, you now have the ability to automatically track data and their ageing across the datacenter and use that awareness of your data to potentially move stale data on to a different tier, especially a cheaper tier such as a public cloud storage platform.

Furthermore, not having an understanding of data governance, especifically not monitoring the data access across the datacenter is another issue where many organisations do not collectively know what type of data is available where within the datacenter and how secure that data is including their access / usage history over their existence. Data security is probably the most important topic in the industry today as organisations are in creasingly becoming digital thanks to the Digital revelution / Digital Enterprise phoenomena (in other words, every organisation is now becoming digital) and a guranteed by product of this is more and more DATA being generated which often include all if not most of an organisations intelectual property. If theres no credible way of providing a data management solution focusing around security for such data, you are risking loosing the livelyhood of your organisation and its potential survival in a fiercely coimpetitive global economy.

It is important to note that some regulatory compliance has always enforced the use of data management & governance solutions such as DG tracking such information about data and their security for certain type of data platforms (i.e.  PCI for credit card information…etc). But the issue is no such requirement existed for all types of data that lives in your datacenter. This about to change, at least here in the Europe now thanks to the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which now legally oblighes every orgnisation to be able to provide auditeble history of all types of data that they hold and most organisations I know do not have a credible solution covering the whole datacenter to meet such demands rearding their data today.

A simple, easily integrateble solution that uses little overhead like DataGravity that, for the most part harness the capabilities of the underlying infrastructure to track and manage the data that lives on it could be extremely attractive to many customers. Most customers out there today use VMware vSphere as their preferred virtualisaiton platform and the obvious integration with vSphere will likely work in favour of DG. I have already signed up for a NFR download for me to have doiwnload and deploy this software in my own lab to understand in detail how things work in detail and I will aim to publish a detailed deepdive post on that soon. But in the meantime, I’d encourage anyone that runs a VMware vSphere based datacenter that is concerned about data management & security to check the DG solution out!!

Keen to get your thoughts if you are already using this in your organisation?

 

Cheers

Chan

Slide credit to VMware & DataGravity!

VMworld 2016 US – Key Announcements From Day 1

Pat gelsinger

So the much awaited VMworld 2016 US event kicked off today amongst much fanfare and I was lucky to be one of them there at the event. Given below are the key highlights from the day 1 general session & the key annoucements made by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. I’ve highlighted the key items.

Theme of this years VMworld is Be Tomorrow. This is quite fitting as technology today defines the tomorrow for the world and we as the IT community plays a key part in this along with vendors like VMware who defines / invent most of those technologies.

Pat mentioned that for VMware and their future direction, the Cloud is key. Both Public and Private cloud are going to define many IT requirements of tomorrow which I fully agree with and VMware’s aim appears to be to move away from the traditional vSphere based compute virtualisation to become a facilitator of cross cloud workload mobility and management.

He also discussed the status of where the current public and private cloud adoption is at, which is presently heavily biased towards the public cloud rather than private cloud adoption, which inharently is quite difficult to retro fit to a legacy enviornment based on my experience too. Based on VMware research and market analytics, thre current IT platform adoption is split as below

  • Public Cloud = 15%
  • Private Cloud = 12%
  • Traditional IT = 73%

Current Cloud Split

According to Pat it will not be around 2021 that the public Vs private cloud usage adoption achieve similar levels and by 2030, they expect the adoptoin rates to be (approximately) as follows

  • Public Cloud =52%
  • Private Cloud = 29%
  • Traditional IT = 19%

From then, the tone shifted to look at VMware’s role in this evolving market. It is pretty obvioius that VMware as a vendor, been diversifying their product positioning to rely less on the core vSphere stack but to focus more on the Cloud management and other software defined offerings for the last few years. This was made possible through the use of vSphere + NSX + VSAN for the SDDC for those who wanted a traditional IT environment or a private cloud platform with vRealize Suite sat on top to provide a common management and monitoring platform (Cloud Management Portal). These have been quite popular and some key highlights mentioned were,

  • vSphere the market leader in Virtualisation – Software Defined Compute
  • VSAN now has over 5000 fee paying customers & growing – Software Defined Storage
  • NSX has 400% YoY growth in adoption – Software Defined Networking
  • vRealize Suite is the most popular Cloud management portal in the industry

Todays main annoucement brings these solutions together in to VMware Cloud Foundation with Cross Cloud Services support. Cross Cloud Architecture annouced as a technical preview today effectively focuses on centralizing the followings across various deifferent private and public cloud platforms

  • Management,
  • Operations
  • Security
  • Networking (the most important one for me)

This tech preview platform initially will support Publci clouds (Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, vCloud Air) as well as vCloud Air Network Partners and private cloud instances

Chris-Wolf-Day-1-Recap-image

The below graphic annouces the Corss cloud services model and the solution proposition quite well. One of the key interesting part of this annoucement is that throuh the IBM partnership, these cross cloud services will be made available as SaS offering (Software as a Service) which require no local installation or PS heavy deployment of management and monitoring components on premise. It would be interesting to see the details of what this means,  and cannot wait to get my hands on the tools once available to look deeper in to details and what that means for the average customers.

2016-08-29_13-15-50

Based on Pat’s description, Cross Cloud Services solution is designed to facilitate moving of applications between private and various public clouds with minimal disruption / effort for the customers.

They also showed a demo of this being in action which was really really impressive. It is pretty obvious that for true cross cloud connectivity and flexbility when it comes to moving applications..etc, one of the key blockers has been the networking restrictions such as the lack of easily available L2 adjacency….etc. VMware are in a prime position to address this through the SDN platform they have in NSX and the demo showed clearly the NSX integration with AWS that automatically deployed an L2 Edge gateway (software) devices in front of AWS Virtual datacenter to offer L2 connectivity back to customers on premise to extend the LAN capability as a key facilitator to enable being able to move a workload from AWS to On-Premise and back. (Think WAN is transformed in to an extended LAN with NSX). I’ve always seen this coming and also discussed with my customers various other posibilities like this that NSX brings on to the table and its nice to see that these capabilities are now being integrated in to othermanagement and monitoring platforms to proviude a true single pane of glass solution for multi cloud management.

The solution demo also included the Arkin integration of the same platfrom (VMware aquired Arkin recently) and it brings the security monitoring and anlytics capability to the platform which is totally awesome..!! I’ve already seen the extensively capability of visualizing networking flow and security contexts of vRealize Network Insight (rebranded Arkin solution) previously but its really good to see that bieng integrated to this Software as a Sevrice Offering. This solution also include traffic encryption capability, even within a public cloud platform like Amazon that you do not get by default which would go a long way towards deploying workloads siubject to regulatory compliance on public cloud platforms.

These new annoucements form the basis of the VMwares vision of Any device (through the use of Airwatch), Any application (through the use of Workspace one) and any cloud (now available through the Cross Cloud arhitecture) message that enable their customers to simply their modern day IT operations increse agility, efficiency and productivity.

Cross Cloud

Slide credit goes to VMware

You can find more details in the following links

Cheers

Chan

#NSX #vSphere #VSAN #CrossCloudServices #VmwareCloudFoundation

vRealize Infrastructure Navigator not appearing in the Web Client

I was playing around deploying the latest version of the vRealize infrastructure Navigator (5.8.6.230 – build 3923091) in my HomeLab (vSphere 6.5 with VCSA as the vCenter) and noticed that after the deployment of the VIN appliance and successfully starting it up, the Infrastructure Navigator option was not appearing within the home screen of the vSphere web client.

Upon some investigation, it turned out that the VIN plugin was not correctly downloaded to the web client so you need to manually check for new plugins to install. To achieve this, follow the process below

  1. In the Web Client, go to Home -> Administration -> Client plug-ins (under Solutions drop down menu on left) and verify that the Infrastructure Navigator plugin is not available
  2. Click the check for new plugins link on the top left. A small pop up box appears on the bottom right notifying you of the new plugin check-in action. 2
  3. Click on the Go to the event console link that’s on this pop up box to see the event updates and verify that the task is running to check for new plugins 3
  4. Wait until new plugin check is completed and is successful.   4
  5. Log off, and lock back in to vSphere web client to see the Infrastructure Navigator option appearing on the home screen so that you can go in to it and configure the VM discovery  5 6

Cheers

Chan