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vCO 5.5.2 released

Such a minor update (from 5.5.1), why should I bother to write about this? Well, for two reasons really.

  1. Complete support of Dynamic Types. I’ve been doing some work with these on a current project and the potential is pretty fantastic.
  2. vCenter Server plugin enhancement. The property collector is now used to return vCenter Server object properties instead of the inventory service. If you follow the Orchestrator communities forum, you’ll probably already know that the inventory service cause quite a few people some problems.

If you want to know more about Dynamic types, look at this blog post and this example on the vCOTeam blog site.

Download vCO 5.5.2 here.

Release notes are here.

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The End of the VMTN Saga?

vmtn_storeIf you don’t know what VMTN is, you might be new to VMware virtualisation or the IT industry. Either way, I have an older post that covers it a bit. I posted it in November 2011 just as the campaign to get the VMTN subscription re-instated by VMware was kicking off.

Here we are though, nearly 18 months later, and it looks like it’s not going to happen. One of VMTN’s biggest proponents, Mike Laverick, posted on the VMware Communities thread related to VMTN today that it looks unlikely. In his words:

The prevailing view appears to be that other projects will be sufficient… Such as Project Nee…

Project NEE is VMware’s online learning resource that’s currently being put through its paces. If you read around what it does, you can see why VMware would consequently view the resurrection of VMTN as unnecessary. Whilst it’s a disappointment to people who run home lab setups, want to run legitimate workplace labs and prototypes etc., I don’t think that it’s necessarily the end of the world. The level of automation / orchestration possible in VMware’s suite of products means that re-installs don’t have to take an age to complete. In fact, I want to rip and rebuild my lab regularly because it’s exactly those sorts of tasks and skills that I want to hone. I don’t want my lab to sit and age like some legacy infrastructure. I appreciate though that others may not share my views or enthusiasm.

Either way, my advice is not to hold your breath in the hope of a change of heart. If it’s true that VMTN is going to stay dead, VMware have made this decision with their heads and not their hearts. My head says, keep calm and roll with it*.

* (@h0bbel, another one for your collection?)

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Don’t over-complicate!

Having recently relocated my home office and my home lab within my house, I have set about rebuilding my lab from scratch. As it evolves or my needs change, a rebuild is good to purge out the remnants of the various experiments and tests that I’ve done. However, I will sometimes fall into the trap of trying to be too clever.

Take last night as an example. I happened to read about a piece of software called Cobbler. To save anyone having to read what is quite a lengthy man page, Cobbler manages the provisioning of operating systems from a single server. I thought it would be great if I could automate and control the complete rebuild of my entire lab from bare metal to fully functional at the touch of a few buttons with my QNAP NAS acting as the Cobbler server.

After a little more research, I grabbed the source code and tried to shoe-horn it onto my NAS. Part way through, and encountering problems, I realized that I was vastly over-complicating this rebuild. Let’s face it, how many times do I actually need to reinstall everything from the ground up? Once or maybe twice per major release at most.

Thankfully I only wasted an evening on it although it was fun. I might still try and work it out in the future but there are more important things to do in the meantime.

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Amazon Simple Workflow (SWF)

Yesterday the retail and cloud behemoth Amazon made an announcement regarding a new service that they’re offering for developers called Amazon Simple Workflow (SWF).

Now I don’t often write about public cloud offerings (in fact I may never have done it), and I wouldn’t consider myself a developer in the traditional sense but I thought that this was noteworthy. Normally I write about virtualisation infrastructures / technologies but what’s interesting about this is that it’s clearly targeted at enabling complex and / or large applications to run in Amazon’s cloud offerings.

Amazon’s own CTO, Werner Vogels, describes SWF as:

an orchestration service for building scalable distributed applications

Some of the possible applications of SWF that Amazon mention are:

  • Automating business processes for finance or insurance applications
  • Building sophisticated data analytics applications
  • Managing cloud infrastructure services

But there are bound to be others. Read Werner’s blog post that fleshes out SWF’s aims and purpose a little more. For now, I’m going to sit back and listen to what the AWS (Amazon Web Services) people are up to.

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vCenter Orchestrator Silent Install

Article by Michael Poore (@mpoore)

Is it possible to install vCO on a Windows server silently? Yes.

If you have the EXE file (DVDDrive:vCenter-ServervCOvCenterOrchestrator.exe) available on the server then installing is as simple as:

[text]D:vCenter-ServervCO>vCenterOrchestrator.exe -i silent[/text]

It takes a few seconds to complete but at the end of it the vCO Configuration service is present and running:

Of course that’s just installing vCO, it’s not configured – that’s still to be done (see my earlier article on configuring vCO).

So, what’s the point of doing such an install then? Where’s the benefit? If you look at vCO’s Configuration Maximums it’s not entirely obvious is it?

Item Maximum
Connected vCenter Server systems 10
Connected ESX/ESXi servers 300
Connected virtual machines spread over vCenter Server systems 15000
Concurrent running workflows 150

You’d need a very large environment to *need* more than one vCO server let alone to need a method of automatically deploying them. Either that or a very particular use case.

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Install vCenter Orchestrator on a Dedicated Server

Article by Michael Poore (@mpoore)

The binaries for vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) come bundled alongside vCenter Server and are installed by default when vCenter is installed. But what if, and it’s probably a better practice, you want to install vCO on a separate server to vCenter. How’s that done?

Before running through that, first let’s cover requirements. vCO server components must be installed on a 64-bit Windows OS. The client component can happily sit on 32-bit. The minimum recommended RAM is 4GB but in a lab or non-production environment you can get away with less depending on if the database is co-located or not. Continue Reading

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Configuring vCenter Orchestrator

Article by Michael Poore (@mpoore)

vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) is a no charge extra for vCenter Server owners. In fact the binaries are installed alongside vCenter Server itself.

This post covers what you need to configure vCO and start to use it. It’s based on the GA release of vCenter 5.0. (Of course I should point out that other orchestration products are available.) Continue Reading