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vCAC 6.0 Has Been Announced! – What’s New?

vCAC 6.0 was just announced at VMworld 2013 Barcelona. This version brings a lot of new features, enhancements and new capabilities!

here’s an overview:

Revamped UI , featuring a new service catalog looks

The vCAC 6.0 version introduces a new UI, which includes a new self service catalog that can contain multiple different service catalogs, and any catalog item you can think of (more on that later…) each vCAC tenant, can also customize his own UI and dashboard, for a tenant specific experience of the product. Also, Icons got a bit bigger and customized icons with larger resolution and detail can be inserted for each of your catalog items and service catalogs.

vCAC 6.0 Service Catalog

New and enhanced approval policy mechanism

Approvals can now be set to pretty much anything in the request fields, and complex conditions can also take part in the approval process. Also, you could set approvals to go to different users, and delegate them according to each user’s role.
Example: IT storage guy should approve if the VM is bigger than X GB, but the VI Admin should approve if the CPU count is above 4 vCPUs

You can set multiple levels of approval, each for specific user, and each can specify which fields are editable by the approver.

XaaS, the ability to offer ANYTHING as a service.

vCAC 6.0 comes with a vCO appliance pretty much built in to the vCAC appliance itself. Part of the new way the self service catalog works is that you can have several service catalogs, each one having different “catalog items”

As you can see in the previous picture, we have HRaaS , containing stuff like “create user” for new users in our company, or create mailbox account etc. For the Iaas of course we will have all of the regular blueprints for our machines. As I mentioned before, its quite easy and simple to create new service catalogs, and the nice thing is, any  thing you could orchestrate with vCO could easily become a Catalog Item, with approvals, and a customised request form.

Additional Infrastructure Support

vCAC 6.0 now supports provisioning IaaS with OpenStack, provision networking with vCNS and NSX! Also, some additional Cloud Endpoints are supported like VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, and also Red Hat distributions of OpenStack Clouds. vCAC is now compatible with SRM, recognising same VMs in different sites, and differentiating between the Primary and DR VMs. It can also be used with Test / Recovery modes as well.
vCAC also supports Storage DRS, showing the entire cluster, and each datastore in it on the reservation.

Stay tuned for more vCAC 6.0 info coming up!

Troubleshooting “The Cloud” ?

One of the main characteristics of cloud environments as a whole, and vCloud director as a private, is acting as a software layer on top of an infrastructure/other software layer.

As such, troubleshooting can be a real pain, and getting to a definite root cause is not easy, as all of the layers need to be taken into account.

Some days ago I got to encounter a weird malfunction at one of my customers which got me thinking on how troubleshooting could get complicated when engaging a cloud environment.

So lets describe the symptoms that we saw while troubleshooting:

Specs: vCD 5.1.1 / vSphere 5.1

  1.  vCloud Director is unable to instantiate new VMs, with a vague “Internal Error” message.
  2.  vSphere on the other hand responds well, all looks OK cluster wise, vApp directories are  created when a vApp starts instantiation process, then nothing happens. No errors what so    ever.
  3. vCloud / vCenter connection is well, reconnecting / refresh  – everything is O.K
  4. Restarting vCenter Services solves issue for an unknown amount of time.

After putting some thought into this (and checking logs without any success for some interesting clues) I decided to start imitating the vCD process from bottom up.

So I created a new VM in the Cloud Resource cluster , with the standard vSphere C# wizard.

Reaching the Datastore cluster, to choose where to put my VMs vmdk disks, the wizard suddenly halted on a “loading” state, generating an error. hmmmmm…

Running the error online i’ve reached this KB 2021361 which seemed to explain my customers case,   and better yet, the suggested fix restores vCloud’s functionality.

This got me thinking about the entire process of troubleshooting cloud environments, where there are a lot of products / stacks involved, you might have to thoroughly run each platform to check for errors. This requires an administrator to be more thorough than ever, and moreover, know each platforms malfunction junctions.

Its amazing to think that once very long time ago, we were working with a troubleshooting methodology of:

Application – > OS (resource load) -> Server Hardware (fault).

them, troubleshooting stack became:

Application -> Guest OS (resource load /configuration) -> HyperVisor OS (contention) -> Server Hardware (fault)

What will happen when we dive deeper into more complex cloud stacks, that orchestrate, manage, and even try to heal our workloads?
I guess only time will tell.