What’s New in vCloud Director 9.5

After vCloud Director 9.1 release in March we have new version 9.5 out!

Here are links to release notes and a whitepaper describing its new features.

Let me also go through the new features here so I can link additional blogs that will dive deeper into each one.

New UI

  • The tenant HTML 5 UI (accessible via /tenant link) has been further enhanced and has now almost full feature parity with the legacy Flex UI. There might be some corner cases or small features missing, but in general tenants do not really have a reason to not use it all the time. Also new features (e.g. multi-site networking) are available only in the new UI
  • Some highlights:
    • VDC dashboard working across all associated Org VDCs (across one or many vCloud Director instances)
    • Task pane
    • Ribbon
    • Multisite networking
    • Independent disk support
    • Networking services improvements
  • The UI can now be customized with custom themes (at system level) with this css theme generator.
  • Provider UI (accessible via /provider link) has been also enhanced, although the legacy Flex UI is still needed and system administrators will probably spent most time there.
  • Some highlights:
    • User management, IdP
    • Roles and rights management

Networking

  • IPv6 support.
    Both external and Org VDC networks (including vApp networks) can be assigned with IPv6 subnet. Note that you cannot use distributed Org VDC networks with IPv6 as NSX Logical Distributed Router supports only IPv4.
  • Cross VDC networking.
    In multi vCenter Server, single NSX domain architecture, it is now possible to create universal logical switches spanning multiple VDCs across VCs connected to universal distributed router with multiple egress Org VDC Edge Gateways. There is also a new concept of VDC groups to create (site) grouping.
  • Limited NSX-T support.
    NSX-T is a new network virtualization platform that is in many aspects differs from NSX-V. NSX-T architecture is not tied with vCenter Servers, has different concept of routing – ESGs vs T0 and T1 routers and also uses Geneve instead of VXLAN as encapsulation protocol. Due to the huge differences between NSX-T and V, vCloud Director 9.5 currently only allows the import of existing logical switches as Org VDC networks and distributed firewalling (API only).
  • Related to the above, it is now in vCloud Director possible to register vCenter Server without NSX-V associated manager (API only).

Compute

  • Org VDC compute policies
    User with Edit VM CPU and Memory reservation settings right can configure VM reservation, limit and shares in any Org VDC allocation model. Org VDC maximums (quotas) are still enforced.  vCloud Director will also not override reservation configurations done at vCenter Server level. This is groundwork for future enhancement.
  • It is no longer needed to prepare ESXi hosts to be used by vCloud Director. No agents nor custom attributes need to be installed or set. Provisioning or decommissioning of ESXi host is much simplified. Read more here.

    Storage

  • VM moves across VDCs (Move to … action) or clusters no longer use cloning method, but instead use more efficient relocate VC function.

Other

  • New role based access control with right bundles, global roles (published/delegated to one or more tenants). Also system admins imported from LDAP group can have a role assigned.
  • New /cloudapi APIs are now autodocumented with Swagger and can be viewed and executed directly from vCloud Director API Explorer web point at /api-explorer. Note that /cloudapi does not replace /api. Those APIs are different and only some new features are available via the /cloudapi endpoint (H5 UI branding, vRealize Orchestrator services, UI plugins, etc.).
  • Oracle database can no longer be used as vCloud Director database. MS SQL database is now announced as deprecated.
  • The creation of legacy Edge Gateways is now in deprecated mode and will be removed in future releases.
  • vCloud API version is now at 31.0. Some older ones were removed (notably 5.6, 9.0) so make sure your scripts are updated. As always check /api/versions for the supported and deprecated list.
  • vCloud Director cell is now available as Photon appliance. This can simplify greenfield deployments, although NFS transfer share, RabbitMQ and vCloud databases (PostgreSQL or Cassandra) are not available in appliance format yet. You can still download vCloud Director binaries to be used in CentOS/RHEL VM as before.
  • At the release day vSphere 6.0U3, 6.5U1/U2 and 6.7.0, NSX-V 6.3.5, 6.3.6, 6.4.0-6.4.3, NSX-T 2.2 are supported. Always check for updates here.
  • VCD-CLI (CLI command tool to manage VCD both for tenants and sys admins) and pyvcloud (Python SDK) have been updated as well.
  • vCloud Availability 2.0.1 and vCloud Availability for Cloud-to-Cloud DR 1.0 are not supported with vCloud Director 9.5. Both will require updates, which are coming soon.
  • vCloud Installation ID change is now possible.

 

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vCloud Availability – Resizing Disk of Protected VM

A customer asked how to resize a disk of very large VM (file server) which is protected with vCloud Availability and thus replicated to the cloud.

It is not straight forward as the underlying replication engine relies on tracking changed blocks and both the source and target disks must have the same size. In short the replication must be stopped for a moment and then re-established after the necessary disk resizing. Here is step by step process:

  1. Fail over VM via vCloud Availability UI/API without powering on the VM (leave on-prem running).
  2. Consolidate the VM in the cloud (this must be done by SP or use workarounds with copy to catalog and deploy back).
  3. Stop replication of on-prem VM (via vSphere UI plugin).
  4. Resize disk of on-prem VM (including partition and file system).
  5. Resize disk of cloud VM from step #2 (only hardware).
  6. Setup replication from scratch by using ‘Use replication seeds’ option while selecting the seed of failed over cloud VM from step #5

 

vCloud Director Service Library – Change AD Password

vCloud Director version 9.1 introduced the ability to easily create custom services and display them in the new user interface as tiles under Service Library. The services are created in vRealize Orchestrator as workflows and then presented to tenants or system administrators with simple categorization.

The screenshot below shows the Service Library with Backup and User Management categories and some services that I created for demonstration.

The actual feature is not very well documented so I will show on one simple (but useful) example how to implement it.

I am going to create Change LDAP Password service tile. While vCloud Director UI allows changing passwords for local users, users that are imported from integrated LDAP cannot change their password via vCloud Director UI so adding such service actually makes sense.

  • Set up vRealize Orchestrator: as system admin log in into the provider H5 UI (https://<vcd-UI>/provider) and set up connection to external vRealize Orchestrator server (that obviously must be installed and configured first). Note that for this example we will not need any custom plugins. Content Libraries > Library Administration > Service Management > vRO Servers
  • Set up Service Categories in the next menu.
  • Make sure that users have access to the Service Library. This is controlled with new rights under section Additional Services. I have added all three rights to the global Organization Administrator role and also to all existing organizations. You can obviously add them to also less privileged roles. This must be done via vCloud API.
  • Prepare the workflow in the vRealize Orchestrator (vRO). I assume the reader already knows how to create generic vRO workflows so I will not go into too much detail. You must configure the built in Microsoft Active Directory plugin with the Add an Active Directory server configuration workflow.
  • In very high level, the workflow execution will consist of the following steps:
  1. Presentation window to collect Password and confirmPassword values and compare them for validation. Note that I did not succeed using SecureString variables (vCloud Director seems to not support them) and had to use simple string type which results in password being visible on the screen.
  2. Next we will get some custom properties from vCloud Director. You can use four of them: _vcd_orgName, _vcd_orgId, _vdc_userName (sic!) and _vcd_isAdmin. In my Active Director I have the following OU structure for each org:
    Each vCloud Director organization has its own OU under VCD organization unit. The OU name matches the Organization name.
    To get the custom properties you need to create custom action (in my case Load VCD Inputs with the following script):
    As can be see from above screenshot, I only need _vcd_orgName to find the OU and _vdc_userName to find the user account in AD.
  3. The next step is built in getOrganizationUnitFromOrganizationUnit action that can be found under com.vmware.library.microsoft.activeDirectory.  As inputs I am supplying value equal to the container of my parent (VCD) OU and the org name as string. The output is the organization OU.
  4. Now we can find the user object based on org OU and username string. This is done with getUserFromContainer action (again from com.vmware.library.microsoft.activeDirectory).
  5. As mentioned in the beginning I was forced to use String type variable for the password, but the change password action requires Secure String. This simple action will provide the conversion.
  6. The last step is to change the password with setUserPassword action (found in com.vmware.library.microsoft.activeDirectory).
  • Now we can save the workflow and give it a proper description that will be visible to tenants.
  • Back in vCloud Director we can now in the provider UI import the workflow into Service Library. This is done at: Content Libraries > Services > Service Library > Import. Simple wizard will ask for target library (category), source vRO and the workflow.
  • Once a workflow is imported it can be Published to system admins, all or subset of tenants. Find the workflow tile and select Manage.

That is all. Test as tenant logged in with LDAP account in the new H5 UI.

Observe and troubleshoot the workflow execution in vRO.

Embedding vCloud Availability Portal into vCloud Director UI

Some time ago I blogged about the possibility to link to vCloud Availability Portal directly from vCloud Director UI (here and here). This was done by inserting custom links into the vCloud Director Flex UI.

vCloud Director 9.x tenant HTML5 UI provides much richer possibilities to embed additional links, pages and full websites. My colleague Kelby Valenti wrote two whitepapers and one blog post how to do so.

Extending VMware vCloud Director User Interface Using Portal

ExtensibilityExtending VMware vCloud Director User Interface Using Portal Extensibility – Ticketing Example

Publishing vCloud Director User Interface Extensions

VMware also already released one service that integrates its UI into vCloud Director – vRealize Operations Tenant App.

In the below screenshot you can see VCD UI extended with five new sections that appear as additional menu options next to Datacenters, Libraries and Administration:

Stub Module – default example included in the UI Extensibility SDK providing static page example (Terms of Service, etc.).

Operations Manager – above mentioned vRealize Operations Tenant App

Blog – this blog embedded as iframe.

Documentation – Static page with links to vCloud Director documentation.

The last module is the vCloud Availability 2.0 portal – the subject of this article:

It is also embedded using iframe.

I am attaching the source files so you can download and adapt them for your purposes. You will also need the SDK and I recommend deployment automation created by Kelby as described in his blog post listed above.

Some notes:

  • The actual link to the portal is in the src/main/vcav.component.ts file. In my case it is https://portal.proxy.cpsbu.local so replace it with the correct link for your environment.
  • For security reasons the vCloud Availability portal prohibits being rendered in browser frame by setting  X-Frame-Options header to DENY. To work around this limitation I am replacing the header with X-Frame-Options: ALLOW-FROM <VCD-url> on the existing load balancer that is load balancing my two vCloud Availability Portal nodes as well as redirecting external port 443 to appliances’ port 8443. This is done with NSX Edge Gateway, SSL termination and the following application rule:
  • The link to the portal is also passing the vCloud Director session authentication token for Single Sign-On. Note that however in the current release (2.0.1) this functionality is broken.

 

vCloud Availability – Updated Whitepaper

I have updated my vCAT-SP vCloud Availability whitepaper to reflect changes that came with vCloud Availability 2.0 and vSphere 6.5/6.7.

It can be downloaded from the vCAT-SP site from the Storage and Availability section. The direct link to PDF is here. You will know you have the latest document if you see June 2018 date on the title page.

Edit highlights:

  • Installer Appliance section
  • Tenant and Provider portal sections
  • PSC section update
  • Supported Org VDC Topologies
  • Application Network Design
  • Network Bandwidth Requirements
  • Monitoring updates
  • Updates and Upgrades section
  • Monitoring with vRealize Operations