vSphere Replication Issue with ESXi 6.5U1

This is a quick post to highlight an issue vSphere Replication has with ESXi 6.5U1 for To-the-cloud replication.

Only customers that use vSphere Replication for DR or migrations to the cloud endpoints (e.g. vCloud Availability for vCloud Director) with ESXi 6.5U1 hosts are affected (ESXi 6.5 and older works fine). Also host-to-host replication is not affected.

The root cause is that ESXi 6.5U1 hosts are unable to retrieve from vSphere Replication Appliance vr2c-firewall.vib that is responsible for opening outgoing communication ports for replication traffic on the ESXi host firewall.

This results in inability to perform any to-the-cloud replications. To see the issue look into the host Firewall configuration in the Security Profile section. If you do not see Replication-to-Cloud Traffic section you are affected.

The picture below which traffic it is related to (red rectangle on the left):

If you would look into esxupdate.log on the host you will see error: [Errno 14] curl#56 – “Content-Length: in 200 response”.

Until a fix is going to be released here is a workaround:

  1. Download the vr2c-firewall.vib from the vSphere Replication Appliance: https://vSphere-Replication-Appliance-ip-or-fqdn:8043/vib/vr2c-firewall.vib.
  2. Upload the vib to a shared location (datastore)
  3. Install the vib to every host with the following command: esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/<datastore>/vr2c-firewall.vib
  4. Verify the fix was installed properly with: esxcli software vib list | grep vr2c

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vCloud Availability: Replication of Powered-off VM

Just a short post about a feature I recently learned.

In vSphere Replication when you are configuring replication of powered-off VM you will get the following message:

The virtual machine is not powered on. Replication will start when the virtual machine is powered on.

The replication is actually configured and its placeholder VM is created in the recovery location (cloud) but the VM will stay in Not Active state.

Why is this? Immediate start of replication locks VM disks which means such VM would not be able to power-on until the initial sync is finished. But what if you want to replicate powered-off VMs for example templates that are never meant to run?

You can in fact force start the replication by right clicking the VM and selecting Sync Now, which asks confirmation question if we really want to do so as the VM will not be able the be powered on until the operation completes.

Is there a use case for this? As I mentioned this could be used for catalog sync as replication is much faster and efficient that OVF export / import.

SSO for vCloud Availability Portal UI

This is a quick followup on my yesterday’s blog post that discussed how to customize vCloud Director UI with additional links. vCloud Availability has separate Portal UI where the users can monitor status of their replications and optionally trigger failover operations. Wouldn’t it be nice if the link from vCloud Director UI would automatically sign in the user into the vCloud Availability Portal UI?

Quick chat with the engineers showed that indeed it is possible by leveraging the {vcdSession} variable that provides the vCloud Director session token. The URL provided in the link then must look like this:

https://<vCloud_Availability_Portal_UI_FQDN >:8443/login?token={vcdSession}

In my case the CMT command for the whole link would look like this:

./cell-management-tool manage-config -n ui.tenant.customOrgLinks -v "
# vCloud Availability
[Monitor Replications](https://vcloud.fojta.com:8443/login?token={vcdSession})"

And this is the end result:

Click on the Monitor Replications link above (red box) opens vCloud Availability Portal screen with the tenant signed, in the next browser tab (below).

How to Customize vCloud Director UI

Service providers who are offering additional services beyond vanilla vCloud Director IaaS were asking how to add links to them in the existing (Flex) vCloud Director UI.

vCloud Director 8.20 provides very simple way to extend the right column of the Home screen with additional sections and static links. It is really simple extensibility and should be used as interim solution until the new HTML 5 UI will fully replace the existing UI and which will be more extensible.

In the screenshot below you can see that the right section has been extended with vCloud Availability, Backup and Other sections.

The configuration of these links is very simple and is done from cell-management-tool on any vCloud cell.

In my example I used:

./cell-management-tool manage-config -n ui.tenant.customOrgLinks -v “
# vCloud Availability
[Monitor Replications](https://vcloud.fojta.com:8443)
# Backup
[Configure Backup](https://backup.fojta.com)
# Other
[Request Support](https://help.fojta.com)
[Impressum](https://www.fojta.com/impressum)”

Where # denotes the section header, [] the link name and () the link.

It is also possible to pass vCloud session ID as parameter in the URL by including {vcdSession} string.

The CMT manage-config command creates/modifies database entry in the config table tenant-customOrgLinks with the provided value in the quotes. Re-running it will replace the previous entry. The change is immediate, no need to run this on other cells or restart vcd services.

One last note, the right column on the home screen is not visible to all user roles. The role needs to have General > Administrator Control right.

Architecting a VMware vCloud Availability for vCloud Director Solution

Another vCloud Architecture Toolkit whitepaper that I authored was published on the vCAT SP website – it discusses how to architect vCloud Availability solution in large production scenarios.

It is based on real live deployments and includes the following chapters:

 

 

 

  • Introduction
  • Use Cases
    • Disaster Recovery
    • Migration
  • vCloud Availability Architecture Design Overview
    • vCloud Availability Architecture
    • Network Flows
    • Conceptual Architecture
  • vCloud Availability Management Components
    • Logical Architecture
    • vCloud Availability Portal
    • Cloud Proxy
    • RabbitMQ
    • Cassandra Database
    • VMware Platform Services Controller
    • vSphere Replication Cloud Service
    • vSphere Replication Manager
    • vSphere Replication Servers
    • ESXi Hosts
    • vCloud Availability Metering
    • vRealize Orchestrator
    • Management Component Resiliency Considerations
  • vCloud Director Configuration
    • User Roles
    • Tenant Limits and Leases
    • Organization Virtual Data Center
    • Network Management
    • Storage Management
    • vApps and Virtual Machines
  • Billing
  • vRealize Orchestrator Configuration
    • On-Premises Deployment
    • In-the-Cloud Deployment
    • Provider Deployment
    • Failover Orchestration
  • Monitoring
    • Component Monitoring
    • VM Replication Monitoring
    • Backup Strategy
  • Appendix A – Port Requirements / Firewall Rules
  • Appendix B – Glossary
  • Appendix C – Maximums
  • Appendix D – Reference Documents
  • Appendix E – Tenant API Structure
  • Appendix F – Undocumented HybridSettings vCloud API
  • Appendix G – Monitoring

Download from the vCAT-SP website: https://www.vmware.com/solutions/cloud-computing/vcat-sp.html or direct link to pdf.