How to Configure Additional VM Metrics in vCloud Director

vCloud Director already for some time (since version 5.6) provides to tenants basic set of VM metrics. Until vCloud Director 9.0 they had to be retrieved with vCloud API, however now the users can easily access the metrics from the new HTML5 UI.

vCloud Director 9.0 besides adding the metric UI also simplifies the metric database backend configuration (no KairosDB needed anymore) and also provides the option to service provider to configure additional VM metrics.

Here follows the step by step description of the last point. I assume that Cassandra cluster – the VM metric database is already set up.

  • First you need to find the metric names VC Performance Manager uses. This PowerCLI script exports all VM metric names.
  • Now we will create text file (e.g. metrics.groovy) with the new metrics.

configuration {
metric("mem.granted.average")
metric("mem.granted.maximum")
}

The metrics in the file must not overlap with the already existing default metrics. Additional options about frequency, interval averages, etc. can be provided as well. See docs for the details.

  • On a vCloud Director cell with the cell-management-tool we will import the new metrics:
    $VCLOUD_HOME/bin/cell-management-tool configure-metrics –metrics-config /tmp/metrics.groovy 
  • Still on the cell we need to update Cassandra schema, again with the cell-management-tool (provide the correct nodes addresses, DB authentication details, port and metrics time to live in days):
    $VCLOUD_HOME/bin/cell-management-tool cassandra –configure –cluster-nodes 172.16.0.41 –username cassandra –password cassandra –port 9042 –ttl 31 –update-schema
  • Restart all cells

That is all. After while we can monitor the new metrics with the UI or API.

The metric definition is stored in vCloud Director table metric_configuration.

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How To Disable Local System Administrator Accounts in vCloud Director

For some time there has been a hidden security feature in vCloud Director that allows disabling local system administrator accounts. During vCloud Director installation a default local system administrator account is created. The user credentials are stored encrypted in the vCloud Director database but there is no way to enforce complex password policies other than Account Lockout Policy.

It is possible to configure external identity sources such us generic LDAP for basic authentication and SAML2 IdP (such as vCenter SSO). The authentication and thus also the password policies are than managed externally. However, when you try to delete or disable all local system administrator accounts you will get the following error:

Cannot delete or deactivate the last system administrator.

This is a built in protection against completely locking yourself out when the external identity sources are not available.

Some customers can have the need to enforce strict security rules on all vCloud Director system administrator logins. There is a non-documented way to disable all local system administrator accounts with a single command. The system administrator can run the following cell-management-tool  command to enable config property local.sysadmin.disabled.

$VCLOUD_HOME/bin/cell-management-tool manage-config -n local.sysadmin.disabled -v true

Immediately after the property is enabled, authentication with local accounts will stop working. It means authentication for all local system administrator accounts that exist in vCloud Director (not just the default account created during installation) will be rejected. Organization local accounts will not be affected.

In case access to external IdPs is lost, the system admin can again disable the property to regain access to vCloud Director:

$VCLOUD_HOME/bin/cell-management-tool manage-config -n local.sysadmin.disabled -v false

vCloud Director 9: Customize Tenant UI

vCloud Director 9 introduces brand new HTML5 tenant user interface. It currently provides only limited set of operations:

  • simplified workflow to create VMs without the need to create vApps
  • view and modify (but not create) vApps
  • create and configure networks and networking services
  • configure multisite organization associations

The legacy (flex) UI is still available and the user can jump to it if needed which is useful especially for Org Administrators.

The new UI can be modified – in the initial release with the following elements:

  • Portal name
  • Portal color (in RGB HEX format e.g. #EE00EE)
  • Portal theme (default/dark)
  • Logo (png file of max size 512 KB)

This will expand in the future with tenant granularity, custom themes and custom links, but for now we have only these four elements.

The configuration must be done with new CloudAPI which is JSON based. At the time of writing its documentation has not been yet published.

  • Retrieve authentication token with vCloud API or UI
  • Use the following call to change logo:

PUT /cloudapi/branding/logo

Content-Type: image/png

x-vcloud-authorization: …

Body: <binary image file>

  • Use the following call to change other elements:

PUT /cloudapi/branding

Content-Type: application/json

x-vcloud-authorization: …

Body:
{
    “portalName”: “vCloud Director 9.0”,
    “portalColor”: “#EE00EE”,
    “selectedTheme”: {
        “themeType”: “BUILT_IN”,
        “name”: “Dark”    },
    “customLinks”: []
}

vCloud Director 9: SAML2 Federation for System Administrators

In the past in vCloud Director 8.20 (and older versions) system admins (the provider context) could use local, LDAP and vSphere SSO accounts. vCloud Director 9.0 now replaces vSphere SSO accounts with more generic SAML2 accounts which means you can have the same IdP mechanism in the tenant and system context.

This change however breaks the previous vSphere SSO federation which was as simple as entering the vSphere Lookup Service URL and enabling the vSphere Single Sign-On with a check box (which in vCloud Director 9.0 is no longer there).

Here is the procedure how to enable vSphere Single Sign-On in vCloud Director 9.0.

  1. Login to vCloud Director as system admin and from administration>System Settings/Federation download the metadata document (spring_saml_metadata.xml) from the link provided (../cloud/org/System/saml/metadata/alias/vcd). Make sure the certificate (below) is valid.
  2. Login to vSphere Web Client as SSO admin and go to Administration/Single Sign-On/Configuration/SAML Service Providers
  3. Import the metadata from step #1
  4. Download the vsphere.local.xml metadata from the link below.
  5. Go back to VCD, check use SAML Identity Provider and upload metadata from #4.

Note that Import Users/Group source now changes from vSphere SSO to SAML.

vCloud Director 8.20
vCloud Director 9.0

vCloud Director 9: NSX Distributed Logical Router

vCloud Director version 9 introduces support for the last major missing NSX feature – the distributed logical router (DLR). DLR provides optimized router which in distributed fashion performs routing between different logical switches in the hypervisor. The routing always happens in the hypervisor running the source VM which means that the traffic goes between maximum two ESXi hosts (source and destination) and no tromboning through third host running router VM is necessary. Read here for technical deep dive into how this works. This not only provides much better performance than traditional Edge GW routing, but also scales up to 1000 routed logical networks (as opposed to 10 on Edge GW or up to 209 if trunk port is enabled).

Generally, DLR should be used for routing only between VXLAN based logical switches, although NSX supports VLANs networks with certain caveats as well. Additionally dynamic routing protocols are supported as well and managed by Control VM of the DLR.

Now let’s look how vCloud Director implements DLR. The main focus was making DLR very simple to use and seamlessly integrate with the existing networking Org VDC concepts.

  • DLR is enabled on Org VDC Edge Gateway which must be already converted to advanced networking. You cannot use DLR without Org VDC Edge Gateway! There must be one free interface on the Edge (you will see later on why).
  • Once DLR is enabled, a logical DLR instance is created in NSX in headless mode without DLR Control VM (the instance is named in NSX vse-dlr-<GW name) (<UUID>)). vCloud Director can get away without Control VM as dynamic routing is not necessary – see later below.
  • The DLR instance uplink interface is connected to the Org VDC Edge GW with P2P connection using 10.255.255.248/30 subnet. The DLR uses .250 IP address and the Org VDC Edge GW uses .249. This subnet is hardcoded and cannot overlap with existing Org VDC Edge GW subnets. Obviously the Org VDC Edge GW needs at least one free interface.
  • DLR has default gateway set to the Org VDC Edge GW interface (10.255.255.249)
  • New Org VDC networks now can be created in the Org VDC with the choice to attach them to the Edge Gateway (as regular or subinterface in a trunk) or to attach them to the DLR instance.
    For each distributed Org VDC network a static route will be created on the Org VDC Edge Gateway to point to the DLR uplink interface. This means there is no need for dynamic routing protocols on the DLR instance.

    Static Routes on NSX Edge GW

In the diagram below is the networking topology of such setup.

In the example you can see three Org VDC networks. One (blue) traditional (10.10.10.0/24) attached directly to the Org VDC Edge GW and two (purple and orange) distributed (192.168.0.0/24 and 192.168.1.0/24) connected through the DLR instance. The P2P connection between Org VDC Edge GW and DLR instance is green.

  • DHCP relay agents are automatically configured on DLR instance for each distributed Org VDC network and point to DHCP Relay Server – the Org VDC Edge GW interface (10.255.255.249). To enable DHCP service for particular distributed Org VDC network, the DHCP Pool with proper IP Range just needs to be manually created on the Org VDC Edge Gateway. If Auto Configure DNS is enabled, DHCP will provide IP address of the Org VDC Edge P2P interface to the DLR instance.

    DHCP Configuration of DLR pools on the Edge GW

Considerations

  • Up to 1000 distributed Org VDC networks can be connected to one Org VDC Edge GW (one DLR instance per Org VDC Edge GW).
  • Some networking features (such as L2 VPN) are not supported on the distributed Org VDC networks.
  • VLAN based Org VDC networks cannot be distributed. The Org VDC must use VXLAN network pool.
  • IPv6 is not supported by DLR
  • vApp routed networks cannot be distributed
  • The tenant can override the automatic DHCP and static route configurations done by vCloud Director for distributed networks on the Org VDC Edge GW. The tenant cannot modify the P2P connection between the Edge and DLR instance.
  • Disabling DLR on Org VDC Edge Gateways is possible but all distributed networks must be removed before.
  • Both enabling and disabling DLR on Org VDC Edge Gateway are by default system administrator only operations. It is possible to grant these rights to a tenant with the granular RBAC introduced in vCloud Director 8.20.
  • DLR feature is in the base NSX license in the VMware Cloud Provider Program.

Edit 02/10/2017: Engineering (Abhinav Mishra) provided a way how to change P2P subnet between the Edge and DLR. Add the following property value with CMT:

$VCLOUD_HOME/bin/cell-management-tool manage-config -n gateway.dlr.default.subnet.cidr -v <subnet CIDR>

Example: $VCLOUD_HOME/bin/cell-management-tool manage-config -n gateway.dlr.default.subnet.cidr -v 169.254.255.248/30

No need for cell reboot.

Edit 03/10/2017: Existing Org VDC networks can be migrated from traditional to DLR or sub-interface based networks in all directions in non-disruptive way with running VMs attached.