Category Archives: VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware Cloud on AWS Stretched Cluster Failover Demo

This post demonstrates a simulated failure of an Availability Zone (AZ), in a VMware Cloud on AWS stretched cluster. The environment consists of a 6 host stretched cluster in the eu-west-2 (London) region, across Availability Zones eu-west-2a and eu-west-2b.

The simulation was carried out by the VMware Cloud on AWS back-end support team, to help with gathering evidence of AZ resilience. Failover works using vSphere High Availability (HA), in the event of a host failure HA traditionally brings virtual machines online on available hosts in the same cluster. In this scenario when the 3 hosts in AZ eu-west-2a are lost, vSphere HA automatically brings virtual machines online on the remaining 3 hosts in AZ eu-west-2b. High Availability across Availability Zones is facilitated using stretched networks (NSX-T) and storage replication (vSAN).

AWS Terminology: Each Region is a separate geographic area. Each Region has multiple, isolated locations known as Availability Zones. Each Region is completely independent. Each Availability Zone is isolated, but the Availability Zones in a Region are connected through low-latency links. An Availability Zone can be a single data centre or data centre campus.

VMC_Environment

For more information read the Stretched Clusters for VMware Cloud on AWS Overview and Documentation. You may also want to review VMware Cloud on AWS Migration Planning, VMware Cloud on AWS Live Migration Demo, and VMware Cloud on AWS Deployment Demo, as well as the following external links:

VMware FAQ | AWS FAQ | Roadmap | Product Documentation | Technical Overview | VMware Product Page | AWS Product Page | Try first @ VMware Cloud on AWS – Getting Started Hands-on Lab

Availability Zone (AZ) Outage

Before beginning it is worth re-iterating that the following screenshots do not represent a process, the customer / consumer of the service does not need to intervene unless a specific DR strategy has been put in place. In the event of a real world outage everything highlighted below happens automatically and is managed and monitored by VMware. You will of course want to be aware of what is happening on the platform hosting your virtual machines and that is why this post will give you a feel of what to expect, it may seem a little underwhelming as it does just look like a normal vSphere HA failover.

When we start out in this particular environment the vCenter Server and NSX Manager appliances are located in AZ eu-west-2a.

vcenter-2a

nsx-2a

The AZ failure simulation was initiated by the VMware back-end team. At this point all virtual machines in Availability Zone eu-west-2a went offline, including the example virtual machines screenshot above. As expected, within 5 minutes vSphere HA automatically brought the machines online in Availability Zone eu-west-2b. All virtual machines were accessible and working without any further action.

The stretched cluster now shows the hosts in AZ eu-west-2a as unresponsive. The hosts in AZ eu-west-2b are still online and able to run virtual machines.

Host-List

The warning on the hosts located in AZ eu-west-2b is a vSAN warning because there are cluster nodes down, this is still expected behaviour in the event of host outages.

eu-west-2b

The vCenter Server and NSX Manager appliances are now located in AZ eu-west-2b.

vcenter-2b

nsx-2b

Availability Zone (AZ) Return to Normal

Once the Availability Zone outage has been resolved, and the ESXi hosts are booted, they return as connected in the cluster. As normal with a vSphere cluster Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) will then proceed to balance resources accordingly.

Host-List-Normal

The vSAN object resync takes place and the health checks all change to green. Again this is something that happens automatically, and is managed and monitored by VMware.

vSAN-1

vSAN-2

Using a third party monitoring tool we can see the brief outage during virtual machine failover, and a server down / return to normal email alert generated for the support team.

Monitoring

This ties in with the vSphere HA events recorded for the ESXi hosts and virtual machines which we can of course view as normal in vCenter.

VM-Logs

 

VMware Cloud on AWS Live Migration Demo

This post will demonstrate a live migration of a virtual machine from an on-premise VMware infrastructure, to VMware Cloud on AWS. The steps below will demonstrate how quick and easy it is to move virtual machines between VMware Cloud on AWS and on-premise VMware environments using HCX, without the need to re-IP or re-architect services.

You may also want to review VMware Cloud on AWS Migration Planning, VMware Cloud on AWS Stretched Cluster Failover Demo, and VMware Cloud on AWS Deployment Demo, as well as the following external links:

VMware FAQ | AWS FAQ | Roadmap | Product Documentation | Technical Overview | VMware Product Page | AWS Product Page | Try first @ VMware Cloud on AWS – Getting Started Hands-on Lab

The VMware Cloud environment in this demo is setup as follows:

  • SDDC deployed consisting of a 6 host stretched cluster in eu-west-2
  • On-premise connectivity provided by Direct Connect
  • On-premise vCenter and SDDC vCenter in hybrid linked mode
  • HCX Cloud add-on enabled, and appliances deployed on-premise
  • On-premise networks are VLAN backed port groups in a distributed switch
  • VLAN_98 has been stretched for the purposes of this demo

VMC_Environment

The virtual machine I am going to migrate is the web server from a 3-tier application: VMC-DEMO-WEB-01, with a private IPv4 address of 192.168.98.15.

In the on-premise vCenter Server I have selected the HCX plugin from the Menu drop-down. The dashboard shows my site pairing and cloud overview. Under Network Extension I can see that VLAN_98 has been stretched to VMware Cloud on AWS.

HCX_Networks

From the Migration screen I can see previous migration history, and I select Migrate Virtual Machines.

HCX_Migration_1

The migration interface loads and I search for the virtual machine.

HCX_Migration_2

Having selected the virtual machine to migrate I can now go ahead and select the folder, resource pool, and datastore to use. In this example the machine is already thin provisioned and I am using the vMotion migration type. The network has automatically been populated with the stretched network VLAN_98.

HCX_Migration_3

HCX will perform some validation checks and then I click Finish to start the migration.

HCX_Migration_4

The virtual machine migration progress is now underway.

HCX_Migration_5

After 4 minutes, the migration is complete.

HCX_Migration_6

The virtual machine did not drop any pings during the migration, the web site is still accessible and able to pull data from the database.

VMC_Demo

A HTTP monitor setup in Solarwinds shows that there was no loss of service during the migration.

hCX_Migration_8

The virtual machine is now running in VMware Cloud on AWS and is visible in the SDDC vCenter.

HCX_Migration_7

Should the machine need moving back on-premise the same process can be followed, with the Reverse Migration tick-box.

HCX_Reverse

Once virtual machines are running in VMware Cloud on AWS they have access to native AWS services using the 25 Gbps Elastic Network Interface (ENI): Connecting VMware Cloud on AWS to Amazon EC2Load Balancing VMware Cloud on AWS with Amazon ELB.

Configuring AWS Direct Connect with VMware Cloud on AWS

This post talks about the setup of AWS Direct Connect with VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS. Direct Connect provides a high-speed, low latency connection between Amazon services and your on-premises environment. Direct Connect is useful for those who want dedicated private connectivity with a consistent network experience in comparison with internet-based VPN connections.

Direct Connect traffic travels over one or more virtual interfaces that you create in your customer AWS account. For SDDCs in which networking is supplied by NSX-T, all Direct Connect traffic, including vMotion, management traffic, and compute gateway traffic, uses a private virtual interface. This establishes a private connection between your on-premises data center and a single Amazon VPC.

You can create multiple interfaces to allow for redundancy and greater availability.”

Using AWS Direct Connect with VMware Cloud on AWS

Make sure you understand the terminology around a Virtual Interface (VIF) and the difference between a Standard VIF, Hosted VIF, and Hosted Connection: What’s the difference between a hosted virtual interface (VIF) and a hosted connection? It is important to consider that VMware Cloud on AWS requires a dedicated Virtual Interface (VIF) – or a pair of VIFs for resilience. If you have a standard 1Gbps or 10Gbps connection direct from Amazon then you can create and allocate VIFs for this purpose. If you are using a hosted connection from an Amazon Partner Network (APN) for sub-1G connectivity then you may need to procure additional VIFs, or a dedicated Direct Connect with the ability to have multiple VIFs on a single circuit. This is a discussion you should have with your APN partner.

Firstly review the pre-requisites and steps to request an AWS Direct Connection connection at Getting Started with AWS Direct Connect. The steps below will walk through configuring Direct Connect for use with VMware Cloud on AWS once the initial connection with Amazon or Amazon partner has been setup. Also review Direct Connect Pricing.

Direct Connect VMC Setup

Log into the VMware on AWS Console, from the SDDCs tab locate the appropriate SDDC and click View Details. Select the Networking & Security tab. Under System click Direct Connect. Make a note of the AWS Account ID, this is the shadow AWS account setup for VMC, you will need this account ID to associate with the Direct Connect.

VMC_DX_1

Log into the AWS console and navigate to the Direct Connect service. If you have not already accepted the connection from your third party provider then review the Amazon documentation referenced above.

AWS_DX_1

Select Virtual Interfaces and click Create Virtual Interface. In this instance we are creating a private VIF. Select the physical connection to use and give the virtual interface a name. Change the virtual interface owner to Another AWS Account and enter the VMC shadow AWS account ID. Fill in the VLAN and BGP ASN information provided by your connection provider. Repeat the process if you are assigning more than one VIF.

AWS_DX_2

Once the VIF or VIFs are created you will see a message that they need to be accepted by the account we have set as owner.

AWS_DX_3

Go back to the VMC portal and the Direct Connect page, click Refresh if necessary. Any interfaces associated with the shadow AWS account will now be listed as available.

VMC_DX_2

Attach the virtual interfaces and confirm acknowledgement that you will be responsible for any data transfer charges that are incurred.

VMC_DX_3

At this point it will take up to 10 minutes for the state of each interface to change from Attaching to Attached, and the BGP status to change from Down to Up. You should now see Advertised BGP Routes listing the network segments you have configured, and Learned BGP Routes listing the subnets peering from your on-premises network.

Click Overview. The Direct Connect shows green, the corresponding VIFs in the AWS Direct Connect page show green and available.

Direct_Connect_Up_VMC

For Direct Connect deep dives review the following blog posts by Nico Vibert: AWS Direct Connect – Deep Dive and Integration with VMware Cloud on AWS, and Direct Connect with VMware Cloud on AWS with VPN as a back-up.

Load Balancing VMware Cloud on AWS with Amazon ELB

This post demonstrates the connectivity between VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS and native AWS services. In the example below we will be using Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to provide highly available, scaleable, and secure load balancing backed by virtual machines hosted in the VMware Cloud Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC). There is an assumption you have a basic understanding of both platforms.

When integrating with Amazon ELB there are 2 options: Application Load Balancer (ALB) which operates at the request layer (7), or Network Load Balancer (NLB) which operates at the connection layer (4). The Amazon Classic Load Balancer is for Amazon EC2 instances only. For assistance with choosing the correct type of load balancer review Details for Elastic Load Balancing Products and Product Comparisons. Amazon load balancers and their targets can be monitored using Amazon Cloud Watch.

Connectivity Overview

  • VMware Cloud on AWS links with your existing AWS account to provide access to native services. During provisioning a Cloud Formation template will grant AWS permissions using the Identity Access Management (IAM) service. This allows your VMC account to create and manage Elastic Network Interfaces (ENI) as well as auto-populate Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) route tables.
  • An Elastic Network Interface (ENI) dedicated to each physical host connects the VMware Cloud to the corresponding Availability Zone in the native AWS VPC. There is no charge for data crossing the 25 Gbps ENI between the VMC VPC and the native AWS VPC, however it is worth remembering that data crossing Availability Zones is charged at $0.01 per GB (at the time of writing).
  • An example architecture below shows a stretched cluster in VMware on AWS with web services running on virtual machines across multiple Availability Zones. The load balancer sits in the customers native AWS VPC and connects to the web servers using the ENI connectivity. Amazon’s DNS service Route 53 routes users accessing a custom domain to the web service.
  • Remember to consider the placement of your target servers when deploying the Amazon load balancer. For more information see VMware Cloud on AWS Migration Planning. See also Elastic Load Balancing Pricing.

VMC_LoadBalancing

VMC Gateway Firewall

Before configuring the ELB we need to make sure it can access the target servers. Log into the VMware on AWS Console, from the SDDCs tab locate the appropriate SDDC and click View Details. Select the Networking & Security tab, under Security click Gateway Firewall and Compute Gateway.

VMC_ELB_FW

In this example I have added a rule for inbound access to my web servers. The source is AWS Connected VPC Prefixes (this can be tied down to only allow access from the load balancer if required). The destination is a user defined group which contains the private IPv4 addresses for the web servers in VMC, and the allowed service is set to HTTP (TCP 80).

If you are using the Application Load Balancer then you also need to consider the security group attached to the ALB. If the default group is not used, or the security group attached to the Elastic Network Interfaces has been changed, then you may need to make additional security group changes to allow traffic between the ALB and the ENIs. Review the Security Group Configuration section of Connecting VMware Cloud on AWS to EC2 Instances for more information. The Network Load Balancer does not use security groups. The gateway firewall rule outlined above will be needed regardless of the load balancer type.

ELB Deployment

Log into the VMware on AWS Console, from the SDDCs tab locate the appropriate SDDC and click View Details. Select the Networking & Security tab. Under System click Connected VPC. Make a note of the AWS Account ID and the VPC ID. You will need to deploy the load balancer into this account and VPC.

Log into the AWS Console and navigate to the EC2 service. Locate the Load Balancing header in the left hand navigation pane and click Load Balancers. Click Create Load Balancer. Select the load balancer type and click Create.

VMC_ELB

Typically for HTTP/HTTPS the Application Load Balancer will be used. In this example since I want to deploy the load balancer to a single Availability Zone for testing I am using a Network Load Balancer, which can also have a dedicated Elastic (persistent public) IP.

Enter the load balancer configuration. I am configuring an internet-facing load balancer with listeners on port 80 for HTTP traffic. Scroll down and specify the VPC and Availability Zones to use. Ensure you use the VPC connected to your VMware on AWS VPC. In this example I have selected a subnet in the same Availability Zone as my VMware Cloud SDDC.

VMC_NLB_1

In the routing section configure the target group which will contain the servers behind the load balancer. The target type needs to be IP.

VMC_NLB_2

In this instance since I am creating a new target group I need to specify the IP addresses of the web servers which are VMs sitting in my VMC SDDC. The Network column needs to be set to Other private IP address.

VMC_NLB_3

Once the load balancer and target group are configured review the settings and deploy. You can review the basic configuration, listeners, and monitoring by selecting the newly deployed load balancer.

VMC_NLB_4

Click the Description tab to obtain the DNS name of the load balancer. You can add a CNAME to reference the load balancer using Amazon Route 53 or another DNS service.

VMC_NLB_5VMC_NLB_6

Finally, navigate to Target Groups. Here you can view the health status of your registered targets, and configure health checks, monitoring, and tags.

Connecting VMware Cloud on AWS to Amazon EC2

This post demonstrates the connectivity between VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS and native AWS services. In the example below we will be using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to provision a virtual instance backed by Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) storage. To complete the use case we will install Veeam and use the EC2 instance to backup virtual machines hosted in the VMware Cloud Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC).

Connectivity Overview

  • VMware Cloud on AWS links with your existing AWS account to provide access to native services. During provisioning a Cloud Formation template will grant AWS permissions using the Identity Access Management (IAM) service. This allows your VMC account to create and manage Elastic Network Interfaces (ENI) as well as auto-populate Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) route tables.
  • An Elastic Network Interface (ENI) dedicated to each physical host connects the VMware Cloud to the corresponding Availability Zone in the native AWS VPC. There is no charge for data crossing the 25 Gbps ENI between the VMC VPC and the native AWS VPC, however it is worth remembering that data crossing Availability Zones is charged at $0.01 per GB (at the time of writing).
  • The example architecture we will be using is shown below. For more information see VMware Cloud on AWS Migration Planning.

VMC_Connectivity

Security Group Configuration

AWS Security Groups will be attached to your EC2 instances and ENIs, it is therefore vital that you fully understand the concepts and configuration you are implementing. Please review Understanding AWS Security Groups with VMware Cloud on AWS by Brian Graf.

In the AWS console Security Groups can be accessed from the EC2 service. In this example I have created a security group allowing all protocols (any port) inbound from the source CIDR block used in VMC for both my compute and management subnets. In other words this is allowing connectivity into the EC2 instance from VM in my VMC SDDC. You may want to lock this down to specific IP addresses or ports to provide a more secure operating model. Outbound access from the EC2 instance is defined as any IPv4 destination (0.0.0.0/0) on any port.

Veeam_SG

I have also changed the default security group associated with the ENIs used by VMC to a custom security group. The security group allows inbound access on the ENI (which is inbound access to VMC as explained in the article below) on all ports from the source CIDR block of my native AWS VPC. Outbound access which is from VMC into AWS is defined as any IPv4 destination (0.0.0.0/0) on any port.

ENI_SG

EC2 Deployment

Log into the VMware on AWS Console, from the SDDCs tab locate the appropriate SDDC and click View Details. Select the Networking & Security tab. Under System click Connected VPC. Make a note of the AWS Account ID and the VPC ID. You will need to deploy an EC2 instance into this account and VPC.

Log into the AWS Console and navigate to the EC2 service. Launch an EC2 instance that meets the System Requirements for Veeam. In this example I have used the t2.medium instance and Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Base AMI. When configuring network the EC2 instance must be in the VPC connected to VMC. I have added an additional EBS volume for the backup repository using volume type General Purpose SSD (gp2). Ensure the security group selected or created allows the relevant access.

Gateway Firewall

In addition to security group settings inbound access also needs allowing on the VMC Gateway Firewall. In this instance as we are connecting the EC2 instance to the vCenter we define the rule on the Management Gateway. If we were connecting to a workload in one of the compute subnets the rule would be defined on the Compute Gateway. You may have noticed that although I allowed any port in the AWS Security Groups, the actual ports allowed can also be defined on the Gateway Firewall.

In this example I have added a new user defined group which contains the private IPv4 address for the EC2 instance and added it as a source in the vCenter Inbound Rule. The allowed port is set to HTTPS (TCP 443) – I have also allowed ICMP. I have added the same source group to the ESXi Inbound Rule which allows Provisioning (TCP 902). Both these rules are needed to allow Veeam to backup virtual machines in VMC.

VMC_GW_FW

Veeam Setup

Now that connectivity between the EC2 instance and the VMC vCenter has been configured I can hop onto the EC2 instance and begin the setup of Veeam. I will, of course, need an inbound rule for RDP (TCP 3389) adding to the security group of the EC2 instance, specifying the source I am connecting from.

Follow the installation steps outlined in the Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 4 User Guide for VMware vSphere.

Veeam_1

In the VMC console navigate to the Settings tab of the SDDC and make a note of the  password for the cloudadmin@vmc.local account. Open the Veeam Backup & Replication console and add the vCenter private IP address, use the vCenter cloud admin credentials.

Veeam_2

Add the backup repository using the EBS volume and create a backup job as normal. Refer to the Veeam Backup Guide if you need assistance with Veeam.

Veeam_3

To make use of S3 object storage AWS you will need an IAM Role granting S3 access, and an S3 VPC Endpoint. In the case of VMC, as an alternative design, you can host the Veeam B&R server inside your VMC SDDC to make use of the built in S3 endpoint. In testing we found backup speeds to be faster but you will likely still need an EBS backed EC2 instance for your backup repository. It goes without saying you should make sure backup data is not held solely on the same physical site as the servers you are backing up. See Veeam KB2414: VMware Cloud on AWS Support for further details.

Add a new Scale-Out Backup Repository and follow the steps to add account and bucket details.

Set an appropriate policy for moving backups to object based storage, once this threshold is met you will start to see Veeam files populating the S3 bucket.

S3_repo

VMware Cloud on AWS Migration Planning

This post pulls together the notes I have made during the planning of VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS (Amazon Web Services) deployment, and migration planning of virtual machines from traditional on-premise vSphere infrastructure. It is intended as a list of considerations and not a comprehensive guide. For more information on VMware Cloud on AWS review the following resources:

VMware Cloud on AWS Deployment Demo | VMware Cloud on AWS Live Migration Demo | VMware Cloud on AWS VideosVMware Cloud on AWS Operations Docs | YouTube PlaylistsRoadmap | VMworld 2018 Recorded Sessions | AWS FAQs

Capacity Planning

  • At the time of writing up to 10 SDDC’s can be deployed per organisation, each SDDC supporting up to 10 vSphere clusters and each cluster up to 16 physical nodes.
  • The standard I3 bare metal instance currently offers 2 sockets, 36 cores, 512 GiB RAM, 10.7 TB vSAN storage, a 16-node cluster provides 32 sockets, 576 cores, 8192 GiB RAM, 171.2 TB.
  • New R5 bare metal instances are deployed with 2.5 GHz Intel Platinum 8000 series (Skylake-SP) processors; 2 sockets, 48 cores, 768 GiB RAM and AWS Elastic Block Storage (EBS) backed capacity scaling up to 105 TB for 3-node resources and 560 TB for 16-node resources.
  • When deploying the number of hosts in the SDDC consider the pay as you go pricing model and ability to scale out later on-demand; either manually or using Elastic DRS which can optimised for performance or cost.
  • A really useful tool for VMC planning is the VMware Cloud on AWS Sizer and TCO calculator.
  • The What-If analysis in both vRealize Business and vRealize Operations can also help with capacity planning and cost comparisons for migrations to VMware Cloud on AWS. Use Network Insight to understand network egress costs and application topology in your current environment, see Calculate AWS Egress Fees Proactively for VMware Cloud on AWS for more information.

Highly Available Deployments

  • An SDDC can be deployed to a single Availability Zone (AZ) or across multiple AZ’s, otherwise known as a stretched cluster. For either configuration if a problem is identified with a host in the cluster High Availability (HA) evacuation takes place as normal, an additional host is then automatically provisioned and added as a replacement.
  • The recommendation for workload availability is to use a stretched cluster which distributes workloads across 2 Availability Zones with a third hosting a witness node. In this setup data is written to both Availability Zones (synchronous write replication) in an active active setup; in the event of an outage to an entire Availability Zone vSphere HA brings virtual machines back online in the alternative AZ.
  • Stretched clusters provide a Recovery Point Objective (RPO ) of zero by using synchronous data replication. Note that there may be additional cross-AZ charges for stretched clusters.
  • The decision on whether to use single or multiple Availability Zones needs to be taken at the time of deployment. An existing SDDC cannot be upgraded to multi-AZ or downgraded to a single AZ.

Placement Planning

  • VMware Cloud on AWS links with your existing AWS account to provide access to native services. During provisioning a Cloud Formation template will grant AWS permissions using the Identity Access Management (IAM) service. This allows your VMC account to create and manage Elastic Network Interfaces (ENI’s) as well as auto-populate Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) route tables when NSX subnets are created. It is good practise to enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for your accounts in both VMC and AWS.
  • Cloud Formation can also be used to deploy your SDDC if desired, review VMware Cloud on AWS Integrations with CloudFormation and the VMware Cloud on AWS Dev Center for more information.
  • An Elastic Network Interface (ENI) dedicated to each physical host connects the VMware Cloud to the corresponding Availability Zone in the native AWS VPC. There is no charge for data crossing the 25 Gbps ENI between the VMware Cloud VPC and the native AWS VPC.
  • Data that crosses Availability Zones however is charged at $0.01 per GB (at the time of writing), therefore it is good practise to deploy the SDDC to the same region and AZ as your current or planned native AWS services.
  • Microsoft SQL Server Workloads and VMware Cloud on AWS: Design, Migration, and Configuration is aimed at migrating SQL into VMC but also contains some useful architectural and operational guidelines so is worth a read.
  • Compute policies can be used to control the placement of virtual machines, see VMWARE CLOUD ON AWS – COMPUTE POLICIES – THE START OF SOMETHING GREAT! for more information.
  • An example architecture of a stretched cluster SDDC is shown below.

vmc_aws_part

Connectivity Planning

Migration Planning

  • If possible your migration team should be made up of the following: Infrastructure administrators for compute, storage, network, and data protection. Networking and Security teams for security and compliance. Application owners for applications, development, and lifecycle management. Support and Operations for automation, lifecycle, and change management.
  • Group services together based on downtime tolerance, as this could determine how the workload is moved: prolonged downtime, minimal downtime, and zero downtime.
  • Consider migration paths for any physical workloads, whether that be P2V, AWS Bare Metal instances, or co-locating equipment.
  • Consider any load balancing and edge security requirements. The AWS Elastic Load Balancer (ELB) can be used or alternative third party options can be deployed through virtual appliances. NSX load balancing as a service in VMC is planned for future releases.
  • You will likely still need Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, time synchronisation, so use native cloud services where possible, or migrate these services as VMs to VMC on AWS.
  • Remember Disaster Recovery (DR) still needs to be factored in. DR as a Service (DRaaS) is offered through Site Recovery Manager (SRM) between regions in the cloud or on-premise.
  • Make sure any existing monitoring tools are compatible with the new environment and think about integrating cloud monitoring and management with new or existing external tools.
  • Move backup tooling to the cloud and perform full backups initially to create a new baseline. Consider native cloud backup products that will backup straight to S3, or traditional backup methods that connect into vCenter. The reference architecture below has been updated to include Elastic Block Storage (EBS) backed Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances running Veeam:

vmc_aws.png

For up to date configuration maximums and the latest features and information visit the VMware Cloud on AWS FAQs page. Up to date pricing for AWS services can be found at AWS Pricing. Most of the major compliance certification has been achieved at VMC on AWS data centres, see the VMware Cloud on AWS Meets Industry-Standard Security and Compliance Standards blog post for more information.

In addition, if you are working towards the VMware Cloud on AWS Management exam then review 5V0-31.19: VMware Cloud on AWS Management Exam 2019 – Study tips.

VMware Cloud on AWS Deployment Demo

This opening post will give an overview and demo of VMware Cloud on AWS. VMware Cloud on AWS provides on-demand, scalable cloud environments based on existing vSphere Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC) products. VMware and AWS have worked together to optimise running vSphere, vSAN and NSX, directly on dedicated, elastic, bare-metal AWS infrastructure without the need for nested virtualization. A SDDC cloud can be deployed in a few hours and then capacity scaled up and down within minutes; either manually or automatically using elastic DRS.

Key Benefits

There are a number of benefits and use cases for extending on-premise data centres to the cloud with VMware Cloud on AWS:

  • VMware maintains software updates, emergency software patches, and auto-remediation of hardware failures
  • Increasing capacity in the cloud is generally quicker, easier, and sometimes more cost effective than increasing physical capacity in the data centre
  • Scale capacity to protect services when met with temporary or unplanned demand
  • Improve business continuity by using the cloud for Disaster Recovery (DR) with Site Recovery
  • Consistent operating environments allows for simplified cloud migrations with minimal re-training for system administrators
  • Transfer your existing operating system and third party licensing to the cloud and make use of existing support contracts with VMware
  • Expand into additional geographical locations without needing to provision new data centres

Key Details

Update 18/01/2019 – see also VMware Cloud on AWS Migration Planning. As with all cloud services functionality and limitations are constantly changing, I have updated some of this content but make sure you review the links below for the most up to date information.

VMware FAQ | AWS FAQRoadmap | AWS Pricing

The following links contain enough reading to plan your VMware Cloud on AWS implementation and cloud migration strategy, the points below should also be enough to get you started.

Product Documentation | Technical Overview | VMware Product Page | AWS Product Page | | Case Study | Try first @ VMware Cloud on AWS – Getting Started Hands-on Lab

  • At the time of writing up to 10 SDDC’s can be deployed per organisation, each SDDC supporting up to 10 vSphere clusters and each cluster up to 16 physical nodes.
  • The standard I3 bare metal instance currently offers 2 sockets, 36 cores, 512 GiB RAM, 10.7 TB vSAN storage, a 16-node cluster therefore provides 32 sockets, 576 cores, 8192 GiB RAM, 171.2 TB.
  • New R5 metal instances are deployed with 2.5 GHz Intel Platinum 8000 series (Skylake-SP) processors; 2 sockets, 48 cores, 768 GiB RAM and AWS Elastic Block Storage (EBS) backed capacity scaling up to 105 TB for 3-node resources and 560 TB for 16-node resources.
  • Each ESXi host is connected to an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) through Elastic Networking Interfaces (ENI’s), which supports throughput up to 25 Gbps
  • Hybrid Cloud Extension allows stretched subnets between on-premise and cloud data centres for live migration of virtual machines
  • Hybrid Linked Mode allows administrators to connect vCenter Server running in VMware Cloud on AWS to an on-premises vCenter server to view both cloud and on-premises resources from a single interface
  • VMware Cloud on AWS complies with ISO 27001, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC 3, HIPAA, and GDPR, find the full list of compliance certification here
  • VMware Cloud on AWS is managed from a web-based console or RESTful API
  • At the time of writing VMware Cloud on AWS is available in the AWS Europe (Frankfurt and London), AWS US East (N. Virginia) and AWS US West (Oregon) Regions
  • Basic pricing before discount can be calculated here

VMware_AWS

Product Demo

The demo below creates a SDDC in the cloud for lab purposes. Before deploying your own environment you should review all the above linked documentation and do your own research to plan your cloud strategy as well as the following:

  • Identify or create an AWS account and ensure that all technical personnel have access to the account
  • Identify a VPC and subnet by cross-linking the AWS account to the SDDC
  • Allocate IP ranges for the SDDC, and determine a DNS strategy
  • Identify the authentication model for the SDDC
  • Plan connectivity to the SDDC
  • Develop a network security policy for the SDDC

Browse to the VMware Cloud Services portal (https://console.cloud.vmware.com) and login using your VMware ID. At the time of writing to access VMware Cloud on AWS you need to be invited or you can register for a 30 day single host trial here.

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Select VMware Cloud on AWS. If you have not used the service before you will be prompted to create a new organisation. Enter a name for your new organisation and accept the terms of service, click Continue.

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Add a credit card to be billed if you use the service.

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After you have created the organisation and added payment information you will be sent to the VMware Cloud on AWS dashboard. The first step is to create our SDDC in the cloud, click Create SDDC.

Billing: annual subscriptions are listed under the Subscriptions tab, you can see other billing information from the drop-down menu next to your organisation name: select Organisation Settings, View Organisation. From here you have services, identity and access management, billing and subscriptions, and support options.

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Select a region and deployment model for the SDDC, enter a name and the number of hosts if you are not using the single host deployment. Click Next.

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Follow the instructions to connect an AWS account and assign the relevant capabilities.

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Once the connection is successfully established click Next.

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Select the VPC and subnet to use then click Next.

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Specify a private subnet range for the management subnet or leave blank to use default addressing. As mentioned above ensure you have planned accordingly and are not using any ranges that will conflict with other networks you may connect in the future. Click Deploy SDDC.

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The SDDC will now be deployed, it takes around 2 hours to provision the ESXi hosts and all management components.

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Once the deployment is complete the dashboard will show the new SDDC and assigned resources. Click View Details (you can toggle the web portal theme using the Dark/Light options in the top right hand corner).

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From either the SDDC Summary tab or back on the SDDC dashboard you can seamlessly add additional hosts or clusters at any time.

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If needed the chat bubble in the bottom right hand corner of the screen will take you through to support.

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The Network tab shows the network topology and is where you can configure firewall rules, NAT rules, VPN, Direct Connect, etc.

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To access the vCenter Server through the vSphere client the port needs opening, a VPN can also be used. Under Management Gateway select Firewall Rules, click Add Rule. Configure the rule to allow access to the vCenter on port 443 and click Save.

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Click Open vCenter from either the Summary or Network tab, if access is in place you are given the cloudadmin@vmc.local credentials to open vCenter. Active Directory can also be configured as an identity source later on.

Once you are logged into the vSphere client you will see the familiar vSphere layout.

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It is also possible to see your on-premise vCenter Server(s) in the same pane of glass using Hybrid Linked Mode, click here for more information.

Back in the VMware Cloud on AWS portal the Add Ons tab features Site Recovery and Hybrid Cloud Extension for protecting and migrating workloads to your SDDC in the cloud.

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You can delete a SDDC from the Actions drop-down menu in either the SDDC Summary tab or the SDDC dashboard. Once a SDDC is deleted all workloads, data, and interfaces are destroyed and any public IP addresses released.

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