Automating FlashStack with SmartConfig and VMware Cloud Foundation

Note: This is another guest blog by Kyle Grossmiller. Kyle is a Sr. Solutions Architect at Pure and works with Cody on all things VMware.

One of the (many) fun things we get to work on at Pure is researching and figuring out new ways to streamline things that are traditionally repetitive and time-consuming (read:  boring).  Recently, we looked at how we could go about automating the deployment of FlashStack™ end-to-end; since a traditional deployment absolutely includes some of these repetitive tasks.  Our goal is to start off with a completely greenfield FlashStack (racked, powered, cabled and otherwise completely unconfigured) and automate everything possible to end up with a fully-functional VMware environment ready for use.    After some thought, reading and discussion, we found that this goal was achievable with the combination of SmartConfig™ and VMware Cloud Foundation™. 

Automating a FlashStack deployment makes a ton of sense:  From the moment new hardware is procured and delivered to a datacenter, the race is on for it to switch from a liability to a money producing asset for the business.  Further, using SmartConfig and Cloud Foundation together is really combining two blueprint-driven solutions:  Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) and VMware Validated Designs (VVDs).  That does a lot to take the guesswork out of building the underlying infrastructure and hypervisor layers since firmware, hardware and software versions have all been pre validated and tested by Cisco, VMware and Pure Storage.  In addition, these two tools also go through setting up these blueprints automatically via a customizable and repeatable framework.  

Once we started working through this in the lab, the following automation workflow emerged:

Along with some introduction to the key technologies in play, we have divided the in-depth deployment guide into 3 core parts.  All of these sections, including product overviews and click-by-click instructions are publicly available here on the Pure Storage VMware Platform Guide.

  1. Deploy FlashStack with ESXi via SmartConfig.  The input of this section will be factory reset Cisco hardware and the output will be a fully functional imaged/zoned/deployed UCS chassis with ESXi7 installed and ready for use with VMware Cloud Foundation.
  2. Build VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager on FlashStack.  The primary input for CloudBuilder is, not ironically, the output of the work in part 1.  Specifically, ESXi hosts and their underlying infrastructure, from which we will automatically deploy a Management Domain with CloudBuilder.
  3. The last section will show how to deploy a VMware Cloud Foundation Workload Domain with Pure Storage as both Principle Storage (VMFS on FC) and Supplemental Storage (vVols).  Options such as iSCSI are covered in additional KB articles in the VMware Cloud Foundation section of the Pure Storage support site.

Post-deployment, customers will enjoy the benefits of single-click lifecycle management for the bulk of their UCS and VMware components and the ability to dynamically scale up or down their Workload Domain deployment resources independently or collectively based upon specific needs (e.g. compute/memory, network and/or storage) all from SDDC Manager.

For those who prefer a more interactive demo, I’ve recorded an in-depth overview video of this automation project followed by a four-part demo video series that shows click-by-click just how easy and fast it is to deploy a FlashStack with VMware from scratch. 

Craig Waters and I gave a Light Board session on this subject:

And this is an in-depth PowerPoint overview of the project:

Finally, this is a video series showing the end-to-end process in-depth broken into a few parts for brevity.

Revamped PowerShell Module for Pure and VMware

About 6 months ago, my esteemed colleague Barkz blogged about our path forward with PowerShell. We have an official PowerShell SDK for managing the FlashArray–but it is limited to that: doing stuff to the FlashArray.

So to add value and make managing it within context of the layers you actually manage your infrastructure from (VMware, Microsoft, etc.) we created some value-add PowerShell modules to make it easier. Barkz talks about them here:

Continue reading “Revamped PowerShell Module for Pure and VMware”

Pure Storage Plugin v3 for vRealize Orchestrator

We just released an updated plugin for vRO today that is fully certified by VMware and is available on the VMware marketplace:

Download it here.

What are the new features? Well a lot–some various bug fixes, but this is mostly about new features:

  • ActiveCluster support
  • Enhanced protection group information
  • Throughput limits
  • Volume Groups
  • Pure1 REST API integration
  • Protocol Endpoints
  • Host Personality
Continue reading “Pure Storage Plugin v3 for vRealize Orchestrator”

Announcing: Pure Storage Cloud Block Store for AWS

One of the fundamental features of the operating environment running on the FlashArray™ is the fact that the same software can run on many different hardware implementation of the FlashArray. This is one of the reasons that we can offer hardware Non-Disruptive Upgrades or when we introduce new features (even things as expansive as VVols) we can support it on older hardware. We support VVols going back to the FA 420-an array that was introduced before I joined Pure Storage® 4.5 years ago.

Furthermore, we have been having increasing conversations around the public cloud. Not just running applications in it, but moving data to and from it. DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) is an increasingly talked about use case. VMware Cloud in AWS is getting more and more attention at VMworld, and in general. We, at Pure get it. Will everything go to public cloud? No. Certainly not. Will everything stay on-premises? Also, of course not. Some customers will. Some will not at all. Many (most?) will use both in some capacity. So enabling data mobility is important.

Continue reading “Announcing: Pure Storage Cloud Block Store for AWS”

Pure Storage and VMware PowerShell Module

I see a fair amount of requests around how to do different things with VMware PowerCLI and the Pure Storage PowerShell SDK. How do I correlate a VMFS to a volume? How do I create a new VMFS? How do I expand? Etc.

To help our customers I have written a module that includes a lot of the common operations people might need to “connect” PowerCLI to our PowerShell SDK.

The module is called Cody.PureStorage.FlashArray.VMware. Continue reading “Pure Storage and VMware PowerShell Module”

Site Recovery Manager and ActiveCluster Part III: Creating Protection Groups and Recovery Plans

Now that all of the prerequisites are complete, it is time to start creating protection groups and recovery plans.

This is part 3 of this series, the earlier parts were:

Continue reading “Site Recovery Manager and ActiveCluster Part III: Creating Protection Groups and Recovery Plans”

Site Recovery Manager and ActiveCluster Part II: Configuring SRM

In my last post, I walked through configuring ActiveCluster and your VMware environment to prepare for use in Site Recovery Manager.

Site Recovery Manager and ActiveCluster Part I: Pre-SRM Configuration

In this post, I will walk through configuring Site Recovery Manager itself.  There are a few pre-requisites at this point:

  • Everything that was done in part 1.
  • Site Recovery Manager installed and paired
  • Inventory mappings in SRM are complete (network, folders, clusters, resource pools etc).
  • Downloaded and installed the FlashArray SRA 3.x or later on both SRM servers.

Continue reading “Site Recovery Manager and ActiveCluster Part II: Configuring SRM”

Site Recovery Manager and ActiveCluster Part I: Pre-SRM Configuration

About four years ago, we (Pure Storage) released support for our asynchronous replication and Site Recovery Manager by releasing our storage replication adapter. In late 2017, we released our support for active-active synchronous replication called ActiveCluster.

Until SRM 6.1, SRM only supported active-passive replication, so a test failover or a failover would take a copy of the source VMFS (or RDM) on the target array and present it, rescan the ESXi environment, resignature the datastore(s) then register and power-on the VMs in accordance to the SRM recovery plan.

The downside to this of course is that the failover is disruptive–even if there was not actually a disaster that was the impetus for the failover. But this is the nature of active-passive replication.

In SRM 6.1, SRM introduced support for active-active replication. And because this type of replication is fundamentally different–SRM also changed how it behaved to take advantage of what active-active replication offers. Continue reading “Site Recovery Manager and ActiveCluster Part I: Pre-SRM Configuration”

PowerCLI and VVols Part I: Assigning a SPBM Policy

There are a variety of ways to assign and set a SPBM Policy to a VM. I recently put out a workflow package for vRO to everything VVols and Pure:

vRealize Orchestrator VVol Workflow Package

I also specifically blogged about assigning a policy to a VM with vRO:

Assigning a VVol VM Storage Policy with vRO

How do you do this with PowerCLI?

Continue reading “PowerCLI and VVols Part I: Assigning a SPBM Policy”

Tech Preview: vCenter Site Recovery Manager with ActiveCluster

An increasingly common use case for Active-Active replication in vSphere environments is vSphere Metro Storage Cluster (vMSC) which I wrote about in this paper recently:

https://support.purestorage.com/Solutions/VMware_Platform_Guide/002ActiveCluster_with_VMware/PDF_Guide%3A_Implementing_vSphere_Metro_Storage_Cluster_With_ActiveCluster

This overviews how a stretched vSphere cluster interacts with the active-active replication we offer on the FlashArray called ActiveCluster. Continue reading “Tech Preview: vCenter Site Recovery Manager with ActiveCluster”