Testing New SRA Release with a 2nd SRM Pair

At the time of writing this post we are currently at work on our next release of our Storage Replication Adapter for the FlashArray. In a discussion with a customer who needs the feature that we are adding (what a nice coincidence!) the question came up, “what is the best way to test?”. They want to test the SRA without fouling up their production SRM environment.

So a simple answer is well deploy two new vCenters and a SRM pair. But that requires certain hosts and similar network configuration and authentication, etc. etc. So they wanted to use their existing vCenters but NOT their existing SRM servers.

SRM used to be a fairly rigid tool (for good reason, let’s not break your DR). But in the past few years VMware has really opened it up. Loosened the tight vCenter version to SRM version, shared recovery sites, and multiple SRM pairs per vCenter pair. This is where we come in.

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Generating a Pure1 REST JWT with Python

I’ve written about generating the JSON Web Token for Pure1 REST API authentication before. Mostly around PowerShell. Though of course many may not want to use PowerShell and prefer to opt for something like Python.

So here is the process.

We have a script posted on the support site here. But that actually doesn’t return the JWT, it creates a session. So it takes the next step after the JWT. But if you just want to generate the JWT so something else can authenticate it won’t do the trick. So I made some modifications and threw it on GitHub as a gist. You can get it here:

https://gist.github.com/codyhosterman/697ebfd72c4f7f7276afc3b74e3b5e40

First off let’s review how to actually authenticate:

  1. Create a private/public key pair
  2. Enter the public key into Pure1
  3. Take the provided application ID and generate a JSON web token
  4. Send the JSON web token to Pure1 for an access token

I will walk through step 1-3. Using Python on Linux to generate the JWT.

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Persisting a Pure1 Certificate created by PowerShell

In a previous post I talk about how to easily create the private/public key needed for Pure1:

So when I create a certificate in PowerShell I store the reference in an object, in the below case the object is called $cert:

But if I close that PowerShell window the object is removed. What happens to that certificate? What if I want to re-use it? Good question.

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Troubleshooting a Pure1 Connection with the vSphere Plugin

In the 4.2.0 release of the vSphere Plugin, we added Pure1 integration which provided additional insight into your Pure Storage and vSphere Environment. In order to use this though, you need to connect the plugin with Pure1 of course. The authentication method is based on a process which involves something called a JSON Web Token. This is a secure option, but a bit more involved than a user name and password. I made the process of generating this fairly easy, but if something goes wrong you get a fun error message like below:

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Deploying the Pure Storage OVA to vCenter 6.0

I will start this off with the usual rant. Why are you on vCenter 6.0?! It is going End of Support March 12th, 2020! https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/66977

But you likely know that and probably have your reasons and you didn’t come here for a lecture, you came here for an answer! Can I deploy the OVA to vCenter 6.0? Is it supported?

Let’s first clarify a few things. There are two different things when it comes to vCenter support with the collector. What it can be deployed TO and what it can collect FROM.

Let’s start off with what versions of vCenter it can collect from. We support collecting back to vCenter 5.5. The ESXi host versions that we support for collection in that vCenter lines up with whatever versions of ESXi that that particular vCenter supports. We support collection from versions up to the latest release of vCenter at the time of this writing–vCenter 6.7 U3. So collection support is from 5.5-6.7.x. As new vSphere releases come out we will add those at that time.

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Automating the Setup and Configuration of the Pure Storage OVA with PowerShell

A few weeks back we introduced the Pure Storage OVA which currently now focuses on the VM Analytics Collector and I blogged about deploying it with PowerShell:

https://www.codyhosterman.com/2019/10/deploying-the-pure1-vm-analytics-collector-ova-with-powershell/

This was only deploying the OVA, not configuring it. Once deployed, you need to (or might want to):

  • Change the default password
  • Add vCenters
  • Remove vCenters
  • Import configuration
  • Test phone home

Wouldn’t it be nice to do that all from PowerShell instead of SSH or the VM console? Of course it would! So I got to work on it! I have now updated my cmdlet Deploy-PfaAppliance to be able to reset the default password upon deployment and added a new cmdlet called Get-PfaAppliance to retrieve appliances and then configure them.

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Pure Storage Plugin 4.2.0 for the HTML-5 vSphere Client

Another quarter, another vSphere Plugin release from Pure! This is the release I have been really looking forward to as it sets the stage for a lot of the future work I want to build into the plugin. To recap:

  • 4.0.0 was our initial release of our plugin that only had the basic configuration support and VMFS management.
  • 4.1.0 was the 2nd release that added vVol support back into the plugin.
  • 4.2.0 enhances the plugin to add more vVol stuff into it as well as Pure1 Integration! So we are finally to the point where we are adding features into it that were never in the previous flash plugin. Yay!

So what are the new features?

  • Pure1 authentication
  • FlashArray fleet registration
  • Load meter integration
  • Pure1 tag integration
  • Intelligent provisioning
  • Full VM-undelete
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Gartner Critical Capabilities Report–Virtualization

FlashArray Receives the Highest Scores for Server Virtualization in 2019 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Solid State Arrays Report

This is a semi-non-technical post for once here, but somewhat of a state of the union which is something I’ve been meaning to write. A great thing to provide me with the impetus to do this is the recent 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage and the even more recent 2019 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Solid-State Arrays.

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Podcast Appearance: Develop Great Managers

I’ve been on a few podcasts in the past couple of years, though pretty much all of them have been very tech-focused (shocking, right?). vSpeaking a few times, Pure Report, PowerScripting. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to do a guest spot on a different type of podcast hosted by my friend Dale Ferrario. Dale is “retired” now (I use quotes because he is busier in retirement than most people I know who are in the height of their careers). He used to be a VP at VMware–in a variety of roles, most recently on the VVD team then GSS until retirement. Interestingly, my connection to him is not VMware believe it or not. His son, Anthony Lai-Ferrario is my wife’s sister’s husband. Anthony is also currently a Product Manager at Pure Storage (he manages things like vVols, PSO, and other Purity features).

All of us spend a great deal of time together (dinners, weekend trips, holidays), so suffice to say this interview with Dale was not the first time we spoke.

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VMworld Europe 2019 and Pure Storage

It’s that time of the year again…again! Pure Storage is back at VMworld in Barcelona.

Before we get into what’s happening at Barcelona, let’s recap a bit what happened in the US conference. As the best way to look to the future sometimes is to analyze the past.

Also check out this panel session I did with Rubrik on VMworld US.

  • VMware Cloud on AWS was once again a major topic–this is increasingly getting more attention and something we are paying a close eye on. The most important step around this for Pure is our new offering that is now fully GA, called Cloud Block Store. Our FlashArray software (Purity) now fully running AWS. See my posts here and here on that.
  • VMware Cloud Foundations. This is the basis for pretty much all automated VMware stacks–SDDC manager allows you to deploy vCenter, NSX, vRealize (etc. etc.) and of course their lifecycles. SDDC Manager (the management point of vCF) provides the ability to create on “management” domain–this is where all of the VMware services are deployed, and also one or more “workload” domains. Workloads domains are basically a new vCenter server–which gets hooked in via ELM. When deploying a workload domain the storage options used to be only be vSAN or NFS. You could then add block after the fact. In the 3.9.0.0 release, you can now choose Fibre Channel storage as the option. Check out our KB here on it. I expect to hear more about this in Barcelona.
  • Containers, K8s, and more containers. VMware’s work since the Heptio acquisition has not slowed down. I would be fairly comfortable saying that the announcement of Project Pacific and Project Tanzu were the talk of the town during and certainly after VMworld. I have no doubt this will bubble up more in Barcelona. The use case around First Class Disks and vVols I think is particularly intriguing.
  • vRealize Automation Cloud and vRealize 8.0. vRealize Automation 8.0 is now GA. There are two major things here to unpack. First VMware Cloud Automation Services was renamed to vRealize Automation Cloud. This in and of itself doesn’t mean anything (VMware loves to name things) but what is actually important about that is the “traditional” vRealize Automation set. vRealize Automation 8 is now entirely based on the features/design/architecture of vRealize Automation Cloud. Meaning that what vRAC offers is what vRA on-premises offers (same tools, integrations, features). This makes choosing between the two easier (one question to ask, do I want to host it, or do I want VMware to?). I expect details on this to be expanded in Barcelona.
  • vVols. Did you think I wouldn’t bring this up?! Of course I would. vVols is coming back in a big way, and in no small part due to VMware’s renewed push on vVols in their products and with their partners. The automation, integration, and benefits of vVols are making more and more sense these days. VMware gets that, and so do the storage partners. A major topic around vVols is Site Recovery Manager support. Expect to see more vendors talking about that as they furiously work on vVol replication support.
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