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    vCloud Director not generating discreet BIOS UUID by default

    November 14th, 2012

    vCloud Director in the 1.x series does not generate discreet BIOS UUID by default.  This item is documented in two KB’s that I was able to find:

    Prior to running the SQL statement, which must be run against the vCloud Database, dbo.config table (which is not really clearly mentioned), all VM’s deployed in a vApp do not get the discreet BIOS UUID, and at least in the case of Windows 2008, all machines will than generate the same OS GUID.  This may or may not be bad depending on your circumstances.

    You can look at the .vmx of each machine to determine if the BIOS UUID is the same, or run two quick PowerShell commands:

    To show the BIOS UUID inside Windows 2008 guest OS:

    get-wmiobject win32_computersystemproduct

    To show the Windows UUID, run:

    get-wmiobject win32_computersystemproduct |select-object -expandproperty uuid

    When we conducted the change, I shut down the cell to guarantee there were no writes to the database from vCD’s perspective.  We ran the SQL statement, started the cell and deployed new machines.  Each one had a new BIOS UUID and Windows GUID.

    PowerCLI: Add VM’s in vApp, within vCloud Directory to Security Groups withing vShield App

    October 3rd, 2012

    The title says it all!  The use case:

    You are using vCloud Director, and want to add Virtual Machines from deployed vApps to specific Security Groups within vShield App.  In my case, there were three Security Groups created to make a 3-tier environment.  Web, App and Database.

    Once again Alan Renouf came through by creating a vShield module for PowerCLI.  Follow the directions in his video to install it.  It’s actually quite easy.

    The script I am going to list below requires valid connections to three sources in order to do the work:

    1. The vCenter that manages the compute nodes in your vCloud
    2. The vCloud Director cell.
    3. The vShield Manager for the vCloud stack.

    (You also need to be licensed for vShield App.)

    Prior to connecting to vShield Manager, you will need to instantiate the module Alan created.  That _should_ have been done when watching his video, but if not, do:

    import-module vshield

    within PowerCLI.

    At this point you can connect to your three services:

    • connect-viserver <for vCenter>
    • connect-ciserver <for vCloud Director>
    • connect-vshieldserver <for vShield Manager>

    Ok, so now hopefully our connections are set up.  Let’s describe the script a little more.  As I said before, the use case was to create a 3-tier environment via vShield App: Web, App and DB.  Our VM’s in the vApp are conveniently named “WWW,” “APP” or “DB.”  We are sort of cheating, and keying off that nomenclature to identify the VM’s.

    We have three hardcoded security groups in the script: Web, App and DB.  Their variables are $SGWeb, $SGApp and $SGDb.  I know I am clever.

    We are going to provide the name of a vAPP in vCloud Director from the command line.  This script will then walk the contents of the vApp, which are our three servers.  For those who are heavily involved in vCloud Director, you know that each VM in vCenter is identified by <VMNAME> (vCloud UUID).  In order for us to add a VM to vShield App, which is tied to vCenter, we must actually push that naming nomenclature.  I’m frankly not the best at coding, so I had to cheat and use the trim() function twice in order to pull the UUID out of the urn:vcloud:vm:uuid string.

    At that point, we use PowerShell’s like function to do string comparison, and then run Mr. Renouf’s set-vshieldsecuritygroup in order to place the VM in to appropriate vShield App Security Group.  That command is covered in his movie.  I hope you find it useful!

    Usage: ./<scriptname>.ps1 -vapp <vAPP name in vCD> -datacenter <the datacenter object where your vCD and vShield are attached>

    param (
    # Hardcode Security Groups, for now
    $SGWeb = "Web"
    $SGApp = "App"
    $SGDb = "DB"
     Foreach ($VM in (get-CIVM -vapp $vApp)) {
     $vCloudVM = $
     write-host "VM name: " $vCloudVM
     $vCloudID = $
     write-host "vCloud ID: " $vCloudID
     # for whatever reason the trim() function cuts off too much
     # so I had to trim twice. beats me why...
     $vCloudIDtrim = ($vCloudID).trim("urn:vcloud:")
     $vCloudIDtrim = ($vCloudIDtrim).trim("m:")
     write-host "Trimmed vCloud ID: " $vCloudIDtrim
     if ($vCloudVM -like '*www*'){
     write-host "Adding $vCloudVM to Security Group $SGWeb..."
     # add VM to SecurityGroup
     set-vShieldSecurityGroup -Add -Datacenter (get-Datacenter $dataCenter) -SecurityGroup $SGWeb -VM (Get-VM "$vCloudVM ($vCloudIDtrim)")
     elseif ($vCloudVM -like '*app*') {
     write-host "Adding $vCloudVM to Security Group $SGApp ..."
     # add VM to SecurityGroup
     set-vShieldSecurityGroup -Add -Datacenter (get-Datacenter $dataCenter) -SecurityGroup $SGApp -VM (Get-VM "$vCloudVM ($vCloudIDtrim)")
     elseif ($vCloudVM -like '*db*') {
     write-host "Adding $vCloudVM to Security Group $SGDb ..."
     # add VM to SecurityGroup
     set-vShieldSecurityGroup -Add -Datacenter (get-Datacenter $dataCenter) -SecurityGroup $SGDb -VM (Get-VM "$vCloudVM ($vCloudIDtrim)")

    The output will be of the form:

    VM Name: www001
    vCloudID: urn:vcloud:vm:<UUID>
    Trimmed vCloudID: <UUID>
    Adding www001 to Security Group Web …

    ID : securitygroup-nn
    Datacenter : datacenter
    Member : @{name=www001 (<UUID>); object
    TypeName=VirtualMachine; objectId=<moref>}
    Description :
    Name : Web

    PowerCLI – Disable Host in vCloud Director and place host in Maintenance mode

    September 24th, 2012

    Since I am heavily involved in a vCloud deployment, I have asked many many VMware employees how we can make it easier for our operations staff conduct maintenance on an ESXi server.  As you may or may not know, an ESXi host that is prepared and being used by vCloud Director should be disabled and all virtual machines migrated off prior to maintenance.  In order to accomplish this action, a host must be disabled in vCloud Director, and then placed in to maintenance mode in vCenter.  Two separate interfaces.

    I met Alan Renouf after his PowerCLI session at VMworld 2012, and asked him if he knew of a way to disable a host via PowerCLI.  And he did!  Alan has created a function to conduct enable and disable operations.  He gave me permission to include it in the following code I built as a wrapper to conduct the operation from a command line via PowerCLI.


    1. PowerCLI installed with the vCloud Director cmdlets.  This is an option at install time, and is disabled by default (for whatever reason).
    2. vCloud Director (naturally)
    3. My script.
    First start PowerCLI.

    In order to connect to vCloud Director, first instantiate a connection via

    Connect-CIServer <vCloud Director cell>

    Start a session to the vCenter server that manages the vCloud pod via

    connect-VIServer <vCenter server>

    Now run the script.  There are two options from the command line -server <ESXi server name> and -state <enable/disable>.

    An example run would be: ./conductMaintenanceVCD.ps1 -server esxi001 -state disable

    Watch vCD and vCenter and be wowed.  Thanks again to Alan for creating the Disable-CIHost and Enable-CIHost functions!

    param (
    ## Enable/Disable-CIHost function provided by Alan Renouf
     Function Disable-CIHost {
     Param (
     Process {
     $Search = Search-cloud -QueryType Host -Name $CIHost
     #$HostEXT = $search.ExtensionData
     $HostEXT = $Search | Get-CIView
     # Disable the host in vCloud Director
     if ($HostEXT.Enable) {
    Function Enable-CIHost {
     Param (
     Process {
     $Search = Search-cloud -QueryType Host -Name $CIHost
     #$HostEXT = $search.ExtensionData
     $HostEXT = $search | Get-CIView
     # Disable the host in vCloud Director
     if ($HostEXT.Disable) {
    # conduct work on input
    write-host "Conducting $state operation on $server..."
    if ($state -eq "enable"){
     $serverState = get-vmhost $server
     if ( $serverState.ConnectionState -eq "Maintenance") {
     write-host "Taking $server out of maintenance mode"
     $returnCode = set-VMhost -VMHost $server -State Connected
     # sleep for 45 seconds for the host to exit maintenance mode.
     start-sleep -s 45
     write-host "Enabling host in vCloud Director"
     Enable-CIHost -CIHost $server
     elseif ($state -eq "disable"){
     write-host "Disabling host in vCloud Director"
     Disable-CIHost -CIHost $server
     # sleep for 5 seconds for the host to disable in vCD
     start-sleep -s 5
     write-host "$server entering maintenance mode"
     $returnCode = set-VMhost -VMHost $server -State Maintenance -Evacuate

    VMworld 2012 round-up: INF-VSP1196 What’s new with vCloud Director Networking

    August 29th, 2012

    VMware 2012 presentation INF-VSP1196: What’s new with vCloud Director Networking

    This session was discussed the new networking features of vCloud Director 5.1 (VMware decided to sync the version with the release of vSphere 5.1, jumping from 1.5.1 all the way to 5.1).

    From the presentation content, the bulk of changes focus vShield Edge and VxLAN.  vShield now is bundled in two ways: Security and Advanced and sold as Standard or Enterprise.  More will be discussed below about the changes, but in short the actual Edge VM is deployed in two sizes, with different supported features.

    New features of vShield Edge:

    • Multiple interfaces, up to 10, are now supported with the Advanced bundle.  This is an increase of 2.
    • The virtual hardware is now 7.
    • The appliance, as stated before, can be deployed as the compact or full version of edge.  The major difference, according the presentation, is the support for higher throughput and a active/standby edge appliance.  I for one welcome the change since the current instantiation of Edge only allowed for a respawn of a device which required an outage.
    • The Edge appliance can act as a DNS relay for internal clients.
    • External address space can be increased on the fly.
    • Non-contiguous networks can be applied to the external interface of the vShield Edge.
    • Ability to sub-allocate IP addresses to Organization vDCs.

    With vCloud Director version 5.1, a new network object is available for use by Organizations: Organization vDC (virtual datacenter) Networks.  Since an Organization Network (OrgNet) is mapped to a single Organization, the new Org vDC Network can now span multiple org vDC within an Organization.  The fellow glossed over the use-case for this situation, and one does not easily come to mind at the moment.

    VMware is also debuting something they call Service Insertion.  This is basically a new security API for 3rd party vendors to integrate directly in to the networking stack for their products.  Profiles can now be created based on services, and these profiles can then be applied to a Port Group of a Distributed Switch.  I do believe VMware is attempting to allow providers to create billing and a-la carte models to generate income from their clients.  It is an interesting play to see if it is really used only in Public offerings, or if private clouds offer it in a charge-back model.

    Edge can provide a DHCP service, available on isolated networks.  You now can use:

    • Multiple DHCP pools per edge device (necessary with 10 supported interfaces).
    • Single pool per interface.
    • No option for advanced features such as lease times.


    • Rules can be applied to an interface.
    • Rules can be arranged via a drag and drop interface, but they are evaluated from top down.  The first hit causes an exit.
    • Source NAT (SNAT) and Destination NAT (DNAT) supports: TCP, UDP, TCP and UDP, ICMP or any.
    • There are predefined ICMP types.


    • VMware is still trumpeting their Edge firewall as 5 tuple (5 different options for filtering, but it still isn’t all that great).
    • Rules can be arranged via drag and drop.
    • Logging per rule.
    • Support for TCP, UDP, TCP and UDP.
    • Can not filter on ICMP types (ping versus traceroute).  I do believe it is all or nothing.

    Static Routing

    • VMware stated it is useful for routing between Org networks.  I think this use-case would be for far more advanced configurations.
    • Can be used for deep reach in vApp networks.  The current Edge device does support static routing even when using vCDNI, but the MAC in MAC encapsulation adds some serious latency to the connections.  I suspect VxLAN is to thank for this configuration to be better supported.


    • IPsec or SSL site to site configuration, not for user remote access.
    • Compatible with 3rd party software and hardware VPN, since Edge is doing IPsec or SSL.  Nothing proprietary there.

    Load Balancer

    • Load Balance on HTTP, HTTPS or any old TCP port.
    • Can conduct a basic health check of the back-end servers with either a URI (except for HTTPS) or tcp port.
    • Configure pool servers and VIP.
    • Balance on IP Hash, URI or least connections.
    • NOTE:  The current version uses nginx.  I saw it not work even close to correctly with certain network configurations based around VCDNI.  Let’s hope it works better in this version.

    Virtual Service (Load balancing)

    • HTTP persistence can be configured to use cookies with insert feature.
    • HTTPS can use session IDs.
    • There is no persistence option for regular TCP ports.

    And now for the queen mother of all session topics: VXLAN.  Boiling it down, VXLAN allows for a layer 2 network, say, to exist live in two places at once.  Think 2 datacenters, or in this case, the Cloud.

    • Layer 2 overlay on a Layer 3 network .
    • Each overlay network is known as a VXLAN segment.
    • VXLAN identified by 24 bit segment ID, known as a VNI.
    • Traffic carried by VXLAN tunnel endpoints, known as VTEP.
      • ESXi hosts or Cisco Nexus 1000v can act as VTEP.
    • Virtual machines have no idea of the existence of VXLAN transporting their traffic.
    • VM to VM traffic is encapsulated in a VXLAN header.
    • Traffic on same portgroup is not encapsulated.
    • Here is the big kicker: multicast is required
      • Used for VM broadcast and multicast messages
      • In essence, a dedicated virtual Distributed Switch
      • Available vNIC and IP address per switch
      • Mutlicast addresses
      • Multicast configured on the physical network
    • Requires multicast end to end (all networking points between the VTEP).
    • Minimum MTU of 1600 (in the network).

    The technology sounds cool, is hopefully better than VCDNI, but the requirement of multicast may be a show-stopper to some people.

    Fun with VMware vShield Edge

    May 8th, 2012

    As part of VMware’s vCloud implementation, vShield Edge can become a major part of your infrastructure.

    In short, it can be used as a Layer 3 device including a firewall (but nothing outrageously complex).  So once it’s spun out, how does one troubleshoot connectivity errors?  And what sorts of fun things can we do with it?

    The following Q/A between myself and myself are all from the CLI.  So open up the vCenter which your vCD cell uses, and open a console on a vShield Edge device, identified by vse-.  Please authenticate first.  User is: admin and password is: default, but default.

    One more note, question mark (?) and tab completion <tab> are your friends…

    • Question: Where do I start.
    • Answer: list or ?  … No really, hit the Question Mark (?) key.  Help doesn’t help
    • How do I show the system log?
    • Answer: show log follow
    • Question:  How do I tell what ports are currently open?
    • Answer: show system network_connections
    • Question: How do I show NAT rules?
    • Answer: show iptables NAT
    • Question: And how do I do a tcpdump on a vse device?
    • Answer:  You have two options, the outside interface extif, or the inside interface intif.  To monitor the outside: debug packet display interface extif.  To monitor the inside interface, debug packet display interface inif
    You get the idea.
    The vShield Edge Appliance is just a stripped down Linux VM, that can accomplish Layer 3 routing, basic firewalling and IPsec tunneling.  Pretty good stuff.

    VMware vCloud Networking Options

    May 7th, 2012

    Having worked with VMware vCloud-based technologies for a few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that networking and the automation glue which is required to make the magic happen, are both the most important pieces of the stack.

    To get started, I’ll list out some terms, and then we’ll build from there.

    • VXLAN
    • External Network(s)
    • Organization Network(s)
    • Network Pools
    • VLAN-backed
    • vSphere port group-backed
    • vAPP

    Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

    vAPP is not a networking technology, but a way to encapsulate an environment.  With it, we can create a three-tier stack, encapsulate it in a vAPP, and then roll out it out N times, all looking exactly the same.  One can also set start-up precedence (database VM starts first, app second, web third).  It’s great stuff.

    vSphere port group-backed networks are what you would traditionally use in a vSphere environment.  Create a Distributed Virtual Switch, and then create a port group.  vCloud Director can use port group-backed in many scenarios.  It is a simple way to get started by using known methods.

    VLAN-backed networks are a fun little way of defining a pool of VLAN’s (something like VLAN IDs 100-200).  Of course, it is necessary that the network team actually configure the VLAN ID’s on the network, and then assign them to the trunks for your ESXi servers.

    vCloud Director Networking Infrastructure (VCDNI) is a method  of creating private networks backed by a single physical [email protected] on your network.  Once you get more involved in vCloud, it is one way to create vAPP sandboxes in your environment.  In short, VCDNI uses MAC-in-MAC encapsulation.  Basically it works by creating private VLAN’s (you will actually see the port groups attached to your vDS) and then stuffing that data inside a packet that can be used on the physical VLAN.  Is the data private and secure?  From my experience, the answer is: sorta.    If your vAPPs are using VCDNI-backed networking, and attached to the same broadcast domain (the org network), the machines can be hit by any host in that broadcast domain (and then with the use of vShield Edge, you can ACL that).  To be clear, the default rule on a vShield Edge device is deny ingress).  If you have vAPPs in different broadcast domains, they are protected from one another (on layer 2).  One kicker, your virtual Distributed Switch must have MTU set to 1524 (if it was set to default of 1500) to allow for the larger header due to encapsulation.

    Is VCDNI good?  Yes.  Is VCDNI bad?  Probably could be argued by networking folks, since they technically do not control the allocation of networks, other than the physical VLAN VCDNI uses.  Is it the future?  Allegedly that is something else called VXLAN.  (update)My opinion:  It is a path to create private networks in a rapid fashion with minimal interaction by the network team.  It works for now, but hopefully VXLAN will be better.

    Now that we have defined methods to transport the data, we will get in to the nomenclature of vCloud.

    Network Pools can either be defined by VLAN-backed, Network isolation-backed (VCDNI) or Port group-backed.  These pools are consumed by virtual datacenters to create vAPP networks.

    Organization Networks are assigned to an Organization virtual DataCenter.  There are multiple ways to define an OrgNetwork:

    • Direct connection:  This network is akin to a traditional port group-backed network in vSphere.  In short, it provides connectivity to LAN, WAN or Internet traffic.  It is tied to an External network and usually sits on internally routable RFC-1918 address space (most likely for private cloud) or Internet-routable address space for providers.
    • NAT-routed connection:  This connection allows for Network Address Translation (NAT) of External IP space to internal private networks.  The NAT-routed OrgNet is typically in RFC-1918 address space, however there are other cases.
    • Internal Organization network: This is strictly an internal network for the vApps to communicate with each other, but have no external network access.

    External Networks are port group-backed networks (defined in vCenter) that provide ingress and egress to the Cloud environment.  They should be routable networks, either RFC-1918 for private, or Internet routable for providers.

    vCloud – vShield Edge Deployment Failure

    February 21st, 2012

    If you get errors during deployment of vApps in vCloud Director, specifically that vShield Edge (vse) devices can not be deployed with any of the following errors:

    The host type is not supported in vCenter, messages regarding not finding port group UUID’s that do not actually exist in the environment, or activity details such as:

    reboot your vShield Manager appliance.  I have found no VMware KB articles about the subject, but it has helped to clear any issues between vCenter, vCloud director and vShield Manager.

    Place ESXi in to Maintenance Mode from vCloud Director

    February 21st, 2012

    So you have your handy dandy cloud built on top of VMware vSphere and vCloud Director. And then you find out you need to conduct maintenance on the host.  What to do?

    Easy!  Browse to:

    • System-> Manage & Monitor
    • vSphere Resources -> Hosts
    1. Find the host you need to place in to maintenance mode, right click and select Disable Host.
    2.  At that point, the status will turn from a green circle with a check, to a red circle.
    3. Right click on the host again and select Redeploy All VMs.
    4. The ESXi host will go in to maintenance mode in the vCenter server and evacuate all virtual machines as usual.
    5. (Optional!) If you see vsla errors (such as the screenshot), issues with deleting vApps, Unprepare the host which removes the vCloud agent from ESXi
    6. (Optional!) Prepare the host for vCloud by pushing the vCloud agent to ESXi
    7. When maintenance is complete, right click and Enable Host.
    8. And your work is complete!

    PowerCLI: Get HP DL server Serial Number via vCenter and iLO

    February 17th, 2012

    Need a quick and easy way to get the serial numbers from you ESXi servers running on HP hardware?

    Fire up this code (snagged and modified from a vmware community post by RvdNieuwendijk.


    • You have an iLO configured on each server, and online
    • You have vCenter access
    # change the variable to whatever you name your iLO
    # example: -iLO or -OA etc
    get-vmhost | where-object {_.Manufacturer -eq "HP" } | \
    sort-object -Property Name | %{
     # Since your ESXi box is attached to vCenter by FQDN,
     # we split the string on "." and take the first
     # element [0] which is the server's short name
     $shortname = ($".")[0])
     $xml = new-object system.xml.xmldocument
     # add together $shortname and $ilo to get "server-ilo"
     new-object psobject -property @{
       "Name" = $shortname
       # Parse the XML and only grab the server serial number
       "SN" = $xml.RIMP.HSI.SBSN

    Quick and dirty method to mount BCV/Snapshot

    November 25th, 2011

    There are many many blog posts about mounting BCV (Business Continuity Volume) or SAN Snapshots, however here is my method.  It is a quick shell script to run on each ESXi server.  Add it to your business operations manager, and create an ad-hoc method of mounting BCV/snaps for a DR exercise.

    NOTE: Commands are in bold.

    Verify from the storage team that they have assigned the BCV/snap to your hosts

    SSH in to ESXi server (assumes you have all of the buttons pressed and knobs turned)

    Search of the BCV/snap volumes.  Do: esxcfg-volume -l  Note: Be patient, this may take a few minutes.

    The output will be as follows:

    VMFS3 UUID/label: <Datasture UUID>/<Datastore label>
    Can mount: Yes
    Can resignature: Yes
    Extent name: naa.<device ID>     range: <size in MB>

    It is now possible to mount the volume manually via the Datastore UUID or Datastore Label.   Do: esxcfg-volume -m <Datastore UUID -OR- Datastore Label>
    Note: This will conduct a force mount of the volume.
    If there are powered-on VM’s on that datastore, you can unmount it.  Do: esxcfg-volume -u <Datastore UUID -OR- Datastore Label>

    To magically wrap this up to scan for any assigned BCV/snaps and mount them automagically, run the following:

    for volume in `esxcfg-volume -l |grep VMFS3 |awk ‘BEGIN {FS=”/”} ; {print $2}’ |awk ‘{print $2}’` ; do echo “Mounting volume with UUID $volume” ; esxcfg-volume -m $volume ; done