Aruba ClearPass Virtual Lab Install

I recently spent a few hours installing a cluster of 3 Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager virtual appliances and, for future reference, decided to document the escapade here. If you can get something out of it too, all the better!

When I complete the configuration setup I’ll be posting more…stay tuned!

Getting Started

Download the OVS virtual appliance files from Aruba’s support site, and work with the virtualization team to get the new appliance(s) deployed to the proper location in your vSphere environment. The screenshots below are from vSphere 5.5.

Once the virtual appliances are deployed on the correct vlans/port groups, login to vCenter using the vSphere client and open the Virtual Machine Properties. When my VMs were deployed there was only 1 hard disk but it requires two. Add a second hard disk if it isn’t there already. Here I selected 100GB thin provisioned, but I believe the Aruba documentation may say to use Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed (I’m guessing for better performance later on).

After you’ve applied any necessary changes, open a console session in the vSphere client and power up the VM for the first time.

As it boots you’ll see a bunch of startup information fly by.

This is one of the only times you need to intervene in the install process. Hit the letter Y (or y) to verify you want to destroy all data on the second disk.

The installation process then begins to set up partitions.

I ended up seeing some errors along the way but as this is for a lab I’m not losing any sleep over it. Yet.

Loading plugins takes a while. If you don’t already have something to drink, lock your screen and walk away for a bit.

Hooray! All plugins loaded! Services starting up:

At long last, the CLI login screen!

Login with the ClearPass default CLI credentials “appadmin” and “eTIPS123”. Then we get to the configuration wizard. Extra points for you if you noticed that our VM apparently vMotioned since the last step.

We don’t use a separate Data Port in our setup, so I just hit ENTER to leave that field blank.

Next comes time and date configuration. You can use an NTP source or just set it manually. I used NTP.

We don’t use FIPS mode.

Configuration summary shows all the selections made during the wizard. Hit Y to continue.

The settings get applied, then services are restarted and you get the CLI login back:

That’s it for now…stay tuned for a continuation of this post to include more detailed setup.

Any pointers for me in setting up Virtual Clearpass for production? Please share with the rest of the folks! Questions? Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter (@swackhap).

VMworld Wednesday Lessons Learned

One of the strengths of a conference such as VMworld is being able to direct questions to strangers across the table at meals and often get a useful answer.  At lunch Wednesday I struck up a conversation with the folks at the table about PowerCLI to see if I could accomplish this task:
 
3. Learn some basic functions of PowerCLI
 
It turns out they were easily able to get me pointed in the right direction.  PowerCLI is an application available for download from VMware that an administrator can run on their workstation to help with mundane and repetitive tasks related to vSphere management.  PowerCLI is a VMware tool that is based on Microsoft’s PowerShell which is available on most (or all?) modern Windows OS versions.  PowerGUI, as the name suggests, is a free graphical front-end for PowerShell that can incorporate components to managed vSphere.  One of the top 10 VMworld sessions this year was “VSVC4944: PowerCLI Best Practices: A Deep Dive” (available on YouTube here)
 
I attended “Key Lessons Learned from Deploying a Private Cloud Service Catalog” (OPT5051), presented by two consultants from Greenpages Technology Solutions that implemented such a system for one of their customers. In their case study, five people spent 6-8 months working with their corporate customer building consensus between different groups within the company for what should be in the service catalog, what could be automated, and what things were deemed too complicated and would take too much effort to implement in the initial engagement.
 
They initially started the project by gathering all requirements up front and attempted to implement, but because there was so much “mission creep” after they completed some initial integrations they modified their approach to use individual “Sprints” of 2-3 weeks to build functionality incrementally.
 
The idea of having a service catalog implies the use of on-demand procurement by end-users. Setting up such a system inevitably leads to higher demand, so the system should have usage monitoring in place. When the available pools drops below a certain threshold, it should be agreed in advance that IT will procure new resources either for the internally based “private cloud” or to be able to take advantage of “hybrid cloud” technology such as VMware’s recently announced vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS).
Service catalog offerings are meant to provide on-demand service, but it’s important to include financial management tools that will track costs and either “show-back” or “bill-back” the costs to the lines of business using the service.
 
Finally, I was able to complete the NSX hands-on lab. Not surprisingly, this particular lab was the most taken lab of the week with about 6500 sittings.  Of course, the NSX lab was so long it required 2 sittings, but it’s still impressive that over 3000 people presumably took that lab.
NSX Lab Stats

VMworld Tuesday Lessons Learned

Today’s accomplishments are focused around these particular goals I mentioned in my “Swack’s VMworld To-Do List” post:
 
1. Gain better understanding of NSX (came from vCNS/vShield and Nicira) and dive more into details of VMware networking

4. What is DevOps all about?

An Introduction to Network Virtualization” (NET5516)
For NSX, I attended an excellent session titled “An Introduction to Network Virtualization” (NET5516) with Eric Lopez and Thomas Kraus (@tkrausjr) from VMware, both formerly of Nicira.  Following are some notes I took down from their slides.

Cloud Consumers want the following, and these are driving network virtualization:

  • Ability to deploy apps at scale and with little preplanning (provisioning speed and efficiency)
  • Mobility to move workloads between different geographies and providers (investment protection and choice)
  • Flexibility to create more diverse architectures in a self service manner (rich L3-L7 network services)
NSX System Architecture consists of 3 planes familiar to most network engineers: Management, Control, and Data Planes
  • Management Plane = NSX Manager – programmatic web services api to define logical networks
  • Control Plane = Control Cluster
  • Clustered App runs on x86 servers, controls and manages 1000s of edge switching devices, does NOT sit in data plane
  • Data Plane = OVS/NVS
    • Open vSwitch (OVS) vmWare-led open source project
    • NSX vSwitch (NVS) is a software vSwitch in ESXi kernel
  • Switch software designed for remote control and tunneling installed in hypervisors, NSX gateways or hardware VTEP devices
  • Can work with vSphere, KVM, XenServer
  • vSwitch in each hypervisor controlled through API by Controller Cluster
  • NSX manager uses this API, so does cloudstack, openstack, CMS/CMP, VMware 
  • To get between physical and virtual networks, Open vSwitch NSX Gateway or HW Partner VTEP Device is used
  • NSX Controller Cluster establishes an overlay network
  • Multiple tunneling protocols including STT, GRE, VXLAN
  • Packets encapsulate with Logical Switch info
  • The tunneling protocol is NOT network virtualization, rather, it is a component of it 
NSX use cases include:
  1. Automated network provisioning
  2. Inter rack or inter DC connectivity
  3. P2V and V2V migration
  4. Burst or migrate enterprise to cloud 

NSX Whiteboard Sketch

The Whiteboard snapshot above was drawn to demonstrate the basic components of NSX and how VMs communicate using the virtual overlay netowrk

The example uses ESXi on left and KVM hypervisor on right (HV1 and HV2)

  • Each connected to IP fabric
  • 3 controllers drawn in the middle
  • Intelligent Edge NVS installed on ESXi and OVS installed on KVM
  • Controllers talk with ESXi on vmkernel management interface, something similar with KVM
  • Addresses assigned that used for encapsulation and direct communication between hypervisors: 172.16.20.11/24 on left, 172.16.30.11/24 on right
  • Customer A is green, they have a VM on each hypervisor (192.168.1.11 on left, 192.168.1.12 on right)
  • Customer B is red, they have VM on each hypervisor with SAME IP ADDRESSES – logically separated similar to VRFs (I didn’t get a picture of this–sorry) 
  • Controller cluster controls virtual ports, so they can programmatically control QoS, Security, Distributed Routing
NSX Hands-On-Lab HOL-SDC-1303, continued
I was able to continue, but not yet finish, the NSX lab I started yesterday in the VMworld Hands-on-Labs (HOL-SDC-1303). This portion of the lab went into more technical detail surrounding the following diagram:

Screen Shot 2013 08 27 at 4 02 07 PM

The network drawing depicts a 3-tier web application which includes web, application, and database servers. Each server tier is on a different subnet, and thus connected to a different port group. The NSX Edge shown acts as the external layer 3 (L3) gateway for each subnet shown in blue, green, and orange.  At the beginning of this lab section we verify the web app is working properly by connecting to the website and verifying data is served from the back 2 tiers (application and database servers).  Then we disconnect the NSX Edge from the App and DB subnets/port groups and validate that the website is broken (can get to web servers but get an HTTP error saying service not working).  Next, we connect to the vCenter web client and verify that each cluster is configured and loaded with the virtual router and virtual firewall components of the NSX suite, and we configure the router and firewall to connect to the App and DB tiers and allow the appropriate traffic. Finally we verify that service is restored on the website. Part of the configuration includes OSPF connectivity between the virtual distributed router on the ESXi hosts and OSFP running in the NSX Edge routing engine. Looking at the snapshot below of the NSX Edge you can see the similarities with Cisco IOS. For instance, “show ip ospf neighbor” and “show ip route” commands are identical.
Screen Shot 2013 08 27 at 3 51 27 PM
 
I hope to complete this lab tomorrow.
 
What is DevOps?
While spending some time in the Solutions Exchange I discussed what DevOps means with someone involved in that space at the Cisco booth.  As I understand it, companies usually first get virtualized, then they implement a service catalog, then they implement a “cloud” such that it’s self-service enabled. DevOps refers to IT working closely with developers such that they create the development environment as well as production environment that the developers will deploy to. If you know more about DevOps and I’ve misunderstood, please keep me honest.
 
VMware IT Business Management Suite 
Finally, in the VMware booth I learned about the VMware IT Business Management Suite. It enables companies to understand costs and, as I understand it, implement chargeback to IT’s internal customers. The demo looked pretty impressive, and I think there is a lot of value in such a tool. It can pull General Ledger data directly from standard systems such as Oracle and SAP and presents data in a well-thought-out manner. It’s something to share with the CIO and/or accounting folks back home.

VMworld Monday Lessons Learned

Started out a productive day with my first-ever Fritatta and some delicious croissants at breakfast in Moscone South.  Having seen the debacle of “breakfast” at last year’s VMworld, the seating this year was at least an improvement with areas available in both Moscone South and West.

I went to the General Session at 9am, but as I was seated towards the back I couldn’t see the bottom of the screens. There were no screens overhead, only 3 or 4 large screens up front. In addition, the vmworld2013 wireless SSID was nowhere to be seen. The Press SSID (vmwaremedia) was available but locked down. Attempts to use my AT&T MyFi were stifled due to the overwhelming RF interference in the area. And I had AT&T cell coverage but no throughput.  Having seen how well wireless CAN be delivered at Cisco Live, even in this kind of space for 20,000+ people, I was very disappointed.  I decided to go watch the Keynote from the Hang Space, but that was full to capacity with a line waiting to get in. I finally gave up and walked over to Moscone West, 3rd floor, and sat at a charging station watching the live stream while waiting for my first breakout session. (Kudos at least for the stream working.)

My first session was “Moving Enterprise Application Dev/Test to VMware’s internal Private Cloud — Operations Transformation (OPT5194).” This was a great story of how leadership from the top pushed VMware to implement Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Kurt Milne (@kurtmilne) (VMware Director of CloudOps) and Venkat Gopalakrishnan (VMware Director of IT) shared lessons learned during VMware’s internal implementation of a service catalog and the automation of processes which used to require manual intervention by cross-functional teams over the course of weeks.  The process of standing up a new Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) series of dev/test/uat/stage/prod environments has been greatly automated and provisioning time reduced from 4 weeks to 36 hours and they plan to reduce it to 24 hours in the near future.  If you’re going through a similar journey in your organization, this session is a must see when recordings and slides are released after the conference. I believe the session was also live-tweeted by @vmwarecloudops.

The other session I attended today was the very popular “What’s New in VMware vSphere” presented by Mike Adams (http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/author/madams). We reviewed some of the new features released in vSphere 5.1 last year as well as some of the changes made for vSphere 5.5 this year.  Some key takeaways for me (your mileage may vary):

  1. vSphere is now wrapped up with Operations Management, i.e., vCenter Operations Manager (vCOPS). Referred to as “vSphere with Operations Management” it’s now available in the Standard, Enterprise, and Enterprise+ flavors, each of which includes vCOPS Standard. See snapshot of feature breakout and license cost.
    VSphere with Ops Mgmt Cost Features Chart
  2. vCloud Suite variations all include vSphere Enterprise+, vCloud Director (vCD), and vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS). The individual flavors depend on the version of vCOPS and vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) which are Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. In addition, the Enterprise SKU also includes vCenter Site Recovery Manager (vC SRM).
  3. vSphere Web Client is replacing vSphere Windows Client, so we “better get comfortable with it.” If I understand correctly, vSphere 5.5 includes support for all functionality in the Web Client now but not the Windows Client.
  4. New features in vSphere 5.5 include: VMDK file support up to 62TB, 4TB memory per host, 4096 vCPUs per host.
  5. vSphere Replication allows full copying of workloads, including the VMFS files, without shared storage. This perhaps saves the cost of more expensive synchronous or asynchronous storage replication, but has a somewhat limited Recovery Point Objective (RPO) of about 15 minutes.  Still, this may be a good fit for some organizations for DR (including mine).

In addition to the sessions I was able to complete three labs (between yesterday and today) all related to VMware’s recently announced vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS). HOL-HBD-1301, HOL-HBD-1302, and HOL-HBD-1303 give a good introduction to the components and steps necessary to migrate workloads from a vSphere or vCloud Director environment in your own datacenter to the vCHS environment, as well as networking & security components and managing the service. 

One big announcement during the morning General Session/Keynote was the release of VMware’s network virtualization product called NSX.  This is the marriage of Nicira (an earlier VMware acquisition) and vCNS/vShield in a new product.  As a network engineer by background and training, this is particularly interesting to me. I was able to start the NSX lab (HOL-SDC-1303) but couldn’t yet finish as I ran out of time. I plan to finish tomorrow. More to come on that.

I have to give a big thumbs-down to VMworld’s requirement that we all get our badges scanned as we enter lunch.  I don’t remember this last year, nor have I ever seen this at any other conference I’ve attended.  What gives?  It’s hard to hold a herd of hungry humans back from the food!

Finally, I visited with some fine folks at the Rackspace booth in the Solutions Exchange, including Waqas Makhdum (@waqasmakhdum). I now understand that Rackspace’s Openstack platform uses a different hypervisor solution than VMware or Amazon EC2, but they offer guaranteed uptime with a phone number to call for support and apparently pretty reasonable costs for running a VM you control or even hosting the VM and just having you run your application on it. Also, I learned they offer VMware-based Managed Virtualization to allow you to “Set up a single-tenant VMware environment at our data center, rapidly provision VMs, and retain full control using the orchestration tools you’re familiar with.” (Ref: http://www.rackspace.com/managed-virtualization/)

I’m failing to mention all the great people I met and conversations but one would expect nothing less from a great conference!

Swack’s VMworld To-Do List

Vmw2013 banner hero sf key preReg

It’s time for VMware’s 10th Annual VMworld conference in beautiful San Francisco!  This is my second trip to VMworld and I’m looking forward to making it my best one yet. As such, I’d like to share some of my goals for this week. I feel that publishing my objects tend to keep me motivated.

1. Gain better understanding of NSX (came from vCNS/vShield and Nicira) and dive more into details of VMware networking

2. Better understand OpenStack and maybe take a test drive

3. Learn some basic functions of PowerCLI

4. What is DevOps all about?

5. Set up vCloud Director and/or vCenter Orchestrator and try it out

6. Learn about VMware’s Internal Private Cloud for dev/test workloads

7. What is Cloud Foundry and how does it relate to my company?

If you have insights or can point me in the right direction please do! Comment below or find me on Twitter (@swackhap).

-Swack

Cisco Live Tuesday Lessons Learned

My first session today was BRKRST-2336, EIGRP Deployment in Modern Networks. This was a new session presented by Don Slice and Donnie Savage (@diivious), who have been managing EIGRP since 1995. I’ve attended Don’s “Care and Feeding of EIGRP” in past years at Cisco Live, and it’s always a pleasure to attend his presentations. My key takeaways:
  1. EIGRP is no longer proprietary. Cisco has published an IETF Open-EIGRP Informational Draft. This means other companies can now implement EIGRP into their products if/when customers demand it.
  2. Neighbor authentication done with MD5 is no longer secure enough, so they’ve implemented SHA2-256 Hash-based Message Authentication Code (HMAC) to protect EIGRP messages exchanged between routers.
  3. The advent of 10Gbps links made it necessary to change the formula used to compute EIGRP metrics, now referred to as Wide Metric Support. They mentioned this was supported as of EIGRP release 8 and that the “show eigrp plugin” command would show version, but I tried on an NXOS and IOS router in my network and those commands didn’t seem valid.
  4. How many of us enterprise customers use EIGRP in the LAN and have to redistribute with BGP for MPLS circuits? The problems inherent in this redistribution (which I have personally experienced, sometimes painfully) led them to create a new feature called Over the ToP (OTP) which uses LISP to bridge two EIGRP-speaking “CE” routers across a provider’s MPLS cloud. One of the CE routers acts as a “route reflector” (term stolen from BGP) to consolidate route sharing amongst multiple CE routers connected to the MPLS cloud. OTP is shipping this month or next for IOS XE, then IOS in November.
The Opening Keynote this morning was hosted by Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Blair Christie (@blairchristie) and feature the perennial presenter John Chambers as well as Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior (@padmasree) and Cisco’s “Chief Futurist” Dave Evans (@davethefuturist). The presentation focused on the evolution of the “Internet of Everything” or IoE. As sensors shrink and become wearable, we will continue to be surrounded more and more by connected devices that will, according to Dave, eventually become self-aware. The obvious comparison to Skynet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_(Terminator)) was shared amongst the folks I was sitting next to. I for one WELCOME our new robot overlords. 😉
 
I also attended BRKVIR-2019 Hypervisor Networking: Best Practices for Interconnecting with Cisco Switches. This was an excellent overview of basic networking terms and what they mean from the perspective of VMware vSphere, Microsoft HyperV, and Citrix XenServer Hypervisors. This session helps translate the terminology used by the hypervisor vendors to the terminology that Cisco uses for switch connections.
 
I was able to spend a bit more time on the expo floor, a.k.a. the “World of Solutions” (WoS). Some awesome TAC engineers in the Technical Solutions Clinic were able to help me figure out something with a Nexus 7000 that had been puzzling to me for quite some time. I popped my laptop open, connected to my company’s network, and got on the N7K while the TAC folks watched over my shoulder. (By the way, I’m very impressed with the CiscoLive2013 conference wireless which, in past years, hasn’t worked at all on the show floor.) I can’t overemphasize how AWESOME it is to have these TAC folks here. Just being near them makes me feel smarter through osmosis.
 
As I have been researching IPAM vendors, I also visited BlueCat Networks and Infoblox and got to geek out with an engineer at each of their booths while they showed me their respective products.  Both seem solid, intuitive, and easy to use, and even though BlueCat has a plugin for VMware automation I’ve heard a lot more about how well integrated Infoblox is with VMware’s vCenter Orchestrator and vCloud Director. In addition, Infoblox seems to have a unique way to visualize the IP networks as well as subnets and IP ranges within them that are available, assigned via static or DHCP lease, etc. I would need to see significant savings or other benefits compared to Infoblox to be convinced that Bluecat is the way to go, at least for my company.
 
It almost goes without saying at this point that I met more fantastic folks today, both in sessions and through Twitter, that continue to make this an amazing and rewarding experience. 

VMware View Problems with 64-bit Windows 7 Virtual Desktop

We’ve been growing our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) quite a bit lately, and as a result I’ve taken ownership of a shiny new Windows 7 64-bit virtual desktop.  Unlike the 32-bit Win7 VM I used before, though, this one has been giving me trouble.

The trouble starts when I am trying to reconnect to the already booted VM from a machine other than the last one I was on.  Specifically, I use Windows 8 64-bit at work on a Dell tower with 4 monitors (two dual-monitor graphics cards).  I use my VDI VM all the time from that machine on all four monitors.  I also have a Macbook Pro (MBP) that I take to meetings and use outside the office.  

Sometimes (not always) when I re-connect to my VM from my MBP I get a black screen with a mouse cursor and nothing else.  After waiting a minute, I either disconnect or quit the View application and re-launch. Reconnecting the second time gives me an error indicating that desktop resources  are busy.  When this happens I cannot even connect via RDP, let alone through the usual way via the View broker. I attempt to restart the guest OS through vCenter but it never actually reboots unless I power cycle the VM in vCenter.  

I worked with VMware Support but unfortunately haven’t been able to fully solve the problem.  The View support folks have looked thoroughly at our setup and don’t see anything that could be causing problems.  They handed me off to another group that was able to analyze a crash dump of my VM after the problem occurred, but they could only tell me that it appeared the VM was trying to use 3D rendering services of some sort (if I remember correctly).  

As a workaround, I now re-size my View window on my desktop before disconnecting so it is intentionally smaller than the laptop from which I usually connect.  This seems to have helped but it’s rather frustrating.  No other users have reported having the same issue, but there are currently no other VDI users with more than 2 screens.  I should also point out that I’ve observed the same behavior when I connect from my home Windows 7 machine.  It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m connecting to the internal View servers that only use AD authentication or if I use the Secure Gateway View server that requires 2-factor authentication and tunnels secure PCoIP. 

Based on all the evidence it seems my problem is related to having 4 monitors, but VMware support has been unable to identify the root cause and neither have I.  If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them. Hit me up on Twitter (@swackhap).