Backing up your VCSA!

For this post, I wanted to talk about something stimulating, so I chose backups! Who doesn’t love talking about backups? Specifically, I wanted to give you guidance on how to back up your vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) using the native file-based backup built into the VCSA.

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been diligent in backing up my VCSA and Platform Service Controller (PSC) in my home lab. However, when it came time to upgrade the software it was aggressive in making sure I backed it up. So I figured now was the time to set it up. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it was so simple and I was just that lazy.

You’ll need a repository to act as a target for your backups that the VCSA/PSC can access. I use a small Linux box as the target for my backups. You’ll have the option to backup using either FTPS, HTTPS, SCP, FTP or HTTP.

Without further ado here are the steps required to configure backups for your VCSA. Note for this post I’m using vCenter 6.7. The same steps apply to both the VCSA and PSC if you’re using an external PSC.

Step 1 – You’ll need to log in to the vSphere Appliance Management Interface (VAMI). You typically access it by going to https://vCenter-url:5480

Step 2 – Select Backup.

Step 3 – Click on Configure.

Step 4 – Fill out the backup location. In this example, I’m using the SCP protocol.

Step 5 – Enter the username and password you’ll use to access the target location.

Step 6 – Choose the backup schedule you would like to implement.

Step 7 – If you wish to encrypt (AES 256) your backups enter a password here.

Step 8 – Select an option for the number of backups to retain.

Step 9 – You can choose to backup the Stats, Events, and Tasks.

Step 10 – You have the option of creating a description.

Step 11 – Click Create

Step 12 – Now it’s time to test your backup. Select ‘Backup Now.’

Step 13 – Select ‘Use backup location and user name from backup schedule.’ Enter your password, any encryption password, select the stats and an optional description then click ‘Start.’

At this point, it will verify that it can connect with the target location and begin the backup. If all goes well the status will show ‘Complete’ when finished.

Should your backup error out you can SSH into your VCSA (assuming you have it enabled) and view the backup.log file at this path ‘/var/log/vmware/applmgmt/backup.log’.

Remember you’ll need to repeat these steps for any external PSC appliances.

VMware Feature Walkthroughs

 

 

Have you found yourself curious about some of VMware’s newer technologies, or have questions about how to complete some tasks but haven’t had the time to sit down and take a hands-on lab course?

Let me introduce you to VMware’s Feature Walkthrough page (https://featurewalkthrough.vmware.com). This site is designed to give you exposure to the interfaces of many of VMware’s products. It’s an interactive site where you can follow a guided click-through of many technologies to get an overview. There are also options to see how to perform specific tasks inside these technologies.

It isn’t designed to replace the VMware Hands-On Labs (labs.hol.vmware.com) but supplements them. At the Features Walkthrough site, you can quickly click your way through some scenarios to get an understanding of how to complete specific tasks without the need to spin up an entire lab environment. You are limited in that you cannot deviate from the script, but if you have the desire to dig deeper you can always switch over to the HOL site and have the freedom to poke around at your leisure.

One quick note when going through a module make sure you expand the notes for each screen to get an understanding of what each step is doing. The red arrow indicates what you need to click. See the image below.

Catch up on VMware’s public webinars

Have you ever found yourself receiving an email from VMware with an excellent looking webinar to attend, only to find out you couldn’t make it? To make matters worse, you couldn’t figure out how to watch it after the fact.

Let me guide you to the solution. This link will take you to a list of upcoming webinars to register for, and as they become on-demand, you’ll be able to click right through to view the ones you missed.

https://portal.inxpo.com/ID/VMWare/12/

Enjoy!

VMware blog on how to assess impacts of CPU patches.

My first choice isn’t to just republish blog content by other authors, but I thought this was the most effective means of getting the word out. Sunny Dua is one of the resident experts at VMware on vRealize Operations Manager. He has published a fantastic blog on how to assess the performance impact of Spectre & Meltdown patches using vRealize Operations Manager.

Here is the link:

Assess performance impact of Spectre & Meltdown patches using vRealize Operations Manager

Upgrading the home wifi network – Part 2

This article is part two of my home wifi network upgrade. It comes in much later than I expected due to a massive interruption in my home life. Shortly after I wrote the prior article, my mother became ill. It didn’t seem like much at the time just a simple cold or flu bug. However, that turned out to not be the case. The short version of the long story is she passed away from pulmonary fibrosis which is a complication of rheumatoid arthritis and taking Methotrexate.

My mother lived with us, and so it has been a challenging time, but we live with a strong faith in Jesus and believe we’ll be reunited someday.

So with that out of the way I wanted to comment on two small things I ran into when working with the Ubiquiti equipment. The first as I was configuring the UniFi Security Gateway and Unifi AP AC LR unit I was struggling with getting an IP address for the access point. I had internet connectivity via the WAN port from my cable modem on WAN 1 of the USG. LAN 1 was plugged into a dumb switch, and I could browse the internet from hardwired machines with no issue, but no matter what I tried I couldn’t get an IP address for the access point which was plugged into WAN 2/LAN 2 of the USG. I was expecting it to pick up a DHCP address like the hardwired machines.

I spent about an hour fiddling with it trying to make it work. Finally, I resorted to looking at the quick start guide, and there in tiny little print, I had missed the notation that said LAN 1 defaults to DHCP on but nothing about LAN 2. I moved the AP connection to a port on the switch and low and behold it quickly grabbed an IP. So just keep that in mind when you’re first configuring the USG, there is no DHCP out of the box on LAN 2.

The second small issue I ran into was with the Unifi Network Controller software. I did not catch that to use the software effectively it always needs to be running. So I first deployed it on a Windows 10 VM that runs on my laptop via VMware Fusion. This machine isn’t running all the time, and I realized right away that was a problem. So it was a matter of switching over to my homelab and finding a suitable Windows machine to install the software. It’s running happily on a Windows 2013 server that used to run VMware Update Manager but was decommissioned with the move to vSphere 6.5.

Since then I have added a second wireless access point to provide better coverage of the second floor of the house, and things are running very smoothly. I’m pleased with the setup.

Upgrading the home wifi network – Part 1

Recently my wife left her full-time corporate job to pursue her passion for coaching and developing people in the workforce. Now we are both working out of the house the majority of the time, and my current network infrastructure just wasn’t cutting it. The wifi network was the primary culprit, with our offices on either side of the house and the main wifi access point being in my room the signal was iffy at best for her. I tried putting in a range extender and while that made connectivity easier for her it did nothing to increase the performance in her office. It was clear to me that it was time for an upgrade.

Since I was going down this path, I wanted to make sure I put the money where I could get the best bang for my buck. My wife always says “we’re not wealthy enough to buy cheap things” and that’s a philosophy that has stuck with me. I started to come up with a list of requirements, and these were what I determined to be the most important:

  • Strength and performance of wifi
  • Ability to monitor performance
  • VPN and network segmentation capabilities
  • Expandability
  • Integration with VMware vRealize Log Insight

After speaking with my co-workers, I decided to invest in network gear from Ubiquiti Networks. As it so happens within a day or two, I received an email from Newegg.com offering a discount on the Ubiquiti UniFi© Security Gateway (USG for short) which is a small form factor enterprise gateway router managed by their Unifi Network Management Controller software. The USG offers advanced firewalling, VLAN, VPN, and Radius Server capabilities which fits the bill to replace my existing consumer-grade firewall which I’ll eventually repurpose in a remote location. Now I needed to choose a wireless access point or points for the house.

My co-workers raved about the capabilities of the UniFi© AP AC LR wireless access point. They told me that this access point was able to blanket their entire house in solid wifi coverage. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at this and seriously debated about purchasing two access points just to make sure I had the coverage I decided. Finally, wisdom prevailed and I purchased one knowing that should I need more coverage I could simply order a second access point.

Stay tuned for part II where I’ll cover some of the small challenges I uncovered in this adventure.

Coming soon!

Welcome! It has been a long time since I’ve blogged about VMware and the surrounding ecosystem.  This time I have the luxury of telling the story from the other side of the fence. I hope to bring educational and entertaining content of things that interest me.

I’m busy at VMworld 2017 right now but I hope to start with a conversation around Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) 101. In my time working at VMworld it has become apparent that there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding VVOLs.

Stay tuned!