Category Archives: VMware

vRealize Operations Passwords

When setting up a new vRealize Operations 6.6 environment (using the vRealize Operations Manager Initial Setup wizard) the password is not accepted despite apparently meeting the complexity requirements.

The criteria stated are that passwords must:

  • Be at least eight characters long
  • Be different from your username
  • Contain lowercase, uppercase, numeric, and non-alphanumeric characters

VROps Manager Initial Setup

Cause

It appears that full stop and question mark do not count as the “non-alphanumeric” characters required.

Solution

Choose another password which includes a different, acceptable, non-alphanumeric character such as the exclamation mark.


Advert:

Vendor Brief: Runecast

runecast3This evening I was amongst a group of vExperts attending a webinar briefing from Runecast. The company is relatively new on the scene at only a couple of years old, but the product has created a stir in the VMware community. In this briefing CEO Stanimir Markov gave an overview of the product before Senior Engineer Ivaylo Ivanov dived into a walkthrough of the vRealize Operations integration they have developed.

Runecast Analyzer is a platform which takes the VMware knowledge base,along with some expertise, best practises, and regulations (for example the DISA STIGs used by US Federal Agencies) and runs an analysis to determine which of these advisories or best practises apply to the target virtual infrastructure. This produces a report of findings – perhaps there’s a missing patch, or a configuration issue which has been flagged as a potential trouble-spot – which exposes existing issues and enables the admin to keep their infrastructure running smoother. Runecast also scour social media, blog articles, and online forums to pick up on potential issues sometimes before they have been officially recognised by VMware and made it into the Knowledge Base.

clip_image001

The application is deployed as a virtual appliance and sits in the datacentre where it can talk to vCenter(s) and the ESXi hosts themselves (for example to receive host logs via syslog). The current version – Runecast Analyzer 1.6.2 – will support vSphere 5.x and 6.x versions. Although it usually requires an internet connection to download the latest updates, no data is sent back and in high security environments it’s even possible to run the system totally disconnected from the internet- providing updates on downloaded and tested ISO images.

clip_image001[7]

VMworld this year saw the launch of the vRealize Orchestrator plugin which was covered in the demo portion of this briefing. This integration allows the potential for more automated responses to issues. As an example,  if there’s a Knowledge Base article which states that a certain configuration may cause an error and suggests a fix or workaround, a vRO workflow could be put together to interrogate the Runecast Analyzer instance, spot affected objects in the environment and apply the fix.

image

 

The Analyzer product is continually developing. vSAN and NSX support are on the roadmap along with integration with PCI-DSS compliance checks. If all this sounds interesting, check it out- there’s a free 14-day trial available through the Runecast.biz website.

 

Beginners Guide to….. Runecast Analyzer
What does it do?

imageMonitors your environment against a list of VMware KB articles, and other industry guidelines to proactively avoid problems ensure your virtual infrastructure is running to best practises.

What do I need to buy?

Runecast Analyzer deploys as a virtual appliance with licensing based on ESXi sockets. There is a free 14-day trial.

How do I use it?

Deploy the OVA to your environment and point it at vCenter. Management of the product is via an HTML5 web interface, the vSphere (or VRO) Client via a plugin, or a REST API.

Where can I find out more?

 

Please read my standard Declaration/Disclaimer and before rushing out to buy anything bear in mind that this article is based on a sales presentation rather than a POC or production installation. I wasn’t paid to write this article or offered any payment.

How To… Patch VCSA

With VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 patching has become very straightforward and both the vCenter software and the underlying Photon OS can be updated using a simple GUI. This short run through covers patching a single VCSA where the VCSA High Availability has not been configured.

Login to the vCenter Server Appliance admin console at https://my-vcenter-name:5480/

2017-10-03 (1)

Click on Images to Enlarge

Select “Update” from the Navigator menu on the left hand side, and then choose “Check Repository” from the “Check Updates” drop down in the main panel. This will check the VMware website for any new patches.

2017-10-03 (3)
Continue reading

vSphere Encryption- Knowing your limits

SecurityI’ve been running a Proof of Concept system for vSphere Encryption using vSphere 6.5u1 and a HyTrust KeyControl 4.0 KMS cluster. This has been very straightforward to implement and use and there’s plenty of documentation out there on how to do so, but in this post I’ll be highlighting some of the limitations. A few of these are things you can’t do that you may currently do day-to-day with normal VMs but there’s usually a sound technical reason why it’s not possible to do so with an encrypted VM.

Encrypting and Decrypting

The power state of a VM limits some encryption processes. For example, a powered-on Virtual machine can not be encrypted or decrypted. This example shows what happens when PowerCLI (with the encryption module described here) is used to encrypt a running VM:

PS C:\> Get-VM -Name "KMSTest6" | Disable-VMEncryption
Disable-VMEncryption : The VM can only be decrypted when powered off,
 but the current power state of KMSTest6 is PoweredOn!

The encryption can be changed (a re-key operation), possibly to a different KMS server- however whilst a “Shallow Re-key” operation where the key is re-encrypted is fine, the “Deep Re-key” where the disk itself is re-encrypted with the new key is not possible when the VM is powered on.

Snapshots and Clones

Similarly, a snapshot including memory of a running VM is not possible. It is possible to snapshot a powered off VM, or a running VM without the memory state (which creates a powered-off snapshot), but not to include the memory. This makes sense as the VM Encryption process runs as the hypervisor writes to disk, memory would be outside this process and potentially reveal unencrypted data in the snapshot.

It’s also not possible to decrypt or encrypt a VM with snapshots:

PS C:\> Get-VM -Name "KMSTest5" | Enable-VMEncryption
Enable-VMEncryption : KMSTest5 has snapshots,
 please remove all snapshots and try again!

You can however clone an encrypted VM- the resulting clone is also encrypted and uses the same keys. vMotion also works as expected.

Replication

vSphere Replication does not work with encrypted VMs. Replication can be configured but will fail when it tries to sync.

image

Licensing

In most environments where vSphere Encryption is in use, the hosts will probably be all licensed with Enterprise Plus (see the license comparison table). However, if you are running a mixture of licenses (including any regular non-plus Enterprise licenses) the limitations of  those licenses comes into play. It’s not possible to turn on encryption on a VM allocated to a host with anything but a full Enterprise-Plus license.

Any hosts with Standard, or the no longer available to purchase Enterprise licenses will not allow their VMs to be encrypted- or for encrypted VMs to be migrated onto them. Additionally if you have one or more of these “inferior” hosts in a cluster you will not be able to power on an encrypted machine in that cluster- even if other hosts are licensed to Enterprise Plus.

Disks

There’s lots of flexibility down at the disk level. You can use different keys (or even KMS Clusters) for different virtual hard disks (i.e. each .vmdk has a different key) and you can take an encrypted disk and attach it to another VM. The limitation here is you cannot attach an encrypted virtual hard disk to an unencrypted VM- this again makes sense as the key information in the configuration would then be in the clear.

Summary

The encryption model introduced in vSphere 6.5 is a very useful feature and straightforward to implement however consideration needs to be taken on the continuing activities surrounding virtual machines post-encryption to ensure that operational processes are still valid.