Preface

I joined VMware in May 2008 as the first presales engineer (Account SE is the industry term) in ASEAN for VMware strategic accounts. That was more than 6 years ago—a long time in the rapidly-evolving world of virtualization. I have been fortunate to meet many different customers in the ASEAN region. In a sense, the book documents the lessons that my customers and I have learned in their journey to the fully virtualized data center. It is very rare for customers to master the virtual world, both architecturally and operationally, part of the reason for this is that Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) is not yet matured. The biggest reason, however, is the lack of an in-depth understanding of what exactly virtualization means to IT.

There are, in fact, many misunderstandings of even the fundamentals. For example, almost all IT professionals will say they understand a Virtual Machine (VM). However, do they really understand the ramifications? A lot of CIOs still manage their virtual data centers the same way they manage their physical data centers. This creates a lot of complexity as the two platforms are radically different.

This book started many years ago with a presentation that I delivered to customers. Some of the presentations were eventually posted on my LinkedIn profile and at https://communities.vmware.com/ as customers ask for it. There have been requests to convert these presentations into a book, so they can share it with their peers. After a long time, I am both humbled and honored to present to you this book.

What this book covers

Content-wise, the book is split into two main parts. The first part provides the foundation and theory. The second part provides the solutions and sample use cases.

Chapter 1, Virtual Data Center – It’s Not a Physical Data Center, Virtualized, aims to clear up the misunderstandings that customers have about SDDC. It explains why a VM is radically different from a physical server, and hence a virtual data center is fundamentally different from a physical data center. It then covers the aspects of management that are affected.

Chapter 2, Capacity Management in SDDC, takes the topic of the previous chapter further by discussing how capacity management should be done in a virtual data center. Together with Chapter 1, Virtual Data Center – It’s Not a Physical Data Center, Virtualized, it is useful if you need to explain these topics to your peers, customers, or management.

Chapter 3, Mastering the Key Counters in SDDC, sets the technical foundations of performance and capacity management by giving you a tour of the four infrastructure elements (CPU, RAM, network, and storage). It also maps these four elements into all the vSphere objects, so you know what is available at each level.

Chapter 4, CPU Counters, covers CPU counters in detail. It is the first of four chapters that cover the core infrastructure element (CPU, RAM, network, and storage). If you do not fully understand the various counters in vSphere and vRealize Operations, how they impact one another, and what values you consider healthy, then these four chapters are good for you. They dive deep into the counters, comparing the counters in vCenter and vRealize Operations. Knowing the counters is critical, as choosing the wrong counters, or interpreting the values wrongly, will lead to a wrong conclusion.

Chapter 5, Memory Counters, continues the deep dive by covering memory counters. It explains why VM memory is one of the most complex area to monitor and troubleshoot.

Chapter 6, Network Counters, continues the deep dive by covering network counters.

Chapter 7, Storage Counters, completes the coverage by covering storage counters. It explains the multiple layers of storage that occur as a result of virtualization.

Chapter 8, Dashboard Examples and Ideas, covers the practical aspects of this book, as they show how sample solutions are implemented. This chapter provides both performance management and capacity management.

What this book is not

The book focuses on the management of the SDDC. It does not cover the architecture. So no vCloud Suite design best practices are present in this book. It also does not cover all aspects of operation. For example, it does cover processes, organizational structure, financial management, and audit. Specific to management, the book only focuses on the most fundamental areas, namely:

  • Performance
  • Capacity

This book does not cover other areas of management, such as configuration management, compliance management, and availability management. For performance management, it focuses on the infrastructure only. It does not cover application management. So there is no discussion of monitoring databases, web, and application servers here.

This book is also a solutions book. It is not a product book. It uses vRealize Operations to apply the solutions. You can probably use other products to apply the use cases. Because it is not a product book, it does not cover all modules of vRealize Operations Suite. For examples, vCenter Infrastructure Navigator, Hyperic, and VMware Configuration Manager are not covered.

For the sake of the environment, I set a hard limit of 250 pages for this book. Plus, I wanted to provide a book that you can finish in one sitting and that is comfortable to hold with one hand. As a result, the book is light on the Capacity Management portion. vRealize Operations 6 introduces a brand new capacity management engine, so I expect that there will be a lot of write-up on it. I have not operationalized this revamped capacity management functionality for my customers. As a result, I am not qualified to write a book on it. Once I gain the implementation experience and see it being used by customers, I will update my blog.

What you need for this book

Because it is not a product book, I assume that you have the products installed and configured. VMware vSphere and vRealize Operations are the products used in this book. There are many blog articles and YouTube videos on installation, configuration, and product overview. In the References section of the last chapter, I have provided a link to them as they get updated more frequently than a physical book. Some of the bloggers also have many other materials, which will complete your learning. At a personal level and as a father of two young kids, I’m not keen on killing trees unless it’s really necessary.

Who this book is for

This book is for VMware professionals. This can be a VMware administrator, architect, consultant, engineer, or technical support. You may be working for VMware customers, partners, or VMware itself. You may be an individual contributor or a technical leader.

This book is an intermediate-level book. It assumes you have hands-on experience of vSphere 5.5 and vRealize Operations 6.0, and you are capable of performing some level of performance troubleshooting. You also have good overall knowledge of vCloud Suite, Virtual SAN, Horizon View, and NSX. You should also have some level of knowledge of operating systems, storage, network, disaster recovery, and data center.

This book is also for IT professionals who deal with VMware professionals. As such, there is a wide range of roles, as virtualization and VMware covers many aspects of IT. Depending on your role, certain chapters will be more useful to you. The following is the list of roles and the chapters that are relevant to them:

CIO, Head of Infrastructure, and other senior IT leader:

  • Chapter 1, Virtual Data Center – It’s Not a Physical Data Center, Virtualized
  • Chapter 2, Capacity Management in SDDC (the two-tier concept)

Capacity management team:

  • Chapter 2, Capacity Management in SDDC
  • Chapter 8, Dashboard Examples and Ideas (capacity management portion)

Network team:

  • Chapter 1, Virtual Data Center – It’s Not a Physical Data Center, Virtualized
  • Chapter 2, Capacity Management in SDDC (network portion)
  • Chapter 3, Mastering the Key Counters in SDDC (network section)
  • Chapter 6, Network Counters
  • Chapter 8, Dashboard Examples and Ideas (network portion)

Storage team:

  • Chapter 1, Virtual Data Center – It’s Not a Physical Data Center, Virtualized
  • Chapter 2, Capacity Management in SDDC (storage portion)
  • Chapter 3, Mastering the Key Counters in SDDC (storage section)
  • Chapter 7, Storage Counters
  • Chapter 8, Dashboard Examples and Ideas (storage portion)

Application architect or developer:

  • Chapter 3, Mastering the Key Counters in SDDC
  • Chapters 4 to 7

Enterprise architect:

  • Chapter 1, Virtual Data Center – It’s Not a Physical Data Center, Virtualized
  • Chapter 2, Capacity Management in SDDC
  • Chapter 3, Mastering the Key Counters in SDDC (first half)

Help desk and operations:

  • Chapter 8, Dashboard Examples and Ideas

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