vSphere+ – Installation and First Impressions

Everyone has been talking about vSphere+ for a few weeks now, so I wanted to get a (technical) impression of what’s behind all the marketing-heavy blog articles and announcements.

A short diagram in advance so that it is clear what we are dealing with:

Traditional vSphere Environment converted to vSphere+ Subscription, graphic courtesy of VMware

In a classic vSphere environment, there are one to many vCenters that need to be managed. With vSphere+, a vCenter Cloud Gateway is introduced which acts as a relay between the VMware Cloud and the on-premises vCenters. This allows services from the VMware Cloud to be used with the on-premises datacenter. Sounds pretty easy!

Fortunately, VMware offers a 15-day trial in the VMware Cloud. Yeah, let’s roll! 🚀

Logged on to https://vmc.vmware.com/ with my Customerconnect Portal login details and started the vSphere+ trial:

VMware Cloud Portal
The Trial is running!

Moving on to VMware’s Customer Connect Portal, here you can download the “VMware vCenter Cloud Gateway for vSphere+”.

Logged in under Products and Accounts >> Products >> All Products it can be quickly found:

Customer Connect Portal – All Products
Customer Connect Portal – All Products – Finding the Download
Download the Product

After the download, I open the ISO file on my client computer, in my case Windows, the image is mounted in a “virtual drive”. I navigate through ui-installer >> win32 and start the installer.exe.

Mount ISO File
Open ui-installer Folder
Open appropriate OS folder
Execute installer.exe

The graphical installer window opens.

The Cloud Gateway Appliance Installer

Up to this point, the installation of the appliance was similar to the installation of a vCenter. The following steps are graphically different, but there is not much to consider here, so here is a brief screenshot shower:

It’s just the Deploy Button to hit…
Accept the license agreement

Select a vCenter (or ESXi host) as the installation target for the appliance and provide credentials:

Choose Deployment Location
Accept SSL certificate

Select folder and cluster for installation:

Chose Folder…
…and Cluster/Host for Deployment

Define VM Name incl. root password:

VM name and root password

Select Datastore and Disk Mode:

Chose Datastore and Disk Mode

Then the network settings…

…here I wanted to make it easy for myself and selected an NSX-T segment with a local DHCP server. Unfortunately, the pre-checks for the VMware Cloud connection later showed that the DNS resolution of the appliance did not work (somehow this was logical, how should the Microsoft DNS in our lab get a clue about this). Who would have expected forward and reverse DNS checks to take place…? 😎
I then wanted to make it easy for myself again so that I would not have to reconfigure the appliance, but even the subsequent manual entry into the DNS server did not lead to the desired result, as the appliance was also working with the host name “localhost”, which cannot be resolved so easily via DNS…
Here’s the error:

Failed Connectivity Tests because of missing DNS entries

So without further ado, I installed the appliance again, this time with a fixed IP address and previously created DNS entries. This can be done quickly and the installer has also remembered most of the settings! Top! 👍

Set Static IP for the Appliance

Quickly select the desired time synchronisation method (host or NTP server)…

…and finally an NTP Server

…and the deplyoment starts…

…and is ready after about 8 minutes in our Lab environment:

Deplyoment complete, Hit Launch to open the a Browser with next steps

After clicking on Launch, the browser of our choice opens and shows us the web interface of the Cloud Gateway, or can be found manually at https://<vmwarecloudgateway>:5480/gw-platform/

Click on Get Started:

The next step is to establish the connection between Cloud Gateway and VMware Cloud:

Step 1, Connect Cloud Gateway to VMware Cloud
Login Credentials needed for the Appliance

The cloud gateway will now run a few connectivity tests (for those who read closely, this didn’t work before with my first DHCP setup).
The latencies seem relatively high, but I may nevertheless press Next:

Connectivity Tests

The connection between Cloud Gateway and VMC must also be confirmed by a 6-digit code, after which VMware computes very hard…:

Approval with 6-Digit code
Calculating….

The excitement continues. This step took about 10 minutes:

…and was successful afterwards. Cloud Gateway and VMC are connected, now the vCenter(s) that are to be linked to the Cloud Gateway are missing. This will happen in the next steps:

Step 2: Connect vCenter Servers
Name/IP, User and Password for the vCenter
Next!
…and Acknowledge sending data to VMC

A few seconds later it is shown as Connected:

VMware Cloud vSphere+ and vSAN+ Dashboard

Back in my VMware Cloud Dashboard, I see my vSphere+ and vSAN+ tile:

Then let’s “launch” the whole thing and take a look at the new functions.

In the Inventory there is a nice overview of my “SDDCs”. There is also a Detail View, and the possibility to update the connected vCenter (assuming a valid subscription):

Inventory
Sorry, no subscription for you! 👎

In the Infrastructure Operations menu item, I am presented with an overview of the events and security analysis (such as enabled SSH):

Infrastructure Operations

The Desired State Profile makes it possible to define a certain state (by importing directly from the vCenter or via JSON file) and then assign it to one or more vCenters. This can then be checked regularly (automatically) and in this way ” discrepancies” can be detected and avoided:

Desired State Profile

I found this quite interesting, but there is certainly more to it: Apart from just viewing the VMs, it is also possible to create a VM from the VMC interface:

Create Virtual Machine Part 1
Create Virtual Machine Part 2

Conclusion

vSphere+ (and vSAN+) are certainly a very nice idea, but in my opinion the advantage (or the goal?) currently lies more in the change to the licensing model that one is getting involved with, because there is a change to subscriptions. Extra functions for vSAN (aka vSAN+) are not yet to be discovered, and the extras for vSphere+ are also manageable or still very much in line with other services such as Skyline Advisor. VMware has taken a first step here and shows with some first examples (vCenter Update/Upgrade and the creation of simple VMs via VMC) what a truly centralised administration of a strongly fragmented vCenter environment could look like.
In addition, through the connection to VMC, interaction with other VMC services is also imaginable in the future (such as VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery, Hyperscalers,…) or already in sight, as mentioned in this VMware blog article.

To complete the picture, you can also read the VMware documentary itself here:
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere+/services/vsphereplus-using-managing/GUID-7D5545D9-6E35-48AA-88AE-BE549940344F.html

🐵

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