Using Independent Disks in vCloud

Yesterday I wrote about the PowerShell module I’ve written (CIDisk.psm1) to allow manipulation of independent disks in a vCloud environment. This post shows some usage options and details some of the caveats to be aware of when using disks in this manner.

My test environment has two VMs (named imaginatively ‘vm01’ and ‘vm02’), and the VDC they are in has access to four different storage profiles (‘Platinum’, ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Bronze’ storage). The default storage policy for the VDC is ‘Bronze’, but what if we want to create independent disks on other profiles? The -StorageProfileHref parameter to New-CIDisk lets us do this. Once connected to our cloud (Connect-CIServer) we can find the Hrefs of the available storage profiles we can use:

Let’s create 2 independent disks, a 10G disk on ‘Platinum’ storage and a 100G disk on ‘Silver’ storage:

We can see in the vCloud interface that these disks now exist in our VDC (Note: you may have to completely refresh your vCloud session using your browser’s refresh before the ‘Independent Disks’ tab appears):

There are no context actions for these disks though and we can’t attach/detach them to VMs in the vCloud interface.

Our VM01 virtual machine currently has a 40GB base disk attached and no other storage:

 

We can mount both our new independent disks to this VM using the following:

Looking at the VM01 Hardware tab following this shows both disks mounted:

Note again that no manipulation options are available in the vCloud UI, but at least it’s obvious that independent disks have been attached to VM01.

After rescanning storage in the guest, we can see the new storage devices on VM01:

And once these are brought online, initialized, storage volumes created and drive letters assigned, we can use the disks inside the guest (the volume names don’t get automatically mapped – I’ve just named the volumes the same as the independent disk objects for consistency):

At this point everything appears to be working fine, but there can be a catch here – if you restart the virtual machine you may find that the server attempts to boot from one of the newly mounted independent disks. Luckily vCloud Director 8.10 allows us to get into the VM BIOS and change the boot order settings:

Once restarted into BIOS we can select the correct boot order:

With the server restarted, we can create some test content in ‘disk01-plat’ to prove that the data moves when we reattach this disk to VM02:

And to dismount ‘disk01-plat’ from VM01 and mount it to VM02 we can:

Looking at the available storage in VM02 after a disk rescan shows our disk has transfered across:

Finally, checking the contents of the ‘E:\’ drive shows our test folder & file have made it across:

And Get-CIDisk can be used to verify the disk attachments after moving disk01 to VM02:

Hopefully this gives a better idea of how CIDisk can be used to manage independent disks in a vCloud environment, it would be nice if VMware included the management functions in the UI, but for now at least you can use PowerShell to easily achieve the same results without having to write against the API directly.

As always, any comments / feedback greatly appreciated.

Jon

Independent Disks in vCloud via PowerCLI

Another day, another customer requirement which I figured ‘this will be easy’ and turned out not to be quite so easy…

The customer in question is a tenant on our cloud platform and has built a VM to be their offline root Certificate Authority (CA). In line with their security practice, this VM has no network connectivity and is usually powered-off in their environment unless specifically required to issue or renew certificates.

They asked if there was an easy way to transfer certificate files issued by this VM to other servers in their infrastructure. In their (old) vSphere environment they would simply attach a new temporary virtual disk to the VM, copy the certificate files over and then attach the disk to the destination VM. Surely there had to be some similar functionality in vCloud Director?

Well, there’s a bit of good and bad news on that…

By default disks in vCloud Director are assigned (permanently) to a VM, they can’t be moved to different VMs. (That’s the bad news). The good news is that vCD supports ‘independent disks’ which can be moved between VMs. The bad news is that this is an API-only operation (nothing in the web UI allows creation or manipulation of Independent disks, although you can see them if they exist). The worst news is that VMware PowerCLI even in the latest 6.5R1 version doesn’t have any cmdlets to manipulate independent disks attached to vCloud VMs either.

So while I could have hacked something together to run directly against the vCloud Director REST API for this customer, I figured it would be better to have some reusable PowerShell cmdlets for this. So I set about writing some and I’m pleased to announce the first release of ‘CIDisk’, a collection of PowerShell cmdlets to manipulate independent disks in vCloud Director environments.

The module code, documentation and examples are now available on my github at https://github.com/jondwaite/cidisk

I’ll do a followup post detailing some more advanced options and scenarios in the next day or two.

Edit – Followup post is now available here.

As always I appreciate any/all feedback and hope someone else finds these useful.

Jon