Tidal workflow for random password generation

Thought I would share this workflow to generate a random 12-character password, that can then be used for OS customisation, etc


Feel free to use as you need to 🙂

UCS 2.0 and Port Channels

I came across this interesting article today around the new capabilities of UCS 2.0. It’s a shame that it seems to indicate the requirement for the new 6248 fabric interconnect, and 2208 fabric extenders in the chassis, to take advantage of the “Port Channel to the blade” capabilities it talks about though. Does this really require the next gen 40GE hardware, or can it be used with existing UCS 1.x hardware too, simply by upgrading the firmware? Answers on a postcard people!

ThinkAheadIT Blog


Migration methods between VMware vCenter instances

An interesting subject was raised today. There are several clients in a datacentre. Each has their own vCenter implementation. There is also a private enterprise vCenter offering that the clients can move in and out of (multi-tenant private cloud). How do you move VMs in and out of this private enterprise offering and keep them up and running?

One way would  be to have a single vCenter instance to manage all the environments. This is fraught with issues around access control, AD integration, vCenter maximums, etc.

The other way is to keep all the vCenter instances separate and use a ‘swing host’. This is the method I will describe here.

There are two ways to provide a swing host. Either having a spare ESXi blade handy that you can use, or run a virtual ESXi instance.

Other considerations are the processor family of the hosts you are migrating between (cannot move between AMD & Intel hot, for example, and you cannot set EVC mode when VMs are using the higher-spec processor functionality), consistent networking between the different implementations (port groups need to have the same naming, VLAN needs to be visible to all 3 hosts involved in the migration), making the swing host a single point of failure during the swing stage, a swing LUN needing to be visible to all 3 hosts used during this migration. There may be other items to address outside this list.

However, if all these can be addressed, you have the ability to move VMs between environments without downtime, and here’s how you can do it:

  1. Add your swing host to the source vCenter server as a standalone host in the vCenter datacentre that hosts your VM to be moved.
  2. Ensure you have a portgroup on the swing host vSwitch that has the same name and VLAN configured as that used by the VM to be moved, and that the NIC(s) bound to this vSwitch can access the VLAN.
  3. vMotion your VM onto the swing host, moving it to the swing host LUN (this can be SAN, NFS or iSCSI, it really doesn’t matter, but it must be visible to all 3 hosts – source, swing and destination)
  4. Add the swing host to the destination vCenter server. Doing this will effectively rip it out of the source vCenter server.
  5. If required, rename the network portgroup to match that on the destination vCenter environment.
  6. vMotion your VM onto the destination host and datastore.
  7. Remove the swing host from both vCenter instances

These steps will do the job, albeit a little clunky. The next stage of this is to automate the process, which I will be doing using Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator.

New products

newScale Request Center 9.3

I have spent the last year working with a product called newScale Request Center. This is a service catalogue product that is used to present various service offerings to clients for self-service consumption. Earlier this year they were bought out by Cisco and this product has now been rebadged as Cisco Portal.

Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator 2

Another product that I have spent the past year working with is Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator. This is a workflow automation engine that allows for complex workflows to be mapped out, automated, and then, in our environment, combined with the newScale Request Center product for customers to order. This can be simple things like provisioning a virtual machine into a virtualised environment, or as complex as provisioning a complete application stack using bare metal provisioning.


Both the products above combine to create the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud stack. Combined with an appropriate compute and virtualisation layer (Cisco UCS, VMware vSphere in our case), it gives a very powerful building block to use in the cloud arena.


Cisco UCS