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Introduction to virtual appliances

A virtual appliance contains a group of one or more virtual machines that may be related and can be used to provide a service. Each virtual machine is an independent entity but you can deploy all of the virtual machines in the virtual appliance together.

Each virtual machine has an operating system, applications and other application-specific data. So you can create a pre-configured software stack in a virtual appliance.

For example, consider a typical web application that is divided into three tiers. A web tier that implements the presentation logic, an application server tier that implements the business logic, and a back-end database tier. A straightforward implementation would divide this into 3 virtual machines, one for each tier. In Abiquo, you would create a single virtual appliance with these three virtual machines and automatically deploy them together.

Administrators can save a virtual appliance configuration as a spec and users can easily create a new virtual appliance using a spec.

Other virtual appliance features include VM monitoring and alerts, and anti-affinity layers. Autoscaling will also be implemented at this level.

You can manage virtual appliances on the Virtual Appliances tab of a virtual datacenter.

 

Create a Virtual Appliance

When you create or open a new virtual datacenter, you may find a default virtual appliance was previously created for you.

API Documentation

For the Abiquo API documentation of this feature, see Abiquo API Resources and the page for this resource VirtualApplianceResource.

To create a new virtual appliance, select the virtual datacenter where the virtual appliance will be deployed, click the add button, and complete the form:

Field

Description

Name

The name of the virtual appliance

Virtual Datacenter

The virtual datacenter where the virtual appliance will be deployed

If the checkbox to automatically open the virtual appliance is marked, the user will be able to edit the virtual appliance after clicking Accept.

The new virtual appliance will appear in the list in the Virtual Appliances tab.

Now you can add virtual machines to the virtual appliance and deploy it.

Create Virtual Machines

To create virtual machines, first you must open the virtual appliance. In the virtual datacenter, on the Virtual Appliances tab, move the mouse over the virtual appliance and click on the Enter link that appears beside it. You can also double click on the virtual appliance name. You can also use the shortcut from the Home view dashboard, by clicking on a virtual appliance in the Virtual appliances table.

When you open a virtual appliance, you will see the Virtual Appliance view. This consists of the V. Appliances list on the left hand side, the Template tab and Persistent VM tab in the middle and the Virtual machines tab on the right-hand side.

To add virtual machines to the virtual appliance, drag and drop templates from the Template tab or the Persistent VM tab.

Available Templates

On the left side, the template list contains only the compatible templates. If you cannot see an expected template for your system, you may need to contact your System Administrator.

If there are a lot of templates, you may wish to filter the templates first.

Filter Templates in the Templates tab

To filter templates in the left-hand Template library tab:

  • Click the filter button and select a category from the pull-down list
  • Enter text in the search box and press enter

To clear the search

  • Click the Clear link on the Category filter popup, which will clear both category and text search box
  • Click the grey X button beside the Search box

Create a virtual appliance based on a spec

Before you begin:

  1. Check your cloud provider's support for the spec in your virtual datacenters

To create a configuration based on a spec:

  1. Click the + add button to add a virtual appliance and select Create virtual appliance based on spec

  2. Enter a unique virtual appliance name
  3. If you didn't select a virtual datacenter before, select one now
  4. Click on a spec icon and click Select
    • The platform will present the version of the spec designated by the administrators, which is either the default version or the latest version

    • The icons of specs that were not created in your tenant are marked with the shared symbol

  5. Enter the virtual appliance details and make any required changes. See Validate a virtual appliance spec for more details
  6. Click Accept

The platform will create the new virtual appliance based on the spec and including your changes.

 

Validate a virtual appliance spec

Before you begin:

  1. Click the + add button to add a virtual appliance and select Create virtual appliance based on spec

  2. Select a virtual appliance spec and click the Select button

To validate a virtual appliance spec:

  1. Move through the tabs and check or edit informaiton as required
    1. General information: Check the configuration. To display details, for example, firewalls and load balancers, click the Show links
    2. Templates: Select new templates to replace any templates that are not available in your environment
    3. Virtual machines: select and view, and if necessary, edit the virtual machine configuration, including: 
      1. Chef 
        1. run list 
        2. attributes
    4. VM variables: edit the variables that will be available after you deploy the virtual machine
    5. Alerts: edit the subscribers to monitoring alerts, by adding or deleting emails from the list
  2. After you have finished editing the virtual appliance, click Save.

The platform will create the new virtual appliance based on the spec and including your changes

Screenshots

 Click here to show or hide the screenshots

 

General information

Templates 

Virtual machines

VM variables

VM Chef runlist

VM Chef attributes

Alerts

 


Deploy a Virtual Appliance

After you have added virtual machines and configured the virtual appliance, you can deploy (or launch) all the virtual machines together by clicking the green Deploy virtual appliance button.

When the deploy process finishes, the virtual appliance will be powered on with all the virtual machines running.

To deploy the virtual appliance in the virtual datacenters view, select it in the list on the Virtual Appliances tab and click the green Deploy virtual appliance button that appears.

See Deploy a Virtual Appliance.

Within the virtual appliance, you can also select and deploy an individual virtual machine. See Manage Virtual Machines

Add Machines to a Deployed Virtual Appliance

If you add a new virtual machine to a deploy virtual appliance, the platform will not deploy it until you synchronize the virtual appliance OR you manually deploy the new virtual machine.

Remember that you can  configure the new virtual machine before deployment. 

To deploy all new virtual machines, synchronize the virtual appliance: click the Sync virtual appliance button, which is the same as the deploy button.

The cloud platform will reconfigure the virtual machines, to apply any changes you have made to their configuration (e.g. add storage or network interface). It will also deploy any machines that are not deployed yet.

Configure High Availability of Virtual Machines

The high availability configuration available depends upon your platform configuration and cloud providers.

Datacenter

If you have virtual machines that must deploy on separate hypervisor hosts, use Abiquo anti-affinity layers. A virtual machine can belong to one layer only. Abiquo does not support layers that are intersections of other layers. For example, this means that if you have two layers, a virtual machine in the second layer may deploy on the same physical machine as a virtual machine in the first layer.

See Configure VM High Availability

Public Cloud Region

In the AWS integration, when you create a custom private network in your virtual datacenter, you can select the Availability Zone in which you will create this VDC. If you create two virtual machines and give each machine an IP on a different subnet, then your machines will deploy in the Availability Zone that their subnet belongs to.

View virtual machine errors

In Virtual Datacenters view, Abiquo will display an error symbol next to any virtual appliances with errors in the list of virtual appliances. 

When you open a virtual appliance, the error symbol will also be displayed next to the virtual appliance in the Virtual Appliances list.

To view a list of the virtual machines and their state, click on the error symbol. 

To view full details of the error and remove the error symbol, open the Virtual Appliance in order to click on the error symbol on an individual virtual machine. See Manage Virtual Machines

View a list with virtual machine details

To view the details of several virtual machines at the same time, change the virtual machines pane to list tab.

Click the List tab in the top right corner of the virtual machines pane to open this view.

To change back to Icons view, click the Icons tab.

 

Monitor metrics and alerts

The Abiquo virtual machine monitoring system displays virtual machine metrics and the user can configure alerts to notify if certain conditions are met within virtual appliances.

View virtual machine metrics on the Monitoring tab

If your virtual datacenter supports virtual machine monitoring, you can enable it for your virtual machines. See VM monitoring and metrics

After you have enabled monitoring for a virtual machine, on the Monitoring tab, you can configure the metrics view at a virtual appliance level.

To configure the refresh interval, select the Refresh data every checkbox and enter a number of minutes.

Then choose the metrics you wish to display and filter by metric statistics.

 

Display virtual machine alarms and alerts

To view alerts and their associated alarms, open the Control tab in the Virtual machines pane. To display the details of an alert in the lower Alerts panel, select an alert in the Alerts list at the top. To display alarms associated with an alert, select the tabs of the lower Alerts panel.

 

Manage alarms for alerts

  

To manage monitoring alarms and alarms and alerts for the virtual appliance, ideally you should have at least the Access alerts section, Manage alerts and Manage alarms privileges. From the virtual appliances screen, you can manage alarms for alerts, but you can only create alarms that are not assigned to alerts and assign them to alerts. You cannot edit or delete alarms that are not attached to alerts.

Create an alarm

To create an alarm for any virtual machine in the virtual appliance:

  1. At the top of the Alerts panel, click the + add button 
  2. From the pull-down list, select Create alarm
  3. Enter the alarm details
    1. In Abiquo 3.8, enter a unique alarm name
  4. Click Save

Field

Description

Name

Name of the alarm. The name can contain up to 128 characters. You can create more than one alarm with the same name, but only if the alarms are for different metrics. However, in Abiquo 3.8.0, you will need to be able to identify the alarms by name when creating an alert.

DescriptionDescribe the alarm
Virtual machineVirtual machine name, which by default is the virtual machine template name. Display only
MetricEnable fetch metrics on the monitoring tab to retrieve metrics for evaluation of the alarm. When you enable the retrieval of metrics, Abiquo will retrieve all metrics, even if you do not select them for display on the monitoring tab. For your alarm, select one of the metrics available for the virtual machine. In Abiquo 3.8.1+, you do not need to display a metric to use it with an alarm, but it may be helpful to do so.

Period

Elapsed time during which the platform will evaluate the alarm based on the statistic and the threshold. The minimum value is 60 seconds

Evaluation periods

Number of periods during which the platform will evaluate the alarm.

Statistic

Statistic that the platform will use for evaluating the alarm:

  • average
  • maximum
  • minimum
  • sum
  • count
  • dev

Formula

Operator that the platform will use for evaluation of the alarm, for example, greater than. Values can be:

  • notequal
  • greaterthan
  • greaterthanorequalto
  • lessthan
  • lessthanorequalto
  • trendup
  • trenddown

Threshold

Value that the platform will evaluate the alarm against, if appropriate

You can also select an alert and use the + add button on the lower alarms panel.

  • The platform will not automatically add alarms you create to a selected alert. However, you can easily edit an alert and add the new alarm
  • The only way to view or edit an alarm that is not added to an alert is through the virtual machine configuration at the Alarms tab, which requires the privilege to Access alarms section in virtual machines
Modify or delete an alarm associated with an alert

To modify or delete an alarm associated with an alert:

  1. In the virtual appliance, open the Control tab and select the alert
  2. In the lower Alerts panel, open the Alarms tab
  3. Select the alarm
  • To modify the alarm, click the pencil edit button, make your changes, and click Save
  • To delete the alarm, click the delete button, and confirm
    • The platform will delete it from all alerts that it is associated with
  • The only way to delete an alarm that is not added to an alert is through the virtual machine configuration at the Alarms tab, which requires the privilege to Access alarms section in virtual machines

Create alerts for virtual machines

Before you create an alert, remember to:

  1. Configure virtual machine monitoring:
    1. In the virtual machine configuration on the Metrics tab
      1. Select the Retrieve metrics checkbox to retrieve all metrics
      2. Optional: Select some metrics to display. Displaying the alarm metrics may be helpful, but it is not required
      3. Click Save
  2. Create alarms:
    • Edit the virtual machine configuration on the Alarms tab, OR
    • On the Virtual appliances Control tab, in the Alerts pane click the + add button and from the drop-down list, select Create alarm

To create an alert for a virtual appliance

  1. Open the virtual appliance Control tab
  2. Click the + add button
  3. From the drop-down list, select Create alert
  4. Enter the alert details and click Save

 

 

Field

Description

Name

Name of the alert. The name can contain up to 128 characters

DescriptionDescribe the alert
MutedSelect this checkbox to disable notifications for this alert

 

 

 

 

 

On the Alarms tab, assign alarms to the alert. If all alarms are activated, the alert will notify the users registered on the Actions tab.

 

On the Actions tab, enter the email address(es) to notify if the alarms are activated.

 

Click Save.

Protected virtual machines

If your administrator needs to work with your virtual machine, for example, to install a new version of the software, they may protect the virtual machine.

If the virtual machine is protected, Abiquo will display a small padlock symbol in the top left corner of the VM icon and change the VM status to MAINTENANCE.

Only the administrators with the privilege to protect the VM will be able to work with it. You will not even be able to display the details of the VM.

 

Save disks and configurations

Depending on the configuration of your platform, you can save changes to virtual machines as templates and you can save templates to persistent volumes to create persistent virtual machines.

Save virtual machine disks to instance templates

When you have deployed the virtual appliance, you can make instances of the virtual machines by clicking the Create instance button. For more detailed information about virtual machine instances, see Create Virtual Machine Instances.

Save virtual appliance configurations with specs

See Save VApp Configurations as Specs

Save templates to volumes to create persistent virtual machine templates

You can create persistent virtual machine templates by saving standard virtual machine templates to volumes. The platform stores the system disks of virtual machines with persistent virtual machine templates on external storage volumes. The platform does not delete the changes to these disks when you undeploy these virtual machines.

Functionality Not Available in Public Cloud Regions

This functionality is not available in public cloud regions

You can create persistent templates from inside a VApp on the Persistent Virtual Machine Templates tab. Click the add button at the bottom of the tab to create a new persistent template.

Select your VM template from the template list, select storage, then click Make persistent. When it is ready, your template will appear in the Persistent Virtual Machine Templates tab.

To manage your persistent templates, go to the Persistent Virtual Machine Templates tab in Virtual Datacenters view.

Undeploy a Virtual Appliance

To undeploy (or destroy) a virtual appliance, click the red Undeploy button on the right-hand side of the screen.

Delete a Virtual Appliance

To delete an existing virtual appliance, first you must undeploy it. Then select it and click the  delete button.

Virtual Appliance deletion

Only virtual appliances that are not deployed can be deleted.