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  • April 14, 2015

Setting up Arista vEOS switch and VM Tracer lab with VMware ESXi hosts on AWs and Google Cloud for customer trials and sales demo

VM Tracer is a capability that is natively integrated into the Arista Extensible Operating System (EOS) and works with the entire Arista 7000 Family of Data Center Switches, and links the Arista switches to VMware vCenter™.

It provides unprecedented visibility into the virtualized environment, seamless integration into a familiar industry-standard CLI, and automatic configuration of tasks and policy by integrating natively with VMware vCenter.

It is coupled with vEOS as a management plane, and enables visibility into the vSwitch, the VM farm, and policy control that is natively integrated into VMware vCenter. VM Tracer works with VMware vSphere™ 4.0 and higher. It utilizes the published vCenter APIs and works across all editions of vSphere.

In order to setup an environment where I can demo this capability, I need two VMware ESXi™ host with VCenter running on top of each ESXi host along with a couple of guest Vms and our vEOS switch virtual appliance based switching backplane. This lab environment is very resource intensive.

Up until now, I ran all of these components on my mac so I could take it to customer sites for sales demo. The issues I run into were limited capacity available to allocate to each ESXi hosts and lack of an easy way to leave the demo/lab environment with the prospect, so they can play with it. I could put all the VM images on dropbox or USB stick and then provide it to them and have them reconfigure everything on their test ESXi hosts. But, this is big challenge, because it slows down the sales cycle.

Demo lab environment architecture

We were working with the team at Ravello Systems for our standard vEOS switch and server based lab environments and I was approached to participate in the ESXi beta program for my VMTracer lab environment. These are the steps I followed:

  1. I uploaded 2 pre-configured existing ESXi host VM images from my workstation to my account in Ravello. These images had all of my pre-configured guest VMs and the vCenter VM.
  2. I worked with the technical team at Ravello to update appropriate settings on these ESXi host VM to allow for nested virtualization.
  3. Then, I had to configure networking for each of the ESXi hosts in the Ravello interface.
  4. I also had to configure public access for the vCenter VM running on the ESXi host, so one could access the vCenter web app from outside and do all the settings. We ran into some issues with this, since this vCenter was a guest VM on top of ESXi VM. After few days, the Ravello team was able to figure out a solution to enable this.
  5. Add vEOS leaf-spine switch network components, so we could demonstrate VMauto discovery, adaptive segmentation and other cool capabilities of VMTracer. One of my other colleague had already built an Arista leaf spine topology with our vEOS virtual appliance on Ravello and saved it as a blueprint. He included that topology to this ESXi host environment.

VMTracer Auto discovery

VmTracer environment in Ravello

Now, for my sales demo, I just have to start a new application from this BP, publish it on AWS or Google, and I can show the demo to my customers. A lot of my prospects want to continue to play with the lab after the meeting, so they can familiarize themselves and also show it other folks within the organization. I plan to provide this blueprint to my customers for use trial. They will create an account with Ravello and can then start a lab environment from this blueprint. This eliminates the need to have them spend time searching for infrastructure resources to setup the lab and gets them up and running very quickly, so they can spend more time working with our products.

I see this as great enabler for customer trials with live lab environments during our sales process.

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