Category Archives: VMware

Upgrading Site Recovery Manager (SRM) 8.3.1 to 8.4

I recently started looking at prerequisites to a vSphere 7 upgrade, by reviewing any associated upgrades that might be needed. VMware Site Recovery Manager was one product that needed to be upgraded prior to this. I decided I would fire up a quick nested setup in my HomeLab to run through the process before hand and share the process!

This nested lab consists of two ESXi 6.7 nested hosts, two vCenter 6.7 VCSA’s and two SRM 8.3.1 appliances, with the VCSA’s and SRM appliances having custom CA certificates installed.

I made use of @lamw’s VirtuallyGhetto WilliamLam.com Nested ESXi Appliances for the host deployment via the subscribed content library he offers. (Super easy to deploy nested hosts quickly if you haven’t come across this before!)

Now on to the upgrade.

Firstly, make sure you have have sufficiently backed up your environment! Take a backup of your SRM configuration by using the Export/Import SRM Configuration Tool within SRM. Once you click export it will allow you to download the config backup to your local machine. Then take a snapshot the SRM appliances.

During the upgrade, SRM does not retain any advanced settings that you configured in the previous installation, so make sure you have made a note of any modified advanced settings such as timeouts etc before beginning.

Note: protection groups and recovery plans that are not in a valid state will not be preserved!

Other important checks before you begin –

Verify that there are no pending cleanup operations on recovery plans and that there are no configuration issues for the virtual machines that Site Recovery Manager protects.

  • All recovery plans are in the Ready state.
  • The protection status of all the protection groups is OK.
  • The protection status of all the individual virtual machines in the protection groups is OK.
  • The recovery status of all the protection groups is Ready.

Now, mount the SRM 8.4 ISO to the appliance you are going to upgrade first, and log into the SRM VAMI. Browse to the update section and edit the update source to be CD-ROM.

You will then get the option to install 8.4.

Providing you are in an appropriate window to take your SRM solution offline, have no recoveries in progress and have checked the list of important steps above, hit install and follow the prompts.

If you are upgrading other VMware products too make sure you visit this site to review the order for upgrading other components, such as vSphere Replication.

Once the upgrade is complete, log back into the SRM VAMI. You will see a prompt to reconfigure the connection to vCenter/PSC.

Hit the ‘RECONFIGURE’ button and follow the wizard to reconnect to your vCenter and PSC

Once complete, refresh your browser and log back in. You will now see your successfully upgraded SRM appliance running 8.4 and connected to your vCenter/PSC.

Sometimes clearing your browser cache is needed should you get oddities…

Now repeat the process for your partner SRM appliance.

Once complete, you should now have two upgrade SRM appliances!

From here you many need to update the Storage Replication Adapters (SRA) (if you are using array based replication). Check the VMware Compatibility Matrix – here.

You can find VMware’s official documentation here.

Thanks for reading!

Upgrade vRealize Operations Manager (vROPS) 7.5 to 8.4

Recently I tested a vRealize Operation Manager (vROPS) upgrade from version 7.5 to 8.4 ahead of a vCenter 7.0.2 upgrade and thought I would share the process.

Something worth noting with this upgrade. vROPS 7.5 is based on a SUSE Linux OS, 8.4 is Photon OS.

Before we install the 8.4 update, make sure you back up any customised content and install the vRealize Operations Manager Pre-Upgrade to 8.4.0 Assessment Tool! This will inform you of any content that is being removed that could affect your metrics/content and advise of any upgrade issues.

Make sure you download the correct upgrade assessment and upgrade .pak file. You will find options for 7.x to 8.4 and 8.x to 8.4.

From the vROPS admin console, head over to the Software Update section.

Upload the appropriate pre-upgrade assessment .PAK and complete the wizard.

Follow the rest of the wizard through to the end and click Install.

Now you can view the report by following the instructions detailed in this article. This will tell you what’s going to break… Make sure you extract all the ZIP files within the download, otherwise you just get a ‘Loading…’ message!

It looks something like this, although this is a blank setup for testing purposes.

Now its time to upload the actual update, in the same manner as the upgrade pre assessment.

Again, follow the rest of the wizard through to the end and click Install.

Should you hit a problem with the installer hanging on step 4 of 9, firstly make sure you are able to log into your root account via SSH. If not reset the password using this procedure. If you are still getting stuck after this, take a look at this article.

Once complete, you will be running vRealize Operations Manager 8.4!

Thanks for reading.

Enabling Native KMS in vSphere 7.0 Update 2

Some time back I wrote about setting up and enabling a HyTrust Key Management setup for vSphere to make use of VM and vSAN encryption. Following the release of vSphere 7.0 Update 2, VMware have introduced native key management capabilities! This is a great feature as you no longer require a potentially expensive separate key management solution to make use of vSphere’s encryption offerings.

Lets take a look at this new capability by heading over to the Key Providers menu on your vCenter object, and selecting ‘Add Native Key Provider’:

Give your provider a name:

It then needs backing up! There is an option to do this next to the ‘Add’ option, or in the flow graphic at the bottom:

It is recommended to protect this with a password, make sure you keep this safe along with the key itself, after it downloads when you hit ‘Back Up Key Provider’. You won’t be able to restore the provider without it should you have a need to. Without the provider, any VM’s or data encrypted with it will be lost.

Once its backed up and safely stored you will have an active KMS! You can choose to set it to default if you have more than one key provider if you wish. Any VM’s that are encrypted from the point of changing the default, will be with the new provider, any already encrypted VM’s will continue to be encrypted with the original key.

If you head over to vSAN services, you will now have your native key provider available and can enable Data-At-Rest encryption as well as Data-In-Transit encryption:

Likewise, if you edit the settings of a VM via the VM Options tab you will be able to enable VM encryption:

There you have it, a native Key Management capability, in built with vSphere 7.0 Update 2.

Thanks for reading!

Get, Set and Remove Perennial Reservations Using PowerShell Functions

Having recently had to do some work with RDM perennial reservations I looked into ways to make this less of a manual headache. There are plenty of examples out there for doing this, which I took as a basis to make a PowerShell function. If anything it was a great way to refresh my PowerShell skills and an opportunity to learn some new skills.

Note: Although this has been tested in my environment, please make sure you test it appropriately before running against a production environment!

Lets take a look…

Get-PerennialReservation

This function targets a vSphere cluster, gets all RDM disks that are connected to VM’s and then queries each host in the cluster to check if the disk/storage device is perennially reserved or not.

You can find the code here.

There are multiple ways to use it, whether that is by specifying the target cluster using the -Cluster parameter or by piping it from Get-Cluster. You can also specify a specific canonical name or a comma separated string of them, if you just want the status of a single/select disk(s) using the -CanonicalName parameter. There is also an Export flag to export the results to CSV, if you wish to make use of the data outside of PowerShell. You can get the full usage information by running the following command once you have loaded the function into your PowerShell session:

Get-Help Get-PerennialReservation -full

Here it is in action:

Get-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01
Get-Cluster | Get-PerennialReservation
Get-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01 -CanonicalName naa.60003ff44dc75adcacba077cf38ccc60
Get-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01 -ExportPath C:\temp

Set-PerennialReservation

This function again targets a vSphere cluster, gets all RDM disks that are connected to VM’s and sets the IsPerenniallyReserved flag too ‘True’ on all hosts.

You can find the code here.

There are multiple ways to use it like the Get function; specifying the target cluster using the -Cluster paramater or by piping it from Get-Cluster. You can still specify a specific canonical name or a comma separated string of them, if you just want to set the flag of a single/select disk(s) using the -CanonicalName parameter. There is still an Export function that will provide you an output to CSV. You can get the full usage information by running the following command once you have loaded the function into your PowerShell session:

Get-Help Set-PerennialReservation -full

Here it is in action:

Set-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01
Get-Cluster | Set-PerennialReservation
Set-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01 -CanonicalName naa.60003ff44dc75adc87371e49e5b78222
Set-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01 -ExportPath C:\Temp\

Remove-PerennialReservation

To complete the set there is a Remove function. This function again targets a vSphere cluster, but this time you need to pass in the canonical name you wish to set the IsPerenniallyReserved flag too ‘False’ for.

You can find the code here.

To use this one, you need to specify the target cluster using the -Cluster paramater and specify a specific canonical name or a comma separated string of them, using the -CanonicalName parameter. There is still an Export function that will provide you an output to CSV. You can get the full usage information by running the following command once you have loaded the function into your PowerShell session:

Get-Help Remove-PerennialReservation -full

Here it is in action:

Remove-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01 -CanonicalName naa.60003ff44dc75adc87371e49e5b78222
Remove-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01 -CanonicalName naa.60003ff44dc75adcacba077cf38ccc60, naa.60003ff44dc75adcadc3f2be374bf90a
Remove-PerennialReservation -Cluster smt-lab-cl-mn-01 -CanonicalName naa.60003ff44dc75adc87371e49e5b78222, naa.60003ff44dc75adcacba077cf38ccc60, naa.60003ff44dc75adcadc3f2be374bf90a -Exportpath C:\Temp\

I hope this is of use to folks out there. There may be some updates/improvements added in the future so keep an eye on my GitHub for any updates!

I aim to bundle these, and other functions into a module in the near future!

As always, thanks for reading!

Administering ESXi Hosts With ESXCLI using PowerCLI

There are times as a vSphere admin, you are going to want to run ESXCLI commands against multiple ESXi Hosts from a central location. This could be for configuration / administration, reporting, patching or a number of other things.

Recently I have been testing different values in the /DataMover/MaxHWTransferSize advanced setting. To make life easier, I wanted a way to change multiple hosts quickly and easily. To do this, I customised a script that Luc Dekens posted as a solution to a problem someone was having that can be used to send ESXCLI commands to multiple hosts using PowerCLI and plink.exe. This slightly modified version uses a CSV file as a source containing my hosts FQDN and the username and password I will be connecting with.

Plink, which is part of the PuTTy suite, can can be found here.

When using this script, you need to either run the script from a directory containing the plink executable, copy it to where you want to run the script, or adjust the script to include the path to the plink executable… whichever takes your fancy.

Disclaimer: Always complete your own testing in an appropriate environment and refer to the vendors official documentation!

$Hosts = Import-Csv C:\ESXiHosts.csv
$Commad = 'esxcfg-advcfg -s 16384 /DataMover/MaxHWTransferSize'

Foreach ($H in $Hosts) {
    #Starting the SSH Service if not already started
    $SSHService = Get-VMHostService -VMHost $H.HostName | where {$_.Key -eq 'TSM-SSH'}
    if ($SSHService.Running -eq 'True') {
        Write-Host "****************************" -ForegroundColor Blue
        Write-Host "WARNING: SSH already enabled, this will be stopped on completion of this script" -ForegroundColor Yellow
    }
        Else {

            Write-Host "Starting SSH Service on Host $($H.HostName)" -ForegroundColor Green
            Start-VMHostService -HostService $SSHService -Confirm:$false > $null
        }
    #Running the defined ESXCLI Command(s)
    Write-host "Running remote SSH commands on $($H.HostName)." -ForegroundColor Green
    Echo Y | ./plink.exe $H.HostName -pw $H.Password -l $H.UserName $Commad
    
    #Stopping the SSH Service
    $SSHService = Get-VMHostService -VMHost $H.HostName | where {$_.Key -eq 'TSM-SSH'}
    if ($SSHService.Running) {
        Write-Host "Stopping SSH Service on Host $($H.HostName)" -ForegroundColor Green
        Stop-VMHostService -HostService $SSHService -Confirm:$false > $null
        Write-Host "****************************" -ForegroundColor Blue
    }
}
Write-Host "Complete $(Get-Date)" -ForegroundColor Green

You can run as many commands as you need by declaring another ‘Command’ variable at the beginning of the script and adding another line to the ‘Running the defined ESXCLI Command(s)’ section.

When run, it will then cycle through each of the ESXi hosts from your CSV file, enable SSH (if its not already enabled), accept the host key, run the commands you have specified and finally turn the SSH service off.

Here you can see it has set the MaxHWTransferSize to 16384 on each host.

You will see the Recent Task pane show the SSH Service starts and stops.

The commands passed in can be anything you need. All you need to do is change the commands that are defined in the variables section. For example, restarting the management agents –

$commad = 'etc/init.d/hostd restart'
$commad2 = 'etc/init.d/vpxa restart'

I hope this has been of use for anyone needing a centralised, quick way to administer multiple hosts via ESXCLI.

Thanks for reading!

Deploying vCenter 7.0 via the CLI

Recently I decided it was time to add a second vCenter 7.0 Appliance to my main lab environment after the lab containing my SRM and vSphere Replication installation ceased to exist…

I thought I would take the CLI route as its been a while, and thought I’d share!

To begin, you need to decide what you are deploying. There are four deployment options available to you, which you can see listed below. To see the options, mount the vCenter ISO image, browse to vcsa-cli-installer\templates\install, and you will find 4 templates;

  • Embedded on ESXi
  • Embedded on VC
  • Embedded replication on ESXi
  • Embedded replication on VC.

Note there is not a distributed option here anymore as this is depreciated in 7.0.

For my lab I will be using the 3rd option; ‘Embedded replication on ESXi’. Firstly because I’m deploying to a standalone host and not to an existing vCenter. Secondly as I already have an existing VCSA and SSO Domain. This new VCSA will be added, or linked to the existing VCSA for my ‘Recovery’ site, in my Site Recovery Manager (SRM) setup.

If you are looking to deploy your first VCSA, onto a standalone host, you will want to use the ‘Embedded on ESXi’ template.

Once you have decided on the template that suits your scenario, you are going to add some details to this template, such as the ESXi host information you are deploying to, networking information, NTP and in my case SSO details as I will be adding it to an existing SSO Domain. One important value is the deployment size (deployment_option in the example below).

A useful command that can be run to help you decide what size appliance is suitable for your needs is:

vcsa-deploy --supported-deployment-sizes

This outputs the vCenter sizing to assist you. It shows you the resource requirements as well as the amount of hosts and VM’s each can support.

Information 
Options 
tiny 
——supported—deployment—sizes 
about deployment sizes: 
vCPUs Memory CGB) Storage CGB) HostsCup to) VMsCup to) 
tiny—Istorage 
tiny—xlstorage 
small 
small—Istorage 
small—xlstorage 
medium 
medium—Istorage 
medium—xlstorage 
large 
large—Istorage 
large—xlstorage 
xlarge 
xlarge—lstorage 
xlarge—xlstorage 
2 
2 
2 
8 
8 
8 
16 
16 
16 
24 
24 
24 
12 
12 
12 
19 
19 
19 
28 
28 
28 
37 
37 
37 
56 
56 
56 
463 
1538 
3293 
528 
1583 
3343 
748 
1748 
3568 
1113 
1813 
3573 
1853 
1953 
3713 
16 
16 
16 
lee 
lee 
uee 
uee 
leee 
leee 
leee 
2eee 
2eee 
lee 
lee 
lee 
leee 
leee 
leee 
leeee 
leeee 
leeee 
35eee 
35eee

For my lab, ‘tiny’ covers my needs.

Here is the json file I used for the deployment in my lab.  I have excluded the passwords for obvious reason, but it can be ran like this, and will prompt you for the passwords in the terminal.

{
    "__version": "2.13.0",
    "__comments": "Sample template to deploy a vCenter Server Appliance with an embedded Platform Services Controller as a replication partner to another embedded vCenter Server Appliance, on an ESXi host.",
    "new_vcsa": {
        "esxi": {
            "hostname": "smt-lab-esx-04.smt-lab.local",
            "username": "root",
            "password": "",
            "deployment_network": "vSS_PG_Management",
            "datastore": "smt-lab-vmfs-02a"
        },
        "appliance": {
            "__comments": [
                "You must provide the 'deployment_option' key with a value, which will affect the VCSA's configuration parameters, such as the VCSA's number of vCPUs, the memory size, the storage size, and the maximum numbers of ESXi hosts and VMs which can be managed. For a list of acceptable values, run the supported deployment sizes help, i.e. vcsa-deploy --supported-deployment-sizes"
            ],
            "thin_disk_mode": true,
            "deployment_option": "tiny",
            "name": "smt-lab-vcsa-02"
        },
        "network": {
            "ip_family": "ipv4",
            "mode": "static",
            "system_name": "smt-lab-vcsa-02.smt-lab.local",
            "ip": "10.200.15.249",
            "prefix": "24",
            "gateway": "10.200.15.254",
            "dns_servers": [
                "10.200.15.10"
            ]
        },
        "os": {
            "password": "",
            "ntp_servers": "0.uk.pool.ntp.org",
            "ssh_enable": true
        },
        "sso": {
            "password": "",
            "domain_name": "vsphere.local",
            "first_instance": false,
            "replication_partner_hostname": "smt-lab-vcsa-01.smt-lab.local",
            "sso_port": 443
        }
    },
    "ceip": {
        "description": {
            "__comments": [
                "++++VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP)++++",
                "VMware's Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) ",
                "provides VMware with information that enables VMware to ",
                "improve its products and services, to fix problems, ",
                "and to advise you on how best to deploy and use our ",
                "products. As part of CEIP, VMware collects technical ",
                "information about your organization's use of VMware ",
                "products and services on a regular basis in association ",
                "with your organization's VMware license key(s). This ",
                "information does not personally identify any individual. ",
                "",
                "Additional information regarding the data collected ",
                "through CEIP and the purposes for which it is used by ",
                "VMware is set forth in the Trust & Assurance Center at ",
                "http://www.vmware.com/trustvmware/ceip.html . If you ",
                "prefer not to participate in VMware's CEIP for this ",
                "product, you should disable CEIP by setting ",
                "'ceip_enabled': false. You may join or leave VMware's ",
                "CEIP for this product at any time. Please confirm your ",
                "acknowledgement by passing in the parameter ",
                "--acknowledge-ceip in the command line.",
                "++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++"
            ]
        },
        "settings": {
            "ceip_enabled": true
        }
    }
}


Once you have prepared your file, there are a couple of commands you can run from a PowerShell prompt to validate your configuration before deploying, saving you some time should mistakes have been made. The first being:

.\vcsa-deploy.exe install --accept-eula --acknowledge-ceip --verify-template-only <Path to json File>

This completes some basic checks to ensure your json file is correct, here is a successful output:

[START] Start executing Task: To validate CLI options at 
Command line arguments verfied . 
[SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'CLIOptionsVaIidationTask: Executing CLI 
optionsvalidation task' in TaskFIow 'template_validation' at 
[START] Start executing Task: To validate the syntax of the template. at 
Template syntax validation for template 
'M: . json' succeeded . 
Syntax validation for all templates succeeded . 
[SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'SyntaxVaIidationTask: Executing 
Template Syntax Validation task' in TaskFIow 'template_validation' at 
[START] Start executing Task: To check the version of each template, and for 
each older template that supports CEIP, convert it to the latest template 
format, and save it to the Template Blackboard at 
Template version processing for template 
'M: . json' succeeded . 
Version processing for all templates succeeded . 
[SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'VersionprocessingTask: Executing 
Template Version processing task' in TaskFIow 'template_validation' at 
[START] Start executing Task: To validate the template structure against the 
rules specified by a corresponding template schema. at 
Template structure validation for template 
'M: . json' succeeded . 
Structure validation for all templates succeeded . 
[SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'StructureVaIidationTask: Executing 
Template Structure Validation task' in TaskFIow 'template_validation' at 
[START] Start executing Task: To create a dependency graph for the provided 
templates, with an edge pairing two templates that are dependent on each other. 
Such graph relationships will affect whether certain templates can be deployed 
in parallel, or must be deployed sequentially. at 
Dependency processing for all templates succeeded . 
[SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'DependencyprocessingTask: Executing 
Template Dependency processing task' in TaskFIow 'template_validation' at 
Template verification completed . 
----------------------------------= 12 : l€:eu

Secondly:

.\vcsa-deploy.exe install --accept-eula --acknowledge-ceip --precheck-only <Path to json File>

This will perform a more in depth validation, checking things like the credentials for your SSO domain, DNS or whether the IP or name you plan to use for your VCSA is in use already.

Note: Make sure you have your DNS setup correctly and is resolving the appliance FQDN!

It will also provide warnings if it thinks you might not be using an appropriate template. I originally specified a host what was already managed by vCenter, so it warned me like so:

DRS Warning: The target ESXi host ' smt—lab .10caI' is managed by 
of these hosts are in a cluster, and DRS 
vcenter server '1€.2€€.15.25€' . 
If any 
is enabled, vMotion can take effect and 
adversely impact the installation, 
upgrade, or migration processes. 
It is 
recommended that you use the 
*_on_vc.json template file for the target ESXi host if it is managed by a 
vCenter Server, and ensure the ESXi hosts you have specified are not members of 
clusters with DRS set to Fully Automated during the installation, upgrade, or 
migration processes.

You will get a similar output to the first command, should you pass all the tests. If not you will need to look at resolving them to ensure you get a successful deployment.

The Install!

Once you are confident you have everything in place, including DNS, and your configuration files are correct, you are ready to install:

.\vcsa-deploy.exe install --accept-eula --acknowledge-ceip --no-ssl-certificate-verification <Path to json File>

Here is a cut down version of the output you will see during the deployment:

 ====== [START] Start executing Task: To validate CLI options at 12:46:25 ======
 Command line arguments verfied.
  [SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'CLIOptionsValidationTask: Executing CLI
 optionsValidation task' in TaskFlow 'template_validation' at 12:46:26
  [START] Start executing Task: To validate the syntax of the template. at
 12:46:27
 Template syntax validation for template
 'M:\Software\VMware\vCenter\embedded_vCSA_replication_on_ESXi.json' succeeded.
 Syntax validation for all templates succeeded. 

 ====== [START] Start executing Task: Perform precheck tasks. at 12:46:39 ======
  [START] Start executing Task: Verify that the provided credentials for the
 target ESXi/VC are valid at 12:46:45
 The certificate of server 'smt-lab-esx-04.smt-lab.local' will not be verified
 because you have provided either the '--no-ssl-certificate-verification' or
 '--no-esx-ssl-verify' command parameter, which disables verification for all
 certificates. Remove this parameter from the command line if you want server
 certificates to be verified. 

 ================== [START] Start executing Task:  at 12:47:47 ==================
 = [SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task '' in TaskFlow 'install' at 12:47:47 =
  [START] Start executing Task: Check whether the datastore's free space
 accommodate the VCSA's deployment option at 12:47:51
  [SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'Running precheck: TargetDsFreespace' in
 TaskFlow 'install' at 12:47:51 

 ==========VCSA Deployment Progress Report==========         Task: Install
 required RPMs for the appliance.(RUNNING 5/100)   - Setting up storage
 VCSA Deployment is still running 

 ==========VCSA Deployment Progress Report==========         Task: Install
 required RPMs for the appliance.(SUCCEEDED 100/100)       - Task has completed
 successfully.         Task: Run firstboot scripts.(SUCCEEDED 100/100) - Task has
 completed successfully.
 Successfully completed VCSA deployment.  VCSA Deployment Start Time:
 2020-12-28T13:19:19.291Z VCSA Deployment End Time: 2020-12-28T14:18:27.103Z
  [SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'MonitorDeploymentTask: Monitoring
 Deployment' in TaskFlow 'embedded_vCSA_replication_on_ESXi' at 14:18:45
 Monitoring VCSA Deploy task completed
 The certificate of server 'smt-lab-vcsa-02.smt-lab.local' will not be verified
 because you have provided either the '--no-ssl-certificate-verification' or
 '--no-esx-ssl-verify' command parameter, which disables verification for all
 certificates. Remove this parameter from the command line if you want server
 certificates to be verified.
 == [START] Start executing Task: Join active domain if necessary at 14:18:59 ==
 Domain join task not applicable, skipping task
  [SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'Running deployment: Domain Join' in
 TaskFlow 'embedded_vCSA_replication_on_ESXi' at 14:18:59
  [START] Start executing Task: Provide the login information about new
 appliance. at 14:19:10
     Appliance Name: smt-lab-vcsa-02
     System Name: smt-lab-vcsa-02.smt-lab.local
     System IP: 10.200.15.249
     Log in as: Administrator@vsphere.local
  [SUCCEEDED] Successfully executed Task 'ApplianceLoginSummaryTask: Provide
 appliance login information.' in TaskFlow 'embedded_vCSA_replication_on_ESXi' at
 14:19:10
 =================================== 14:19:16 =================================== 

Once complete, you will now have a second vCenter appliance deployed in Linked mode with the original.  Here it is once I had configured a datacenter and cluster with two hosts.

v @ smt-lab-vcsa-02_smt-lab.locaI 
smt-lab-dc02 
a:] smt-lab-cl-wl-02a 
(Maintenance Mode) 
smt-lab-esx-07_smt-lab_local (Maintenance Mode)

And there you have it, thanks for reading!

Using Tags To Automate The Assigning Of vCenter Object Permissions

Tags are a really useful component in VMware. They can be used for all manor of things, whether it’s for storage policies, backups, identifying a group of objects or in the case of this post, managing permissions.

Having a method of easily assigning permissions to singular or multiple objects in vCenter can be a great benefit to a vSphere Admin as it’s gives them greater control over the environment they manage.

Lets take a look at what is needed to get this setup:

  • Script
  • Tag Category & Tags for each support role.
  • AD Security Groups
  • AD Service Account
  • vCenter Roles (one for the service account, then one for each of the support roles)
  • PowerCLI VICredentials
  • Scheduled Task

In this example I will use 4 common support teams that could be used, DBA, EUC, Operations and Storage. These can be anything you have a requirement for.

Script

Here is the script that applies the permissions based on the assigned tags. It can also be found here on GitHub. Save this on your management server of choice, or wherever you intend to run the scheduled task as a .PS1 file. In this example it’s saved on a management server in C:\Scripts\VI_Permissions.ps1.

#Load PowerCLI Modules
Import-module VMware.PowerCLI

#Get the Credentials
$creds = Get-VICredentialStoreItem -file  C:\Scripts\VM_Tagging_Perms.creds
 
#Connect to vCenter
Connect-VIServer -Server $creds.host -User $creds.User -Password $creds.Password -Force

#Tags
$dbaT = "Support Team/DBA_Team"
$storT = "Support Team/Storage_Team"
$eucT = "Support Team/EUC_Team"
$operT = "Support Team/Operations_Team"

#Active Directory Groups
$dbaG = "smt-lab\dba_admins"
$storG ="smt-lab\storage_admins"
$eucG = "smt-lab\euc_admins"
$OperG = "smt-lab\operations_users"

#Roles
$dbaR = "DBA VM Administrator"
$storR = "Storage VM Administrator"
$eucR = "End User VM Administrator"
$OperR = "Operations Users"


$VMs = Get-VM

ForEach ($VM in $VMs) {

        $TAGS = Get-TagAssignment -Entity $VM | Select @{l='SupportTeam';e={('{0}/{1}' -f $_.tag.category, $_.tag.name)}}, Entity

                                If ($TAGS.SupportTeam -contains $dbaT)  {New-VIPermission -Principal $dbaG -Role $dbaR -Entity $vm.name} Else {Get-VIPermission -Entity $vm.Name -Principal $dbaG | Remove-VIPermission -Confirm:$false}
                                If ($TAGS.SupportTeam -contains $storT) {New-VIPermission -Principal $storG -Role $storR -Entity $vm.Name} Else {Get-VIPermission -Entity $vm.Name -Principal $storG | Remove-VIPermission -Confirm:$false}
                                If ($TAGS.SupportTeam -contains $eucT) {New-VIPermission -Principal $eucG -Role $eucR -Entity $vm.Name}  Else {Get-VIPermission -Entity $vm.Name -Principal $eucG | Remove-VIPermission -Confirm:$false}
                                If ($TAGS.SupportTeam -contains $operT) {New-VIPermission -Principal $OperG -Role $OperR -Entity $vm.Name}  Else {Get-VIPermission -Entity $vm.Name -Principal $OperG | Remove-VIPermission -Confirm:$false}
                        }

Tag Category & Tags

Now onto Tag Categories and Tags in vCenter. Create a Tag category called ‘Support _Teams’ (Or something of your choosing, just make sure you are consistent throughout):

Or using PowerShell – New-TagCategory -Name Support_Teams -Cardinality Multiple -EntityType All

You can select as many object types as you wish and you will also want to allow multiple tags per object.

Now create a tag for each of the support teams in the tag category you just created:

New-Tag -Name Storage_Team -Category "Support_Teams"
New-Tag -Name DBA_Team -Category "Support_Teams"
New-Tag -Name EUC_Team -Category "Support_Teams"
New-Tag -Name Operations_Team -Category "Support_Teams"
Storage_Team 
DBA—Team 
EUC_Team 
Operations _ Team 
Support Team 
Support Team 
Support Team 
Support Team

Create AD groups

Now for some corresponding AD Security Group for each role you wish to have:

Name 
dba admins 
operation 
storage_ad, 
Type 
Security Group 
Security Group... 
Security Group, 
Security Group

Service Account (AD User)

Now to create an AD user account that will be used to apply the permissions within vCenter. This will be the account that will be used to run the scheduled task, connect to vCenter and will have the appropriate permissions to assign permissions for the support roles.

Name 
Type 
tag_permissions User

Support Team Roles

Now we need to create a suitable role for each team.  In this example I have copied the Virtual Machine Power User role, but these roles can contain which ever privilege’s you require.

Under ‘Administration > Roles’ you will see the options to either create a new Role or copy an existing.  From here you will be able to assign it a name and specify the privilege’s you require.

Roles 
Roles provider: 
Admlnlstrator 
Read-only 
No access 
AppdAppllenceUser 
AutoUpdateUser 
VSPHERE.LOCAL v 
DESCRIPTION 
Datastore 
USAGE 
PRIVILEGES 
Content llbrery edmlnlstretor (sample) 
Content Llbrery Reglsry admlnlstrator (sample) 
Datastore consumer (sample) 
DBA VM Admlnlstretor 
End User VM Admlnlstretor 
Network admlnlstretor (sample) 
No cryptography admlnlstrator 
No Trusted Infrastructure admlnlstretor 
NSX Admlnlstretor 
NSX Auditor 
NSX VI Admlnlstretor 
Operatlons Users 
Resource pool admlnlstretor (sample) 
SRM Admlnlstrator 
42 items 
Browse datastore 
Global 
Cancel task 
Scheduled task 
Create tasks 
• Modify task 
• Remove task 
• Run task 
Virtual machine 
Change Configuration 
Acquire disk lease 
Add existing disk 
Add new disk 
Add or remove device 
Advanced configuration 
Change CPU count 
Change Memory 
Change Settings 
Change resource 
o Modify device settings 
Remove disk

You will be referencing these Role names in the script so make sure you continue to match the names thought the process.

Permissioning Role

As mentioned in the service account section, the account (tag_permissions) running the scheduled task will need permissions in vCenter through a role.  The privileges this role will hold, needs to include all the privilege’s that are referenced in all of your Support Team Roles in order for it to have the right to assign the permissions. For example, if all your support roles are a copy of the ‘Virtual Machine power user’ role, your tagging permissions role will need to contain the same privileges.

Depending on how broad the scope of your support team roles, you may want to use the ‘Administrator’ or the ‘No cryptography administrator’ role.  This is entirely up to you and how you manage your estate.

For this example in my lab, I will use the predefined ‘Administrator’ role to grant the ‘tag_permissions’ AD account permissions at the Global Root, ensuring you have selected the ‘Propagate to children’ option.

Change Role 
Domain 
User/Group 
Role 
Global Permission Root 
SMT-LABLOCAL 
tag_permissions 
Administrator 
Propagate to children 
CANCEL

You could create a copy of the ‘Administrator’ role and name it something like ‘VI Permissions Service’ for instance, to give you flexibility to modify it in the future as well as making it easy to identify. With any high privileged account, ensure you secure it appropriately.

Create VI Credential Item

Now to create an encrypted credentials file that the service account running the scheduled task can import and then use to connect to vCenter without any intervention.

The AD account that is used to run the scheduled task, must be the account that also creates the credentials file as this is the only user that can use it.  It will require permissions to run PowerShell and have access to a folder location to store the credentials file on your chosen management server.

To begin, start a PowerShell session in the context of the service account:

Windows Security 
Run as different user 
Please enter credentials to use for 
Domain: smt-lab 
OK 
Cancel

Note: Ensure the server that you are running this scheduled task from has PowerCLI installed.  Installing PowerCLI.

Then run the following, entering your vCenter FQDN and the user and password that you created:

New-VICredentialStoreItem -host "smt-lab-vcsa-01.smt-lab.local" -user "smt-lab\tag_permissions" -password "VMware123!" -file C:\Scripts\VM_Tagging_Perms.creds
PS C: 
_Perms . creds 
New—VIC redenti al Storeltem 
C: \ Scri pts ng 
-host 
smt—lab. local" -user 
"smt—l ssion 
s" -password 
"VMware123! " 
Hos t 
User 
smt—1ab—vcsa—01 s 
smt—l . 
C: \ Scri ng_Perms . creds

Ensure you are storing the file somewhere with appropriate access to allow this but, also to restrict any unnecessary access.  The credentials file can have the password read if the user account that created it is compromised and gains access to the file using those windows credentials.

Scheduled Task

Now for the last component, the scheduled task. On a management server or a server of your choosing, create a scheduled task:

Vl_permissions Properties (Local Computer) 
General Triggers Actions Conditions Settings 
History 
Location: 
Author: 
VI Permissions 
SMT- LA8\Administrator 
Description: 
Security options 
When running the task, use the following user account: 
SMT- LA rmissio ns 
C) Run only when user is logged on 
@ Run whether user is logged on or not 
Change User or Group... 
[3 Do not store password. The task will only have access to local computer resources. 
Run with highest privileges 
Hidden 
Configure for: 
Windows Vista" , Windows Server" 2008 
Cancel

Assign an appropriate schedule that suits the level of change and size of your environment:

Vl_permissions Properties (Local Computer) 
General Triggers Actions Conditions Settings 
History 
Location: 
Author: 
VI Permissions 
SMT- LA8\Administrator 
Description: 
Security options 
When running the task, use the following user account: 
SMT- LA rmissio ns 
C) Run only when user is logged on 
@ Run whether user is logged on or not 
Change User or Group... 
[3 Do not store password. The task will only have access to local computer resources. 
Run with highest privileges 
Hidden 
Configure for: 
Windows Vista" , Windows Server" 2008 
Cancel

Now configure the trigger to execute the script:

(9 
Create Task 
General Triggers Actions Conditions Settings 
When you create a task, you must specify the action that will occur when your task starts. 
Action 
Start a program 
New... 
Details 
powershell -File 
Edit... 
Delete

Now thats everything you need to set this up, so lets give it a run though!

Assigning Tags and Permissions

Lets take a look at my demo VM permissions before we begin assigning permissions:

Lets check the VM permissions before having any tags assigned:

Get-TagAssignment -Entity $VM
$VM | ForEach-Object {Get-VIPermission -Entity $_ | Where {$_.Principal -like "*smt-lab*"} | Select Principal, Role}

Note that the tag_permissions account has been propagated from the root permissions you set earlier.

—TagAssignment 
-Entity 
ps Get 
ForEach—Object {Get—VIPermission 
principal 
Role 
SMT-LAB\tag_ 
permissions Admin 
—Entity 
Where 
principal 
—like 
Select principal, 
Role} 
SMT-LAB\Stephan 
Admin

Now assign a tag or two from the ones you created earlier using ‘New-TagAssignment’:

New-TagAssignment -Tag DBA_Team -Entity $VM
New-TagAssignment -Tag Operations_Team -Entity $VM
DBA_Team 
Tag 
Support 
Tag 
Support 
New—TagAssignment —Tag 
Team/DBA_Team 
New—TagAssignment —Tag 
Team/Operations_Team 
-Entity $VM 
Entity 
tfdemol 
Operations_Team —Entity $VM 
Entity 
tfdemol

Now you can either manually run the scheduled task or wait until its next scheduled run time.  Once the job has run, you can now check the tags match the permissions assigned by running the following:

Get-TagAssignment -Entity $VM
$VM | ForEach-Object {Get-VIPermission -Entity $_ | Where {$_.Principal -like "smt-lab"} | Select Principal, Role}
—Entity 
Tag 
Support 
Support 
Get—TagAssignment 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/Operations_Team 
ForEach—Object {Get—VIPermission 
Entity 
tfdemol 
tfdemol 
—Entity 
Where 
principal 
—like 
Select principal, 
Role} 
principal 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
—LAB\dba_admins 
—LAB\operations_users 
—LAB\tag_permissions 
—LAB\Stephan 
Role 
DBA VM Administrator 
Operations Users 
Admin 
Admin

You will see that the two tags assigned align with the the two AD groups being granted the corresponding role.

Now let do this for multiple VM’s:

Here I have multiple VM’s in the variable ‘$VM’ and I am assigning two tags to each of them.

$VM | ForEach-Object {New-TagAssignment -Tag DBA_Team -Entity $_}
$VM | ForEach-Object {New-TagAssignment -Tag Storage_Team -Entity $_}
DBA_Team 
Tag 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Tag 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
—Object 
ForEach 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
—Object 
ForEach 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
{New—TagAssignment —Tag 
Entity 
Demopho€€6 
Demophoe€5 
Demopho€€2 
Demopho€€u 
Demophoe€3 
—Entity $_} 
{New—TagAssignment —Tag 
Storage_Team 
Entity 
Demopho€€6 
Demopho€€5 
Demopho€€2 
Demopho€€u 
Demopho€€3 
—Entity $_}

You can now see the tags assigned:

$VM | ForEach-Object {Get-TagAssignment -Entity $_}
{Get—TagAssignment 
Entity 
Tag 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
Support 
ForEach—Object 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
Team/Storage_Team 
Team/DBA_Team 
—Entity $_} 
Demophoe€6 
Demopho€€6 
Demopho€€5 
Demophoe€5 
Demopho€€2 
Demopho€€2 
Demophoeeu 
Demopho€€u 
Demophoe€3 
Demophoe€3

Following the script / job being run:

 $VM | ForEach-Object {Get-VIPermission -Entity $_ | Where {$_.Principal -like "*smt-lab*"} | Select Principal, Role} 
ForEach 
principal 
—Object {Get—VIPermission 
Role 
DBA VM Administrator 
—Entity 
Where 
principal 
—like 
Select principal, 
Role} 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
SMT 
—LAB\dba_admins 
—LAB\storage_admins 
—LAB\tag_permissions 
—LAB\Stephan 
—LAB\dba_admins 
—LAB\storage_admins 
—LAB\tag_permissions 
—LAB\Stephan 
—LAB\dba_admins 
—LAB\storage_admins 
—LAB\tag_permissions 
—LAB\Stephan 
—LAB\dba_admins 
—LAB\storage_admins 
—LAB\tag_permissions 
—LAB\Stephan 
—LAB\dba_admins 
—LAB\storage_admins 
—LAB\tag_permissions 
—LAB\Stephan 
Storage VM Administrator 
Admin 
Admin 
DBA VM Administrator 
Storage VM Administrator 
Admin 
Admin 
DBA VM Administrator 
Storage VM Administrator 
Admin 
Admin 
DBA VM Administrator 
Storage VM Administrator 
Admin 
Admin 
DBA VM Administrator 
Storage VM Administrator 
Admin 
Admin

As in the singular example, you will see that the two tags assigned, align with the the two AD groups being granted the corresponding role.

Removing Tags and Permissions

Now lets look at removing permissions, in this case, the Operations Team permissions from a VM:

Get-TagAssignment -Entity $VM | Where {$_.Tag -like "*Operations*"} | Remove-TagAssignment -Confirm:$false

Leaving it with just the ‘DBA_Team’ Tag assigned:

Once the script has run:

$VM | ForEach-Object {Get-VIPermission -Entity $_ | Where {$_.Principal -like "*smt-lab*"} | Select Principal, Role}

Reviewing Permissions

Finally, if you want to know which objects are supported by a specific team and have access you can check this by running:

Get-TagAssignment | Where {$_.Tag -like "Support_Teams/DBA_Team"}

You now have a way of assigning and removing permissions from vCenter objects using Tags. In this example I have used virtual machine object, but depending on your requirements, and the scope you set on the tag category, you could use this for other vCenter objects.

Thanks for reading!

Change ESXi Host Access Groups With PowerCLI

IT security, accountability and auditability are critical today. Securing vCenter Server using auditable identities, for instance via an Active Directory identity source, is likely common for most vCenter consumers. This ensures individual access can be used to audit actions back to an admin as well as provide higher security through strong password policies and the absence of a shared account credentials, such as the SSO administrator.

Something that can be overlooked is the security of the ESXi hosts themselves.

There are multiple options for securing your ESXi hosts, one being the use of lockdown modes and limited user access, restricted management network access, or a combination of them both.

In this blog post I want to show you a simple way to configure your hosts to use an Active Directory group to control user access to an ESXi host.

This is achieved by editing the value associated with an advanced setting – ‘Config.HostAgent.plugins.hostsvc.esxAdminsGroup’.

One prerequisite to achieving this is that the hosts must be domain joined. Information on how to do this can be found here.

Editing this on a handful of servers is easy enough if you are doing it manually, but who wants to be manually typing or copying & pasting this?

I have put together a PowerShell Function that can simplify the editing of this setting for single hosts, or on mass to all ESXi hosts that you have connected your PowerCLI session to.

The code can be found on GitHub here.

Here are two examples of how it can be used –

Set-ESXiHostAdminGroup -Target single -Entity esxi01 -Group "infrastructure_admins"

Set-ESXiHostAdminGroup -Target all -Group "infrastructure_admins"

For the purposes of this demo, I will update all ESXi Hosts within my vCenter instance using the second example. You could edit the function to target clusters if you wish.

Setting before –

Set-ESXiHostAdminGroup -Target all -Group "infrastructure_admins"
Function Output

After –

You will need to wait the length of time defined in this setting until being able to log in –

Now all users that are in the ‘infrastructure_admins’ Active Directory group will be able to log into the ESXi host with administrator permissions using their AD credentials.

Hope this has been useful, thanks for reading!

SRM 8.3 Certificate Management

Following on from my last post on vSphere 7.0 certificate Management, I wanted to continue with another certificate related post. This one being Site Recovery Manager (SRM) 8.3. Like vSphere 7.0, this version seems simpler than previous versions I have used.

With SRM, it’s the Appliance Certificate replacement that I am going to take you through in this blog post.

Firstly log into the SRM appliance management console via https://<srm-fqdn&gt;:5480 and select the ‘Certificates’ option on the left, followed by ‘Generate CSR’ in the top right.

Fill in the information for your certificate, then click ‘Generate and Download’. You then need to process the CSR with your certificate authority, whether thats an internal, public or lab CA.

New Private Key and CSR 
Generating a new private key invalidates any existing Certificate Signing Request (CSR) configuration. 
A private key is created when you generate the CSR, making a key pair. 
This information will be used to generate a certificate. 
Organization 
Organization unit 
Locality 
State 
Country 
FQDN 
IP addresses 
smt-lab.local 
smt-lab 
Lab City 
Labshire 
GB 
Two letters country code. 
smt-lab-srm-01.smt-lab.local 
10.200.15.25 
CANCEL 
GENERATE AND DOWNLOAD

Once you have your certificate, select the ‘Certificates’ option on the left again, this time followed by ‘Change’ in the top right.

Select the last option in the Select certificate type section; ‘CA-signed certificate generated from CSR’. Then, browse both your newly generated certificate and either you root CA certificate, or the CA chain. Click ‘Change’ once done.

This should complete the replacement of the SRM appliance certificate!

If like me you get an error complaining that the IP or Common name / SAN is missing, make sure the local host field is set to the FQDN when connecting SRM to vCenter.

Thanks for reading!

vSphere 7.0 Certificate Management

vCenter 7.0 brings many new features, one of which is a much smoother certificate management experience. There are now 4 main ‘modes’ for certificate management.

These are; Fully Managed Mode, Hybrid Mode, Subordinate CA Mode and finally Full Custom Mode. There is a great article here from Bob Plankers explaining the difference between each.

As mentioned in Bob’s blog, Hybrid Mode is the recommend option, and I will show you that process here in this blog.

Firstly, in your vSphere Client, browse to Administration > Certificates. Then click Actions and select ‘Generate Certificate Signing Request (CSR)’.

Complete the required fields with your information, making sure you have at least added the common name as a Subject Alternative Name to avoid issues with modern browsers. Click Next.

Finally, copy or download your CSR to generate the certificate on the CA of your choosing. Click Finish when ready.

Generate CSR 
1 Enter Info 
2 Generate CSR 
Generate CSR 
X 
Copy or download the CSR below and provide it to your Certificate Authority 
to be signed. 
---BEGIN CERTIFICATE REQUEST.... 
MllDrZCCAPCCAQAwfZEmMCQGAIUEAWWdC210LWXhYi12Y3NhLTAXLnNtdCISY 
Wiu 
bG9jYWwxCzAJBgNVBAYTAkdCMREwDwYDVQQlDAhMYWJzaGIyZTERMA8GA 
IUEBWWI 
TGFilENPdHkXEDAoagNVBAOMB3NtdCISYWlXEDAOBgNVBASMB3NtdCISYWlW 
ggEi 
MAOGcsqGSlb3DaEBAGUAA41BDWAwggEKAOlBAQCXZYRq1HAU7M601HmvuT 
EsFnNZlpP2sBz4C9K87Wi/4kgLMq04LCTjCK08SPa+6w7AwVjmFja1np4hrSVl+N 
mh5dUOUDFHgKqFeuIAvjfXCAEVS4ircreCN7KfW12ytfUin8ce8qEu5DouguhWhl 
oi5Fa1xOGKybZFzLpySsA7rdJ6bYcJYeyn+uf7YHbO+dWHz3XZ9FG7M8fCbtLdW 
COPY 
CANCEL 
DOWNLOAD 
BACK 
FINISH

Once you have your certificate, return to Administration > Certificates and this time select ‘Import and Replace Certificate’.

You then need to select the second option. This may seem slightly deceiving but it effectively is the option you need when you have generated the CSR from vCenter like this.

Now browse and select both your freshly produced certificate, and the root certificate or certificate chain if you have issuing CA’s.

Replace Certificate 
1 Choose appropriate option 
2 Replace with signed certificate 
Replace with external CA certificate 
vCenter server services will be automatically restarted after successful replacement Of the machine SSL certificate. 
Machine SSL Certificate 
Chain of trusted root certificates 
Certificate: 
Data: 
Version: 3 (Ox2) 
BROWSE FILE 
MllDNjCCAh6gAWlBAglUZHHFEZH7/jq1Z9NXjm+ORhgflOSWDQYJKOZlhVCNA 
GEL 
CANCEL 
BROWSE FILE 
BACK 
REPLACE

Hit replace, then wait for the Web Client to restart with the new certificate.

Now one final step is needed to complete Hybrid Mode. You need to download the VMCA Root certificate from https://<vCenterFQDN by clicking the ‘Download trusted root CA certificates’ option and distributing it to your vSphere admins.

Once distributed and installed on your vSphere admins client devices, they should not get certificate errors when either browsing to vCenter or the hosts it manages.

You could however, get this error due to the default certificate having a 5 year validity period and not being within the new ‘standard’ of 398 days.

NET::ERR_CERT_VALIDITY_TOO_LONG

If you receive this, you will want to adjust the vpxd.certmgmt.certs.daysValid value in the vCenter Advanced Settings. It defaults to 1825, making it 365 (one year) will stop this.

You can then renew the certificate on each host by clicking ‘Renew’ in the Configure > Certificates menu –

Before (5 years) –

After (1 Year)-

If you want to do this renewal via PowerCLI (because…well why wouldn’t you!?) there is a nice function here by Ankush Sethi which does a great job.

Thanks for reading.

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