A couple of weeks back, Alan Renouf and I co-presented at the Sydney and Melbourne VMUG UserCon, here are some great write-ups about the events here and here. We were very honored to have been invited out and to also deliever the closing keynote. Having traveled halfway around the world, we thought it was only fitting to share something really special.

For the last couple of months, we had been working on a small pet project that I personally had been referring to as the "vGhetto SDDC". This was not something we had not shared with anyone before and thought the VMUG UserCon was the perfect venue to demo our new project. For the session, we decided to rename the project/session to USB to SDDC (better ring than the previous title) which might give you a hint on what the project might be about.

The inception for this project really stemmed from the work we did at last years VMworld Hackathon which was another idea that both Alan and I had came up and worked with the VMware Code team to deliver at both VMworld US and Europe. Like all great Automation stories, the motivation for this project was born out of pure laziness. With the huge success of the Hackathon at VMworld US, there was a huge demand for us to also deliver it again at VMworld Europe.

As part of the Hackathon, we provided each team with a single Intel NUC that came pre-loaded with ESXi, vCenter Server Appliance and vSAN all ready to go for the teams to start hacking away at their projects. We had also increased the number of teams from 5 to 7 at VMworld Europe which meant that I had the privilege of building out these 7 systems for the event. As many of you know, I hate doing things manually and although I had much of it already automated there were still a few places that I had to perform manual steps. Post-VMworld, we had several folks asking about the deployment that I had done for the Hackathon. Alan was nice enough to take the content I had and quickly put together a unified PowerCLI script that would deploy and configure the VCSA onto an Intel NUC.

After the script was published, I started to think ... could we do even better than that? Alan's script had already assumed that you had ESXi and vSAN deployed and configured to the point where you could start deploying VMs. Although it could help with future NUC deployments, there was still a bunch of tasks that had to be done before you could actually use the script and even then, it still required some one to manually run the script.

I thought to myself, would it not be cool if you could simply plug in a USB key which had a specific configuration defined and have ESXi, vCenter Server Appliance and vSAN automatically install and configure itself without any additional user interaction? We are using "SDDC" pretty loosely here, but it is absolutely possible to extend the solution to deploy other VMware and 3rd party solutions. In fact, I had even prototyped deploying NSX but due to the limited amount resources in the NUCs, we decided to just deploy the basic foundation. This is what Project USB to SDDC is all about!

In Part 2, I will deep dive into how the solution actually works and finally in Part 3 we will take a look at how you an get access to this project and deploy your own system by simply plugging a USB key into any system that meets the basic requirements.

2 thoughts on “Project USB to SDDC - Part 1

  1. William, enjoyed the Demo in Sydney, and looking forward eagerly to the next installments. Thank you for your sharing of this cool solution, my NUCs at home are due for a refreshed version of vSphere, so the timing is excellent 😉

  2. The NUCS are truly remarkable for a homelab. I have 4 i3s each with 32gb ram 2xssd. Running Vsan and Nsx other products. What really made these boxes useful was getting the drivers for the USB nics. You do a great service by writing about these utilitarian little boxes!!

Thanks for the comment!