“Veeam Quick Migration” how do you use it?

You may ask yourself if I have all the proper configuration and vCenter in place why do I need Veeam Quick Migration. Well….. I do have all the proper configuration, licensing and vCenter, and I use Quick Migration a couple of times a week.

What do I use it for? In my production environment I don’t like to put any unknown’s in the mix. But we all need unknown’s from time to time. We need to test product’s, application upgrades, Security patches, Service packs, and many other things. I do this all within my Company Lab, it’s a totally isolated infrastructure with it’s own hosts, Shared Storage, and networking Stack.

The problem I used to have was, my production host, and storage couldn’t see my Lab host, or storage. To move the VM’s from the production to the Lab or vice versa was not always an easy task. It involved using VMware converter, performing backups and moving them across the wire, or with USB media, Attaching my Lab Host to the SAN for a short period of time. But since using Veeam Quick Migration I don’t need to do that anymore.

To make sure that Veeam could access my Lab Infrastructure I configured a backup proxy on a VM in the Lab. If you are using the licensed version of Veeam this does not add to your license hosts, it is also available in the Veeam Backup Free Edition.

Below is a more technical details on Quick Migration, and screenshots of a Quick Migration being performed.

Quick Migration

Veeam Backup & Replication analyzes your virtual environment, its configuration, the state of VMs and selects the most appropriate relocation method. Whenever possible,  Veeam Backup & Replication coordinates its operations with vCenter Server and uses native VMware vCenter migration mechanisms: vMotion and Storage vMotion. When VMware vCenter migration methods cannot be used (for example, if your VMware vSphere license does not provide support for vMotion and Storage vMotion, or you need to migrate VMs from one standalone ESX(i) host to another), Veeam Backup & Replication uses its proprietary SmartSwitch technology to relocate VMs.

Veeam Quick Migration provides means for fast background migration of VMs ensuring continuous uptime of your virtual environment. Quick Migration supports hot VM migration (with SmartSwitch) and cold VM migration (with cold switch).

Migration of a VM is performed in several stages:

1.Veeam Backup & Replication copies VM configuration (.vmx) to the target host and registers the VM.

2.Veeam Backup & Replication triggers a VM snapshot and copies VM disk content to the new destination.

3.VM state and changes made after snapshot creation are moved to a new location. Veeam Backup & Replication uses different approaches to move the VM state between hosts with compatible and non‑compatible CPUs.

•If you move a VM between two hosts with compatible CPUs, Veeam Backup & Replication uses SmartSwitch (that is, it suspends a VM to move its state file and changes made after snapshot creation). The VM is then resumed on the new host. This ensures minimum downtime, and completely eliminates any data loss during migration.

•If you move a VM between two hosts with non‑compatible CPUs, Veeam Backup & Replication stops the VM to move changes made after snapshot creation, and then starts the VM on the new host.

http://www.veeam.com/vmware-backup/help-center/vsphere/index.html?quick_migration.htm

Quick Migration Architecture

Quick Migration architecture in a VMware vSphere environment comprises the following components:

•Source host and target host with associated datastores

•One or two backup proxy servers

Similar to backup, Quick Migration uses two-agent architecture: the source‑side agent interacts with the source host, and the target‑side agent interacts with the target host. To perform onsite migration, you can deploy one backup proxy for data processing and transfer. This backup proxy must have access to the source host and to the target host at the same time. In this scenario, the source‑side agent and the target‑side agent are started on the same backup proxy.

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The common requirement for offsite migration is that one Veeam agent runs in the production site (closer to the source host and datastore), and the other agent runs in the remote target site (closer to the target host and datastore). During backup, the agents maintain a stable connection, which allows for uninterrupted operation over WAN or slow links.

For offsite migration, you need to deploy at least one local backup proxy in each site: a source backup proxy in the production site, and a target backup proxy in the remote target site.

quick_mig_2proxies

http://www.veeam.com/vmware-backup/help-center/vsphere/index.html?migration_architecture.htm

Migration Demo

Go to the “Virtual Machines”

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Locate the VM you want to migrate. You can also do this with a powered on VM, for my situation powered off is fine.

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Right click and select “Quick Migration”

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At this point just select “Next” unless you wanted to add another VM to the Migration.

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I then go ahead and pick my Lab Host for the Destination. Pick a resource pool if you would like, choose your folder to place the VM, and select your Datastore. Click “Next”

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Now you can pick your Backup Proxy. I like to choose mine but you select auto if you would like. Just takes a step out of troubleshooting if it was to fail for some reason. I go ahead and tell it to force the Veeam quick migration no matter if vMotion was support or not.

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Go ahead and verify your settings, if all looks good go ahead and select finish. You may also choose to delete the VM after Migration if successful. Myself, I like to go ahead and do that myself. Especially if I just want to clone the VM.

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You will now see the status of the Job.

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You can see from the screen shot below that it completed in 25 Minutes, and is ready to use.

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If you click on the VM Name it will show more details. No different than any other Veeam Status report.

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The VM on the old host will be renamed with a _migrated appended to the end of the name.

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On the new VM it will be named the way it was originally.

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Before you power up the VM you may have to go in and assign the VM the proper Network, if you have network’s consistent across your Host you will not have to assign the network.

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Here is the VM all running and happy. Once I see that I go ahead and delete the Migrated VM from my Production host and storage.

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How do you use Quick Migration?

Veeam 6.5 Configuration Backup

One of the things I always wanted from Veeam was a simple way to backup my Veeam B&R server configuration. Guess what….. Veeam knew their Customers wanted that, aren’t we all glad they listen so closely to their Customers. With Veeam v6.5 you can now backup the configuration of a Veeam server within a few steps. If’s so simple if you don’t pay attention to release notes you may just miss this new feature, if you do miss it and you do have corruption of your database you will wish you knew it was available.

Here are the steps

Go to the Veeam Console

Go up to the top left corner and select the Menu dropdown choose the “Configuration Backup”

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First thing select “Enable configuration backup”, select the Backup Repository where you would like to store the backup. I wouldn’t be to concerned about space, here is a sample from a production server holding several jobs, Labs, and Sure backups, as you can tell to hold the configuration it is only consuming a little over 100 MB. From here you can also select the amount restore points to keep.

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The Schedule gives you the ability to set it daily, monthly, and the ability to select which days.

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The Backup gives you a great ability to take a configuration backup of your database before you perform an upgrade, or any other system changes that could affect your database.

If you want to restore that is also a very simple process. Click Restore, choose your Backup Repository, select the backup file, your database. Another great option to take a backup before you perform the restore. Supply your Credentials, review your choices, and apply!

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Just wanted to give highlight to this simple but very useful and handy option!

NimbleStorage CS220 Software Update in under 5 Minutes

We all want the ability to update our controllers in a fast and efficient way. Nimble gives us that ability. In the below video I am upgrading my CS220 to 1.3.2 without any downtime, no ping loss, no searching for the correct software.

There is no sound to the video, and the video is not shorten, this is the full process to updating the software. However I am going to also walk over the steps. The video only includes the process of installing the software, not any other steps.

Steps to update the Software

  • Go to Administration/software
  • Click download, this will show software for your Array, select the version you would like to download. This is the longer process of the upgrade. The Array will keep the previous version of Software on your array incase you need to go back. Also you may download older version if you would like, you just need to download them again. If you don’t have Internet Access on your Management Interface, no worries, just go ahead and click upload, and you may upload a file to your Array.

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  • Once the download is complete, the update button will be active.
  • Click update and the process will take about 5 – 10 Minutes (Mine took less than 5 Minutes). The process will go ahead and update your Standby Controller, once complete and verified to be working it will kick over that controller to the Active Controller, and then update your now standby Controller.
  • You can watch the process on the screen, and the steps that are occurring.
  • Once it is done, it will refresh the management page for you, log on and make sure you are running the correct Software on your Active and Standby Controller.

Now for the Video Note: My video taking still needs some work Winking smile

NimbleStorage CS220

NimbleStorage User Interface

In my last post related to NimbleStorage it was more focused on the Company, and products they offer. However I did note that I would take a few moments to document the UI and how easy it is to manage. In this post I am going to go over the UI and the different features contained within it.

The UI is Adobe Flash based, you will need v9 or higher installed on your management system to view all aspects of the UI, it will still function without Adobe Flash installed, but you will be missing some of the charts. I have ran the interface from Chrome, IE, FireFox, and Safari without any issues.

Landing Page

Once you open up your browser of choice go to the management IP that you configured on your array. You will be presented with the following page.

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Home

This is the Home Page, and will contain a dashboard related to all the information you will normally want to see from a quick health check.

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Disk Space: Will show everything you need to know about your usage, as you can see it will show the Volume Usage, Snapshot Usage, and unused reserve. It is very simple to read, and makes for a great screen shot.

Space Savings: This is where you get to see your savings and how the Nimble is saving you some space. As you can see from below my space savings is 2.51 TB or 40.55%.

Throughput: From here you can see how much data is passing over your Array interfaces. This shows current usage and for the past Hour.

IOPS: Again from here you get to see your Current IOPS usage across all your LUNs, this also shows back for an hour.

Event Summary: All Events that have happened in the last 24 Hours

Recent Events: All recent events, last hour.

The interface is controlled from a tabbed driven menu, this is the the menu you will see from any page within the Nimble Management Interface. I will explain the rest of the Interface in order.

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Manage

The Manage tab is where you can configure your Volumes, Replication, Snapshots, Protection and Performance Policies, Array, and Security.

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Volumes

The Volume Menu, is where all the magic happens with the Volumes, you can do anything volume related within this Menu. The first page you will see will give you a full overview of all Volumes that reside on your array, with basic information related to the usage.

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Click on a volume name, and now you have all information pertaining to that Volume. Here you will get the overview of your volume, you can edit, take a snapshot, set it to offline, Take ownership of the volume with “Claim” (Used if the Volume came from a replicated source) or Delete the Volume. You can also look at the Snapshot, and replication status for the Volume.

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Protection

The Protection Tab offers three choices.

1. Volume Collections: This allows you to protect your Volumes with Snapshot schedules and replicate those snapshots off to a second Nimble Array.

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2. Protection Templates: Predefined templates to help protect your critical applications. You can use these to as a baseline for creating your own custom Volume Collection Groups. Nimble was just nice enough to give us something to start with.

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3. Replication Partners: A place where you can view your configured replication partners, or define new ones. I don’t have any configured but you would see them here, you can also setup Bandwidth Policies so you can replicate without having to worry about the bandwidth being affected during busy times within your environment.

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Array

From here you can look at the status of your Hardware, and view all the system information related to your Array and Controllers. You can also edit the Array name, and Network Address information.

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Performance Policies

Here is where you can setup Policies to configure your Volumes with certain parameters. These Policies give you the option to create volume with certain Block size, and if you want to cache, or compress the volume. We all know we have certain workloads or datasets that we don’t want to waste our precious cache on or they won’t benefit from compression.

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Initiator Groups

This allows us to create groups of initiators that we can then assign to volumes to allow a host access to the volume.

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Chap Accounts

From here we can create a Chap Account, that we can then assign to Volumes we create to gives us some control over what we allow to connect to our Volume.

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Monitor

This is the place where you can see all the great performance you are getting out of your Nimble Winking smile

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Performance

You can view performance based off all Volumes, or a selected Volume. The time frame can also be for 5 Minutes, 24 Hours, 7 Days, or 30 Days. This will give you a very good picture of how your system is performing, it will also allow you to pin-point Volumes that are eating up the majority of your system.

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Replication

The place you will want to head to find out how your replication are performing, and if you have any issues with them.

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Connections

This section shows each Volume you have configured, and how many connections are connected to the Volume. From here you can make sure you have the proper amount of connections as you have configured from your host.

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Events

This Menu shows all the events related to your array, it keeps a log for 30 days, and you have the ability to filter the results based off of severity, Category, and Time.

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Administration

As the name depicts this has everything to do with Administration. I will explain the Menu items below. This is the only Menu that once you select one item, the other items will be listed on the left hand side of the window. This gives you quicker access to the other items.

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Email Alerts

Here you can configure the system to send you email alerts. You can also tell it to send alerts back to Nimble support, which will create a support ticket.

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AutoSupport/HTTP Proxy

AutoSupport enables the array to send health updates to Nimble Support, this lets them know what Software you are currently running, and if you have any configuration issues that may exist. This is a very nice feature, Nimble support will contact you regarding Software Updates, related to your system, they will know which version you are running and why you should be running the latest version. It gives you the personal touch when it comes to support. Also from this menu you can enable Secure Tunnel, this allows Nimble Support to directly connect to your array. This can be enabled or disabled at any time, you can leave it disabled until you need a support tech to connect.

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Software

This is where you can update the software for the Array. It will keep two versions of the software on the Array. When you want to check for a new version click Download, and it will connect to the Nimble Support site, and check for any software updates that are compatible with your Array. If your Array is not connected to the Internet on the management interface, you can go ahead and upload a software file to the array.

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Change Password

No need for a picture here, you can change your password.

Default Space Reservations

When you create a new Volume, these are the defaults settings that are displayed.

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Date/Timezone

You can set the time, and timezone, you can set this manually or with a NTP.

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Inactivity Timeout

The amount of time before you session expires. The default is 30 Minutes.

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DNS

Here you setup the DNS servers, you can have a min of 1 and a max of 5

SNMP

Configured your SNMP to communicate with a network management system.

Plugins

This is new to 1.3.3.0 Software. Right now all it includes is the ability to add the Nimble Array to vCenter for management from the DataStore View. If you are running Software below 1.3.3.0 you need to do this with CLI. Later in this posting I will talk more about the vCenter Plugin and the CLI. While on the topic of 1.3.3.0 Software, another great feature that was enabled was the ability for the Array to support more than one drive failure, that is great news! If you are running a Nimble Array, upgrade your software as soon as possible.

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Help

We all love to look at the Help Menu, right?

This one is pretty intuitive, and make’s life a little easier.

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Nimble Support

Takes you directly to the Nimble Support Site.

About CS-Series Array

Gives you the Normal About Screen

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Administrator’s Guide

I like this, no PDF to download, always up to date. Just click the menu item and look for the information you need.

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Hardware Guide

Just like the Administrator’s guide, just click and enjoy.

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Conclusion

As you can see the Interface is very user friendly, but gives you all the information you need to Configure, Monitor, and troubleshoot your Array. In this post I had planned to talk more about configuring your array, updating the Software, and the CLI. But just the walk through of the UI took longer than expected. I plan in the next couple of weeks to post a few different blogs related to NimbleStorage.

NimbleStorage My Story

imageIts time to give credit where credit is due, one thing all of IT professionals have in common is when we find a product we love to use and manage we like to share that product with everyone we know, this leads me to NimbleStorage.

I ran into Nimble Storage a couple of years ago. A couple of guys came into my office (Jay and Eddie) and started to talk about how they have a product that can replace shelves of disk with only a 3U unit full of High Capacity SATA Drives, and 4 SSD Drives just used as a read Cache, plus give me WAN-Efficient Replication, 90 Days of Backup on Disk, Space efficient Snapshots, Compression (that increases performance) and High IOPs with low latency….. Ok thinking to myself these guys must have drank the Kool-Aid. Everything they say it can accomplish I WANT, can it really be true?

A year or so went by and I ended up changing Roles and moved to a new company, they needed a new SAN. What did I want in a SAN, everything that Jay and Eddie spoke of, I wanted that….. was it the Kool-Aid or was it real, I was going to find out before I made the choice to go with another Vendor. Did my research online, and couldn’t find allot, but anything I did find was good, only comment in the negative was they are new, and beware of that. All companies got to start somewhere, Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and Veeam just to name a few, would I be willing to put my name to their vision and product?

Called up NimbleStorage and brought them in for a chat or two. Not only are they still promising the same thing, but now since a year has went past they are growing bigger, and now on the road map they have scalability in mind! I go ahead with a POC, within a couple of days I have a Nimble CS220 sitting in my Datacenter, a day or two later I get Eddie onsite, and we have the Nimble Array up and running in about 30 Minutes and ready to add some VM’s to it! Now is the time I get to see if all the hype is true. For the testing I spun up a VM, then we ran a SQLIO from the Server, we let the test run, when we were all said and done, we seen MAX IOPS at just over 18K!!! This was also while we were updating the Array to the newest software version. Lets just say I went with NimbleStorage and not regretting it one little bit, at the moment I have all my Servers moved to the Nimble Array, a Total of 60 servers running a combination of different workloads, from Exchange, SQL, File, Web, and More….. The total capacity of these servers were about 8 TB’s yet I am only using 4.2 TB’s, almost a 50% increase in capacity, while also keeping 60 Days of 1 Hour Snapshots on the Array, reducing my RPO, and RTO.

On to the Meat and potato’s

My Testing

Below I will just include some of the screen shots of the testing I did with my Nimble CS220. This is not all the testing I have done, but just some that are worth sharing. Don’t really want to cover the blog posting with SQLIO data. 

The below Iometer test were running at the same time across two different Host. (Only had 1Gbps iSCSI connected at the time)

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Reporting from the Console of the Nimble during the Test

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One that was worth sharing.

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2 1Gbps iSCSI connections using VMware iSCSI software initiator.

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Recommendations for Performance

Most of these are the same for most iSCSI based SAN’s but figured it was something nice to note.

Multi Switch Connectivity

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Network

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VMware

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NimbleStorage Product Information

Performance

Now you need to ask yourself a question, how can Nimble get such high IOPS from 8 SATA Drives (We all know it’s not all about the IOPS Nimble also offers, more throughput and lower latency). The technology that makes that possible is the CASL Architecture (Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout). CASL was designed from the ground up to leverage the best of flash and disk, it eliminates compromise between performance, capacity, and data management.

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Universal Compression: Variable-size Blocks enable fast inline compression. Elimination of read-modify-write penalty allows compression of all applications.

smart Caching: converting random writes to sequential writes minimizes “write amplification” allowing use of MLC SSDs. No RAID overhead. Data on flash is compressed and metadata in cache accelerates all reads

Write Optimized Layout: Random writes always organized into large sequential stripes. Use of low cost high-density HDDs coupled with compression lowers cost substantially

The way the process works in my own words (Please don’t fully quote this Smile)

1. VM Disk writes data to a 4.5 MB block directly in NVRAM. This data is compressed and can be variable size. The 4.5 MB block now holds 1000-3000 IO’s per block.

2. Once the 4.5 MB block is full, it gets written to the slower High density HDD’s in a sequential striped pattern.

3. VM disk reads data, if it is held in the Cache (From recent read or write) it will get sent to the VM, and if more data is needed it will be pulled from the Disk’s below and get pre-cached. Cache hit rate is usually 75%, it basically comes down to how you manage your data. You don’t want Transaction Logs, Log files, and things of that nature to remain in cache. You can control this with protection profiles. If you plan your LUNS correctly you can easily get a better cache rate than I have mentioned above. The nice thing about the Nimble is it comes with a large cache.

Features

Dynamic Caching
Reads active data from flash cache, which is populated on writes or first read. Accelerate read operations, with sub-millisecond latency

Write-Optimized Data Layout
Coalesces random writes and sequentially writes them to disk as a full stripe. Accelerate writes as much as 100x, and get sub-millisecond latency and optimal disk utilization

Universal Compression
Always-on inline compression for all workloads. Reduce capacity needs 30-75% depending on the workload with no performance impact

Thin Provisioning
Allocates disk space to a volume only as data is written. Pool storage, share free space and maximize utilization

Scale-Out Clustering
Combine multiple arrays into a scale-out storage cluster. Linearly scale beyond performance and capacity. limits of a single storage array while managing these multiple arrays as one

Instant Snapshot and Recovery
Backup and restore data using point-in-time, space-efficient snapshots taken at regular intervals. Retain months of frequent snapshots (improving RPO) with no performance impact–eliminating backup windows and speeding up restores (improving RTO)

Efficient Replication
Copies compressed, changed data to the secondary site for disaster recovery. Deploy affordable and verifiable disaster recovery and efficiently backup remote sites over the WAN

Zero-Copy Clones
Create copies of existing active volumes without needing to copy data. Create clones in seconds and save disk space – ideal for VDI and test/development

Custom Application Profiles
Pre-defined policies for block size, caching, compression and data protection for Microsoft applications and VMware. Eliminate the need for manual tuning of storage including data protection configuration

Windows VSS Enablement
Nimble Storage Driver for the Microsoft VSS framework for consistent backup. Take application-consistent backups and simplify data protection for Exchange and SQL Server

VMware Integration
Monitor, provision and take snapshots from VMware vCenter .Manage storage from vCenter and take consistent backups of virtual machines

VMware Site Recovery Manager Adapter
Support disaster recovery automation for VMware including failover/failback. Simplifies disaster recovery, including testing failover/failback

Products

Below is a table listing all the configurations you can get from NimbleStorage

The difference between the CS2XX and the CS4XX is the CS4XX has upgrading computing on the controllers to allow for even more IOPS and performance compared to CS2XX

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Scale to Fit

We all need a product that can Scale, Nimble Storage now offers that. You can scale capacity by adding additional storage shelves, all arrays but the CS210 support up to 3, CS210 is 1. Scale up performance by upgrading compute (Add a CPU) to get greater throughput and IOPS, and expanding cache with larger SSDs to handle more active data. You can also scale out both performance and capacity by non-disruptively combining multiple arrays into one easy to manage scale-out cluster.

Scale-Out Cluster

With this you are getting dynamic storage pools that strip data across the arrays and is automatically rebalanced as you expand or shrink pools, this is all done behind the scenes and makes sure you don’t have one array full while one is empty. Management is done under a single pane of glass, meaning you get to manage the entire cluster from one central console. Host will get parallel access to the array which will get the best performance possible and reduce latency.

No matter which solution you decide to go with, you can use your existing array you have in-place, and also be able to upgrade any components without any downtime.

Some vendors have release Cluster’s for their arrays, but if you are a current customer it requires you to fork lift all your investment to benefit from the new feature set.

Support

I have had no issues with Support, so far it has been amazing. Now.. I haven’t had any major issues, but anything that did come up they were alerting me before I had the time to even look. Anytime I have called for general questions and inquiries I have had a person on the phone within minutes with no phone transfer games.

To add to their support they have proactive wellness, these tools automatically resolved 75 percent of the issues without you having to do a thing. Basically the array calls home, and reports any configuration issues or abnormal operating conditions. You also have the ability to enable SSH tunnels, this way support can get direct access to your array and do their magic.

Conclusion

Was this a love letter to Nimble? No I just wanted to give some credit, I love the product. I did doubt them in the beginning, should I have doubted them, yes. There are so many start-up companies you have to do your research and make sure you are making the right choice for your company, but in the end you need to take a chance, and I did.  Do I regret going with NimbleStorage, not one little bit, I am the system administrator who has to wear many hats, with Nimble I wear the storage hat, but I don’t have to put it on very much because it just works. If you are in the Market for new Storage, please take a moment to look at Nimble, they can even be a nice add on to your existing storage, especially VDI based projects. Maybe I drank the Kool-Aid, it taste so good, and I just want more and have a shelf on order to start scaling.

In the next few weeks I will put up a post or two related to the operation of the NimbleStorage Array. This post has went on long enough!

If you made it through the full post, thanks for reading.

http://www.nimblestorage.com

VeeamZip Video Demonstration

Ok… well I always wanted to post up a video to my blog, so this is more of test than anything. But figured just as well share it with the world. Is it great… No is the audio perfect No, the back ground noise is my Lab…. If I do more I will make it better.

Veeam with the release of 6.1 has come up with a great new FREE!! product called VeeamZip which comes as part of the Veeam Backup Free edition (can be converted to Full edition with a license file), it will allow you to take a ad-hoc backup of a live VM, and place it on any removable storage.

This backup will also be deduped, compressed, and captures all the VMDK’s into one file, which can then be restored to any host. Not only can you restore the full VM, you can also perform File-Level Recovery. Just think of all the things you can do with this.

Did I mention that it is Free! Head over to Veeam and download a copy today http://www.veeam.com/free-vmware-esxi-backup.html

VeeamZip Video Demonstration

VMUG Meeting Recap 27-Sept-2012

On September 27th 2012 we had another great VMUG Meeting. In total we had about 40 Members attend. At this meeting we had the great pleasure to have David Davis join us from TrainSignal, and Keith Aasen and Neal Martyniuk from NetApp.

TrainSignal – David Davis @davidmdavis

David joined our meeting with the use of a Skype Call. It worked out very nicely with only a few issues related to Internet quality. He presented on “VCP – Why You Should Get it and How to Pass the First Time” It was a great session and had information related to the Certification change made by VMware at VMworld 2012. He spoke about all the great resources you can use to pass the first time, and outlined the Blue Print for the exam and basically said use that as the bible.

Below are some of the resources he mentioned in his presentation, they are great and not just for your VCP they can be used to stay in tune with what is happening with Virtualization.

SLOG by Simon Long – www.simonlong.com

This place is a great resource! He has practice exams that will help during your VCP journey. It helped me pass my VCP4 and VCP5.

ProfessionalVMware BrownBags by Cody Bunch – http://professionalvmware.com/brownbags/

This is the place where you get to hang out with amazing and smart people and get to learn while you are there. You can join live on Wednesdays, and even watch it offline at your leisure if you can’t make the show. Available over iTunes.

APAC Virtualization Podcast by Alastair Cooke – http://apacvirtual.com/

Another place where you can watch live or download a podcast to view later. Either way a place to listen to everything Virtual from astounding people.

VMware Community Roundtable by John Troyer – http://blogs.vmware.com/

VMware experts talk about virtualization live every Wednesday at noon CA time. I always listen to this one on my drive to work! You can subscribe from iTunes to get the latest podcast.

vChat – http://www.vmwarevideos.com/

vChat is a regular virtualization video chat covering VMware vSphere, Cloud Computing, Virtualization News, and maybe some geeky humor. Regular contributors are 3 vExperts– Simon Seagrave (TechHead.co), Eric Siebert (vSphere-Land.com), and David Davis (VMwareVideos.com).

vNews & Chinwag – www.rtfm-ed.co.uk

Join Mike Laverick and learn some more great things. You will now have to visit him over at Blogs.vmware.com for the newest information.

Local VMUG – www.vmug.com

Head over to your local VMUG for help, there are people there that are certified and will be more than willing to help

VMware Documentation – http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/

All the information you will need from the Vendor

NetApp – Keith Aasen and Neal Martyniuk @keith_aasen

This was an amazing presentation that kept you involved at all times. Neal was the first to get up and do the introductions and get the ball rolling. Next Keith came up and did about 1 Minute of PowerPoint and the rest was the Keith Aasen and Whiteboard show! The presentation was talking about the NetApp Release of OnTap 8.1 and Cluster-Mode, it was a deep dive into how this has been designed. He started with a couple of Boxes on the board that before you knew it there was no whiteboard space left, and this was a full wall whiteboard! He drew the controller design and how that all interacted with each other controller in the Cluster and how the vServer would extend across all controllers in the cluster and hide all the changes from hypervisor level. I really wish I had to record this session, and share the full experience.

To learn about Cluster-Mode head over here, better than I can do to explain it http://www.netapp.com/us/communities/tech-ontap/tot-fas6200-running-dataontap8-clustermode-1112.html

Now once he was done with Cluster-Mode he built Flash Cache on top of that. With this is talked about 3 Types of Cache.

  • Controller Flash Cache
  • Flex Cache
  • vSphere Host Cache (Not sure this is released yet) it will use a agent inside the VM to make this happen. It uses a sync process to make sure the Host Cache is kept in sync with the Cache on the controller level

To learn more about this have a read of http://www.netapp.com/us/communities/tech-ontap/tot-1008-intelligent-caching-flash-cache-hk.html

During Keith’s entire presentation he was up for Q and A, then after the presentation he stayed around for an hour or more answering questions.

Keith also did a great presentation at VMworld 2012 and was in the top 10! View the session http://www.vmworld.com/community/conference/us/learn/top10

VMUG Housekeeping

At the VMUG meeting this time we also talked to the members about where they would like to head with VMUG. As a Leader I am here to do the heavy lifting with the Team of Avram, and Donald. We will get the times squared away, the location, the vendors, but we would love to make this a community where we have our local members giving the presentations, I want to see what my peers are doing in their environments and the things they have learned. Our Local community has all the answers we need. We just need to start sharing with each other. I see great things for the VMUG in the upcoming months. I look forward to meeting more and more people each event. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Edmonton@vmug.com

@EdmontonVMUG

http://www.vmug.com/Edmonton

Veeam One Free Edition and More

imageEveryone needs insight into their virtual infrastructure, but not all the small shops have the budgets to get this in place. Well…. That is all changed with Veeam One which now has a free version. Does this give you everything, no…. But does it give you enough, sure does. Plus if you get to the point you want the full version just go ahead and purchase your license and apply it to your production install of Veeam Free Edition.

By no means is this going to be an in-depth review, I’m going to show you how easy the install is and how quick you can be up and running. I will also let you know what you are missing between the Free Edition and the full Edition. If you go ahead and install the product and want to find out more information on how to use the product, please visit the Veeam website, they have all the resources you need. http://www.veeam.com/virtualization-management-one-solution/resources.html Don’t want to read? look no further some training videos for Veeam One http://www.veeam.com/university/how-to-manage-virtual-machines.html?ad=one-nfr-page

Install

  • First of all we need to get the install, point your browser to http://www.veeam.com/virtual-server-management-one-free.html and start the download, you will need a Free Account. If you don’t have one you can register at this point.
  • The download is in the ISO format, and is close to 1.3 GB in size, once you have the file downloaded, go ahead and pick a VM to install it on. In my lab I choose my Veeam B&R server as the VM. I used the VI client to present the ISO to my VM from my Local workstation drive.

System Requirements

  • The requirements for the server are pretty low, you don’t need a whole lot of resources to host the server.
  • If you are not sure if you meet all the software requirements, that’s fine as you go through the installer it will run some tests to see if you do, and if you don’t the installer will fix that right up for you. I love when Installers give you this option! Thanks Veeam.
  • The requirements listed below are right from the Veeam One Installer.

Veeam ONE Server:

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Veeam ONE Monitor Client

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Supported Virtualization Platforms

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Ports

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Permissions

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Install Screenshots and Steps

  • Go to the location where you mounted the ISO and launch the install.

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  • You should now have the Installer Menu on the screen.
    • Veeam One Server: This will be the full install, if you run this option it will install the server and the monitor client.
    • Veeam One Monitor: This option will just give you the monitor components. This will allow you to view the Veeam One Server from another workstation, it could be a Management Station, Laptop, or anything else you want to have the capability to view your Veeam One Server from. Just make sure it sticks to the requirements for the install.
    • For this example I am going to choose the Veeam One Server Install.

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  • Click Install Veeam One Server, you will see the screen below as the binaries are loading.

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  • Of course have a read, and click next.

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  • Again have a read and agree to the EULA, no worries they aren’t asking for your first born.

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  • For this pick the Free Mode, again you can change this at any time if you want to go to the full version without have to do a reinstall.

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  • We have selected the Free Mode, and you don’t get options to choose in the free mode.

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  • Next is the system configuration check, as you can see I missed a software install. But no problems there, just click install and the issue will be resolved.

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  • Enabling the missing features for me, without me having to leave the installer, add a feature and run everything from scratch again.

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  • All is well, time to continue with the install.

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  • I have decided to change the install path, to another disk on my server that has more space. You may do the same or keep the default of the SysVol.

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  • Please put in an account that has Local Admin rights to the server, and System Admin on the SQL Server.

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  • You can choose to install SQL Express as part of the installer if you need a SQL server to host the database, or you can choose an existing SQL server. In my case I am installing on my Veeam B&R server so I will use the same SQL Express Install.

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  • You can change the ports that the Reporter Web Portal, and the Business View Web Portal uses. You only need to change this if you have a port conflict.

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  • Now you get to choose what the Veeam One Server is going to monitor it can be a VMware vCenter Server, or Standalone vSphere Host, also the Free Hypvisor version. As you can see you may also pick a Hyper-V Server. Nice thing is it’s all from one console.

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  • Once you make your selection just go ahead and put in the required username and password.

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  • At this point that is all the installer needs. Time to go get a Tea and wait for the installer to do it’s thing.

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  • Waiting, with progress.

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  • If you see this screen it means all is good to go.

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  • You will now see the new icons on your desktop. This can all be done in about 15 Minutes, depending on the speed of your hardware.

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Veeam One Monitor

This is where you can view all the Real-Time Data and Historical data. In the Free version it will only go back 7 Days. Veeam One Monitor gives you the ability to complete Virtual Infrastructure Analysis, At-a-glance views of health and performance with Dashboards, Advanced Alerting Capabilities, and storage Monitoring.

  • Once you launch Veeam One Monitoring you will see the following splash screen.

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  • Then you will see the portal. This is where you can get all the data to keep you alert of issues that may arise. This will give you the opportunity to resolve issues before your end users even notice. Again just giving a quick overview of what you get with Veeam One, not a deep-dive.
  • But below I have provided some screenshots of what you will see.

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Veeam One Business View

Business View gives business-oriented views of the virtual environment, for monitoring and reporting from the different perspectives of your stakeholders. This application will allow you to gain a business view of your virtual environment, set and forget dynamic categorization, and prioritize resource allocation and control VM sprawl.

  • I haven’t set anything up for this in my Lab, so it doesn’t show much, but this is a Web Portal where if you setup category’s for your VM’s things will start populate.
  • The Business View can also been seen with Veeam One Monitor, Select the Business View Tab on the Left side.

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Veeam One Reporter

Reporter Discovers, documents, and analyzes your entire virtual infrastructure, this is all automated and eliminates labor-intensive error-prone and ineffective manual reporting processes, and can all be viewed with Customizable dashboards.

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Full Version vs. Free

The Free version is great for the SMB that doesn’t have the budget, but the cost of Veeam One is fairly cheap easily if you bundle in Veeam Backup and Replication and get yourself an essentials license. So… you may be asking yourself what do I get with Veeam One Full Version. The following Document will clear that up.

Quick overview

  • Alarm modeling and custom alarms
  • Full access to the knowledge base
  • Management of guest, host and vCenter processes
  • Historical change management beyond the most recent 24 hours
  • Microsoft Visio reports for multipathing, network, vMotion and datastore utilization
  • Automated report generation and distribution

Detailed

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Upgrade from Free to Full

Now… its time to see how easy it is to upgrade from Free to Full.

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  • You will then see the license you currently have.

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  • If you are running the free version there will be no license.
  • Click the install License, and browse to the location of your key file.

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  • Then you have a full version!

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Conclusion

Veeam has made it very ease and cheap to give you a single pane of glass for reporting, capacity planning, and troubleshooting. If you are not using anything right now, why not! Install Veeam One at no cost to you and within Minutes have a very good view of virtual infrastructure. If you are using something, and you think Veeam One may be better, again install and have a look!

VMworld 2012 “What Happened”

 

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VMware put on another amazing conference this year. It was 5 days of Data overload! Here is my way of putting all that data into usable Information. I figured I needed to compile this for myself, just as well share that information, and hopefully someone else with get use out of it. I got to meet and see some great people of the VMware Community, my only regret was I didn’t get to sit and speak with everyone.

What’s New

With the release of vSphere 5.1 VMware has added some new features and products to the mix. Below I will go into a little detail.

Please read the following information from VMware related to the new Features!

Larger Virtual Machines/Host

You can now scale VM’s up to 64 vCPU and 1 TB of vRAM. Not only can the VM’s get bigger but so can the Host, You can now have a host with 256 Physical CPU’s. With the ability to have such large VM’s VMware has also introduced a way to reduce Memory overhead for these large workloads. Before vSphere 5.1 this memory overhead was locked into the physical host memory, now vSphere 5.1 gives you the option to swap this memory to disk, and save up to 1 GB of physical memory when the host is under  memory pressure. To use this feature you need to manually create a swap location with the following command. “esxcli sched swap system set -d true -n <datastore name>” The Swap file get’s created on the root of the datastore specified and is normally between 500 MB to 1 GB in size.

Virtual Machine Hardware

Hardware Version 9 provides support for larger VM’s, CPU performance and virtual shared graphics acceleration. You can always move ahead with your vSphere 5.1 upgrade without the worry of Hardware Levels, vSphere 5.1 will support hardware level 8,7 and 4, this way you can take your time and upgrade your levels and host inline with your maintenance windows. Please check our Mike Laverick’s blog for more detail

VDI Space Efficient Storage

A new disk format that enables the correct balance between space and efficiency. The new disk format is called Space-Efficient Sparse Virtual Disks (SE sparse disk). Traditional thin provisioning does not address reclaiming stale or deleted data within the guest OS, leading to a gradual growth of storage over time. SE sparse disk has encompassed a reclaim feature that will allow this data growth to be reclaimed with a wipe and shrink process. For more information on this feature please look at the vSphere 5.1 Storage Technical Whitepaper.

vSphere Distrubuted Switch

vDS 5.1 adds Network Health Check, Configuration Backup and Restore, Roll Back and recovery, and LACP support. For more information please read VMware vSphere® 5.1 – Networking

Single-root I/O Support

Single root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) is a standard that enables one PCIe Adapter to be presented as a multiple separated logical devices to VM’s. The HyperVisor manages the physical function while the virtual functions are exposed to the VM’s. SR-IOV capable devices offer benefits with direct I/O which reduces latency and reduced host CPU utilization. You may say well we already have VMDirectPath that offers this ability, both are very close in function, the big difference is that SR-IOV can share a physical adapter with many VM’s whereas VMDirectPath can only have a one to one relationship.

vSphere vMotion

vMotion has a new enhancement that allows Migrations without the need for shared storage configurations. This works by combining vMotion and svMotion together, there are a few requirements like anything, but in most cases they will not impact you. You can only move within the same vCenter Server, the target and source ESXi Host need to be in the same Layer 2 network, 2 simultaneous moves, and if you are using the virtual distributed switch the VM’s need to be on the same one. But now we have a better way to move VM’s from one Cluster to another, also the performance is near identical to a vMotion and svMotion today!

vSphere Data Protection

vSphere 5.1 has released a new way to protect your VM’s called vSphere Data Protection (VDP), it is fully integrated into vCenter, agentless, disk-based backup, that resides on deduplicated storage. It can protect powered-on and powered-off VM’s, Deduplication is shared across all Jobs, it utilizes CBT, Full VM backups and File-Level Restores, Based off of appliances, VDP appliance and backups are protected using checkpoints and rollback, Windows and Linux files can be restored by end user with a web browser.

VDP can protect up-to 100 VM’s across 10 deployed appliance installs within vCenter. The initial install of the appliance is done with the vSphere VI Client, however the Configuration and other daily activities are managed with the vSphere Web Client. VDP appliance is deployed with 4 vCPUs and 4 GB of RAM, three configurations exist 5TB, 2TB, and 1TB with usable capacities of 3,100GB, 1,300GB, and 850MB. You need to make sure you pick the correct capacity in the initial setup, capacity cannot be added later. However you can add another appliance. VDP is a great solution for SMB, but may not be suitable for larger enterprise clients, there is still a need for third party solutions, such as Veeam, vRanger, and AppAssure.

vSphere Replication

Provides built-in capability to continually replicate a running VM to another location, it can store the replica within the same local datastore, or another site. vSphere replication enables the ability to setup replication on a per-virtual machine. All the configuration for vSphere Replication is done within the new vSphere Web interface.  It leverages Microsoft VSS to ensure applications like Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server are quiescent and consistent when replica data is being generated. The replication is WAN-Efficient where Changed Blocks from the running VM are replicated to the offline copy of the VM. The vSphere replication consist of an agent that is part of the core install of vSphere which is responsible for sending changed data from the running VM, and utilizes a set of virtual appliances that are responsible for the replication of data and applying the data to the offline VM. You can replicate up to 500 VM’s, and the configuration is as simple as a right click and selecting the destination for its replica. The RPO can be set as low as 15 Mins to 24 Hours, and if you are replicating over a slow WAN link, you can always place a seed copy at the destination, and then point the replica to that location, then the Changed blocks will be replicated. Each VM Disk can be set to replicate or not, this even gives you more control of the replica and allows you to conserve WAN bandwidth. Another great feature is the ability to replicate a thick provisioned disk as a offline thin provisioned disk, also the server hardware does not need to be identical because the protected VM will be cold-booted.

Zero-Downtime VMware Tools Upgrade

No more reboots needed to upgrade VMware Tools! Of course this will happen once you upgrade to the VMware Tools included with vSphere 5.1, but after that no more reboots!!!!

vShield Endpoint

Delivers a proven endpoint security solution to any workload with an approach that is simplified, efficient, and cloud-aware. vShield Endpoint enables 3rd party endpoint security solutions to eliminate the agent footprint from the virtual machines, offload intelligence to a security virtual appliance, and run scans with minimal impact.

vSphere Storage DRS

DRS 2.0 enable interoperability with vCloud Director, vCloud Director now can detect datastore clusters and make recommendations that could increase performance.

vSphere Auto Deploy

Auto deploy in vSphere has added to new deployment methods; Stateless Caching Mode, and Stateful install Mode.

Stateless Caching Mode

With Auto Deploy in vSphere 5.0 a host would not be able to boot if the PXE boot failed, or the Auto Deploy Server was not available. This has been resolved with the ability to store a cache boot image on a dedicated boot device, if there is a problem with the Auto Deploy server or PXE boot the host can now boot from the cached image which can reside on Local Disk, USB, or SAN Storage. This is very similar to the stateless mode, the only difference is you will need a dedicated boot device, and you will need to configure the BIOS to boot from PXE, however on the second attempt use the dedicated boot device.

Stateful Install Mode

This mode will allow you to provision a host with Auto Deploy but after the install is complete it will never PXE boot again until it can’t find a image on the dedicated boot device, and the BIOS is set to PXE boot on the second attempt. This mode is giving Administrators the ability to provision host very quickly, without the need to use kickstart, or custom scripts, and just use the auto deploy polices.

vSphere Web Client

The new vSphere Web Client is where VMware is going, and you can tell this in the vSphere 5.1 release. Most of the new features and enhancements can only be configured and used from within the new client. The vSphere VI Client is not gone, but you can see the writing on the wall and it soon will be.

  • Capacity to work within a heterogeneous Environment
  • A flexible and extensible foundation to enable customization
  • ready access to information
  • Manage a large number of objects across geographically dispersed datacenters
  • Tags: Many can be applied to Objects that you can then use for queries
  • Inventory Lists: Dynamic list of objects that relate to the navigated objected, organized by Inventory type. basically means you will have less tabs to navigate
  • GUI Customization: Enables the user to customize their visualization of the user interface in a way that best suits their role and responsibility
  • Common Action: Now you have a place to pin a repetitive action!
  • Work-in-Progress Workflows: We now have a place to PAUSE an action! We have all been there, where we start a process, and now we want to do something else, well now we can pause and go back instead of cancelling.
  • Advanced Search: Ability to create complex searches and be able to save them, that way when you need them again they are still there.
  • Extensibility: This will allow Third party vendors an easier way to intergrade their tools into vCenter.

Supported Browsers

vSphere Web Client runs as an Adobe-Flex-Based application. Will run within Internet explorer installed on Windows, and Mozilla Firefox and Chrome within Windows and Linux.

When using the Windows vCenter install, the vSphere Web Client binaries must be installed on a supported 64-bit system. If using the vCenter Server Appliance you only need to make sure the appropriate service is enabled and started.

vCenter Single Sign-on

Allows users to log in once and access all instances or layers of vCenter without the need for further authentication. A background service makes this all possible, a discovery service maintains a list of all vCenter server components and automatically populates the vSphere web Client with the vSphere 5.X vCenter servers to which users have been granted access. End-Users have a single pane-of-glass view of their entire vCenter environment and this does not require linked mode unless users share roles, and permissions.

vCenter Orchestrator

Orchestrator simplifies installation and configuration of the powerful workflow engine in vCenter Server. Newly designed workflows enhance ease of use, and can also be launched directly from the new vSphere Web Client.

vSphere Storage Appliance

The changes to VSA 5.1 address issues related to enhancing the current offering to fully address SMB, also to support markets that could use the VSA in remote office/branch office.

  • You can now have 8 X 3TB disk per ESXi Host, or 12 per Host if the disk is no greater than 2TB. Also you can add an external expansion chassis with up to 16 Drive bays, in total if using 2 TB or less disk you can have up to 28 Drives per host. However these 28 Disks will still be one large VMFS-5 volume using multiple extents.
  • You can now add capacity after the cluster is deployed!
  • You can convert existing RAID 10 Configurations to RAID 5/6. This conversion will destroy the data sitting on that Host, but you can then reconstruct the data from the existing replicas. I would really want to fully test this in the Lab before I would attempt this, also make sure you have current backups ready.
  • You can now manage multiple VSA clusters by a single vCenter Server instance. This makes the solution very attractive for ROBO.
  • You can now set aside a chunk of Local Storage to keep separate from the VSA Cluster. This will give you the ability to install vCenter Server on the local disk. You can then move the vCenter Server to Shared Storage and reclaim the local storage into the VSA.

Licensing and Suites

Ok…. well this is one of the changes that made everyone very happy. It was the removal of the vRAM (vTAX) we can now go back to loading up our Host with memory!! This also brought along the bundle of VMware vCloud Suite. First of all lets see what we get with the different vSphere Editions.

vSphere Editions

We still have the Standard, Enterprise, and Enterprise+, Let the picture explain the rest! But basically even the standard is giving a good option for the SMB.

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Cost

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vCloud Suite

For enterprises wanted more from their Virtual environment this is the new way to go! The Suites come in the following editions Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. I would have like the editions to follow the vSphere edition names just to make it easier to compute, but we can’t have everything Winking smile 

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Cost

For a limited time if you have vSphere Enterprise+ you get a free upgrade to vCloud Suite Standard but you need to act before (The vCloud Suite Upgrade Promotion is available from September 10, 2012, through 11:59PM PT on December 15, 2012.) For more Information Click Here

Below is all retail pricing.

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Certifications

I’m not going to focus on this very much. Just going to provide some information. The road map for VMware Certifications has taken a much more granular approach, now it is more based on your role and not generic certifications covering everything.

If you want to learn more head over to VMware Certifications

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Top 10 Sessions

VMware has posted the “top 10 sessions” for anyone to watch. I have watched them all and I recommend that anyone who didn’t see them watch them! Great information from the top names in Virtualization today.

NET2207: VMware vSphere Distributed Switch—Technical Deep Dive | Slide Presentation
Speaker: Jason Nash, Varrow

STO2980: vSphere 5 Storage Best Practices | Slide Presentation
Speakers: Chad Sakac, EMC Corporation, Vaughn Stewart, NetApp

VSP1168: Architecting a Cloud Infrastructure | Slide Presentation
Speakers: David Hill, VMware Inc, Aidan Dalgleish, VMware Inc, Rawlinson Rivera, VMware Inc, Duncan Epping, VMware Inc, Chris Colotti, VMware Inc.

VSP1800: vSphere Performance Best Practices | Slide Presentation
Speaker: Peter Boone, VMware Inc.

VSP2825: DRS: Advanced Concepts, Best Practices and Future Directions | Slide Presentation
Speakers: Ajay Gulati, VMware Inc, Aashish Parikh, VMware Inc

VSP1683: VMware vSphere Cluster Resource Pools Best Practices | Slide Presentation
Speakers: Rawlinson Rivera, VMware Inc, Frank Denneman, VMware Inc

STO1430: Tracking Down Storage Performance Issues: A Customer’s Perspective | Slide Presentation
Speakers: Keith Aasen, NetApp, Scott Elliott, Christie Digital

EUC1305: What’s New and What’s Next for VMware View | Slide Presentation
Speakers: Lebin Cheng, VMware Inc, Sunil Satnur, VMware Inc, Narasimha Krishnakumar, VMware Inc

VSP1232: Avoiding the 19 Biggest HA & DRS Configuration Mistakes – 2012 Edition | Slide Presentation
Speaker: Greg Shields, Concentrated Technology

VMUG

This year I had the pleasure of attending my first of 4 VMworlds as a VMUG Leader. It was a privilege and an amazing opportunity. VMware has an astounding community, and the VMUG enhances this greatly! I got to spend an hour Monday helping with the VMUG booth, an Hour wasn’t enough I wanted to stay there the entire event and talk with other amazing Leaders.

The leader reception on Monday night was a time to relax and meet some of the leaders from around the globe. I spend hours just sitting and talking with leaders and getting ideas on how to make the Edmonton VMUG chapter even better. I spend a considerable amount of time with one leader and can learn so much from him, Thank you for talking the time with the Edmonton Chapter Angelo Luciani @AngeloLuciani

The VMUG Leader lunch will be something I will never forget. We had the opportunity to sit in the room with Paul, Pat and Steve of VMware and have a personal Q and A with less than 150 people there.

If you are not a VMUG Member head over to www.vmug.com today and register, you will not regret it.

VMunderground

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It was an amazing event and what a way to kick off VMworld. I loved the opportunity to have all the vExperts, and community leaders in one room. Did I get to meet them all….. No… But the ones I did have the opportunity to meet was a great experience. I always have next year to meet the rest Smile

I wanted to take this moment to thank the guys for setting this up, Theron Conrey @theronconrey Sean Clark @vseanclark and Brain Knudtson @bknudtson I know there are more that helped, but I can’t recall everything from VMworld!

 

Veeam

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Another great reception put on by Veeam, again another room full of great conversations. I want to thank @Veeam Rick Vanover @rickvanover and Doug Hazelman @VMdoug

 

 

 

 

 

VMworld Party

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The VMworld ending party was another great event. Got to see Jon Bon Jovi, plus head off to a quite area to chat. I really enjoyed hanging out in the Hangout lounge where you could chat with folks.

Windows Server 2012 Server Manager

Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 has added some great features. It is totally redesigned and response time is much faster, no more waiting. It allows System Administrators to better manage and view their servers. You can now group servers together for viewing alerts, can remotely deploy roles and features, perform tasks on multiple servers at a time, and add servers from a few different generations of Windows Server.

Below I have shown some of these features.

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When you click on the Notification Menu item this will show you all notifications related to Server Manager and any task, to the left of that icon you will see the Refresh icon, this will allow you to refresh the items on the Dashboard.

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The Manage Menu Item gives you quick access to the follow items, and gives the ability to add other servers to your console.

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You can also add multi servers to Server Manager to manage from one central location. With this you can have a single pan of glass for management, or event viewing. Server Manager can manage more than Server 2012, it can also manage server 2008/R2/2003/R2 they will just need to have WinRM 3.0 installed.

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You can also place servers in Groups, this way you will be able to display a subset of Events. You could group all DC’s, Exchange Servers, or Web Servers.

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As you can see from the list below, these are the different task you can manage from the server.

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From the Server Manager Properties you can set the refresh interval (Range from 1-14400), and set the server manager to not start at logon.

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Tools Menu gives you access to many of the tools you may use on a daily basis, without having to look for them in the start menu or control panel.

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From the View Menu, you can change the Zoom, but the most useful feature here is to hide the Welcome Tile.

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This is the welcome tile, you can hide this with the hide button or from the View menu.

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As you add more Roles to your Server the left hand side of the Server Manager Window will populate

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As you can see from the File and Storage Services Role

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The Local server section is where you can change all the local settings, such as computer name, IP addressing, Updates, and many other things. One thing to keep in mind anytime you change one of these settings, it will not reflect the change on the screen. You need to click TASKS in the top right hand corner and then select refresh. As you scroll more down the page, you will also find this is where you can look at events, BPA, Features/Roles, and even view performance metrics.

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The All Servers location is very similar to the Local Server, however it will allow you to manage more than one system, and will show you statistics for more than one server. The dashboard will also reflect all the information collected from all the servers you have in your Server Manager Console.

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