Become a World Traveler on Veeam’s Dime

veeam_thumbVeeam, one of the most well know backup software suites for your virtual environment (regardless if VMware or Microsoft) is on pace for it’s 100,000 customer! In celebration of this milestone Veeam is starting an interactive contest giving  you the chance to win awesome prizes by Google (Glass), Apple (iPad) and Microsoft (Surface). The grand prize winner will win a trip around the world! Not a bad deal.

The contest will begin this week, so be sure to visit the registration page (link below) to make sure you don’t miss out on the action.

To participate, visitors need to register and predict the location of Veeam’s 100,000th customer on the interactive map. The closer you are to the right spot, the better chance you have to win the trip around the world and other prizes.

Guess the location here: http://world.veeam.com/

For more information: http://world.veeam.com/veeam_tc_2014.pdf

Best of luck!

-Jason

Notes From the Field – vSphere 5.5 with Virtual Distributed Switch

With vSphere 5.5 being generally available (GA) for almost six months I am starting to work with more customers who are looking into doing upgrades of their existing environments (4.x and up) or who are interesting in rolling out 5.5 as clean install for new/refreshed deployments. With vSphere 5.5, VMware brings some exciting new enhancements and improvements <cough> SSO <cough> to the table. I can say with a few upgrades/deployments under my belt the upgrades have been mostly pain free (thank you vCenter 5.5b) and the net new installs pretty much a breeze.

That changed a few weeks back when I was working with a customer on a new vSphere 5.5 deployment on fresh hardware. After working through the standard/best practices documentation I was able to get the new environment up and humming along quite easily. Feeling confident on the deployment (and not yet rolled into production) I left the customer site.  The next day is when I received an email from the customer. They were being flooded with email alerts from each of their hosts roughly every 30 to 40 minutes stating that network redundancy was lost as the 10GB uplinks where reporting a loss of connectivity to the upstream switch.

We began pouring over the Cisco switch configurations to make sure there wasn’t an error or typo. Next was a review of the implementation of the vDS, nothing jumping out. I checked documentation both from Cisco and VMware to make sure both the networking team and the virtualization teams where on the same page for the requirments. All was good. Then came the checking of the cables, connections, right cable in the right port, etc. Everything checked out OK. Next up, drivers. I noticed on the VMware site a driver update later then the version bundled with ESXi media. Again no luck. Grabbing at one last final life line I reached out to the Twitters:

Twitter_Help

Nothing. At that point we decided to place a call to VMware Technical Support. Once on the line with the technician he noted that there was an internal KB article outlining this issue that had not yet been published. The “workaround” was to disable Network IO Control (NIOC) as VMware is still working on resolving the issue. While it was an answer and possible solution, I was less then excited as we are carrying multiple traffic types (VM, vMotion, etc) on these links and was worried about traffic congestion (you know, the whole reason you run NIOC).

Fast forward a few days and I see this Tweet from Mark Snook ( Twitter ) about the external KB article outlining the issue I was seeing:

Twitter_Help_2

The VMware KB article Mark is referencing is located here –> ESXi 5.5 Uplink Port Flaps when connected to a vSphere Distributed Switch (2065183)

While our TSR is still open with VMware in an effort to resolve the issue, I wanted to throw a post together so if anyone else sees/runs into this issue maybe their Google search will bring them to this post. Also as the KB article doesn’t make mention of it, I would be curious to know if this affects all versions of vDS (4.x/5.x) when running on vSphere 5.5 or just the “native” 5.5 version of the vDS.

-Jason

Converting in-guest iSCSI volumes to native VMDKs

In this guest post, fellow Seattle VMUG member, Pete Koehler (@vmpete) writes about options on transitioning away from in-guest iSCSI attached volumes to native VMDKs.

Over the years I’ve posted about the benefits of using in-guest iSCSI volumes. The need stemmed from a time several years ago in which my environment had very limited tools in the war chest, but needed to take advantage of large volume sizes, good application quiescing using VSS, and squeak out every bit of performance with multi-pathing. As my buddy Jason Langer reminded me often, the thought of in-guest iSCSI volumes sounded a little, well… antiquated.

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Interestingly enough, I couldn’t agree more. While it might have been the virtualization equivalent of wearing acid-washed jeans, they had served a purpose at one time. It also became painfully clear that in other ways, they were an administrative headache that no longer fit in today’s world. I wanted to change, but had limited opportunities to do so.

As times change, so do the options. We are all served well by doing a constant evaluation of design choices. So please welcome 2014. vSphere 5.5 has broken down the 2TB VMDK barrier. The best of the backup products leverage VMware’s APIs to see the data. And, if you wanted to take advantage of a great host acceleration solutions out there, VMware needs to be aware of the volumes. Add that up, and in-guest iSCSI wasn’t going to cut it. This was by no surprise, and the itch to convert all of my guest attached volumes has been around for at least a couple of years. In fact, many had been migrated a while ago. But I’ve noticed quite a few questions have come my way on how I made the transition. Apparently I wasn’t the only one sporting acid washed jeans.

That was the rationale for the change. Now for how to go about changing them. Generally, the most viable options are:

  • Conversion using the VMware converter
  • Conversion by changing connection to an RDM, then convert to VMDK via storage vMotion.
  • Transition data inside of guest to pristine VMDK using rsync (Linux VM).

What option you choose may depend somewhat on your environment. Honestly, I never thought of the RDM/Storage vMotion method until Jason suggested over dinner recently. Chalk one up to sharing ideas with your peers, which was the basis for this post. Below I will outline the steps taken for each of the three methods listed.

Regardless of the method chosen, you will be best served by taking the additional steps necessary to remove the artifacts from the old method of connections. Removing of NICs used for iSCSI connection, as well as any Integration tools (like the Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Toolkit). And finally, remove the old guest volumes from the storage array after they are no longer in use. Also remember to take any precautions necessary before the transitions, such as backing up the data or changes to the VM.

 

Conversion using the VMware converter
This method using the VMware converter tool installed in the VM. It allows the ability to convert the in guest volumes to a native VMDK files. Using this method is very predictable and safe, but depending on the size of the volume, might require a sizable maintenance window as you convert the volumes.

1. Install VMware Converter inside of guest.

2. Make note of all services that touch guest volumes, and shut off, as well as temporarily turning them to “disabled”

3. Launch Converter, and click “Convert Machine” > “This local machine”. Select a destination type of VMware Infrastructure VM, and change name to “[sameVMname]-guest”. Complete by selecting appropriate VMware folder and destination location. You may select only guest volumes necessary, as the other files it creates will be unnecessary

4. Remove newly created “[sameVMname]-guest” VM from inventory, and copy VMDK file(s) from old datastore to new location if necessary.

5. Once complete, disconnect all in-guest iSCSI volumes, remove the Host integration Toolkit, disable iSCSI NICs inside the VM, and power down.

6. Edit the VM properties to disable or remove the iSCSI NICs

7. Attach newly created VMDKs to VM, ideally choosing a device node of anything other than 0:# to improve performance. (e.g. new VMDK might be on 1:0 and an additional VMDK might be on 2:0, etc.)

8. Power on to verify all is running, and new drives are mapped to the correct drive letters or mount points.

9. Re-enable all services set to disabled earlier to their original settings, clear event logs, and reboot

10. Verify access and services are now running correctly.

This method was most commonly used on SQL servers that had smaller volume sizes. As the guest volumes grew, so did the maintenance window.

 

Conversion by changing connection to an RDM, then convert to VMDK via storage vMotion
This method first changes the connection method of the in guest volume to an RDM, then converts it to a native VMDK after a storage vMotion. A very predictable and safe method as well, but offers the additional benefit that any maintenance window needed for conversion is NOT based on the size of the volume. It’s maintenance windows is only for the time in which you briefly power down the VM.

1. Make note of all services that touch guest volumes, and shut off, as well as temporarily turning them to “disabled”

2. Once complete, disconnect all in-guest iSCSI volumes, remove the Host integration Toolkit, disable iSCSI NICs inside the VM, and power down.

3. On the storage system present the iSCSI disk to all ESXi hosts

4. Scan the host so they see the disk

5. Add an RDM (Virtual Mode) disk to the VM and pointing it to the newly host mounted iSCSI disk

6. Power on the VM, verify the RDM mounted and apps and/or data is present.

7. Re-enable all services set to disabled earlier to their original settings.

8. Storage vMotion the VM, making sure to you go into the “Advanced” settings.

9. Move the c: VMDK to a LUN and move the RDM to a VMFS LUN (Then change the disk format from “Same” to Thick, Thin, or Thick Eager Zero on the RDM disk). Once the storage vMotion is complete the RDM should now be migrated to a VMDK.

10. Unmount the previous mounted iSCSI volume from the ESXi hosts and verify access and services are now running correctly.

The nice thing about this method is that the VM is up and in production while the storage vMotion happens. It also catches all of the changes during the move.

 

Transition data inside of guest to pristine VMDK using rsync
This method is for Linux VMs, whereby one creates a pristine VMDK, then transfer the data inside the guest via rsync. This process can take some time to seed the new volume, but it is essentially a background process for the VM. The actual cut is typically just a changing of /etc/fstab and a restart. It can use additional resources, but in certain circumstances may be a good fit.

1. Create desired VMDKs for the VM, ideally choosing a device node of anything other than 0:# to improve performance. (e.g. new VMDK might be on 1:0 and an additional VMDK might be on 2:0)

2. Inside the guest, create the new partition using parted, or gparted, then format using mkfs.

3. Create the device mount locations, and then add entries in /etc/fstab.

4. Restart and validate that volume is mounting properly.

5. Begin the rsync process from the old location to the new location. Syntax will look something like rsync -av –delete –bwlimit=7500 root@[systemname]:/oldpath/todata /newpath/todata/

6. Once complete, redirect any symbolic links to the new location, and adjust mount points in /etc/fstab.

7. Restart to test and validate. Verify access and services are now running correctly.

8. Remove connections to old guest volumes, and clean up VM by disabling or removing iSCSI based NICs, etc.

This method allowed for some restructuring of data on some extremely large volumes, something that the Development team wanted to do anyway. It allowed IT to delegate the rsync processes off to the teams handling the data change, so that the actual cutover could be fit into their schedules.

 

The results
While I’m not completely finished with the conversion (a few more multi-terabyte volumes to go), the process of simplifying the environment has been very rewarding. Seeing these large or I/O sensitive data volumes take advantage of I/O acceleration has been great. Simplifying the protection our mission critical VMs was even more rewarding.

- Pete

 

New Book–VMware Horizon View 5.3 Design Patterns & Best Practices

View5.3_Design_&_BPBack in December the folks over at Packt Publishing released a new book around design for VMware Horizon View, VMware Horizon View 5.3 Design Patterns and Best Practices written by Jason Ventresco (blog / twitter). I was provided the opportunity to be a technical reviewer of the book and knew I was in for well written and excellent content on the subject as I had read Jason’s earlier Packt Publishing release Implementing VMware Horizon View 5.2 (my review of the book) and found it a great resource. His second book doesn’t disappoint, below is a break down of the overview and table of contents.

Overview

  • Identify the reasons why you are deploying Horizon View, a critical step to identifying your metrics for success
  • Determine your Horizon View desktop resource requirements, and use that to size your infrastructure
  • Recognize key design considerations that should influence your Horizon View infrastructure
  • Learn how third party add-on solutions can complement and enhance your Horizon View deployment

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1 –Introduction to VMware Horizon View Design
  • Chapter 2 – Understanding Desktop Deployment Options
  • Chapter 3 – Understanding the View environment
  • Chapter 4 – Determining vSphere Resource Requirements
  • Chapter 5 – View Storage Considerations
  • Chapter 6 – View Client Management and Connectivity Index

Happy reading!

-Jason

Seattle VMware User Group (January 30th 2014)

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I can’t think of a better way to kick of 2014 than attending the first Seattle VMware User Group meeting of the year! Please join us at noon on Thursday January 30th at the Seattle Museum of Flight. Click HERE to register!

Agenda

VMUG_Agenda

Sponsors

zertoZerto provides enterprise-class business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions for virtualized infrastructure and cloud. Zerto won Best of Show at VMworld 2011, as well as 2011 Product of the Year Gold Award because our software, Zerto Virtual Replication, is the industry’s first hypervisor-based replication solution for tier-one applications. Zerto Disaster Recovery solutions replace traditional array-based BCDR that was not built to deal with virtual environments.

silverpeakTop IT organizations around the globe choose Silver Peak WAN optimization to overcome network performance challenges and lower ongoing WAN costs. Our solution stands out thanks to:

Virtual flexibility. We offer the industry’s only multi-gigabit virtual WAN optimization solution and the only products that support every major hypervisor. All products are available for immediate download and free trial via our virtual marketplace

Highest capacity. With the broadest range of physical and virtual products, we deliver cost-effective solutions for the smallest branch offices, the largest data centers, and everything in between.

Any application. Silver Peak’s WAN optimization solution works on all applications, regardless of transport protocol or version — all without risk of corrupting data or altering behavior. No plug-ins are required, which expedites deployment and saves both time and money.

Hope to see you there!

-Jason

Start Off 2014 With Free Training Materials From Veeam Software

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With the start of a new year comes the aspiration of new goals and achievements. The great folks over a Veeam Software (and proud sponsor of VirtualLanger.com) have gathered a collection of free resources to help get you started! If you are looking for a better understanding of Microsoft Hyper 2012 or the latest release from VMware, vSphere 5.5, Veeam has got you covered. If VMware certifications are in your near future have a look at the VCP5-DCV and VCAP5-DCA guides compiled by Josh Coen (blog / Twitter) and yours truly Winking smile. And of course, learn how to take advantage of the latest release of Veeam’s Backup and Replication product to protect your virtual machines and your mission critical SQL Server workloads.

Have a great start to the new year!

-Jason

Hands-on Guide: Understanding Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012
By Brien Posey, with additional chapters from Pete Zerger and Chris Henley (white paper, 391 pages)

The Hands-on Guide is an essential and practical step-by-step guide for IT pros interested in server virtualization technology based on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. Written to help readers get the most from their virtual environment, topics include:

  • How to install and deploy Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V 3.0
  • How to manage Hyper-V and virtual machines
  • How to configure Hyper-V clustering, VM migrations and failover rules and Hyper-V replication, plus and much more

VMware vSphere 5.5 & Windows Server 2012 R2: What’s NEW with Veeam?
By Jose Mendoza and Shawn Lieu (video, duration 1:16:54)

Watch this training video led by two Veeam experts and learn what’s new in VMware vSphere 5.5 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Understand how Veeam Backup & Replication v7 R2 takes advantage of the most recent hypervisor innovations.

Free VCP5-DCV and VCAP5-DCA Study Guides
By Jason Langer and Josh Coen (white papers, 136 and 248 pages, accordingly)

These unofficial VMware certification self-study guides will help you prepare for the following exams:

  • VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV)
  • VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Administration (VCAP5-DCA)

After passing the VCP5-DCV and VCAP5-DCA exams, you’ll be certified and get more recognition for your VMware knowledge and practical skills.

Advanced VM SQL Server Backup & Recovery
By Rick Vanover (video, duration 51:42)

The virtualization SQL server has always been a complicated topic because it handles such a critical workload. VMware vExpert Rick Vanover discusses:

  • When it’s better to virtualize the SQL server
  • How to correctly backup and restore the virtualized SQL server
  • Which SQL server restore situations are addressed by Veeam

Watch this 1-hour video here for deeper insight into SQL server virtualization, backup and restore

Annual Data Protection Report 2013: Enterprise and SMB editions

A survey of 500 enterprises and 500 SMB companies across the USA, the UK, Germany and France

This report helps track the progress of data-protection strategies for virtual environments in SMB- and enterprise-level organizations. The survey was conducted among 1,000 CIOs or IT heads by an independent market-research organization, and participants came from different sectors and industries.

Key findings in 2013:

  • 85% of SMBs were experiencing backup and recovery cost-related challenges, 83% were experiencing capability-related challenges and 80% were experiencing complexity-related challenges
  • Almost a third of SMBs’ virtual infrastructures were unprotected
  • 68% of enterprises felt that their backup and recovery tools would eventually become less effective as the amount of data and servers in their organizations continues to increase.

Veeam Backup & Replication v7: A VMware Architect’s Favorite Features
By Joep Piscaer (white paper, 28 pages)

Version 7 of Veeam Backup & Replication includes 50+ enhancements and updates. Two innovations include backups from Storage snapshots and built-in WAN acceleration, which help Veeam users to significantly improve RPOs and remove obstacles to offsite backup. In this technical deep-dive, VMware vExpert Joep Piscaer discusses:

  • 2 innovations: Backups from storage snapshots and built-in WAN acceleration
  • 7 new features: Native tape support, virtual labs for replicas, vSphere Web Client plug-in and more
  • 50+ other updates