Countdown to VMworld

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It is finally that time.  That time has finally arrived. It is Sunday night and tomorrow I begin my travels to VMworld 2018, and before this event I wanted to make a quick post about some of the things that will be going on.  The last time I was able to attend was 2016 which was my first and only time. I went in not knowing many people, but through the vExpert program and the vCommunity I was able to meet a lot of great people.

This year there is going to be a lot of great things coming from the event, and The Level Up project is one that is really important to me.  It is a great way to get more active in the vCommunity.  Check out the twitter here.

I will also be attending Tech Field Day VMworld this year.  It will be going on Monday through Wednesday .  The sessions that I will be in attendance will be on Tuesday with Dell EMC, and then on Wednesday Blue Medora, Netscout and Barefoot Networks. Make sure to check it out here.  There will be a lot of content that you will not want to miss out on.

Remember that this week will be a great time to go to some sessions and learn a few new things, but the real value from this conference is the networking.  Make sure to take the time and meet new people and be an active part of the vCommunity.  So if you see me please say hi.  Maybe we can grab a beer and talk about everything going on.  And I hope that I will…

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Nasuni at SFD 16

 

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Nasuni was a new company to me, but they had a great presentation and I really liked what they presented.  They are providing a solution to a real problem that a lot of companies are running into.  The cloud is a great solution to so many problems that IT departments are encountering, but going to the cloud is not always easy as it looks. Nasuni provides a solution that simplifies the distributed NAS.

The first line from the Nasuni website says it best “Nasuni is primary and archive file storage capacity, backup, DR, global file access, and multi-site collaboration in one massively scalable hybrid cloud solution.”  It does this through providing a solution to to have a “unified NAS” on top of public clouds.  It is essentially and overlay that is controlled by using an on premise appliance either through a VM on your current infrastructure or a Nasuni physical appliance and keeps the data locally cached.  This allows that in the event of internet access being down users can continues to access storage, and when internet is restored the data will be synced up.

There are no limits on the amount of files or file sizes.  The files in a solution like this can be access by multiple users and be changing all the time.  To prevent issues files are locked when a user is accessing it.  Once the file is done being accessed the file will remain locked until it is synced up with the cloud.  Through the continuous versioning of files and in the event of malware or such other issues. Files can be rolled back to another version before the incident occurred.  All the data is deduped and compressed for effective storage utilization.  Files can also be encrypted to prevent any data theft.   Managing a solution like this with multiple devices across many sites could be very complex and time consuming, but with Nasuni everything is managed from a single pane limiting operation costs.

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Nasuni looks like a great product that really simplifies the migration to the cloud.  By supporting the big players such as AWS, Azure and GCP they give customers plenty of options on what cloud they wish to utilize.  With the caching device they ensure that data can be always accessible even if there are issues preventing access to the cloud and limiting the amount of data that has to be transferred.

You can see this presentation from Nasuni and all the other presentations from Storage Field Day 16 at http://techfieldday.com/event/sfd16/

 

NetApp OnCommand Insight

NetApp presented on its product OnComand Insight at Storage Field Day 16 this year.  What made the presentation unique from the rest of the presentations was that it was about an analytics and monitoring tool.  The only such presentation at the event.    OnCommand is an on premise appliance that can be setup as a VM in your environment.   Once it is fully deployed it will start reporting information about your environment.  Unlike other similar products it only reports on what it sees in your data center.  As opposed to comparing your environment to other environments.

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OnCommand Insight is always watching your environment, and If an issues arises it can be setup to automatically generate a ticket and alert the proper team of the issue.  It supports Restful API so whatever needs to be done can be scripted out, and Licensing is done by the raw capacity.

They also spoke of the product Cloud Insights.  It is not a direct replacement for OnCommand, but takes many of its features and adds on top of it.  Cloud Insights is designed for the modern Hybrid data center. It can monitor both what is on premises and what is running in the cloud.    As more and more companies go hybrid it is imperative to have a tool that can monitor both and give recommendations on where to run a workload.

One of my favorite features is that is agnostic of what it monitors.  Monitoring is done via plugins and there is a large repository where you can download more.  It reminds me a lot of EMC ViPR SRM as it could monitor more than just EMC products, but NetApp has really gone a step further and its capabilities.

Take a look at the presentation from NetApp and the rest of the Storage Field Day 16 presentations here.

VMworld 2018!!!

It is finally that time of year.  The greatest time of year. It is time for VMworld!!!  August 26-30 is the the time where everyone packs up and spends a week in Las Vegas with some of the greatest minds in Virtualization.

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VMworld is a great opportunity to learn about some of the latest technology in the industry.  The show floor will be backed with tons of vendors.  Some you have heard of and some that you haven’t.  You may find that vendor that has just the solution that you have been looking for.  All the vendors will have lots of information about the various products and solutions that they offer.  It is a great idea to talk to as many as you can.  Always a great opportunity to learn something new, and they usually have some great prize and swag!

The sessions will be excellent as always presented by some of the smartest people you have ever met.  You can take a look of all the sessions here.  If you can’t make it to VMworld they will post most of the sessions on Youtube shortly after.

They will also be offering training sessions on the various VMware products, and if you ready for it you can take one of the certification tests.  Maybe finally get that VCP or VCAP that you have been working on.

The best part of all of this is the networking, and the lifelong friends you will make.  Through VMworld and various other social events I met many great people and friends.  It is a great community to be a part of, and I hope this year I will be able to meet up with as many people I can at the various events.

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Storage Field Day 16

The past six months have brought a lot of changes in my life.  I have been busy changing jobs, and relocating to another state.  With the recent addition of my second child I can easily say I have been really busy.  All my time has taken up with the relocation and kids. Which has not given me much free time to do anything, especially writing. great-im-finally-home-from-work-aaaand-its-bedtime

Thankfully all that is starting to change.  Now that I am getting settled in to my new house, and the kids are getting a little older I am beginning to have a little more free time. With this new found free time I plan on getting back into writing.  With it I have met a lot of great people, and been given some great opportunities.

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Thankfully I have been given great inspiration to kick start my writing off.  I have been selected as a delegate for Storage Field Day 16 in Boston, which is a city I have never been to and I am excited to finally visit..  It is truly an honor to be a part of Storage Field Day.  Not only do I get to see of a lot of great presentations from companies that I am already familiar with such as DELLEMC, Infindat and Zerto.  I will also be introduced to some new ones such as Nasuni and Storone.  The best part of the whole experience is being able to meet the fellow delegates who are some of the smartest people in IT.

You can catch all the action on June 27-28, and you may even catch me on camera.  Watch for updates on this site, and live tweets from me the day of the event.  Should be a lot of interesting content coming out.  For up to date information on companies and delegates take a look at http://techfieldday.com/event/sfd16/.

Stretched vSAN Cluster on Ravello

Stretched clustering has been something that I have wanted to set up for my home lab for a while, but it would not be feasible with my current hardware.  Recently I was selected to be a part of the vExpert program for the third year.  One of the perks of this is the use of Ravello cloud.  They have recently made a lot of advancements that has greatly increased the performance.  Now they have also added a bare metal option which which makes the performance even greater.  I am skipping most of the steps to setup vSAN, and trying to only include what is different for a stretched cluster.

The high level architecture of a stretched vSAN cluster is simple.

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  • Two physically separated clusters.  This is accomplished using Ravello Availability grouping.
  • A vCenter to manage it all.
  • External witness.  This is needed for the quorum.  Which allows for an entire site to fail with it and the vm’s to fail over.
  • Less than 5ms latency between the two site.  This is needed because all writes need to be acknowledged at the second site.
  • 200ms RTT max latency between clusters and witness.

If this was a production setup there would be a few things to keep in mind.

  • All writes will need to be acknowledged at second site.  So that could be an added 5ms of latency for all writes.
  • You can use layer 2 and 3 networks between the clusters.  You would want at least 10gb for the connection between sites.
  • You can use layer 2 and 3 networks with at least 100mbs for the witness.

Deploying on Ravello

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For the architecture of this deployment we will need 3 sections

  • Management
  • Cluster Group 1 (Availability groups simulate separate data center)
  • Cluster Group 2 (Availability groups simulate separate data center)
  • vSAN network and Management/Data Network

Management

There needs to be a DNS server and a vCenter.  I used Server 2016 to setup both the DNS server and Domain Controller.  I used the vCenter appliance 6.5 which I then deployed to an separate mangement ESXi hosts.

Cluster Groups

These consist of 2 ESXi 6.5 hosts each.  They use Availability Groups to keep them physically separated to simulate the stretched cluster.  Group 1 used AG1 and Group 2 used AG2

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Network

 

I manually setup the DNS entries on the Server 2016 DNS, and the two networks consists of the following.

  • 10.0.0.0/16 Data/Management
  • 10.10.0.0/16 vSAN

Witness

The witness is an easy to deploy OVF.  It creates a nested ESXi host that runs on top of a physical host.  The networking consists of the following

  • vmk0 Management Traffic
  • vmk1 vSAN Traffic

Once the OVF is deployed add the new witness host into vCenter.  You will see it in vCenter as a blue ESXi host.

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Creating the Cluster

Now that every is setup and online it is time to create the cluster.  All four hosts need to be in one cluster in vCenter.  Go to the cluster settings and start the setup of vSAN.  Choose configure stretched cluster.

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Now break out the two fault domains to correspond to the availability groups setup on Ravello

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After the disk are claimed you now have a stretched vSAN cluster that provides high availability across two data centers.  One cluster or one node can go down, and your VM’s can fail over and keep on running.

 

vExpert 2018

Last week I was honored with being chosen to be a part of the elite group of VMware vExpert program.  This group is made of individuals who are active in the virtualization community.  This will make it the third year I have been chosen to be a part.  What makes this so great is being a part of the community and the networking that is brings. From the vExpert Slack channel I have learned a lot by talking to my peers.  Anytime I have had a question there was someone there to help out.  I have met many people, and became close friends with some of them.

Thank you everyone for making this community so great, and I hope to see everyone at VMworld this year and Nutanix .NEXT!

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vSphere 6.5 Update 1 is the Update You’ve Been…

vSphere 6.5 Update 1 is the Update You’ve Been Looking For!

vSphere 6.5 Update 1 is the Update You’ve Been…

With this update release, VMware builds upon the already robust industry-leading virtualization platform and further improves the IT experience for its customers. vSphere 6.5 has now been running in production environments for over 8 months and many of the discovered issues have been fixed in patches and subsequently rolled into this release.


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vSAN Storage Policies

I get a lot of questions about vSAN and its storage policies.  “What exactly does FTT mean?”, “What should I set the stripe to?”.  The default storage policy with vSAN is FTT=1 and Stripe=1.  FTT means Failures To Tolerate.  Stripe is how many drives an object is written across.

FTT=1 in a 2 node configuration results in mirror of all data. You can lose one drive or one node which results in 200% storage usage.  In a 4 node or larger configuration it gives you RAID 5 which is data being distributed across nodes with a parity of 1.

FTT=2 requires 6 nodes and you can lose 2 drives or 2 nodes.  This is accomplished through using RAID 6 which is parity of 2, and results in 150% storage usage.

If you want to check the status go to Cluster > Monitor > vSAN > Virtual Objects.  From here you can see the FTT and what disks it involves.  From the picture you can see with the 2 node vSAN cluster the objects are on both nodes resulting in RAID 1 or mirroring.

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Now lets break  down which each setting is.

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Striping breaks apart an object to be written across multiple disks.  In a all  flash environment there is still one cache drive per disk group, but it is used just to cache writes.  The rest of the drives are use for reads.   In a hybrid configuration reads are cached on the SSD, but if that data is not on the disk it will then be retrieved from the slower disks.  This will result in slower performance, but by having the object broken apart, and written across multiple disks it can result in increased read performance.  I would recommend leaving the stripe at 1 unless you encounter any performance issues.  The largest size an object can be is 255GB.  If it grows beyond that size it will be broken up into multiple objects across multiple disks.

Force provisioning allows an object to be provisioned on a datastore even if it is not capable of meeting the storage policy.  Such as you have it set for FTT=2, but the cluster is only 4 nodes so its only capable of FTT=1.

Object Space Reservation controls how much of an object is thick provisioned. By default all storage is thin provisioned with vSAN.  You can change this by increasing the percentage.  If you set it to 100% then the object will be thick provisoined.  You can set it anywhere between 0%-100%.  The only caveats are with deduplication and compression its either 0% or 100%.  By default the page file is 100%, but there is a command line setting you can change if you need to save this space.

Flash Read Cache reserves the amount of cache you want reserved for objects.  The max amount of storage the cache drive can use is 800GB.  If you have have 80 VM’s each with 100GB in storage then the entire cache drive storage is used.  When you power on the 81st VM the cache drive will not be able to give that VM any read cache.  That is why its best to not change the default unless you have a technical reason to.

 

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