Hi folks, as you know I’m a big fan of virtualization, and for backups I love Veeam which is great at backing up my virtual machines.
Well recently announced from Veeam is Veeam SureBackup which contains a lot of the same features from Veeam that you have grown to know and love, but also contains the ability to check backups without going through a lengthy restore process.
You can basically do a recovery verification by starting up the virtual machine from the backup file and verify that it works. Now that’s cool! You can learn more here.
Hi folks, that time of year is here again. EPIC Technology day!
For those of you that don’t know, twice yearly our company holds an IT conference here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with tons of people in attendance. This conference consists of presentations from all sorts of vendors in the industry from virtualization to security.
I will also be presenting again this year. This year I will be presenting on virtualization in an SMB environment. If you have a chance to show up, please drop by and check it out!
Tech day is on Tuesday, April 13th and you can register here.
Hi folks! For all you BlackBerry fans out there, RIM has come out with a new BlackBerry Bold called the 9700! This device is roughly the size of my current favorite BlackBerry the 8900.
What’s so great about the 9700? Well like I said before, it’s much smaller so it’s easier to carry around and it contains new features such as 3G and a new trackpad which replaces the trackball!
Those of you that are used to using the trackball know of the problems that can arise from it’s use. The trackball can get all gummed up and get stuck and fail. With the trackpad we’re moving to an option that should technically be more resilient than the trackball, but I guess we will see in the months to come.
The Bold 9700 also supports is more media friendly as it supports more media formats than before. You can read more about it here.
Hi folks! Now here is a problem that is plaguing few people with the introduction of vSphere 4. A few people who bought SAN iSCSI storage in the past with their old VMware 3.5 environments find that their hardware is no longer supported in vSphere 4 on the HCL. The hardware might still work, but it isn’t officially supported so it’s hard to get support when running on unsupported hardware.
What do you do with this storage? After all you spent some serious coin to put this storage in your environment and you don’t exactly want to kick it to the curb. In this situation I would recommend repurposing it as secondary storage.
A lot of iSCSI SAN hardware can make for great archival storage and can be repurposed as a destination point for network attached storage backups. Of course then you are faced with replacing your primary storage with something else. I would recommend always purchasing storage from a reputable vendor that stands behind their products and has a good track record of VMware certification for their hardware.
Hi folks, in the last few posts I’ve been focusing on virtualization and storage. This brings to mind another great option and that is the LeftHand VSA option from HP.
Recently HP acquired the company LeftHand which specializes in storage. One of their products is a software offering called the LeftHand VSA. Now with the HP acquisition it is referred to as the HP StorageWorks P4000 virtual appliance.
You can try it out from HP on a 30 day trial to get a feel for it and to see if it meets your needs. Some of the great features you get with it are the ability to turn local storage into SAN storage and leverage the advanced features of VMware that require SAN storage.
I encourage you to try out all these products and see what works best for you.
Hi folks, one of the common questions in virtualization is, are your physical servers ready? Also how do you tell if they are ready? Luckily VMware has the answer.
VMware offers a feature called guided consolidation that comes with vCenter. You can install this from your VMware vCenter installation media. What it does is install a collection service that gathers performance data on your existing environment and then makes recommendations on whether to consolidate or not.
Then you can pursue virtualization with the confidence that your environment is ready. Guided consolidation is ideal in smaller environments. If you would like to find out if an enterprise environment is ready for consolidation then you might want to go forward with a VMware capacity planning engagement. You can do this by contacting your local VMware partner.
Hi folks, so you’ve decided to pull the trigger on virtualization in your SMB business and want go virtual. Now what do you do about backups? Well you know I’ve mentioned Veeam before and SANs, but exactly how can you implement this in your environment in a cost effective manner?
Well, there are a few pieces to the puzzle you’ll need, but here is a nice little solution you can put together for not a lot of money. For the purposes of my example I’ll use HP servers, but you can fill in the blanks with your own vendor of choice. Everything mentioned here is on the VMware HCL(hardware compatibility list).
First of all, here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- vSphere 4 Essentials
- Veeam Backup and Replication
- QNAP 459 Pro network attached storage device with some fast 1 TB hard drives
- Two HP ML350 tower servers or two DL380 rack mount servers with maxed out local SAS storage, redundant fans and power supplies, and upgraded battery backed cache with advanced iLO for remote management.
- HP 1810 series 24 port gigabit switch
So what I would do is setup the two servers of your choice with VMware installed on them, and use the tons of local storage as the storage place for your virtual machines. For the purposes of this example we’ll call the first server “server1” and the second server “server2”.
Then create a vCenter server that is virtualized. This server can also act as your management box. Install Veeam Backup and Replication on this management server. Configure the QNAP device on your network using iSCSI and mount it so the management VM can mount the storage as a drive letter.
Setup Veeam to run backup jobs to the QNAP device and then setup Veeam to run replication jobs from server1 to server2 and vice versa.
Voila! You end up with external backups to the QNAP device, and you end up with virtual machine replicas of each virtual machine on the opposite vSphere server. If you need offsite backup, you can add some usb drives and connect them to your QNAP device to offload the backups to them to take them off site or you can buy another QNAP device for remote replication.
All in all a quick and dirty SMB solution that actually works!
Hi folks, so one of the common questions I get is, should I go blades or rack servers? I love getting this question because it allows me to talk about some topics I’m really passionate about, blades, storage and VMware.
Now when I talk to enterprise customers, this answer is pretty cut and dry. Enterprise customers usually have a great need for rack density, the ability to fit a ton of servers in a small amount of space, along with stringent power and cooling requirements for their data center. In the enterprise world, blades are an easy sell in my opinion.
However in the SMB sector, blades enter a gray area. Most of the time, you can achieve what you need with two powerfully equipped rack mounted servers, vSphere 4, and some iSCSI storage. But if you have an SMB business with enterprise type needs, then blades might be for you. HP’s c-class blade system the C3000 or “shorty” as they like to call it addresses those needs. Join that with the enterprise version of vSphere and some high end iSCSI storage and you can have a pretty sweet network running in a very small amount of rack space.
Hi folks, so with all this talk of storage it’s about time I spoke a little bit about thin provisioning! Now here is a new question I’ve been asked a lot. What exactly is thin provisioning?
Well you might see this term thrown about not just with VMware but with SANs as well. In the simplest of terms, thin provisioning is the act of over-allocating storage. Thin provisioning is a feature provided for you in VMware but it is also provided in many SAN products natively.
Here is an example. Let’s say you have 1 TB of space left on your SAN and you get a few customer requests for allocating some new virtual servers in the environment. The total sum of all the disks you need might exceed the 1 TB you have left. How do you deal with this? When you create the disks, you create them as “thin” instead of “thick”. So let’s say you need to create a 500 GB data drive. But you know that the customer will not use up that whole 500 GB drive for at least a year. All you have to do is create the drive as thin and then the drive will only actually use up the space that is actually used instead of the whole 500 GB. So if there is 50 GB’s of data on the drive, that is the actual size of the disk. This way you have plenty of time to go out and shop around to get the storage you want down the road. You don’t need it up front.
What are the disadvantages? If you forget to add more disk before you run out of storage then you can end up crashing your environment. Not good! Also with thin provisioning you can run into performance issues. I tend to reserve thin provisioning for non-critical items in my environment.
Hi folks! So for those of you trying to figure out how to study and prepare for those VMware certifications, and those of you who want to do test scenarios on VMware what do you do for storage?
Well I hope the last two posts covered that off! You see it’s quite easy to use the free versions of VMware in conjunction with the iSCSI options I mentioned in the last two posts. Then you can use the combination of the two to build a great sandbox environment. Also as I have mentioned in the past, you can use the VMware whitebox HCL to build your own home computer that is compatible with VMware from workstation parts.
This saves you tons of money on having to buy a real server or a tier 1 SAN solution. Once you have this all setup you’re good to go! Also if you want to test out the higher end of features all you would really have to do is purchase the Essentials version of VMware and you can play with vCenter!
By having this sandbox environment you will be able to simulate a lot of scenarios and gain a true working knowledge of the VMware product. What are you waiting for, give it a go!