Veeam Backup & Replication - SAN Transport Mode

The SAN Transport Mode is a way to implement a LAN-free backup solution when the backup server is a physical machine and have a direct access to the VMFS datastores. This method was first provided by the VCB Framework and then ported to the vStorage API related to backup and data protection. In order to use this method in the proper way, some configurations and considerations are required: SAN visibility: the backup server (or the "proxy" machine in a Veeam Backup 6 environment) need to have an access to the VMFS datastores at least with a read permission. That means, for a ...

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Some useful IT posters

During IT events like VMware PEX, VMworld, VeeamOn, TechEd, ... usually is possible collect some useful posters about specific technologies. Some of them are really valuable and printed on good paper and can become an office must (and another good reason to attend at those events). But most of them are available also for download, so if you miss one of those events or you need an additional copy you can simple download the poster that you need. Of course, in this case, the printed version could not be so useful (unless you have a plotter or a big printer), but ...

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Manage a network load balancer with System Center VMM 2012

In the fabric section of System Center VMM 2012 is also possible add external hardware network load balancers and manage, in a similar way as a storage array can be added and managed. But in this case there isn't a standard interface to remote manage the devices and each vendor must make available a supported "provider" that is just the management software part for the integration with VMM. Actually the supported devices are: BIG-IP from F5 Networks, Inc. Brocade ServerIron ADX from Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. Citrix NetScaler from Citrix Systems, Inc. Note that Microsoft Network Load Balancing (NLB) is automatically included as a load ...

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Recovering a lost partition table with a VMFS datastore

There are different reason where you can you loose or corrupt your partition table of your VMFS volumes: resignature from another system (for example the backup server, if connected in SAN mode), a human mistake (datastore / delete), or maybe some storage issues. In this case usually the VMFS partition is still there and also the related data: you have "only" to rebuild the right partition table. But this could really simple if you follow the recommended practice to have only one VMFS partition on each disk. In this case you have only to build the configuration for a single partition ...

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ESXi - Partitions layout of system disk

In ESXi the partitions schema is automatically defined by the installation process and there is no way to modify it (you can only choose where install the hypervisor). There is a great post from Rickard Nobel (ESXi 5 partitions) that explain the structure of the partitions, their size and their purpose. But it does not explain how to get this information. To see the partition layout in ESXi 5, the fdisk command will not work on new GTP disk (this type is used for all new disks and for disks that are extended to more that 2 GB, as written in ...

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How startup and shutdown a vSphere based infrastructure

As written in a previous post, starting from vSphere 5.0U1 in a HA cluster the VM Startup & Shutdown ESXi host properties is disabled. Anyway wasn't supported, because according with the vSphere Avalability Guide and also the KB 850 (Automating the process of starting and stopping virtual machines on VMware ESX): The Virtual Machine Startup and Shutdown (automatic startup) feature is disabled for all virtual machines residing on hosts that are in (or moved into) a vSphere HA cluster. Automatic startup is not supported when used with vSphere HA. So, how it's possible handle a correct poweron and shutdown sequence of your infrastructure? The ...

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Is backup to tape dead?

Several new solutions seem demonstrate that backup destination is moving from tape to disk. It isn't really a new trend of last year (for example see this paper from Lisa 2006, or Microsoft that has removed the tape support in his OS included backup solution starting from Windows Vista), but now more products are pointing to the disk solution. The Linear Tape Open (LTO) consortium (whose member include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Quantum) has officially released specifications for the LTO Generation 5 with around 1,5 TB of native capacity and a throughput of 140MBps (uncompressed)... and is working for the future standards. ...

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How to manually remove a stale VMware View pool

In some cases you may have a pending VMware Horizon View pool deletion task that does not finish for several reasons: usually when you have modify or delete some VM's pool directly from the VMware vCenter Server instead from the View Manager. In those cases you will not be able to remove those pool anymore and probably you will not able to build VM with the same pattern. You can fix this issue manually using those VMware KB: Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from VMware View Manager 4.5 and later (2015112) or Manually deleting linked clones or stale ...

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Manage an isolated Windows Server

There could some cases where you may have some Windows (Server) completely isolated from the Internet, for example in some appliances or storage solution. One interesting aspect that learn on Windows products during a DataCore training was that in this case you can have some delay in the user interface, both on the DataCore GUI, but also on the Windows one. This is related in driver management (and in signign verification) and is well described in a FAQ on DataCore site (DataCore Server GUI takes longer than expected to open). The solution is quite simple and consist in a simple change on the ...

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VMware vExpert 2015 benefits

The primary reason for becoming vExpert certainly should not be related to any possible benefits of the program. And once confirmed (for me is the sixth year in a row) you have to think more about what you can give rather to what is to be expected. But I’d be a hypocrite to deny that there are also practical advantages in being a vExpert! Officially, VMware, according with the vExpert FAQ, say that the biggest benefit of the award is the public recognition as a VMware vExpert Award winner. But benefits also include: Award certificate and gift vExpert logo to display on website or email signature Access to ...

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Convert virtual disk format - VHD to VMDK

As you probably already know a VM is incapsulated with a set of files that define VM properties and objects. Some of those files are the virtual disks files and each vendor use its own format: VMware use the VMDK and Microsoft & Citrix use the VHD format. Note that there could be more sub-types (for example for the VMDK files, but we will explain in future posts). To convert between different format you can use some kind of converter to perform a virtual to virtual (V2V) task. If you want to import some VHD files to vSphere 5, you can ...

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Manage a storage array with System Center VMM 2012

One of the interesting features of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 is that it can handle several other objects and not only the VM (when the name will be changed to reflect this?). Of course it can handle hosts (not only Hyper-V hosts), but also networking and storage. All those resource are in the "fabric" tab. In this case we see a storage array with its LUNs: The storage integration in System Center is really similar to several storage plugins for VMware vCenter and the VASA functionality on vSphere 5 (in fact it also require a "provider"): you can manage your ...

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Why Dynamic Disks are a bad choice

Microsoft Windows Dynamic Disks (or Dynamic Volumes) are an abstraction layer (introduced in Windows 2000) over the partitions (similar to the LVM layer on Linux environment) to decoupled the volumes (with their NTFS data) from the disk partitions and have a greater flexibility, like hot-extend a volume by simple add new partitions (but also several other advantages). But in a virtual environment there are other way to handle disk flexibility, like hot-extend a virtual disk at hypervisor level (for VMware this feature was introduced in VI 3.5U2)... so there is no need to use dynamic disks at guest level. The only ...

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VMware Horizon for View 6.0 upgrade path

VMware has announced and released Horizon for View 6.0 several months ago. I've already discussed about the news of this product (remote apps and app pools is probably one of the most evident). The upgrade procedure is almost similar with previous procedures (see upgrade to View 5.3 or View 5.2) and it's well document in the official Horizon View 6.0 upgrades guide. Remember to check first the compatibility guide (and verify with version of vSphere could be used) and finally to upgrade also the AD GPO templates. But there are some significant changes that you have to consider in your upgrade path: Starting with ...

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VM replication in VMware SRM 5.0

One of the interesting feature of VMware SRM 5.0.x is the vSphere Replication (VR) technology that is a VM a replication engine (part of SRM 5.0 and that also requires ESXi 5.0 and later) to implement protecting and replicating virtual machines between sites without the need of storage array–based replication (that usually it's costly and too much vendor dependent). It use different elements: VRA (vSphere Replication agent): included in ESXi starting from v5.0 VRMS (vSphere Replication Management Server): one virtual appliance (VA) for each site to handle the communication VRS (vSphere Replication Server): one virtual appliance (VA) on the DR side that is just ...

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VMware vCenter Server 6 design

With the new VMware vSphere 6.0 there are a lot of changes, and some of them are in the new vCenter architecture both for the Windows installable version and the virtual appliance (vCSA) version. For this reason the design aspects and the deployment scenarios are changed from the previous version (see VMware vCenter 5.5 design). Windows vCenter installation experience has been enhanced with additional capabilities including custom ports, custom paths, uninstall and error messaging improvements and vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) now has a guided installer. Furthermore, all upgrade paths from Windows vCenter 5.0 and up are now supported. Note that VMware has ...

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Backup

Some days ago I’ve wrote about why upgrade and why don’t upgrade to the new vSphere 6.0 and one of the main reason was the compatibility aspect.

Not only with hardware (most of vSphere 5.5 hardware is in HCL also for version 6.0), but mainly for the software part, especially the 3rd part software!

And the most important is your backup solutions: if maybe you can accept some risks using a new release of vSphere, you cannot accept the risk of loose your backup or use beta backup product in an environment. Backup must be, first of all, reliable! Compatibility and support are not an option in a production environment.

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vExpert

The primary reason for becoming vExpert certainly should not be related to any possible benefits of the program. And once confirmed (for me is the sixth year in a row) you have to think more about what you can give rather to what is to be expected. But I’d be a hypocrite to deny that there are also practical advantages in being a vExpert!

Officially, VMware, according with the vExpert FAQ, say that the biggest benefit of the award is the public recognition as a VMware vExpert Award winner.

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VCIX-NV

The Network Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX-NV) certification is something recent (introduced in October 2014) in the Network Virtualization path on the VMware NSX product. I’ve recently took the exam and I can share my consideration on it.

This exam is just like other VCAP Admins exam (and a pre-authorization is required), and consists of 18 live lab activities and a short pre-exam survey consisting of 9 questions.

The total time for this exam is 210 minutes (seems a lot, but for this exam could not be enough). Candidates who take the VCIX-NV Exam and have a home address in a country where English is not a primary language will have an additional 30 minutes added to the exam time. An additional 15 minutes is provided to complete the survey questions and agreements.

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VCIX-NV

As written in a previous post, it’s possible study for the VCP-NV exam using only on-line resources, but the same it’s not really possible for the Network Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX-NV) certification that require really a good practice with the interface and a well understand of all NSX concepts. This exam is available since October 2014.

As usual, the first source of information is the Exam Blueprint (actually in version 1.7, dated 9 December 2014) that give you a lot of information about the exam and also the environment (note that actually there isn’t a simulator or a demo or a mock).

The virtual environment consisting of a management cluster, multiple compute clusters, and related virtual machines. The lab environment is based on vSphere 5.5 and NSX for vSphere 6.0.2.

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VMware Logo

One issue about VMware NSX it that it does not exist an evaluation or a trial code in order to study and test it. This because the code is still on a Nicira web site and is much more restricted compared to other VMware code.

Also VMware partner may be not entitled to download it, unless they don’t have the NSX competency. Individual can got an access only through one of the NSX official course: I’ve take the ICM on NSX 6.0 and the access on Nicira web site was granted me at the end of the course (but note only for the NSX for vSphere, not for the NSX multi-hypervisor)…

And it’s funny (and in my opinion also stupid) because if you are already a VCP, a course is not mandatory in order to become a VCP-NV… Also for partner, in order to gain the NSX competency you need to VCP-NV (or two people that follow the course)… so it could really difficult (how can you study something that you don’t have yet?) or costly (courses are not so cheap, and actually there are, at least for the on-line courses, long waiting queues).

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VMware Logo

If you plan to build a lab for vSphere 6.0 you can use all the approches for vSphere 5.x (see also Building a vSphere 5 lab): usually using a nested environment (or three physical systems, if you have) as a common platform.

Of course, the other way to test new products it’s just use the VMware Hands on Labs that you can also “broke” or use in a different path compared to the one suggested by the guide. But having a local environment permit more flexibility and more time for testing or learning.

The big issue with vSphere 6 is that the minimim requirement are increased (at least for the ESXi) and now are become hard requirement! You cannot install the product without the right mount of resources. But after the installation you can try to tune your environment in order to free some MB of memory.

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VCP-DCV

With the new major version of most VMware products (the last was vSphere 6.0) there are, of course, new version of the main certifications (that mean also new exams). As written this was not the only change, because also some name has been changed (including the VCAP exams that now become VCIX). The VCP itself has been changed a lot, not only for the re-certification policy, but recently also the two different exams: a core one and one specific on each technology (for each path).

Finally VMware announce also the migration paths from v5 certification to v6, in order to simplify the transition of who is already certified. continue reading…

Nutanix Logo

Nutanix announced a cutting edge technology certification, the Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX). This flagship educational program, set to become the most rigorous technical qualification in enterprise computing, creates a new standard in IT certifications and highlights the increasing adoption of multi-hypervisor environments in enterprise datacenters.

NPX is a peer-vetted, hypervisor agnostic certification designed for veteran Solution Engineers, Consultants, and Architects. It’s an higher level (or a next level) compared to the Nutanix Platform Professional (NPP).

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Veeam-Logo-2014

As you probably know, some days ago Veeam has released the RC version of their free tool Veeam Endpoint Backup (announced for the first time on Oct 2014). Veeam Endpoint Backup is a free data protection and disaster recovery solution for physical machines, both client or server, but actually limited to “recent” version of Windows (mainly from NT 6.1 release).

Comparered to the beta version, this new version add a lot of new features, including:

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Syneto-Logo

Syneto is a young European storage vendor with main offices in Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Romania, and with customers spread in all major European countries. Honestly this is a rare case, considering that most storage vendor came from US (and most of them from Silicon Valley) but it’s nice see some exception and that something good arrive also from the old continent.

This company has a clear market target (the SMB segment) and a clear vision, trying to solve this common dilemma (for the SMB market): SMEs needed storage solutions with powerful enterprise features, manageable by anyone, not requiring an IT department’s worth of people.

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VMware Logo

The new VMware vSphere 6.0 has so much interesting new features and scalability properties that make interesting for each new environment, but also for existing customers (with an active subscription, so that you can also upgrade your 5.x license keys).

But like each new version you have to make some consideration first and especially before starting the upgrade procedure, so be sure to start from the vSphere Upgrade Center, the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix, the VMware Compatibility Guide, but also read the following notes.

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VMware Logo

End User Computing (EUC) scenario has change in the last year… not one single killer application for all cases, but multiple Technologies for different user cases or customers needs. Does not make sense say that this could be the year of VDI… VDI is growing but will never been a killer application… just one solution with its market segment.

But there are also Apps and RemoteApps, DaaS, FLEX, Mobile, Managed desktop/laptop, and lot of other solutions!

VMware still consider the EUC a main pillar, but its proposition has been modified to cover the new scenarios. VMware Horizon is now a Desktop transformation solution for every user.

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