FlashStack Your Way to Awesomeness

You may or may not have heard about Pure Storage and Cisco partnering to provide solutions together to help our current and prospective customers using UCS, Pure Storage, and VMware. These predesigned and tested architectures provide a full solution for compute, network and storage. Read more here:

https://www.purestorage.com/company/technology-partners/cisco.html

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/accelerate-vdi-success-with-cisco-ucs-and-pure-storage

This results in CVD’s (Cisco Validated Designs)

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/unified_computing/ucs/UCS_CVDs/ucs_flashstack_view62_5k.html

There are more coming for SQL, Exchange, SAP and general Virtual Machines (I call it JBOVMs, Just a Bunch of VM’s).

Turn-key like solution for compute, network, and storage

Know how much and what to purchase when it comes to compute, network and storage as we have worked with Cisco to validate with actual real workloads. Many times mixed workloads because who runs just SQL or just Active Directory. It is proven and works. Up in running in a couple of days. If a couple of months was not good (legacy way), and then 2-4 weeks (newer way with legacy HW) wasn’t good enough, how about 1-2 days? For reals next generation datacenter. Also, scale compute, network and storage independently. Why buy extra hypervisor licenses when you just need 5 TB of space?

Ability to connect workload from/to the publics clouds (AWS, AZURE)

I don’t think as many people know this as they should, but Rob Barker “Barkz” is awesome. He worked hard to prove out the ability to use Pure FlashArray with Azure compute. Great read and more details here:

Announcing: Pure Storage All-Flash Cloud for Microsoft Azure

Official Pure information here:

https://www.purestorage.com/resources/type-a/pure-storage-all-flash-cloud-azure-deployment-guide.html

Azure is ready now and AWS is in the works.

Ability to backup to the public clouds.

No secret here we are working hard to integrate with backup software vendors. Some have been slow and others have been willing to work with our API to make seamless backup and snapshot management integration with Pure and amazing thing.

Just one example of how Commvault is enabling backup to Azure:

http://www.commvault.com/resource-library/55fc5ff8991435a6ce000c9c/backup-to-azure-with-commvault.pdf

IntelliSnap and Pure Storage

https://documentation.commvault.com/commvault/v10/article?p=features/snap_backup/pure/overview.htm

Check how easy it is to setup the Commvault and Pure Storage.

Ease of storage allocation without the need of a storage specialist

If I have ever talked to you about Pure Storage and I didn’t say how simple it is to use or mention my own customers that are not “Storage Peeps” that manage it quite easily then I failed. Take away my Orange sunglasses.

If you are looking at FlashStack or just now finding out how easy it is now. Remember no Storage Ph.D. required. We even have nearly everything you need to be built into our free vSphere Plugin. Info from my here Cody Hosterman here.

The Pure Storage Plugin for the vSphere Web Client

Here is a demo if you want to see how it works. This is a little older but I know he is working on some new stuff.

Even better if you would like to automate end to end and tie the Pure Storage provisioning with UCS Director that is possible too! See here:

More on the EMC, Cisco and Citrix 5000 on vSphere CVD (Cisco Validated Design) in 30 minutes

UPDATED May 26 – New links included Mike Brennan’s latest blog going into the testing and details of the CVD – http://blogs.cisco.com/?p=114587

Scaling CVD for XenDesktop and EMC on Cisco <—-NEWEST Version of the paper!!!!

Back a few months ago I shared about the joint reference architecture that was able to boot and login 5000 users in 30 minutes. Using the Cisco UCS running VMware vSphere, with Citrix XenDesktop and an EMC VNX 7500. Cisco and Citrix answer a few questions with Craig Chapman on the joint validated design in this video:

I really like this layout and it usually takes pretty pictures to get me interested. Here is a high level overview of the design.

 

 

media_1360240163674.png

 

Some of the original CVD links:

CVD Paper – 5000 User VDI with EMC, Cisco, Citrix and VMware
Mike Brennan’s blog about 5000 VDI users

Updated May 2013
Solution Brief from Cisco 4000 Users

Update May 24, 2013 – More links:

Mike Brenner blog on the CVD
Scaling CVD for XenDesktop and EMC on Cisco <—-NEWEST Version of the paper!!!!

 

 

VMware View Stretched Cluster

The last few days I have been considering the best way to stretch a cluster of VMware View resources. After digging and talking to people smarter than me I figured out there is a lot of things to consider and that means lots of ways to solve this. In this first post I want to highlight the first overall solution that was inspired by an actual customer. This design came from one of the fine EMC SE’s and it inspired me to share further. I stole his picture. It is very storage centric (imagine that) so most of what I share will give some detail to the VDI and VMware portion.

VMware View and VNX and Isilon

wpid1163-media_1360942508658.png

Probably more detail then you need. Important things to remember. The VPLEX will keep the Volume in sync across distance at each site. All the benefits of FAST Cache will still be in place for each site.
In this solution each location will have file data redirected to the Isilon for SMB shares. I will use the VMware View pools and entitlements to force users to each side. Group Policy (GPO) or Third Party Persona Management will direct the users to their data. We are active/active in the sense that workloads are live at each site. Active Passive for the File portion as we will only kick users to site B in the event of a planned or unplanned event.
In another post I will discuss what I learned to make it complete non-persistent site to site active active everything. There is some cool stuff coming here.
First I used Resource pools to map to the VMware View Pools I created to. In the picture below the “Dell-Blades” cluster hosts 1-3 are in site A and hosts 3-6 are site B. One problem How to make sure each pool is pinned to each location?

wpid1164-media_1360944054169.png

Create the VM Group and Host Groups first!

wpid1165-media_1360944271778.png

Create the VM Site A and B group first. Then Create the Host Groups. As simple as editing the settings in your cluster and clicking DRS Groups Manager. One gotcha is you have to have hosts and VM’s first before making the groups. This may be an issue you have have not provisioned your View desktops first (I would wait). Just use some dummy VM’s at first to get the rules created.

With the Groups created Create the Rule

wpid1166-media_1360944500319.png

Remember these rules should say “Should run on hosts in group” (big thanks to @VirtualChappy). If you don’t have the rules right failover won’t work in case of a site going away for whatever reason.

Useful Script for setting DRS Host Affinity for all VM’s in a Resource Pool

wpid1162-media_1360597971375.png

This script I located on the community forums from the amazing LucD and at fix from another community user "GotMoo" I love the VMware Community.

What is so cool is I can run this after provisioning all of my desktops to get them in the right DRS VM Group and since usually in VMware View Environments you might create and destroy desktop VM’s regularly this helps a ton.

$vCenterServer = "vcenter.domain.lab"
#authenticating and Connecting to the VC

$CurrentUserName = [Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::getcurrent().name
$cred = Get-Credential $CurrentUserName
Write-Output "Connecting to vCenter. Please stand by..."
Connect-VIServer -Server $vCenterServer -Credential $Cred

 

#Function for updating the Resource VM Groups
function updateDrsVmGroup ($clusterName,$resourcePoolName,$groupVMName){
$cluster = Get-Cluster -Name $clusterName
$spec = New-Object VMware.Vim.ClusterConfigSpecEx
$groupVM = New-Object VMware.Vim.ClusterGroupSpec
#Operation edit will replace the contents of the GroupVMName with the new contents seleced below.
$groupVM.operation = "edit"

$groupVM.Info = New-Object VMware.Vim.ClusterVmGroup
$groupVM.Info.Name = $groupVMName

# Perform your VM selection here. I use resource pools per cluster to identify group members,
# but you could use any method to select your VM's.
get-cluster $clusterName | Get-ResourcePool $resourcePoolName | get-vm | %{
$groupVM.Info.VM += $_.Extensiondata.MoRef
}
$spec.GroupSpec += $groupVM

#Apply the settings to the cluster
$cluster.ExtensionData.ReconfigureComputeResource($spec,$true)
}

# Calling the function. I've found the group names to be case sensitive, so watch for that.
#updateDrsVmGroup ("ClusterName") ("ResourcePool Name") ("DRS VM Groupname")
updateDrsVmGroup ("UCS") ("DesktopsA") ("VM Site A")
updateDrsVmGroup ("UCS") ("DesktopsB") ("VM Site B")
# updateDrsVmGroup ("Cluster_STAGE") ("Group A") ("Group A VMs (Odd)")
# updateDrsVmGroup ("Cluster_STAGE") ("Group B") ("Group B VMs (Even)")
Disconnect-VIServer -Confirm:$False

More to come…

Finally this is a quick look at setting up View to be cross location. Of course other considerations about web load balancers, networking, number of View Connection Managers all need to be decided for your environment. Next post will include some of the stuff I found about keeping the users data live in both sites. Things like Windows DFS (Isilon can be a member), Atmos, VNX replication, and something called Panzura.

Cisco, EMC and Citrix 5000 Users in 30 minutes – Cisco Validated Design

Cisco + EMC + VMware + Citrix goodness.If you are working on deploying XenDesktop on VMware (the best way to do XenDesktop). Check out this article and Cisco Validated Design.

media_1360240163674.png
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/unified_computing/ucs/UCS_CVDs/citrix_emc_ucs_scaleVDI.pdf
http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/zero-to-5000-citrix-vdi-users-logged-in-and-working-in-just-30-minutes/Give it a read and see how it all works.

If you are like me and looking for where they get “30 minutes” from goto page 11.
“We were able to ramp (log in and start workloads) up to steady state in 30 minutes without pegging the processor, exhausting memory or storage subsystems.”

Cisco – EMC Webcast: … An Optimized End User Experience

 

No matter what you do to accelerate, optimize and transform your desktop environment (physical or virtual) if the presentation is sub-par, no one cares. The common message from any vSpecialist when it comes to EUC (End User Computing, VDI is so 2011) is focus on the end user experience. Make it easy to access my data and applications from anywhere at any time and I am a happy user.

This is something I really believe in. Having delivered VDI (or TS) solutions in the past, starting as a Citrix Metaframe XP administrator. So when I noticed this webcast I wanted to be sure share it with everyone. EMC is a huge place and there is ALWAYS something going on, but I wanted to take special notice when Cisco, EMC, VCE and VMware team up with a focus on getting the end user experience done right.

Save the date and sign up! August 22, 2012 11:00 AM EDT / 8:00 AM PDT.

So sign up now here: http://bit.ly/vdia22

What to expect?

When it comes to EUC there are so many “best” practices out there many times you just need someone to tell you what works. I will take a few seconds to detail the high level bullets I always share with customers when speaking about EUC.

  • From the EMC perspective it often relates to putting the right data in the right place. When using Flash drives to lower cost and footprint knowing how VDI I/O works is very important.

 

  • Also from the EMC realm is the amazing impact FAST Cache can have on these deployments vs. trying to account for all unexpected I/O with spinning media. This additionally lowers your cost and spindle count. That is right, someone at EMC saying buy less drives.
  • Use the money you save to put more RAM in your Cisco UCS B – series blades. Memory being the second bottle neck after storage when it comes to your VDI role out.
  • Speaking of memory make sure you use the best hypervisor for consolidation and memory management. vSphere 5 is still years ahead of even the promised products from the other guys. The TCO picture for hardware is ONLY part of the story, so make sure you get every last drop out of those Cisco UCS blades.
  • Lastly, if you want to deliver this in a tested and proven manner AND you realize your time to market is critical, EMC VSPEX and VCE Vblock take the world’s best components and software and make it work for you. No more testing for 9 months before pushing the go button.

Get to the WEBCAST Already

Once again, if you are exploring, testing, POC’ing, or running in production VDI in any way shape or form. Join the webcast on August 22 and see when EMC and Cisco have in store.

Save the date and sign up! August 22, 2012.

So sign up now here: http://bit.ly/vdia22

More on VSPEX

More on VCE and End User Compute and FASTPATH

EMC Reference Architecture -one of many…

From the Cisco Site <-Cisco UCS / EMC VNX RA

 

Some Reality for us Infrastructure Peeps or Apps are cool too

Don’t’ you just love double titles?

For many years I have been an infrastructure guy. I really liked how the cables, and processors and Memory and blinking lights worked. Applications were often the necessary evil tolerated so that I can play with cool technology. During my own journey toward learning about the cloud it becomes increasingly important to consider the function of the application. Six years ago me would totally punch me in the face right now. Traitor. J

1 – Don’t get your App messed up in my resource buckets of awesomeness

 

So the reality check to the Infrastructure geek in me is this: The application teams really think of what you do as the network. That is why when anything is ever wrong it is always “the network’s” fault. What we love to do is getting abstracted more and more. I will still contend that is very important and very hard to do. Whether you are building reference architectures or deploying a converged infrastructure appliance almost no one but us cares. They just want the data to do their jobs. So while we have really great discussions about speeds and feeds, the guy in the picture below just wants the app. From the hypervisor down we need to design with the application in mind or we will risk becoming like that goth dude locked in the server room on IT Crowd.

 

2 Honey badger don’t care about FCoE

My next post will get into what I have been researching regarding what is out there and hopefully help us (infra. peeps) understand our App/Dev brothers better.

You are probably an Infrastructure person if:

  1. You read this blog.
  2. You work mainly with Virtualization
  3. Storage Admin
  4. Network Admin
  5. You like to make fun of DBA’s

 

Trunks – Dell Power Connect and Cisco

I recently needed to install a stack of Dell 6224 Power Connect switches. The core of the network was actually a Cisco 3560 (no G). While there are already posts existing from Scott Lowe about using the “General” mode to keep VLAN 1 untagged and also have other VLAN’s tagged. Dell’s General mode traditionally works just like a default dot1q trunk in Cisco. However when VLAN 1 is in use I secretly grumble because I know the fact that Dell’s general mode is finicky when interoperating with some devices. Most of the time general mode works like a charm but not on this day.

Dell’s “trunk” mode worked fine. Any tagged VLAN would pass fine to the Cisco. Except that pesky native VLAN 1. We HAD to have VLAN 1 passed down to the ESX servers. So after kicking around wondering what I did wrong I decided to just work around the problem. I tagged vlan 1 on the Dell port and changed the native vlan on that specific trunk on the Cisco to another vlan (not being used on the Dell). BAM it worked.

Note: Dell was running their newest firmware on that day – 3.2.0.9 (they have since released 3.2.0.10)
Note 2: I am all about auto-negotiation at Gigabit but still like 100Mbps switch links to be hard coded.

Cisco 3560 (no G).

interface FastEthernet 0/24
speed 100
duplex Full
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 1,10,11
swtichport trunk native vlan 8
switchport mode trunk

Dell 6224

interface Ethernet 1/g24
no negotiation
speed 100
duplex full
switchport mode trunk
switchport trunk allowed vlan add 1,10,11

GNS3- Graphical Network Simulator – New Release

GNS3 is a excellent tool that uses dynamips to simulate routers running real Cisco IOS. You must have rights on your CCO account to download the IOS. It also includes the PIX emulator so you can check out your PIX/ASA configs.

Only piece missing is the switch simulators. You can combine GNS3 with VMware Workstation to build entire lab environments. I have one friend that has most of his voice lab for CCIE built using VMware and GNS3. Good stuff. 
Runs in Windows/Linux/OSX.