Top 5 – Pure Storage Technical Blog Posts 2014

Today I thought it would be pretty cool to list out my favorite 5 technical blog posts that pertain to Pure Storage. These are posts that I use to show customers how to get things done without re-inventing the wheel. Big thanks to Barkz and Cody for all the hard work they put in this year. Looking forward to even more awesomeness this year.

SQL Server 2014 Prod/Dev with VMware PowerCLI and Pure Storage PowerShell Toolkit – Rob “Barkz” Barker

Enhanced UNMAP script using with PowerCLI and RESTful API – Cody Hosterman

VMware PowerCLI  and Pure Storage – Cody Hosterman
Check out the great script to set all the vSphere Best Practices for the Pure Storage Flash Array.

Pure Storage PowerShell Toolkit Enhancements – Rob “Barkz” Barker

PowerActions – The PowerCLI Plugin for the vSphere Web Client with UNMAP – Cody Hosterman

JO-Unicorn-Rainbow

Start with Applications

I have been revisiting my work towards some advanced datacenter certifications and decided to journal some of the thoughts I have during the process. After a 3 year break I decided it was time to start pushing toward some of these goals.

 This may sound eerily similar to something I have said before. It is a constant fight in the infrastructure technology field to get so weighed down by speeds and feeds and features. You begin to lose sight as to why you actually put servers, switches, storage and software together in the first place. While looking at the requirements guide for the VCAP-DCD the very first thing that is mentioned is getting the business requirements. How do I actually do that? What does the business actually require?

  1. Know what the applications actually do.
    Ask! What does this Microsoft SQL database do? How does email relate to our business doing deals? Find out how money goes in and out of the business. How does your company pay bills? How do you charge for whatever it is you produce? How do the MBA types make decisions about who, what, when, where and why for your business? In IT we often get so involved in rolling out a new widget from vendor X, Y and Z we often don’t realize what is the purpose to the business. Understand this from a high level first.
  2. Map technology to the impact on the business.
    Who cares if I can do a million IOPS if all I do is check email all day? How do I consolidate servers with no plan on how they impact the bottom line? How do I provide cloud like capabilities if no one really needs them? So start to map the capabilities to the benefits to the business. If the decisions being made can be done with data that is 5 minutes old instead of a 24 hours how can that change the landscape of your business? Does this give an advantage over competitors?
  3. Know something about the Apps.
    If your answer is I don’t know how are business runs or anything about SQL or Oracle I just make empty VM’s for people to put the apps on. I make sure they turn on and I move them around when they need performance or more capacity. Guess what? Those functions can be done by VMware Orchestrator. If you don’t know why you put 4 vCPU’s on a SQL VM because the batch jobs don’t ever use more than that and why, you need to learn. If you need tools to decipher the differences then get them. At least get the trial versions so you can see what happens. Get close to the queries that run at night. Do you know if they are CPU, Memory or Storage bound? Find out. Get off of reddit and check it out. Do you know if you put in faster servers will the app improve in a way that makes things better for business? Are you really going to gamble your budget on marginal improvements?

WhyInfraexists

Can you connect how all of these things relate and benefit the business?

Just some small things I have been thinking about. In my job it is a constant temptation to push how many IOPS you can do with this thing or that. When I need to say “what process needs the performance? If that process is faster AND you get additional benefits of data reduction, floor tile reduction, power usage reduction what will it mean to your business users?”

 

 

VMware vCenter Appliance 5.5 – Tour

So you have ESXi up and running. What is next? Get the vCenter appliance running. I downloaded the OVA and imported in just a few minutes.

media_1379943251696.png
media_1379943393581.png

After getting the appliance all booted go the https://<your-ip>:5480

Setup vCenter Options

media_1379943489580.png

I selected custom so I could go through all the options.

media_1379943516515.png

Oracle is also an option.

media_1379943559316.png

Fill in if external. Embedded you just need to choose a password for the Administrator.

media_1379943617246.png

Setup your Active Directory authentication. You can do this later if you don’t have the right information now. One thing I learned is the hostname of the appliance MUST be set to a FQDN for this to work.

media_1379943660938.png

NTP rocks!

media_1379943724939.png
media_1379943789886.png
media_1379944072168.png

Sign in. the default username and password for the appliance is root and vmware

media_1379944172479.png
media_1379944189917.png
media_1379944218620.png

Now you have a ESXi all ready and added. Start being Virtually awesome.

Installing VMware vSphere 5.5 – Quick Tour

So if you haven’t gone through it in your lab, what is better than getting an idea of how to install vSphere 5.5 with a few screenshots. For the beginners out there I just wanted to walk through the process really quick like.

media_1379941998728.png

Boot from the media!

media_1379942059558.png

Still looks very familar if you have done this before. Of course if you are so awesome why are you still reading?

media_1379942207911.png
media_1379942228953.png

Look! It’s vSAN

media_1379942266170.png

Is it VSAN, vSAN or Vsan?

media_1379942320221.png

I always use password123 – just so it is easy. Just kidding. SRSLY!

media_1379942420991.png

By the way a note to VMware: Hitting F11 is not awesome on a Mac. Just hold every key on the bottom left side of the keyboard and hit volume down key for those that have always been mac people and thought F11 is some kind of Air Force project. Actually just FN +F11

media_1379942840755.png

Woot! Now you are a pro. Go take the VCP. Oh and study a bunch first.

Now it is time to add it to your vCenter.

You down with VDP? Yeah you know me!

I had to be the first one to make a really bad joke.

Everyone will admit, how to efficiently back up your VM’s is a hot topic. Remember VDP is VMware’s product, but a lot of EMC technical people should be able to let you know right away how it works. VDP will be an excellent fit for a lot of customers with environments where they can’t spend extra on “virtual” backups.

Here are some of my favorite things in the new VDP.

  1. First it is built right into the new vSphere Web Client
  1. A simple wizard guides you through making the jobs.
  2. VDP uses Change block tracking to accelerate full restores.
  3. Integrated Self-service File level restore. What is better than file level restore? No one opening a ticket to ask you to do it!

The other stuff

Someone will eventually ask what is the difference between VDP and Avamar?

VDP

  • Max # VMs: 100
  • Storage Pool: up to 2TB
  • Replication (DR): None
  • Image-Level backup only

Avamar

  • Max # VMs: Unlimited
  • Storage Pool: up to 124TB *
  • Replication (DR): Included
  • Image-Level backup
  • Guest-Level backup
  • Extensive application support
  • Physical & Virtual backup
  • NAS/NDMP support
  • Desktop/Laptop backup
  • Extended retention to VTL/tape
  • Enterprise management
  • Purpose-Built Backup Appliances
    • Avamar Data Store
    • Data Domain integration *

Book Review: Automating vSphere with VMware vCenter Orchestrator

So to be 100% honest I have had this book on my desk for several months. Just staring at me. Calling my name. VMware press provided this copy to me along with Mike Laverick’s SRM book and so I am finally going to review the first one.

Cody Bunch does an amazing job of breaking down one of the most mystifying yet powerful products hidden in the VMware portfolio. VMware vCenter Orchestrator is almost mythical in the promises of automation of typical tasks of a vSphere administrator. While you can bang your head against the wall for weeks trying to figure out how to properly setup the vOrchestrator server and client I was able to use Cody’s guidance to have to operational and running test workflows in just a few hours (I am a slow reader).

I can’t stress enough the need for automation and orchestration in today’s virtual machine environment. The business is demanding more and more from the Virtualization team and in order to deliver vCenter Orchestrator is a good start since you probably already OWN it.

Hopefully soon there will be an update with information on the vApp version of Orchestrator. Check it out here on Amazon or your favorite book reseller.

Thanks again

Extents vs Storage DRS

I was meeting with a customer today and had to stop for a second when they said they were using 10 TB datastores in vSphere 4.1.

At first I was going through my head of maybe NFS? No they are an all block shop. Oh wait yeah, extents. They were using 2 TB -512 byte luns to create a giant Datastore. I asked, why? The answer was simple, “so we only manage one datastore.”

I responded with well check out Storage DRS in vSphere 5! It gives you that one point to manage and automatic placement across multiple datastores. Additionally you actually can find which VM lives where, and use Storage Maintenance mode to do storage related maintenance. Right now they are locked into using extents. If they change their datastores into a Cluster the gain flexibility while not losing the ease of management.

I wanted to use the opportunity to list some information I think about Extents with VMware.

  1. Extents do not equal bad. Just have the right reason to use them, and running out of space is not one.
  2. If you lose one extent you don’t lose everything, unless that one is the first extent.
  3. VMware places blocks on extents in some sort of even fashion. It is not spill and fill. While not really load balancing you don’t kill just one lun at a time.

An extent with a datastore is like a stack of luns. Don’t knock out the bottom block!

 

Some points about Storage DRS.

  1. Storage DRS places VMDK’s based on IO and Space metrics.
  2. Storage DRS and SRM 5 don’t play nice, last time I checked (2/13/12).
  3. Combine Storage DRS with Storage Policy and you have a really easy way to place and manage VM’s on the storage. Just set the policy and check if it is compliant.

A Storage DRS cluster is multiple datastores appearing as one.

Some links on the topics:

Some more information from VMware on Extents
More on Storage DRS (SDRS)

In conclusion, SDRS may be removing some of the last reasons to use an extent (getting multiple lun performance with single point of management). Add that to being able to have up to 64 TB Datastores with VMFS and using extents will become even rarer than before. Unless you have another reason? Post it in the comments!

An Idea for vCloud Director and View

Sometimes I am sitting up late at night and I have a thought of something I think would be cool, like if x and y worked together to get z. This time I thought this was good enough to blog about. Now I want to stress that I do not have any special insight into what is coming. This is just how I wish things would be.

Today there are two end user portals from VMware. The vCloud Director for self-service cloud interface and the View Manager access point for end-users to access Virtual Desktops. Each interface interacts with one or more vCenter instances to deploy, manage, and destroy virtual machines. Below is a way over simplified representation of how View, vCloud Director (plus Request Manager) relate to the user experience. I think maybe there is a divide when there does not need to be (someday).

 

 

My idea

What if vCloud director could be used in the future to be the one stop user interface portal. Leveraging vCloud Request Manager, vCD could deploy cloud resources, Desktops or Servers or both. vCloud Director would be the orchestration piece for VMware View. Once the Request for a desktop is approved the entitlement to the correct pool is automatically given. If extra desktops are needed the cloning begins. vCloud Director will learn to speak the View Composer’s language, providing the ever elusive ability to use linked clones with vCD. vCloud Director with this feature could be great for lab and test/dev environments. The best part is operationally there is one place to request, deploy, manage all virtual resources from the end-user perspective. This could eliminate the ambiguity for a user (and service providers) on how to consume (and deliver) resources. This has implications on how IaaS and DaaS would be architected.

 

Now some drawbacks

You might say, hey, Jon you are going to make me buy and run vCD just to get VDI? No. The beauty of the API’s is each product could stand alone or work together (in my Vision of how they should work). Maybe even leverage Composer with vCD without View or Request Manager with View without vCD.

One Cloud Portal to rule them all.

Update Manager and Isolated ESX Service Console Networks

Sometimes you may be required to run your vCenter server that has two network interfaces. One in the network it can be reached for remote desktop access and the other where it has access to the ESX servers in order to manage the VMware hosts. This is sort of a hybrid model of an isolated management network. Where only one host can reach the management ports. One thing to think about in this model is Update Manager by default will not like it. Everything may look ok, but trying to scan a host will fail. Luckily though it is an easy fix.

media_1274554600651.png

In the update manager configuration tab change the ip in the picture to the IP accessible by the ESX servers. Then remember to restart the Update Manager services. Now go back and run the ESX scan/stage/remediation.

Random Half Thoughts While Driving

So I often have epiphany teasers while driving long distances or stuck in traffic. I call them teasers because they are never fully developed ideas and often disappear into thoughts about passing cars, or yelling at the person on their cell phone going 15 MPH taking up 2 lanes.

Here is some I was able to save today (VMware related):

1. What if I DID want an HA cluster to be split in two different locations, Why?
2. Why must we over-subscribe iSCSI vmkernel ports to make the best use of the 1gbe phyical nics. Is it a just the software iSCSI in vSphere? Is just something that happens with IP storage? I should test that sometime…
3. If I had 10 GB nics I wouldn’t use them on Service Console or Vmotion that would be a waste. No wait, VMotion ports could use it to speed up  your VMotions.
4. Why do people use VLAN 1 for their production servers? Didnt’ their Momma teach em?
5.  People shouldn’t fear using extents, they are not that bad. No, maybe they are. Nah, I bet they are fine, how often does just 1 lun go down. What are the chances of it being the first lun in your extent? Ok maybe it happens a bunch. I am too scared to try it today.