Win a Jackery Giant backup battery, by just leaving a comment

I was one of the lucky guys who won a price during the Top Bloggers award “ceremony”. Veeam was so kind enough to provide two of the exact same items so that every blogger who won a price could also give away a price to their readers. I am not going to make it more difficult than it needs to be. Leave a comment before Friday the 18th of April, make sure use your real email address in the form, and I will let my daughter pick a random winner on Saturday morning. I will update this blog post and inform the winner.

What can you win? (Funny, I was at the point of buying one of these myself as I always run out of battery on my phone and iPad during all-day events!)

Jackery Giant

- Large power capacity with 2.1A output
- The world’s most powerful external rechargeable battery
- 2.1A fast charging
- Size, style and speed make this most powerful external rechargeable battery to-date

This large capacity portable external battery has dual output ports and 10,400mAh for lengthening mobile device battery life up to 500% for smart phones. Its compact size and stylish design has three LED charge status indicators with a two LED flashlight for up to 700 hours of illumination.

FUD it!

In the last couple of weeks something stood out to me when it comes to the world of storage and virtualisation and that is animosity. What struck me personally is how aggressive some storage vendors have responded to Virtual SAN, and Server Side Storage in general. I can understand it in a way as Virtual SAN plays in the same field and they probably feel threatened and it makes them anxious. In some cases I even see vendors responding to VSAN who do not even play in the same space, I guess they are in need of attention. Not sure this is the way to go about to be honest, if I were considering a hyper(visor)-converged solution I wouldn’t like being called lazy because of it. Then again, I was always taught that lazy administrators are the best administrators in the world as they plan accordingly and pro-actively take action. This allows them to lean back while everyone else is running around chasing problems, so maybe it was a compliment.

Personally I am perfectly fine with competition, and I don’t mind being challenged. Whether that includes FUD or just cold hard facts is even besides the point, although I prefer to play it fair. It is a free world, and if you feel you need to say something about someone else product you are free to do so. However you may want to think about the impression you leave behind. In a way it is insulting to our customers. With our customers including your customers.

For the majority of my professional career I have been a customer, and personally I can’t think of anything more insulting than a vendor spoon feeding why their competitor is not what you are looking for. It is insulting as it insinuates that you are not smart enough to do your own research and tear it down as you desire, not smart enough to know what you really need, not smart enough to make the decision by yourself.

Personally when this happened in the past, I would simply ask them to skip the mud slinging and go to the part where they explain their value add. And in many cases, I would end up just ignoring the whole pitch… cause if you feel it is more important to “educate” me on what someone else does over what you do… then they probably do something very well and I should be looking at them instead.

So lets respect our customers… let them be the lazy admin when they want, let them decide what is best for them… and not what is best for you.

PS: I love the products that our competitors are working on, and I have a lot of respect how they paved the way of the future.

ESXi DCUI Shutdown vs vCenter Shutdown of a host

Today on the community forums someone mentioned he had shutdown his host and that he expected vSphere HA to restart his virtual machines. For whatever reason he got in a situation where all of his VMs were still running but he couldn’t do much anymore with them and as such he wanted to kill the host so that HA could safely restart the virtual machines. However when he shutdown his host nothing happened, the VMs remained powered off. Why did this happen?

I had seen this before in the past, but it never really sunk in until I saw the questions from this customer. I figured I would test it just to see what happened and if I could spot a difference in the vSphere HA logs. I powered on a VM on one of my hosts and moved off all other VMs. I then went to the DCUI of the host and gave a “shutdown” using F12. I tailed the FDM log on one of my hosts and spotted the following log message:

2014-04-04T11:41:54.882Z [688C2B70 info 'Invt' opID=SWI-24c018b] [VmStateChange::SavePowerChange] vm /vmfs/volumes/4ece24c4-3f1ca80e-9cd8-984be1047b14/New Virtual Machine/New Virtual Machine.vmx curPwrState=unknown curPowerOnCount=0 newPwrState=powered off clnPwrOff=true hostReporting=host-113

In the above scenario the virtual machine was not restarted even though the host was shutdown. I did the exact same exercise again, but only this time I did the shutdown using the vCenter Web Client. After I witnessed the VM being restarted I also noticed a difference in the FDM log:

2014-04-04T12:12:06.515Z [68040B70 info 'Invt' opID=SWI-1aad525b] [VmStateChange::SavePowerChange] vm /vmfs/volumes/4ece24c4-3f1ca80e-9cd8-984be1047b14/New Virtual Machine/New Virtual Machine.vmx curPwrState=unknown curPowerOnCount=0 newPwrState=powered on clnPwrOff=false hostReporting=host-113

The difference is the power-off state that is reported by vSphere HA. In the first scenario the virtual machine is marked as “clnPwrOff=true” which basically tells vSphere HA that an administrator has powered off the virtual machine, this is what happened when “shutdown” was initiated through the DCUI and hence no restart took place. (It seems that ESXi initiates a shutdown of all running virtual machines.) In the second scenario vSphere HA reported that the VM was not cleanly powered off (“clnPwrOff=false”), and as such it restarted the virtual machine as it assumed something bad had happened to it.

So what did we learn? If you, for whatever reason, want vSphere HA to restart your virtual machines which are currently running on a host that you want to shutdown, make sure that you use the vCenter Web Client instead of the DCUI!

Disclaimer: my tests were conducted using vSphere 5.5 Update 1. I believe that at some point in the past “shutdown” via the DCUI would also allow HA to restart the VMs. I am now investigating why this has changed and when. When I find out I will update this post.

Startup News Flash part 16

Number 16 of the Startup News Flash, here we go:

Nakivo just announced the beta program for 4.0 of their backup/replication solution. It adds some new features like: recovery of Exchange objects directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups, Exchange logs truncation, and automated backup verification. If you are interested in testing it, make sure to sign up here. I haven’t tried it, but they seem to be a strong upcoming player in the backup and DR space for SMB.

SanDisk announced a new range of SATA SSDs called “cloudspeed”. They released 4 different models with various endurance levels and workload targets, of course ranging in sizes from 100GB up to 960GB depending on the endurance level selected. Endurance level ranges from 1 up to 10 full drive writes per day. (Just as an FYI, for VSAN we recommend 5 full drive writes per day as a minimum) Performance numbers range between 15k to 20k write IOps and 75 to 88K read IOps. More details can be found in the spec sheet here. What interest me most is the FlashGuard Technology that is included, interesting how SanDisk is capable of understanding wear patterns and workloads to a certain extend and place data in a specific way to prolong the life of your flash device.

CloudPhysics announced the availability of their Storage Analytics card. I gave it a try last week and was impressed. I was planning on doing a write up on their new offering but as various bloggers already covered it I felt there was no point in repeating what they said. I think it makes a lot more sense to just try it out, I am sure you will like it as it will show you valuable info like “performance” and the impact of “thin disks” vs “thick disks”. Sign up here for a 30day free trial!

VSAN – Misconfiguration Detected

Although Cormac Hogan already wrote about this I figured I would repeat some of his work. It seems like various folks are hitting this issue where an error is thrown while configuring VSAN: Misconfiguration Detected. The misconfiguration in this case refers to how the physical network has been configured. In order for VSAN to be successfully configured your layer 2 VSAN network will need to be enabled for multicast traffic. (below a screenshot of the error which I borrowed from Cormac… thanks Cormac)

In order to successfully configure VSAN you can do two things, now lets be clear that I am not the networking expert and personally I would always advise to discuss with your networking team what the best option is. Here are your two options:

  • Enable IGMP Snooping for your VSAN network (VLAN) and define an IGMP Snooping Querier. Default setting on most Cisco switches is IGMP Snooping enabled but without an IGMP Snooping Querier. In this configuration VSAN will not be able to configure correctly!
  • Disable IGMP Snooping for your VSAN network (VLAN). Please note that you can typically disable IGMP Snooping globally and per VLAN, in this case if you want to disable it… disable it on your VLAN!

Please consult your network vendor documentation on how to do this.

Startup News Flash part 15

Number 15 of the Startup News Flash… What happened in the world of (storage / flash related) startup’s in the last couple of weeks? Not too much news, but I felt it was worth releasing anyway as other wise the below would be really old news.

One of the most interesting BC/DR startups of the last couple of years, if you ask me, just announced a new round of funding: 100 million. Investors include North Bridge, Greylock, Advanced Technology Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and Technology Crossover Ventures. For those who don’t know Actifio… Actifio offers what is commonly referred to as a “Data Copy Management” solution. It could be described as a solution which sits in between your storage solution and your hypervisor and can do things like: backup, cloning, replication, archiving etc. Really neat solution, with a brilliant super simple UI. Worth checking out if you are looking to improve your business continuity story!

A while back I wrote an introduction to SoftNAS. When doing that review there was one thing that stood out to me and that was that SoftNAS didn’t have a great availability story. I spoke with Rick Brady about that and he said that it would be one of the first things they would try to tackle in an upcoming release. In the just announced release SoftNAS introduces Snap HA. Snap HA provides an “active / passive” solution where when an issue arises ownership is transferred to the “passive” node which then of course becomes “active”. More details can be found in this blog post by Rick Brady. Awesome work guys!

VSAN Basics – Changing a VM’s storage policy

I have been talking a lot about the architecture of VSAN and have written many articles. It seems that somehow some of the more basic topics have not been fully addressed yet like changing a VM’s storage policy. One of our field folks had a question from a customer which was based on this video.

The question was how do you change the policy of a single VM? And why would you change the policy for a group of VMs?

Lets answer the “group of VMs” question first. You can imagine setting a policy for VMs that perform a specific function, for instance web servers. It could be that after a period of monitoring you notice that these VMs are not performing as expected when data needs to come from spindles. By changing the policy, as demonstrated in the video, you can simply increase the stripe width for all virtual machines.

Now the question remains, how do I change the policy of a single VM? It is actually really straight forward:

  • Create a new policy
    • Go to VM Storage Policies
    • Click “Create a new storage policy”
    • Select the capabilities
  • Now go to your virtual machines and right click VM which needs a new policy
  • Click on “all vCenter actions”
  • Click on “VM Storage Policies”
  • Click on “Manage…”
  • Select a new policy
  • Apply to disks
  • Click “Ok”

Now the new policy will be applied to the VM. Depending on the selected policy this will take a certain amount of time as new components of your objects may need to be created.