Rick's Tech Gab

A little Gab about this and that, but mainly Technology!!

Veeam Cloud Backup Edition

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I have had a little bit of free time the last couple of nights….. that I enjoyed every minute in the Lab looking at the new product release from Veeam. Veeam Cloud Backup Edition is a new product from Veeam that gives you the ability to move your Veeam Backup’s off to 15 Cloud Storage providers, any that support OpenStack, and even Local/Remote File Shares. What does this give us? An Affordable solution for off-site backup of our Virtual Environment with no re-design of our local backup processes. Make sure to head over to the Veeam website and get more great products to help manage and protect your Virtual Infrastructure.

Key Features

Cloud-Agnostic – Support for 15 different public storage clouds

Encryption – Up to AES-256-bit encryption this is done on the server before transmission.

Compression – Saves time and Money! Data is compressed before sending to the cloud.

Cost Estimation – You can set limit by GB or Dollar, Makes sure you don’t go over your Storage Budget.

Job Notifications –  email to keep you informed on your backups copied to the cloud

Bandwidth scheduling – Control bandwidth in real time, and based off of Local or WAN locations.

Licensing

All components of Veeam Backup & Replication Cloud Edition use the same license file. The license file should contain a Cloud backup option. If you use a license without the Cloud backup option that you previously obtained for Veeam Backup & Replication, you will not be able to use Veeam Cloud Backup. When you go to launch the application you will get the following error.

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System Requirements

Veeam Cloud Backup Console

Specification Requirement
Hardware CPU: any modern x86/x64 processor (minimum 2 cores recommended)

RAM: 4 GB

HDD: 25 MB

Network: 1 Gbps

OS Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the following operating systems are supported:

· Microsoft Windows XP SP3

· Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2

· Microsoft Windows Vista SP2

· Microsoft Windows Server 2008 SP2

· Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

· Microsoft Windows 7 SP1

· Microsoft Windows 8

· Microsoft Windows Server 2012

Note that Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012 are not supported for the file-level restore from the cloud scenario.

Software .NET Framework 4.0 (included in the setup)
Cloud Storage A registered cloud service account.

 

Installation

The installation of the this product is very fast, and painless. That is one of the reasons I enjoy working with Veeam products.  You need to keep in mind when installing Cloud Edition, it has to have all of its components installed on the same local machine as the Veeam B&R SQL Database. The reason is to get all the integration working correctly, with the integration you will see the History of the Cloud Jobs from within the Veeam B&R Console.

Prerequisites

– Of course make sure it meets the System Requirements

– Make sure you have the proper license file

– From above highly recommended to install Cloud edition on the same machine as the SQL Database.

Screenshot of Install

For this installation I already have a version of Veeam B&R already running, I am only showing the Veeam Cloud Backup Install.

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You can now choose your User Mode. To sum it up all users can have the same settings and plans, or they can have different plans and settings for their own account. I am going with the Common Setup. But you could see the use case for this.

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You can change your install location, I’m moving mine to my D Volume. I just find it easier to manage. You can go ahead with the defaults.

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Time to watch the progress, but you won’t be waiting long.

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Took all of 3 Minutes from the point I launched the installer.

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First Launch

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The Welcome Tab is your first landing spot where you can go ahead and setup your backup plan. All the other tabs are practically empty right now until you create a Backup Plan and start running them.

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Under the File Menu you will get to see all your Cloud Storage Vendors. I don’t think anyone will be displeased with the choices. If you do not have a Cloud Storage Vendor at the moment you can start your shopping now. You can even select Amazon Glacier, and start to use that for very low cost storage for archive data.

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From the Screen Shot above you will also see Export configuration and Import Configuration. This gives you the ability to export your Backup Plans and restore them on another server.

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From the tools menu you can select “Change Service Account” this will allow you to run the Cloud Console under a different service account, if you need to change authentication for a Backup/Restore. Network Credentials gives you the ability to use different credentials for different network paths, very handy option.

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Now we get into the options. You can set Application preferences, connection attempts, bandwidth schedule, Global Purging settings, proxy, logging and advanced settings.

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Create a Backup Plan

I do not have a Cloud Storage Vendor Account. For my testing I am going to be using a Shared folder that is not part of my Lab Domain.

The first thing I am going to do is setup network credentials for that path.

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Time to complete the Backup Plan Wizard.

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Next setup is select your Cloud Storage “In my case I will select File System” and create a new account. From the Advanced link, you can choose a Backup Prefix that will allow you to have more than one Job go to the same bucket but be able to identify it easily.

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With our Storage defined we now need to give the Plan a name, and decide if we want to store the plan configuration in the Storage. The default is yes. I agree that it is a good choice, this way if the server you are running the Cloud Backup’s from is no longer with you, you have the configuration for the job saved offsite.

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Backup Mode

You have two main choices

Advanced Mode –  You can use Encryption and supports Versioning of Files. But you can only access your files with Veeam Cloud Edition manager.

Simple Mode – You can use any file manager to access your files, however encryption and versioning is not supported.

Really the choice is yours, but I like the Advanced mode where I can use Encryption to protect my data, and also the ability to keep versions of files. Custom Mode basically does a vanilla replication. You may be very interested in the last option to force using VSS, this will be quite useful if another process is accessing your files.

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Now it is time to go ahead and select your Backup Source. I am going to select a Veeam Backup folder called Critical VM_s.

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The Advanced Filter is just that, it lets you choose exactly what you want to replicate or what you don’t want to replicate. Along with the ability to skip folders, and choose files that were modified within a certain date/time.

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Now we get into Compress and Encryption. I am going to select compress all files, and do AES 128 Bit Encryption *** Please do not forget your Encryption Key, that could turn into one bad day when you need it to restore *** You can also select to encrypt your file names.

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Purge Options can be pulled from the Global settings in the options, or you can set different ones per Job.

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Schedule gives you a few options. You can do it manually, specific date, recurring, or real-time. With real-time it will monitor the folder and check it every 60 Sec for any changes. It will store the Changes locally, and every 10 Minutes move it to your cloud storage.

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Pre / Post Commands will allow you to execute a command before or after the Job. Depending on the result of the command the job will continue or fail.

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Notifications can send off Email alerts, and can also generate a Windows Event log entry.

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look over your summary and make sure all looks as you had planned.

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Now with a Backup Plan in place the Welcome Screen has changed. It now shows our new Storage, and Backup plan. The Backup Plan tab is the place to go if you want to run a Job, view it’s progress, or make changes.

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The Backup Storage Tab gives us a view into our Storage, and gives us the ability to restore files from the location, or delete them.

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Backup Plan Execute

Now that I have my plan configure, and just finished doing a full backup of two VM’s. I am going to move that to my backup storage.

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This is going to be a fairly small transfer of about 14.3 GB’s. To start the Backup Plan launch the Cloud console and go to the Backup Plans Tab, and click the link “Run”

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click the down arrow on the right to get more details

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The Backup has completed

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The Email Notification

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From the Backup Storage Tab you can view your files

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From within the File Share this is what you will see. D$ are where the files reside in an encrypted format, meaning from this location I can look at the files, but can’t do anything with them. CBB_Configuration is where the configuration for the Backup Plan is stored.

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Command Line Trigger Backup Plan

You may be asking yourself, well….. I want to run a backup job from Veeam B&R, then have it automatically run a Cloud Backup to my Off-Site Storage? That you can! Veeam Cloud Backup has a little tool called cbb.exe it is located at the install location for Veeam Cloud (C:\program files\Veeam\Cloud Backup\cbb.exe) To learn more about it just go ahead and run the command with no arguments or the ?. Also Veeam Cloud Backup Help from within the console has a full section related to the CLI.

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But all we want to do is trigger a Cloud Backup after the Veeam Backup is complete. To get a list of Backup plans run cbb.exe plan –l the plan I want to trigger is VM Different-Storage.

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The command that trigger this pan would be as follows

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We now know the command we will need. Go ahead and open up notepad, paste the command, and save it as a bat file. Lets go edit our Veeam Backup Job. As you can see we can enter in a post command from the Advanced options from the Storage settings. I’m going to go ahead and save the changes.

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Going to start the Job again with the new post command.

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Once the Job is completed the post command runs and then we run the cloud backup.

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Restore Time

Time to test the restore, no point replicating this data if we can’t restore it.

First thing I am going to do is delete two files.

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Let’s restore them. Go to the Cloud Backup Console and go to the Backup Storage Tab. Expand your location where the files should exist.

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You will see the two files I deleted from my Backup Folder. I have selected them, right clicked and now going to restore them to their original location.

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Just going to do this once, no need to save

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I’m going to restore the latest version. This is where Versioning comes into play if you did the advance mode.

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In this case I want to restore to the original location.

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These files were encrypted and still are, we need to have the password to complete the restore.

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Make sure all is as it should be.

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The progress of the Job

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It took all of 30 secs, but again this is local storage and no compression needs to take place.

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You can check now under the History Tab to see the two files that were restored.

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My files are back where they should belong.

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Take Away

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed something amazing about the new Cloud Backup……. It can replicate any file, I didn’t go into detail on it, but I have done other Job’s of just random files, without an issue. Veeam could have built this product to block any other type of replication that wasn’t a Veeam Backup, but they didn’t. Which I thank them for that, it makes my business case that much easier. I think when I put this in my environment I am going to find many more uses for it. For what this product is going to cost in the overall picture of data protection and security, I am getting… What about you?

To find out all the details, have a look here

Written by rickrbyrne

February 13, 2013 at 12:10 am

Posted in Lab, Server, Veeam

Tagged with , , , , , ,

“Veeam Quick Migration” how do you use it?

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You may ask yourself if I have all the proper configuration and vCenter in place why do I need Veeam Quick Migration. Well….. I do have all the proper configuration, licensing and vCenter, and I use Quick Migration a couple of times a week.

What do I use it for? In my production environment I don’t like to put any unknown’s in the mix. But we all need unknown’s from time to time. We need to test product’s, application upgrades, Security patches, Service packs, and many other things. I do this all within my Company Lab, it’s a totally isolated infrastructure with it’s own hosts, Shared Storage, and networking Stack.

The problem I used to have was, my production host, and storage couldn’t see my Lab host, or storage. To move the VM’s from the production to the Lab or vice versa was not always an easy task. It involved using VMware converter, performing backups and moving them across the wire, or with USB media, Attaching my Lab Host to the SAN for a short period of time. But since using Veeam Quick Migration I don’t need to do that anymore.

To make sure that Veeam could access my Lab Infrastructure I configured a backup proxy on a VM in the Lab. If you are using the licensed version of Veeam this does not add to your license hosts, it is also available in the Veeam Backup Free Edition.

Below is a more technical details on Quick Migration, and screenshots of a Quick Migration being performed.

Quick Migration

Veeam Backup & Replication analyzes your virtual environment, its configuration, the state of VMs and selects the most appropriate relocation method. Whenever possible,  Veeam Backup & Replication coordinates its operations with vCenter Server and uses native VMware vCenter migration mechanisms: vMotion and Storage vMotion. When VMware vCenter migration methods cannot be used (for example, if your VMware vSphere license does not provide support for vMotion and Storage vMotion, or you need to migrate VMs from one standalone ESX(i) host to another), Veeam Backup & Replication uses its proprietary SmartSwitch technology to relocate VMs.

Veeam Quick Migration provides means for fast background migration of VMs ensuring continuous uptime of your virtual environment. Quick Migration supports hot VM migration (with SmartSwitch) and cold VM migration (with cold switch).

Migration of a VM is performed in several stages:

1.Veeam Backup & Replication copies VM configuration (.vmx) to the target host and registers the VM.

2.Veeam Backup & Replication triggers a VM snapshot and copies VM disk content to the new destination.

3.VM state and changes made after snapshot creation are moved to a new location. Veeam Backup & Replication uses different approaches to move the VM state between hosts with compatible and non‑compatible CPUs.

•If you move a VM between two hosts with compatible CPUs, Veeam Backup & Replication uses SmartSwitch (that is, it suspends a VM to move its state file and changes made after snapshot creation). The VM is then resumed on the new host. This ensures minimum downtime, and completely eliminates any data loss during migration.

•If you move a VM between two hosts with non‑compatible CPUs, Veeam Backup & Replication stops the VM to move changes made after snapshot creation, and then starts the VM on the new host.

http://www.veeam.com/vmware-backup/help-center/vsphere/index.html?quick_migration.htm

Quick Migration Architecture

Quick Migration architecture in a VMware vSphere environment comprises the following components:

•Source host and target host with associated datastores

•One or two backup proxy servers

Similar to backup, Quick Migration uses two-agent architecture: the source‑side agent interacts with the source host, and the target‑side agent interacts with the target host. To perform onsite migration, you can deploy one backup proxy for data processing and transfer. This backup proxy must have access to the source host and to the target host at the same time. In this scenario, the source‑side agent and the target‑side agent are started on the same backup proxy.

quick_mig_1proxy

The common requirement for offsite migration is that one Veeam agent runs in the production site (closer to the source host and datastore), and the other agent runs in the remote target site (closer to the target host and datastore). During backup, the agents maintain a stable connection, which allows for uninterrupted operation over WAN or slow links.

For offsite migration, you need to deploy at least one local backup proxy in each site: a source backup proxy in the production site, and a target backup proxy in the remote target site.

quick_mig_2proxies

http://www.veeam.com/vmware-backup/help-center/vsphere/index.html?migration_architecture.htm

Migration Demo

Go to the “Virtual Machines”

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Locate the VM you want to migrate. You can also do this with a powered on VM, for my situation powered off is fine.

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Right click and select “Quick Migration”

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At this point just select “Next” unless you wanted to add another VM to the Migration.

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I then go ahead and pick my Lab Host for the Destination. Pick a resource pool if you would like, choose your folder to place the VM, and select your Datastore. Click “Next”

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Now you can pick your Backup Proxy. I like to choose mine but you select auto if you would like. Just takes a step out of troubleshooting if it was to fail for some reason. I go ahead and tell it to force the Veeam quick migration no matter if vMotion was support or not.

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Go ahead and verify your settings, if all looks good go ahead and select finish. You may also choose to delete the VM after Migration if successful. Myself, I like to go ahead and do that myself. Especially if I just want to clone the VM.

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You will now see the status of the Job.

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You can see from the screen shot below that it completed in 25 Minutes, and is ready to use.

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If you click on the VM Name it will show more details. No different than any other Veeam Status report.

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The VM on the old host will be renamed with a _migrated appended to the end of the name.

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On the new VM it will be named the way it was originally.

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Before you power up the VM you may have to go in and assign the VM the proper Network, if you have network’s consistent across your Host you will not have to assign the network.

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Here is the VM all running and happy. Once I see that I go ahead and delete the Migrated VM from my Production host and storage.

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How do you use Quick Migration?

Written by rickrbyrne

February 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Lab, Veeam

Tagged with ,

Veeam 6.5 Configuration Backup

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One of the things I always wanted from Veeam was a simple way to backup my Veeam B&R server configuration. Guess what….. Veeam knew their Customers wanted that, aren’t we all glad they listen so closely to their Customers. With Veeam v6.5 you can now backup the configuration of a Veeam server within a few steps. If’s so simple if you don’t pay attention to release notes you may just miss this new feature, if you do miss it and you do have corruption of your database you will wish you knew it was available.

Here are the steps

Go to the Veeam Console

Go up to the top left corner and select the Menu dropdown choose the “Configuration Backup”

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First thing select “Enable configuration backup”, select the Backup Repository where you would like to store the backup. I wouldn’t be to concerned about space, here is a sample from a production server holding several jobs, Labs, and Sure backups, as you can tell to hold the configuration it is only consuming a little over 100 MB. From here you can also select the amount restore points to keep.

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The Schedule gives you the ability to set it daily, monthly, and the ability to select which days.

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The Backup gives you a great ability to take a configuration backup of your database before you perform an upgrade, or any other system changes that could affect your database.

If you want to restore that is also a very simple process. Click Restore, choose your Backup Repository, select the backup file, your database. Another great option to take a backup before you perform the restore. Supply your Credentials, review your choices, and apply!

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Just wanted to give highlight to this simple but very useful and handy option!

Written by rickrbyrne

January 29, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Veeam

Tagged with , , , ,

NimbleStorage CS220 Software Update in under 5 Minutes

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We all want the ability to update our controllers in a fast and efficient way. Nimble gives us that ability. In the below video I am upgrading my CS220 to 1.3.2 without any downtime, no ping loss, no searching for the correct software.

There is no sound to the video, and the video is not shorten, this is the full process to updating the software. However I am going to also walk over the steps. The video only includes the process of installing the software, not any other steps.

Steps to update the Software

  • Go to Administration/software
  • Click download, this will show software for your Array, select the version you would like to download. This is the longer process of the upgrade. The Array will keep the previous version of Software on your array incase you need to go back. Also you may download older version if you would like, you just need to download them again. If you don’t have Internet Access on your Management Interface, no worries, just go ahead and click upload, and you may upload a file to your Array.

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  • Once the download is complete, the update button will be active.
  • Click update and the process will take about 5 – 10 Minutes (Mine took less than 5 Minutes). The process will go ahead and update your Standby Controller, once complete and verified to be working it will kick over that controller to the Active Controller, and then update your now standby Controller.
  • You can watch the process on the screen, and the steps that are occurring.
  • Once it is done, it will refresh the management page for you, log on and make sure you are running the correct Software on your Active and Standby Controller.

Now for the Video Note: My video taking still needs some work Winking smile

NimbleStorage CS220

Written by rickrbyrne

October 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm

NimbleStorage User Interface

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In my last post related to NimbleStorage it was more focused on the Company, and products they offer. However I did note that I would take a few moments to document the UI and how easy it is to manage. In this post I am going to go over the UI and the different features contained within it.

The UI is Adobe Flash based, you will need v9 or higher installed on your management system to view all aspects of the UI, it will still function without Adobe Flash installed, but you will be missing some of the charts. I have ran the interface from Chrome, IE, FireFox, and Safari without any issues.

Landing Page

Once you open up your browser of choice go to the management IP that you configured on your array. You will be presented with the following page.

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Home

This is the Home Page, and will contain a dashboard related to all the information you will normally want to see from a quick health check.

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Disk Space: Will show everything you need to know about your usage, as you can see it will show the Volume Usage, Snapshot Usage, and unused reserve. It is very simple to read, and makes for a great screen shot.

Space Savings: This is where you get to see your savings and how the Nimble is saving you some space. As you can see from below my space savings is 2.51 TB or 40.55%.

Throughput: From here you can see how much data is passing over your Array interfaces. This shows current usage and for the past Hour.

IOPS: Again from here you get to see your Current IOPS usage across all your LUNs, this also shows back for an hour.

Event Summary: All Events that have happened in the last 24 Hours

Recent Events: All recent events, last hour.

The interface is controlled from a tabbed driven menu, this is the the menu you will see from any page within the Nimble Management Interface. I will explain the rest of the Interface in order.

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Manage

The Manage tab is where you can configure your Volumes, Replication, Snapshots, Protection and Performance Policies, Array, and Security.

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Volumes

The Volume Menu, is where all the magic happens with the Volumes, you can do anything volume related within this Menu. The first page you will see will give you a full overview of all Volumes that reside on your array, with basic information related to the usage.

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Click on a volume name, and now you have all information pertaining to that Volume. Here you will get the overview of your volume, you can edit, take a snapshot, set it to offline, Take ownership of the volume with “Claim” (Used if the Volume came from a replicated source) or Delete the Volume. You can also look at the Snapshot, and replication status for the Volume.

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Protection

The Protection Tab offers three choices.

1. Volume Collections: This allows you to protect your Volumes with Snapshot schedules and replicate those snapshots off to a second Nimble Array.

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2. Protection Templates: Predefined templates to help protect your critical applications. You can use these to as a baseline for creating your own custom Volume Collection Groups. Nimble was just nice enough to give us something to start with.

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3. Replication Partners: A place where you can view your configured replication partners, or define new ones. I don’t have any configured but you would see them here, you can also setup Bandwidth Policies so you can replicate without having to worry about the bandwidth being affected during busy times within your environment.

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Array

From here you can look at the status of your Hardware, and view all the system information related to your Array and Controllers. You can also edit the Array name, and Network Address information.

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Performance Policies

Here is where you can setup Policies to configure your Volumes with certain parameters. These Policies give you the option to create volume with certain Block size, and if you want to cache, or compress the volume. We all know we have certain workloads or datasets that we don’t want to waste our precious cache on or they won’t benefit from compression.

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Initiator Groups

This allows us to create groups of initiators that we can then assign to volumes to allow a host access to the volume.

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Chap Accounts

From here we can create a Chap Account, that we can then assign to Volumes we create to gives us some control over what we allow to connect to our Volume.

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Monitor

This is the place where you can see all the great performance you are getting out of your Nimble Winking smile

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Performance

You can view performance based off all Volumes, or a selected Volume. The time frame can also be for 5 Minutes, 24 Hours, 7 Days, or 30 Days. This will give you a very good picture of how your system is performing, it will also allow you to pin-point Volumes that are eating up the majority of your system.

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Replication

The place you will want to head to find out how your replication are performing, and if you have any issues with them.

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Connections

This section shows each Volume you have configured, and how many connections are connected to the Volume. From here you can make sure you have the proper amount of connections as you have configured from your host.

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Events

This Menu shows all the events related to your array, it keeps a log for 30 days, and you have the ability to filter the results based off of severity, Category, and Time.

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Administration

As the name depicts this has everything to do with Administration. I will explain the Menu items below. This is the only Menu that once you select one item, the other items will be listed on the left hand side of the window. This gives you quicker access to the other items.

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Email Alerts

Here you can configure the system to send you email alerts. You can also tell it to send alerts back to Nimble support, which will create a support ticket.

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AutoSupport/HTTP Proxy

AutoSupport enables the array to send health updates to Nimble Support, this lets them know what Software you are currently running, and if you have any configuration issues that may exist. This is a very nice feature, Nimble support will contact you regarding Software Updates, related to your system, they will know which version you are running and why you should be running the latest version. It gives you the personal touch when it comes to support. Also from this menu you can enable Secure Tunnel, this allows Nimble Support to directly connect to your array. This can be enabled or disabled at any time, you can leave it disabled until you need a support tech to connect.

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Software

This is where you can update the software for the Array. It will keep two versions of the software on the Array. When you want to check for a new version click Download, and it will connect to the Nimble Support site, and check for any software updates that are compatible with your Array. If your Array is not connected to the Internet on the management interface, you can go ahead and upload a software file to the array.

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Change Password

No need for a picture here, you can change your password.

Default Space Reservations

When you create a new Volume, these are the defaults settings that are displayed.

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Date/Timezone

You can set the time, and timezone, you can set this manually or with a NTP.

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Inactivity Timeout

The amount of time before you session expires. The default is 30 Minutes.

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DNS

Here you setup the DNS servers, you can have a min of 1 and a max of 5

SNMP

Configured your SNMP to communicate with a network management system.

Plugins

This is new to 1.3.3.0 Software. Right now all it includes is the ability to add the Nimble Array to vCenter for management from the DataStore View. If you are running Software below 1.3.3.0 you need to do this with CLI. Later in this posting I will talk more about the vCenter Plugin and the CLI. While on the topic of 1.3.3.0 Software, another great feature that was enabled was the ability for the Array to support more than one drive failure, that is great news! If you are running a Nimble Array, upgrade your software as soon as possible.

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Help

We all love to look at the Help Menu, right?

This one is pretty intuitive, and make’s life a little easier.

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Nimble Support

Takes you directly to the Nimble Support Site.

About CS-Series Array

Gives you the Normal About Screen

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Administrator’s Guide

I like this, no PDF to download, always up to date. Just click the menu item and look for the information you need.

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Hardware Guide

Just like the Administrator’s guide, just click and enjoy.

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Conclusion

As you can see the Interface is very user friendly, but gives you all the information you need to Configure, Monitor, and troubleshoot your Array. In this post I had planned to talk more about configuring your array, updating the Software, and the CLI. But just the walk through of the UI took longer than expected. I plan in the next couple of weeks to post a few different blogs related to NimbleStorage.

Written by rickrbyrne

October 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm

NimbleStorage My Story

with 8 comments

imageIts time to give credit where credit is due, one thing all of IT professionals have in common is when we find a product we love to use and manage we like to share that product with everyone we know, this leads me to NimbleStorage.

I ran into Nimble Storage a couple of years ago. A couple of guys came into my office (Jay and Eddie) and started to talk about how they have a product that can replace shelves of disk with only a 3U unit full of High Capacity SATA Drives, and 4 SSD Drives just used as a read Cache, plus give me WAN-Efficient Replication, 90 Days of Backup on Disk, Space efficient Snapshots, Compression (that increases performance) and High IOPs with low latency….. Ok thinking to myself these guys must have drank the Kool-Aid. Everything they say it can accomplish I WANT, can it really be true?

A year or so went by and I ended up changing Roles and moved to a new company, they needed a new SAN. What did I want in a SAN, everything that Jay and Eddie spoke of, I wanted that….. was it the Kool-Aid or was it real, I was going to find out before I made the choice to go with another Vendor. Did my research online, and couldn’t find allot, but anything I did find was good, only comment in the negative was they are new, and beware of that. All companies got to start somewhere, Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and Veeam just to name a few, would I be willing to put my name to their vision and product?

Called up NimbleStorage and brought them in for a chat or two. Not only are they still promising the same thing, but now since a year has went past they are growing bigger, and now on the road map they have scalability in mind! I go ahead with a POC, within a couple of days I have a Nimble CS220 sitting in my Datacenter, a day or two later I get Eddie onsite, and we have the Nimble Array up and running in about 30 Minutes and ready to add some VM’s to it! Now is the time I get to see if all the hype is true. For the testing I spun up a VM, then we ran a SQLIO from the Server, we let the test run, when we were all said and done, we seen MAX IOPS at just over 18K!!! This was also while we were updating the Array to the newest software version. Lets just say I went with NimbleStorage and not regretting it one little bit, at the moment I have all my Servers moved to the Nimble Array, a Total of 60 servers running a combination of different workloads, from Exchange, SQL, File, Web, and More….. The total capacity of these servers were about 8 TB’s yet I am only using 4.2 TB’s, almost a 50% increase in capacity, while also keeping 60 Days of 1 Hour Snapshots on the Array, reducing my RPO, and RTO.

On to the Meat and potato’s

My Testing

Below I will just include some of the screen shots of the testing I did with my Nimble CS220. This is not all the testing I have done, but just some that are worth sharing. Don’t really want to cover the blog posting with SQLIO data. 

The below Iometer test were running at the same time across two different Host. (Only had 1Gbps iSCSI connected at the time)

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Reporting from the Console of the Nimble during the Test

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One that was worth sharing.

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2 1Gbps iSCSI connections using VMware iSCSI software initiator.

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Recommendations for Performance

Most of these are the same for most iSCSI based SAN’s but figured it was something nice to note.

Multi Switch Connectivity

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Network

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VMware

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NimbleStorage Product Information

Performance

Now you need to ask yourself a question, how can Nimble get such high IOPS from 8 SATA Drives (We all know it’s not all about the IOPS Nimble also offers, more throughput and lower latency). The technology that makes that possible is the CASL Architecture (Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout). CASL was designed from the ground up to leverage the best of flash and disk, it eliminates compromise between performance, capacity, and data management.

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Universal Compression: Variable-size Blocks enable fast inline compression. Elimination of read-modify-write penalty allows compression of all applications.

smart Caching: converting random writes to sequential writes minimizes “write amplification” allowing use of MLC SSDs. No RAID overhead. Data on flash is compressed and metadata in cache accelerates all reads

Write Optimized Layout: Random writes always organized into large sequential stripes. Use of low cost high-density HDDs coupled with compression lowers cost substantially

The way the process works in my own words (Please don’t fully quote this Smile)

1. VM Disk writes data to a 4.5 MB block directly in NVRAM. This data is compressed and can be variable size. The 4.5 MB block now holds 1000-3000 IO’s per block.

2. Once the 4.5 MB block is full, it gets written to the slower High density HDD’s in a sequential striped pattern.

3. VM disk reads data, if it is held in the Cache (From recent read or write) it will get sent to the VM, and if more data is needed it will be pulled from the Disk’s below and get pre-cached. Cache hit rate is usually 75%, it basically comes down to how you manage your data. You don’t want Transaction Logs, Log files, and things of that nature to remain in cache. You can control this with protection profiles. If you plan your LUNS correctly you can easily get a better cache rate than I have mentioned above. The nice thing about the Nimble is it comes with a large cache.

Features

Dynamic Caching
Reads active data from flash cache, which is populated on writes or first read. Accelerate read operations, with sub-millisecond latency

Write-Optimized Data Layout
Coalesces random writes and sequentially writes them to disk as a full stripe. Accelerate writes as much as 100x, and get sub-millisecond latency and optimal disk utilization

Universal Compression
Always-on inline compression for all workloads. Reduce capacity needs 30-75% depending on the workload with no performance impact

Thin Provisioning
Allocates disk space to a volume only as data is written. Pool storage, share free space and maximize utilization

Scale-Out Clustering
Combine multiple arrays into a scale-out storage cluster. Linearly scale beyond performance and capacity. limits of a single storage array while managing these multiple arrays as one

Instant Snapshot and Recovery
Backup and restore data using point-in-time, space-efficient snapshots taken at regular intervals. Retain months of frequent snapshots (improving RPO) with no performance impact–eliminating backup windows and speeding up restores (improving RTO)

Efficient Replication
Copies compressed, changed data to the secondary site for disaster recovery. Deploy affordable and verifiable disaster recovery and efficiently backup remote sites over the WAN

Zero-Copy Clones
Create copies of existing active volumes without needing to copy data. Create clones in seconds and save disk space – ideal for VDI and test/development

Custom Application Profiles
Pre-defined policies for block size, caching, compression and data protection for Microsoft applications and VMware. Eliminate the need for manual tuning of storage including data protection configuration

Windows VSS Enablement
Nimble Storage Driver for the Microsoft VSS framework for consistent backup. Take application-consistent backups and simplify data protection for Exchange and SQL Server

VMware Integration
Monitor, provision and take snapshots from VMware vCenter .Manage storage from vCenter and take consistent backups of virtual machines

VMware Site Recovery Manager Adapter
Support disaster recovery automation for VMware including failover/failback. Simplifies disaster recovery, including testing failover/failback

Products

Below is a table listing all the configurations you can get from NimbleStorage

The difference between the CS2XX and the CS4XX is the CS4XX has upgrading computing on the controllers to allow for even more IOPS and performance compared to CS2XX

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Scale to Fit

We all need a product that can Scale, Nimble Storage now offers that. You can scale capacity by adding additional storage shelves, all arrays but the CS210 support up to 3, CS210 is 1. Scale up performance by upgrading compute (Add a CPU) to get greater throughput and IOPS, and expanding cache with larger SSDs to handle more active data. You can also scale out both performance and capacity by non-disruptively combining multiple arrays into one easy to manage scale-out cluster.

Scale-Out Cluster

With this you are getting dynamic storage pools that strip data across the arrays and is automatically rebalanced as you expand or shrink pools, this is all done behind the scenes and makes sure you don’t have one array full while one is empty. Management is done under a single pane of glass, meaning you get to manage the entire cluster from one central console. Host will get parallel access to the array which will get the best performance possible and reduce latency.

No matter which solution you decide to go with, you can use your existing array you have in-place, and also be able to upgrade any components without any downtime.

Some vendors have release Cluster’s for their arrays, but if you are a current customer it requires you to fork lift all your investment to benefit from the new feature set.

Support

I have had no issues with Support, so far it has been amazing. Now.. I haven’t had any major issues, but anything that did come up they were alerting me before I had the time to even look. Anytime I have called for general questions and inquiries I have had a person on the phone within minutes with no phone transfer games.

To add to their support they have proactive wellness, these tools automatically resolved 75 percent of the issues without you having to do a thing. Basically the array calls home, and reports any configuration issues or abnormal operating conditions. You also have the ability to enable SSH tunnels, this way support can get direct access to your array and do their magic.

Conclusion

Was this a love letter to Nimble? No I just wanted to give some credit, I love the product. I did doubt them in the beginning, should I have doubted them, yes. There are so many start-up companies you have to do your research and make sure you are making the right choice for your company, but in the end you need to take a chance, and I did.  Do I regret going with NimbleStorage, not one little bit, I am the system administrator who has to wear many hats, with Nimble I wear the storage hat, but I don’t have to put it on very much because it just works. If you are in the Market for new Storage, please take a moment to look at Nimble, they can even be a nice add on to your existing storage, especially VDI based projects. Maybe I drank the Kool-Aid, it taste so good, and I just want more and have a shelf on order to start scaling.

In the next few weeks I will put up a post or two related to the operation of the NimbleStorage Array. This post has went on long enough!

If you made it through the full post, thanks for reading.

http://www.nimblestorage.com

Written by rickrbyrne

October 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Posted in CASL, Nimble, NimbleStorage

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VeeamZip Video Demonstration

with one comment

Ok… well I always wanted to post up a video to my blog, so this is more of test than anything. But figured just as well share it with the world. Is it great… No is the audio perfect No, the back ground noise is my Lab…. If I do more I will make it better.

Veeam with the release of 6.1 has come up with a great new FREE!! product called VeeamZip which comes as part of the Veeam Backup Free edition (can be converted to Full edition with a license file), it will allow you to take a ad-hoc backup of a live VM, and place it on any removable storage.

This backup will also be deduped, compressed, and captures all the VMDK’s into one file, which can then be restored to any host. Not only can you restore the full VM, you can also perform File-Level Recovery. Just think of all the things you can do with this.

Did I mention that it is Free! Head over to Veeam and download a copy today http://www.veeam.com/free-vmware-esxi-backup.html

VeeamZip Video Demonstration

Written by rickrbyrne

September 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Posted in Veeam, VeeamZip, Video, VMWARE

Tagged with , , ,