Monthly Archives: May 2015

Lobstah, Chowdah, and Virtualization Field Dah – Here I come #VFD5

VFD-Logo-400x398Boston is known for many things – as the title suggests they have their lobstah and chowdah, the infamous and tasty Boston cream donut (don’t know if that’s an actual Boston thing but it is at Tim Hortons) – outside of food they have the New Kids on the Block (don’t ask how I know, wait, I mean, I don’t know anything about them 🙂 ).  They have the perhaps the biggest rivalry in the NHL with my beloved Habs having played the Bruins over 350 times.  Aside from all this perhaps the biggest thing they are known for, or soon will be, is that they are the host of Virtualization Field Day 5 – and lucky for me I’ll be there to see it all go down live!

If you haven’t had the chance to check out one of the Tech Field Day events then you should probably peruse over to the their site and have a look at all the resources they have to offer.  I really like the format of these events, essentially stuffing vendors and delegates into a room together to have a deep, technical discussion about their product or offering.  The action is streamed live and the back channel on Twitter is a lot of the time just as, if not more amazing then the discussion in the room.

I was lucky to be chosen as a delegate for Virtualization Field Day 4 in Austin and placed all my content on my VFD4 event roundup here.  When approached with the opportunity to follow it up with VFD5 in Boston (I know, Boston/Austin – neat) I jumped on it.  If you have a look at the sponsors below I think you might see why…

DataGravity_392x652-wpcf_100x17 logo-wpcf_100x21 logo1
med-vert-notag-wpcf_93x60 PernixData_Logo_Color v2Ravello_Logo_large-wpcf_100x27
logo-large-gray-wpcf_100x48 Scale_Logo_High_Res-wpcf_100x38 VMTurboLogoSm

See what I mean – there is definitely some great tech backing up all those logos and I can’t wait to hear more about it!

Sure you get to hear from each vendor for a few hours and that’s exciting, but what really makes your Tech Field Day experience is all of the delegates (and of course Stephen, Tom and Claire).  You are in a room for 8 hours a day with these people, being rushed in and out of offices and cars – you get to know each other pretty well.   Without further ado the VFD5 delegates are Alistair Cooke (@DemitasseNZ), Amy Manley (@WyrdGirl), Bob Plankers (@Plankers), Chris Marget (@ChrisMarget), Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl), Eric Shanks (@Eric_Shanks), Ethan Banks (@ECBanks), Justin Paul (@recklessop), Luc Dekens (@LucD22), Sean Massey (@SeanPMassey), Vladen Seget (@Vladan) and myself.  That is for sure a smart group of people and I’m excited to get rushed around like cattle with them :).

And of course the Tech Field Day events couldn’t be made possible with the countless hours of work put in by Stephen Foskett and the whole crew at GestaltIT – honestly they treat you like gold while you are there and it’s quite a humbling experience.

I suppose I should leave it at that as June 24th is not that far away, although I’m sure it will feel like an eternity.  I’ll just have to take it step by step and hang tough for the next few weeks (see what I did there, ugh!).  Watch this space as it is where I will post all of my #VFD5 related material – See yah in Bawston!

Huh?

Huh?

What does VMTurbo, Starwind, Unitrends and the Habs have in common? Friday shorts that’s what!

And another installment of Friday Shorts – a spot for me to share some awesomeness I’ve found on the interwebs, upcoming events and info from some awesome blog sponsors, and just random thoughts around events and news that might not quite fit within the niche of this blog – basically a mashup of my brain!

First up – free passes to VMworld

VMTurboLogoSmVMworld is sneaking up faster than you think!  Have you got your conference pass yet?  If not why not help ease the pain on your company by letting VMTurbo pick up the conference pass for you?  Along with ensuring performance and maximizing efficiency in your data center the folks at VMTurbo are doing their best put a full VMworld US conference pass in the hands of three people – you can sign up here and the drawings for the three passes take place on May 29th, June 19th, and July 10th!  Good luck!

More freebies from Unitrends

unitrendsSo VMTurbo has you covered for the conference pass how’s about getting a little money to help cover the travel costs from Unitrends (trust me you will need it – the prices of hotels are crazy this year in San Fran).  Just this week Unitrends released Unitrends Free – a completely free, full featured backup solution for up to 1TB of data – I reviewed it here if you missed it!  Anyways, asides from putting a completely free backup product into your lab or data center Unitrends has a gig going right now where you can win a $1500 Visa Giftcard, just for downloading and registering FREE software.  You have till the end of June on this one so best get signed up!

Upcoming Starwind webinar

starwind_softwareStarwind Software, a long time mwpreston.net sponsor and creator of Starwind Virtual SAN have a webinar coming up on May 20 titled Snapshots vs Replication – chosing the right data protection strategy, presented by Chris Evans. If your interested I definitely recommend checking it out as making the choice between snapshots and replication and/or both are key in developing a fool proof data protection strategy!  Also, if you haven’t checked out Starwind Virtual SAN I would take a look at it as well.  I’ve used their free version in the lab numerous times for different projects!

EMC virtual VNX

EMC-LogoConference season is among us and with that comes a slew of releases and announcements.  One that caught my attention coming out of EMCworld was the release of a community edition of the VNXe software.  Shipped as an OVA you can simply load it into your environment and get the functionality and software stack of a VNXe, but without the dedicated storage hardware and controllers.  I love messing around with all different types of storage and VSA’s in the lab so I’ll for sure be looking at this a little closer!

Au reviour les habitants

priceAnd last but not least, and certainly the saddest news of the week is the second round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs for my beloved habs!  Honestly the bleu, blanc, et rouge had a great season, picking up 110 points and finishing 2nd overall in the eastern conference.  Their goalie, Carey Price had a career year – picking up nominations for both the Hart (League MVP) and Vezina (Best Goalie), and more than likely will take both these trophies home this summer.  That said expectations around hockey in Montreal are high and a second round exit overshadows all the success that they had!  Anyways we know Carey probably doesn’t care about those two trophies and is now out of the running for the only one he wanted.  All that said the Habs have a great core, and they are young – so hopefully we see improvements for years to come – they will need to pick up another top 6 forward though if they want to go anywhere in the post season!  At the end, they are now on the links and hopefully that means a little more time for me to work on this blog 🙂  Au revoir! Ole!

Unitrends Free equals Free Unitrends!

Recently Unitrends have released a free product cleverly titled Unitrends Free.  The product, which is unlimited in terms of VMs, sockets, scheduling will allow members of the Unitrends community to protect 1TB of VMs absolutely free, forever!  I had the chance to get on the beta for this product and loved every bit of it.  It’s a great product with a beautiful UI – and given the price (FREE) I would certainly recommend you give Unitrends Free a shot to see if you have a place for it.

Installation

Installation of Unitrends Free is a breeze – after meeting a couple of requirements in terms of .net 3.5 and 4.0 configurations you simply point the installer to either and ESXi host or vCenter server within your environment – from there you specify desired storage locations and IP information for your Unitrends appliance.  You can also chose to size your backup storage at this point – allowing you to add a disk to the appliance.

Installations storage

From there the magic of automation takes over as your Unitrends Free appliance ovf is deployed, powered on, network configured, virtual disk for backup storage is added and finally a browser is opened putting you directly into a configuration wizard where items such as NTP, SMTP, hostname, and root passwords are setup.

installwizard

Once completed we move directly into the newly redesigned Unitrends Free user interface.

Speaking of UI

Wow!  They say that first impressions count and this one really did with me.  I love the design and intuitiveness of this user interface.  It’s very clean, lots of whitespace, and very very easy to use.  The default dashboard makes it easy to see all the important aspects about  the health of your backup environment; the performance and speed, the unprotected VMs, any active jobs as well as the status and capacity of your storage.  To top that if you are a member of the Unitrends Community forum you can see to the top posts here as well (which is where support for the product is provided BTW).  All of this, on one single section of the UI.

UnitrendsUI[1]

Getting up and running

addvCenter[4]Pretty is definitely a selling factor but functionality is key  There are only a few things you need to do to get running with UF.  First, we simply need to add our vCenter server or ESXi host as what Unitrends calls a ‘Protected Asset’.  This is done on the ‘Protected Assets’ tab inside of the ‘Configure’ section by clicking ‘Add’.  From there enter in the standard fqdn/ip and authentication information for vCenter and save.

Now that we have configured our vCenter we can begin the process of setting up a backup job.  Clicking ‘Create Job’ from the ‘Jobs’ section will get us there.  The backup job creation is very intuitive; first selecting which VMs we want inside the job from the tree view and then defining a few job settings revolving around scheduling and backup verification.

createjob1[1] createjob2[1]

Your backup job status can be monitored  through the ‘Active Jobs’ tab in the “Jobs’ section of the UI, however to get a very clean quick overview of our complete environment we can head to the ‘Protect’ section – As shown below we can see that we have a successful backup for the OnIceEntertaintment VM on Thursday but we have yet to process a backup of the Scoreboard VM.  A very nice overview of just how protected our environment is.  And, if we desired, we could simply select our VM from this view, click ‘Backup’ and create a job directly from here as well.

protectionoverview

Unitrends Free also offers deduplication and compression as it pertains to storing your backed up VMs.  I can tell you that the OnIceEntertainment VM was just over 2GB in size, and when Unitrends was all said and done with it the amount of data laid down during the first full backup to the storage, after deduplication and compression, was just under 1GB – a 50% reduction – not bad.  An incremental backup after laying down another 1GB file to the VM resulted in another 200MB of space being utilized – not too shabby : 0.  The first full backup of my VM took a mere 2.5 minutes, with the incremental taking only 1.5 minutes.  Even though it is a small VM these are still pretty impressive performance statistics.

Backups are processed in what Unitrends calls an Incremental Forever strategy – meaning we have an initial full backup followed by daily incremental backups.  The appliance will automatically create synthetic full backups from the existing incremental backups in order to ensure very quick restores in the event you need them.

incrementalforever

Recovery

RecoverOptions Let’s face it – we can backup to our hearts delight but when push comes to shove it’s the recovery that we really need to be top notch!  Unitrends Free provides three different recovery options as it pertains to your virtual machines; recovering the entire VM, individual file level recovery, and instant recovery.

Recovering the entire VM is pretty self explanatory – you simply select your restore point, provide the location in which you want to restore to and Unitrends will restore a complete duplicate of your VM.  In my testing, the 3GB OnIceEntertainment VM was restored in only 3.5 minutes.

That said, if you can’t wait the 3.5 minutes Unitrends also provides the instant recovery option.  Instant Recovery reserves a portion of your appliance backup storage for use as an NFS datastore which gets mounted directly to your hosts.  From there, VMs are recovered and powered on within vSphere utilizing the actual backup files stored on the Unitrends appliance.  What this does is provide a super fast way to recover your VMs – mine was up and responding to pings within 2 minutes.  From there the VM is relocated to a datastore (utilizing Storage vMotion) of your choosing during the restore wizard.  Instant Recovery is a great way to get VMs up and running quickly, while ensuring that they eventually get moved back to a production datastore.  Instant Recovery also provides an “Audit Mode” which allows us to simply ensure that the backup itself is indeed restorable.  When/if you wish to end your Instant Recovery job you can do so by clicking ‘Tear Down’ from the Instant Recovery tab.

instant recovery

If you aren’t looking for a complete VM restore and just need a simple file that may have been deleted off of your VM then the File Level Recovery option is the way to go.  The FLR does not actually perform an restoration of files to your VMs, but provides accessibility to your desired restore point utilizing either a CIFS or iSCSI connection to your Unitrends appliance.  The intention is that you and/or the app owner would simply connect to either the CIFS share or iSCSI target and perform the actual copying of data back to your VM or other desired location manually.  This is basically an Instant Recovery with no visibility into the VM from vSphere and only internal network access into the recovered VM from the Unitrends appliance.  Once the files have been recovered the backups are then un-mounted from the Unitrends appliance by clicking ‘Remove’

flr

Is it worth the price?

Given that the product is FREE, yes FREE I would definitely say so.  It does a lot of things well, backup, restore, reporting, etc.… and it has one of the nicest user interfaces that I’ve seen – it’s clean, easy to use, and very intuitive.  Not once did I have to ready any manuals and/or forums to perform any of the backups or restores.  Not that they don’t exist because they do – support also exists for the product as well.  Unitrends Free is designed bo be a product for the community and keeping true to the community philosophy this is offered through the Unitrends Free Community forums as well as through a multitude of knowledge base articles.  Although I only tested with vSphere the product does support Hyper-V as well, which is also FREE!    The product is unlimited in terms of the number of VMs, sockets, retention and scheduling – this is all included in the free edition.  You will be limited however to 1TB of protected capacity.

Honestly I think this is a great product and I like the way that Unitrends are marketing this as a “community” product.  As always I encourage you to go ahead and check it out for yourself  and let me know what you think – you can’t go wrong being that the price is free.

Note: I was given compensation from Unitrends in exchange for getting on their beta, checking out Unitrends Free and posting my thoughts around it!  Key here is that they are my thoughts – Unitrends in no way told me what to say or how to say it!

Silently installing Veeam v8 Update 2 – at scale with vRO

servletIt’s no surprise that most Veeam customers live with one or two Veeam Backup and Replication consoles – hey, it’s easier to manage, easier to report on, and easier to upgrade come update time if you keep your footprint to a minimum.  That said, I’m not most customers Smile  I have multiple Veeam B&R consoles – not necessarily because I have to, but it’s a preference – It allows me to split out functionality and services, I can have a self contained DR site, and I can also instantiate local backup functionality at multiple sites, leaving them to be non reliant on the main datacenter.  It’s working for me but there’s one caveat – come update time it’s a real big pain having to go out and click through a wizard 20 or so times.

Needless to say I was quite thrilled when I saw the following within the v8 update 2 release notes….

veeamsilent

w00t!  No more wizard driven day of click craziness for me.  After getting a little bit of help from Anton Gostev in the forums (if you have been in the Veeam forums you know this guy) I was off to the races in my automated install.

The command

Installing Veeam Update 2 silently is basically done in two steps; first we need to unpack the files from the installer and second we simply execute the HotFixRunner.exe file with the proper arguments.  Anton suggested placing both steps with at batch file so in the end I was left with something like such (setup.bat)…

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mkdir c:\VeeamData\v8\unpacked
”c:\VeeamData\v8\VeeamBackup&Replication_8.0.0.2021_Update2.exe” /Q /C /T:c:\VeeamData\v8\unpacked
c:\VeeamData\v8\unpacked\HotFixRunner.exe silent noreboot log C:\VeeamData\v8\patch.log VBR_AUTO_UPGRADE=1

Basically save all the above within setup.bat, obviously changing your directory names to the where you copied the VeeamBackup&Replication_8.0.0.2021_Update2.exe file and where you want the files unpacked.  From there you simply execute setup.bat and sit back and relax while Veeam updates…

But that’s not enough for me

What about copying the update file out to the B&R servers?  What about copying setup.bat out?  We still need to do this and I for one don’t want to manually do anything Smile.  This could very easily be achieved with PowerShell or your tool of choice – but in the case I decided to lean on my good ol’ friend vRealize Orchestrator to do the trick.  Mainly because I’m sitting in the vSphere Web Client for a good chunk of the day and having the functionality right at my fingertips just seemed proper.  That, and every single one of my Veeam B&R servers are virtualized.  Another reason is because I’d like to expand on the workflow someday, giving it the ability to cancel any currently running Veeam jobs, report back on success, etc..  vRO through the use of PowerShell and REST plug-ins gives me all of this building-block functionality.  If your Veeam B&R console isn’t virtualized or you don’t want to automate with vRO go ahead and copy the files out using whatever tool you like and execute them – it’ll work just the same.

But if you want to dabble around in vRO or just want something a little more challenging go ahead and create a new workflow – The workflow I built performs three main functions; copies the update file, copies the setup file, and then executes the setup file – pretty simple.

As far as inputs and attributes this is the way I went about it.   For inputs I used only three, the VM name (this is the VBR instance I’ll be upgrading) and a username and password with permission to copy and execute on the file system.

veeamworkflowinputs

The rest of the information that the workflow needs will be stored in workflow attributes as it will always be static throughout all the installs and upgrades I’ll perform. In my case I used four attributes (shown below) defining the file paths on both the vRO server and the Veeam server for the setup.bat file and the Veeam update executable.

veeamvcoattr

Once these are defined it’s time to setup our workflow schema – Drag two scriptable tasks onto the schema editor and label them “Copy Files to VBR Server” and “Execute Setup.bat” or something more to your liking.

schema-vco

The Copy Files scriptable task handles the copying of both the Veeam update and setup.bat file.  Thankfully most the scripting for copying a file has already been completed and is stored inside a default vRO workflow titled “Copy File from vCO to Guest”.  I simply copied the script out of this workflow, pasted into my scriptable task and modified slightly to suit my needs.  You can see my final script along with a screen cap of the bindings so you can get a better understanding of which attributes/parameters need to be mapped into the scriptable task shown below.  If you run into some trouble, mainly permission issues have a look at this post by Nick Coyler which greatly helps with that issue.

vco-copyfiles

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var host = vm.sdkConnection;
 
var guestOperationsManager = host.guestOperationsManager;
var guestAuth = new VcNamePasswordAuthentication();
guestAuth.username = vmUsername;
guestAuth.password = vmPassword;
 
var fileManager = guestOperationsManager.fileManager;
result = false;
var attr = new VcGuestFileAttributes();
var srcFile = new File(vroPathToSetup);
var uri = fileManager.initiateFileTransferToGuest(vm , guestAuth ,guestPathToSetup, attr, srcFile.length, true);
result = fileManager.putFile(vroPathToSetup, uri);
 
var attr2 = new VcGuestFileAttributes();
var srcFile2 = new File(vroPathToVeeam);
var uri2 = fileManager.initiateFileTransferToGuest(vm , guestAuth ,guestPathToVeeam, attr2, srcFile2.length, true);
result = fileManager.putFile(vroPathToVeeam, uri2);

From here we move onto the “Execute setup.bat” scriptable task.  Again this script was borrowed and modified slightly from the “Run program in guest” workflow that is shipped with vRO –  the script and screencap of attribute/parameters are shown below

executesetup

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var host = vm.sdkConnection;
 
var guestOperationsManager = host.guestOperationsManager;
var guestAuth = new VcNamePasswordAuthentication();
guestAuth.username = vmUsername;
guestAuth.password = vmPassword;
guestAuth.interactiveSession = false;
 
var guestProgramSpec = new VcGuestProgramSpec();
guestProgramSpec.programPath = guestPathToSetup;
guestProgramSpec.arguments = "";
guestProgramSpec.workingDirectory = "";
 
var processManager = guestOperationsManager.processManager;
result = processManager.startProgramInGuest(vm , guestAuth , guestProgramSpec);

And we are done…

updatecontextPretty simple right – once you have saved your workflow you can go ahead and execute it right away.  Or if you prefer, map the workflow within the vSphere Web Client to your VM inventory object – allowing you to simply right-click a Veeam B&R server and execute the script all without having to leave the web client.  Either way you are left with a quick, easy, and consistent way to upgrade all of your B&R servers without ever having to log into them – achievement unlocked

Keep in mind

  • You can only use this for virtualized Veeam servers – any physical servers could be automated, but you may need to chose another tool to do the copying and executing of the files
  • You need to ensure that no jobs are running when you perform the upgrade – This is something I’d love to build into the workflow but just need time (story of my life) – for now, manually cancel any currently running Veeam jobs before executing the workflow
  • The workflow reports success right away, before the upgrade is complete – again, I need time for this one.  For now, you can monitor the patch.log file that setup.bat creates – it should say something along the lines of exit code 0 returned when the upgrade as completed…

Happy update day!