“If that puck would’ve crossed the line Gord, that would’ve been a goal!” – Pierre McGuire – A Mr Obvious, annoying hockey commentator that drives me absolutely insane! (Sorry, watching the Habs game as I put all this together :))
Jambalaya and Backups – Get there!
Veeam had some big announcements this year along with a slew of releases of new products, beta’s and big updates to existing products. All that said we can only assume that VeeamON, the availability conference focussed on the green is going to be a big one! This year it takes place May 16-18 in New Orleans – a nice break from the standard Vegas conferences! I’ve been to both VeeamON conferences thus far and I can tell you that they are certainly worth it – all of Veeams engineers/support is there so if you have a question, yeah, it’ll get answered and then some! So, if you can go, go! If you can’t, if it’s a money thing – guess what??? Veeams raffling off 10, yes 10 fully paid (airfare, hotel, conference) trips over the holidays – so yeah, go sign up!
But we have a REST API?
Although this post by John Hidlebrand may be a month old I just read it this week and it sparked some of my own inner frustrations that simmer around deep inside me 🙂 John talks about how having a REST API is just not enough at times – and I completely agree! I’m seeing more and more companies simply state, oh yeah, we have a REST API, we are our first customer! That’s all said and great – but guess what, you wrote it and you know how to use it! All to often companies are simply developing the API and releasing it, but without any documentation or code examples on how to consume it! John brings up a good point about, hey, how’s about having some PowerShell cmdlets built around it? How about having an SDK we can consume? Building your application off of a REST API is a great start don’t get me wrong, but if you want people to automate around your product – help us out a little please 🙂
In through iSCSI, out through SMB, in through SWIFT, out through REST
Fellow Veeam Vanguard and TFD12 delegate Tim Smith has a post over on his blog describing a lot of the different storage protocols on the market today and how EMC, sorry, Dell-EMC Isilon is working to support them all without locking down specific data to a specific protocol. If you have some time I’d certainly check it out!
Happy Thanksgiving Murica!
I’ve always found it odd that Canadians and Americans not only celebrate thanksgiving on different days, but in different months as well! Come to find out there are quite a few other differences as well. You can see the two holidays compared on the diffen.com site. It makes sense that we here in Canada celebrate a bit earlier – especially if our thanks revolves around the harvest. I mean, no one wants to wait till November in Canada to harvest their gardens and crops – you’d be shoveling snow off of everything! Either way – Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends – may your Turkey coma’s be long-lasting!
Recently I attended Tech Field Day 12 in San Jose and was lucky enough to sit down with Docker for a couple of hours. Docker talked about a number of things including Containers as a Service, Security, Networking, Cloud and the recent integration points on Microsoft Server 2016. Now I’m not going to pretend here – Docker, more specifically containers are something that I’ve heard of before (How could you not have?) but I’ve never really gone too deep into what they do, how they perform, or what use cases they fit well into. I knew they had something to do with development – but that’s as far as I’ve really went with them. Listening to Docker and other delegates questions during the presentation got me thinking that I should really start learning some of this stuff. – and it’s that thought right there which sent me down a rabbit hole for the last few days, reading countless blogs and articles, watching numerous videos and keynotes, and scratching my head more often than I would’ve liked too – in the end I’m left with the conclusion that there a lot of misconceptions in regards to containers, and I was falling right into mostly all of them…
VMware vs Docker
Here’s the first misconception I was reading a lot about. Quite a lot of chatter out there on the interwebs is happening about the downfall of the VM and the up-rise of the container. And for some environments this may hold true, but, even according to Docker, these two technologies are not necessarily competitors. You see, VM’s by their nature encapsulate a complete running VM – all of the OS, applications, libraries, and data running is encapsulated into a VM, with hardware emulation and a BIOS. A container on the other hand is application focused – being more an application delivery construct while sharing processes related to the Linux kernel and operating system its’ running on. Still confused? Don’t worry – so was(am) I. There’s an analogy that Docker uses quite often that might help; houses vs apartments. Think of a VM as a house, complete with all the different living spaces and its self contained services such as heat, electricity, and plumbing. On the flip-side, containers could be apartments – sure each one may be a little different but they share common services in the building – electricity and plumbing is shared and all comes from the same source. So in essence there is room for both in the market, in fact, they really provide quite different platforms for running our applications – while Docker will focus in on stateless, scale able, non-persistent apps, mostly providing advantages around development and portability our VMs give us the “warm and fuzzy” feeling of having separate OS instances for our applications, with their front doors shut and locked.
Docker is just for developers
Another pretty big misconception if you ask me! Sure, Docker is getting huge adoption in the developer space because of it’s provided consistency – a developer can begin by by pulling down a Docker image and have the libraries and components setup on their laptop exactly how they want. They then can share this image out to be forked by others, meaning we have a consistent environment no matter where the application is being developed. When the time comes to move to test, or production, we are still running within that same, consistent environment – no more patch or library conflicts – A true developers nirvana! But after reading so much about this I have come to the realization that Docker is not just a “Developer” thing, it’s for all of us, even us crazy operation guys! The shear nature of having a container limited to one service, or micro-services if you will, allow us as administrators to deploy applications in our data center in the same way – think a container for Apache, a container for MySQL, each it’s own separate entity, each working together to provide a full application to our end users – and with the maturity and availability of images out there today take a guess who doesn’t have to go through all of the headaches and processes of setting all of this stuff up – operations doesn’t! And spawning multiple instances of all of these is just one command line away! It just feels right to me and just as we have seen the adoption of virtualization and the adoption of of companies shipping software bundled in virtual appliances I can see a day where we will soon see those same services packaged and shipped as containers.
But Docker is just for Linux nerds
Not anymore… Have yourself a copy of Windows 10 or Server 2016, yeah, simply install the feature called containers, grab the Docker engine and away you go! Microsoft and Docker have made huge partnerships and as of right now you can even pull down some Microsoft applications right off of the “App Store” if you will. Need yourself a SQL Server –docker run -d -p 1433:1433 -e sa_password=password -e ACCEPT_EULA=Y microsoft/mssql-server-windows-express – yeah, that’s all – your done! Still think Docker is just for developers??? Microsoft has been doing some really out of character things as of late – think bash on windows, open sourcing .Net, SQL Server on Linux – just super weird non-traditional Microsoft things – but in a good way! Don’t be surprised if we see Microsoft going all in with containers and Docker in the future!!! Let the benefits of Continuous Integration and deployment be spread among all the nerds!!!
So I can deliver all my Windows apps through containers now! Awesome!
Yes…but no! Docker is not ThinApp/XenApp/App-V. It doesn’t capture changes and compile things into an executable to be ran off a desktop or deployed through group policy. In fact it’s just those server side applications that are supported in a Windows container. We can’t for instance try and run Internet Explorer 6 with a certain version of the java plugin, nor can we run Microsoft Word within a container. The purpose of this is to provide a portable, scale-able, consistent environment to run our server side, non-GUI Windows applications – think SQL Server, IIS, .NET, etc… Now I can’t say where the technology will go in the future – a world in which we can all containerize desktop applications with Docker doesn’t sound too far fetched to me :).
So with all that I think I have a little better handle on containers and Docker since my Tech Field Day adventures – and wanted to simply lay it out the way I see it in the event that someone else may be struggling with the mountains of content out there. If you want to learn more and dig deeper certainly check out all of the TFD videos that Docker has. Also, Stephen Foskett has a great keynote that he has done – “What’s the deal with containers?” which I would certainly recommend you watch! I’m still sort of discovering all of this but plan to really invest some time in the container world come next year – there is a lot of components that I want and need to understand a bit more such as persistent storage and networking – also, if I’m wrong or misinformed on any of this – do call me out 🙂 – that’s how we all learn! Thanks for reading!
Like most of you I’ve been attending VMUGs for quite a while now and over the last few years I’ve helping out by co-leading the Toronto chapter. Each and every one I attend I always get some value out of it – whether it’s from presenting sponsors, talking with peers, or just creepily listening to conversations from the corner – one of the challenges we seem to have is getting the “conversation” going – getting those customers and community members sitting in the audience to voice their opinion or even at times get up and do a presentation on something. For our last meeting I reached out to Matt Crape (@MattThatITGuy) to see if he might be interested in presenting – Matt was quick to simply say yes – yes, but on one condition – do I want to come and present at his Veeam User Group? So, with that a deal was cut and I headed out this morning to my first Veeam User Group.
Veeam User Group – VMUG with out the ‘M’
Matt runs the Southwest Ontario Veeam User Group (SWOVUG) – I’ve seen the tweets and blogs around the SWOVUG events taking place, and have always wanted to attend but something always seemed to get in the way – for those that know me I’m a huge Veeam user and fan – so these events are right up my alley. So, I did the early morning thing again, battled the dreaded Toronto traffic and headed up to Mississauga for the day to check it out.
The layout of the meeting is somewhat similar to a VMUG meeting we have – two companies kindly supported the event; HPE and Mid-Range – and in return got the chance to speak. HPE started with a short but good talk around their products that integrate with Veeam; mainly 3PAR, StoreOnce and StoreVirtual. They also touched on HP OneView and the fact that they are laser focused on providing API entry points into all their products.
I’m glad HPE didn’t go too deep into the 3PAR integrations as I was up next and my talking points were around just that. I simply outlined how my day job is benefiting from those said integrations; more specifically the Backup from Storage Snapshot, Restore from Storage Snapshot and On-Demand Sandbox for Storage Snapshots features.
After a quick, but super tasty lunch (Insert Justin Warren disclaimer post here) Mid-Range took the stage Mid-Range is a local Veeam Cloud Connect partner offering DRaaS and a ton of other services around that. Mid-Range did more than simply talk about the services they provide – they more-so went into the challenges and roadblocks of consuming disaster recovery as a service, then touched briefly on how Veeam and themselves could help solve some of those…
Finally to cap the day off we had David Sayavong, a local Veeam SE take the stage to talk to us about “What’s new in version 9.5?”. David’s presentation was not just him up there flipping through slides of features, but more of a conversation around certain features such as ReFS integration and how all of the new Veeam Agents will come into play. Just a fun fact for the day – the audience was asked who had already upgraded to 9.5 – and honestly around 1/3 of the room raised their hands. That’s 33% that have already upgraded to a product that just GA’ed only 7 days ago – talk about instilling confidence in your customers.
Anyways I wanted to breifly outline the day for those that may be thinking of attending like I was, but haven’t yet set aside the time to do so.
But there’s more…
I mentioned at the beginning of the post that there is always struggles with getting people to “speak up” – this didn’t seem to be the case at the Veeam User Group. I’m not sure what it was but conversations seemed to be flying all over the place – for instance, after I was done talking about the integration with 3PAR there was a big conversation that started around Ransomware and security. Each presentation seemed more like a round table discussion than a sales pitch. It truly was a great day with lots of interaction from the both the presenting companies and the audience – everything you want from user group.
The user group intrigued me – and maybe some day I’ll through my name in to try and get something started up on “my side of Toronto” – it’s Canada right – there’s only a handful of IT guys here so everything east of Toronto is mine For more information about the Veeam User Groups keep an eye out on the Veeam Events page and @veeamug on Twitter! And to keep track of the SWOVUG dates I suggest following @MattThatITGuy and watching the swovug.ca site! Good job Matt and team on a great day for all!
It’s no surprise to anyone that storage is growing at an incredible rate – rich media, sensor devices, IoT – these are all affecting the amount of storage capacity that organizations need today and it’s only going to get worse in the future! Organizations need somewhere to put this data, somewhere safe and protected, somewhere where availability is key. For most that somewhere ends up being the cloud! Public cloud services such as Amazon S3 give us access to oodles of storage on a pay as you go basis – and they remove the burden of having to manage this. SLA’s are agreed upon and our data is just available when we need it! That said, public cloud simply may not be an option for a lot of companies – the businesses that simply can’t, or sometimes won’t move to cloud, yet still want the agility and availability that cloud provides. These organizations tend to move to an on-premises solutions – SANs and storage crammed into their own data centers – but with that comes a whole new bucket of challenges around scaling and availability…
How do we scale a SAN?
Most all storage out there today is designed in much the same way. We have a controller of sorts, providing network and compute resources to move our data in and out of a number of drives sitting behind it. But what if that controller goes down? Well, there goes all of our infrastructure! To alleviate this we add more controllers and more disk – This seems like a pretty common storage solution today – 2 controllers, each hosting a number of shelves full of drives, with dual path interconnects connected to the rest of our data center. In this situation if we lose a controller we don’t necessarily lose access to our data, but we most certainly lose half of the bandwidth into it. So, we yet again add more controllers and more disk – sitting with 4 controllers now – at which point the back of our racks and our interconnect infrastructure is getting so complex and complicated that we will most certainly hit struggles when the time comes to scale out even more.
So what is the perfect ratio of controller to disk, or cpu to disk? How do we minimize complexity while maximizing performance? And how do we accomplish all of this within our own data center? Lower ratios such 1 CPU for every 8 disks introduces complexity with connectivity – Higher ratio’s such as 1 CPU for 60 disks provides a huge fault domain. Is it somewhere in the middle? Igneous Systems has a answer that may surprise you!
RatioPerfect – 1:1 – Compute : Disk
Igneous presented at Tech Field Day 12 in November showcasing their managed on-premise cloudy solution– It looks much like a traditional JBOD – a 4u box containing 60 drives – but underneath the hood things are certainly different. Igneous, calling it their RatioPerfect architecture takes a 1:1 solution in terms of CPU to Disk. Throwing out expensive Xeon CPU’s and the controller methodology, RatioPerfect is essentially an army of nano servers, each equipped with its’ own ARM CPU, memory, and networking attached directly to each and every disk – essentially giving each disk its’ own controller!
These “server drives” are then crammed inside a JBOD – however instead of having dual SAS controllers within the JBOD they are replaced by dual Ethernet switches. Each nano server then has two addressable MACs and two paths out to your infrastructure 10Gbe uplinks – you can almost picture this as a rack of infrastructure condensed down into a 4U unit, with 60 network addressable server/storage devices sitting inside of it, with 60 individual fault domains. Don’t worry – it’s IPv6 – no need to free up 120 addresses
Why the need?
To your everyday storage administrator working in a data center you might not see the need for this – 60 fault domains – seems a little excessive right? The thing is, Igneous is not something that managed by your everyday storage administrator – in fact, the “human” element is something Igneous would love to eliminate totally. Igneous set out to provide the benefits of public cloud, on premises, complete with flexible pricing and S3 compatible APIs. The sheer nature of public cloud is that we don’t have to manage it – it’s simply a service right? The same goes for Igneous – all management including installation, configuration, troubleshooting, upgrades is handled centrally by Igneous – you simply consume the storage – when you need more, you call, and another shelf shows up!
The design of Igneous’s management plane is key to their success. With the “fleet” model in mind, Igneous built a management plane that proactively monitors all their systems deployed – being able to contrast and compare events and metrics to detect possible failure scenarios and rely heavily on automation to fix these issues before they are indeed, issues. That said, no matter the amount of predictive analysis and automation the time will come when drives physically fail – and the nano server design of Igneous, coupled with the custom built data path deployed allows a single Igneous box to sustain up to 8 concurrent drive failures with out affecting performance – certainly buying them enough time to react to the situation. The on-premises management plan is simply a group of micro-services running on commodity x86 servers – meaning software refreshes and upgrades are a breeze and non-disruptive at that. It’s this design and architecture that allows Igneous to move fast and implement rapid code changes just as we would see within a cloud environment.
In the end Igneous certainly does contain an army of ARM processors working to bring the benefits and agility of public cloud to those who simply can’t move their data to cloud due to volume, or won’t due to security reasons. Yeah, it’s a hardware appliance but you don’t manage it – in fact, you don’t even buy it – just as we “rent” cloud the Igneous service is a true operation expense – no capital costs whatsoever. It’s funny – they sell a service, essentially software and storage that you consume, but it’s the hardware that left the lasting impression on me – not to often hardware steals the show at a Tech Field Day event. If you are interested in learning more certainly take a look at their Tech Field Day videos – they cover all of this and A LOT more! Thanks for reading!
Later on this week I’m getting the chance to present at my first ever Veeam User Group – My topic – Veeam & 3PAR Now as I was preparing some slides and asking around/researching the community I came to the realization that some people may be under some false pretenses as it pertains to the Veeam Backup from Storage Snapshot feature. For the most part I see people under the assumption that backing up from a storage snapshot is all about speed – however in my experiences it really hasn’t been. Now that’s not to say it isn’t faster, it most certainly could be, but not for any reasons that it is actually copying the data out faster, but for the reasons that it speeds up other functions of the backup process. To help with this, let’s take a look at both the “traditional” Veeam backup process and the Backup from Storage Snapshot Process
Traditional Veeam Backups
Veeam performs a lot of tasks when it completes a backup of a vSphere VM – but for the sake of this post, let’s just take a look at how it handles snapshots. The traditional Veeam backup process can essentially be broken down into three major steps
- Veeam instructs vCenter to take a snapshot of the source VM
- Veeam utilizes CBT data and copies those blocks which have changed to the target.
- Veeam instructs vCenter to delete the snapshot of the source VM.
Looking at it like this it appears to be quite simple but there are a lot of challenges with this. First up, the copying of data step – this could potentially take a long time depending on the initial size and change rate of your virtual machines. During this time, the VMware snapshot will continue to grow – which could possible double in size. When Veeam finally gets to step 3, the snapshot deletion, VMware is forced to copy all of those changed blocks that were written while the backup was running back into original vmdk – this process can and usually does involve a large amount of reads and writes, which most certainly affects the performance of our VM. On top of this VMware attempts to ‘stun’ the virtual machine by creating yet another snapshot to help with the removal – now if our VMs are generating data fast enough we could experience an overall loss of responsiveness as our storage tries to catch up. Now VMware has made a lot of changes as to how they consolidate and remove snapshots in vSphere 6 which I suggest you read about – but the issues of having to have an active VMware snapshot during the backup process remain….
Backup from Storage Snapshot
When Veeam performs a backup from a Storage Snapshot it is able to discard of the vSphere snapshot in a much more efficient way – we can break down the steps below…
- Veeam instructs vCenter to take a snapshot of the source VM
- Veeam instructs the storage array to take a SAN snapshot of the LUN containing the source VM
- Veeam instructs vCenter to delete the snapshot of the source VM. (Happens on production LUN)
- Veeam utilizes CBT and the VM snapshot data that still exists on the Storage Snapshot to copy out changed blocks to the target
- Veeam instructs the storage array to discard the SAN Snapshot
So how does this help you ask? We still see the VMware snapshot being created. The difference here is that Steps 1-3 take literally seconds. The vSphere Snapshot is created, SAN Snapshot is created, then the vSphere snapshot is discarded immediately after. Due to the nature of SAN Snapshots this essentially redirects all changed writes to our production LUN while leaving our snapshot LUN available for backup processing – all the while removing the requirement of having the VMware snapshot open for the backup duration. At the end of the backup process, the SAN Snapshot is simply discarded…
So, is Backup from Storage Snapshot faster – well, it depends. Sure, it does speed things up, but not in a data copy/processing way – more so in a snapshot commit way. In a Backup from Storage Snapshot job, our VMware snapshot is only open for a little time, therefore it shouldn’t take as long to consolidate it as if it were open for the complete backup job. That said, the real value of the Backup from Storage Snapshot comes from the short VMware snapshot commit time – and the no stun, more so than any decrease of the backup time.
So there you have it – just my two cents for the day! And hey, if you are in or around Toronto/Mississauga on Wednesday be sure to register and stop by the Veeam User Group!
Thanks for reading!
Come on, just lets go!
She kinda bit her lip…geez I dont know
I’ve written non tech related posts here before – usually it takes something near and dear to my heart to spark them. Hockey and music was kinda my crutch throughout my life – In the spirit of share, and the spirit of getting 30 posts out in 30 days this one will deal with the latter
For those that don’t know there’s an iconic Canadian band called The Tragically Hip Their lead singer, Gordon Downie announced earlier this year that he had incurable brain cancer, you know, the shitty kind, as if their was a kind that wasn’t. Instead of undergoing treatment and calling it quits The Hip announced a country wide tour, starting in Vancouver, 15 shows later ending in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario – a small quaint city not far from where I live now and a place I called home for some time during college!
God knows I tried to get tickets – I was online right at 10 o’clock the day they were released and I had four in my shopping cart but during check out something happened – I along with many, many other people, tremendous other people (see what I did there :)) doing the same thing were denied and the tickets were gone within seconds. Sheesh, you’d think these ticket companies could get some better IT behind these types of things! But this wasn’t just for the Kingston show but for every show they had planned! Within minutes of that you could see tickets popping up on StubHub more than 500% their face value! Needless to say I wasn’t going to this one. As a tour started the band tried to accommodate this by releasing new shows and holding lotteries for new tickets available only to people who could pick them up at the door of the venue! Again I tried but was left dissapointed again!
So, in the end we were left with a country trying to mourn someone they grew up with and couldn’t get into see his, what some called, last show! Then to my surprise CBC picked up on this and worked out a deal that would have final show, August 20th in Kingston, live-streamed across the country. Satellite, Internet, CBC Mobile, Facebook, YouTube – it was going to be on every media channel across Canada. So with all that said projectors went up in backyards across Canada! Market Square in Kingston packed in 30,000 people, the most they have ever had gather downtown to see what many were calling the final concert. One of those 30,000 – our newly minted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Personally, I gathered in one of those backyards with some close friends to watch the concert, have some drinks, and celebrate the life of a man who had entertained me my entire life. The music was great, the drinks were great (as always), but the biggest thing I took away from that warm night in August was the memories. The whole night was full of friends reliving memories together – “Remember when?” “This song reminds me of that time…” Friends reminiscing, replaying times in their minds. Seeing people whom I haven’t in quite a while, remembering times with some who are unfortunately no longer here. This is what I took away from that night – memories, friendships, recollections of the handful of times I’ve saw them perform.
Before the show there was so much chatter on what he might be like, will he look ok? And 15 seconds in I think we all saw the same ol’ Gord we have so many times before. For nearly three hours he took us on a journey from that bar band that started out in Kingston to the national treasure they are now. Even in his condition he used his time wisely, using the viewership of 11.7 million people to help spread the word about Canada’s struggles and ignorance towards the residential school issues of the past – that’s a whole other shameful post to be written though….
Though entertaining it was all but bittersweet seeing his interview a month or so after with Peter Mansbridge on CBC. There, Downie declared he is indeed suffering, requiring 6 prompters on the stage in order to remember the lyrics of his own songs, having Mansbridges name written on his hand just so he can remember who he is talking to – even though they have known each other for some time…having to struggle to remember his kids names…
“For some reason every line, I just couldn’t, it’s the worst kind of punishment”, he said, “It was one savage kick in the pants, can’t remember peoples names and can’t remember lyrics”
A musician, an artist, a poet – who can’t remember lyrics. A father, a husband, a friend – who can’t remember your name – Thinking of all this, it reminds to cherish, cherish what you have now, celebrate what you have now – someday it may no longer be there.
I mention “the country” a lot in this post – don’t get me wrong, it’s not all of Canada. As with any music people have personal tastes and for some The Tragically Hip just isn’t their flavor of choice. But, no one, no one can argue that something happened in our Country the night of August 20th – This group, this man, united our country and during that time their was not a sole that could claim they weren’t touched somehow by having been a part of it! Personally, I feel more thankful having been part of that night – thankful for what I have and holding it tight – for someday it will all end and I’ll just be floating through Fiddler’s Green.