Tag Archives: Community
I’m super excited today to finally announce that I’ve been selected to be a part of the newly announced Veeam Vanguard program! Now I’ve been a vExpert a handful of times now, however was never involved during the early years of the program – so to be part of a community recognition program like the Vanguard right from the get go is a pretty cool honour and something I’m really looking forward to. As for what the Vanguard program is and how it works, I’ll leave you to the Rickatron’s article published earlier today!
Veeam has always been a company that’s been near and dear to me – they were really one of the reason’s I started blogging here in the first place – to help share some of the experiences I had while using their software! They were my first sponsor of this blog and have been around the whole time I’ve been engaged with the virtualization community!
Congrats to the other original nominees and the more that there is to come! It’s really cool to see all of the countries represented on the Vanguard page – it truly is a global program! I excited to see how this program grows and how it all pans out! Also being able to call myself a Vanguard is pretty cool, in a midevil warfare kind of way!
Boston 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…
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!
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
VMworld 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
So 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 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
Conference 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
And 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!
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 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.
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.
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.
Getting up and running
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’
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!
Today Ravello Systems, a company based out of Palo Alto and Israel announced a new beta, a beta that I think is going to go over very well within the VMware community – one that will allow us to spin up vSphere labs, complete with vCenter Server, ESXi hosts, Domain Controllers, Storage and Network services and all the VMs that go with the punch inside of Google and Amazon’s cloud. To be honest I was kind of skeptical when I first started working with Ravello? I mean, come on, an ESXi host in Amazon, let alone and ESXi host running VMs inside of Amazon, an ESXi host running VMs with little to no performance penalty, all running within Amazon – you can see why I might of cringed a bit. But Ravello gave me a shot to try it for myself – and during the introductory chat as they were showing me how things worked I thought, hey, what a use case for the new cross vCenter vMotion capabilities in vSphere 6! A lab in Amazon, a lab in Google Cloud, and VMs migrating between them – how cool is that?
Who and what is Ravello Systems?
Now, before I get into the details of the vMotion itself I want to take a step back and explain a little bit about Ravello Systems themselves, and what they have to offer. Ravello was founded in 2011 with the sole purpose of supporting and driving nested virtualization to the next frontier and did so when they launched their product globally in August of 2013 (You had to of seen the scooters at VMworld 🙂 ) They didn’t just want to simply provide an environment for nested virtualization though, they wanted to make it simple and easy for companies to replicate their data center infrastructure into the public cloud. The core technology behind all of this is their HVX hypervisor – essentially acting as a Cloud VM, sitting in either Amazon or Google and providing overlay networking and storage to the VMs that are placed on top of it.
As per the diagram above the VMs present can be built from scratch or imported via an OVA within Ravello’s very easy to use intuitive interface – but perhaps more interestingly you can utilize the Ravello Import Tool(??), point it to your ESXi host or vCenter, and import VMs directly from your environment into the cloud! But they don’t stop there, Ravello can also detect and create every network your VM is attached to, deploying an exact duplicate of your network infrastructure! Now if this wasn’t good enough for you the beta today announces the ability to support Intel VT through HVX – which means we can now run VMs on top of ESXi on top of HVX on top of Amazon or Google! True inception leaving us with a setup shown in the diagram below.
A great place to break things!
There is a reason why Ravello dubs their technology as having the ability to create “Smart Labs”! Throughout my early access to the solution I broke and fixed so many things within my applications – and Ravello always gave me a way to rebuild or reconstruct my labs in a very efficient manner.
First up we are able to save our VMs to the library – which is essentially a personal set of VMs and images that we can re-use in all of our applications. For example I only had to build my ESXi 6.0 image once – after saving this to the library I was able to simply drag and drop this VM as many times as needed to as many applications as needed, simply re-ip and re-naming after I was done.
Having the ability to re-use VMs is cool but the blueprint functionality that Ravello provides is really where I see value! We are able to take a complete application, in my instance an ESXi host, domain controller, vCenter Server, etc and save the entire application as a blueprint. Blueprints are then available to be used as starting points for new applications – meaning I can build a complete lab on Amazon, save as a blueprint, and then publish a new application to Google which is an exact identical copy, networks and all. Blueprints are an excellent way to test out the different public clouds as well as version or snapshot your entire lab before making any major changes – if things go awry you can simply republish your saved blueprint to a new application.
Enough talk – Let’s see the vMotion!
Alright! Let’s get to it! Let me first warn you, the environment I built to do this was quick and dirty – not a lot of polishing going on here.
The two applications we will be using are Google-vxlan and EC2-vxlan – I’ll let you guess which public clouds each is published to.
As shown above these applications are pretty similar; each containing an Ubuntu server (used to establish the vxlan tunnel between EC2 and Google), a pfSense appliance that provides a VPN for my vMotion networks, a vCenter Server (the Windows version), and an ESXi host (just one for now). The EC2 application also contains a jumpbox VM which provides entry into the local network as well as DNS services.
As far as networking goes the setup at both Amazon and Google is almost identical with the exception of the jumpbox. The 192.168.0.0/24 network is available at both EC2 and Google. The 10.0.0.0/24 network is the only network that is routed to the internet, therefore my only access into the labs outside of the Ravello GUI – this is why the jumpbox also has a connection to this network – to act as an RDP gateway of sorts. The two Ubuntu servers have an elastic public IP attached to them in order to ensure the public IP doesn’t change and mess up my vxlan config. The free trial of Ravello gives you two elastic IPs, and four other DCHP public IPs (subject to changing every now and then). The vxlan tunnel is established between the two elastic IPs in order to provide Layer 2 connectivity between Amazon and Google. The pfSense boxes each have a dynamic public IP attached to them with an IPSEC tunnel established between the 192.168.1.0/24 and the 192.168.2.0/24 networks.
On the VMware side of things I have two vCenters with embedded PSCs (i know – bad practice) – one in Amazon and one in Google, which are attached to the same SSO domain and configured in Enhanced Linked Mode. Therefore whatever is at Google can be seen at Amazon and vice versa. As far as vMotion goes I’ve simply enabled this one my existing management interfaces (more bad practice – but hey, it’s a lab). There is local storage attached to the ESXi hosts and one VM named EC2-VM1 present.
So my goal was to migrate this VM from Amazon to Google and back again, taking both the compute and storage with it. Now just writing about a vMotion is not that exciting so I included a video below so you too can see it move 🙂 It’s my first attempt at a video and had some screaming kids while I made it so yeah, no narration – I’ll try and update with a little tour of the Ravello environment later 🙂
So there you have it – a VM moving from Amazon to Google and back, all while maintaining its’ ping response – pretty cool!
Is Ravello worth it?
So, with all this the question now remains is Ravello worth the cost? Well, considering as how Ravello estimates the cost of a two ESXi Node, vCenter and Storage lab to be on average $0.81 – $1.71 per hour (usage based, no up front costs) I would certainly say it is! The ability to run nested ESXi hosts on top of the public cloud provides a multitude of use-cases for businesses – but honestly I see this being a valuable tools for the community. I plan on using Ravello solely for my home lab usage over the next year or so – it’s just so much nicer to break things and simply re-publish an application than it is to try and rebuild my lab at home. If you want to give Ravello a shot you can sign up for the beta here – Even after the beta expires you simply swipe your credit card and pay Ravello directly – no Amazon accounts, no Google bills – just Ravello! You will be limited during the beta’s and free trials in the amount of CPU, RAM and concurrent powered on VMs but they definitely give you enough resources to get a decent lab setup.
Ravello has a great solution and certainly expect more from me in regards to my lab adventures in the public cloud.
During their first inaugural VeeamON conference last October Veeam announced the beta of Veeam Endpoint Backup. I wrote a little overview in regards to Endpoint Backup in case you need a refresher. Now, Veeam’s Backup and Replication has long been infamous for being purpose built for the virtual data center, and Endpoint Backup is the companies answer to bringing the same great Veeamy-tech to your physical laptops and desktops. Today, that announced beta has ended and Veeam Endpoint Backup is now generally available.
So what’s changed since the beginning of the beta?
A lot actually! Being in beta for 6 months has really helped Veeam to ensure that they are releasing a genuinely, tried and tested, rock solid product into the market. In fact, throughout the beta many of the new features now included in Endpoint Backup were suggested by users just like you and me on the community forums surrounding the beta. Veeam, like always have done a great job taking into account user feedback and delivering a product that’s packed full of useful features and “just works”. There are a lot of features to VEB and you can see them all here – but, I’d like to go over a few of my favorites.
Integration between VEB and VBR
Coupling Patch #2 of Veeam Backup and Replication (released later this month) alongside the GA of Veeam Endpoint Backup brings some awesome functionality of being able to monitor, control and restore endpoint backups within VBR. By backing our endpoints up directly inside a Veeam backup repository we are now able to take advantage of many of the traditional VBR restore goodies with our physical backups. Aside from simply file level recovery, application items, such as being able to restore SQL tables, Exchange and Active Directory objects – they can all be performed on our physical backups now as well. Although the product is geared towards endpoints, meaning desktops and laptops, I see no reason why you couldn’t install it on some of those last physical servers you have laying around. In fact, Veeam says themselves that although it isn’t built for servers it will work on Server 2008 and above.
Veeam has added the ability to export our physical disks from the backups directly into a vmdk, vhd, or vhdx file as well. Now this isn’t a true P2V process, they aren’t removing any drivers or services or preparing the disk to be virtual in any way – this isn’t their intention. This is simply another way to recover, another way to get the data you need – and honestly, if you wanted to try and build a VM out of these exported disks I’m sure there will be posts around the process out there in the next few months on how to do so.
In terms of security Veeam has added the ability for administrators to set access restrictions on their backup repositories. What this does is allows us to grant access to certain repositories to certain users, while restricting access to others.
Aside from the new integration, Veeam Endpoint Backups which are stored in a Veeam backup repository can also take advantage of existing VBR features, such as encrypting your backups, traffic throttling, monitoring incoming backups, email status alerts and support for Backup Copy and Tape jobs to get those backups offsite.
It’s not just about B&R
Sure, the integration’s with VBR are pretty cool but they aren’t the only thing that’s included. Yeah, we have all of the traditional endpoint backup features like incremental’s, multiple target options, and scheduling but it wouldn’t be a Veeam product without a few extra goodies baked in. I’m not going to go in depth about them all, but listed below are a few of my favorites
Full support for Bitlocker drive encryption – This gives you the ability to de-encrypt your Bitlocker backups before restoring, directly from with the Endpoint GUI.
Ability to control the power state of computer post backup – If you have your computer set to backup at the end of your work day, you can leave knowing that once your backup has completed Veeam will, in true green fashion, power down your workstation.
Backup triggers such as “When backup target is connected” – Veeam will monitor for when you plug in that external USB drive or connect to the network that you have setup as your backup target and can trigger the backup process immediately there after.
Support for rotated USB drives – If you want to rotate your backups on one USB drive one week and another the next, Veeam Endpoint Backup can handle this for you, allowing you to backup to one drive while the other goes offsite.
On-battery detection – Backups can be automatically prevented from starting when Veeam detects that your laptop is running on-battery and contains less than 20% run time – ensuring VEB doesn’t chew up valuable power in your time of need 🙂
So what hasn’t changed?
We talked about what has changed since the beta bits were first shipped in November but perhaps the most important and most cared about feature lands in the “What hasn’t changed?” category. What hasn’t changed is that Veeam Endpoint Backup was put into beta as a free product and will remain free now that it is generally available. Veeam has a long history of providing free tools for the community, they have Backup and Replication Free, SQL/Active Directory, Exchange Explorers are free, the old FastSCP which was free and now Veeam Endpoint Backup Free! There should be no barrier to stopping you from going and checking out VBR for yourself.
Now in my VeeamON post I tried to determine the future of this product, where it would fit in, what features Veeam would add to it – and honestly I was way off on a lot of them – but one I was sure would come would be the integration with Backup and Replication – and it’s here now! Do I think Veeam are done innovating in this area? Absolutely not! From my experiences Veeam is a company that never stops moving. I’m excited to see Veeam Endpoint Backup go GA, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.