Tag Archives: vCenter

Upgraded to vCenter 5.1 – now I need to login using DOMAIN\Username ?!?!?

VMware LogoSomething I’ve noticed on my 3 upgrades of vCenter so far is that after implementing SSO and upgrading to vCenter 5.1 users now have to log into the clients using the format DOMAIN\Username.  Not a big deal, but different than what they are previously used to, and different in most cases is not good.  Honestly, it drives me a little crazy too 🙂

WebClientLogin

Thankfully it’s not a big job to get things back to the way they were.  All that needs to be done is to actually set up your domain as one of the default domains, something which doesn’t seem to be applied by default (in my case anyways).  To do so you will need the new web client and you will need to login using your administrative SSO credentials that you setup during that install.  By default the username is [email protected] and the password is one that you have created (can’t tell you that 🙂 )

AddToDefaultDomainsOnce your in select Administration from the left hand navigational menu and then Configuration in the Sign-On and Discovery section.  First off you should see your domain configuration listed in the top section of the Identity Sources tab.  Simply select it and then click the Default Domains button (shown left) to add it to your list of default domains.  You may experience a warning at this pointing, something about locking out accounts – I ignored this and have not had any issues at all, but it’s your choice whether you want to investigate this further.

 

DefaultDomainsDoneOne more thing, do not forget to apply your changes by clicking the ‘Save’ icon – this one bit me about three times before I even noticed it was there 🙂

 

As always I appreciate any comments, questions and concerns below 🙂

Unitrends Enterprise Backup – In the lab!!!

Unitrends has been inside the backup industry for over 20 years!  That’s a long time to be a key player inside of one industry.  How do they do it?  By staying on top of the ever so changing nature of backup.  That’s why I decided to do this sponsored review of Unitrends latest offering, Unitrends Enterprise Backup.   Again, this review is sponsored but it most certainly contains my words and thoughts about the product.  Now that that’s been cleared up let me say that they make it pretty easy for you evaluate the product yourself.  Personally I went and grabbed a free NFR license that they offer to all Microsoft and VMware certificate holders.  Even if you simply belong to a VMUG you can get yourself an NFR license.  While the Unitrends Enterprise Backups deployment route requires Hyper-V or VMware, the appliance itself can backup and protect both your physical and virtual environment, but for the purpose of this review I only tested on a virtual infrastructure.

Installation

This couldn’t have been easier!!!  Unitrends has taken the virtual appliance route when it comes to installation, meaning a simple File->Deploy OVF Template and following a quick step wizard is all you really need to do to get Unitrends into your environment.  This honestly took around 10 minutes from start to finish to deploy into my environment.   Just be sure you meet the minimum system requirements (100GB free space, 2 CPUs, 4GB RAM) and deploy the appliance.  There is one single appliance to deploy whether you plan on using the free, trial, NFR, or complete enterprise solution.

Configuration

Once the appliance has been deployed into your environment it’s now time to get it configured and ready to go.  Like most virtual appliances you must first configure IP and DNS settings inside of the VM console.  Unitrends provides a nifty little console menu to simplify this operation.  Once you have an IP configured the rest of the configuration can be done through the web interface by opening up a browser and pointing to the IP of your Unitrends appliance.  Upon the first login to the appliance Unitrends displays a setup wizard which takes you through most all of the steps that you need to configure to get up and running.  The steps of this process are outlined below

  • Accept EULA
  • Set Date/Time Parameters
  • Configure Hostname
  • Configure SMTP server
  • Change default console authentication (root password)
  • Add any additional administrative users to the system
  • Select an installation type – Just a note here you will have the option to either install as a local backup system or as a vault.  The difference being that vault actually acts as a replication target for a local backup system, giving you the ability to replicate your locally backed up files to another Unitrends installation in an offsite location.
  • Add additional storage to the Unitrends system.  If you left all of the defaults when deploying the defaults you should have roughly 80GB of storage to use as a backup target, here you can add additional storage to the appliance.
  • Install any required agents – If you are solely using this product to backup VMware VMs (or strictly current Windows OSes or Hyper-V) then this step can be skipped, however if you plan to backup any Linux or Mac OS based PHYSICAL systems then you have the option to deploy the agents needed at this time.  As with most settings you can always do this later as well – I skipped this for the time being.
  • Add Client – In Unitrends terms a client is a server/computer that you want to protect.  For the sake of protecting a VMware environment a client will be either your vCenter Server or ESXi host.  Here is where I added my vCenter Server by providing the DNS name as well as credentials then clicking ‘Setup’.  (Shown below)
  • Deduplication Options – You have the option here to disable the Unitrends software deduplication if you happen to be using a deduplication appliance or have deduplication enabled on your underlying storage array.

Honestly at this point you have all the configuration you need to start protecting your virtual environment with Unitrends.  Obviously there are a ton more settings and tweaks you can set in the Settings section of the application but I will concentrate more on the core functionality of the product rather than dive into each and every configuration setting.  Unitrends lays this functionality out in their top navigational menu, thus the rest of this review will follow the same structure.

Status

The status section is there to do just what you would think, display the past, present, and future status of your backup system.  Not a whole lot to say about this section other than there are some really nice visualizations that let you see your future schedule for backups as well as the outcomes from previous backups.

Backup

Ok, here we go now into the meat and potatoes of this product; its’ ability to backup your virtual infrastructure.  First off you will see a couple of tabs along the top after selecting Backup; 1-Time Backup and Schedule Backup.  As you may have guessed one option performs a 1-time backup and the other allows you to assign a schedule.  For the purposes of this review I will only go over the scheduled backup option.
The first step is to setup a schedule or modify an existing one.  In my case I called this RPO 6 hours and set the Incremental Forever options to occur every 6 hours (brilliant eh? 🙂 )  Since I have selected my vCenter Server from the navigational menu i can see a list of potential VMs to protect in the list box to the left.  This list is dependent and will change based on the item you select in the navigational menu, meaning if it was an Exchange server you may see storage groups or databases, SQL you would see databases, etc…  Again in our case we are dealing solely with VMware so I see a list of VMs.  One cool and useful feature is the ‘Auto Include New VMs’ option.  This allows you to automatically include new VMs into a specified schedule as they are created and registered with vCenter without physically configuring the Unitrends appliance.  A very cool feature to be able to protect those VMs that tend to just show up in your environment.
The Schedule column on the right hand side of the screen is where you define how and when you want your backups to occur.  You will see here options around the minimum and maximum number of days to retain your backups as well as the backup strategy you wish to deploy.  This strategy could be one of the following….
  • Incremental Forever – This strategy essentially performs a full backup on the target and then subsequently performs incremental backups from then on.  Periodically (I think once every two weeks) the original full backup is synchronized and brought up to date using the  incremental backups locally and differentials are generated for the retention points leading up to this.  A great strategy to obtain a near continuous data protection strategy and speed up the time it takes to backup a virtual machine.
  • Full with Incrementals – Basically the same as Incremental Forever however giving you the ability to specify when the full backup occurs (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly).  I believe in this option the full backups are performed on your production environment and not generated from incrementals.
  • Full with Differentials – This would be somewhat the reverse of Full with Incrementals meaning you will always have an up to date full backup, with differential files as your restore points.
  • Custom – you guessed it, play with it and tailor it to how you want it to be.

And guess what?  You’re done!  Depending on the configuration you’ve specified your backups and retention policies should kick off immediately and start protecting your VMs.  The process of creating a backup job or schedule inside of Unitrends is very very simple.  What I like most about this process is how it is laid out in the web interface.  With the exception of advanced settings (SMTP and storage) all of the configuration and setup is done on one simple screen (See below).

Restore

So far we have installed, setup, and configured some backups jobs with Unitrends.  Now is the time to put it to the test and do perhaps the most important function that backup solutions provide; the ability to restore.  Unitrends offers a couple type of restores within their product; Restore a computer or Restore a system.  Now these terms sound like they do essentially the same thing but they most certainly do not.  Your most common type of operation and traditional restore is handled through restore a computer.  This will restore a VM from your local backup instance.  The ‘Restore a System’ is actually a DR operation that will restore your system from either an archive or a replicated (vaulted) instance.  I’ve mentioned the vault options earlier in this review and due to limited resources I can’t efficiently test this so for the case of this section I’ll walk through restoring a single VM from Unitrends.
First off if you select your vCenter in the navigation menu while in the restore section you should be presented with a nifty little screen.  What I like most about this is it is very easy to select your targeted restore time through either the visualizations provided or the Recovery Point Times table.  You then have a couple of options on how to restore.
Firstly is the ‘Next (Select Options)’ button.  This is the route to take if your desire is to restore a complete VM.  Once moving into the next screen you simply need to select a desired host and datastore, give your restored VM a name and you are off to the races.  Another noteable and huge feature is Instant Recovery.  This is the ability to publish the backup files directly to an ESX host and run your VM directly from the backup files themselves.  An awesome feature that you may need to use if access is needed immediately.
The second option, ‘Restore Selected Files’  allows you to perform a file level restore.  In order to first do this you must click the ‘Create’ button in order to create an image to restore from.  After this process is complete a network path will be displayed allowing you to connect by a couple of different methods.  Through Windows you could simply browse or map to the selected path.  Unitrends will also prevent this image as an iSCSI target allowing your end users to connect and restore any files they wish to an location they wish.  Once completed be sure to click the ‘Tear Down’ button in order to unmount the image.

Archive

So now we are on to the Archive capabilities of Unitrends.  In order to use the archive features you need to have archive storage attached to your appliance.  I facilitated this by adding a second disk to the VM and configuring it under the Storage and Retention settings however it appears you can also use a NAS or iSCSI type solution as well.  So basically the archive capabilities allow you to take either all or portions of your local backups or local appliance directories and setup different retention schedules on them in order to preserve certain recovery points in a different location.
Again like most configuration that is done within Unitrends all of it is on one screen.  You can see from the screen shot that all that needs to be done is selecting what to archive, the type of backups (a lot of options in here), your archive target and some simple options on whether to compress and encrypt your archived data.  You also have the ability to test your archive settings before submitting the archive job in order to ensure you have enough space remaining on your targets.  Archives can be run both on demand as well as scheduled.  There targets can consist of attached vmdks, iSCSI targets, NAS devices as well as tape drives.

Reports

Although fairly self explanatory I wanted to touch on this section as I found it to be one of the real shining points around Unitrends Enterprise Backup.  As you can see in the screenshot below Unitrends has a ton of predefined reports that you can generate and view dealing with everything from the outcomes of your backup jobs to your deduplication savings to storage utilization to inidividual reports dealing with applications such as SQL server.

Conclusion

So there you have it!  That in a nutshell is Unitrends Enterprise Backup.  I can’t say that I have really truly done this application justice as there are a lot of features that I didn’t get a chance to test.  Outside of this review Unitrends contains many features such as not only backing up your virtual infrastructure but your physical presence as well all from one interface.  They have solutions for full application item recovery such as Exchange mailboxes and SQL databases and tables.  Unitrends has a very solid, scaleable, easy to use system.  One of the biggest high points for me is just the ease of use.  Having most all of the configuration options for setting up backup jobs on one screen is a great feature allowing administrators to see the full scope of options and settings all at once.  Another awesome thing about Unitrends is the free edition.  Although limited to 4 VMs you get a fully functional product – no catch!  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourself.   Go grab a fully functional trial at Unitrends.com.

Introduction to the new search functionality in the vSphere Web Client

Alright, here is my second attempt at putting together a short video outlining some of the cool new features of vSphere 5.1, more specifically the new Web Client.  In my last video I fumbled through trying to show you a little bit about the new tagging features and this time I decided to have a look at some of the cool search functionality.  Honestly, by combining these two features i think it will really help those large enterprises (and the small ones too) find what they are looking for and find it much faster.  Anyhow, enough of my randomness, check out the video below….

 

 

 

 

Using the new Tag features of vSphere 5.1

So the release of vSphere 5.1 has brought us many new features;  we have integrated backup, integrated replication, the vCloud Suite, Network HealthChecks…way to many to mention.  One however that I haven’t seen very much buzz about is the ability to assign tags to your inventory objects with vCenter.  Now it’s not near as sexy as something like vSphere Data Protection but it still has it’s place within my favourite features.  Why?  Just think, say you have hundreds, or thousands of VMs.  You can now more align the way you categorize things inside of your business within vCenter, and sort/search on those custom tags.

Either way, I think they are cool and I’ve done up a short video outlining how to create and assign them to objects.  This is my first crack at a video so cut me a little slack 🙂  One of my objectives is to try and get more media on this blog so I’m sure I’ll have lots of practice..

The infrastructure behind this post was provided by #vAutoLab.  What?  Serious?  You’ve never heard of it?  Craziness, get on over to www.labguides.com and give it a go!  It’s awesomesauce!

Hide those ‘Getting Started’ tabs in the #vSphere 5.1 Web Client

OK another quick post with some hopefully useful information for someone..

Remember these?

And how we could select Edit-Client Settings and uncheck the following box to get rid of them.

That was great, but guess what, now we have these….

So how do we get rid of them.  Easy! – Just go to help and select ‘Hide All Getting Started Pages’

There you go, all gone – you know longer have to sit and read the definitions of what a Cluster or Datacenter is!!!  Just throwing this out there due to the fact that those tabs tend to annoy the crap out of me!  #JustSayin 

The infrastructure behind this post was provided by #vAutoLab.  What?  Serious?  You’ve never heard of it?  Craziness, get on over to www.labguides.com and give it a go!  It’s awesomesauce!

vCenter Operations and Virtual Machine Faults

Every morning I like to fire up vCOps and have a look at my environment and when I do this, I like to see nothing but green (maybe a bit of yellow :))  For the past week or so that hasn't been the case…  Not that I have any performance issues, but I do have what is called a 'fault' on a few of my Virtual Machines.  I've been troubleshooting an issue as of late with something causing a few of my hosts to become disconnected, and HA has been attempting (and failing) to restart a few of my VMs, which in turns generates an alarm on the VM and a fault inside of vCOps.  Well, the issue has since been resolved and everything is running fine again, however vCOps is still hanging on to those faults for some of the VMs.

Now I don't see this as a bad thing, it certainly is nice to have a record of these issues inside of vCOps, but being the persnickety fellow that I am when I log into my vCOps and see those VMs showing up on the heat map coloured in red, well, it drives me a little mental…  I thought maybe if I leave it for a week things would clear up, and while some did, others didn't.  So I guess a little manual intervention is involved.

Basically, a fault in vCOps is triggered by an event occurring from within vCenter Server.  VC Ops will hang on to this fault until vCenter Server reports that the issue has been resolved, thus resulting in a red VM like the one above, and a lower health score to boot!  In some cases (cases like mine) you may need to manually cancel and remove a fault from vCOps.  So in the case you ever need to, the following is how to do so…

Either select your VM, or any inventory item that is higher up on the inventory view and navigate to the Alerts tab.

 

In the Alerts table below, sort, filter, re-arrange however you want and select the fault(s) that you want to cancel and click the 'Cancel' Icon.

Presto!  That's it!  If you navigate back to your dashboard and heat map now you should hopefully see that wonderful greenish tint of all that excellence (after everything refreshes)!  Or in my case there is still more work to do 🙂  Happy Troubleshooting!