Author's details

Name: Eric Siebert
Date registered: April 27, 2009

Latest posts

  1. Latest PowerCLI release now supports VVol replication test failover — April 24, 2017
  2. Nominations for the 2017 Top vBlog voting categories are now open! — April 21, 2017
  3. Don’t miss the big Boston I.T. party going on May 22nd-24th — April 19, 2017
  4. Last call for blogs before Top vBlog 2017 begins — April 17, 2017
  5. NAKIVO releases Backup & Replication v7 with support for vSphere 6.5 — April 17, 2017

Author's posts listings

Apr 24 2017

Latest PowerCLI release now supports VVol replication test failover

The ability to do array based replication of VVols via SPBM was introduced in vSphere 6.5 but it came with a catch. That catch is while you can automate VVol replication with SPBM, there is no client side interface to perform any type of failover or failback operations like you have with SRM. To do those types of operations you have to manually script those actions using PowerCLI.

Back in November I wrote about the new PowerCLI cmdlets that support VVol replication operations, this provides a way to manage VVol replication until VMware provides a more elegant solution using vRealize Orchestrator/Automation or SRM. While the PowerCLI cmdlets provided the means to do all the basic operations that you might have to do with replication it was missing a very important function that is a must have for most, the ability to perform a test failover.

That missing function to do a test failover is now part of the recently released new version of PowerCLI (6.5.1 R2). So if you’re lucky enough to have a array that supports VVol replication, you should have everything you need now to use it effectively. With the recent HPE acquisition of Nimble Storage there really is only one vendor that supports VVol replication at the moment as 3PAR & Nimble are the only ones listed in the VVol HCL for array based replication.

The new PowerCLI cmdlets to support VVol replication only are listed below:

  • Start-SpbmReplicationPromote – This cmdlet promotes a target replication group from InTest to FailedOver state.
  • Start-SpbmReplicationTestFailover – This cmdlet performs a test failover of a target replication group. If the operation succeeds, the replication state of the replication group becomes InTest.
  • Stop-SpbmReplicationTestFailover – This cmdlet stops the test failover on the specified replication groups and tries to perform a cleanup on the target site. After successful completion the replication group state returns to Target.

So what actually happens when you do a VVol test failover? When VVols are replicated to another array, they remain hidden to vSphere on the target array. All the VVols of a VM (except the swap VVol) must be replicated to the target array this includes the config VVol, data VVols (disk and snapshots) and other metadata. When you perform a test failover you are not doing an actual failover, replication continues and the primary site VVols and secondary site VVols are not impacted.

What happens when a test failover is initiated at the target site using the Start-SpbmReplicationTestFailover command is that virtual copies of the replicated VVols on the target array are created and vSphere performs a fix-up on them so they are in a usable state.The fix-up operation updates the VM config to reflect the new VVol IDs and storage container information. Those newly created copies are then exposed to vSphere so you can interact with them, power up VMs and test them to make sure the VMs are recoverable.

Once you are finished you run the Stop-SpbmReplicationTestFailover command which will tell the VASA Provider to stop the test and clean up all the VVols that were created as part of the test. The Start-SpbmReplicationPromote can also be used if for some reason you want to make the test permanent and have the VM’s at the target site be actually failed over and not just a test.

Now that the ability to perform a test failover is part of PowerCLI, VVol replication is much more usable as who would want to replicate data to another array and just hope things work without being able to actually verify it. I expect the support around these operations will continue to mature in vSphere and I wouldn’t be surprised if VMware added VVol replication support to SRM or vRealize Orchestrator/Automation at some point. You can read more about how to use these new PowerCLI cmdlets in the VMware documentation and look for a detailed white paper on using VVol replication coming from HPE very soon.

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Apr 21 2017

Nominations for the 2017 Top vBlog voting categories are now open!

Just like prior years in addition to the traditional top 50 voting I’m opening it up to allow voting in specific categories as well to help distinguish certain types of blogs. To do this I have created a form to allow you to nominate your blog or website for one of the categories that I have defined if your blog fits one or more of the categories, if it does not then don’t nominate it as all blogs on the vLaunchPad will automatically be included in the general top blog voting.

This form is not the general voting poll for the top VMware/virtualization blogs, this form is only to nominate your blog for certain categories if it fits. Once the nominations are collected I will open the polls for voting for the top blogs where voters will be able to rate their top 10 blogs and also vote in each of the categories.

You should only nominate your own blog/website, these nominations will be used to populate the category choices when voting opens. If your blog doesn’t fit one of these categories then do not nominate it, all blogs on the vLaunchPad will automatically be included in the general top blog voting. If your blog is not currently listed on the vLaunchPad use this form to let me know.

The criteria for the categories to see if your blog qualifies for them are as follows:

  • Favorite New Blog – Blog must have been started in 2016
  • Favorite Storage Blog – Must have greater than 50% posts as storage related
  • Favorite Independent Blogger – Must not work for VMware or a Technology Partner (i.e. EMC, Dell, IBM, Unitrends, etc.), basically this means customers, resellers and integrators only.
  • Favorite Scripting/Automation Blog – Must have greater than 50% posts as scripting/automation related
  • Favorite Non-English Blog – Must be primarily published in a non-English language
  • Favorite Podcast – Easy one, you must have a podcast
  • Favorite Female Blogger – Special recognition for women in tech, must be a female blogger
  • Favorite News/Information Site – Any site that primarily publishes news and information and is not really a blog

Again, only nominate your own blog/website!

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Apr 19 2017

Don’t miss the big Boston I.T. party going on May 22nd-24th

Zerto is holding their 2nd annual ZertoCON event in Boston beginning on May 22nd and you’re invited. This 3 day event features keynotes, sessions, labs, networking and of course food and fun. If you remember from VMworld last year, Zerto knows how to throw a heck of a party as their ThunDRstruck party was a huge hit. Ironically their customer appreciation event for ZertoCon will also be held at the House of Blues, albeit the Boston location which should be epic fun.

You might be thinking to yourself, why should I go to ZertoCON? Well here’s a few good reasons why:

  • Focused Content: for CIOs, system admins, cloud strategists – anyone and everyone in IT looking for a simple, secure on-ramp to the cloud.
  • Thought Leadership: gain insight from Zerto’s leadership and industry experts on leveraging the cloud to help you build a more resilient IT infrastructure
  • Hands-on Learning: get up close and personal with Zerto’s revolutionary, award-winning product in labs, demos and Q&A sessions
  • Expanded Zerto Certifications: now including Zerto Professional Certification advanced-level, Azure, AWS, Cloud and Sales
  • Unparalleled Networking: meet, greet, and collaborate with the most advanced IT/Cloud audiences in the industry
  • Epic Zerto Parties: everyone knows there ain’t no party like a Zerto party — and this year’s will be one for the history books!

Want to see what you are missing out on if you don’t go, check out the highlights from last year’s ZertoCON. And as a special incentive you can get 30% off the list price of tickets by using registration code ZBLOG17. Be sure and put in the “How did you hear about ZertoCON?” field when registering. So go register and get ready for a great 3 days of learning, networking and fun!

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Apr 17 2017

Last call for blogs before Top vBlog 2017 begins

My vLaunchPad site which is the source for blog voting is completely up to date with all the latest edits and additions. If your blog isn’t listed there this is your last chance to get it added by filling out this form. In a few days I’ll open up a special form for category nominations so you can nominate your blog for special categories which are listed below.

  • Favorite Storage Blog
  • Favorite Independent Blogger
  • Favorite Podcast
  • Favorite Female Blogger
  • Favorite Non-English Blog
  • Favorite New Blog
  • Favorite Scripting/Automation Blog
  • Favorite News/Information Site
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Apr 17 2017

NAKIVO releases Backup & Replication v7 with support for vSphere 6.5

NAKIVO recently released a new version of their Backup & Replication product, v7 which adds support for vSphere 6.5 as well as some welcome new features which are listed below:

  • Hyper-V Backup – support for Microsoft Hyper-V 2016 and 2012. , v7 provides image-based, application-aware, and forever-incremental Hyper-V backup.
  • Hyper-V Replication – v7 can create and maintain identical copies of Hyper-V VMs on a target server. The copies (called VM replicas) remain in the powered off state and do not consume any resources, yet you can power them on at any moment for near-instant disaster recovery. Just as Hyper-V backups, the replicas are image-based, application-aware, and forever-incremental.
  • vSphere 6.5 – v7 supports the new VMware vSphere v6.5 features, including new VM attributes, encrypted VMs, etc.
  • Skip Swap Files and Partitions – v7 automatically skips the swap file in VMware and Hyper-V VMs, which speeds up data transfer and saves storage space in a backup repository.
  • Active Directory Integration – v7 provides integration Microsoft Active Directory! You can now easily map Active Directory groups to NAKIVO Backup & Replication user roles, which will allow domain users to log in to NAKIVO Backup & Replication with their domain credentials.
  • Activity Management – v7 improves backup manageability by introducing the Activities tab – a single place that displays activities occurring in the product, such as running jobs, file and object recovery sessions, repository maintenance, and so on.
  • Bulk Backup Delete – v7 provides an easy way to delete backups that you no longer need. For example, you can filter out backups that do not belong to any backup job or backups that are older than one year and delete them in a single click.

Check out everything that is new with v7 and download a free trial here.

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Apr 13 2017

Register for the Denver VMUG UserCon on April 27th

If you are in the Denver area the annual VMUG UserCon event is a bit earlier this year and will be held on April 27th. I wish I could say my company was sponsoring it like we had in prior years but I wasn’t able to convince them to fund UserCon’s this year. None the less I will still be there and you might see some other local’s like Scott Lowe as well. Eric Wright from Turbonomic will be there and doing the afternoon keynote, the morning keynote will be about NSX and delivered by Brad Christian from VMware. The event is being held at the same location as last year at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver. Hope to see you there!

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Apr 12 2017

About public voting for VMworld sessions

Each year VMware saves a small chunk of VMworld session slots that can make it through what they call Customer Choice which can be voted on by anyone through the public voting process which is going on right now through tomorrow.

You may have noticed that the public voting process has changed this year. In prior years you could vote for a session much like you would do in an election, you would click a star next to a session to vote for it. In this manner you could only positively impact a session’s chances of being approved if it garnered enough votes. This year they have changed it and you can now rate a session from 1-5 stars, more in line like you would rate a movie with 1 star being you hated it and 5 stars being you loved it. With this change anyone can now either positively or negatively influence session approval.

I’m not sure I like this change that much as it opens up the opportunity for abuse of the system, were anyone that has a grudge, who doesn’t like someone/company or just wants to screw around can shoot down a session chances of making it. Because of this change VMware yanked most of the partner sessions from the public voting a few days after the voting opened as partners could and probably did cast negative votes against their competitor sessions. Apparently VMware pulled them as a direct response to complaints from partners about this very issue.

Now sessions are all scored and judged both internally by VMware and by a hand picked content committee, the public voting part is just merely another component that can influence session approval or denial. I’d really like to see it go back to the old way, let people just give a thumbs up for sessions they like and keep the negative influence out of it. Hopefully after they see the impact of this change they reconsider and go back to that. If you haven’t voted yet, please consider doing so, the voting closes at the end of the day tomorrow.

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Apr 11 2017

An overview of what’s new in VMware vSAN 6.6

It was back in October when VMware announced vSAN 6.5 and  now just 6 months later they are announcing the latest version of vSAN, 6.6. With this new release vSAN turns 3 years old and it’s come a long way in those 3 years. VMware claims this is the biggest release yet for vSAN but if you look at what’s new in this release it’s mainly a combination of a lot of little things rather than some of the big things in prior releases like dedupe, compression, iSCSI support, etc. It is however an impressive list of enhancements in this release which should make for an exciting upgrade for customers.

As usual with each new release, VMware posts their customer adoption numbers for vSAN and as of right now they are claiming 7,000+ customers, below is their customer counts by release.

  • Aug 2015 – vSAN 6.1 – 2,000 customers
  • Feb 2016 – vSAN 6.2 – 3,000 customers
  • Aug 2016 – vSAN 6.5 – 5,000 customers
  • Apr 2017 – vSAN 6.6 – 7,000 customers

From the numbers it shows that VMware is adding about 2,000 customers every 6 months or about 11 customers a day which is an impressive growth rate. Now back to what’s new in this release, the below slide illustrates the impressive list of what’s new compared to prior versions backing up VMware’s claim of the biggest vSAN release ever.

Now some of these things are fairly minor and I don’t know if I would claim they are ‘major’ features. This release seems to polish and enhance a lot of things to make for an overall more improved and mature product. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on all these but I will highlight a few things, first here’s the complete list in an easier to read format:

  • Native encryption for data-at-rest
  • Compliance certifications
  • vSAN Proactive Drive HA for failing drives
  • Resilient management independent of vCenter
  • Rapid recovery with smart, efficient rebuilds
  • Certified file service & data protection solutions
  • Stretched clusters with local failure protection
  • 1-click witness change for Stretched Cluster
  • vSAN Management Pack for vRealize
  • Enhanced vSAN SDK and PowerCLI
  • Simple networking with Unicast
  • vSAN Cloud Analytics for performance
  • vSAN Cloud Analytics with real-time support notification and recommendations
  • vSAN Config Assist with 1-click hardware lifecycle management
  • Extended Health Services
  • vSAN Guided install with 1-click fixes
  • Up to 50% greater IOPS for all-flash with optimized checksum and dedupe
  • Support for new next-gen workloads
  • Support for Photon 1.1
  • Optimized for latest flash technologies
  • Expanded caching tier choice
  • New Docker Volume Driver

Support for data at rest encryption isn’t really anything new as it was introduced in vSphere 6.5 and can be used with any type of storage device and applied to individual VMs. Encryption with vSAN can also be done at the cluster level now so your entire vSAN environment is encrypted for those that desire it. Encryption is resource intensive though and adds overhead as VMware documented so you may instead want to implement it at the VM level instead.

—————–  Begin update
As Lee points out in the comments, a big difference with encryption in vSAN 6.6 is that storage efficiencies are preserved. This is notable as data is now encrypted after it is deduped and compressed which is important as if you first encrypted it using the standard VM encryption in vSphere 6.5, you wouldn’t really be able to dedupe or compress it effectively. Essentially what happens in vSAN 6.6 is writes are broken into 4K blocks, they then get a checksum, then get deduped, then compressed, and finally encrypted (512b or smaller blocks)
—————– End update

VMware has made improvements to stretched clustering in vSAN 6.6 allowing for storage redundancy both within a site AND across sites at the same time. This provides protection against entire site outages as expected but also protection against host outages within a site. They also made it easier to configure options that allow you to protect VMs across a site, or just within a single site. Finally they made it easier to change the host location of the witness component which is essentially the 3rd party mediator between 2 sites.

Performance improvements are always welcomed especially around features that can tax the host and impact workloads like dedupe and compression. In vSAN 6.6 VMware spent considerable time optimizing I/O handling and efficiency to help reduce overhead and improve overall performance. To accomplish this they did a number of things which are detailed below:

  • Improved checksum – Checksum read and write paths have been optimized to avoid redundant table lookups and also takes a very optimal path to fetch checksum data. Checksum reads are the significant beneficiary
  • Improved deduplication – Destages in log order for more predictable performance. Especially for sequential writes. Optimize multiple I/O to the same Logical Block Address (LBA). Increases parallelization for dedupe.
  • Improved compression – New efficient data structure to compress meta-data writes. Meta-data compaction helps with improving performance for guest and backend I/O.
  • Destaging optimizations – Proactively destage data to avoid meta-data build up and impact guest IOPS or re-sync IOPs. Can help with large number of deletes, which invoke metadata writes. More aggressive destaging can help in write intensive environments, reducing times in which flow control needs to throttle. Applies to hybrid and all flash.
  • Object management improvements (LSOM File System) – Reduce compute overhead by using more memory. Optimize destaging by reducing cache/CPU thrashing.
  • iSCSI for vSAN performance improvements made possible by: Upgraded edition of FreeBSD used in vSAN™. vSAN™ 6.5 used FreeBSD 10.1. vSAN™ 6.6 uses version 10.3. General improvements of LSOM.
  • More accurate guidance on cache sizing. Earlier proposal was based on 10% usable capacity. Didn’t represent larger capacity footprints well.

VMware performed testing between vSAN 6.5 & vSAN 6.6 using 70/30 random workloads and found 53%-63% improvement in performance which are quite significant. If nothing else this alone makes for a good reason to upgrade.

To find out even more about vSAN 6.6 check out the below links from VMware:

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