VSAN – Host Not Contributing Stats

After an upgrade or maintenance on one or more of the nodes in a VSAN cluster one of the hosts can stop contributing performance stats. This is not a production down issue, but should be addressed to see the most up-to-date stats across all the nodes.

The fix for this is one of three things, but each of them involves turning off performance statistics on the cluster which will cause all historical performance stats to be removed. My hope is that VMware will fix this issue in an upcoming release because a loss of historical is not tolerable in all environments.

1. View the health of the VSAN by logging into the vCenter web client. Navigate to the appropriate vCenter and cluster, then click the “Monitor” tab, followed by “Virtual SAN” then click on “Health.” Expanded “Performance service” and click the warning for “All hosts contributing stats”
step01

2. At the bottom you will now see the list of hosts that are not contributing stats
step02

3. Now that we’ve identified the problem host, we need to disable VSAN performance service temporarily. Navigate to the “Manage” tab for this cluster then click on “Health and Performance” under “Virtual SAN”
step03

4. Click “Turn off” in the “Performance Service” box

a. Click “OK” to confirm stopping the service which will erase all existing performance data
step04a

5. Confirm Perform Service has been disabled by refreshing the page
step05

6. SSH to the affected host (using putty or similar SSH client) we identified in step 2 (you may have to enable SSH on the host before you can connect).
step06

7. Run the command below to restart the VSAN management agent. This should have no production impact so it is safe to perform outside of a maintenance window.
a. /etc/init.d/vsanmgmtd restart
step07a

8. Once the service has been restarted, go back to the vCenter web client and the click the “Edit” button for the Performance Service box
step08

9. Select the appropriate storage policy from the drop down list, ensure the “Turn ON Virtual SAN performance service” box is checked and click “OK”
step09

10. Confirm that the performance service is turned on and reporting healthy
step10

11. Navigate back to the “Monitor” tab and then “Virtual SAN” clicking the on the “Health” section. Click “Retest” to verify that all hosts are contributing stats.
step11

If this does not fix the issue, you can restart the process, but this time instead of restarting the vsanmgmt service on the one node, do it on all of the nodes in the cluster. Once the services have been restarted across all nodes then restart the performance service and all nodes should be contributing stats.

I have also seen a case where restarting the service on all nodes didn’t fix the problem. In that scenario I was able to fix the problem by entering maintenance mode on the problem node and choose “full data migration” so all the data would be removed from the cluster. After that was complete I completely rebuilt the host from scratch (including wiping the disks claimed by VSAN) then moving it back into the cluster. I haven’t heard from VMware of any other ways to fix this issue.

VSAN – Host Not Contributing Stats

The Beginning of Cloud Natives

Over the last 8 years I have built my career around VMware. I remember the first time I installed VMware Server at one of my jobs just to play around with and imported my first virtual machine. I had no idea what I was doing or how any of it worked, but I felt there was a future for me in this technology. As I moved on to other companies, the VMware implementations just got larger and larger; from 3 hosts all the way up to well over 1000.

Having spent time in these environments and with other users at local VMUG events and VMworld, I’ve seen that the skills required to be a VMware administrator are becoming commoditized. More people know about it than ever before, more blogs exist than ever before, and the necessity of meetings that revolve around VMware specifically seems to have run its course. While VMware remains integral to the datacenter today, there are skills we need to be developing and technologies we need to be exploring to ensure we’re not the ones being replaced when the next generation joins the workforce.

Enter Cloud Natives.
cloud natives

Cloud Natives was the idea of Dominic Rivera and myself as a means to bridge the gap between user and these new technologies. Cloud Natives looks to bring together the leaders in a technology space to present their solutions in one location. Rather than just letting vendors spew marketing material,  we take a different approach. Vendors are required to provide actual customers to present how their solutions have impacted their job and their business. No more outlandish claims, no more vanity numbers that don’t depict actual workloads, just real stories from real users.

We are kicking off 2016 with our first event on July 14th in Portland, OR. This event will be focused on one of the hottest technologies in the datacenter right now: Flash Storage. We’re bringing together the top players in the Flash Storage space and you’ll hear their customers discuss the benefits and challeneges they faced when moving away from legacy spinning disk arrays and even newer hybrid arrays.Our goal is to educate our members one event at a time.

Cloud Natives looks to bring together all the datacenter technologies into one place. Whether it’s a focus on hypervisors, traditional or next-generation storage and infrastructure, cloud providers, DevOps and automation, or anything else that is hot in the datacenter, we will be that go-to resource in the Pacific Northwest. Each event is an opportunity to evaluate multiple vendors from the perspective of the customer. With no overlapping session schedules, you can walk away better informed and get any questions answered in one event.

I encourage everyone in the Portland area to register for this event at the Cloud Natives site. Our goal is to bring a sense of community back to Portland. We want to be a place to meet and network, to encourage, to mentor and to grow in our careers. No matter the stage in our career, we all have knowledge and experience that can help someone else and it’s time we all do our part to give back to the community.

The Beginning of Cloud Natives

Cohesity – Scale-Out Secondary Storage

Backups are boring. No matter if you’re talking about swapping tapes, configuring backup jobs in your legacy agent-based  software, or spending another night restoring snapshots from your storage array; there’s just no way to make backups interesting. Cohesity aims to fix that. No, they won’t make backups sexy, but they are looking to add a bit more flash to the secondary storage market.

So what exactly is “secondary storage?” Secondary storage encompasses our backups, non-prod workloads, fileshares and the like. The secondary storage market is gaining visibility recently. With the flood of primary storage vendors, Cohesity could have been another “me-too” primary storage vendor, but they see the value in attacking an under-developed market.

The concept of Cohesity is simple. You can purchase the C2300 or C2500 models which offer 48TB or 96TB of storage respectively in each 4-node appliance (with a minimum of 3-nodes to start). Additional capactity can be added a single node at a time afterwards in 12TB or 24TB chunks depending on the model. Each node contains either 800GB or 1.6TB of flash for caching along with compute and memory. Cohesity claims they are infinitely scalable due to their distributed OASIS (Open Architecture for Scalable Intelligent Storage) architecture, though they’ve only tested up to 32 nodes at the time of this writing. Once your nodes are setup, you just point Cohesity at your vCenter Server and you now have visibility of your virtual machines.

Cohesity, leveraging VADP, is able to snapshot your configured VMs and begins ingesting all that data. The changes of these VMs are tracked (using CBT) so you’re not performing new full backups each time. All that is pretty standard in the backup world, so what sets Cohesity apart? That data is not just backed up, but it is available to actually use. Want to spin up one of these backed up VMs for testing? Space-efficient clones are created directly on the Cohesity appliance and are presented back to your ESXi hosts. Searching for a file to restore from one of these VMs? You can locate it right from the web interface and download the file without having to restore the entire VM.

The differentiator for Cohesity is not just how it scales or how simple it makes the backup process, but how it makes your backups useful. Enabling developers to access clones of your production systems to test deployments and hotfixes without impacting your production storage. Integrated QoS preventing your dev/test workloads from consuming all your resources and causing backup performance to suffer. Utilizing the onboard flash combined with global deduplication, performance of these workloads can mimic production without the cost of an all flash array.

An all-inclusive secondary storage appliance that provides visibility of data sprawl adds to the value. Often times, as production systems are backed up and cloned and cloned again, you lose sight of the origin of that data. Migrating data from one storage array to another you lose that deduplication and you’re now increasing capacity across systems to accommodate your storage footprint. By providing an all-in-one solution for your backups and dev/test workloads, you’re able to maximize your investment without the need for multiple arrays and storage targets.

The backup market is a crowded one. There are more feature rich backup software providers in the space, but many of them require the purchase of additional storage that doesn’t have the capabilities of what Cohesity provides. Having just released Version 1 in mid-October, Cohesity has a lot of capabilities in their software with what appears to be a great vision for the future. The product is still in need of refinement to simplify the process of searches, reporting, and scheduling, but the foundation of what the Cohesity team has built has me excited to see where they’ll be able to take their product.

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Watch all the videos from Cohesity at Storage Field Day 8 here.

Disclaimer: During Storage Field Day 8, my expenses (flight, hotel, etc) were paid for by Tech Field Day. I am under no obligation to write about any of the presented content nor am I compensated by any of the presenting companies for such writing.

Cohesity – Scale-Out Secondary Storage

Pure Storage – Enterprise Ready, Pure and Simple

Disruption! Disk is dead! Flash forever!

When Pure Storage first came into the public eye they were loud, they were bold and everyone took notice. Whether you liked their marketing campaigns or their even louder marketing team, Pure marked the beginning of the flash revolution. They weren’t the first to do flash, they were just the first to convince us that all flash was right for our datacenter. If IOPs and low latency mattered, Pure was the vendor you needed.

With a recent IPO and new hardware platform (flasharray//m) there has been a lot going on with Pure Storage. While the announcement of their latest product was over 6 months ago (June 2015), my expectations for Pure are always high. The Tech Field Day delegates at Storage Field Day 8  got a chance to listen to what Pure Storage has been doing, their focus, and hopefully what was still to come.  This time around, however, I was left a little disappointed.

When a company who touts disruption as loud as Pure, you expect big things. Believe me, it’s not that what they’ve built isn’t impressive. A brand new, 3U dual-controller array built to eliminate single points of failure, maximize performance and display their orange logo as bright and loud as their messaging has always been is impressive. But that’s old news. This announcement feels like it was forever ago and we’re curious where Pure goes from here. What’s next for Pure?

Sadly, we don’t know. Roadmap and futures were off limits for this newly-public company. The feeling I get is that Pure is focusing on refinement, whether in their products or just in their messaging. Customers want visibility into their arrays. They want non-disruptive upgrades. They want health monitoring and alerting. They want that enterprise feeling companies like NetApp and EMC provide. Pure Storage’s focus right now is the enterprise and everything that Pure1 provides.

Pure1 is SaaS-based management and support of your Pure Storage arrays. Gone are the days of setting up management servers in each of your datacenters to manage and collect metrics of all your arrays. Pure1 allows you to login to a web interface and view statistics and alerts on all your arrays from a single portal. That’s one less server you’re forced to manage, update, and maintain to hold on to your historical data. Pure Storage arrays phone home all the important metrics (every 30 seconds) that matter so you have that single interface. New features can be delivered faster to all its customers with the collected data without the need to perform an update to your software.

Pure1 is being leveraged to open tickets on your behalf. Pure Storage said that roughly 70% of customer tickets are opened proactively by Pure1. Pure has worked at eliminating the “noise” of these alerts as well, focusing on root cause alerts as opposed to just all the alerts that may come from a cable or drive being pulled. These proactive tickets include bug fixes for issues that may come up in your environment based on your current configuration. I can recall a few times in my career where I’ve ran into a software bug on my storage array that the vendor was aware of, but never informed me I was susceptible to. This is the kind of information all customers want, but not all vendors provide.

Pure Storage has taken a non-disruptive everything approach to its software releases as well. While legacy vendors have left me reluctant to upgrade my arrays in the past, Pure Storage touted 91% customer adoption of its software within 8 months of release. Pure’s customers are trusting in its development, enough to even perform upgrades in the middle of the day while still serving production workloads. That is confidence and shows the capabilities of these arrays and Pure’s engineers. Non-disruptive no matter the operation.

Is the marketing machine that was Pure Storage dead? My hope and feeling is no. Pure is finding out who they are as $PSTG. This is a period of refinement and maturity for the 6-year-old company. We’ll have to wait and see what they’ll do next and I’m sure we’ll all take notice.

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Watch all the videos from Pure Storage at Storage Field Day 8 here.

Disclaimer: During Storage Field Day 8, my expenses (flight, hotel, etc) were paid for by Tech Field Day. I am under no obligation to write about any of the presented content nor am I compensated by any of the presenting companies for such writing.

 

 

 

Pure Storage – Enterprise Ready, Pure and Simple

NexGen Storage – The Future is Hybrid

At Storage Field Day 8, the delegates got a sneak peak at what NexGen Storage was up to. With new product and patent announcements, there was a lot to be excited about for this hybrid array vendor.

Hybrid storage is the future. But with the death of disk and living in an all-flash world, how can that be true? While disk isn’t dead yet, it feels like it’s dying. High IOPs, low latency, and consistent performance is what makes flash so desirable. When designing a modern datacenter today, I’d be unlikely to buy spinning disk. So how can hybrid be the future?

As the cost of flash continues to drop the dependency we have on spinning disk drops as well. When it comes to enterprise storage, why pay for a fading technology when flash is becoming more and more affordable? That’s not to say disk doesn’t have a place in the datacenter; it just means the use cases are beginning to diminish. Spinning disk is generally not a place where I want my production applications to run.

NexGen Storage has been in the hybrid array space for some time. After being founded in 2010, being purchased by Fusion-io in 2013 and then eventually being spun out as its own company earlier this year, NexGen Storage has continued to focus on its hybrid arrays. The engineering efforts and customer growth didn’t stop along the way. The NexGen team stayed focused on what it does best; fast storage with predictable performance.

With the rise of flash in the datacenter, why the focus on hyrbid? With NexGen, their hybrid arrays are not just flash cache in front of spinning disk. The approach of flash and RAM caching writes and/or reads makes sense as only your working set “needs” that high speed/low latency tier, but in the event your array was unable to predict the next blocks being requested by your application the performance of spinning disk sometimes isn’t enough. Their latest model, the N5-1500, is all flash with a hybrid approach.

While the cost of flash is dropping rapidly, it still is expensive. NexGen Storage is utilizing flash over the PCIe bus for it’s caching tier which is much more expensive than just regular SSD drives. The advantage of this approach is lower latency, higher throughput, but at a more reasonable cost as you’re not filling an array with all PCIe flash. The N5 all flash series is available in 15TB to 60TB raw capacity (in 15TB increments) with all sizes coming with 2.6TB of PCIe flash.

Why the same cache tier size? With its now patented dynamic QoS, NexGen Storage is able to deliver that consistent performance businesses need for their applications. The ability to prioritize workloads and assign pre-configured QoS policies allows you to purchase a do-everything array. In many of the smaller environments I’ve worked in, you don’t have the luxury of multiple storage arrays for production and dev/test. Often time, you are hoping that your non-critical workloads do not affect your mission-critical workloads. With automated throttling and prioritizing placement of your data, you’re able to ensure development never interferes with Tier 0.

The all-flash datacenter is here today and each all-flash vendor has a different approach. This hybrid all-flash approach is what sets NexGen Storage apart along with an all-inclusive software feature set. A fast array isn’t enough anymore; you need an array that has the intelligence to deliver the performance you’re expecting at all times. Combine that with VMware Virtual Volumes support, data reduction (deduplication and compression) along with array-based snapshots and replication (between all-flash and hybrid spinning disk arrays) and you have a solution built for the next generation.

Disclaimer: During Storage Field Day 8, my expenses (flight, hotel, etc) were paid for by Tech Field Day. I am under no obligation to write about any of the presented content nor am I compensated by any of the presenting companies for such writing.

NexGen Storage – The Future is Hybrid

Veeam v9 – New Feature Annoucements

While the need for backups hasn’t changed, how you use these backups has. Not only that, the speed at which we can recover our data is changing as well. As the cost of downtime continues to grow, having to restore an entire server just to recover one file or a small number of files just won’t cut it. Your backup needs to be backup quickly and restore even faster.

The improvements in Veeam v9 are doing just that. Veeam has been introducing faster and faster ways to backup and restore (and limit the impact on production virtual machines during backups as well) for years and v9 is no exception. There are a few new options I want to touch on that are pain points I’ve experienced in my environments.

1. Backups from Snapmirror/Snapvault destinations.
As a former NetApp admin, I love the idea of minimizing the effect of backups on my virtual machines. By enabling backup from snapmirror destinations, you can get your VMs offsite using built in software on your NetApp array, and then create off-SAN backups that aren’t limited by your snapmirror rentention schedule due to space constraints.

2. Direct NFS Backup Mode
Direct SAN access has been in Veeam Backup & Replication forever, but backing up VMs on your NFS datastores was a different story. A proxied connection was required through an ESXi host to backup these VMs. In v9, a brand new NFS client was written by the engineers at Veeam to connect directly to your NFS volumes and backup VMs without additional host impact, latency, or speed constraints.

3. Per VM-backup File chain
As the size of your backup job grows, the managing of that file gets to be painful. As your backup repository begins to fill up you’re left having to migrate the entire backup file to a new repository. By creating a Per-VM backup file chain, one job can be created for all of your virtual machines, but each VM has its own file chain. This feature is especially useful with the next feature I’ll talk about.

4. Scale-out Backup Repository
Backup repository management has always been one of the largest pain points when managing Veeam backup jobs. I remember my first Veeam setup I was limited to 2TB LUNs on my backup server and I had to create 8 of them to store my backups. As backup jobs couldn’t span repositories, this meant I was creating individual jobs tied to repositories and then rebalancing as repositories began to fill. The Scale-out backup repository feature allows a virtual backup repository to be create on top of your current physical repositories. Now fewer jobs need to be created and you’re able to take advantage of all the space in each repository. Thanks to Luca Dell’Oca for clarifying that maintenance mode and evacuation are also supported. This mean if a repository needs to be taken down (due to SAN maintenance for example) it can be marked as maintenance mode and excluded from the repository during maintenance operations.

For me, these are the 3 big features I’m happy to see in Veeam v9. There are additional features such as explorers for Oracle, Active Directory (support for AD-integrated DNS and GPO restoration!), SQL Server and SharePoint. The entire list of new features can be found at the link below.

Click here for all the feature announcements.

Veeam v9 – New Feature Annoucements

VeeamON 2015

As exciting as VMworld is each and every year, it appears to have lost its charm. Yes, it’s the largest gathering of virtualization people (my people) each and every year, but that is part of the problem. 20,000+ of my closest friends isn’t quite as intimate as it sounds. Oh, we’re close, but that’s more about proximity than the strength of our friendships.

The value of VMworld is the sessions, labs and networking opportunities. With sessions and labs being available after the conference ends, it’s important to maximize those networking opportunities as best you can. Trying to find someone in a crowd of 20,000 is difficult. If you’re not stalking your favorite virtualization professionals on Twitter you’ll likely miss them. Enter VeeamON.

This is the second year for VeeamON and my first year in attendance. Veeam, everyone’s favorite data protection & availability company (or at least mine), holds their annual gathering of data availability experts in Las Vegas (at the Aria hotel this year). What is normally just a function of our jobs is brought to the forefront in this conference. The size of VeeamON which has an expected attendance of 2500+ people will see many more opportunities to get one-on-one time with those in attendance.

VeeamON focuses on community, much like Veeam itself has done over the years. This dedication to educating and enabling the community is what has made Veeam Software successful and respected in the industry. Veeam is bringing out the vBrownbag crew for 19 sessions that will be available live during the conference as well. Its users and the community have helped shaped Veeam and built very passionate advocates.

With vendor sponsored sessions that consist of integration with the various aspects of the Veeam software features (such as Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots) as well as a focus on customer and user sessions that describe their use of Veeam solutions in their environment. That’s just the beginning. Other sessions talk about data protection as a whole and the concept of data availability in our modern datacenters. Being a Veeam user or customer isn’t required to walk away with new concepts, ideas and knowledge. Click here to view the agenda.

We’re past the point of just needing backups, we need our data readily available in many different and evolving scenarios. From backups, to disaster recovery, to sandboxes for testing, data availability gets reduced to just having a copy of your data. Veeam is pioneering the data availability movement and has the tools in place to bring data availability to the always-on enterprise. Above all else, Veeam is on your side.

VeeamON 2015