Category Archives: VMware

Vmware

Veeam and Backblaze B2 – Create the Veeam Backup Job

Phase 4 – Create the Veeam Backup  Job
Now when designing our Veeam backup job settings there are a couple considerations.
  1. Ideally, we want to minimise the amount data that needs to be uploaded to our B2 buckets because we are charged per GB each month & upload bandwidth is typically our biggest bottleneck.
  2. We can’t leverage Veeam built-in WAN accelerators since there is no compute available at the object storage ‘B2’ side
  3. Veeam currently does not have native integration with object storage so we need to rely on ‘cloud gateway’ devices such as Synology CloudSync.
  4. Both Synology CloudSync and Backblaze B2 offer no data deduplication, meaning if we create several full Veeam backups files to our Synology CloudSync backup repository, each Veeam full backup file will be uploaded, in full. This is in contrast to other solutions such as Microsoft StorSimple which leverages a ‘volume-container’ global block-level dedupe which means even if Veeam sends multiple full backups files to a backup repository, the StorSimple will only upload changed/unique blocks due to its block-level dedupe capability.
  5. The Synology CloudSync package is not aware of when the Veeam backup files are being created/modified by Veeam, this can result in files being uploaded before Veeam has finished, this happens a lot with .VBM files.
  6. Veeam features such as Storage-Level Corruption Guard and Defrag/Compacting the full backup file should be avoided as this results in a new full backup file being created.

With the above in mind, we need to decide whether we should configure backup job (primary backup target) or a backup copy job (secondary backup target).

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vExpert 2017 Award

A few days ago VMware announced the second half of 2017 list for vExperts recipients. A vExpert is someone that has demonstrated significant contributions to the VMware community, as well as the desire and willingness to share expertise with others.  Contributing is not always blogging or Twitter as there are many public speakers, book authors, script writers, VMUG leaders, VMTN community moderators and internal champions among this group.

I am stoked to share that I was awarded the vExpert title under the Evangelist path for 2017.

Congratulations to all the other VMware evangelists, partners, and employees that have made the list for this year.

The announcement page can be found here.

Missing vSphere tags from Veeam Console UI

So working on a Veeam project recently and noticed I couldn’t add vSphere tags to any jobs. Now I won’t go into the benefits of using vSphere tags in this post, I’ll leave that up to this excellent write-up by Luca Dell’Oca which can be found here.

missing vSphere tags

So checking the usual culprits and researching online I found someone with a similar issue on the Veeam forums here but I still couldn’t resolve the issue. I checked vCenters FQDN IP address which was set correctly and that I could indeed query vSphere tags from vCenter using PowerCLI without any problems. I bounced the Veeam B&R server, checked event logs and eventually ran out of ideas to try.

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Poor Performance & Power Management on VMware

Poor performance experienced by your VMs may be related to processor power management implemented either by ESXi/ESX or by the server hardware.

One real world case I recently encountered with a customer involved VMware Horizon View and large delays experienced by their end users. Applications took unusually long times to open and general performance was quite bad. This was quite apparent when comparing the same applications on a thick client to running it on a virtual desktop.

After running through the usual checks consisting of VMware Health Analyzer, checking for over-subscription and over-utilisation there were no red herrings immediately apparent. What we did discover though (which is detailed in ‘Best Practices for Performance Tuning of Latency-Sensitive Workloads in vSphere VMs’) involved changing a BIOS setting on all of the ESXi hosts. Specifically the setting for power management on the ESXi HP Hosts to “Static High”, that is, no OS-controlled power management.

While we are working through the other recommendations provided in the VMware Health Analyzer report and have already made some changes to the configuration, nothing has resulted in a noticeable improvement with the exception of the power management setting. The customer has reported that after changing this particular power setting it has provided the most significant improvement in performance of anything previously attempted (hardware and software).

 

Progress Controller: [VCSA ERROR] – Progress callback error

Deploying vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 and run into this beauty,

‘Progress Controller: [VCSA ERROR] – Progress callback error’

Turns out the vCenter Server Appliance installer will fail if more than one DNS server is provided. Fantastic…

To workaround, provide one DNS server IP during the installation wizard. Once the VCSA is installed and running you can then provide the secondary DNS IP.

Backing Up VMware AppStacks/App Volumes

Recently I was working on a project that involved VMware App Volumes, otherwise known as AppStacks. The basic premise behind AppStacks is that they facilitate application delivery to virtual desktops. For this particular project, it involved over 100 applications being delivered to nearly 500 desktops across two datacenters.

Now AppStacks are just virtual machine disk files (.VMDKs) that contain one or more shareable applications, the applications in question could be relatively simple applications like Adobe Reader or more complex applications that have several dependencies and licensing requirements. These VMDKs are attached to virtual machines to enable the application to be run on many VMs at once, in essence, AppStacks are shareable, one-to-many, read-only volumes. Using AppStacks enables quick, secure and inexpensive cloud computing and virtualization management, of thousands of applications and virtual machines as if they were one.

The applications themselves become portable objects that can be moved across data centers or the cloud and then shared with thousands of virtual machines quickly and easily.

Now, one of the current challenges around AppStacks is how do you protect them? The VMDK files themselves cannot be easily backed up as Veeam only backs up the virtual machine and any VMDK files attached to that virtual machine. AppStacks are not virtual machines, they are purely VMDK files are temporarily attached to many virtual machines. The VMDK files are attached to any number of VMs at any given time and they only remain attached as long as the user is logged into the machine. To complicate it further, users will usually have a different variety of VMDKs attached based on their needs and role within the business.

So how can I protect my AppStack volumes? Well, if your storage vendor can back up your VMDK files at the datastore level, you can try that, but not all storage vendors allow that kind of backup.

Alternatively, the AppVolume Manager does allow the creation of ‘Storage Groups’ to replicate AppVolumes between multiple datastores. The issue remains that this type of replication is not a good backup, for example, storage failure or if someone were to delete an AppStack then it’s going to delete the AppStack volume on both datastores. The interval for replication is apparently 1h by default.

Another option is to utilise the VMware fling that was recently made available by Chris Halstead,
Dale Carter & Stephane Asselin. The fling connects to both the App Volumes Manager and Virtual Center using API calls to create a backup virtual machine, the underlying VMDK files of selected AppStacks and Writable Volumes are attached to the backup virtual machine. Once the VMDKs are attached to this ‘backup virtual machine’, Veeam can then back up the VMDK files.

Unfortunately, this method requires manually assigning each AppStacks to a backup VM, anytime someone creates a new AppStack you will need to open up the fling and attach it to a backup VM to be protected. We were after a more automated solution and due the very nature of flings, we were hesitant to utilise this in a production environment. Our solution was to copy them using SCP, since AppStacks are read only, corruption should not be an issue so backing them up should be as simple as just copying them to another location.

Veeam did have a standalone product called FastSCP but this has since been integrated into the free version Veeam Backup. By utilising ‘File Copy’ Jobs within Veeam Backup we can copy these AppStack VMDKs using SCP. The ‘File Copy’ Job can be easily configured with a schedule and provides the bonus of traffic compression and empty block removal to reduce copy times and improve performance. Veeam also generates a one-time username and password for each file transfer session. For example, if you have to copy 3 VMDK files, the program will change credentials 3 times.

The last challenge we encountered was how to perform SCP operations from a vSAN datastore. In the end, we used the ‘Storage Group’ capability of the AppVolume Manager to replicate AppStacks to another datastore that wasn’t a vSAN then Veeam performed a ‘File Copy’ which copied the VMDKs to a safe location protected by an existing backup solution. Since our only datastore was a vSAN datastore we configured an ‘OpenFiler’ VM to provide an iSCSI LUN to run up another datastore. Technically it’s a nested datastore but we only care about enabling access to the AppStacks VMDKs so we can copy them.

Do you know of a better way to protect AppStack volumes? Let me know in the comments section.

Disclaimer: AppVolumes v2.1 was the version used, v3.0 has since been release and may solve some of these problems.

vCenter Support Assistant 6.0

I heard about an interesting tool today for vSphere that can collect diagnostic data about your vSphere environment then alert you about any potential problems to your vSphere environment before they can cause an outage.

The tool is called VMware vCenter Support Assistant and its a free download from VMware.
It works by regularly collecting support bundles (configuration and usage data) and transmitting them to VMware who will automatically match them to a list of known problems.

It is packaged as virtual appliance, the file is 648MB and it works with vCenter Server 5.1 / ESXi 5.0 or above

Available here:

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=VCSA600&productId=491

 

 

vSphere 6 vCenter Server Appliance – Scalability

vcenter server appliance

 

vSphere 6.0 vCenter Server Appliance now has the same scalability numbers as the windows vCenter Server. There really isn’t many reasons left why some organisations will not want the appliance over the windows vCenter. vCenter Update Manager requiring an additional windows server perhaps?

 

Create datastore in 5.5 error Call “HostStorageSystem.ComputeDiskPartitionInfo” for object “storageSystem” on ESXi “HOSTNAME” failed.

I kept getting the error ‘Call “HostStorageSystem.ComputeDiskPartitionInfo” for object “storageSystem” on ESXi “HOSTNAME” failed’ when I attempted to create a datastore  from an old hard drive I had laying around.

Turns out ESXi was failing to format the existing partitions and I had to manually delete the partitions first,

 

Using SSH,

# esxcfg-scsidevs -l

this lists the disk devices, the device file will be /dev/disks/<NAME>

# partedUtil get /dev/disks/t10.ATA_…

this shows the partitions on the device

# partedUtil delete /dev/disks/t10.ATA_… 1

deletes partition 1

Configuring VMware Capacity Planner for IP subnet discovery (2014366)

I had trouble discovering servers on a different subnet so after a little digging, I found the below which did the trick.

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2014366

 

After installing the VMware Capacity Planner Datamanager and configuring the system to receive new systems, you can perform these steps to discover systems on an IP subnet:

  1. Open Capacity Planner Data Manager.
  2. Navigate to Admin > Options.
  3. Go to Modules > Discover > Settings.
  4. Deselect the Discover Groups / Domains option.
  5. Under the Node Discovery tab, deselect Lan Manager Systems and Active Directory Systems.
  6. Select DNS Names and IP Address.
  7. Under the System Discovery tab, select the Test Connection to system during discovery option.
  8. Under the IP Subnets tab, click Add.
  9. Add the appropriate Subnet Range by Class or CIDR Notation.
  10. Click Apply.
  11. Click Tasks > Run Manual Tasks > Run Discover Task.The IP subnet that has been configured are pinged and systems are discovered.