Microsoft Azure introduces Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS)

Microsoft Azure introduces in the next months a new option for customers to have their data highly available. Zone Redundant Storage  is a mix of two currently available options for data redundancy: it replicates data to other datacenters but is limited to three copies.

Currently Microsoft Azure (the cloud service formerly known as Windows Azure) offers customers two choices for keeping data highly available.

1. Locally redundant storage (LRS). Data is stored as three different copies inside the same facility. A facility is a physical datacenter in a single region. Data is replicated synchronously

2. Geo redundant storage (GRS). This is the default option when creating an Azure Storage Account. Data is stored as three different copies inside the same, primary datacenter (like LRS). Additionally, three copies of the data are also stored in a secondary datacenter located in another region. So in total data is stored six times. Replication to the secondary location is performed asynchronously. Distance between the two regions is a couple of hundred miles. In some cases the replicated data is stored in a different county. (Amsterdam-Dublin,Singapore-Hong Kong, Brasil- San Antonio, Texas)

Image source.

The main purpose for replication is disaster recovery. In case a facility has a technical issue or is unavailable (fire, flooding etc), a copy of the data is available in another region. Mind that this replication is mainly an issurance for Microsoft to meet the SLA. Microsoft staff will decide to failover to the replicated data in case of issues. Customers cannot initiate a failover.

Since the first week of April 2014 Read Access Geo Redundant Storage (RA-GRS) is general available. RA-GRS allows customers to have read access to the data stored in the secondary region. Writes are not possible to this secondary region.

A new, third option for data availability named Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) will become available in the coming months. It allows data to be replicated to a secondary datacenter/facility located in the same region or to a paired region. Instead of storing 6 copies of data like GRS does, 3 copies of data are stored. So ZRS is a mix of LRS and GRS. Three copies but stored in different datacenters/facilities. I am not sure if all Azure regions have more than one datacenter. If not, the data will replicated to another region.

ZRS will be priced 37.5% lower than GRS as it becomes available.

 

 

 

VMware releases vCenter Converter Standalone 5.5.1. Adds VSAN support

VMware Converter is a software tool used for creation of VMware virtual machines from sources like physical servers, other vendor virtual machines or disk images. It is a free to use tool.
The VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.5.1 is an update release that fixes important issues and adds the following new features:

  • Support for vSAN
  • Support for DSA authentication for Linux conversions

Release notes are here

Download here.

 

 

Caution: do not upgrade to VMware vSphere 5.5 Update 1 if using NFS

On Twitter Nick Howell, a NetApp employee , warns VMware vSphere 5.5 customers not to upgrade to ESXi 5.5 Update 1. Because of a vSphere issue NFS disconnects are likely to happen.

This issue seems to occur with any NFS storage vendor, not just NetApp.

For NetApp customers the issue seems to occur when using Data ONTAP 8.0 7-Mode. Netapp is  investigating if this isuse occors on cDOT as well. 

Nothing more is known at the moment which can be shared externally. VMware and NetApp are aware of the issue.

VMware is working on a Knowledgebase article right now.

The error related to vSphere 5.5 Update 1 NFS shown in vCenter Server could be:

Device or filesystem with identifier <xxx> has entered the All Paths Down state.

The error is shown here.

Other bloggers reported as well on this issue.

Michael Webster: Heads Up Alert: vSphere 5.5 U1 NFS Random Disconnection Bug!

Nick Howell (who posted this alert first on Twitter)  NFS Disconnects in VMware vSphere 5.5 U1

It is remarkable VMware customers have untill now not been publiclly informed by VMware about this issue. Even though there is not a fix available yet the issue seems bad enough to warn customers intending to upgrade to wait with that upgrade.

There seems a lot of interest as this post has been read 400 times within 10 hours of being put online.

There are other NetApp NFS connectivity issues on vSphere as described in this KB. This issue is related to MaxQueueDepth. datacenterdan.com has more info on this.

vsphere5.5-u1-caution

vsphere5.5nfsbug

some issues reported on Twitter

55nfs-issue1

55nfs-issues2

 

 

 

VMware announces Horizon 6. Supports app publishing to compete Citrix

At an online webinar attended by 20.000+ viewers VMware announced at April 9 VMware Horizon 6. Horizon 6 will support hybrid cloud and VMware VSAN. The most exciting new feature which caused a lot of buzz in the blogosphere is support for published applications/remote apps.

 

Until now Horizon, specificaly the View software was limited to present full blown virtual desktops to end users. Each virtual desktop was running as a virtual machine (VDI). Presenting a full desktop is not ideal for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Endusers are interested in using apps and much less in a desktop for holding shortcuts to apps and documents which takes up their complete screen.

Both Citrix (using XenApp published applications and also using XenDesktop) as well as Microsoft (using Remote Desktop Session Host  RemoteApp technology) are able to present just a single or set of applications instead of a desktop. Citrix is using ICA/HDX and Microsoft RDP/RemoteFX protocol to present the display and handle input and devices.

With Horizon 6 VMware offers support for seamless applications using either VMware Blast or PCoIP protocol.PCoIP is at GA an official  protocol provider available for Microsoft RDSH. VMware and Microsoft worked closely together to enable VMware as a third protocol provider.

The VMware Horizon View client is at GA able to support View VDI, RDSH desktops and RDSH RemoteApps.  Microsoft RDSH servers combined with VMware Horizon 6 is enough to publish applications to a broad set of clients. Supported client  operating systems are Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.A client for Linux will also be available soon.

While XenApp will have the most features for some time to go, and has good integration with appliances like Citrix NetScaler, Horizon 6 will be good enough for many scenario’s.

Horizon 6 will be available in three editions:

  • Horizon View Standard Edition: Delivers simple, high-performance desktop virtualization with great user experience
  • Horizon Advanced Edition: Offers the lowest cost solution for virtual desktop and application management through VMware Virtual SAN and a unified workspace that supports hosted applications
  • Horizon Enterprise Edition: Delivers a cloud-ready solution for virtual desktops and applications with advanced cloud automation and management capabilities

Horizon 6 will be general available in Q2 2014 and is licensed per named user or per concurrent user with prices starting at $250.

This is a nice 10 minutes technical overview video. 

More information:

The VMware Press Release

Introducing Horizon 6 by Kit Colbert


VMware has some big news for EUC by Gartner Gunnar Berger

BOOM! VMware announces RDSH & full app publishing support! Claims XenApp 6.5-to-Horizon 6 migration is easier than XenApp 6.5-to-7.5! by Brian Madden

Veeam Backup & Replication v8 will have NetApp snapshot support

Veeam anounced one of the new features of the to be released Backup & Replication v8.

Version 8 will support NetApp storage snapshots.

With this feature Veeam extends its support for storage based snapshots. Veeam already supports HP storage snapshots using  Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots. It  lets you restore VMware VM data directly from native and HP StoreServ (3PAR), HP StoreVirtual (LeftHand) and HP StoreVirtual VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) snapshots.

Combining NetApp snapshots with Veeam B&R is combining the best of two worlds.

NetApp ONTAP which is the operating system of the storage offers several ways to protect data at the storage layer:

  • Snapshot: creates a point in time copy of a ONTAP volume for data protection purposes. Creating a storage based snapshot does not have an impact on performance of the virtual machines. Creation of snapshots can be full scheduled and is a first line of defense for dataprotection. It allows a very low Recovery Point Objective (RPO).
  • SnapMirror: replicates the snapshot to a different NetApp storage device.
  • SnapVault: archives a snapshot

Advantage of combining Veeam B&R and NetApp snapshots

Veeam Backup & Replication will be able to directly acces the ONTAP Snapshot data and make a backup of the data included in the snapshot. Backup of virtual machines running on NetApp is a two step process now.

The advantage of an ONTAP storage snapshot is that is does not have a negative effect on the performance of virtual machines. When VMware based snapshots are used instead, there can be an impact on performance when snapshots are deleted when the backup has finished. Read about the impact on performance when using VMware snapshots here.

The reason to use Veeam B&R for backup of the NetApp snapshot is that you want your backup data to be stored on a different physical storage device. Snapshots are not backups! If your NetApp is lost (technical errors, fire) your snapshots (if not mirrored using SnapMirror) are lost as well.

 

Restoring data from NetApp snapshots is a bit complicated and time consuming process. When using Veeam B&R however restore is very simple and fast. Veeam is able to restore virtual machines, individual guest files but also Exchange and SharePoint items directly from ONTAP Snapshot, SnapMirror or SnapVault as a source. It is also possible to run a virtual machine from a snapshot using the Veeam Instant VM Recovery technology. There is no need for copying data from backup source to production volume. This enables a very low Recovery Time Objective.

You can learn more here http://go.veeam.com/v8-netapp.html or read Luca Dell’Oca’s post http://www.veeam.com/blog/veeam-to-offer-advanced-data-protection-with-netapp.html

There is a webinar on April 17th http://www.veeam.com/videos/veeam-netapp-integration-3999.html

Veeam Backup & Replication v8 is expected to be available in second half of 2014.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Update KB2919355 causing failed backups of Hyper-V VM’s

After installation of Windows Server 2012 R2 Update KB2919355, backups of Hyper-V VM’s fail. The error is

 

Error: Client error: The system cannot find the file specified

This error is not caused by the backup software nor the storage used. It is a bug in the Microsoft update. Veeam is curently working on a workaround which is expected to be released this Tuesday.

So be carefull installing this Microsoft update.

More info on the Veeam forum.

Veeam Explorer for Active Directory Beta released

Veeam just released a beta version of Veeam Explorer for Active Directory. This nice piece of software allows a simple restore of Active Directory objects without having to restore a complete Active Directory server. Just  do a file level recovery of a domain controller. The guest filesystem will be mounted locally on the backup server to C:\veeamflr folder. After that, browse into that folder with Explorer for Active Directory and open ntds.dit . Use the Explorer for Active Directory to restore objects directly into the operational AD. It is also possible to export to a LDIF file.

Supported are Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2012. When restoring objects of a Windows Server 2012 domain controller make sure Veeam Explorer for Active Directory is installed on the same version OS (2012) or on Windows 8. 

The info below was taken from the Veeam forum:

VEAD supports search and restore of all AD objects types, including users, groups, computer accounts and contacts. It can restore individual object’s attributes, the entire objects, and even the whole organizational units (along with the hierarchy). Of course, the deleted objects do not have to be present in the Recycle Bin, as we will obtain all the data from backup where the objects are still present in AD. More importantly, unlike many other Active Directory recovery solutions, we do not require that the tombstone of the deleted object is still present in AD. VEAD is also fully Microsoft Exchange aware, so when restoring the user account, we will restore all Exchange-related attributes and reconnect the mailbox. As you will see, this is a very comprehensive solution.

But, there is one more thing. VEAD also has the unique ability to recover passwords! Imagine accidentally deleting the entire OU with all your users. Without this feature, each user will be prompted to set the new password upon first logon, which is very disruptive and insecure. But this feature will come even more handy if you lose an OU with computer accounts! If you simply restore those back, computers will not be able to logon to the domain because of computer account password mismatch. Now, just imagine the nightmare of going to each computer, switching it into workgroup, and then joining it back into the domain… hundreds of times! This is when you will really appreciate this feature.

The beta can be downloaded  here. (requires B&R 7.0)

Andrea Mauro of vinfrastructure.it wrote a great post about Veeam Explorer for Active Directory

Recordings of NLVMUG Event 2014 are online

The first NLVMUG event was a big succes. Over 600 attendees enjoyed the keynote, many breakout sessions and the different vendor booths.

Recordings of the sessions are now available on YouTube. All but one sessions are in Dutch language. The presentations can also be seen via the NLVMUG YouTube channel.

sessie 1 verschillen en de overeenkomsten in de EUC van Citrix en VMware
sessie 2 Converged Infrastructure and Software-Defined Storage
sessie 3 vCAC 6.0 Unleased
sessie 4 Trend Micro Enhancing Software Defined Datacenter

sessie 5 EMC Virtual Backup met VMware en EMC

sessie 6 Veeam Thinking out of the box

sessie 7 VMware NSX

 sessie 8 SDDC Group Discussion

sessie 9 VMware Puppet

 sessie 10 Fusion IO a high Performance VSAN

sessie 11 Nutanix VDI Design for Hyper-Converged Infrastructures  (english session)

sessie 12 Nible Storage Transformeren van uw Datacenter

sessie 13 Best practices for VDI a Virtual Reality Check

sessie 14 Datacenter Performance in schoendoos formaat

sessie 15 vCenter Operations and the Quest for the missing Metrics

sessie 16 VMware Een kijkje in de keuken van VMware

sessie 17 VMware Virtual SAN

sessie 18 vCloud Automation Center Customer Case Study

sessie 19 Two of a Kind: Virtualization-safe AD & DC Cloning

Some of the presentations are available for download here. You will need a free VMUG.com account to access these files.

• Presentatie Datacenter prestaties in schoenendoos formaat
• Presentatie Flash Based Datacenters VDI and VSAN with Fusion-io
• Presentatie Drink Your Own Champagne Workspace implementation at VMware
• Presentatie VMware NSX overview – VMware
• Presentatie De verschillen en de overeenkomsten in de End User Computing van Citrix en VMware
• Presentatie Enhancing the Software Defined Datacenter – Trend Micro
• Presentatie Virtual Backup met VMware en EMC Erik Zandboer
• Presentatie Converged Infrastructure and Software-Defined Storage
• Presentatie Two of a Kind: Virtualization-safe Active Directory & DC Cloning
• Presentatie Transforming your Datacenter with Nimble Storage – Nimble Storage

nlvmugtv

Veeam the world: win a trip around the world

Enter to win a trip for 2 around the world and other exciting prizes from Veeam.Predict the location of Veeam’s 100,000th customer on the interactive map to win this trip. Or, predict the location of Veeam customers 99.994 to 99.999 to win other exciting prizes, including iPad, Google Glass or Microsoft Surface Pro.

To participate, visitors need to register and predict the location of Veeam’s 100,000th customer on the interactive map. The closer you are to the right spot, the better chance you have to win the trip around the world and other prizes.

Currently Veeam has a live pre-registration page. The main contest will start next week.

Guess the location here: http://world.veeam.com/

For more information: http://world.veeam.com/veeam_tc_2014.pdf

veeamtheworld

 

 

VMware vSphere PowerCLI 5.5 R2 released

VMware released PowerCLI 5.5 R2. This release allows more troubleshooting, reporting and automation of vCloud Suite products by introducing easy access to vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) APIs through the core PowerCLI cmdlets.

Download here.

The release notes are here

VMware blog with more info om new features here.

For a good book on PowerCLI I recommend this book titled ‘Learning PowerCLI‘ written by Robert van den Nieuwendijk

New Features

This release of vSphere PowerCLI introduces a number of new capabilities and expands on the existing cmdlets introducing cmdlets for vCenter Site Recovery Manager and providing further management of the VMware vSphere and VMware vCloud Director products.

vSphere PowerCLI 5.5 Release 2 introduces the following new features and improvements:

  • You can now manage the vCenter Site Recovery Manager Public API through theConnect-SRMServer and Disconnect-SRMServer cmdlets.
  • You can now create and remove tags and tag categories to complement the tagging functionality offered in existing cmdlets released in the previous version.
  • You can now retrieve information and configure Enhanced vMotion Compatibility (EVC) mode on clusters.
  • You can now manage security policies for vSphere standard switches and port groups.
  • Added support for Windows PowerShell 4.0.
  • Added support for vSphere servers configured with IPv6.
  • You can now specify the priority of a migration by using the VMotionPriorityparameter added to the Move-VM cmdlet.
  • The RelatedObject parameter has been extended on the Get-Datastore cmdlet to accept the Harddisk object.
  • Updated the Get-Datastore cmdlet to allow filtering by cluster.
  • You can now specify all supported types and retrieve more statistical information by using the Get-Stat and Get-StatType cmdlets.
  • Added support for e1000e network adapter type.
  • You can now specify all values for DiskStorageFormat when cloning a virtual machine from a template or another virtual machine.
  • The New-OSCustomizationSpec and Set-OSCustomizationSpec cmdlets have been updated to work in 64-bit mode and no longer require running in 32-bit mode.
  • Added a ToolsVersion property to VMGuest that shows the version as a string.
  • The RelatedObject parameter of the Get-VirtualSwitch and Get-DVSwitchcmdlets has been extended to accept virtual port groups.
  • The Get-VM cmdlet has been updated to let you retrieve virtual machines by virtual switches.
  • Other bug fixes and general performance enhancements have been made to various PowerCLI cmdlets.

.

Slides of 112 VMware Partner Exchange breakout sessions available for Partners

VMware just published slidedecks of 112 breakout sessions which were presented during the recent VMware Partner Exchange in San Francisco.

These contain a wealth of information having technical, VMware partner network and sales/marketing content.

Examples of popular sessions are:

  • EUC3064 Horizon View Troubleshooting: Looking under the Hood
  • EUC3147 What’s New Horizon View 5.3 – Technical
  • SDDC3444 Virtual SAN – Technical Best Practices
  • SDDC3206 Introduction to VMware NSX
  • HYC3133 VMware Cloud Credits Purchasing Program: How to Increase Value to You and Your Clients on the Journey to Public/Hybrid Cloud
  • HYC3374 BC/DR Options With vCloud Hybrid Service
  • HYC3400 vCloud Hybrid Service 101: The Basics

Also recordings of the two general sessions are available.

Available on VMware Partner Central for VMware partners only.

VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) is now available for download. Licensed per CPU or user.

VMware VSAN 5.5 is available for download now.

In order to run Virtual SAN, you need to download vSphere 5.5 U1 (or above). There are no additional binaries required. Virtual SAN does require a separate license, and is available for free 60 days evaluation period along with vSphere. Please note if you plan to use Virtual SAN with VMware Horizon View, you’ll need to download a specific Horizon View version 5.3.1 binary that supports Virtual SAN.

At least three vSphere 5.5 ESXi nodes are required to be able to use VSAN. The maximum number of nodes in a VSAN 5.5 cluster is 32.

As you noticed, the first release of Virtual SAN is named  ‘Virtual SAN 5.5′ . It will be available in two editions and one bundle (temporary offer).

Here is the official announcement on the VMware company blog about the GA of Virtual SAN 5.5. It includes pricing details listed below.

  • Standalone edition is licensed per CPU and costs $ 2,495. It features Persistent data store, read/write caching, policy-based management, virtual distributed switch, replication, snapshot and clones . This edition can run any workload; either virtual servers or desktops.
  • VSAN can also be licensed per user for VDI deployment only. (VMware or Citrix). Concurrent or named. The costs per user is $ 50. The features are the same as the per CPU licending.
  • There is also a softbundle of Virtual SAN and vSphere Data Protection Advanced (VDPA) which costs $ 2875,- per CPU. This is a limited offer which expires September 15, 2014. This is a VERY GOOD deal. The listprice of VDPA is $ 1100,-. So you save $ 720,- per CPU when purchasing this bundle.

There will be some special offers for VSAN:

  • customers using the beta will receive a discount of 20%.
  • customers using VMware Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) will get reduced pricing when they upgrade to VSAN.

VSAN can be installed on self assembled hardware components which are listed on the VSAN HCL. Another option is to buy

VSAN Ready Node and VSAN Ready Block hardware configurations . A Ready Node recommended configuration is a single pre-configured
server for use with VIrtual SAN. A Ready Block recommended configuration is a pre-cofigured set of servers for use with Virtual SAN.

A list of vendors supplying those is listed here. 

Download vSphere 5.5 Update 1 which includes VSAN here.

A large collection of links to blogposts on VSAN here and here

VMware release a new VSAN Design and Sizing Guide edition March 2014 which can be downloaded here.

VMware has a free Hands-on Lab (HOL)available which enables you to play and explorer with VMware VSAN. No need to have hardware, software and licenses. The HOL is running in the cloud.

This is a VSAN license calculator showing costs for vSphere, VSAN, S&S

Download Windows Azure Symbol/Icon Set for Visio and PowerPoint

Microsoft released a set of Visio and PowerPoint icons representing objects available in Windows Azure. Examples are SQL Database, VHD data disk, autoscale etc etc. Icons are particularly usefull for documenting applications running on Azure Platform as a Service.

This package contains a set of symbols/icons to help you create visual representations of systems that use Windows Azure and related technologies.

The symbol set supports Microsoft Office Visio 2003 and Microsoft PowerPoint 97 or later. Users who don’t have either Microsoft application can use PNG files or the free downloadable Microsoft viewers.

download the Azure Symbol/Icon set here.

StarWind V8 Release Candidate Is Available Now!

StarWind Software released the Release Candidate of  StarWind V8. The functionality and architecture of this software is similar to VMware VSAN. It can be installed on both Hyper-V and ESXi and converts local storage to a distributed shared storage.

General availability is expected in Q2 2014

starwind

Download the RC here.

It offers three products that share a common engine:

  • StarWind SAN – a unique system that allows you to create a high-performance and fault-tolerant shared storage on commodity hardware, saving $$$.
  • StarWind VSAN – a virtual SAN sharing a server with Hyper-V on parent partition. Convenient and as easy to manage as any Windows software.
  • StarWind VSA – a virtual storage appliance that merges with VMware and runs in a VM, making your system more efficient and convenient to use.

It is scalable to an unlimited number of nodes, optimized for flash as the primary storage, with its own LSFS and upgraded asynchronous replication.

StarWind SAN, the flagship product, runs on commodity servers’ hardware and converts them into high-performance, fault-tolerant SAN at a fraction of the cost and complexity associated with traditional SAN-based storage infrastructures. With its integrated VSA builder and scale-out architecture, StarWind SAN became the first solution running on Windows that creates clusters of multiple hypervisor hosts without separate physical shared storage (unlike SAS (JBOD), FC or iSCSI). With this release, StarWind supports the latest versions of both VMware and Microsoft platforms.

StarWind virtual SAN (VSAN) is a leading software defined storage for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0. The functionality and architecture of this software is similar to VMware VSAN. It runs inside parent partitions of hypervisor hosts and turns their directly attached storage (DAS) into fault-tolerant SAN. StarWind VSA follows the VMware VSA concept also, and operates inside a VM on the ESXi host, creating a fault-tolerant shared storage of the hypervisor resources.

StarWind V8 RC presents high-performance caching that allows affordable MLC SSDs to be used as level-2 flash cache and fast RAM to be used as level-1 cache. StarWind utilizes solid-state disks / flash cards as the primary storage with a dedicated flash-aware Log-Structured File System (LSFS).

Another major advantage over multiple virtual storage solutions is built-in asynchronous WAN-replication, which ensures effective disaster recovery. StarWind’s support of WAN-acceleration technologies also enables data replication over slow and cheap connections.

StarWind V8 RC includes a set of powerful experimental features including: LSFS, which eliminates the I/O blender effect; synchronous replication for clustered LSFS devices; and in-memory operation, which creates a HA cluster with one node running on RAM-disk.

VMware VCP certification is now valid for max 2 years

VMware introduced a new recertification policy at  March 10, 2014. If you are VCP-certified you must pass any VCP or higher-level exam within two years of earning their most recent VCP certification.

If you do not certify within 2 years, your certification will be revoked, and you will no longer be entitled to use the certification logo or represent yourself as VMware certified. Your certification will be shown as no longer valid on your MyLearn account. Any employer who contacts us to validate your certification will be informed it is no longer valid.

This blog at vNetWise titled VMware Certification Expirations–Good or Bad? has some links to reactions of other bloggers on the news  and shows the uproar in the community. The author also gives his opinion on why this recertification is a good thing.

More info in this VMware post: Recertification Policy: VMware Certified Professional

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