vCloud Air DR to Cloud with vRealize Automation

Traditionally organizations have reserved their Disaster Recovery capabilities to their most critical workload leaving some important workloads without proper disaster recovery due to the high cost of disaster recovery.

Imagine if you went shopping to buy a car with a friend. When you hit the dealership, your friend tell you that you should buy two cars. The first one will be the one you will be using, where the second one is only for you to use if your first car break? Do you find that as an odd advice or at least too costy one? Was not that exactly what you are doing when building your Disaster Recovery Datacenter? You build a full datacenter and fully pay for it and its compute, storage, cooling, space, and operation 24/7.  Luckily, you did not have a disaster this year, but does not that mean you just paid tons of cash for compute, etc that you never used?

What if you can get the same protection, but almost at the cost of only your storage? That’s what DR to Cloud allow you to do. In fact, vCloud Air DR to Cloud offering is great at that, as the cost you are normally paying for storage covers the cost of protecting your VMs in vCloud Air Disaster Recovery.… Read More

No Excuse for not having backup!

If you are working in the SMB market, you might be facing with the usual challenge of having a very limited to no budget for backup. Please don’t take that as an excuse to skip backup all together, as your management will not tolerate not having backup when things go south. It’s important to recognize that Virtualization availability features while help improve your availability should not be considered a replacement to backup.

The good news, there are quite a few good SMB focused free backup solutions for virtualized environments. In this post, I will be covering one of those options by Unitrends that is not only free, but offer some advanced features that you can usually only find in paid versions of other solutions like Instant VM Recovery.

Unitrends LogoYou will be happy to know that an advanced free backup solution such as “Unitrends Free”, does not require advanced knowledge or training to run. The installer will guide you through the installation and deploy the virtual appliance for you and get you ready in no time and ensure you get it right the first time.

Below are the top features of Unitrends Free:

  • Deployed as a Virtual Appliance – This not only save you on OS licensing, but as well streamline the installation process and ensure a consistent experience for customers.
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Myth busted: vCenter Site Recovery Manager using vSphere Replication for Datacenter migration causes data loss

It seems there is a lot of confusion out there on how vCenter Site Recovery manager work with vSphere Replication when used for a data center migration, thanks in big part to competing products FUDs. Many admins still believe that using vSphere Replication with vCenter Site Recovery Manager for data center migration you will still lose up to 15 minutes of Data. This confusion has evolved due to the following two limitations of vSphere Replication:

  • Lowest RPO possible using vSphere replication  is 15 minutes
  • You cannot replicate powered-off virtual machines. Replication begins when the virtual machine is powered on. You cannot use vSphere Replication to replicate virtual machines templates. <== This statement right of the vSphere documentation.

Here is how the confusion came to life. If you have experienced or read about vCenter Site Recover Manager with storage replication and looked at the sequence of events when doing a data center migration, you will notice it will do a final sync of the data between the two sites right before it cut the replication between the the two sites. If you try to compare the same method with what is happening in vSphere replication and knowing the above two limitations, you will think that when the Data Center Migration is initiated in SRM, it will shutdown the VM and at that time the VM replication was lagging with up to 15 minutes behind based on the provided RPO and as vSphere replication can not replicate after the VM is turned off, the VM will be losing up to 15 minutes of data when coming on the other site, but that is not true as its missing a very minor but important detail that many people seems to over look.… Read More

Unitrends Virtual Backup 8.0 Sneak Peek

I have participated in the Unitrends Virtual Backup 8.0 (formerly PHD Virtual Backup) beta program, and Unitrends has been kind enough to allow me to share my finding with you on my blog. Please note while the screenshots below still show PHDVirtual logo, I believe these will be replaced with the Unitrends logo in the official release.

I have downloaded the beta and the first thing that has impressed me is their new setup wizard. It is really slick to say the least, just for those in doubt, below is the screen shots of the setup wizard while trying to deploy it for the first time in my environment.

The below screenshot are an actual setup steps that I took from my lab environment and not from Unitrends website or documentation as I can see these setup wizard simulating many power point slides I have seen before for how descriptive they are. Well done Unitrends!

Unitrends Virtual Backup Wizard

This is the first screen I was welcomed with as soon I pointed my browser to the appliance. Yes, that was an instructional video that explain the PHD Virtual topology in a very quick manner and here is the video for those of you curious to see what that video was about.… Read More

Chance to Win Google Glass from Veeam

Veeam DR SessionsAs usual Veeam not only offering great products, but they have a great marketing team that always spoil us with new type of  give away. This time they are offering Google Glass for the winner of their three sessions below attendees, and there will be 15 Pizza coupons per session. That means you will have a high odd of winning something just for attending their session and gaining knowledge of their product. Below is the invite, & hope to see you enjoying Google Glass soon!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

It is a period of data recovery wars. Join us in May for three episodes of epic Whiteboard Fridays: Recovery Wars saga and become true Virtualization Jedi!

Master your skills during these episodes:

• May 13. Episode IV – A New Host: learn how to prepare for disaster, document your environment, ensure your backups and configure backup

• May 20. Episode V – The Admin Strikes Back: be prepared for recover process of the datacenter and primary VM’s, learn how to rebuild your environment effectively

• May 27. Episode VI – Return of the Admin: deep dive into restoring services, best practices around restores, focus on the getting services up and running for the end-users.… Read More

vSphere Data Protection Advanced Licensing your hosts

I have seen a consistent growth lately in the number of my customers that shift to using vSphere Data Protection (VDP). I guess with VDP standard edition being a freebie nonetheless all the powerful features it come up with has made it an easy choice for many customers in the SMB market. VDP standard comes loaded with many features including: (Find out more about each of these features at: http://www.vmware.com/ca/en/products/vsphere/features/data-protection.html )

  • Variable-length de-duplication
  • Global de-duplication
  • Changed Block Tracking backup (CBT)
  • Changed Block Tracking restore
  • One-step recovery

Though as with every free thing in life it comes with few limitations, where most of them are waived when upgrading to the paid version called VDP Advanced. Below is the main limits of the free VDP Standard Edition:

  • Each VDP appliance supports backup for up to 100 virtual machines..
  • Support a maximum of 2 TB of deduplicated backup data.
  • Each vCenter Server can support up to 10 VDP appliances.

Upgrading to the vSphere Data Protection Advanced Edition waive most of these limits as below:

  • Each VDP Advanced supports backup for up to 4,000 VMs in comparison to only 100 in the Standard Edition
  • vSphere Data Protection Advanced expand the maximum supported deduplicated backup datastore to 8TB from 2TB in the standard edition
  • vSphere Data Protection Advanced still limited to 10 VDP appliances per vCenter.
Read More

vSphere Data Protection error – operation failed due to existing snapshot

After I have helped one of my customers deploy VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced to replace their old VMware Data Recovery, and helped them schedule their environment for backup, we came back the next day to find out that few VMs have failed with the following error: “VDP: operation failed due to existing snapshot”.

vSphere Data Protection Error

vSphere Data Protection Error

 

As most of our VMs backed up successfully we were pretty sure it is not the VDP software, and that the problem is related to these specific VMs. It end up just like the error is indicating these VMs have Snapshots that have not properly been removed and needed to be cleaned up before VDP can backup these VMs. Below is the action we have taken to fix this problem:

  1. Check the Snapshot Manager for VMs that failed to backup.
  2. If Snapshot Manager showing any snapshots delete them, then proceed to step 4.
  3. If Snapshot Manager not showing any snapshots, just proceed to step 4.
  4. After deleting all snapshots showing in snap manager, create a new snapshot.
  5. Hit Delete All in Snapshot Manager after the new snapshot have been completed.

The above procedure in most cases should clean up your VM from none consistent dirty snapshots, and you should be able to backup these VMs after that using VMware VDP.… Read More

Qtree SnapMirror warnings and limitations with SRM

While setting up SRM with NetApp 6290 at a customer site, my customer was using Qtrees and Qtree SnapMirror which caused us few issues. If you are setting up SRM and using NetApp Qtree SnapMirror, there is quite few warnings, limitations, and best practices that you will need to be aware of. I have listed the most common ones below, though for a more complete list you should check the following document: http://www.netapp.com/us/media/tr-4064.pdf

– Avoid using hidden Qtrees as that seems to cause problems with several versions of the NetApp SRM SRA. One of the most common errors caused by such configuration is:

Error: Failed to sync data on replica device ‘/vol/volume_name/lun#. Device found is neither of SAN type nor of the NAS type. Ensure that the device exists on the storage array and is of type NAS or SAN. 

RM NetApp Hidden Qtree error

– If you have configured qtrees as NFS datastores, you must create an NFS export for each qtree in order for SRM to be able to discover the NFS datastore. If you export only the volume that contains the qtrees, so that there is only one export line for the volume in the /etc/exports file, SRM will not be  able to discover the qtree NFS datastores.… Read More

SRM Error: XmlValidateException Element SourceDevice is not vaild for content model: Source Device.

While setting up vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.0.3 with NetAPP 6290 filer,  & in particular at the stage where I try to enable the array pair and after I fixed the timeout error I have documented in the following post: SRM Time Out (300 seconds) while waiting for SRA to complete discoverDevice Command, I have faced this error:

Internal error: std::exception ‘class Dr::Xml::XmlValidateException’ “Element ‘SourceDevices’ is not valid for content model: ‘(SourceDevice,)”‘.

A screen capture of the error is below:

 

SRM NetApp 6290 element SourceDevice is not valid for content model

After a bit of digging I have found out that is a well known NetApp SRA 2.0.1 bug which is documentd here, and there is few possible workaround. Below I will document these workarounds, where you can take the most feasible option for your environment.

1- Revert back to NetApp SRA 2.0.0 as that does not suffer the same problem. This bug only seems to affect NetApp SRA 2.0.1 not 2.0.0. This is actually the solution I went with as it required the least amount of work and maintenance going forward.

2- Download and install NetApp SRA Patch 2.0.1P2. This patch does not seems to be generally available and you will have to request it from NetApp support or digg for it into the NetApp support portal.… Read More

SRM Time Out (300 seconds) while waiting for SRA to complete discoverDevice Command

While setting up vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.0.3 with NetAPP storage,  & in particular at the stage where I try to enable the array pair I was welcomed with the following error:

SRM Time Out (300 seconds) while waiting for SRA to complete ‘discoverDevice’ Command.

 SRM Time out while waiting for SRA to complete discoverdevice command

 

This SRM SRA Adapter error is not limited to NetApp storage, but a similar error can be seen with EMC & other vendors storage. If your storage is pretty busy or you have too many devices on it, the operation just can not get completed within the 300 Second (5 minutes) time out set by default in SRM. The solution for this problem is really simple, all you have to do is to increase the storage.commandTimeout . In my case, I just increased it to 1200 second (20 minutes) which should be more than sufficient for most environments.  Further, it is important to mention that this time out setting is setup per site, & must be repeated for both sites involved in your SRM setup. Below is the exact instruction:

1. Click Sites in the left pane, right-click your primary site, and click Advanced Settings.

2. In the navigation pane of the Advanced Settings window, click Storage.… Read More

VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager Service failed to start

While installing VMware SRM 5.0.3 at a customer site, both nodes installations have given me the following error right before the installation completion:

Failed to start service.

Details:
VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager Service failed to start.
Check that all required Windows services are running. View the server log for more information.

Press Retry to try again or press Cancel to exit installation.

For those of you who want to see the actual error as it show on screen, below is a screenshot of the error:

SRM Service failed to start error

It turned out the solution is really simple, just change the VMware Site Recovery Manager Service in Windows Service Manager to use the domain service account you used during the SRM installation rather than the local account and then try to start the service again. The service should start up and you should be able to hit the retry button on the installation wizard where the installation of Site Recovery Manager complete successfully after.

I am not sure for whatever reason during VMware SRM setup, the VMware Site Recovery Manager service got installed using local system rather than the service account entered during the installation. I thought to share this quick fix with anyone tumbling through it.… Read More

VMware SRM NetAPP SRA required user permissions

While setting up VMware SRM for a customer lately with a NetAPP filer, I have faced the challenge where the customer wanted to use the minimum required permissions for the user the Solution Replication Adapter (SRA) use to connect to the NetApp filer. At minimum the customer wanted to use a different account from root to be able to audit which user has carried out the changes. After doing my research, I have found out the below three ways to create users to be used by the NetApp SRA.

1- Use the NetApp Root user, if this does not violate your security policy then this is the easiest route as you will have to change nothing on the NetApp Filer. For a secure  environments, I would recommend trying one of the below two methods.

2- Add a new user to the NetApp Administrator group,  This seems to be the most commonly used as it is an easy way of doing it while allowing you to audit the filer activities. You will be able to distinguish which actions were invoked by SRM from ones that were invoked by the root account. Use the below commands at your NetApp console to create a new NetApp Administrator to use for your SRM SRA:

useradmin user add SrmUser -g Administrators
 

Or if you want to use a domain user (Assuming your NetApp Filer was configured with Domain Authentication)

useradmin domainuser add DOMAIN\SrmUser -g Administrators
 

3- Creating a specific permission role and add your SrmUser to it, While method 2 documented above allow you to create a distinguished admin to be used with the SRM SRA you will be granting that user unrestricted access to the NetApp Filer, where if you wanted to restrict the SRA to only the minimum required permissions you will need to follow the below steps:

a.… Read More

Backup & Archive to the Cloud with PHD Virtual Backup 6.5

PHD Virtual has approached me for feedback on their upcoming PHD Virtual Backup 6.5. I have been granted access to an early beta version of the product to try it out, while they have added many enhancement to the product, the one that have got my attention the most is being able to send your backup or Archive directly to the Cloud.  As I have not tried their backup to the Cloud feature which was released in 6.2, I have decided to test out combined with their new backup archiving to the Cloud feature to be introduced in PHD Virtual Backup 6.5.

With many Storage Cloud Services out there & many more expected to surface in upcoming few months, this backing up & in particular archiving could become of high demand. Further, as many of the Storage Cloud Services offers a price per GB that is very hard to beat with in-house  storage, the solution will become attractive from cost perspective. As most things in the market today, the bigger bulk you buy of a certain item, the less you have to pay per item. This explain why Costco & Walmart(Mega Stores in general) for example can offer cheaper prices than smaller super markets.… Read More

Top 5 Veeam Backup & Replication V7 Innovations

For the past couple months, I have been following the features announcements of Veeam Backup & Replications V7 as they were introducing their innovation by every feature they announced during the count down. Before I get asked, Veeam has not yet announced general availability of Veeam Backup & Replication V7 but it should be pretty soon as on my last discussion with them which was posted at: http://www.virtualizationteam.com/veeam/veeam-backup-replication/vcloud-director-backup-by-veeam.html they mentioned it should be released in Q3, 2013. I heard as well that private beta is already being conducted, so hit them up if interested. Below is a review of the top 5 upcoming features(from my perspective) including videos:

1- Enhanced Backup & Recovery for vCloud Director

Actually this was the focus of my last post on Veeam Backup & Replication V7 at: http://www.virtualizationteam.com/veeam/veeam-backup-replication/vcloud-director-backup-by-veeam.html. As most of you know that I work with vCloud Director almost on daily basis, & always looking for solutions that integrate well with it from backup & disaster recovery perspective as the question about backup & recovery of VMs living within vCloud Director has almost been a part of every engagement & it is nice to see greater integration coming up from backup vendors by day, & glad to see Veeam is taking it to the next level with V7.… Read More

PHD Virtual ReliableDR is SLA focused

I have just been shown a demo by PHD Virtual of their latest version of ReliableDR, & the first thing I have noticed as the title stated that it is fully business SLAs focused. With the shift today to models like ITaas & IaaS where the availability of the full application from a business perspective is becoming more critical each day, more organizations will be looking for solutions that ensure they are meeting these SLAs. ReliableDR does a great job at this, as it does not only allow a user to configure protection groups based on your business SLAs from a Disaster recovery perspective, but will do the auditing of these SLAs (RPO/RTO) for you.

I have seen it mentioned that you can now test/audit your DR –  RPO/RTO on hourly basis, which I believe might be achievable for a few critical applications.  But, I believe the more realistic approach will be testing/auditing the majority of VMs in a large scale environment on daily/weekly basis. We need to give PHD Virtual credit for creating a solution that can automate the testing of your DR – RPO/RTO without any required user interaction after being setup. They are not just helping you cut the huge cost associated with the labor of carrying regular DR testing and all the long hours and downtime required for it, but they even provide detailed reporting on what SLAs you will be meeting & which ones you will fail to meet based on real testing data specific to your environment.… Read More

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