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Virtual SAN Troubleshooting: Multicast

Hello and welcome to the Virtual SAN Troubleshooting blog series. This series of articles is dedicated to and driven by requests from you our readers. Today we will be focusing upon one of our most requested troubleshooting topics, Layer 2 Multicast functionality from the Virtual SAN Networking requirements.

You are probably familiar with the Virtual SAN networking requirement of Layer 2 Multicast but today we would like to discuss why Virtual SAN leverages multicast forwarding for a portion of its network traffic as well as provide troubleshooting steps when it seems as though multicast traffic is not being received by the Virtual SAN VMkernels. The goal of this article is to educate the networking novice as well as provide clarification for the networking experts so we will be taking a thorough, ground up approach for our discussion.

Click the link if you need to jump directly to the testing examples Testing Multicast functionality. You will also want to make sure that you are following the guidelines below.

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Encrypted Data at Rest with vSphere Data Protection and EMC Data Domain

I recently received an inquiry about whether vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Advanced could send backup data to an EMC Data Domain appliance with encryption enabled. This scenario was easy to set up and test. In my lab, I am using a Data Domain appliance running Data Domain Operating System (DDOS) 5.4 along with VDP Advanced 5.8. First, I verified everything was working properly (before encryption) by running a few backups jobs and performing both image level (VM) restores and application level (database) restores. Then, I enabled encryption on the Data Domain appliance when I was sure there were no VDP backup jobs, integrity checks, etc. running. After encryption was enabled, I again ran backup jobs and performed image and application level restores from restore points created both before and after encryption was enabled. All of these worked fine, as expected.

More blog articles on VDP Advanced with Data Domain


vSphere Storage Policy Based Management Overview (part 1)

Welcome to the VMware vSphere Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) two-part blog series where we will be exploring SPBM features, components, and the major role it plays in automating storage management operations in the Software Defined Data Center.

Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) is the foundation of the SDS Control Plane and enables vSphere administrators to over come upfront storage provisioning challenges, such as capacity planning, differentiated service levels and managing capacity headroom. Through defining standard storage Profiles, SPBM optimizes the virtual machine provisioning process by provisioning datastores at scale and eliminating the need to provision virtual machines on a case-by-case basis. PowerCLI, VMware vCloud Automation Center, vSphere API, Open Stack and other applications can leverage the vSphere Storage Policy Based Management API to automate storage management operations for the Software-Defined Storage infrastructure.

For more information on the Software-Defined Data Center and its related components, please visit the VMware SDDC Product pages.

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Journey to the SDDC – vCenter Operations Management Suite

The vCenter Operations Management Suite can pack a lot of different features from different areas, and bring them all together through the same interface. What this does is gives more and more meaningful data points and relative views into this data. Instead of touching on all the marketing material for this suite, we’ll discuss what that actually means for a real-life environment.

Breaking away from the vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM) entry (http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2014/07/journey-sddc-vsphere-operations-management.html#more-13313), the suite allows much more customization, even more in-depth troubleshooting, and allows for the addition of 3rd party plugins to consolidate the environment’s relevant information.  Continue reading

VMware Virtual SAN Performance Testing – Part II

Virtual SAN ObserverIn the first installment of the Virtual SAN Performance Testing series, we reviewed benchmarking performance using synthetic I/O generation tool Iometer, automated by the VMware I/O Analyzer appliance. Using Iometer, or other synthetic I/O generation tools is frequently the first option for benchmarking selected, as it is an operationally light weight method to benchmark storage performance. But what if you want to be able to simulate real world workloads within your Virtual SAN cluster, without the burden of building out applications. That is where I/O trace files can come into play.

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SRM install error: Failed to Clear Inventory Service Registration

If you see this message during an SRM 5.8 upgrade, chances are you are doing what is a moderately rare type of an SRM install that has caused you some problems.

The given scenario that will lead to this situation:

  • You had a previous SRM install
  • You uninstalled SRM but left the old SRM database in place
  • You have installed a new vCenter and inventory service (or simply wiped and refreshed the inventory service database itself)
  • You are installing a new SRM instance
  • You chose to overwrite the SRM database as part of the new install

This was the scenario that brought me to run into the error “failed to clear inventory service registration” at the end of the SRM install.  Retrying does nothing, and the only option is to cancel the install and roll back.

So why is this?

SRM tries to handle inventory service registration intelligently; in this case since it has found an existing database, the assumption is that you have re-installed SRM, but it knows nothing about the vCenter/IS components.  SRM stores its UUID in its database, and then registers to inventory services with that UUID.  If you were to reinstall SRM, the old UUID registered to IS would no longer be valid, so during our current situation it tries to remove the old registered UUID in order to use the new one with IS, the one it is putting into its new database.

In this scenario, what has happened is that when overwriting the SRM database during the install, SRM has tried to clean up the old SRM registration to Inventory Services by removing the UUID found in the old database.  It does this to avoid conflicting SRM registrations in IS (e.g. if you were simply re-installing SRM alone.)

Since, however, you have a new vCenter and/or a new inventory service, that old UUID is no longer present, and the SRM install fails as it cannot find and unregister the UUID from IS that it finds in the old SRM database.

The solution can be one of two:

  1. Retain the old SRM database instead of overwriting it.  This may lead to some cleanup activities you’ll need to do if you purposefully needed to get rid of the old database information (which presumably is why you were overwriting it in the first place!).
  2. Wipe out the SRM database before doing your install and start with a clean slate, instead of overwriting it.  This is probably the easiest, and given that you were going to overwrite it anyway just takes a few moments up front.

This is likely a rare sort of scenario where you’re starting from scratch with everything but the SRM database. Most likely you’ll come across this in a lab/testbed environment where you run through installs and upgrades on a regular basis.

So not a big deal, but hopefully this helps save someone the time that it took me to find it!


Myth versus Math: Setting the Record Straight on Virtual SAN

By Jim Armstrong

It seems hard to believe to me but it was just six short months ago that we officially launched our Virtual SAN product. I spent the months leading up to the launch and the months since learning about Virtual SAN and the storage market at large and since our launch I have watched as others shared their opinions of our product. By now, I have seen some common areas where people make key mistakes about how Virtual SAN works. What I’d like to do is discuss some common misconceptions about Virtual SAN and hopefully along the way help folks understand what sets Virtual SAN apart from other seemingly similar technologies.

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VMware Virtual SAN Observer Offline Mode

Virtual SAN Observer

The VMware Virtual SAN Observer is currently the best monitoring and troubleshooting tool for Virtual SAN that is available today. The tool is utilized for monitoring performance statistics for Virtual SAN live or offline.The Virtual SAN Observer UI depends on a couple of JavaScript and CSS libraries (JQuery, d3, angular, bootstrap, font-awesome) in order successfully display the performance statistics and their information.

These library files are access and loaded during runtime when the Virtual SAN Observer page is rendered. The tool requires access to the libraries mentioned above in order to work correctly. This means that the vCenter Server requires access to the internet. This requirement can potentially present a challenge in secured environments where applications with access to the internet is not be a practical form of operation and its not allowed.

Many vSphere admins have encountered this issue. In particular, those supporting secured environments. In order to overcome this issue, the vCenter Server Appliance can be modified so that it can access the required files and library locally. Continue reading

VMware Virtual SAN: Storage for the Software-Defined Data Center

VMware Virtual SAN delivers storage that’s as nimble as a VM. It’s a key part of VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center initiative and helps enterprises realize the benefits of virtualization for storage. Virtual SAN abstracts and pools server side disk and flash to deliver high-performance, agile storage for virtual environments. Virtual SAN does for storage what vSphere did for compute.

At VMware, innovation is a constant – and Virtual SAN is a product of that innovation. It’s being viewed as an industry “game-changer” that can redefine how enterprises buy storage. As part of the VMware vision for Software Defined Storage, Virtual SAN offers customers a new storage solution, one that’s purpose built for the agile, dynamic vSphere environments our customers depend upon.

Listen to Gaetan Castelein, VMware’s Sr. Director of Storage and Availability, explain the benefits of VMware Virtual SAN.

We’re excited to share our radically simple shared storage solution with you. To learn more about how VMware Virtual SAN can increase your IT agility, visit our Virtual SAN homepage, our VMware Virtual SAN blog, and follow our @vmwarevsan handle on Twitter.

vSphere Data Protection Linux File Level Restore

Both editions of VMware vSphere Data Protection – VDP and VDP Advanced – feature the ability to perform a file level restore (FLR) with nothing more than a Flash-enabled web browser. There is no need to install additional backup software, an agent, etc. VMware Tools is required, but this is present in nearly all virtual machines (VMs) by default. FLR works for Windows and Linux VMs. After a moment, you may be thinking that using a web browser is no big deal with Windows – most Windows VMs have at least one web browser installed already – however, that is not the case with Linux VMs. So how can we work around that? Let’s dig in…

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