Aug 19

SimpliVity’s Straight from the vExperts Presentations at VMworld 2016

VMworld 2016 is just a little over a week away. I am very much looking forward to it. Most of my time at VMworld this year will be spent at the SimpliVity Booth, #1911, in the Solutions Exchange. Looking forward to meeting new folks, catching up with many who I have not seen in a while (since last year), drinking lots of coffee, and talking about how SimpliVity continues to provide the most innovative and complete hyper-converged infrastructure solution.

The SimpliVity booth will have a lot of great things going on this year including: Live demonstrations of the SimpliVity solution, partner presentations from Nvidia, Login VSI, Eaton, F5, and Turbonomic, customer presentations, a Genius Bar where you can chat with SimpliVity technical experts, and a series of Straight from the vExperts presentation.

Here is the current schedule of SimpliVity vExpert Presentations:

Sunday 8/28/2016
6:00 PM – What’s New with End User Computing and SimpliVity – Jason Shiplett @jshiplett

Monday 8/29/2016
2:00 PM – Extreme ROBO: Enterprise Grade for the Remote Office – Matt Vogt @mattvogt
4:00 PM – Hyperconverged Infrastructure Market Trends – Scott Lowe @otherscottlowe

Tuesday 8/30/2016
2:00 PM – Data Protection is More Than Just a Feature – Brian Knudtson @bknudtson
4:00 PM – API/Automation – Hersey Cartwright @herseyc

Wednesday 8/31/2016
2:00 PM – Deduplication Fundamentals, Now with Secret Sauce – Alastair Cooke @DemitasseNZ
4:00 PM – Disaster Recover: The Bacon of SimpliVity – Tim Antonowicz @timantz

For the full booth presentation schedule check out SimpliVity VMworld 2016 Booth Presentation Schedule

For most of the show I will be at the SimpliVity Genius bar and the SimpliVity Demo Stations. I am also presenting as part of the Straight from the vExperts series. My presentation is on Tuesday (8/30/2016) at 4:00 PM and I will be talking about the SimpliVity REST API. Stop by and check it out if you can.

Or just stop by the SimpliVity booth (#1911) to talk SimpliVity, virtualization, data protection, EUC/VDI, or coffee with me and the other great members of the SimpliVity team.

Hope to see you there!

Jul 22

DR Automation using SimpliVity’s REST API

I was working with a partner last week brainstorming different ways the SimpliVity REST API could be leveraged to simplify and automate the recovery of workloads protected using SimpliVity’s data protection to a Disaster Recovery site. From that discussion I put together a quick powershell script to demostrate how the SimpliVity REST API could be used to automate the recovery of a predefined set of protected VMs to a disaster recovery datacenter in a SimpliVity Federation.

This script is fairly simple, but it shows how powershell and the SimpliVity REST API can be used to help simplify the recovery process. There are other actions which would also need to be taken as part of the recovery, such as powering on the VMs, connecting the network adapters to a specific PortGroup in the recovery datacenter, or changing the VMs IP addresses, each of these can also be automated using powershell and PowerCLI.

The powershell script to recover a set of VMs from SimpliVity backups is included in this post but the most up-to-date version can be found here
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Jul 08

VMware vSphere 6.x Datacenter Design Cookbook 2nd Edition Review

Thanks to @Kim_Bottu for the great review of VMware vSphere 6.x Datacenter Design Cookbook 2nd Edition.

@Kim_Bottu did the technical review of the book and provided some great insights which were incorporated into the final copy. Appreciate his time and support. Thanks for the great review Kim.

Jun 07

Migrating vCenter Server to SimpliVity DVP

Running the vCenter Server on SimpliVity has always been an available option but to do so required custom configuration modifications. With the latest release of SimpliVity OmniStack, running the vCenter Server on the SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform (DVP) is now fully supported without any modifications to the standard configuration of the OmniStack software. This allows the vCenter Server to be protected (backed up, replicated, and restored) using SimpliVity data protection features and further reduces the physical infrastructure footprint in the datacenter.

SimpliVity supports both the Windows vCenter Server and the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA). The vCenter Server is required for the SimpliVity deployment, because of this the vCenter Server which will be managing the SimpliVity environment must first be deployed outside the environment and then migrated on to the SimpliVity DVP once the deployment has been completed.

There are several methods which can be used to migrate the vCenter Server into the SimpliVity environment. A few of these methods include:

  • Using vMotion to migrate both the storage and running state of the vCenter virtual machine to a SimpliVity host.
  • Using Storage vMotion to move storage and then removing and re-adding the vCenter virtual machine to inventory on a SimpliVity host.
  • P2Ving or V2Ving the vCenter Server to a SimpliVity host.
  • Copying (using scp for example) the vCenter Server virtual machine files to a SimpliVity datastore and adding the virtual machine into inventory on a SimpliVity host.

In this post I am going to look at the two most common methods: using vMotion to migrate both the storage and running state of the vCenter virtual machine to a SimpliVity host, and using Storage vMotion to move storage and then removing and re-adding the vCenter virtual machine to inventory on a SimpliVity host.
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May 31

vSphere HA Host Isolation Response in a SimpliVity Design

In this post I am going to look at a few typical SimpliVity deployment topologies and provide a recommendation for the Host Isolation Response setting, along with my reasoning behind the choice. Remember that SimpliVity is below the hypervisor, so even though I am writing specifically about SimpliVity deployments the same concepts can be easily transferred to other types of infrastructures.

By default vSphere High Availability (HA) uses the default gateway of the Management VMkernel to determine host isolation. Additional isolation addresses can, and should, be set to reduce the possibility of hosts falsely becoming isolated. Details on setting multiple isolation addresses and using an isolation address other than the default gateway can be found here

A host becomes isolated if the HA agent is unable to access any other hosts in the cluster and if it is unable to ping the configured isolation addresses. The host is still running and VMs can still be running on the host, but the host no longer has connectivity to the networks it tests. The vSphere 6 documentation provides more details on host isolation.

vSphere HA can be configured to respond to a host becoming isolated in 3 ways:

  • Disabled (Leave powered on) – This is the default setting
  • Shut down and restart VMs – Attempt gracefully shutdown VMs and restart them on a non-isolated host.
  • Power off and restart VMs – Power off VMs and restart them on a non-isolated host.

A default host isolation response is set for the cluster in the vSphere HA configuration and this is set to Disabled by default.

Each virtual machine can be configured with a host isolation response which differs from the cluster default. When vSphere HA is configured in a SimpliVity environment the Host Isolation Response for the SimpliVity OmniCube Virtual Controller (OVC) VM should be configured to Disabled so that it is not shutdown during an isolation event.

Datastore heartbeating is a second mechanism which is used to determine whether a host is isolated or failed. If the host cannot reach other hosts in the cluster or its isolation addresses, but it is still able to write to storage for heartbeating the host will be determined to be up but isolated. This is also a factor in which isolation response to use.

The following table outlines how vSphere HA determines the state of a host:

HA Agent Reachable Isolation Addresses Reachable Datastore Accessible (Heartbeat) HA Event
Yes N/A
Isolation addresses only tested if HA agent connectivity is lost.
Yes No HA Event
Host poweron file indicates it is not isolated.
No Yes Yes No HA Event
Host poweron file indicates it is not isolated.
No No Yes Host is Isolated.
Isolated host updates its poweron file indicating it is isolated.
HA will trigger Isolation Response.
No No No Host is failed.
HA will restart VMs on surviving hosts

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May 25

vSphere 6 Datacenter Design Cookbook – Ready for pre-Order!

The second revision of my book, VMware vSphere 6.X Datacenter Design Cookbook, is available for pre-order. If all goes as planned it should start shipping the end of July!

This revision includes the new features available in vSphere 6. The book covers the VMware Design Methodology and will provide a useful resource for Architects and Engineers preparing for the VMware Advance Design Certification.

VMware vSphere 6.X Datacenter Design Cookbook contains recipes for the design and implementation of vSphere technologies to support a virtual datacenter design including discovery of functional and non-functional requirements, forming the conceptual design, creating a logical design, applying the logical design to a physical design, and creating the final design documentation.

Available for pre-order on Amazon at VMware vSphere 6.X Datacenter Design Cookbook.

May 16

SimpliVity Effective Storage Capacity

The SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform (DVP) deduplicates, compresses, and optimizes all data, at inception, once and forever, globally. When sizing a SimpliVity environment we take into account the capacity efficiency provided by the SimpliVity DVP, the effective capacity.

The ratio we use when sizing is a conservative 2.25:1. (1.5:1 Deduplication and 1.5:1 Compression). Our customers typically see much higher efficiency ratios, but we use this conservative ratio for sizing. This is due to the fact that some data may not deduplicate or compress well, for example rich media (video, images, etc). Even when primary data does not deduplicate or compress well the SimpliVity DVP still provides significant savings when it comes to backup and replication.

Here is the general formula I use when sizing for the SimpliVity DVP capacity efficiency:

( Production data + (production data * percent expected growth/100) ) / 2.25 efficiency

For example a customer with 125 TB of data and expected growth of 25%:

( 125 + ( 125 * 25/100 ) ) / 2.25 = ~69.44 TB

In this example I would ensure the SimpliVity environment provided sufficient storage capacity to support 69.44 TB of production data.

Easy enough but what does this look like when deployed in an actual customer environment (or do we see this efficiency for real – on production data).

Here is an example, from an actual customer environment, of SimpliVity DVP efficiency on PRIMARY PRODUCTION DATA:
In this case there is 128.79 TB production data in the environment. The environment consists of approximately 250 virtual machines running workloads including Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, File services, and a number of other application and Web services to support business operations. The physical storage footprint after SimpliVity’s inline deduplication and compression is 30.64 TB, an efficiency ratio of 5.1:1 (3.4:1 deduplication and 1.5:1 compression) before any backups. The capacity savings is 98.15 TB and the entire production environment is hosted on 4 SimpliVity OmniCubes (8 Rack Units!!!) providing N+1 availability for compute and storage.

Since SimpliVity deduplicates and compress data at inception this is also 98.15 TB of IO which was avoided. The real advantage of the SimpliVity DVP is the IO avoidance – not writing duplicate IO. There is approximately 98.15 TB of production data which did not have to be written to disk, a tremendous IO savings. This post is specific to capacity, to learn more about the advantages of IO avoidance SimpliVity provides you must unlearn what you have learned.
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May 14

Architecting EUC Solutions Delivered

Just received the copy of Architecting EUC Solutions by @bsuhr I ordered. No time to get into it this weekend but looking forward to reading it.

Full review once I am able give it a good look.

May 09

SimpliVity on HBO’s Silicon Valley

I don’t watch HBO’s Silicon Valley regularly (I am more into Fantasy/SCIFI – Game of Thrones FTW!!!). I have watched it a few times and it is funny, I just don’t watch it on a regular basis (more of a binge watch from time to time). Lately there has been some buzz about SimpliVity’s OmniCube being featured on the show.


Here is the preview for next week’s Silicon Valley Episode 4:

The SimpliVity OmniStack Accelerator Card makes its first on screen appearance (around 0:15 into the clip) in one of SimpliVity’s OmniCubes and it is clearly the breakout star of the episode.
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May 04

Handy vCenter Topology Script from virtuallyGhetto

Handy little script to generate a topology map (graph) of a vCenter and Platform Services Controller (PSC) deployment from virtuallyGhetto by @lamw.

Spun up a few vCenters and PSC in the lab to give it a try. In the lab there are two vCenter VCSAs each with embedded PSCs, in two different sites (LAB and LAB2), in the same SSO Domain. One site (LAB) has an External PSC.

Here is the graph generated by the script:


The vCenters and PSC were deployed with the IP address as the FQDN. I have not dug into it but I think this is why the vCenter with embedded PSC is not identified. Will do some more testing. Definitely a handy tool to have.

The script, installation, and usage instructions can be found here: Generating vCenter Server & Platform Services Controller deployment topology diagrams

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