Transfer Latency

Dell Compellent’s Storage Manager has many tools for managing, monitoring, and reporting. I will focus on one performance metric which is transfer latency. Of course, monitoring displays the performance of many aspects of the SAN. Transfer latency monitors more than just the SAN. It measures latency from every point, which is the NIC on the host and everything in between connecting to the back end of the SAN.

Tracking the source of the transfer latency can be difficult since there are many places to check. However, somethings can be done to narrow it down. Storage Manager can drill down to many levels such as the disks to monitor latency. If the transfer latency follows directly with write latency, then the problem is most likely not with Compellent. ESXTOP can be used on the host side, but can be difficult to know exactly what is causing the latency.

Compellent has documentation that pointed me in another direction which was network switch configurations. Compellent has best practice documents available for many switches. Link level flow control needed to be enabled on each switch port the Compellent controllers are connected to on a Cisco Nexus 5548UP switch. This change can be made with no down time to VMs. Change one port’s configuration at a time as a precaution. Below is the configuration provided by one of Compellent’s documents. Transfer latency went dramatically down as soon as the ports were reconfigured.

Switch Configuration Guides for Compellent and EqualLogic SANs

switch# configure
switch(config)#interface ethernet 1/1-32
switch(config-if-range)#priority-flow-control mode off
switch(config-if-range)#flowcontrol send off
switch(config-if-range)#flowcontrol receive on
switch(config-if-range)#exit

AWS Public Sector Summit 2017

AWSsummit2017a

I attended the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, DC this week. I usually do not attend so many conferences. This should be my last one for a while. I just happen to live nearby so I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to learn more about AWS.

The keynotes were not really what a typical keynote address is at a conference. They were only a few minutes of announcements and then a few customer stories each day. The biggest announcement was GovCloud East is coming in 2018. Though, a more specific time frame would have been better received.

AWSsummit2017c

There were a lot of break sessions to choose from. There was a session on VMware Cloud on AWS. I don’t think there was any big news and sadly still no date for GA. Here’s a few things I got out of the session. Customers will purchase this service from VMware. AWS services will be billed separate from VMware by Amazon. All AWS services can be accessed from a customer’s VMware cluster, which will be hosted at a AWS data center. ESXi will boot from a EBS volume and no root access to the host for customers. The underlying storage for the VMs will be vSAN, which is a minimum of 4 hosts. Elastic DRS will be able to bring up a new host fast. I think within minutes. However, removing a host will take more time as data needs to be moved from the disks on the host.

I attended a fascinating session hosted by Kevin Murphy, Program Executive Earth Science Data Systems at NASA. He talked about and showed some of the projects NASA has been working on and how they leverage AWS. Some of NASA’s projects pull in petabytes of data ever day from satellites. The data is available for free for every person and company in the world. Kevin demonstrated one of his projects called Worldview, which I provided a description below. I highly recommend everyone to check it out. You can add an assortment of layers with various information, such as all major fires around the world and by date.

This tool from NASA’s EOSDIS provides the capability to interactively browse global, full-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Most of the 150+ available products are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now”. This supports time-critical application areas such as wildfire management, air quality measurements, and flood monitoring. Arctic and Antarctic views of several products are also available for a “full globe” perspective. Browsing on tablet and smartphone devices is generally supported for mobile access to the imagery.

I’m sure Amazon will be looking to expand the event next year. I heard the attendance was at least 7,500 before Tuesday afternoon, which seemed to catch Amazon by surprise. Despite the crowds, I had a good time and learned a lot during my two days at the event .

 

VeeamON 2017 – Part 2 – Breakout Sessions

I’m still amazed Veeam and it’s partners squeezed in 85 break out sessions throughout the event. I had a tough decision most of the time on which session to attend as many sessions shared the same time slot. Fortunately, the schedule listed details for each session saying if it was business, partner, or technical. Then technical had a few levels so that helped to describe how deep the session will go.

My favorite session was How to Back Up and Restore VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) and Platform Controllers Properly. The session was hosted by a Emad Younis, Technical Marketing Engineer from VMware, and Mike White, Technical Evangelist from Veeam Software. They started off talking about VMware Platform Services Controller. The PSC was new to vSphere 6 so it’s been around for a little while now, but good to get a refresher. Then they went into backing up and restoring the vCSA and PSC. Backing up the vCSA in 6 is the same as previous versions. Do not bother backing up the vCSA’s databases. Use Veeam or another product to back up the vCSA and PSC VMs. Then restore the vCSA VM directly to a host. However, the PSC is a little different if using Enhanced Linked Mode, which means there will be more than one PSC. Deploy a new PSC and join to the existing SSO domain. Replication will simply kick in and bring the PSC up to speed. If only one PSC, then just restore it.

I thought there would have been more love for Veeam ONE. There were actually only two sessions! I know it’s the sidekick to Back and Replication, but more sessions on it would have been appreciated. I attended one of the two. The second one wasn’t relevant to me since it was about how to scale Veeam ONE. My Veeam ONE server is fine. The session I attended,  Take Out the Guesswork with Veeam ONE & Chargeback, went into some reports and alarms. A couple of the reports, powered off VMs and VMS with no archive copy are ones that I never looked. There are a great many of reports so nice to get some tips on others to look at outside of my routine ones. They talked about a useful tip on creating an alarm for a VM that has not be backed up for defined amount of time. This is good to catch a bug that sometime stops backing up VMs within a vApp with no warning or error.

VeeamON2017-breakout

The photo above was from What’s New in v10: A Deeper Dive, hosted by Anton Gostev. His sessions seemed to be the most popular by far. People were lining up for his sessions that were in the smaller rooms, but at least the deep dive was in the big hall.

The breakout sessions were hit and miss as some of the presenters did a better job than others with going through their topics. However, I certainly understand that every presenter puts in a lot of time and effort. I got something out of each session I went to. Perhaps one day I can think of an interesting topic to present and start small at a local VMUG.

VMware Certifications

I have not been a fan of VMware certifications since they decided to make the VCP expire after only two years of holding the certification. To top it off, the policy was even for past certification holders. Everyone had two years before they had to pass another exam! If not, an expensive class would be required again before taking an exam.

After that being said, I have kept up with the game and took my VMware skill set to the next level last year by passing the VCAP5-DCA. I studied more for that exam than I have ever done for any other exam. I learned a lot from the entire experience. I took the exam on the 5.5 objectives so I’m not sure how relevant my advice would be now. However, I decided to post what I said on the VCAP-DCA Study Group in case it may help others.

I passed with a score of 347. I took the exam on Saturday and received my results in about 3 hours.

I, of course, ran out of time during the exam. I worked nonstop. I don’t know what would have happened if I stepped away to use the bathroom. I completed everything I knew and went back to the few labs I wasn’t sure about.

I obtained a lot of great information in this group. I went back to the beginning of the group and read everything. Other places I learned from was the VMware Press VCAP book, Jason Nash’s Plural Sight videos, Paul Grevink’s study guide, Josh’s lab, and other various blogs. I spent about 4 months preparing for the exam going over all that material and practicing in my lab.

I’m so happy to pass the exam. I learned so much from the experience. I’m looking forward to taking a break for a while. Then take the design exam on 6.

The next VMware certification I go for will be the VCAP6-DCV Design. That will earn me the VCIX-DCV because my first VCAP basically counts as the deploy requirement. I may try to squeeze in upgrading my MCSA 2012 to 2016 before my next VCAP.

 

 

VMware’s Cloud Strategy Finally Shaping Up

VMware has dominated on-premise virtualization for years, but has struggled in the cloud. Everyone knew vCloud Air was way behind AWS and Azure. I barely heard much about vCloud Air lately and not even a mention at the recent VMUG I attend.

First let me go over a couple sell offs in the past year. VMware sold its vCloud government service on August 31 to QTS. Then this month OVH announced it would like to buy vCloud air. Bye bye vCloud Air!

VMware has pivoted, which I think they have a better chance of being successful. That is with leveraging NSX in the cloud  and piggybacking off of already large, established cloud providers. They made the announcement during VMware world last year about their partnership with Amazon. Seemed like a rushed announcement since they didn’t have anything to show for a while. However, more technical information has been shared this year. Also, VMware has already been working with IBM Cloud and I heard plans for them to do the same with Azure.

I’m very interested in seeing how VMware will do with offering cross cloud architecture. Perhaps the cloud will not be siloed between vendors in the future. Check out The Fluffy Admin’s article on VMware Cloud on AWS for more information.