Archive for October, 2011

VMworld Europe Is Ready And Waiting For You

October 3rd, 2011

Are you kicking around the idea of attending VMworld Europe?  You’re in luck – there’s still plenty of time to get signed up as an attendee!  VMworld is by far the best technology conference I’ve ever attended in my 15 year career.  To prove that point, this year’s European gathering in Copenhagen, Denmark will mark mark my 8th trip. My 2nd in Europe and also my 2nd which I’ve funded myself. I feel that strongly about it. It’s an absolutely fantastic opportunity for learning about new architecture, technologies, and trends in the VMware virtualization ecosystem.  It’s also a good opportunity to meet community members, friends, and some of the most knowledgeable virtualization, storage, and networking experts on the planet.

The Copenhagen schedule looks like this:

General Sessions – Hear from key VMware executives:

  • – Tuesday, October 18: Steve Herrod, CTO and SVP of R&D
  • – Wednesday, October 19: Raghu Raghuram, Senior VP and General Manager of Cloud Platforms
  • – Thursday, October 20: Paul Maritz, CEO

 

Super Sessions – Learn about key VMware products and solutions on Tuesday, October 18:

  • – Managing Virtual and Cloud IT Environments – A Roadmap to Well-Managed ITaaS
  • – Transitioning to ESXi
  • – Securing your Cloud
  • – The End-User Computing Revolution Starts Now with VMware View

Also:

Breakout Sessions – More Freedom. Less Formality.

This year for both conferences, there is pre-registration for Sessions, giving you the peace of mind that you will have a spot in the sessions you and your business care most about. Plan your daily agenda with Schedule Builder to view a complete listing of available Sessions, and then select the ones that matter most to you. Plus, we’ll be repeating most Sessions at least once, so you’ll have ample opportunity to pre-register for your top choices.  Check out the session abstracts in the content catalog.

 

Knowledge Experts

Connect directly with subject-matter authorities through our Knowledge Experts Program. These members of the VMware community – made up of industry-leading customers, bloggers and VMware employees – will conduct and participate in Breakout Sessions and Group Discussions. They’ll also be available for One-on-One meetings and more casual discussions as they circulate throughout the conference.

 

One-on-One Meetings

Schedule One-on-One meetings with up to three Knowledge Experts during the conference. Use these 15-minute sessions to delve into topics that relate specifically to your organization. Registration will open shortly.

 

Group Discussions

In addition to traditional Breakout Sessions, we’re introducing Group Discussions led by Knowledge Experts. These informative and interactive discussion groups are a great opportunity for you to gain insight from like-minded colleagues in similar industries. Attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis. Just Register for VMworld, and then you can use Schedule Builder (launching in mid-August) to schedule your preferred Group Discussions.

 

Hands-on Labs

Powered by the VMware cloud and presented via a self-service Lab Cloud portal, you will easily explore how virtualization can make a powerful impact on your organization. Unlike traditional instructor-led Labs, you are empowered not only to schedule which topics you want to take, but also when you want to take them, enabling you to choose the content that is right for your own business objectives on a schedule that allows you to maximize your conference experience.

VMworld will stage more than 18,000 lab seats and conduct up to 480 simultaneous Lab sessions during the four-day event. To build out this environment, we have committed 75,000+ man-hours in Lab creation and development to produce 30 Lab topics – all powered by vSphere Hypervisor, formerly vSphere ESXi. The Labs will cover everything from virtualized desktop infrastructure, through the vSphere-powered data center and into the VMware-powered cloud. With easy access to more than 100 VMware Subject Matter Experts on hand to answer questions and explore options, you’ll get one-on-one attention when you need it, and still have the flexibility to move at your own pace. Forget pre-registration. With over 40 hours of available Lab time throughout the conference, you’re free to experience the latest in VMware offerings on your own schedule.

Finally, if you’re planning on being there, look for the VMware Community TV booth where live interviews and podcasts can be conducted with industry experts, bloggers, vEXPERTs, etc.  The VMware Community TV booth will be available Monday through Thursday, 10:30 – 16:00pm, with shows starting every hour, at 30 minutes past the hour. Reserve a slot by following this link.

I hope to see you there!

SRM 5.0 Replication Bits and Bytes

October 3rd, 2011

VMware has pushed out several releases and features in the past several weeks.  It can be a lot to digest, particularly if you’ve been involved in the beta programs for these new products because there were some changes made when the bits made their GA debut. One of those new products is SRM 5.0.  I’ve been working a lot with this product lately and I thought it would be helpful to share some of the information I’ve collected along the way.

One of the new features in SRM 5.0 is vSphere Replication.  I’ve heard some people refer to it as Host Based Replication or HBR for short.  In terms of how it works, this is an accurate description and it was the feature name during the beta phase.  However, by the time SRM 5.0 went to GA, each of the replication components went through a name change as you’ll see below. If you know me, you’re aware that I’m somewhat of a stickler on branding.  As such, I try to get it right as much as possible myself, and I’ll sometimes point out corrections to others in an effort to lessen or perpetuate confusion.

Another product feature launched around the same time is the vSphere Storage Appliance or VSA for short.  In my brief experience with both products I’ve mentioned so far, I find it’s not uncommon for people to associate or confuse SRM replication with a dependency on the VSA.  This is not the case – they are quite independent.  In fact, one of the biggest selling points of SRM based replication is that it works with any VMware vSphere certified storage and protocol.  If you think about it for a minute, this now becomes a pretty powerful for getting a DR site set up with what you have today storage wise.  It also allows you to get SRM in the door based on the same principles, with the ability to grow into scalable array based replication in an upcoming budget cycle.

With that out of the way, here’s a glimpse at the SRM 5.0 native replication components and terminology (both beta and GA).

Beta Name GA Name GA Acronym
HBR vSphere Replication VR
HMS vSphere Replication Management Server vRMS
HBR server vSphere Replication Server vRS
ESXi HBR agent vSphere Replication Agent vR agent

 

Here is a look at how the SRM based replication pieces fit in the SRM 5.0 architecture.  Note the storage objects shown are VMFS but they could be both VMFS datastores as well as NFS datastores on either side:

Snagit Capture

Diagram courtesy VMware, Inc.

To review, the benefits of vSphere Replication are:

  1. No requirement for enterprise array based replication at both sites.
  2. Replication between heterogeneous storage, whatever that storage vendor or protocol might be at each site (so long as it’s supported on the HCL).
  3. Per VM replication. I didn’t mention this earlier but it’s another distinct advantage of VR over per datastore replication.
  4. It’s included in the cost of SRM licensing. No extra VMware or array based replication licenses are needed.

Do note that access to the VR feature is by way of a separate installable component of SRM 5.0.  If you haven’t already installed the component during the initial SRM installation, you can do so afterwards by running the SRM 5.0 setup routine again at each site.

I’ve talked about the advantages of VR.  Again, I think they are a big enabler for small to medium sized businesses and I applaud VMware for offering this component which is critical to the best possible RPO and RTO.  But what about the disadvantages compared to array based replication?  In no particular order:

  1. Cannot replicate templates.  The ‘why’ comes next.
  2. Cannot replicate powered off virtual machines.  The ‘why’ for this follows.
  3. Cannot replicate files which don’t change (powered off VMs, ISOs, etc.)  This is because replications are handled by the vRA component – a shim in vSphere’s storage stack deployed on each ESX(i) host.  By the way, Changed Block Tracking (CBT) and VMware snapshots are not used by the vRA.  The mechanism uses a bandwidth efficient technology similar to CBT but it’s worth pointing out it is not CBT.  Another item to note here is that VMs which are shut down won’t replicate writes during the shutdown process.  This is fundamentally because only VMs which are powered on and stay powered on are replicated by VR.  Current state of the VM would, however, be replicated once the VM is powered back on.
  4. Cannot replicate FT VMs. Note that array based replication can be used to protect FT VMs but once recovered they are not longer FT enabled.
  5. Cannot replicate linked clone trees (Lab Manager, vCD, View, etc.)
  6. Array based replication will replicate a VMware based snapshot hierarchy to the destination site while leaving them in tact. VR can replicate VMs with snapshots but they will be consolidated at the destination site.  This is again based on the principle that only changes are replicated to the destination site.
  7. Cannot replicate vApp consistency groups.
  8. VR does not work with virtual disks opened in “multi-writer mode” which is how MSCS VMs are configured.
  9. VR can only be used with SRM.  It can’t be used as a data replication for your vSphere environment outside of SRM.
  10. Losing a vSphere host means that the vRA and the current replication state of a VM or VMs is also lost.  In the event of HA failover, a full-sync must be performed for these VMs once they are powered on at the new host (and vRA).
  11. The number of VMs which can be replicated with VR will likely be less than array based replication depending on the storage array you’re comparing to.  In the beta, VR supported 100 VMs.  At GA, SRM 5.0 supports up to 500 VMs with vSphere Replication. (Thanks Greg)
  12. In band VR requires additional open TCP ports:
    1. 31031 for initial replication
    2. 44046 for ongoing replication
  13. VR requires vSphere 5 hosts at both the protected and recovery sites while array based replication follows only general SRM 5.0 minimum requirements of vCenter 5.0 and hosts which can be 3.5, 4.x, and/or 5.0.

The list of disadvantages appears long but don’t let that stop you from taking a serious look at SRM 5.0 and vSphere Replication.  I don’t think there are many, if any, showstoppers in that list for small to medium businesses.

I hope you find this useful.  I gathered the information from various sources, much of it from an SRM Beta FAQ which to the best of my knowledge are still fact today in the GA release.  If you find any errors or would like to offer corrections or additions, as always please feel free to use the Comments section below.