Archive for January, 2012

How to properly remove vSphere datastores

January 18th, 2012

Right click on the datastore object and choose Delete, right? Wrong.

Following are two good VMware articles outlining the correct procedure for removing datastores in a vSphere environment:

StarWind Releases iSCSI SAN Software Enhanced by VM Backup Technology

January 17th, 2012

Press Release:

New StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper Backup Plug-in are a New Level of Data Protection

SnagIt CaptureBurlington, MA – January 13, 2012StarWind Software Inc., an innovative provider of SAN software for iSCSI storage and VM Backup technology, today announced the release of new StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper-V Backup Plug-in. The iSCSI SAN software is enhanced by the powerful VM Backup technology that is included as a plug-in.

Backup plug-in is built specifically for Hyper-V-based environments to provide fast backup and restore for Hyper-V virtual machines. The backup solution delivered by StarWind performs all operations on the Hyper-V host level thus it requires no backup agents to be installed on virtual machines (Agentless Architecture).

Hyper-V Backup Plug-in makes fast backups and allows quick, reliable restore of both virtual machines and individual files. It utilizes advanced technologies for maximum disk space saving (Global Deduplication). This backup tool is integrated with StarWind Centralized Management Console that enables managing backup and storage from a single window.

Additionally, a new version of HA plug-in is presented in StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 that allows use of raw basic images to create HA targets. A new replication engine based on own technology instead of MS iSCSI transport creates higher performance and reliability. This new engine permits use of multiple network interfaces for synchronization and heartbeat.

To simplify the replacement of equipment and recovery of fatal failures, StarWind Software has implemented the ability to change the partner node to any other StarWind server without any downtime and on the fly. Synchronization engine is improved, and this version allows both nodes to sync automatically even in the case of a full blackout of both servers.

“With the release of StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 our company is happy to provide our customers with highly available storage and fast backup software developed by the same vendor,” said Artem Berman, Chief Executive Officer of StarWind Software. “Now small and medium-sized companies have an opportunity to achieve higher performance and absolute data protection.”

About StarWind Software Inc.
StarWind Software is a global leader in storage management and SAN software for small and midsize companies. StarWind’s flagship product is SAN software that turns any industry-standard Windows Server into a fault-tolerant, fail-safe iSCSI SAN. StarWind iSCSI SAN is qualified for use with VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer and Linux and Unix environments. StarWind Software focuses on providing small and midsize companies with affordable, highly availability storage technology which previously was only available in high-end storage hardware. Advanced enterprise-class features in StarWind include Automated HA Storage Node Failover and Failback (High Availability), Replication across a WAN, CDP and Snapshots, Thin Provisioning and Virtual Tape management.

Since 2003, StarWind has pioneered the iSCSI SAN software industry and is the solution of choice for over 30,000 customers worldwide in more than 100 countries and from small and midsize companies to governments and Fortune 1000 companies.

For more information on StarWind Software Inc., visit: www.starwindsoftware.com

Path Set for Dell Storage Forum 2012 London

January 11th, 2012

Snagit Capture

In just a few days, Dell Storage Forum 2012 kicks off at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London. I will be in attendance and I hope that you will have the chance to join myself and the rest of the Dell staff and of course an array of storage customers, channel partners, enthusiasts, and analysts. At DSF your appetite will be satisfied with Executive lead Keynote sessions, Breakout sessions delivered by Technical Experts, Instructor lead training, and Hands-on/Self-Paced labs covering Compellent Storage Center, Dell EqualLogic, and PowerVault storage.

This venue won’t be an exact carbon copy of past DSF events. Dell Storage will be showcasing an updated product roadmap and we’ll also see new product announcements. One of the announcements you’ll hear about is the availability of Compellent Storage Center 6.0. As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist who spends all time working on the VMware integration points, this is a release I’ve been looking forward to since starting my career at Dell Compellent in May of last year. This is a significant launch for Dell Compellent from an architectural perspective. SC 6.0 now leverages the FreeBSD 64-bit platform. The 64-bit architecture is the springboard for new features launched this week (such as multithreading opportunities and 12GB memory per Series 40 controller) and will serve as a key enabler for future scalability, integration, and feature enhancements.

If you’re a current Dell Compellent customer with vSphere 4.1 or newer in your datacenter, you know that through SC 5.5.x we supported one VAAI primitive: Zero Blocks or Write Same. Storage Center 6.0 supports additional VMware vSphere VAAI primitives:

  • Copy Offload
  • Hardware Assisted Locking
  • Of course we still support Block Zeroing

On a side note, VMware also released a 4th VAAI primitive in vSphere 5 focusing on Thin Provisioning for block storage arrays.  However, shortly after the release, VMware pulled support on this primitive (applies to all storage vendors) to work out some kinks.  I wrote about that here.

VAAI excites me because of the performance and scalability gains it brings to the vSphere virtual datacenter in addition to vSphere bolt ons such as VMware View and vCloud Director.

Snagit Capture

Snagit Capture

Compellent SC 6.0 VAAI support:

  • 41% faster block cloning operations on Eager Zeroed Thick and Lazy Zeroed Thick virtual disks
  • 98% faster Eager Zeroed Thick disk creation
  • Up to 100% reduction in Block Zeroing data traffic from host to storage
  • Offloaded operations result in significantly reduced copy traffic between host and storage
  • Offloaded operations result in reduction of ESX(i) host resource and storage fabric utilization

Find more details about VAAI at VMware KB 1021976 vStorage APIs for Array Integration FAQ.

This should be a really great week.  Personally, it will be my first Dell Compellent focused conference.  I do hope to see you there and look forward to some good discussions.  If you’re not able to attend in person, you can use these links to follow the action remotely:

Event Links:

Twitter/Social Media Links:

Other Links:

StarWind Webinar – Storage & Hyper-V VM Backup

January 8th, 2012

Webinar Announcement:

What: New StarWind V5.8 – Storage & Hyper-V VM Backup from one vendor!

When: Tuesday, January 10, 4:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST

Where: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/562126034

Details: StarWind iSCSI SAN V5.8 introduces a new powerful backup technology designed specifically for Hyper-V-based environments to provide fast backup and restore for virtual machines.

The key to protection of your virtualization investments is one solution with a rich feature set developed to help you achieve your IT goals easily. It is ONE ultimate answer to all your storage and data managing needs.

StarWind iSCSI SAN 5.8 provides:

Hyper-V Backup Plug-in

- Agentless Architecture

- Backups stored in VHD format

- Global Deduplication

- Single-click Backup

iSCSI Storage

- 100% stability and uptime

- High Availability / Automatic Failover

- Network Centralized Management

- Synchronous Replication

Register now to learn more!
Here is the link for registration:

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/562126034

VCA4-DT and VCP5 Exam Reviews

January 6th, 2012

With 2011 wrapped up and the holiday festivities over with, I decided to kick off 2012 by sitting a few new VMware certification exams.  Before I get into the details of the exam experience, I must extend my sincere appreciation to the new testing center I tried out – New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Eagan, MN.  It’s a new facility, friendly staff, state of the art equipment, AND THEY ALLOW COFFEE IN THE EXAM ROOM!  I’m locked on to this facility for all future exams.

Ok, VMware Certified Associate 4 – Desktop, otherwise known as VCA4-DT.  Thursday morning, 70 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes if I remember right. Time isn’t much of a factor on this exam as it has been in past exams I’ve sat.  Unfortunately I failed by a narrow margin. 289/500 (300 is the passing mark).  Not passing was a bummer since I’ve only failed one other exam and that was 14 years ago.  The reality was that I hadn’t had enough View Administrator seat time to recall what was being tested.  I can’t go into specifics but I will say that having a photographic memory of the View Admin console will go a long way to get by this exam.  I’ve managed a tiny View 4.6 and now 5.0 environment in my lab but I haven’t spent countless hours in the console on a day to day basis which is what I think is really required.  That makes sense – after all it is an Administrator role based exam.  My hope was that brushing up on the blueprint objectives and reading Mike Laverick’s Administrating VMware View 4.5 book cover to cover the night before the exam would have been enough to get by.  It wasn’t.  No fault to Mike of course, his was a fine book.  I planned short on the preparation, rolled the dice, and.. well you know by now what happened.  It was a humbling experience but at the same time it’s an effective method to learn more.  After I get back from Dell Storage Forum London I’ll plan on hitting the lab and ultimately finishing the exam the proper way.  After that, I’ve got my sights set on VMware Certified Professional 4 – Desktop (VCP4-DT) which I may already be better prepared for.

On to the VMware Certified Professional 5 or VPC5.  Friday morning, 85 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes.  I reached the end of the exam with 14 minutes left to review marked questions – I had quite a few.  I don’t know why – I rarely change my answer when reviewing questions.  I mark the questions with the intent that there may be a better answer which comes to me later on in the exam but it rarely happens and I believe statistics prove that on average, first instinct is going to be the better or correct answer.  I’ll be honest, dwelling on yesterday’s fail did a number to my confidence level but I had no choice but to push forward studying the blueprint for a solid 8 hours last night into the wee hours of the morning.  Granted, the VCP5 exam should be higher on the difficulty level, but the infrastructure content maps quite a bit better to my expertise that VMware View administration does.  I had seen some comments from others that the VCP5 exam didn’t contain much along the lines of Configuration Maximums type questions.  Based on that, I didn’t spend much time in the vSphere 5 Configuration Maximums document.  I brushed up on HA, DRS, and although I have little hands on working experience with the appliance based bolt ons like the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, or Auto Deploy, I tried to pick up as much as I could on those areas.  On exam difficulty, the content came easier to me based on familiarity.  For most of the exam I was pretty well within my comfort zone.  As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist at Dell Compellent, the storage related questions aren’t quite the level of difficulty they once were.  There was a pretty good blend of easy/medium/difficult questions, and also a few which I felt were worded poorly enough such that I knew the correct answer either way, but interpretation of the question is going to determine a right or wrong answer.  Results on this exam were better – 406/500 (300 passing).  There were plenty of questions on the other vSphere products I talked about earlier such as the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, and Auto Deploy. While I feel I did answer a few of those questions correctly, the remainder is likely what accounts for the majority of the points I missed on the exam.  By the way, if you’re not using vSphere Update Manager on a regular basis to assist in upgrading your environment, you should be, and you’ll want to know that product for this exam as well.

Have a great weekend and for those attending Dell Storage Forum London next week, I hope to meet up with you.