Options for Managing vSphere Replication Traffic on Cisco UCS


I was recently designing a vSphere Replication and SRM solution for a client and I stated we would use static routes on the ESXi hosts.  When asked why, I was able to 1. discuss why the default gateway on the management network wouldn’t work and 2. present some options as to how we could separate the vSphere Replication traffic in a way that would allow flexibility in throttling its bandwidth usage. 

You won’t see listed here Network I/O Control because this particular client didn’t have Enterprise Plus licensing and therefore wasn’t using a vDS.  In addition, this client was using a fibre channel SAN on top of Cisco UCS with only a single VIC in his blades.  This configuration doesn’t work well with NIOC because it doesn’t take into account FC traffic which is sharing bandwidth with all the Ethernet traffic NIOC *is* managing.

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DR Options for SQL Server in a vSphere Environment


While SQL Server is not one of my core competencies, I have worked with clients to protect their business critical applications in a VMware environment that utilizes SRM for DR.  These options rely on either Native SQL protection schemes or VMware options like SRM or vSphere Replication.  There are, of course, many 3rd party options, as well, depending on the storage array in use, which I won’t go into here.  While there are usually good, better, and best options, the idea I’d like to get across here is that there are many ways to protect SQL Server.  They can all be used at the same time even.  I’ve had clients that had so many SQL Servers, this is essentially what they did – they had to pick and choose how to protect each based on their relative importance.

SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups

For the most critical SQL Servers, the image below shows the high-level view of what my clients have used with success.  For server failures at the Primary Data Center, there are multiple SQL Servers.  AAGs can use both an Active-Active model and an Active-Passive model with regard to where the active database resides.  Continuing with the Primary Site, Node 1 can host both an Active and a Passive database.  Node 2 can host an Active and Passive database, as well, working with Node 1 to perform synchronous replication.  Through asynchronous replication, both databases can be replicated to the DR site, where only Passive copies reside.  In the event Site A completely fails, Node 3 can be brought online.

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Will Write for Fame and Fortune


I had the good fortune this past summer to be presented the opportunity to write a book.  I had been reviewing VMware-related books for some time already when a publishing company reached out with an offer.  I eagerly accepted and began writing in June.  In less than a month, I was done.  Not because I had finished setting pen to paper, but because my topic, vCenter Server Heartbeat, was put out to pasture…then shot.  VMware put the focus of my road to virtualization glory and stardom on its End-of-Life list and stopped selling vCSHB on July 2nd, 2014.  Soon after, my publishing company killed the book, too.

I was disappointed I wasn’t able to finish.  What I did complete, though, I’d like to share, with the hope that maybe someone out there is looking for an author and likes my work. Actually, you don’t even have to like my work to make an offer. I like the idea of writing a book, but articles work well, too, or even training materials. I would most like to write about NetApp – maybe an introduction or a design, installation, and configuration guide.  They have plenty of products that could be written about and besides vendor documentation, there’s not a lot of info in book form.  I especially like the idea of third-party training videos – I know there are several for EMC, but none for NetApp.  I think it’s time to change that. My other interests include VMware and Cisco UCS.

Chapter 1

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Chapter 2 (never finished)

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NetApp Initiator Group Best Practices for VMFS LUNs


I’m often asked by my clients the best way to configure NetApp igroups when connecting to VMware VMFS LUNs, especially after I deploy a new system for them and I’m training them on their use.  I appreciate the question because it means someone’s actually thinking through why something is configured the way it is rather than just throwing something together.

The Problem

So this is what I see a lot of out in the field.  Single igroups are created with multiple initiators from 5multiple hosts.  This can be a problem, though, as I’ll show you.  Functionally, this configuration will work – each host will be able to see each LUN, all things being equal.  The problem arises when you want to either 1. remove a host from the igroup or 2. stop presenting a LUN to only a subset of hosts.
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Real World Cisco UCS Adapter Placement


I had the opportunity recently to deploy 18 B420 M3 blades across two sites.  Having only deployed half width blades over the last two years, I had to change my usual Service Profile configuration for ESXi hosts to ensure the vNICs and vHBAs were properly spread across the two VICs installed in each blade.  Each B420 had a VIC 1240 and a VIC1280.  The Service Profile for the blades includes six vNICs and two vHBAs.  The six vNICs were used to take advantage of QoS policies at the UCS-level.  The six vNICs configured included:

  • vNIC FabA-mgmt
  • vNIC FabA-vMotion
  • vNIC FabA-VM-Traffic
  • vNIC FabB-mgmt
  • vNIC FabB-vMotion
  • vNIC FabB-VM-Traffic

image
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10 Years, $10, 10 Days at Packt Publishing


Packt Publishing is celebrating 10 years publishing its technical tomes and they’re inviting everyone to celebrate with them.  While this post is coming out at the tail end of the promotion, you still have time to get in on the action.  It’s good until July 5th.

You can buy as many books as you like for $10 each.  Check out their deals here:

http://bit.ly/1t0pcav


Initial thoughts: VMware vSphere 5.x Datacenter Design Cookbook


I was recentDatacenterDesignly given the privilege to review Packt Publishing’s recent book about vSphere design.  I was immediately pleased to see that recent VCDX (graduate? achiever?) Hersey Cartwright of #vBrownbag fame was the sole author.  I always appreciate knowing what I’m about to put in my brain came from a trustworthy source.  I see in his author bio, though, early in the book, that he’s “only” recognized as a VCAP, not a VCDX (VCAPs are all-stars to begin with, dont’ get me wrong).  So he must have at least started working on this before he achieved rock-star status.  I couldn’t help but think as I read on how much writing this book must have helped his VCDX attempt. 

I’ve read a lot, I mean a lot, of VMware books and articles and blog posts – just about everything I can get my hands on – and everything in this book I kept nodding along with. There were many times Hersey would broach a subject and I’d immediately look for him to cover those oh-so-important caveats.  Sure enough, he covered them.  I was very happy to see that we were on the same page.

So with respect to design books, this is essentially the 3rd of its kind I’ve read.  The first, of course, was the Sybex vSphere Design (both editions), then I was very pleased to read VMware Press’s Managing and Optimizing VMware vSphere Deployments, which, while not strictly design-focused, hit on many design features nonetheless.  Each is excellent and I recommend them.  What makes Hersey’s different is that it’s short and to the point (vSphere Design is over 500 pages).  This book is under 250 pages but packs in the relevant information you need be a good architect or designer.  Most importantly, let me emphasize this

Hersey doesn’t give you a fish in this book.  He teaches you to fish.

What I mean by that is in each section, he’s not simply listing the answers you’re looking for to design a redundant virtual network or to build reliable storage – he couldn’t possibly.  What I feel he does throughout is explain the concepts and then teaches you to ask better questions that lead to a good design.  That’s not quite anything like what I’ve read in any other VMware book.  I don’t feel Hersey wastes a sentence.  An additional feature of this book, that also makes it unique from others I’ve read, is that it discusses how to build documentation to support a vSphere design.  It’s not coincidence that Hersey mentioned each type of document that is likely needed in a successful VCDX defense.  Congratulations, Hersey – you’ve made a one-of-a-kind book. Thanks for sharing.


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