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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Deploy and Manage Dell Management Suite Infrastructure


By request, this post is a reproduction of an internal operational document I handed over for the environment in which I installed it.

Overview

The Dell Management Infrastructure consists of two dedicated VMs in addition to relying on vCenter and a database. The two dedicated VMs run three separate Dell applications in a Windows Server 2008 R2 VM and a Linux Virtual Appliance. The three applications are Dell OpenManage (OME), Dell Repository Manager (RM), and the Dell Management Plug-in (DMP) Virtual Appliance itself. An overview of the infrastructure is below.

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Having problems with DVD Store 2.1? Perhaps this will help.


Oh…my…goodness. This caused me such a big headache. I’m using DVD Store as a placeholder for a production database in the lab. We’re in the middle of a proof-of-concept of SRM and we’re getting close to the due date. My boss comes to me and says, “We’re close to the due date. Do you want to document the vSphere 5.1 upgrade or work on DVD Store?” Well, having played with DVD Store a bit in the last few weeks and knowing it wasn’t “plug-n-play” for a custom database size, I couldn’t hand the DVD Store project over to a workmate in good conscience. I didn’t find the learning curve for a simple fellow like myself short and to throw someone else knee deep into the project when I’ve already played with it wouldn’t be right. “I’ll work on DVD Store.” I said, dejectedly. You see, I rarely get excited about scripts I don’t write myself. And to be perfectly honest, once I started reading about DVD Store and the amount of work that would have to go into getting a custom-sized database, I put it off as long as possible. Now I knew I was going to be elbow deep in scripts the next day and I wasn’t very happy about it. Here’s what I found out.

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Scheduled task to run a PowerCLI script (and delete a named snapshot)


I had occasion recently to delete a snapshot at a certain time. It’s easy enough to schedule the snapshot using the vSphere Client and built-in functions, but then, how to delete it on a schedule? Enter PowerCLI and the Windows Task Scheduler.

There was a VMTN forum post by Duncan Epping (@DuncanYB) that suggested using the generic form Get-VM | Get-Snapshot | Remove-Snapshot. This worked a charm for me and I put it into the following script.

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Delete hidden vNIC, the Eric Siebert way


A funny thing happened this afternoon. Usually, when you know there’s a hidden NIC in a VM, you simply run the command, set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1. Then you’ll see the hidden device in Device Manager. Well that didn’t happen to me.

The virtual hardware showed an e1000 vNIC installed in this VM, but no icon showed up in Network Connections.

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Performance Analysis for a SQL Cluster


I was recently asked to pull the performance metrics for a new SQL cluster at work. In an effort to finally get back to blogging, I thought I’d share my results and how someone else may be able to look at their clusters for ways to improve. I should start by saying that although this analysis was performed on a two-node Windows Server Failover Cluster using Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 (WSFC, formerly MSCS) and SQL Server 2008, SQL-specific metrics are not pulled. Rather, I looked at the Big Four: CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network. The second node in the cluster, Node B, was analyzed because the application using the first node was not in production yet, so we knew that node would barely be utilized.

Using Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (a behemoth in its own right!), I was able to pull the previous six days’ worth of performance data. What I included in my analysis were graphs of performance for seven days, an explanation of what the data was measuring, and somewhat of an average baseline against which to measure.

The original work was presented in PowerPoint. I’ve taken screenshots of the presentation and included them here.

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In response to Miguel’s post, here are my thoughts:

I’m sure at least one of the VMware dudes Miguel was talking to was once a Windows System Administrator. I’m also sure that that same VMware dude cringed at the thought of needlessly putting multiple services on a single VM. He probably thought that as long as the customer had enough money for Windows Server licenses, compute and disk resources, that one should obviously separate each service into their own server. Now, to take a step back, let us say that, yes, it certainly is possible to put all the services you mentioned, vCenter, SQL 2008, VUM, and maybe even SRM on the same box, whether virtual or physical. But of course, whether this is possible or not is not in question. It’s whether it should or should not be done in the first place. I’m going to pull out the age old consultant’s answer and say, “It depends.”

It depends on if the customer has the budget for more Windows or SQL licenses. Does the customer have the compute and disk resources for several more servers? Is there already an existing SQL box or cluster that could be used? Is a DBA on staff, or at least a competent Windows Server admin? Does the customer’s environment even need a full blown SQL installation or would SQL Express do fine?

Now I’m coming from a background of government contracting where money is usually thrown at such projects. Resources for such an implementation are little thought about because they’re going to be there no matter what. This question could impact SMBs more, but probably not large corporations.

I think there are certainly right and wrong ways to implement based on circumstances. On the one hand, if you have the licenses, compute, disk, and administrative resources, I say absolutely, put each service on it’s own separate box. In more constrained environments, you may need to double up two or more services.

That’s not the least of it. Recovering from a failed VM will cost you less in time, effort, and hopefully, money. With an “all your eggs in one basket” approach, if one VM goes down, is somehow unrecoverable, then you’ve lost a lot of data. Separating your services reduces the liklihood that any one VM failure/loss will result in mutlitple services lost.

Google

vmmojo

So I was having a discussion with a few fellow VMware dudes, and we were discussing the vCenter installation methods. One train of thought is to install vCenter, VUM, SQL 2008,, and SRM on 1 VM with 2 vCPUs, 4 GB of memory an a 100 GB drive, Monitor for performance and adjust as required by analyzing the performance data. I have alwbeen doing installations this way lately without issue. I have also done installations on dedicated SQL boxes \ VMs. I have gotten good performance out of the environment with having all services on a single VM. In larger environments of 20 or more hosts and 300 + VMs, I have used a dedicated SQL server. The SRM documetation recommends a separate server for the SRM installation, but I have not seen any issues with it on the same box, and there was not any performance degradation in an…

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