How to implement hardware load balancer in SCVMM

The following procedure describe Network Load Balancing functionality in Microsoft SCVMM. Microsoft native NLB is automatically included into SCVMM when you install SCVMM. This procedure describe how to install and configure third party load balancer in SCVMM. Prerequisites: Microsoft System … Continue reading

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Cisco Nexus 1000V Switch for Microsoft Hyper-V

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Cisco Nexus 1000V Switch for Microsoft Hyper-V provides following advanced feature in Microsoft Hyper-v and SCVMM. Integrate physical, virtual, and mixed environments Allow dynamic policy provisioning and mobility-aware network policies Improves security through integrated virtual services and advanced Cisco NX-OS … Continue reading

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Dell Compellent: A Poor Man’s SAN

Management:  Dell Compellent Storage Center has a GUI designed to be accessible allegedly ease of use. Wizards offers few common tasks such as allocation, configuration, and administration functions. Compellent Storage Center monitoring tools provide very little insight on how storage backend is doing. You have to engage Dell remote support for diagnostic, and monitoring tools with alert and notification services. Storage center is not as granular as the competitor NetApp and EMC. Storage center has little information on storage performance, bottle neck and backend storage issues . Compellent is by design thin provisioned storage. There is no option in management center to assign as thick provisioned volume. IOPS and latency are calculated in volume and IOPS and latency are calculated in disks are far too different than real IOPS. You may see little IOPS in volume but click at disk level IOPS you will see storage controller is struggling to cope with the IOPS. Management center does not provide any clues who is generating this much IOPS.

Contact technical support they will say RAID scrub is killing your storage. Your standard request to tech support that stop the RAID scrub in business hour. “You cannot do it” another classic reply by tech support. What does mean is SCOS operating systems and management center do not have any option to schedule RAID scrub.

Data Progression: In theory Data Progression is an automated tiering technology that should have optimized the location of data, both on a schedule and on demand as prompted by a storage profile. Compellent’s tiering profiles streamline policy administration by assigning tier attributes based on the profile. On-demand data progression in business hour will drive Compellent into crazy. If you are Citrix VDI mainstream than your workload is pretty much dead until data progression is complete.

Side effect of this technology is storage controller struggle to maintain on demand data progression and IO request at the same time hence there will be queue depth and longer seek time in backend storage. In this situation storage seek time is higher than normal.

Storage Profile: Storage profile in lay man’s terms is segregating expensive and cheap disk and profiling them in tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3. These determine how the system reads and writes data to disk for each volume as they are known in Compellent terms and how data ages over time a feature called Data Progression.

Storage Profiles supposed to allow the administrator to manage both writable blocks and replay blocks for a volume.  It is essentially a tiering of storage in controlled way. In theory it supposed to be like a controlled environment. However in reality it does add extra workload to Dell Complellent controller. Let’s say you have tiered your storage according to your read and write intense IO. What happen when READ and WRITE intense volume gets full. Storage controller automatically trigger an on demand data progression from upper tier to lower tier to store data. Hence a WRITE intense IO is generated in lower tier what you wanted to avoid in first place that’s why you profiled or tiered your storage. Mixing data progression with storage tiering defeats whole purpose of storage profiling.

Replay: Replay is essentially a storage snapshot in Dell terms. Dell Compellent Data Instant Replay software creates point-in-time copies called Replays. With Data Instant Replay dell Compellent store Replays at any time interval with minimal storage capacity. But here is the catch you will most likely to run storage replay at 7pm every day and for critical volume every hour but your backup triggers at 7pm. Backup generates lots of READ IOPS and Replays generates lots of READ and WRITE IOPS at the same time which is 7pm. Hence your backup is going to be dead slow. You will run out of backup window and never going to finish backup before 7am morning. It will be nightmare to fulfil your SLA in backup and restore of any file systems and application.

RAID Scrub: Data scrubbing is an error correction technique that uses a background task to periodically inspect storage for errors, and then correct detected errors using redundant data in form of different checksums or copies of data. Data scrubbing reduces the likelihood that single correctable errors will accumulate, leading to reduced risks of un-correctable errors.

In NetApp you can schedule a RAID Scrub that suits your time and necessity however in Dell Compellent you cannot schedule a RAID Scrub through GUI or Command line. Dell technical support advised that this is an automated process takes places every day to correct RAID groups in Dell Compellent. There is a major side effect running automated RAID scrub. RAID scrub will drive your storage to insane IOPS level and latency will peak to high causing production volume to suffer and under perform. Performance of virtualization will be degraded so badly that production environment will struggle to serve IO request. Dell advised that Dell can do nothing about RAID scrub because RAID scrub in SCOS operating systems is an automated process.

Performance Issue:  To identify Dell Compellent bottleneck for a virtualization platform hosted in Compellent. Run the following in Windows perfmon in a virtual machine or a physical machine where a volume of Compellent storage is presented via HBA or iSCSI initiator. Use Windows perfmon, create a data collector set of the below attributes and generate report using PAL tools. Extract seek time, latency, IOPS and queue depth in the Compellent storage. You will see bottleneck in every area of storage you can expect.  Read further on Windows Performance Monitoring Tools

\LogicalDisk\Avg. Disk Sec/Read

\LogicalDisk\Avg. Disk Sec/Write

\LogicalDisk\Disk Bytes/Sec

\LogicalDisk\Disk Reads/Sec

\LogicalDisk\Disk Writes/Sec

\LogicalDisk\Split IO/sec

\LogicalDisk\Disk Transfers/sec

You can also download Veeam One tools to monitor storage performance via VMware or Hyper-v environment. Veeam One also provide you granular reporting mechanism on Compellent Storage.

Summary: Dell Compellent makes an interesting argument for all-flash performance tiers. Yes this argument is in dream not in reality. A price conscious poor man who needs just any SAN and has a lower IO environment can have Compellent junk. For mainstream enterprise storage, Dell Compellent is a bad experience and can bring disaster to corporate storage area network.

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Understand “X as a Service” or get stuck in “Pizza box as a Service”

“X or Anything as a Service” is an acronym used by many cloud provider and offering almost end to end services to a business. The most traditional use of “X” are Software as a Service (XaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The other use of “X” are Storage as a Service (SaaS), Communications as a Service (CaaS), Backup as a Service (BaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Network as a Service (NaaS) and Monitoring as a Service (MaaS).

As a CIO or CTO of an organization have you had a business case of your organisation how your organization is benefited from “Anything as a Service”? How does it translate your business in terms of consumption of information technology if it was on premises comparing off the premises or so called cloud. The most service provider compete with each other getting a piece of pie from these cloud computing era. However to cut cost these provider going below the bench mark and taking the cloud into “Craig list” where everything offered cheap scarifying quality making it “Pizza box as a Service”.

Here are some guidelines for you to measure your workload, services and application before signing up with a cloud provider.

  1. What type of services or application you would like to migrate to cloud?
  2. Are you migrating tier 1 application to cloud?
  3. What is your peak demand of IO or IOPS for all virtual infrastructure, VDI, services and application?
  4. What is peak period latency requirement for an application and a service of your organisation?
  5. What is your peak bandwidth requirements?
  6. What is the up time requirements?
  7. What is SLA and SLR of your business with the service provider?
  8. Do you have penalty clause with the service provider?
  9. What is your RPO and RTO to business when choosing DRaaS?
  10. What is corporate compliance and data retention policy when choosing BaaS?
  11. Do you have good/great user experience matrix in your organisation?

Once you have answered these question, gather data from existing infrastructure and analyse your requirement than it’s time for you to;

  1. Prepare a business case for Anything as a Service
  2. Identify option1, option2, option 3 for cloud services
  3. Knowing cloud provider
  • Learn more about cloud provider hosting platform
  • Learn more about cloud provider engineering and support capabilities
  • Learn more about cloud provider outbound bandwidth and redundancy of network infrastructure
  • Learn more about redundancy of storage infrastructure of cloud provider
  • Who are the hardware and software partners of cloud provider
  • How user friendly is the management portal of cloud provider

4. Compare and select potential cloud provider

If you haven’t identified above criteria and you are aware that you signed up with a cloud provider who simply patch together a 1Gbe network, 1U rack server and Dell Compellent storage with few SATA disk than you signed for a “Pizza box as a service”. You know that your 2WD car is heading towards off road and you are about to get stuck in mud.

When comes decision making time, count every factor into account and make a decision that provide an outcome you want instead of cheap pizza box as a service which neither fulfil your requirement nor fulfil SLA of your business. Remember it’s about your business not the business of cloud provider.

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Dell Compellent Storage to be discontinued after Dell-EMC merger

DELL is buying EMC. This is an old news. You already know this. There are many business reasons Dell is buying EMC. EMC is the number one storage vendor and a big cat of NASDAQ. One key business justification is to get into Enterprise market with enterprise class product lines and second big reason is break into cloud market utilising dominant presence of EMC. Have you rationalised your opinion on what Dell storage product line likely to be once merger is complete. There are many argument in for and against of various combination of storage line Dell will come up. Let’s look at current product lines of Dell and EMC.

Dell Current Product Line:

  • Network Attached storage based on Dell 2U rack servers.
  • Direct Attached Storage
  • iSCSI and FCoE SAN solution such as PowerVault MD, EqualLogic, Compellent

EMC Product Line:

  • EMC XtremIO – the XtremIO all-flash array—ideal for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), virtual server, and database
  • EMC VMAX enterprise class storage- Mission critical storage for hyper consolidation and delivering IT as a service.
  • EMC VNX/VNXe – hybrid flash storage platform, optimized for virtual applications.

Software Defined Storage

Dell

  • Software defined storage such as Dell XC Series powered by Nutanix

EMC

  • EMC Isilon – High-performance, clustered network-attached storage (NAS) that scales to your performance and capacity requirements.
  • EMC ScaleIO – Hyper-converged solution that uses your existing servers, and turns them into a software defined SAN with massive scalability, 10X better performance and 60% lower cost than traditional storage.
  • EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) – Cloud-scale, geo-federated namespace, multi-tenant security and in-place analytics ECS is the universal platform
  • EMC ViPR Controller – deliver automation and management insights from your multivendor storage.
  • EMC Service Assurance Suite – Service Assurance Suite delivers service-aware software defined network management that optimizes your physical and virtual networks, increases operational efficiency by ensuring SLA’s, and reduces cost by maximizing resources.
  • EMC ViPR SRM – optimize your multivendor block, file & object storage tiers to application service levels you’ll maximize resources, reduce costs and improve your return on investment.

 

Other Partnership and Products of EMC

EMC Vblock Systems – VCE is a technology partnership which EMC plays major role to deliver converged cloud solutions for midrange to enterprise client. Converged Infrastructure technology that provide virtualization, server, network, storage and backup, VCE Converged Solutions simplify all aspects of IT.

EMC Hybrid Cloud- Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud for delivering IT-as-a-Service. With thousands of engineering hours, the Federation brings together best-in-class components from EMC, VCE, and VMware to create a fully integrated, enterprise-ready solution.

VMware Partnerships-EMC Corp plans to keep its majority stake in VMware Inc. EMC, which owns about 80% of VMware, bought the company in 2004 for $700 million. VMware accounted for about 22 percent of EMC’s revenue of $23.2 billion in 2013. EMC and VMware share a cloud vision. Through joint product development, solutions, and services, EMC is the number one choice for VMware customers for storage, backup, security, and management solutions.

RSA Information Security division- RSA info security offers data protection and identity management.

Pivotal- EMC and VMware partnership to manufacture software and big data solutions.

Virtustream- EMC and VMware joint $1.2B acquisition of this brand to provide public cloud services.

Dell to discontinue Compellent after merger–make sense

There are too many eggs on the busket already. Would Dell continue to sell identical products in different name or stream line all products. Dell is after streamlining all products. It is well known by Dell loyal customer that EqualLogic will disappear from Dell product line at 2018. We learnt that in Dell partner’s conference. Then question will remain what will happen to Compellent? In current market place, VNX directly compete with Dell Compellent. But VNX has more customer base than Compellent. VNX is in market for almost 20 years and still growing fast. Compellent is in new shape and in market with SC series product line. But Compellent has frustrated its customer with poor performance and poor customer support. A very poor explanation and guidelines from Dell presales team on how to align Dell storage with business requirement.

Dell can offer customer will both VNX and Compellent knowing Compellent did not work from the beginning or Dell streamline its product and kill Compellent all together. Then promote VNX as it worked past 20 years and has a proven track record. Killing Compellent will disturb few already unhappy customer who simply wanted cheap SATA disks. But killing VNX will disturb wide range of customers and annoy them once and for all. Consequence of that would be losing customers to HP and NetApp which dell desperately wants to avoid and gain control of storage market. This way Dell-EMC will retain undisputed title of EMC as a number one storage vendor. This make sense for any non IT savvy walking on the street. I am certain and believe that Dell will discontinue Compellent serries all together.  Protecting $67 billion dollar acquisition of EMC is more important than protecting $960 million acquisition of Compellent. It would obviously make sense for Michael Dell to kill Compellent and promote VNX as a sole mid range storage.

References:

EMC plans to keep stake in VMware, despite investor pressure: source

EMC-VMware Alliance

EMC Cloud

Dell Product Lines

EMC Product Lines

VCE Converged Systems

Dell buying EMC

Dell-EMC: What Storage Customers Should Do

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Windows Client OS Life Cycle

End of Support of Windows Client Operating Systems

8

End of Sales of Windows Client Operating Systems

1

Reference: Windows lifecycle fact sheet

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Forrester Reaserch Rates Server Hosted Virtual Desktop

Forrester Research Inc evaluates and rates server hosted virtual desktops. Forrester identified seven contenders in desktop virtualization platform. The following are the outcome of Forrester Research on VDI providers.

Product Evaluated:

  • Citrix XenDesktop 7.6
  • Wyse vWorkspace 8.5
  • Listed BoXedVDI 3.2.1
  • Nimboxx Verde 8.x
  • Oracle Global Desktop 5.2
  • VMware View 6.1

Selection Criteria:

Capture2

Scores:

Capture3

Results:

Capture

Credit: Forrester.com

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