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V-Locity 3 with Thin on Thin provisioning

Within vSphere 4.x and later (through the gui) thin provisioned VMFS volumes are an option. For those who have shared storage many storage providers also provide the option to provide Thinly provisioned LUNs. So it is foreseeable one could provision a 100GB VMDK thinly on a 1TB thinly provisioned LUN but then if the VMDK is only using 1GB then the LUN should be using close to 1GB of data assuming it is not blown out by data usage.

The Test

For testing purposes I’m using a 60GB thinly provisioned VMDK with approximately 50% fragmentation (10k files with 90k fragments) . With using vSphere 4.1 Update 1 and a HP Lefthand P4500 cluster running SAN I/Q 9.0.

Diskeeper has a product called V-Locity 3 which is suppose to offer great defragmentation options for the Thin on Thin world. The question is does the boat hold water?

Well after testing a number of LUNs there are some truth to it’s functionality and some dead weight. When looking back at the physical world with Windows Server installed on bare hardware Diskeeper Server Edition works at both preventing fragmentation to a point and defragmenting. When we look at VM’s instead Intelliwrite (http://www.diskeeper.com/blog/post/2009/11/20/Inside-IntelliWrite-technology.aspx) everything still works as expected. When looking at the automatic defrag feature, we then balloon out the volume and if left to run 24×7 would fully balloon the volume.

This is where V-Locity is suppose to step in where you take Diskeeper Server falls short for virtual servers. Be for-warned Diskeeper Administrator is required to gain full functionality of software to take advantage of (V-Aware and CogniSAN to prevent over utilization of the given VM Server or SAN). While there are some other features the one feature I was looking at in particular was the Automatic zeroing of free space

Automatic Zeroing of Free Space is an interesting feature basically offering their version of sDelete.exe at a file by file level. By design you are suppose to run the automatic defrag feature during a relatively idle period in the datacenter and the rest of the time the Automatic zeroing will reclaim the space used. If and only if a storage vMotion to a different block size occurs the space will really be reclaimed.

So as expected it does work but I would check your cost/benefit analysis before buying V-Locity for the entire enterprise. When looking at my every day production environment, I can only see three or four heavy usage systems actually benefiting significantly from this software. While the rest would run the regular version of Diskeeper Server purely for Intelliwrite.

vSphere 5.0

Now what about all the talk of vSphere 5 adding in a new version of Array Integration (VAAI) which takes care of the reclamation without a vMotion? Well, it’s there but as it currently stands there are two big issues with it:
1) VMWare has published KBs instructing everyone to disable it due to performance issues. (http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2007427)

2) Some SAN appliances don’t support the new feature – which is my current problem

As for number one, test and see how bad the performance hit is in a lab environment first before trying it in production. Technically I don’t see why the features is recommended to be just disabled, you could have the feature disabled except during some scheduled times enabling it for a few hours at a time allowing at least a partial benefit from the feature.

For number two, start leaning heavily on your SAN providers to provide the functionality. As of this writing SAN I/Q 9.5 doesn’t support disk space reclamation (sometimes referred to as UNMAP). Hopefully this feature it will be out in the next release in a production environment scripting out the creation of LUNs to perform a storage vMotion to then finally performance destroy the existing LUN requires heavy I/O load on the SAN and an ugly solution for automation.

Conclusion

For myself I find this the biggest deal-breaker with the software isn’t the software itself as it works as designed. Unless the entire stack supports reclamation as a whole the product is *nice* but not worth it in large deployments and time consuming in small deployments.

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December 27, 2011 at 11:44 pm Comments (0)

vCenter Appliance and multiple network cards

The VMWare vCenter Appliance is a quick and easy method of deploying vCenter. But as with any 1.0 release there are many features which people are looking for before utilizing in a production environment, beyond the third-party plug-in, update manager, linked-mode, ect there is a lack of ability to support multiple network cards. When checking on the web interface for the vCenter Appliance administration there is no ability to address more than one network card.

Luckily this can be corrected with use of the command line.

 

  1. Edit your vCenter Appliance and add the additional network card (VMXNet3)
  2. Via the vCenter Appliance console login locally with root
  3. cd /etc/sysconfig/network
  4. cp ifcfg-eth0 ifcfg-eth1
  5. vi ifcfg-eth1
  6. Update the device to be eth1 and correct the IP addressing information
  7. Restart

Now the vCenter appliance will be available on two addresses in potentially different subnets.

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December 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm Comment (1)

Exchange 2010 SP2 Released

Exchange 2010 SP2 has been released () and with is comes not many new features.

  • All patches included up to Exchange 2010 SP1 Roll-up 6
  • OWA Mini – OWA customized for low bandwidth and low resolution mobile devices
  • Cross-Site Silent Redirection for Outlook Web App – SSO experiance with Forms-Based authentication when passing CAS services between directory sites.
  • Hybrid Configuration Wizard – Allows for deployment of hybrid local and Office 365 deployments
  • Address Book Policies – Allows for multiple address books to be offered to users based upon new defined policies

For my install of Exchange the only feature which might be worthwhile would be OWA Mini, even with many mobile devices using ActiveSync without any issues.

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December 7, 2011 at 9:47 am Comments (0)

Exchange 2010 SP1 and Exporting Mailboxes

Back in the days of Exchange 2003 we used EXMerge, with 2007 and with the original release of 2010 we used Export-Mailbox. However, Export-Mailbox required the system which was performing the Export had a copy of Outlook 2010 installed. Now with Exchange 2010 SP1 this functionality has been migrated to New-MailboxExportRequest. This new method pushes the export back to the CAS servers and removes the dependency of having the Outlook client installed.

Start by pulling up an Exchange Powershell window. Execution policy needs to be at a minimum Remote-Signed (checking can be done with Get-Executionpolicy and modifcations with Set-ExecutionPolicy)

Before we can actually use the command due to the addition Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) we need to first grant the account permission to perform the exports:

New-ManagementRoleAssignment –Role “Mailbox Import Export” –User mydomain\MyAdminAccount

Next we need to create a share on a server and give “Exchange Trusted Subsystem” read/write access to the share.

Now we can actually perform the export request:

New-MailboxExportRequest -Mailbox jsmith -FilePath "\\myserver\MyExportShare$\jsmith.pst"

The export itself will take some time to complete, if you wish to check the status of export, there is a method of doing so.

Get-MailboxExportRequest | Get-MailboxExportRequestStatistics | select-object SourceAlias,Status,PercentComplete

Finally once the export has completed, you can cleanup the old request by:

Get-MailboxExportRequest | Remove-MailboxExportRequest
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December 7, 2011 at 9:29 am Comments (0)

Windows Internal Database

During the install WSUS under Server 2003 or as an optional component to be installed under Server 2008/R2 there is an option to use the “Windows Internal Database”. This database is based upon a stripped down version of SQL Server 2005 Express with three exceptions. First there is no database size limitations, any management of the database needs to be done locally either via command line or SQL Management Studio, and lastly there are no licensing restrictions (Moving to SQL Server Standard or higher requires SQL Client CALs or per-socket licensing in which both cost significantly more).

By default upon installation any databases will be installed under “C:\WINDOWS\SYSMSI\SSEE\MSSQL.2005\MSSQL\Data” as you may wish to adjust your antivirus scanning for this particular folder.

In the event you wish to manage the internal database via SQL Management Studio login to the server with administrative privileges with a server name of \\.\pipe\mssql$microsoft##ssee\sql\query while using Windows Authentication.

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December 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm Comments (0)