Vol. 19, #36 - September 8, 2014 - Issue #996
Datacenter Storage Design
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- Datacenter Storage Design
- Tip of the Week - For IT Pros with Hearing Difficulties
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Asia Pacific
- Webcast Calendar
- Ask The Experts about VMware, Hyper-V and More
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Enterprise IT
- SharePoint, Exchange, and Office
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- How to keep public cloud budget-friendly
- Lower Microsoft VDI licensing costs with Windows Server VMs
- Reclaim swap file space to reduce storage costs
- Overhauling vSphere Web Client settings
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- World's Biggest Bottle Rocket
- Awesome Cameron Airshow 2014
- Dog On The Rails Lets The Whole World Wait
- Chat With A Cat
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Veeam Backup & Replication - Introduction to Virtualization: Hyper-V backup
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about the choices that you may need to make when designing a datacenter that will use VMware virtualization and HP storage intelligence. We welcome Peter van den Bosch, a Senior Consultant at PQR a Systems Integrator in the Netherlands, who has contributed this week's guest editorial on the subject.
Life is all about making choices, isn't it? Of course sometimes we make bad choices and live to regret them. That's where a support group for people who always make bad choices might help. Thanks to Dogbert, such help is now available as this Dilbert comic strip illustrates:
From the Mailbag
Last week in Issue #995 Beneath the Shadow of the Cloud, we talked about implementing cloud computing in the shadows of your organization. A reader named Quentin responded by saying he has a very simple solution when any usage of shadow IT has been detected by an organization:
I have a very simple take on the matter: shadow cloud usage should be regarded as corporate espionage (I refer you to the 'leaks from within' comment in the Account Lockout Flamewar section) and should result in immediate dismissal.
Two weeks ago in Issue #994 Account Lockout Flame Wars, we discussed the strongly diverging opinions within the IT pro community concerning whether to use account lockout in Active Directory environments. We included some reader feedback on this issue in the Mailbag section of last week's newsletter, but here's some more feedback, this time from a reader named Steve:
I work at a large oil and gas producer and we were experiencing what we considered to be too many support calls for accounts that had been locked out. We had our policy set to 3 attempts as was discussed in your article but found this number to be too low. A user, even a savvy one, can easily hit 2 retries while still on auto-pilot before their first coffee of the day. That only leaves one more attempt to ensure Caps Lock is not enabled, you remember the password was just changed on the Friday before the long weekend, or that you simply have your fingers sitting over the wrong home location on your keyboard. By increasing the limit of 3 to a slightly higher number, while still being low enough to be secure, we have dramatically reduced the number of these types of calls to our help desk.
Great feedback but I didn't actually recommend any specific account lockout settings in my editorial, I just mentioned that Microsoft had originally recommended lockout after 5 failed logon attempts in their Security Compliance Manager (SCM) documentation for Windows Server 2012 but later changed that to 10 failed logon attempts in their SCM for Windows Server 2012 R2. I totally agree however that 3 failed logon attempts is way too low a setting for most environments.
And now on to our guest editorial...
Datacenter Storage Design
Greetings from the trenches of Dutch IT! My name is Peter van den Bosch and I would like to share some of my challenges in helping customers make the best choices when designing their datacenters.
The company I work for does a lot of business with local governments. The trend in the Netherlands is that within a region the independent municipalities start working together in a Shared Service Center. These service centers have two or three sites, which gives them the possibility to build their own disaster recovery sites. Municipalities in the Netherlands are required by law to recover part of the IT services within 48 hours. In my honest opinion, that's old school IT! Everyone knows what happens at the service desk in five minutes if mail is no longer working, or even worse if the Internet is unreachable.
The demands on IT in these Shared Service Centers are much higher, and RTO/RPO demands are more realistic in minutes than days. Your design choices become more challenging when talking about minutes than about days, but they also become more interesting for the team working on the design.
The project I am currently working on is building a Shared Service Center for seven local municipalities. We can use three different sites and must finish the project before the end of this year. The first step we made was reviewing all of the demands and wishes in the schedule of requirements. The next step was to translate these requirements into our overall technical design.
We decided to build a Uniform VMware vSphere Metro Storage Cluster by using the design shown in Figure 1 of the HP technical whitepaper titled "Implementing vSphere Metro Storage Cluster using HP 3PAR Peer Persistence" which can be downloaded here:
For the hardware we used two HP 3PAR StoreServ 7400, 4 HP C7000 Blade Enclosures and about 48 blades in three different configurations. Last but not least we also used a HP DL360 with a lot of local storage. By choosing this design it is mandatory that you must also use certain configuration settings because if you don't you could get in trouble when you need support. But luckily there still is some flexibility and space for your own customization.
What is not included however in this well thought out design is how to implement data management. What I mean are questions about what to use for backup and recovery, thin provisioning and snapshotting. So I will focus here on the storage management part and the choices I had to make here.
The available features from a storage perspective are listed in the following table:
HP and VMware
Thin stays Thin
Convert to thin by zero detection
HP and VMware
Domain separation (Virtual Domains)
Block based tiering
HP and VMware
volume based tiering
HP and VMware
HP and VMware
Moves data between arrays
What design decisions did I make?
How will the data management and backup environment be configured? Which storage technologies should the costumer use? What level is the technical knowledge of the customer? What compliance rules must I take into consideration?
The customer is very knowledgeable but is faced here with a lot of new technologies. The IT department is a recently composed team but has well-intentioned team members. Some of the decisions I made were based on experience I had with other projects, but most of my decisions were based on the interactions I had with the customer.
Here are some of the design decisions I made:
- Use the HP 3PAR StoreServ storage intelligence for thin technologies and tiering.
- Domain separation on the Microsoft domain level and VMware SSO to separate domains and access to the datacenter.
- Storage tiering automation on HP 3PAR StoreServ storage levels combined with manual VMware Storage Dynamic Resource Scheduling (sDRS).
- HP 3PAR StoreServ Quality of Service not now but maybe later.
- HP 3PAR StoreServ Peer motion will not be used; instead we will use VMware Storage vMotion.
Why did I make these choices?
My reasons included:
- Managing storage intelligence using a single interface/management tool is simpler for the new team. The HP 3PAR StoreServ Asics are more intelligent in managing storage. Thin provisioning processing is off loaded to the storage processor.
- Dividing into virtual domains at the storage level would limit the expansion possibilities in resource usage in my opinion. Dividing at the VMware level will be used, but only for the annoying reason of Oracle licensing. VMware Single Sign On will be used for separating access and responsibilities between local and remote administrators and contractors.
- Because of the impact that VM replacement can have on HP 3PAR StoreServ adaptive optimization, I want control over deciding when to move a VM. VMware can advise me but cannot decide when.
- VMware Storage vMotion can replace a VM online, which makes it an easy choice.
Did I make the right choices?
I think so of course, but you can and may disagree. I also based my choices on roadmap information that I received. And if you look at the VMware roadmap, you will notice that my choices are the same that VMware uses in their roadmaps. Let me pick one to explain.
Awhile back VMware announced virtual volumes (VVOLs). With this technology you can place VM disk files on the storage VMware uses so that all the storage intelligence in the HP 3PAR StoreServ can be used transparently and everything else like tiering is offloaded to the storage processor. This opens the possibility to use application-aware snapshots on the storage level, which is not possible with VMDK-placed VMs.
Be sure to check out the following:
The future of VMware storage - vVol demo:
VMware Storage APIs for VM and Application Granular Data Management:
About Peter van den Bosch
Peter van den Bosch is a Senior Consultant at PQR, a Systems Integrator in the Netherlands. His technical expertise is focused on backend technologies like VMware Server Virtualization and HP Storage and Servers.
Connect with Peter on LinkedIn:
Follow Peter on Twitter:
Send us feedback
Got feedback about anything in this issue? Let us know at [email protected]
Tip of the Week - For IT Pros with Hearing Difficulties
Accessibility is important for every individual including those who work in IT. We recently received the following tip from Dan Schwartz, Editor of The Hearing Blog and a Hearing Aid and Assistive Device Engineer and Dispenser, and we wanted to pass his words on to our newsletter readers here:
Since there are many deaf and hard-of-hearing people in IT (since it's primarily visual), this short blog article on the truly wonderful (and now FREE) CaptionCall phone for the hearing impaired -- and how to work around a bug when connecting it to a WiFi network with MAC address filtering -- may be worth a couple of lines in the WServerNews:
Connecting a CaptionCall phone to a secure WiFi network
Briefly (and this is my article) the CaptionCall "voice carryover" system consists of a nice desk phone with an integrated tablet. The calling party's voice (but not the user's voice) goes out to captioning centers in Utah, where an operator transcribes the caller's speech and sends it back to the phone in 1-2 seconds. What's nice about this is that the caller need not know the captioning is taking place, or even that the user is hearing impaired.
The phones are free, as is the captioning: It's all paid for by a 57 cent/month FCC "fee" on every line for telecom access for the hearing impaired. Basically, it's a case of "give away the razor & sell the blades" with the caption services (the "blades") paid for out of this special fund.
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
This week we have some recently published books on VMware solutions:
Essential Virtual SAN (VSAN): Administrator's Guide to VMware Virtual SAN
Virtualizing SQL Server with VMware: Doing IT Right
vSphere Design Pocketbook 2.0: Blog Sized Design Considerations for Your Software Designed Data Center
VMware vCloud Director Essentials
Scheduling of Large-scale Virtualized Infrastructures: Toward Cooperative Management
VCP5-DCV Official Certification Guide (Covering the VCP550 Exam): VMware Certified Professional 5 - Data Center Virtualization (2nd Edition)
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Some announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
10 resources to help you upgrade from Windows Server 2003
With the end of support for Windows Server 2003 just a few months away, now's the time to modernize your data center and update your existing infrastructure to Windows Server 2012 R2. But what are your options and next steps? We can help! Check out this list of resources to help you get started on upgrading your infrastructure before the end of support in July 2015:
On-demand: Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start
Watch this recorded MVA Jump Start to find out how to deploy Windows 8.1 the "right way," from a team of MVPs and Microsoft experts. They'll walk you through the basics and then dive deep to teach you how to plan, configure, and manage client deployment to Windows-based computers in Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. View the course here:
On-demand: Windows Azure Pack: Infrastructure as a Service Jump Start
IT Pros, watch this Jump Start, and learn about self-service and automation of virtual machine roles, virtual networking, clouds, and SQL Server, along with System Center and third-party integration. Find out how to bring Microsoft Azure technologies to your data center (on your hardware). View the course here:
Quote of the Week
"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." --Mark Twain
Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.
Free tool for real-time Hyper-V performance monitoring - Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V provides live performance monitoring metrics for CPU and memory for both host and guest VMs. Get it for free!
LinkFixer Advanced fixes broken links in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, PDF, PageMaker, AutoCAD, MicroStation and others when performing migrations. Broken link reporting. Download free trial version.
Track changes in your Active Directory at absolutely no cost. Download Now!
Automate Office 365 message tracking log generation for free with Promodag StoreLog v4. Archive the logs and easily use the data to analyze email traffic for reporting whenever you want.
PowerShell Script Browser and Script Analyzer are must-have tools for scripters:
Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
TechEd Europe on October 27-31, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
Add your event
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
Ask The Experts about VMware, Hyper-V and More
Join our expert panel of VM Experts as they share their insights into the top virtual platform issues and question facing System Administrators, as obtained by an August 2014 survey of Administrators and IT Professionals.
Our expert panel includes Lauren Malhoit, Cisco Technology Expert and Rick Vanover, Microsoft MVP with Veeam Software. This live online event takes place on Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 12N EDT | 9AM PDT.
You'll also have the opportunity to get your live questions answered by the experts. Don't miss this event!
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
Converting an Active Administrator database into an archive database can help improve the performance of the live database (Dell TechCenter Blog)
HP to Rent Out Custom Modular Data Centers (Data Center Knowledge)
A Hyper-V Hardware and Software Configuration Guide (Third Tier)
Hyper-V Virtual Fibre Channel Troubleshooting Guide (TechNet Wiki)
Big Switch Intros SDN Fabric to Bring Web-Scale Networking to Non-Web-Scale Customers (Data Center Knowledge)
Limit Bandwidth Used by Guest Wifi (Third Tier)
SharePoint, Exchange and Office
Discover SharePoint: download videos (Microsoft Download Center)
Discover SharePoint: download guides (Microsoft Download Center)
How to keep public cloud budget-friendly
Managing cloud costs can be tricky and can leave you with unexpectedly large bills if you don't plan effectively. Fortunately, cost analysis tools can help you stick to your cloud budget. Learn about the advantages of new tools, such as Cloud Cruiser and Cloudability, and decide which one will help you keep your cloud budget under control.
Lower Microsoft VDI licensing costs with Windows Server VMs
Microsoft has a lot of complicated Windows client licensing rules, which can often lead to high costs. To get around this pain point, DaaS providers deploy Windows Server OSes instead, and you can actually do the same thing on-premises. Find out how today.
Reclaim swap file space to reduce storage costs
While swap files offer key capabilities like memory overcommit, they can be a waste of space on expensive solid-state drives. Fortunately, there are ways to reclaim some of that space without putting your systems at risk. Get an in-depth look at two different swap files, Windows Swap File and VMware Swap File, and learn how to recover some of your space a little more smoothly.
Overhauling vSphere Web Client settings
VMware has a clear message some don't want to believe – vSphere Web Client will eventually replace the vSphere desktop Client. vSphere Web Client has many advanced features, but it is far from flawless and has areas that need improvement. Find out what steps you need to take to ensure maximum performance from your vSphere Web Client today.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
World's Biggest Bottle Rocket
The biggest bottle rocket you'll see today, this week, this month, this year ... ever:
Awesome Cameron Airshow 2014
Incredibly skilled pilots combined with perfectly executed pyrotechnics make one of the wildest airshows you've ever seen:
Dog On The Rails Lets The Whole World Wait
A dog lays down on the tracks and refuses to let the tram pass, until the conductor manages to persuade him to get up:
Chat With A Cat
A very talkative and angry cat is trying to convince its owner to open the door:
WServerNews - Editors
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.