Monthly Archives: January 2017

Veeam Vault #4: Product Updates, Agent for Windows Beta Plus Vanguard 2017

Welcome to the fourth edition of my Veeam Vault series and the first for 2017. It’s been a busy first month of 2017 with trips to Orlando where I attended my first Sales Kick Off where I also presented at our SE Training and then a trip to Russia to visit our R&D, Product and QA teams. Covering nearly 42,000KMs and going literally around the world, it was a long but worthwhile trip and has me extremely enthusiastic about the year ahead here at Veeam.

In this Veeam Vault I am going to talk about four new product builds that have been released since the last Veeam Vault and I’ll also talk a little about the Veeam Vanguard program…of which we announced the 2017 members overnight. As usual there will be the roundup of what the Veeam Vanguard’s have posted recently on their blogs but first i’ll talk about the new public BETA that we released on the 26th of January.

Veeam Agent for Windows BETA:

I’m very excited about this product…in fact I’m excited about all of our products that take advantage of Veeam Cloud Connect and VAW is no exception. With the ability to backup physical or virtual Windows endpoints to a Cloud Connect Backup repository the door opens up for a new stream of revenue for VCSPs and in combination with the yet to be released Veeam Availability Console offer a great solution for backing up previously untouchable workloads on physical servers as well as being able to do granular file level backups of any compatible Windows workstation and back them up locally, over a network share, over to a VBR repository or up to a Cloud Connect Repository.

The BETA is available via this registration page, so please download it and try it out and post any feedback in our forums.

Update 1 For VBR, One and Backup for Office 365:

A couple of weeks ago we released Update 1 for Backup & Replication, One and Backup for Office 365. As I wrote in this post focusing on how the latest release offers support for vSphere 6.5 it was more than just a standard update and offers over 300 enhancements and bug fixes that improve on the already strong reliability and scalability of the product. Veeam One also got a significant update and added support for vSphere 6.5 and also including new Hyper-V and reporting enhancements on top of a number of resolved issues. Backup for Office 365 gets a number of enhancements and bug fixes as well and, as with all the Update 1 releases are essential downloads to continue to improve on the already strong product sets.

Veeam Vanguards 2017:

As mentioned in the intro, Rick Vanover sent out new and renewed Vanguard’s their welcome emails overnight and this year we have 62 members at last count and as a former member of the Vanguard’s I can tell you that we, in the Technical Product Marketing team are looking forward to helping the 2017 crop get the most out of the program. I’ve blogged previously about the Vanguard program and now, with it entering it’s third year of operation I can truly say that it’s one of…if not the best vendor advocacy programs in our industry. The people involved on both sides are truly passionate about Veeam and the sense of community is something that I haven’t experienced in any other program. So well done to the 2017 class and hope to catchup with you all throughout the year are VeeamOn and any other event where we may cross paths.

Veeam Vanguard Blog Post Roundup:

VeeamOn 2017:

Lastly a final reminder that the Call for Presentations is still open to those looking to submit a session at the event. This is a great opportunity to share you insights and experiences that you have gained in and around Veeam software solutions and don’t forget that if selected, presenters will receive a complimentary VeeamOn registration pass along with travel and hotel accommodations. Head to the site below to submit an abstract before February 7, 2017.

https://www.veeam.com/veeamon/submit-your-abstract

Upgrading Windows vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 In-Place: Issues and Fixes

Yes that’s not a typo…this post is focusing on upgrading Windows vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 via an in-place upgrade. There is the option to use the vSphere 6.0 Update2M build with the included Migrate to VCSA tool to achieve this and move away from Windows, but I thought it was worth documenting my experiences with a mature vCenter that’s at version 5.5 Update 2 and upgrade that to 6.0 Update 2. Eventually this vCenter will need to move off the current Windows 2008 RTM server which will bring into play the VCSA migration however for the moment it’s going to be upgraded to 6.0 on the same server.

With VMware releasing vSphere 6.5 in November there should be an increased desire for IT shops to start seriously thinking about moving on from there existing vSphere versions and upgrading to the latest 6.5 release however many people I know where still running vSphere 5.5, so the jump to 6.5 directly might not be possible due to internal policies or other business reasons. Interestingly in the rough numbers, I’ve got an active Twitter Poll out at the moment which after 100 votes shows that vSphere 5.5 makes up 53% of the most common vCenter version, followed by 6.0 with 44% and 6.5 with only 3%.

Upgrade Options:

You basically have two options to upgrade a Windows based 5.5 vCenter:

My approach for this particular environment (which is a NestedESXi lab environment) was to ensure a smooth upgrade to vSphere 6.0 Update 2 and then look to upgrade again to 6.5 once is thaws outs in the market. That said, I haven’t read too many issues with vSphere 6.5 and VMware have been excellent in ensuring that the 6.5 release was the most stable for years. The cautious approach will still be undertaken by many and a stepped upgrade to 6.5 and migration to the VCSA will be common place. For those that wish to move away from their Windows vCenter, there is nothing stopping you from going down the Migrate2VCSA path, and it is possible to migrate directly from 5.5 to 6.5.

Existing Component Versions:

  • vCenter 5.5 (2001466)
  • ESXi 5.5 (3116895)

SQL Version Requirements:

vCenter 6.0 Update 2 requires at least SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 or higher, so if you are running anything lower than that you will need to upgrade to a later service pack or upgrade to later versions of SQL Server. For a list of all compatible databases click here.

vCenter Upgrade Pre-Upgrade Checks:

First step is to make sure you have a backup of the vCenter environment meaning VM state (Snapshot) and vCenter database backup. Once that’s done there are a few pre-requisites that need to be met and that will be checked by the upgrade process before the actual upgrade occurs. The first thing the installer will do after asking for the SSO and VC service account password is run the Pre-Upgrade Checker.

vCenter SSL and SSO SSL System Name Mismatch Error:

A common issue that may pop up from the pre-upgrade checker is the warning below talking about an issue with the system name of the vCenter Server certificate and the SSO certificate. As shown below it’s a hard stop and tells you to replace one or the other certificate so that the same system name is used.

If you have a publicly signed SSL Certificate you will need to generate a new cert request and submit that through the public authority of choice. The quickest way to achieve this for me was to generate a new self signed certificate by following the VMwareKB article here. Once that’s been generated you can replace the existing certificate by following a previous post I did using the VMware SSL Certificate Updater Tool.

After all that, in any case I got the warning below saying that the 5.5 SSL Certificates do not meet security requirements, and so new SSL certificates will need to be generated for vCenter Server 6.0.0.

With that, my suggestion would be to generate a temporary self signed certificate for the upgrade and then apply a public certificate after that’s completed.

Ephemeral TCP Port Error:

Once the SSL mismatch error has been sorted you can run the pre-upgrade checker again. Once that completes successfully you move onto the Configure Ports window. I ran into the error shown below that states that the range of port is too large and the system must be reconfigured to use a smaller ephemeral port range before the install can continue.

The fix is presented in the error message so after running netsh.exe int ipv4 set dynamicportrange tcp 49152 16384 you should be ok to hit Next again and continue the upgrade.

Export of 5.x Data:

During the upgrade the 5.5 data is stored in a directory and then migrated to 6.0. You need to ensure that you have enough room on the drive location to cater for your vCenter instance. While I haven’t seen any offical rules around the storage required, I would suggest having enough storage free and the size of your vCenter SQL database data file.

vCenter Upgrade:

Once you have worked through all the upgrade screens you are ready for upgrade. Confirm the settings, take note of the fact that once updated the vCenter will be in evaluation mode, meaning you need to apply a new vCenter 6.x license once completed, check the checkbox that states you have a backup of the vCenter machine and database and you should be good to go.

Depending on the size of you vCenter instance and the speed of your disks the upgrade can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes or longer. If at any time the upgrade process fails during the initial export of the 5.5 data a roll back via the installer is possible…however if there is an issue while 6.0 is being installed the likelihood is that you will need to recover from backups.

Post Upgrade Checks:

Apart from making sure that the upgrade has gone through smoothly by ensuring all core vCenter services are up and running, it’s important to check any VMware or third party services that where registered against the vCenter especially given that the SSL Certificate has been replaced a couple of times. Server applications like NSX-v, vCloud Director and vCO explicitly trust SSL certificates so the registration needs to be actioned again. Also if you are running Veeam Backup & Replication you will need to go through the setup process again to accept the new SSL Certificate otherwise your backup jobs will fail.

If everything has gone as expected you will have a functional vCenter 6.0 Update 2 instance and planning can now take place for the 6.5 upgrade and in my case…the migration from Windows to the VCSA.

References:

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/sim/interop_matrix.php#db&2=998

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1029944

 

VCSP Important Notice: 9.5 Update 1 Is Out…With vSphere 6.5 Support!

Last Friday, we at Veeam made available for download Update 1 for Backup & Replication (Build 9.5.0.823), Veeam One (Build 9.5.0.3254) as well as for Backup for Microsoft Office 365 (Build 1.0.0.912). What was slightly unusual about this release for our VCSP partners is that there was no RTM build before GA…this is because Update 1 for Backup & Replication is what we term a non breaking update, meaning that if a Cloud Connect client upgrades from the 9.5 GA (9.5.0.711) to Update 1 (9.5.0.823) this would not break any backup or replication functionality.

Update 1 is a fairly significant update and contains over 300 enhancements and bug fixes with a lot of those enhancements aimed at improving the scalability of the Backup & Replication platform that VCSPs can take advantage of. The biggest and most anticipated (and by far requested) update is for the support of vSphere 6.5…as you can see below there are a number of specific enhancements in this build aimed at 6.5 features:

  • Encrypted VMs Support
  • VMFS6 Support
  • Virtual Hardware Version 13 support
  • NBD Compression
  • New Guest Interaction API Support
  • New VM Tag API Support

Of most importance to me is to point out the fact the clients can now replicate in Virtual Machines with VM Hardware Version 13 meaning that you should get your production replication clusters up to ESXi 6.5 as soon as possible to avoid clients getting errors such as the one below:

This does pose an interesting problem for VCSPs offering Cloud Connect Replication as it represents a situation whereby holding back on vSphere upgrades could mean that clients (who are more likely to have less roadblocks to upgrade) can’t replicate newer VMs created on 6.5 into the VCSPs Replication Cluster. The workaround is to make clients aware that only specific Hardware Versions are supported for replication however it might be expected that providers offering these services are not bound by these limitations. This becomes an architectural/business discussion around separating IaaS vCenter’s from Replication vCenter’s …but that is a topic for another day.

For the moment, regardless of your underlying vSphere versions it’s worth planning the upgrade to Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 1 as soon as possible as it contains a number of enhancements beyond the ones listed above and some minor fixes for Cloud Connect.

For a full list check out the release notes below and download the update here.

References:

https://www.veeam.com/kb2222

 

 

Vendor Wars: Tribes In IT…Get Used To it!

In the last couple of weeks there had been murmurings within the VMUG Leadership Group that Nutanix was about to be banned from sponsoring events worldwide. This was confirmed this week and in addition to that ban, no current Nutanix employee can be a Leader of a VMUG chapter, though I’m not sure if this carries through to the steering committee. There has been mixed reaction online depending on which side of the fence you sit and while the action undertaken is drastic it should come as no surprise…I don’t mean that to suggest that the constant back and forth between Nutanix and VMware that has been ongoing for a number of years now was to blame, because without question that contributed to the decision. What I mean by saying that we should build a bridge is that it’s human nature to form tribes and when we form tribes we have division.

We all root for our respective teams, whether that be sporting, political or in business…and more importantly, we will always side with the team or tribe that benefits us the most. With that in mind it shouldn’t come as a shock when we see such passionate debates specifically in the IT Vendor world. It’s been going on since the inception of the industry however we have seen an amplification since social media has made it both easier for one to show their true colours and for arguments to be played out in public forums.

Being part of a tribe is human nature…we can’t change the way we are programmed and tribes will form in every aspect of life. Even within smaller social circles micro-tribes form and divisions are played out. There is a great TED talk around tribal leadership in business and it’s worth a watch as it made me realize that there can’t be respectful common ground when it comes to tribes being at war.

I have seen the calls for us in the IT community to be respectful and not enter into tit for tat insults and FUD propagation however our industry by definition is disruptive…our industry also has a lot of money behind it with startups and established vendors promising lucrative incentive based payouts if or when a company goes public or is acquired. When you have money involved with tribalism the effect is magnified because not only are people rooting for their own teams, but they are playing all in for possible financial success…Because of that there is very little chance of impartiality…No matter what anyone says to the contrary.

So while we all get annoyed from time to time when we witness vendor bias or arrogance or more specifically in the case of the VMUG ban, the Nutanix vs VMware tribal battles we should accept that it’s a way of life. Things will not change and nor should you believe that mutual respect will be reached…we will always have a favorite and we will always show bias towards one brand, one vendor…one tribe.

First Look: ManageIQ vCloud Director Orchestration

Welcome to 2017! To kick off the year I thought I’d do a quick post on a little known product (at least in my circles) from Red Hat Inc called ManageIQ. I stumbled across ManageIQ by chance having caught wind that they where soon to have vCloud Director support added to the product. Reading through some of the history behind ManageIQ I found out that in December of 2012 Red Hat acquired ManageIQ and integrated it into its CloudForms cloud management program…they then made it open source in 2014.

ManageIQ is the open source project behind Red Hat CloudForms. The latest product features are implemented in the upstream community first, before eventually making it downstream into Red Hat CloudForms. This process is similar for all Red Hat products. For example, Fedora is the upstream project for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and follows the same upstream-first development model.

CloudForms is a cloud management platform that also manages traditional server virtualization products such as vSphere and oVirt. This broad capability makes it ideal as a hybrid cloud manager as its able to manage both public clouds and on-premises private clouds and virtual infrastructures. This acts as a single management interface into hybrid environments that enables cross platform orchestration to be achieved with relative ease. This is backed by a community that contributes workflows and code to the project.

The supported platforms are shown below.

The October release was the first iteration for the vCloud provider which supports authentication, inventory (including vApps), provisioning, power operations and events all done via the use of the API provided by vCloud Director. First and foremost I see this as a client facing tool rather than an internal orchestration tool for vCAN SPs however given it can go cross platform there can be a use for VM or Container orchestration that SPs could tap into.

While it’s still relatively immature compared to the other platforms it supports, I see great potential in this and I think all vCAN Service Providers running vCloud Director should look at this as a way for their customers to better consume and operate vCD coming from a more modern approach, rather than depending on the UI.

Adding vCloud Director as a Cloud Provider:

Once the Appliance is deployed, head to Compute and Add New Cloud Provider. From the Type dropdown select VMware vCloud

Depending on which version of vCD SP your Service Provider is running, select the appropriate API Version. For vCD SP 8.x it should be vCloud API 9.0

Next add in the URL of the vCloud Director endpoint with it’s port…which is generally 443. For the username, you use the convention of [email protected] which allows you to login specifically to your vCD Organization. If you want to login at an admin enter in [email protected] to get top level access.

Once connected you can add as many vCD endpoints as you have. As you can see below I am connected to four seperate instances of vCloud.

Clicking through you get a Summary of the vCloud Zone with it’s relationships.

Clicking on the Instances you get a list of your VM’s, but this also has views for Virtual Datacenter, vApps and other vCD objects. As you can see below there is detailed views on the VM and it does have basic Power functions in this build.

I’ve just started to look into the power of CloudForms and have been reading through the ManageIQ automation guide. It’s one of those things that needs a little research plus some trial and error to master, but I see this form of cloud consumption where the end user doesn’t have to directly manipulate the various API endpoints as the future. I’m looking forward to how the vCloud Director provider matures and I’ll be keeping an eye on the forums and ManageIQ GitHub page for more examples.

Resources:

http://manageiq.org/docs/get-started/
http://manageiq.org/docs/reference/
https://pemcg.gitbooks.io/mastering-automation-in-cloudforms-and-manageiq/content/chapter1.html