Add storage pool

Vembu BDR Suite – Review

Today is a sponsored post brought to you by Vembu who asked me to review their recently released BDR Suite 4.0.

Who Are Vembu?

Let’s start at the beginning with a bit of background. The company was actually founded back in 2002 based out of Chennai India but also with offices in the US. The company state that the product has reached 60,000 businesses world wide through 4000 partners.

Vembu BDR Suite

Their core product is the Vembu BDR Suite. The Vembu BDR suite is able to backup and protect a wide range of infrastructure including physical, virtual and cloud workloads.  Some of the specific data types that can be protected are:

  • VMware VM’s
  • Hyper-V VM’s
  • Physical windows machines
  • Office 365
  • Google Apps (G-Suite)
  • Cloud backup of AWS and Azure VM’s

As the product name suggests this is more than just a backup application offering a complete data protection and disaster recovery system.  These capabilities are delivered through the following components of the system:

  • Vembu VMBackup – Allows the backup of vSphere and Hyper-V VM’s without the need for the installation of any agents. In VMware environments the BDR console can also call on the VMware replication feature to copy VM’s between hosts.
  • Vembu ImageBackup – Is used to protect physical windows servers and desktops. The system allows bare metal recovery and P2V migrations
  • Vembu NetworkBackup – Used to backup file and application data including MS Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, and MySQL
  • Vembu OffsiteDR – Creates an offsite copy of your data to protect against loss of the primary backup site
  • Vembu Universal Explorer – Assists with viewing and restoring individual application items within a backup for example a table within SQL or mailbox within Exchange

The first thing that struck me with this product is it’s maturity in terms of number of items that can be backed up and also the scope of features available within the product. All the above features can be managed through a clean looking central console which is accessed via a web browser

Installation

Let’s go ahead and install the product and see how it looks. Vembu BDR suite can be installed on Linux or Windows systems.  Today we will be running through the Windows install. Supported Windows versions are:

  • Server 2008 R2
  • Server 2012
  • Server 2012 R2
  • Server 2016
  • Windows 10

Vembu setup wizard 1

First of all we download the latest version. The installation is wizard driven and generally you can click through it, you can review the settings to change the ports and passwords.

Vembu standard system settings

Config is stored in a PostgreSQL database you will need to make sure you have at least 100GB of storage available and choose where to store this.

Architecture

The architecture we are going to follow is a simple all in one box installation, all management and backup operations occurs from here.  If you have a larger environment you can deploy a backup proxy to act as the data mover and deploy the image backup proxy for the backup of physical machines separately.

Storage Management

Vembu storage pool home screen

Once the installation is complete you can login and manage the system using the web console the default address will be https://VembueServer:6061.  The first job will to be creating a storage pool, storage pools are the target for backup jobs and are made up of a group of volumes which are aggregated together.

Add storage pool

SAN, NAS and DAS can all be used as storage targets. Vembu do not require any specific storage systems since they have developed their own file system VembuHIVE, the file system has inbuilt version control, encryption, deduplication and error correction. The VembuHIVE system also allows you to use any combination of storage types such as SAN and NAS.

Backup

Vembu backup wizard

Let’s take our first backup.  Setting a backup up is again through a wizard in the web console.  You will need to:

  • Select VM’s – Select VMs you would like to backup or a whole vCentre
  • Guest processing – Choose if any application specific processing is required for consistency for example a SQL database
  • Schedule – Choose when you would like the backup to run
  • Storage – Select the storage pool and the number of recovery points you wish to retain

Recovery

  • Quick VM recovery – This allows VMs to be booted direct from the backup to provide quick access to VMs
  • Live recovery – Restores back to the original or a different datastore
  • File level recovery – Allows you to restore individual files within a VM rather than the entire VM
  • Disk management mount – Lets the VM disks be mounted and their content explored and restored as appropriate
  • Download – Allows you to restore the files as a copy

Cloud

Vembu offer a number of options to harness the cloud for backups and to protect workloads held in the cloud. The OnlineBackup backup option allows you to backup directly to the cloud whereas the CloudDR option allows you to replicate your backups to the cloud thus allowing offsiting.  SAAS workloads that can be protected including G suite and Office 365 which are then backed up to the Vembu cloud.

Editions and Pricing

There are three editions available Free, Standard and Enterprise the edition you will need will depend on your business requirements .  You can use this table to compare editions. The pricing policy is very clear and open you can see the latest rates on the Vembu site. The product is priced per socket

 

 

Brocade Network Advisor – Switch Firmware Upgrade

This guest post is brought to you by Jason Moorhead, if you fancy trying you hand at blogging check out our guest posting opportunities.

This doc will show how to update the fabric operating system (FOS) on a Brocade fibre channel switch using Brocade Network Advisor (BNA). Last I heard, BNA is free for non-Director class switches, and is infinitely easier than using the FTP method to do upgrades. One huge benefit is that you can update multiple switches (like say an entire fabric) at once. If you’re in a large organization that has dual redundant fabrics, you can update dozens of switches at once.

Assuming you have a BNA installation already, the high level steps are as follows:

  1. Download firmware from brocade.com
  2. Go into Firmware management in BNA and upload firmware file and md5
  3. Select the switches you want to update, and what version you want each one to go to
  4. Click “download”

A couple things to remember here… First off, make sure you save off the md5 file when you download the firmware file. Second, only upgrade one major version at a time. For example you cannot go from 7.0.x directly to 7.4.2c. The upgrade path here is 7.0.x -> 7.1.x -> 7.2.x -> 7.3.x -> 7.4.2c.

Now let’s run through the steps in detail.

1 Download firmware and md5 from brocade.com

Search for the firmware you require at the Brocade download area

Choosing Brocade FC Switch Firmware

2 Upload firmware into Brocade Network ADVISOR repository

Open up BNA and click on Firmware Management from the configure menu

Brocade Network Advisor Firmware Management

Click on “import” to add the recently downloaded firmware version to the BNA repository

Importing firmware into Brocade Network Advisor

Enter the location for the firmware .zip and .md5 file then hit OK

Entering firmware and MD5 location

You will see the following checks being performed

Firmware management checks

If all goes well you should see the success message below

Successful upload message

3 Choose Brocade switches for firmware update

A list of all switches in BNA is on the left. Highlight the switches you want to upgrade, and click the right arrow to add them to the active list. For each selected switch, choose the firmware version you want to install on the switch, keeping in mind you cannot upgrade more than one major version at a time. If you need to go from 7.2 to 7.4, you would need to run this upgrade twice.

Once everything looks good, click “Download”. BNA will then take care of all the uploading of data, and run through all the various upgrade tasks that often need to be done manually with the FTP method of upgrading switch firmware, including all reboots.

Choosing Brocade FC switches for firmware update

The process will update you in the status window, and eventually tell you the switch has been upgraded. You can then keep the same switches chosen, to do another major version upgrade, or choose a new set of switches.

 

3PAR storage class memory Intel Optane

Discover Storage News Wrap Up

Last week at HPE Discover there was a series of storage announcements for the 3PAR and Nimble platform plus more. In this post we will run through the announcements.

Storage Class Memory

3PAR storage class memory Intel Optane

Storage class memory has been announced for 3PAR and Nimble. Storage Class Memory memory (SCM) was intended to bridge the gap between DRAM and NAND flash found in current generation SSD’s. DRAM is fast memory but does not scale and is expensive, NAND flash does scale but does not deliver the same performance. Intel have developed their Optane product which sits in this middle ground of performance and cost between SSD and NAND flash.

The Intel Optane device will be NVMe connected and act as an extension to the onboard controller cache. Other vendors such as Pure have added NVMe drives into the system but HPE have focused on adding the NVMe storage within the controller as they believe that the key bottleneck in flash systems is at the controller level and not disk. The additional cache creates quicker response times and also reduces the  load on back end disks as the amount of IO served served here is reduced. Phillip Sellers has written an in-depth piece looking at the addition of SCM to Nimble and 3PAR.

InfoSight

There was a number of announcements around the InfoSight platform.  First up was 3PAR performance insights which allows a performance view of not only your storage but also the VMware layer. We’ve discussed this in detail previously including how to implement it, but in short this is free for customers and allows deep insights into your VMware environment such as being able to find VMs with the highest resource utilisation.

The Nimble storage platform also benefited from a couple of InfoSight enhancements. Nimble Resource planner allows load modelling. As a storage admin I really like the sound of this as so often we don’t know what the impact of an additional workload will be until it’s deployed. The modelling software predicts the impact both in terms of performance and capacity, below is an example of running through this

Choosing workload to model

Nimble resource planner1

Impact on capacity is modelled 

Nimble resource planner 2

Also modelled is the impact on CPU and cache

Nimble resource planner 4

Nimble cross stack analytics brings enhancements to the performance recommendations already delivered by InfoSight. The focus of this new feature is bring specific AI driven recommendations to the environment. An example of the type of recommendation is shown in the screenshot below

Nimble cross stack analytics

The InfoSight product is still owned by the storage segment of HPE but its expansion into other products is continuing at a pace. One of HPE’s key objective is to deliver a cloud like experience and make things consumable as services. InfoSight is a key part of this strategy ensuring uptime and proactive recommendations to the environment to eliminate issues before they occur.

You can see a summary of the InfoSight announcements in this chalk talk

Nimble Peer Persistence

Synchronous replication was added as a feature to the Nimble storage platform. The feature is being called Peer Persistence since HPE are also introducing support for metro clusters at the same time. I have covered Peer Persistence in-depth previously for 3PAR, it essentially allows for the creation of stretched cluster across geographically separate data centres. The Nimble implementation of Peer Persistence will initially support metro clusters for SQL and VMware.

Cloud Volumes Enhancements

Nimble Cloud Volumes were announced a couple of years ago. These cloud volumes offer block storage with the maturity and depth of services you would expect to see on premise for cloud. Announced this time round was the support of containerized workloads using both Docker and Kubernetes.  Also announced was extended regional support so cloud volumes will be available for the UK and Ireland in 2019.

Cohesity

HPE have also enhanced their relationship with secondary data platform Cohesity. Cohesity is available bundled with Proliant Gen10 servers through HPE partners.  These validated Cohesity and HPE bundles have added support for HPE Apollo and HPE DL380 servers

You can see a further summary of announcements in this blog post from Calvin Zito