EMC-Unity

First Look: EMC Unity & The Miracle Feature

A little while back, EMC announced and made available the EMC Unity Storage Array line.  Now, I am a HUGE fan of EMC and I am a bit terrified of what will be happening to the “World’s Best SANs” with the Dell takeover.  I know that Dell has not had time to really start poking around in EMC to the point where they could have made too much impact, so I was hoping that the Unity Storage Arrays would be unaffected.  It looks like I am right — either that or Dell has really surprised me.  Either way, the Unity Arrays are true works of art with all the tweaks that everyone has been looking for from the VNX/Clariion line for years.  They even threw in a few options that made me wish I had thought of them — most of them in a simplified two option software packaging program.

  • First and foremost, as the name implies, the Unity Arrays are “Unified”.  Historically, the “Unified” VNX SANs have been the bane of a storage administrator’s existence.  In the past I would rather have had all my hair pulled with a eyebrow string (what do they call those anyway) if it would mean I did not have to work on a “Unified” SAN.  Well, those days are finally over.  That is right folks — NO MORE CONTROL STATIONS OR DATA MOVERS!  When I saw this, I really did fall out of my chair.
  • One feature I am torn on is the complete lack of thick LUN support.  Everything is thin.  This just means that I will have to further emphasis that if you own a SAN — you better be monitoring it.
  • It now supports up to 64TB sized file systems with NFSv3 & 4.2 along with SMB/CIFS and SFTP/FTP multi-protocol access.  This is a big change from 16TB and it does mean that NFSv2 support is no longer.
  • The file side supports online modifiable user and tree quotas — yes, you read that correctly.
  • FAST Cache has been redesigned.  It now has a five year capacity reserve, new (I think) cache promotion methodology, and ONLINE EXPANSION AND SHRINK!

Those are some very nice and new features from the engineers at EMC, but really they are just the gravy.  Both the All-Flash and Hybrid Unity Arrays come with a feature that will delight every EMC VNX storage administrator around the world.  Perhaps the most asked for and desired feature ever requested to EMC (I don’t have statistics to prove this, but if I am wrong I will publicly apologize to EMC)…

The feature that we have all been waiting for…

The feature that will make you call your EMC Partner this very second…

The feature that will beat all other features ever introduced in any other IT product — ever…

The All New… HTML5 based — NON JAVA — GUI!

Trust me on this, I know I am right.  Its as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and were instantly calling their EMC Partners.

 

Cisco HyperFlex

Cisco HyperFlex: A Zero Day Review

Cisco HyperFlex.  A converged solution from Cisco.  Scary words, right?  Wrong!

Today I had the privilege of working with Cisco on a deployment of HyperFlex.  I was expecting to run into issues and bugs galore with this being a new to market product, and I can say that I was surprised.  Everything, and I mean everything, went as smoothly as can be expected.  Not a single error.  Not one bug.  Not a single problem with the HyperFlex solution.  Out of the box, it just worked.  To keep this straight and to the point, some quick thoughts are:

  1. The HX installer is clean.  It is straightforward, easy to understand, and makes the install a nearly click…click…done scenario.  Almost.
  2. There is some planning to do upfront, and if you don’t think about the VLAN/Network structure upfront — you could be in for a bit of a setback.  While not really a big deal, proper planning for a minimum of four VLANs/Networks is needed.  Still, if you are not doing this, your are not doing it right anyway.
  3. Did I mention that their deployment tool builds all the UCS based configuration for you?  Swing and a hit!  Again, you need a little planning, but it is really a nice tool.
  4. Provisioning storage is as simple as clicking a button.
  5. I can see the design that went into this solution has taken every possible failure point into consideration, and isolated this solution from failure everywhere it can.  Of course, you have to monitor it just like any other system, but solid design is there.
  6. Cisco claims 1 hour to deploy HyperFlex.  Yes…and…No.  If you have the prerequisites in place and have the planning done ahead of time, I can see that being done in under and hour (rack/stack aside).  You could probably even do the rack/stack in that time as well, if you are a tough guy — I can’t.  🙂

I can’t say this will fit every need and every environment and SANs are not dead (oh, by the way — I am pretty sure we can add a SAN to this solution if desired — though I am not sure it is needed, but don’t quote me on that).  It is currently limited in node capacity — but unlike some naysayers out there believe, I am pretty certain this is a limitation for the initial releases.  Better to err on the side of caution than to promise more than you can deliver.  I really like that.

Good job Cisco & Springpath!

For more on HyperFlex: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/hyperconverged-infrastructure/index.html
Springpath HALO Architecture: https://vimeo.com/122110510

Interested in getting one?  Let me know, I am sure I can find someone to help you out. 😉

Load Balancing Exchange 2013 With Citrix NetScaler 11

Today, I am publishing a small guide written and intended to be used as a starting point for Load Balancing Microsoft Exchange 2013 via Citrix NetScaler 11 Build 64.34 and newer with the following expectations:

  • Provide Load Balancing (LB) to all Exchange services.
  • Provide ActiveSync Kerberos Constrained Delegation to function with iPhone, iPad (iOS Configuration Utility or AirWatch), Android (TouchDown Mail Client or AirWatch), or Windows Phone (AirWatch).
  • Provide service monitors that are in line with Microsoft best practices.
  • Provide all Exchange services via Content Switching Services (CSS) to only use one IP address.
  • Utilize responder and rewrite policies and actions to automatically redirect unsecured and root URL connections.
  • All communication from the client through to the Exchange 2013 servers will be secured.

I hope that this will be a help to the Citrix NetScaler community as a whole.  Thanks go to Rafyel G. Brooks who published a guide back in 2014 on how to deploy ActiveSync with KCD.  This guide resolves some issues with the configuration with the new NetScalers and expands on it to encompass the entire Exchange 2013 Load Balancing scenario.

Here It Is: NS11-Exchange2013-KCD-ActiveSync-Deployment

Please Enjoy!

Data Domain Retention Lock: Compliance Scripting

Today I had the opportunity to develop a quick and dirty PowerShell script for the EMC DataDomain Retention Lock: Compliance feature.  When using Retention lock, you have to update the last accessed date/time in order for it to trigger the retention feature on the DataDomain for any files that you want to have retained.  In my case, we are using a CIFS share and copying a bunch of files out to the share daily to be stored for a period of time — effectively using the DataDomain as a Write Once Read Many (WORM) device.  To update all the files at one time, we developed a quick script that will, once a day, scan the directory and update the access date/time.  That script is included here for reference:

#Set the directory root for the script to run.
$dirlook=”P:\”
#This is setting the script to only check files with a modified date within the last 1 day.
$backdate=$(Get-Date).AddDays(-1)
#This is the number of days to set the access date to.  Currently 7 Years.
$forwarddate=$(Get-Date).AddDays(+2555).ToString(‘MMddHHmmyyyy’)
#Find the files which are modified and modify the last access date.
Get-Childitem $dirlook -Recurse | `
where-object {!($_.psiscontainer)} | `
where { $_.LastWriteTime -gt $backdate } | `
foreach {C:\touch.exe -a -t $forwarddate $_.fullname}

Now, in order to use this, you will need to update the values a bit to mimic your requirements and you will need to get the “touch” program available here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/unxutils/?source=typ_redirect

Hope it helps you.