SAN Based Snapshots & P2V Conversion Failure

This is a post moved over from my old blog — still relevant.

I love P2V.  It works like a charm — except when it doesn’t…

When it fails, it usually fails in the strangest ways possible, the errors are obtuse, and finding the underlying cause is a nightmare.  Well, I ran into the issue where the P2V would fail referencing an error with the snapshot and/or the disk ID.  Well, I assumed this was related to the Source VSS Snapshot that is taken during the P2V process.  After spending several hours tracking that down, and realizing I was barking up the wrong tree I started looking to the destination.  Well, there was the problem.  A snapshot in the target machine.  I was pretty sure that the P2V process did not use snapshots on the target — I mean, why would it?  Time to look elsewhere.

Well, turns out that elsewhere was the SAN that was housing the storage for the target datastore.  The array, in this particular case a Nimble SAN, has a feature where you can quiescence the VMs on a LUN using the Native VMware snapshots to allow for better point in time recovery options with the SAN based protection.  If this is on, it tries to take a snapshot of all the VMs on the target LUN.  Now, if you are doing a small VM that will convert in between the snapshot window, no issue.  If it is a larger machine — turn that feature off during the P2V window and save the headache.

Cooking Up A Data Center — With A Salmon Recipe To Boot

Technology is an art.  If you use the wrong cables, servers, storage, switches, routers, etc. you can be sure to have a data center that puts a bad taste in your mouth.  You can achieve that bad taste by using poor quality ingredients, by assembling good or bad ingredients in the wrong way, or by designing a great system – but for the wrong purpose.  To illustrate that, let’s take a look at another art — cooking.

Cooking is the preparation of a fantastic meal through the perfect blending of raw ingredients, spices, heat, and cold.  It is also necessary to know that if you are cooking Asian food as opposed to Mexican food, you are not going to use cayenne pepper or Jalapenos generally.  Let’s take this to the extreme and cook up a data center shall we?

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Fresh Wild Caught Salmon Fillets (Skin On One Side)
    • AKA: EMC Storage Array & Cisco UCS Servers
  • 2 Cedar Planks – Soaked in Water for 2 Hours & 2 Cedar Wraps W/Ties
    • AKA: Proper 10GB & FC Network Cabling
  • ¼ Cup Soy Sauce
    • AKA: Solid Up Line Core Network — Cisco 4500-X Switches
  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
    • AKA: Solid Storage Area Network – Cisco MDS Fiber Channel Switches
  • 2 Tbsp Sake
    • AKA: Solid & Stable Power
  • Salt & Black Pepper
    • AKA: A Proper, Well Tested Hypervisor Platform – VMware vSphere Baby
  • 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
    • AKA: Proper Cable Management & Velcro
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
    • AKA: A Quality Security Infrastructure – Cisco ASA, FirePOWER, ISE
  • 1 BBQ Grill
    • AKA: Cisco Nexus Data Center Grade Switches

 

Now, you can go cheap, with less tried and true, potentially cheaper solutions – even stuff from the new kids on the block.  But, what are you risking?  When you use oven instead of a grill, you lose the smoked goodness it brings to the dish.  When you skip the lemon juice, it leaves your mouth desiring something more – if you do that with your security, are you leaving a gaping hole in your environment?  Skip the brown sugar and you have a tart dish that won’t move from plate to mouth very fast – kind of like what happens when you skimp on a good fiber network as opposed to iSCSI over your core network.

The point is, you have to use quality – tried and true ingredients, and mix them in the right proportions to ensure you end up with a data center dish that truly shines.  Sure, there are other brands out there besides Cisco, EMC, & VMware that make good products – okay, not sure you can beat VMware on the hypervisor aspect – but they are what I know works well most of the time; and when they don’t they have the knowledge and experience to get the taste back in balance.  Go forth – data center well, and enjoy the fruits of your labor for the next three to five years.  Do it wrong, you will be making another dish sooner than you like.

 

For those of you that want to, here is the rest of the recipe:

  1. Preheat your BBQ grill to 350 (Medium).
  2. Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, sake, garlic, and lemon juice in a bowl, set aside.
  3. Place salmon skin side down on a cedar wrap and lightly dust with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the cedar wrap on a cedar plank. Tie the wrap loosely around the salmon.
  5. Place the plank directly on the grill and BBQ for 12-15 minutes – covered.
  6. While cooking, use a spoon to generously cover the salmon with the sauce mixture. This should be done two or three times during cooking, to build up a nice glaze.
  7. The salmon will flake with a fork when ready.
  8. Eat & Enjoy.

 

Just like a good data center, this dish is sure to be mouthwatering!

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.