I know, I’m really bad at doing this blog thing

March 23rd, 2017 No comments

I need to come up with a topic for my blog. The problem I have is I know a lot about technology and there is already so many technology blogs out there that are great. So I’m not sure if I want to be “just another technology blog” or come up with something better.

Updates on my personal side. I recently re-certified as a VMWare Certified Professional in the Data Center. VCP6-DCV was a pretty hard exam for me. Its not that I don’t know VMWare. I do, its all of the trivia that VMWare tends to ask on the exam that trip me up. In any case. it was well worth taking the classes that led up to me taking the exam.

The VMWare vSphere: Optimize and Scale plus Troubleshooting Fast Track course was very fast passed and extremely good. I learned a lot in regards to scaling a VMWare infrastructure and how to troubleshoot various aspects of it. This course crams 80 hours with of training into 50 hours of time. I highly recommend this course if you are preparing for the VCP6 advanced certifications, but its also good for those preparing for the VCP6 DCV as well.

 

 

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I am horrible at maintaining a blog

July 31st, 2014 No comments

I just looked, and saw that my last post was several months ago. I guess I’m just horrible at writing.
I did want to catch up however. Last week I attended a class on VMWare NSX. I thought the class was awesome, and I learned a lot about virtual networks, and how VMWare plans to leverage them. I also learned how Cisco ACI may or may not compete with NSX. For me, I see them as complementary products, and not competition. However many of my colleagues have suggested that until Cisco completes its product suite of VXLAN capable products, VMware will continue to leverage other network providers to become Northbound providers to the VMware Data Center.
The cool thing about this class was I was probably one of the least experienced engineers in the room. That’s saying a lot as many of my classes seem a bit entry level for me. This class was really different in that we escaped from the core material a bit, and did some deep dives into design, and recommendations for troubleshooting. I’m looking forward to learning more about NSX while preparing for that exam sometime early next year.

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its been a while

November 25th, 2013 No comments

so here is an update. I’ve been testing the new EMC Networker Backup Recovery Appliance. This thing is cool. It fully integrates into vCenter web management interface.
There are a few differences between it and the classic VADP approach.
With the classic approach, one would install the client and or storage node onto a virtual or physical server.
The new approach use a pre-defined OVA template.
With the classic approach, one would configure a VADP client per VM. One could do that via the NMC very quickly, but one client is required per protected VM.
The with the new approach, the Networker admin creates a backup policy within NMC. Then the VMWare administrator can apply that policy to a VM, or a group of VM’s.
Both approaches support CBT, but the difference is the new approach leverages Avamar client side de-duplication. The data can also flow directly to a data domain as well.
With the classic approach, each virtual proxy was limited to 6 concurrent file system backup. The new approach increases this to 8, but one can increase this up to 26 concurrent file system backups with the inclusion of 3 additional proxys.
While this still isn’t on par with VADP SAN based backup, its not bad when compared with traditional VADP.
A couple of hurdles I had with configuring the EBR.
The first is one needs to create a new VADP user role. This role has specific privileges. These are defined in the Networker VMWare integration guide from EMC. Do not mess up the role priviledges, otherwise your user will not be able to authenticate to vCenter.
The second thing that is critical is to create a VADP backup user that only has domain admin permissions and assign the VADP user role created within vCenter to this new user. Nested permissions will not work, so this user needs to have specified permissions.
Once vcenter is attached to the EBR, the EBR attaches to networker via its API. Networker will then create a default policy group.
From there, one can create new policies, such as writing backups to the EBR, or to a Data domain DDBoost device. The VMWare administrator then applies those policies.
While this new process looks like a real game changer, there are some caveats. One of which is that the EBR is only supported right now with vsphere 5.1. Even the latest service pack 1 for Networker 8.1 specifically states this only works with vSphere 5.1. So if you want to run this on vSphere 5.5, please wait until January when EMC will have a new DA release of the EBR.

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VCP 5

January 31st, 2013 No comments

I spent the last two and a half months studying for the VMWare Certified Professional exam. After attending the 5 day boot camp in late October, I first attempted the exam in November. Prior to taking the exam, I took several “pre-tests” that were available online, as well as some that were included in the official VCP study guide from VMWare. I failed the exam on the first round with a score of 250 out of 500. I went back and studied some more, and found additional material online. I also used a VMWare study lab, going back over the material from the class again. I tried the exam again in early January. Again, failed. This time worse than the first time with a score of 230. After this set back, I studied some more, focusing on the questions I remembered from the exam. I looked up every one in the documents from vmware and blogs over the Internet. I attempted the exam again this week, and presto! passed, this time with a 450. Right now I suspect the additional study time focusing on the questions I remember, and getting a very similar set of questions from the second attempt. I”m glad this certification is now behind me.

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EMC Networker 8.0 includes synthetic backups

December 1st, 2012 No comments

Networker 8 includes a pretty cool new feature. Its called Synthetic full backups. Commvault has had this for a while, so its not new to the data protection industry, but for Networker this could be a game changer if it can improve its functionality.

A synthetic full backup is essentially incremental backups forever, and Networker consolidates those backups on a schedule, say every Friday into a simulated full backup. The idea is that you are sending less data over the network, and also improving your backup performance.

However there is a major draw back to how EMC implemented this feature. According to page 81 of the Networker 8 Administration guide, synthetic full backups are not compatible with:

  • NDMP, SCSI, or VCB backups
  • Save Sets that belong to a snapshot group
  • raw disk file partitions
  • database systems that include Microsoft Exchange and Oracle
  • manual backups using the save command

Basically just about any backup one might ┬árun in a production environment. I also learned through personal experience that this doesn’t work with SQL VDI backups either. So unless you plan to just use the native file system agent for flat file backup of your server environment, Synthetic Full Backups are not an option.

 

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EMC Networker with NDMP backup of Isilon

November 30th, 2012 No comments

So I got the opportunity to configure Networker to use Remote NDMP of an Isilon array this week, and I wanted to post some lessons I learned.
Remote NDMP is essentially a 3-way backup over the network. No tape device is directly connected to the Isilon array.
To start, one must create a client w/o using the client wizard
On the General tab, give the FQDN of the Isilon array as the client name.
Move over to the Apps & Modules Tab
provide the NDMP user account that was created on the Isilon array for backup along with its password
next check the box for NDMP
Fill in the array name into the NDMP array name field
Under Application Information, enter: DIRECT=y
The backup command is: nsrndmp_save -T tar -M -P {storage node name}
Leave all other fields blank
In the Globals 1 of 2 tab, make sure to fill in all DNS alias for the array
In the Globals 2 of 2 tab, fill in the remote access, I typically just place *@* for all users on all networker hosts
Storage nodes and recover storage nodes should list the storage servers along with the networker server name
All other check boxes are left alone
Finally back on the General tab, check scheduled backup, client direct
Uncheck checkpoint enabled
select your index browse policy of choice.
Then hit the browse button for the save set. If this works, you should see your array name along with /ifs
By clicking the /ifs, the save set defaults to *All*
Change this to the directory paths you want to have backed up. As an example:
/ifs/data
/ifs/users
/ifs/IT

Next, if you are using smart connect, you more than likely have forward look up DNS working properly. However how is your reverse look up? Verify you can resolve the host name from the ip addresses of your smart connect pool.
Then try to backup from the command line:
savegrp -pvvv {groupname}
Verify that the probe backup works, and that Networker plans to store the backup set on your desired media pool. You may need to adjust the client and group settings otherwise.
Good luck!

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Media Pools and storage nodes in EMC Networker

November 20th, 2012 No comments

If you have the idea to use your Networker server and a remote storage node to backup your environment, let me give you some suggestions.
Create a new media pool on your Networker server using the create device wizard. Do the same on the remote storage node, but place its new device in the same media pool as your Networker server. The reason for this is so that when the job starts to backup the indexes, the Networker server can write to the same media as the remote storage node.
Second, if using Data Domain, I recommend creating an AFTD CIFS share on the Data Domain, and place that device into the default media pool of Networker and the remote storage node. This will allow a job to complete to the default pool in case something happens to the ddboost device you may be using.

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EMC Networker job complete or failure

November 20th, 2012 No comments

So I get this question just about every time I configure EMC Networker for one of my customers. How can I receive an e-mail on job success or failure? The configuration of this doesn’t seem very straight forward, but EMC does have an answer for you.
From Primus article esg116300
1. From the NMC window, click Configuration.
2. Edit the preconfigured Savegroup Completion or Failure notification or make a copy of it. I recommend making a copy of it.
3. In the Name attribute, enter a name for the new notification.
4. In the Event attribute, select the event Savegroup to be acted on.
5. In the Priority attribute, select the priorities Notice and Alert.
6. In the Action attribute, smtpmail -h mailhost -s “Savegroup completed” abc@xyz.com, where mailhost is your e-mail server, and abc@xyz.com is the e-mail address you want to send it to.
7. Click OK.
If you use the copy function as suggested, nsrlog will still maintain a job complete or failure log, in addition to the e-mail sent.

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EMC Networker

August 24th, 2012 1 comment

Well, I procrastinated long enough on this exam and finally buckled down to take it. After taking the practice exam on education.emc.com, I felt pretty good and decided to wing it last week. Bad mistake. I failed, but just barely. Through that experience though I realized that the study material didn’t reflect the exam very well, so I cracked open the manuals in search of my missing information. I learned a lot more going through that process than by watching hours of videos on Networker. I also realized that some of the questions on the practice exam have incorrect answers as their correct answers.
The end result of this process though was a very good passing score on the EMC Networker Implementation Engineer exam yesterday. I’m glad to finally get that exam behind me. Now I can move on to some expert exams I’ve been holding off on because of this and the VNX TA exam…

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Finally finished the last VNX TA exam today

August 3rd, 2012 No comments

Over the last few months I studied on and off for the VNX TA design exam. Most of it off as my work schedule really didn’t allow me to study like I wanted to. Well this week was rather light, so I spent the time studying, and said to myself, why not just go and take it. So I did, and passed easily. I kind of which I took it earlier than I did to allow me to focus on my other two exams I want to take by the end of the year. VNX IE Expert and Networker Specialist exam. Now on to studying for the Networker exam….

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