Tuesday, 29 November 2011

IT Infrastructure Design Components 2012

This post is an attempt to list some of the common or not so common components which might be used to make up an IT Infrastructure Design or used in an existing IT Infrastructure. The intention is to list most of the component categories that make up an IT Infrastructure, and provide a few alternative providers/products in each category. It would be an impossible task to make the list all inclusive, and I apologize in advance for any omissions, mistakes in categorization, or missing categories. Getting close to 2012 hence the inclusion of 2012 in the title. I will update as I come across new things or remember others. Cheers!

Components Categories:

Application Acceleration: Citrix NetScaler / Juniper
Application Compatibility/Modelling: App-DNA
Application Virtualisation: Appsense / Citrix XenApp / Microsoft App-V / VMware ThinApp
Auditing / Asset Management Software: Centennial / Novell ZENworks / Snow Software
Backup Software: Altaro (Hyper-V) / AppAssure / BackupAssist / Bacula / CA ARCserve Backup / Commvault / EMC Avamar / Legato NetWorker (now EMC NetWorker) / PHD Virtual / QuorumSoft / Symantec Backup Exec / Symantec NetBackup / Veeam Backup
Business Productivity: Alfresco / GoldMine CRM / Microsoft Exchange Server / Microsoft SharePoint Server / Microsoft Dynamics CRM / Novell Groupwise
Cloud Data Protection: CA ARCserver D2D On Demand / DataFort
Cloud Management (Private Cloud): Abiquo / DynamicOps / Embotics V-Commander
Cloud Platform: Microsoft Windows Azure
Cloud Services - DaaS (Desktop as a Service): Cloudserve / Desktone / DinCloud / TuCloud
Cloud Services - Mail: Cloudserve / Hostmail / Messagestream
Cloud Services – Productivity: Cloudserve / Google Apps / Microsoft Office 365
Cloud Services - Providers: Databarracks
Cloud Services – Security: Microsoft Windows Intune / McAfee / Trend Micro
Cloud Storage: EVault (Seagate)
Compliance: Tripwire
Content Security: Watchguard XCS / Websense Triton
Cryptographic Key Security: AEP Networks
Data Management Technology: Double-Take Move
Data Protection: McAfee
Data Security: Websense
Database Security: McAfee
Database Server: Memcached / Microsoft / MongoDB / Oracle / Oracle MySQL
Database Tools: Redgate
Deduplication (Software): DuplicateFileDetective
Desktop Operating System: Apple OS / Linux (Many flavours) / Microsoft Windows
Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity: Double-Take RecoverNow / VirtualSharp / VMware vSphere Site Recovery Manager / Zerto
Disk Based Backup Solution: CA ARCserve D2D / EMC Avamar / EMC Data Domain / Exagrid / Falconstor FDS / HP StoreOnce / Idealstor / Quantum
DNS Server: PowerDNS / Linux (many flavours) / Microsoft Windows Server / Unbound
Edge Gateway: Checkpoint / F5
Email Archiving: GFI / Mimecast / Symantec Enterprise Vault
Email Continuity: Mimecast
Email Management: GFI / Mimecast
Email Security: Bloxx / Clearswift / Kaspersky / McAfee / Mimecast / Sonicwall / Symantec MessageLabs / Websense
Email Server: Courier Mail Server / Exim Internet Mailer / Microsoft Exchange / Novell Groupwise
Endpoint Protection: ESET NOD32 / GFI / Kaspersky / McAfee / Symantec Endpoint Protection / Trend Micro
Endpoint Security: Checkpoint / McAfee / Lumension
Exchange Email Recovery from Offline EDB: Kernel for Exchange / Kroll Ontrack / Lucid8
Firewall: Checkpoint / Cisco / Juniper / Netgear / Palo Alto / Sonicwall / Watchguard XTM
Helpdesk Software: FrontRange HEAT / ManageEngine / Remedy
Hypervisor Operating Systems: Citrix XenServer / Microsoft Windows Hyper-V / Parallels / Red Hat KVM / VMware ESX / VMware ESXi
Identity Management/Single Sign On (SSO): Centrify / Imprivata / Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager / Microsoft Windows Azure Active Directory (Cloud) / Novell Identity Manager / Okta (cloud) / SecureAuth / VMware Horizon Application Manager (cloud)
Mobile Security: Lumension / McAfee
Network Analytics: Athena (layer 3 analytics for network and security engineers)
Network Security: AEP Networks / McAfee
Online Backup: Asigra
Replication / High-Availability Technology: Allway Sync / AppAssure / CA ARCserve High Availability (Formerly XOsoft / WANsync) / CA ARCserve Replication / Double-Take Availability / EMC RecoverPoint / FalconStor CDP / F5 / HP Storage Mirroring / Microsoft DFS / Microsoft DFSR / NetApp / Neverfail / Novell PlateSpin Migrate / PHD Virtual / Veeam Replication / ViceVersa Software
Routers: Brocade / Cisco / Netgear / Vyatta (Software-Based Networking)
Secure Application Access: AEP Networks / Lumension
Server Operating System: Linux (Many flavours) / Microsoft Windows / Novell SUSE Linux / Oracle Solaris / Red Hat
Server Hardware: Cisco UCS / Dell / Fujitsu / HP / IBM / Oracle / Virtual Machine Company
Solid-State Technology: Fusion-IO / Pure Storage / Texas Memory Systems (RamSan) / Violin Memory
Storage Appliance for VMs: Tintri
Storage Hardware (SAN): Dell Equallogic / Dell Compellent / EMC Celerra / EMC CLARiiON / Hitachi Data Systems / HP P2000 (MSA) / HP P4000 (LeftHand) / HP P6000 (EVA) / HP P9000 (XP) / HP P10000 (3PAR) / IBM / NetApp / Nimble / Oracle
Storage Hardware (NAS): BlueArc / Dell Powervault / Drobo / EMC Isilon / HP X1000 / IBM / Iomega / Netgear / Nexsan / QNAP / Synology / X-IO
Storage Software: FalconStor NSS / FreeNAS / iSCSI Enterprise Target / Microsoft Windows Storage Software / NexentaStor / Open-e / Openfiler / OpenIndiana / Oracle Solaris ZFS / OS Nexus / SANsymphony / StarWind Software
Storage Virtual Appliance: HP P4000 VSA / Virsto / VMware vSphere Storage Appliance 
Switches: Brocade / Cisco / Dell Powerconnect / HP Procurve / Juniper / Netgear
Systems Management: Bomgar / Goverlan / Hitachi IT Operations Director / Kaseya / LabTech Software / LANDesk / ManageEngine / Microsoft System Center / Puppet Enterprise / SysAid
Systems Monitoring: CA Spectrum Infrastructure Manager / GFI / HP Insight Manager / HP Operations Manager / HP Sitescope / Icinga / LogicMonitor (SaaS) / ManageEngine / Microsoft SCOM / Mutiny / Nagios / Nimsoft / nworks / Quest Foglight / SolarWinds Orion NPM / SolarWinds Virtualization Manager / Spiceworks (FREE) / Uptime / Veeam Monitor / VKernel vOPS / VMTurbo (FREE Community Edition) / vPanorama / Zabbix
Tape Technology: Dell Powervault TL / HP / IBM / Quantum
Unified Communication and Collaboration: Cisco / Polycom
User Profile Migration: Profile Migrator (by Sepago) / USMT (User State Migration Tool)
User Profile Management: Appsense / Citrix / Immidio Flex Profiles / LiquidwareLabs ProfileUnity / RES Workspace Manager / Tricerat Profile Management
VDI: 2X / Citrix VDI-in-a-Box (Kaviza) / Citrix XenApp / Citrix XenDesktop / Desktopsites Konnect Elite / Nutanix / NxTop Virtual Computer / Quest vWorkspace / RES Software / Unidesk / VMware View / Windows 2008 R2 / Windows Remote Desktop Services
VDI Assessment/Load Testing: Lakeside Software / LoginVSI / Quest / Stratusphere / WANem
VDI Layering Technologies: Citrix RingCube / Unidesk / Wanova
VDI Monitoring: eginnovations
VDI Storage Optimization: Alacritech / Atlantis Computing / Sanbolic
Virtual Infrastructure Security: VMware vShield
Virtual Tape Library: FalconStor VTL
WAN Optimization: Blue Coat / Citrix Branch Repeater / F5 / Riverbed
Web Acceleration: Citrix NetScaler / F5
Web Security: Bloxx / Blue Coat / Clearswift / Kaspersky / McAfee / ScanSafe / Websense
Wireless (Enterprise): Ruckus

www.frontrange.com (also for Centennial & GoldMine)
www.symanteccloud.com (for MessageLabs)
www.tgrmn.com (for ViceVersa Software)
www.veeam.com (also for nworks)

SEO: IT Infrastructure Building Blocks

Saturday, 26 November 2011

SAN/iQ 9.5

Released: 2011-10-17
To download HP P4000 Software: http://www.hp.com/go/P4000downloads
For more information on HP P4000 SANs: http://www.hp.com/go/p4000
For more information on HP P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance: http://www.hp.com/go/vsa

List of Enhancements:

1a: Application Managed Snapshots for ESX
1b: Application Managed Snapshots for Hyper-V
2: A consolidated SAN Status Home Page for the entire P4000 environment
3: Improved VSA installation and deployment
4: Peer Motion Data Mobility with Cluster Swap
5: Remote Copy performance improvements
6: Storage Replication Adapter for VSphere Site Recovery Manager 5.x
7: Best Practice Configuration Wizards
8: Additional Spanish language support

1a: Application Managed Snapshots for ESX

The HP P4000 Windows Solution Pack is replaced by the Application Integration Solution Pack, which will include the Application Aware Snapshot Manager. This tool will allow users to take Application Aware snapshots for both VMware and Windows volumes and create application consistent, point in time copies for speedy and reliable recovery of VMs.

i: Users configure IP addresses of Virtual Center server in CMC.
iii: CMC communicates with Virtual Center server during snapshot process.
iii: Virtual Center quiesces VMs and takes VMware snapshot. VMware tools within guest quiesces applications.
iv: SAN/iQ hardware snapshot contains VMware snapshots, which are visible to ESX when SAN/iQ snaps are presented to host.

Figure 1: Virtual Center Server IP address is configured as "Controlling Server" in CMC

1b: Application Managed Snapshots for Hyper-V

SAN/iQ 9.5 supports the Hyper-V VSS writer allowing users to take quiesced snapshots of Hyper-V VMs. Users may now schedule local and/or remote application aware snapshots of Hyper-V VMs.

i: Enabled with P4000 Application Aware Snapshot Manager.
ii: SAN/iQ communicates with the Hyper-V host during snapshots process.
iii: VMs are quiesced by Hyper-V VSS writer.
iv: SAN/iQ snapshots contain application consistent snapshots of VMs.

Figure 2: HP P4000 Application Aware Snapshot Manager provides the ability to take application consistent snapshots of Hyper-V or VMware virtual machines.

2: A consolidated SAN Status Home Page for the entire P4000 environment

i: All new home page for CMC.
ii: Provides single pane of glass view of entire P4000 environment.
iii: Key information for all Management Groups displayed in a single view.
iv: Customizable views.
v: " Undockable " to allow monitoring of SAN Status while performing other administrative tasks.

Figure 3: SAN Status Home Page

3: Improved VSA installation and deployment

All new installer for P4000 VSA – speeds and simplifies install process for one or a thousand VSAs.

i: Single installer can install VSA, FOM and CMC.
ii: Go from " zero " to a fully functional virtual SAN in just a few easy steps.
iii: Scriptable install tool allows ROBO customers to script install once and deploy VSA quickly at multiple remote locations. (Scriptable option for VMware version only in v1)
iv: Available approximately four weeks after SAN/iQ v9.5 general availability

Figure 4: Zero to VSA host discovery

Figure 5: Zero to VSA network configuration

4: Peer Motion Data Mobility with Cluster Swap

i: Cluster Swap functionality allows users to replace or upgrade P4000 clusters with just a few clicks. No maintenance windows and no downtime.
ii: New Edit Cluster menu guides users to better decisions when adding, removing or exchanging systems.
iii: Migrate data online between tiers.

Figure 6: Peer Motion capabilities simplified with new tools for online data mobility.

5: Remote Copy performance improvements

i: Improved change tracking mechanism
ii: Less time required to " scan " volumes
iii: Able to support more frequent snaps especially for large volumes with low change rates
iv: Reduces RPOs for DR solutions
v: Fifty percent performance improvement for remote copy of 2 TB volume with 10 gb changes

6: Storage Replication Adapter for VSphere Site Recovery Manager 5.x

i: New SRA to support new VMware Site Recovery Manager release with Vsphere 5
ii: Automated failback now supported
iii: Included on HP P4000 Application Integration Solution Pack

Figure 7: SRA Installer

7: Best Practice Configuration Wizards

i: Failover Manager for two–system configuration
ii: H/W RAID-6 for single–system configuration
iii: Suggest replicating volumes when expanding clusters from one to more than one system.

Appendix: Supported Platforms and Upgrade Paths

The following storage systems are supported by SAN/iQ 9.5:

HP StorageWorks P4800 G2 Storage System
HP StorageWorks P4500 G2 Storage System
HP StorageWorks P4300 G2 Storage System
HP StorageWorks P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance (ESX and Hyper-V)
HP LeftHand P4300 Storage System (G1)
HP LeftHand P4500 Storage System (G1)
HP LeftHand P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance
NSM 2120 G2
NSM 2060 G2

Direct upgrades to SAN/iQ 9.5 can be performed from the following SAN/iQ versions:

SAN/iQ 9.0
SAN/iQ 8.5
SAN/iQ 8.1
SAN/iQ 8.0
SAN/iQ 7.01 (two system reboots automated by new upgrade management)

Friday, 25 November 2011

Using MEMCTL (with MEMSZ), SWAP, and ZIP to diagnose a memory bottleneck in ESXi

Following on from a comment posted on a previous post, here's a quick explanation of why MEMCTL (with MEMSZ), SWAP, and ZIP can be used to diagnose a memory bottleneck at the ESXi host level.

First: Definitions

MEMCTL (MB) = displays the memory balloon statistics.
MEMSZ (MB) = amount of memory allocated to a virtual machine.
SWAP (MB) = displays the ESXi swap usage statistics.
ZIP/s (MB/s) = compressed memory per second

Second: Why we might want to look at these?

SWAP (MB) – if an ESX(i) host is excessively swapping memory to disk, this points to the ESX(i) host suffering memory contention issues. VMs should either be moved or powered off from the host in question (if this is not an option then it is time for either a memory upgrade or to introduce a new ESX(i) Host into the environment.)

MEMCTL (MB) & MEMSZ (MB) – need to look at these two metrics together. Ballooning as displayed by MEMCTL is not always a problem and could indicate that guest VMs have been over allocated memory (see MEMSZ for guest memory allocation;) also, if an administrator has set a VMs memory limit lower than the memory allocation, this will cause the VM to balloon. If have been careful to correctly allocate memory to guest VMs, then excessive ballooning again points to the ESX(i) host suffering memory contention issues; basically the host is taking memory away from inside guest VMs by using the memory balloon driver installed along with VMware tools, with this memory being written to the vswp file.

Remember that – unlike in the physical world – in the virtual world throwing too much resource at a virtual server can actually result in less performance.

ZIP/s (MB/s) – if an ESX(i) host is compressing memory pages, this points to the ESX(i) host suffering memory contention issues. You will never see memory compression activating for a guest on a host with plenty of memory to spare (unless an administrator has configured a guest VMs memory limit lower than its allocation.)

Third: Where can we see these?

Easiest way is to SSH to the ESXi host (the host in the example below is a vSphere 5 host,) run the command


Type a lowercase m when in esxtop to display memory stats as shown in the image below (SWAP, MEMCTL, and MEMSZ are circled in red):

Appendix: esxtop interactive commands

When in esxtop, type a lowercase h to bring up the help screen as below. Press any key to exit this display.

Interactive commands are:

fF Add or remove fields
oO Change the order of displayed fields
s Set the delay in seconds between updates
# Set the number of instances to display
W Write configuration file ~/.esxtop50rc
k Kill a world
V View only VM instances
L Change the length of the NAME field
l Limit display to a single group

Sort by:
Switch display:
c:cpu i:interrupt m:memory n:network
d:disk adapter u:disk device v:disk VM p:power mgmt

Monday, 21 November 2011

Configuring Broadcom iSCSI Adapter with VMware vSphere

This post is written specifically with HP ProLiant DL360/380 G6/G7 in mind but the theory can be applied to other manufacturers with Broadcom iSCSI Hardware Adapters. It is assumed the reader has experience configuring the Software iSCSI adapter already and MPIO (for more information on this see http://cosonok.blogspot.com/2010/07/how-to-configure-iscsi-multipathing-on.html . Also, this applies to vSphere 4 (will post an update for vSphere 5 if/when required.)

Step 1: First identify which vmnics are associated with the Broadcom iSCSI Adapter vmhbas

From the vSphere client, select the host to be configured → Configuration tab → Storage Adapters → and under the device heading 'Broadcom iSCSI Adapter' the vmhba??s are listed

Example image below showing vmhba33,34,35,36 underneath 'Broadcom iSCSI Adapter'

Then via a putty connection to the host being configured, run the command below against each vmhba listed above to find which vmnic is associated with which vmhba

esxcli swiscsi vmnic list --adapter vmhba??

Example image below showing the command run against vmhba33

Generally the Broadcom iSCSI HBAs are associated with the NIC ports built into the system board, and a common association is as below:

vmhba33 associated with vmnic0
vmhba34 associated with vmnic1
vmhba35 associated with vmnic2
vmhba36 associated with vmnic3

Step 2: Create the iSCSI switch with iSCSI vmnics selected from the list

As per a typical configuration of the Software iSCSI Adapter and MPIO:

i: Create a vSwitch using from 1 to 4 of the vmnics found in Step 1
ii: For each vmnic create a VMkernel to be used for iSCSI traffic
iii: Edit the properties of each VMkernel created so that the Failover Order is set with only one active adapter and the rest unused

Step 3: Bond the iSCSI VMkernel's

For each iSCSI VMkernel, run the command

esxcli swiscsi nic add -n vmk? -d vmhba??


~ # esxcli swiscsi nic add -n vmk1 -d vmhba35

Note: the the VMkernel's active adapter must be associated with the correct vmhba for this to work otherwise will get the error “Errors: Failed to add nic.”

Run the below command to check the vmk? is bound to the vmhba??

esxcli swiscsi nic list -d vmhba??

Note: the remove command is simply
esxcli swiscsi nic remove -n vmk? -d vmhba??

Step 4: Configure Access to LUNs and Present to Host

i: Add the iSCSI Initiator Name of each Broadcom iSCSI HBA being used to the SAN Management Software, and allow access to required volumes
ii: On each Broadcom iSCSI HBA being used, in the vSphere Client Broadcom iSCSI HBA → Properties → Dynamic Discovery → Add Send Targets

Note: if an iSCSI Vmkernel is not bound to the vmhba in question, will see the warning “The host bus adapter is not associated with a vmknic. To configure targets the adapter should be associated with a vmknic.”

iii: Perform a Rescan All from the vSphere Client

Step 5: Configure Multipathing Path Selection Type

Finally for each device listed under Storage Adapters → Details → Devices
Right-click the device and select 'Manage Paths'
And check/amend the Path Selection is set to 'Round Robin (VMware)'

Note: Check with Storage Provider that this is supported first


Note 1: If the Software iSCSI adapter has already been configured, can disable this if intending to use the Broadcom iSCSI HBAs only.
Note 2: In theory, using the Broadcom iSCSI HBA will give a performance benefit as encapsulation of SCSI commands into iSCSI packets is being done by the HBA and not using the hosts CPU.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dell Powervault MD3200i Brief Installation Walkthrough Notes with VMware vSphere Hosts

1: Rack Installation

2: Installation of software onto laptop / server

Download the MDSeriesStorageSoftware_....iso from Dell and mount to DVD-drive.
Either autorun or execute the md_launcher.exe from the DVD

Follow the prompts to run a full install (Core Software and Management Station) of the MD Storage Software

Core Software: The core software features include the software necessary to enable management and host operations of MD Storage Arrays
Management Station: Installs the MD Storage Manager software to configure, manage, and monitor a storage array.

3: Connections to Power Source

Connect the two power supplies to power sockets (ideally either across two different UPSes, or two different power distribution units)

4: Initial Configuration of IP Addressing

Temporarily connect the management ports and iSCSI ports into one switch on one VLAN, along with laptop with MD Storage Software installed.

Give the laptop an address which can access the default controller static IP addresses:

Controller 0: IP: Subnet Mask:
Controller 1: IP: 192.168.128:102 Subnet Mask:

*Note that the above default static IP addresses are automatically configured in the absence of a DHCP server

For completeness the default static IP addresses for the iSCSI ports are set to the following:

Controller 0, Port 0: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260
Controller 0, Port 1: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260
Controller 0, Port 2: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260
Controller 0, Port 3: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260

Controller 1, Port 0: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260
Controller 1, Port 1: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260
Controller 1, Port 2: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260
Controller 1, Port 3: IP: Subnet Mask: Port: 3260

Run the ‘Modular Disk Configuration Utility’ from All Programs > Dell > Modular Disk Configuration Utility

And follow the prompts to ‘Configure Modular Disk Storage Array’
The tool can automatically discover the array and can be used to configure name, password, management port IP addresses, iSCSI host port IP addresses…

Configure both management ports to put them on the desired management network
The iSCSI ports do not need to be route-able and could be left on the defaults

5: MD3200i Connections to Network Switches

Connect the iSCSI ports on the RAID controllers across two switches for resilience
RAID Controller 0: Port 0 and Port 2 connect to switch 1
RAID Controller 0: Port 1 and Port 3 connect to switch 2
RAID Controller 1: Port 0 and Port 2 connect to switch 1
RAID Controller 1: Port 1 and Port 3 connect to switch 2

Connect the Management ports on RAID Controllers 0 and 1 to either switches 1 and 2 respectively, or could put these on a separate switch if there is a requirement to save ports on the iSCSI stack.

See diagram below:

*Note that iSCSI Subnet 1 and 3 only exist on switch 1, and iSCSI Subnet 2 and 4 only exist on switch 2, so there is no need for iSCSI traffic to travel from switch-to-switch or module-to-module

6: Configure Alerts, RAID and host groups

Run the ‘Modular Disk Storage Manager Client’ from All Programs > Dell > MD Storage Manager

Right-click the discovered Storage Array > Manage Storage Array

The interface is quite intuitive and I am going to skip details here
Main things to configure are:

a: Alerts
b: RAID setup – the MD3200i has 12 disks with various options to setup the RAID
c: Volumes to be presented to VMware Hosts
d: Host Groups – configure access for VMware Hosts using iSCSI identifiers

*Note - my preference would be to configure the 12 disks as 1x10 disk RAID 6 with 2 hot spares, as this can tolerate 4 disk failures but loses a 3rd of the raw disk space. Some other options if do not want to lose so much raw space are 2x6 disk RAID 5 or a 1x12 disk RAID 6

7: VMware Host Setup

The MD3200i does support 4-way multipath, I would suggest to start with 2-way multipath and expand if the extra throughput is really required. See an example configuration for two hosts across two switches in the below diagram:

The iSCSI paths should be configured using round robin. Paths are active to one controller and standby to the other.