DELL Compellent – Auto Storage Tiering

In two days i have had the opportunity to test the Compellent SAN solution and i find it really cool and smooth. When integrating it with your vCenter you get the single pane of gui to handle the whole solution. You have to on every vmware client install the Compellent plugin to be able to administer the compellent and get the tabs that are plugin specific, you will also have to add the compellent management address and also a user with password and of course some rights to do SAN stuff.

After adding the Storage Center you get the following tabs:

As you can see on the Compellent view, you can add and remove datastores, if this is done in here the compellent plugin will also format the datastore with vmfs and rescan datastores on the hosts. Also as you see on this screenshot you can for each datastore see where your data is and how much of it resides where, Tier 1 is the fastest and if you have setup with more than two different hdd you will get a Tier 2 and a Tier 3. The active blocks are moved to faster or slower disk depending their demands.

With the Replay function you can get SAN backup functionality and also for full consistent backup you can install a agent in the VMs to get them to prepare a vss snapshot before running the replays. Really cool to be able to take SAN snapshots this way.

another thing as you can see also on the screenshot is that the datastore is 2 TB but only 9,32 GB is used! Of course you have to size your solution to cope with the amount of data that you are going to store.

When deleting a Datastore you get the following choices, if you put it in the Recycle bin, you can get it back as long as not the space will be needed by some other data, as long as there is space in the Compellent you can restore the datastore and that can be handy if you had some VMs that you need later and did not migrate to another datastore.

The Compellent solution is very powerfull and has much more functions than i have highlighted here, i hope that i will get some more time to test and use it in the near future!

SC Orchestrator 2012 Beta installation

Today i used some of my valuable time to install the newly released System Center Orchestrator Beta that can be downloaded.

The installation process have been quite worked through and compared to the Opalis it is really simple and smooth now to get it installed, up and running. First i looked at the pre req and installed the required features and also a SQL 2008 R2 on the same server.

I had an unexpected error after install but i think it was because my service account was not a user of the database, after fixing that and starting up the Orchestrator Management service i could start the Runbook Designer and start making Runbooks without any problems…

As you can see on this screenshot there is some Opalis left in this beta, it will probably be updated when the product is released. For those who have worked in opalis before you will recognize yourself in the GUI cause not so much has changed as far as i have tested right now..

If i find something smashing during further testing i will do a new post 🙂

Disaster recovery of vSphere after disk array failure

Yesterday i had the opportunity to help a customer that had a disk array failure where both their PDU died and one hdd broke, after the hw supplier had replaced the parts some virtual machines had hdd´s and databases that where corrupt.

To be able to assist the customer i used the TeamView program that works excellent and is fast to get up and running, no need to get the fw guy to open new ports or get a new vpn account! For personal use there is a free version that works in two hours at a time, but the enterprise license is not to expensive and should be considered as the tool is so powerful!


This leads to the most important lesson of this is that you will have to be very thorough in your design and not put all your eggs in one basket. In this particular case the vRanger backup server, domain controller, sql server and vCenter server was on this datastore, luckily the vRanger did not have any corrupt data and we could restore the whole vCenter server. When the vCenter was restored we could continue and restore mailbox, sql and domain controller. I did restore the vCenter to another VM and when we saw that restore was ok we deleted the old vCenter server, but as the customer had vSphere Essentials we will have to manually rename the vCenter-Temp and how to do it you can read on this link, otherwise if you have Enterprise or higher as your license you can rename it and then do a storage Vmotion and the files will get the right names, its kind of difficult to do a storage migration when connecting directly to the ESXi host.

The following points should be considered

  • Ensure the placement of the vCenter server by datastore and host affinity to know where it is in a disaster recovery scenario
  • Make sure that the backup server can be used in case of a total datastore blackout
  • After implementing a backup solution, check that you actually can do a restore also!
  • Do not put all Domain controllers and DNS servers in the same vSphere cluster and datastore
  • Make sure that you do not use Thin disks and over commit the datastore without the appropriate alarms set.

Using a backup solution that can do backup on the virtualization platform and not inside the vm is the most effective solution to be able to recover fast and easily in the case of a total datastore failure. Most backup solution providers can offer this feature and for those not using it today should definitively consider it. For example the Quest vRanger can do file level restore from a VM backup.