VMworld 2019 Europe local guide

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VMworld 2019 Europe is almost here! And I made a local guide with tips transport, restaurants, places to go, etc. to ensure you can enjoy more your experience in VMworld.

General information

This event will take place from the 4th (Monday) to 7th (Thursday) of November at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain.

VMworld is always an amazing opportunity to learn from all the events that will happen there like the Hands-on Lab, Breakout sessions, General sessions, etc.

Also, it is a great way to connect with a lot of people from the community, vendors or other persons that you are interested in.

People are really friendly so, don’t be shy (you can try first on Twitter!) and try to speak to members from the vCommunity. Besides, be sure to meet the vBrownbag team in the VMTN Tech talks area 🙂

If you are interested in attending this amazing international event and enjoy many other advantages, you can register here.

Some notes

In Spain, tipping is entirely optional and it’s not very common so, it’s up to you if you want to leave a tip in case the service was exceptional or you think it deserves it.

In restaurants, shops, etc. the VAT tax is included. Therefore, you don’t have to worry to calculate an extra amount of money.

Also, once you pay with credit card (VISA branded cards are the most used here) they will make you enter the PIN code of your credit card (a bit different than the US).

I know it’s late but, hotels near Fira are nice and a bit expensive. The best zone I think it is near Sants where there are cheaper hotels, nice transport connections, and great ambient.

The official language in Barcelona is Spanish but most of the population speak in Catalan. Saying that, don’t worry if you don’t understand some signboards from the street or public places.

Transportation

There are 3 different train services: Renfe (Local Train), TMB (metro/subway/underground) and FGC (Regional Train).

Renfe and TMB are the most used because they have more combinations than the FGC and also better schedules. So, basically, you will see in this guide mentioning train for Renfe and metro/subway/underground for TMB.

Coming from the airport

Once you land at El Prat airport, there are a few ways to go to the city of Barcelona:

  • You can take a taxi (expensive but more convenient for people with less time or when the hotel is located in an isolated area). It will costs between 20-30 € from the Airport to Sants (always depending on the traffic). Put the hand luggage on the taxi trunk costs an additional euro.
  • By train (Renfe):

You can go to the Aeroport (airport) stop of the R2 Nord line (you must go to Terminal 2 to take the train). This line will take you to Sants-Estacio and will be great for people staying near Sants.

This line is less frequent than the next option but it takes less time. Pricing is subjected to zones. In that case, From Aeroport to Sants-Estacio the price for a single ticket will be 4.20 €.

  • By metro (TMB):

Use the L9 Sud line, this is the Metro (subway/underground) service and can be combined with other lines (like L5 at Collblanc stop for example) within the same ticket.

This metro service is more frequent than the train service and it costs 4.60 €. This can be the best option for most people because you can use the same single ticket to go to other places by combining lines.

  • By bus (Aerobus):

The least recommended option as it will be crowded but it depends on your preferences and where do you want to go.

The Aerobus will take you to “Plaça Catalunya” (Catalunya Plaza) but it costs a bit more than other services (5,90 € at the moment), you can review more information in this link.

T-10 card

If you plan to visit Barcelona, consider buying a T-10 ticket (which includes 10 single tickets or 10 journeys) as it will save you half the price of many single tickets. This T-10 card can be used for many people as you want so, consider it if you are a group.

T-10 cards are sold by zones (because they have other public services integrated), as you are going to stay in Barcelona, you only need 1 zone. Price for a T-10 1 Zone card is 10.20€, versus buying 10 single tickets (1 zone) will cost 2.20 € x 10 = 22€.

T-10 tickets can be used on any public transport (bus, Metro, Renfe and FGC services) with some exceptions covered here:

  • You cannot use the T-10 ticket from the airport on the Metro Line L9 Sud. This means the T10 ticket is not valid at the stops Aeroport T1 or Aeroport T2 on the airport metro link.
  • The T10 ticket is also not valid on the Aerobus express bus.

Moving inside of Barcelona

The Metro (subway/underground) is your best choice whatever you stay in Barcelona if you want a cheaper, frequent and reliable service.

With the metro (remember the name) you can travel through lines at the same cost. The main stops to consider will be Fira in L9 Sud, Plaça Espanya in L1/L3 and Sants-Estacio in L5/L3.

The fastest way to VMworld?

The closest stop to the VMworld event is Fira in L9 Sud or the Europa-Fira stop which is another stop from the L9-Sud line that also combines with another train service (FGC trains) which is a different transport service than the metro and it has different stops.

If you stay near Sants, the Sants-Estacio stop in L5 will be your choice. Then, in Sants-Estacio station take the L5 to Collblanc stop and after that, change the line to L9 Sud until you arrive at Fira stop.

You can see in the following map the VMworld precinct highlighted in yellow and the closest stops (marked in blue): Europa-Fira stop which combines FGC and Metro services and, Fira stop at L9 Sud.

FiraGranVia-map

Last year VMworld provided a free metro card; As I don’t know if it will be the same but if you are aiming to visit Barcelona and visit other places, consider to buy a T-10 travel card (10 single rides) which is multi personal and quite cheaper than buying 10 single tickets.

 

Events around VMworld

Fred Hofer has a magnificent post where it summarizes all the events and parties that will happen on these dates, check it here

I organized the vFit runs, review my post for more detailed information

In my case besides the vFit event (Monday and Wednesday morning), I will attend the vSoccer event on Monday night and vBreakfast on Tuesday.

 

Outside VMworld (Sightseeing)

Here is a summary of the places that you could visit if you come to Barcelona:

La Sagrada Familia

Probably the most iconic building in Barcelona. It is an unfinished church designed by Gaudí, an architect who made many iconic buildings here in Barcelona.

Location: https://cutt.ly/5eoPoBU

Las Ramblas

The most famous pedestrian street of Barcelona, you will see many kiosks and artists there while walking in the middle of the city. Note: Keep an eye on your belongings if you are watching an exhibition as pickpockets could be near you.

Location: https://bit.ly/35zkqXQ

font-montjuic

La Font Màgica de Montjuïc (Magic fountain of Montjuïc)

This fountain is amazing at night. You should check the exhibitions scheduled with lights and streams creating shapes. It is located near the Veeam party that will be on Tuesday so, maybe you can go earlier and check it out!

Location: https://bit.ly/2VBo9zc

Park-guell

Park Güell

A gorgeous park with some designs from Gaudí and other architects that are interesting. You must buy a ticket in order to gain entrance to the Monumental Area (where you can see some monuments from Gaudí).

Location: https://bit.ly/319oIS3

casa-batllo

Casa Batlló

A famous building designed by Gaudí also named “House of bones”. Look at the facade which is something that you probably never seen before with the sculpted stonework, the windows or the painting. It is also a museum where you can visit (you need to buy a ticket) the inside of this building.

Location: https://cutt.ly/ieoPssI

la-pedrera

Casa Milà – La Pedrera (The stone quarry)

Another famous building designed by Gaudí. It has unique balconies and a courtyard that defines the style of Gaudí and also his last private residence.

Location: https://cutt.ly/reoPjYM

port-olimpic

The Olympic port of Barcelona (since recent events in the past months, I will avoid going at night)

It is one of the most exciting leisure and touristic spots throughout Barcelona, with a wide offering of shops, clubs, and restaurants. It’s the gateway to the Barcelona beaches and also there is the Barcelona zoo near to it.

Location: https://cutt.ly/seoPx1J

In general, avoid going alone in the night, especially in “Las Ramblas”, “El Raval” or near “Olympic Port of Barcelona”.

Also, prevent the neighborhood known as “La Mina” which is farther from Barcelona but it still accessible by Metro.

Restaurants

The food in Barcelona is nice and some of you probably know it.

Let me suggest a couple of restaurants near Fira Gran Via (VMworld):

  • Gran Varela: A restaurant with great food (especially octopus). Also, the wines are great!
  • In Gran Via 2 (a shopping center) pretty close to Fira Gran via I can suggest you:
    • Japanese (Udon)
    • Italian (La Tagliatella
    • Beer and tapas (Cañas y tapa)
  • Restaurant La Vid: A nice restaurant where you can try local food like the bread with spread tomato, the Spanish omelet, or the ham! This is also the restaurant that will be hosting the vBreakfast event on Tuesday morning.

 

The best places aren’t near Fira Gran Via but if you want to try better food, here are a couple of restaurants that are really nice:

    • Bacoa Burger: Amazing and customized burgers, also hand-made fries and sauces.
    • König: Amazing restaurant where you can try almost everything: tapas, amanzing beer, flatbread, and many other options!
    • La Bella Napoli: Not many choices on the menu in this Italian restaurant but the food quality is amazing.
    • Buenos Aires Grill Restaurant: Steak, ribs, Argentinian Beef, special cuts?
    • Ramen-Ya Hiro: Best ramen in Barcelona without a doubt! The queue won’t be short to get the Ramen…

Local food

Let me put a short section about local food here. The food you must try while staying here would be: Paella, Spanish omelet, Bread with (spread) tomato and of course Ham (Jamón)!

Despite there many restaurants that they prepare all these dishes, I will avoid the ones in Las Ramblas because they’re usually not the best option…

Bread with (spread) tomato can be found in almost any bar or restaurant so, just ask for it. They are also served at breakfast!

If you don’t want to lose a lot of time by going far from VMworld to taste many of these dishes, I would suggest you go Restaurant La Vid, which I talked in the previous section.

There are many other places but, if you want something specific just let me know in the comments or via DM on Twitter.

Conclusion

That will be a summary of things to do at VMworld and in the city of Barcelona.

Be sure to enjoy VMworld with all the events, parties, people and more things that can give you but overall, have fun!

If you think that something is missing, let me know.

See you at VMworld!

 

 

 

vFit at VMworld 2019 Europe

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Yes! I am happy to announce that the vFit event will happen also at VMworld Europe this year!

Eric Wright (@discoposse) is the creator of this event and you can check how it went at VMworld US here! I love his idea of engaging folks who attend tech events to do some exercise at tech events and why not at VMworld Europe?

Enjoy a run with our great community outside VMworld. You can meet people, share a great moment to run outside the event centers and enjoy the city of Barcelona.

So, this year in Barcelona I will be the organizer for the #vFit event and I hope you can join me and other community folks in the 2019 #vFit runs at VMworld Europe.

 

Basic information

Anyone can join this event to run with a group of community folks at approximately 6.21min per km / 10min per mile. May be a second group if enough walkers join, we will discuss it once when we meet there.

The meet up for the runs will be at the exit of Europa-Fira station: https://bit.ly/354kRsN
There are two exits at Europa-Fira (showed in blue), you must go to the one which has 3 “big” buildings. Our meet-up will be at the red circle that you can see in the following map:
Europa_Fira_map
Here you have a Google Street View just in case you’re not sure if you picked the correct exit: https://bit.ly/30N3o4x

So, as said we will have the meet up at the red circle that is in front of one of the Europa-Fira exits.

 

Schedules

Usually, this is a daily run event but, as I am the one organizing it, I can’t commit to doing a daily run because I have other duties to do at VMworld.

Therefore I decided to do 2 runs and the time of each meet up is:

  • Monday, November 4 – 06:45 AM CEST
  • Wednesday, November 6 – 06:45 AM CEST

On Wednesday many people will be crashed by Tuesday parties however I will be there anyway!

Why not Tuesday?

I’ll be heading to the vBreakfast event on Tuesday and also on Monday night there is the vSoccer event so, some rest is needed 🙂

Then, on Tuesday you can rest or even go for a run yourself.

 

Route

The route goes from Europa-Fira station (where we meet up) to Montjuic (uphill) and then coming back from the other side (downhill) to end at the Europa Fira station.

The route is about 5.5 km / 3.41 miles and we will see some streets from “La Marina” district (where VMworld is hosted) and the Montjuïc Park.

Here you have the route if you want to check it out:

Route map for VFit Running EMEA 2019 by Dan Belmonte on plotaroute.com

How do I join?

Just to know how many people are going to attend, register here on any date: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vfit-emea-2019-tickets-74746226977

But the main point is to be there at the time specified in the schedules section.

Use the #vFit to share it with the community!

If you need more information, just send me a DM on Twitter or comment on this post and I’ll be glad to help you.

See you there!

Veeam – Backup VMs in remote sites

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I was wondering why I haven’t talked about Veeam when I use it almost every day in my job, not only administering backups but doing new implementations.

Recently, I had to implement a design where I need to backup VMs in remote sites but not back up them in a centralized storage, they will be backed up on each remote site storage.

So, by deploying a VM with the Backup proxy service and also use it as the backup repository we can accomplish the goal. We will save bandwidth and increase the speed to restore and backup those remote virtual machines by using the local storage on each remote site.

 

Scenario

The scenario I am talking is the following, a dedicated VM with Windows Server 2016 Standard (a.k.a. W2016 STD) to act as a backup proxy and backup repository and Veeam B&R installed on the main site (the cloud we will say).

This is the high level design:

Veeam_scenario

So, we are going to back up all the VMs that are hosted in the remote ESXi hosts and also save the backup data in the local storage.

As said before, in this way we save bandwidth and gain speed in the backup and restore process in case we need to perform any of it.

We will assume that we have a vCenter deployed with Veeam B&R installed. The Veeam B&R has configured the vCenter and then all remote ESXi hosts.

 

Implementation

The implementation is pretty straightforward, we will have a dedicated VM to be deployed on each remote site and then perform the following high-level steps:

– As a backup repository, we are going to add a hard disk to the remote VM and use that hard disk as the backup repository for the site. We will seize the capabilities of Windows Server 2016 and use ReFS as the filesystem for the added hard disk.

– Install a backup proxy service, we just need to deploy the backup proxy service from the Veeam B&R console to the VM that we are using. The backup proxy will be who processes jobs and delivers backup traffic.

So, let’s go each step!

 

Backup proxy service

First, our Windows Guest OS VM is joined to the domain, so we won’t have any kind of problem for resolving the name or accessing with domain account credentials.

Let’s add the proxy by going to the Backup Infrastructure tab > Backup Proxy > Add VMware Backup Proxy…

As this is a new server for Veeam, we will have to add it as a “server” by pressing “Add New…”:

Then, this window will appear, just enter the FQDN of your server:

Choose credentials and chooseApply “to install the transport service:

After that, you will be able to choose the newly added server (Proxy_EUR.itgaiden.com) from the drop-down menu:

Now, let’s configure the Transport mode and Datastores for this proxy (as in the previous screenshot):

And for the datastores, choose the ones that are connected to the ESXi host where the VM is hosted by selecting Manual Selection and adding them:

choose_manual_datastores

After configuring that, you will have the same configuration as in this screenshot:

Finally, just hit Next and apply any kind of traffic rule if you want:

Now, finish, and the proxy will be fully configured and ready.

 

 

We configured these options because they are the best for our deployment which is using a Windows VM that will have a backup repository which will save the backups.

For more detailed options about the Backup Proxy service go here.

After configuring each backup proxy we will have a bunch of them in the Backup Proxies tab:

Backup_Proxies

Backup repository configuration

In this step, I suggest following this article to perform this step.

Basically, we just have to add a new hard disk to our dedicated VM as Thick Provision Eager Zeroed, format the disk as ReFS and finally, add the Backup Repository to the Veeam B&R Console.

In that article, it’s also explained the benefits of ReFS so, I think it’s more detailed and easy to follow it.

After we configure all the backup repositories, we will have the same amount as the backup proxies:

veeam_backup_repositories

As you can see in the previous screenshot, the path (D:\Backups) is the disk that we added to the VM on each remote site. We have configured the backup repository to that path because, as explained before, we have a disk formatted in ReFS and it’s explained in the article.

Backup job configuration

After configuring the backup proxy and backup repositories on each site, we are ready to the last step, configuring the backup job to perform backups.

Go to Home tab and then Backup… Virtual Machine:

Now, step by step, pick a name for the job:

Proceed to select the VMs you want to backup (in our case the ones in the EUR site):

 

Let’s continue and in the Backup proxy, click Choose… and select the correspondent backup proxy (EUR_proxy):

 

Press OK and go to Advanced. Configure it like that if you want Synthetic  full backups:

 

And then the monthly health check (recommended):

Accept and here is the summary for the backup proxy step (we will keep 7 restore points in our case):

Configure any option as you like (not in my case):

And finally, proceed with the schedule that you want after finishing the configuration for this job!

And that would be all for this remote site. We had to to the same with the other remote sites and our job will be done!

 

Conclusion

Finally, with this design you will be able to back up remote sites and store the backups in the local storage from each site.

If you don’t want to use a dedicated VM as a backup proxy, you can install the service on a VM that has low usage and install the backup proxy service, however, it’s recommended to use a dedicated VM which will have the backup proxy service and the backup repository (the virtual hard disk attached).

 

 

Migrating ADFS from 2012 R2 (3.0 v) to 2016 (4.0 v.)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I will explain today how to migrate ADFS from 2012 R2 (3.0 v) to 2016 (4.0) without almost no downtime. The overall process consists in adding the new ADFS server to the farm, assign the primary role to the new ADFS, make some changes and then we’re done.

 

The current environment is:

  • 1 x WAP Server (W2012 R2)
  • 1 x ADFS Server (W2012 R2)

No applications published, just an Office 365 Relying party trust.

A DNS A record that points sts.teselia.com to the ADFS IP address.

 

And the future environment will be:

  • 1 x WAP Server (W2016) -> Not in this post
  • 1 x ADFS Server (W2016) -> In this post

Planning for your ADFS Migration

  1. Active Directory schema update using ‘ADPrep’ with the Windows Server 2016 additions (not necessary in my case)
  2. Build a Windows Server 2016 server with ADFS and join into an existing farm.
  3. Promote one of the ADFS 2016 servers as “primary” of the farm, and point all other secondary servers to the new “primary”.
  4. Change DNS records to the new servers’s IP address.
  5. Raise the Farm Behavior Level feature (FBL) to ‘2016’
  6. Test that the setup works correctly.
  7. Remove the old ADFS server (W2012 R2) from the farm.

Upgrading Schema

Now, time to upgrade the schema of the AD:

Put the installation media from W2016 Datacenter:

Adprep /forestprep

In my case, it was already updated (my domain is in W2012 R2 so it seems that I don’t need it).

 

Installing and configuring ADFS

Once we deployed a new Windows Server 2016 and it’s joined to our domain…

Install the role of ADFS in your target server and then continue with the post-deployment config:

 

Provide can account with Domain Administrator permissions:

 

Provide your federation service name. You can review it in the current ADFS primary server and click Properties in the root folder of the ADFS console:

 

In our case “sts.teselia.com”:

 

Specify your SSL certificate (usually your wildcard):

 

Then, I will use an account (Managed service account recommended):

 

Review your configuration and after the pre-requisite checks proceed with the “Configure” button:

 

After the server is installed you will have some warnings that will be fixed later by rebooting the server and making this new server as the primary ADFS server in the farm:

Then, we will proceed to reboot our server (ADFS01.teselia.com).

 

Configuring as a “PrimaryComputer” in the ADFS farm

Once the machine has restarted, open the ADFS Management Console, and you’ll notice it’s not the primary federation server in the farm.

Open a PS console and execute:

Set-AdfsSyncProperties -Role PrimaryComputer

 

After that, I can access the ADFS console from our new ADFS server without the warning:

 

Execute this on the other ADFS servers (we will point the new ADFS server as the PRIMARY):

Set-AdfsSyncProperties -Role SecondaryComputer -PrimaryComputerName sts.teselia.com

Then, we will check that in our old ADFS server it’s correct:

Details to bear in mind

So, in my case, I have a DNS A record that points sts.teselia.com to an IP address (the ADFS server)

After pointing the new, I had to modify the hosts file from the WAP server in the DMZ to point to the new server!

Also, I modified the DNS  record from the internal DNS with the new server’s IP address.

 

 

Error with 0365 relying party trust

After migrating the service from ADFS 3.0 (W2012 R2) to ADFS 4.0 (W2016), I faced a  problem when updating the O365 relying party trust.

The solution was to apply a fix described by Microsoft:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/security-updates/SecurityAdvisories/2015/2960358

Basically, what you have to do is to add a couple of registry values in this new ADFS server because it’s Windows Server 2016 and is running ADFS 4.0 version.

Once you applied the fix, reboot it and works flawlessly!

 

Testing the new setup

To check that it’s really working, try to log into your Office 365 portal and it must show you the portal from your federation service.

As the WAP service isn’t migrated yet, it should respond correctly but if the configuration is not correct, it won’t be able to gather the configuration from the ADFS service.

Removing the old ADFS server

Once you tested that it works correctly, as both ADFS servers will have the configuration replicated, you can remove the role from the old one (that now holds the secondary role) and then remove it from the domain.

With that done, you will have a fresh new Windows Server 2016 ADFS server and none “old” ADFS servers.

 

 

And that’s all, I will do in the future another post about the WAP service migration that it’s easier than this one, I hope that this can help someone.

Exam 70-743, Upgrading MCSA Windows Server 2016 experience

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I will explain quickly my experience regarding the Exam 70-743, Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA: Windows Server 2016 exam from Microsoft I took last April.

It’s been a while since I took an exam from Microsoft (the latest was in 2013 I think) where you probably know that these kind of exams are multiple-choice or single-choice.

Through my career, I saw a lot of people cheating with these exams by memorizing the questions you can find on the internet and finishing it in just 20 minutes.

Despite I envied these persons because they weren’t putting the same effort as I did, in the end, this was translated in almost no knowledge about what they practiced nor familiar with all the features that Windows Server offers.

So, I encourage you to study the materials and practice in order to learn and bring value to yourself if you want to use these technologies from Microsoft.

The blueprint and webpage for this exam is the following one: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-743.aspx

 

About the exam

In my case, although I am experienced with Windows Server this kind of upgrade exams, which consists in a 3 in 1 exam, can be scary for someone who’s new or hasn’t touched many roles that Windows Server has.

Even I installed almost all roles from Windows Server 2016 there are some of them that aren’t so common and you should practice it in a homelab (best way to stick in your mind).

There are around 60 questions (the quantity may differ) chosen from the following exams:

Regarding the questions there is a mix of Drag and Drop, Radio buttons, Checkboxes, …you know, the usual ones in this kind of exams.

Important: Be aware that the feature “Nano Server” was removed/deprecated in Windows Server 2016 time ago, here is the official post from Microsoft: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/deprecated-features

Also read the changes that this exam suffered, in the official change document that Microsoft provides (is in the blueprint): https://query.prod.cms.rt.microsoft.com/cms/api/am/binary/RE2IoQP

So, even if you see a lot of information about Nano Server in guides or courses in my case I didn’t find any question in the exam related to it (as it was deprecated years ago).

 

Resources and suggestions

As a resource, I mainly used this course from Pluralsight (not free): https://app.pluralsight.com/paths/certificate/upgrading-your-skills-to-mcsa-windows-server-2016-70-743

There are a lot of videos there, I checked the ones I felt more insecure and practiced in the lab. Also, I do recommend that you use Powershell to install and configure everything you can and in this way, you will get used to it.

As this is a 3 in 1 exam, the range of features and roles to know is huge, knowing a bit of everything will help you to pass but, without practice, you won’t get anywhere…

Having experience helps a lot but if it’s not your case, focus on the roles and features you never used or are not used to use (ADFS, NPS, RRAS, Hyper-V, etc.).

 

So…

To conclude, I can say it’s a fair exam and a bit challenging maybe but if you practice a lot with all the roles that Windows Server 2016 offers and know the differences from Windows Server 2012 R2.

Also, the most important I think…practice with Powershell. It won’t only help you with the exam also, in your future!

 

 

 

 

 

Cohesity Build Day Live

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I am going to share some thoughts and opinions about a recent video from the Cohesity Build Day Live recorded recently with the Build Day Live! team.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cohesity.

First, just let me introduce briefly you what is Cohesity:

Cohesity is a platform focused on managing and consolidating secondary applications and the data. It provides a unified view and access to converge that secondary data, such as system backups and analytics in a simpler way to an IT administrator.

 

Now, let’s deep into the topic.

In the video, you will see how Alastair Cooke and Bharath Nagaraj building a Cohesity cluster from the scratch, configuring jobs, updating the physical appliance, restoring some data and showing some other cool stuff.

I really like this kind of videos because, you can see how they install a cluster, configure it or resolve any problems that can happen in real time without cuts.

Also, you can notice how much time it can take to deploy and configure a Cohesity cluster in some minutes, or even upgrading the whole cluster (node by node) while running some protection jobs (backup jobs).

Hardware

In this case, they use a  physical unit for deploying their solution, so it’s a 2U enclosure with 4 servers/nodes inside (blade server type).

It comes, like most other solutions, with 1GB ports for Management purposes and 10GB ports for Production Data.

As this is an HCI solution, it comes with the storage and computes resources necessary to process and store all data (PCIe Flash card and hard drives in each node).

 

Cluster configuration and UI

To configure the cluster you won’t need a lot of data to fill or knowledge to do it, they configure the cluster easier than I thought and straightforward.

In a real scenario, a Cohesity engineer will do it for you thus, this is just to let you know of the simplicity of it.

The UI is simple and clean, the home dashboard looks nice with some graphics regarding your Storage Reduction, Health, Throughput, Protection Runs, etc.

Backup

As you probably guess, it backups your vSphere/Hyper-V/Nutanix environment like other products do, so you can configure a Backup Policy with a schedule, time retention, etc. to back up your data and then you configure a Protection job which will be the backup job that is associated to a policy.

Just register the hypervisor of your choice and basically, you’re ready to back up your virtual servers (VMs).

One option I really liked when registering a hypervisor was, the option of selecting “Auto Cancel Backup if Datastore is running low on space”, so the DataPlatform solution is aware of the datastore’s space and can avoid you a big problem there…

 

About granularity, there is a lot of options to select when you create a protection job (DB, Virtual/Physical Servers,  but regarding what you can see in the video they protected only VMs and Office 365 mailboxes in different backup policies.

It’s great that when you are creating a protection job (a.k.a. backup job). you can select an object like a cluster or a folder with some particular VMs and then check the “Autoprotect” option to ensure that new VMs that are added to that object (folder, cluster, etc.) will be automatically protected.

 

Regarding long term retentions, you can choose to add an external target like a NAS or any cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP, etc.) to store your archive backups there.

This is an option that adds great value to your strategy because when storing great amounts of data for several years, you usually don’t want to store it locally or even in a NAS.

In my opinion, having a flexible option to store it in any cloud can save you a lot of headaches despite the money that you must pay for the cloud service (which nowadays almost every company does).

So, within a Backup policy select the Archival option and then you add as many external targets to store your long term backups.

 

Restore

Your backup strategy is useless unless you can restore from it…

I do like some points about this section that makes so simple to restore, from a single file (even download it) to restore tons of virtual machines to your virtual environment.

– Single file restore

If you want to recover a file, you don’t have to search for the date, where it was, etc. As simple as searching for the name of the file (or the portion you remember) and it will be searched in the entire cluster for you:

And then, when you found that file, look at the options that we have:

First, search for the date and then, you can choose the usual option (Recover to Server) or … download it at the moment (a cool option there).

It looks like a painless and simple way to restore files that probably a non-tech person could do.

– Instant mass restore

Now, going bigger, let’s talk about the Cohesity instant mass restore of virtual machines. As the Cohesity platform is designed in a distributed architecture where there isn’t a centralized bottleneck, they can restore tons of VMs quite faster than other products.

When recovering a lot of VMs, in the background (you could look at your vSphere environment) it will mount an NFS datastore and bring up all you requested VMs (quite fast to be honest).

– Office 365

Finally, the last thing to show you is the option to backup your Office 365 environment. You can integrate Cohesity with your Office 365 and perform protection jobs that will be associated with a policy and consolidate all the data within the same platform.

Upgrading

The process is straightforward, selecting a package from your local computer or getting it from the Internet, this makes it so easy to do it for yourself.

One thing that stuck in my mind was that, while there were running some protection jobs you are able to upgrade the whole cluster (node by node) non-disruptively.

As the entire solution is designed to tolerate one node failure (N+1 redundancy) thus, you can upgrade one node without disruption in the service.

As we said before, the Cohesity platform is based in a distributed architecture so, in case a reboot is required after upgrading one of the nodes, you will only lose the bandwidth coming from that node and not impacting the rest of the environment.

Helios

Cohesity Helios is the console that lets you manage and view all your clusters from one console. As it’s in the cloud, you only have to register your Cohesity appliance and at the end, it will show up in the Helios console.

Helios Dashboard is similar to a Cohesity management dashboard but with the ability to manage all your clusters from that single pane of glass.

And it’s just not that… Helios lets you install applications!

Yes, you can choose to install applications in one of your clusters without anything else. What Helios will do is to deploy an app within a container (using Kubernetes) in that cluster without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure.

Just install, configure and run your app (as it sounds).

For example, running Splunk to gather data analytics in your clusters without having to worry about to deploy it is really a nice feature to look at it. 

I’ve never seen a feature like that and it really surprised me when I saw it. A nice additional value that you can consider when using Helios with your Cohesity platform.

Other use cases

As the Cohesity platform is cloud and hypervisor agnostic, you can protect objects on any cloud Azure/GCP/AWS or any hypervisor Hyper-V/VMware/Nutanix but, do you imagine what else can you do?

Well, you can use it to migrate VMs between different environments! It’s a great use case where you can choose to backup all your vSphere environment and move it to Nutanix for example or moving it to Azure.

Obviously, there is work to do after it but, the amount of simplicity that gives you with that, for me, it’s massive.

That’s all…

We saw a lot of things from the Cohesity platform, how can help your company to achieve that data consolidation by: backing up from different clouds and environments (cloud and hypervisor agnostic) , establishing an SLA in your services (configuring policies), recovering tons of VMs and other features like Helios, a cloud console that brings you a unified view for your Cohesity environment, analytics for all your data and even the ability to deploy applications without needing any kind of resources.

If you are interested in more content, check the Cohesity Build Day Live web page or the official web page from Cohesity.

 

vCSA 6.x installer error: “No networks on the host. Cannot proceed with the installation.”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is a quick post of an error I found sometimes while deploying a new vCenter server appliance with an embedded PSC on the vCSA 6.x installer.

The problem

In my case, I was trying to install vCSA 6.5 without DNS (this is why the system name has an IP address and the DNS is itself). Also, notice that the network section is empty:

If you try to continue with the installation, it will show you an error:

No networks on the host. Cannot proceed with the installation.

 

Solution

I checked the ESXi host and obviously, it has other port groups created in a standard virtual switch, then, which was the problem? Why I can’t see them in the drop-down list?

 

Checking on the internet I found this: https://serverfault.com/questions/886776/vcenter-server-appliance-6-5-installer-error-no-networks-on-the-host-cannot-p

So, that web page mentions the “VM network” port group that is a default port group that is created once you deploy an ESXi host. In my case, it was auto-deployed with different port groups and that one didn’t exist.

Hence, I decided to create a port group called “VM Network” in the host that I am trying to deploy the vCSA and…it worked!

Now, as you can see, I can see that port group and I was able to continue the installation with success!

It seems that with you must have this port group if you are deploying a vCSA at least from your PC, so, bear in mind if you are trying to deploy a new vCSA and you don’t have the default port groups when deploying a vCenter Server.

 

I hope this helps if someone has this issue.

Cloning virtual machines in vSphere series – Part 3: Linked Clones

KR_linked
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Let’s start with part 3 in the cloning virtual machines in vSphere series, I am going to talk about another type of clones, linked clones!

 

All articles regarding cloning virtual machines in vSphere series:

Part 1: Types of clone
Part 2: Full Clone
Part 4: Instant Clones (not published yet)

As said in previous articles, this series is only focused on VMware vSphere hence, VMware Horizon View is not contemplated (Linked clones are commonly used in that product).

What is a linked clone?

What can you see here?

KR_linked
Keanu Reaves has been linked cloned!

In the previous image, you can see 3 different characters but they share something in common…the actor!

 

Linked clones are the same! A linked clone is a type of clone (a copy of a virtual machine) where the parent VM shares virtual disks with their clones.

The resulting linked clone will be created from the parent’s VM snapshot and because of being a snapshot, it will have the same state that was the snapshot was taken.

LinkedClone

When the linked clone is created, it shares his own virtual disk (.vmdk file) with the snapshot from the parent VM, this leads to some unique features:

  • The clone will be dependent from the parent VM because they are sharing their virtual disks. If you delete the parent’s VM snapshot, it will corrupt the clone’s virtual disk.
  • Even both VMs are sharing their storage, any changes performed in the clone won’t affect the parent VM and vice-versa.
  • The linked clone will have the exact same data as the source VM because it was created from a snapshot.
  • The save spacings are obvious because the clone will only write the new modifications in its own virtual disk. So, the clone’s virtual disk size will be only the amount of data that changed after it was created!

General process

  1. Use or prepare a VM (Parent VM) that will be used as a master/parent to deploy the linked clones
  2. Power-off the Parent VM (Recommended but not mandatory)
  3. Perform a snapshot of the VM.
  4. Time to create Linked clones referencing the snapshot we created previously.
  5. Power-on the clones and customize them (apply customization specifications for example).
  6. (Extra) Before powering-on the linked clone, perform another snapshot of the clone to use it as a rollback (if the end-user needs it).
  7. (Extra) Power-on the clone and is ready to be delivered.
  8. (Extra plus) If you decide to keep the linked clone for any reason, you can perform a full clone of it and it will become an independent VM!

 

In the next section, I will show you how to create a linked clone with PowerCLI from a Windows VM and in my case, I will use Custom Specifications within the script to launch the clone.

Lab time!

Here we have the VM that we’re going to use as our Parent VM:

Name: SQLMasterVM
IP: 192.168.1.174
Disk allocation: Around 35 GB summing both disks.
Domain: vmug.bcn

Inside the Guest OS:

 

Space allocated in DS:

 

What are we going to do?

  1. Shutdown the master image VM that hosts some DBs.
  2. Create a snapshot when the VM is powered-off to ensure that is consistent (this is a VM with a SQL installed so, even more recommended)
  3. Perform the linked clone via PowerCLI.
  4. Start the VM (We aren’t going to do the extra step of creating a snapshot of the clone) and use custom specifications to fully customize the clone.

All of this will be performed by this simple script:

##Creating SQL Linked Clone from a Parent VM "SQLMasterVM"
#variables
$OSSpec = Get-OSCustomizationSpec -Name 'Win-SQL'
$BaseVM = "SQLMasterVM"
$LinkedVM = "SQL-LC1"

# Delete snapshots on the Parent VM
Get-Snapshot -VM $BaseVM | Remove-Snapshot -Confirm:$falseStart-Sleep -Seconds 2

#Create snapshot
New-Snapshot -VM $BaseVM -Name "Linked-Snapshot" -Description "Snapshot for linked clones for $LinkedVM"

#Gather information of the created snapshot
$snapshotParent = Get-Snapshot -VM $BaseVM | Select Name
$snapshotParent = $snapshotParent.Name
Start-Sleep -Seconds 5

#Create Linked Clone referencing snapshot and start the VM.
New-VM -Name $LinkedVM -VM $BaseVM -Datastore "VMS" -ResourcePool (Get-Cluster -Name Gaiden-Cluster | Get-ResourcePool) -OSCustomizationSpec $OSSpec -LinkedClone -ReferenceSnapshot $snapshotParent -DiskStorageFormat Thin
Start-VM -VM $LinkedVM

In this script, I am also using the OSCustomizationSpec parameter, while using the sentence to create the linked clone,  to change the IP, name and join again to the domain the resultant clone. Also, I am changing the SQL instance name in my case because it’s a server with MSSQL server installed.

Once the script finished, a new linked clone is created and powered on with the name “SQL-LC1”.

 

We can see the amount of time that takes to create a Linked clone (5 seconds):

And now look at the storage allocated by the Linked clone (powered off), 750 MB approximately:

 

After the Linked clone is created and powered on, you can do whatever you want.

I had to wait some minutes (around 10 min. in my case) until the OS customization specification finish all the actions specified (power on the VM, join to the domain, reboot the VM, execute a script to update SQL instance, etc.)

Here is the “real” space allocated after the Linked clone has booted up and I logged in with a user, around 4 GB:

 

A look inside the Guest OS of the linked clone (new hostname, IP and has the same storage as the Parent VM:

Use cases

It’s commonly used in VDI and DEV environments but here are some examples:

  • Desktop Deployment
  • QA
  • Bug testing
  • DB server testing
  • File server testing
  • General testing

 

Benefits and limits

Let’s summarize which are the benefits and limits that we can find in linked clones:

Pros

  • Super fast cloning compared to a Full/Normal clone, it takes seconds instead of minutes to clone large VMs.
  • Space savings due to changes are stored in a separated disk (clone’s flat disk).
  • Useful for development environments or if you want to keep the clone just, perform a full clone of it!
  • Deploy as many linked clones as you want, they will reference the snapshot in the Parent VM hence, there is no disk chain on that (except for the snapshot you created of course) and the benefits of replicating .
  • Ongoing changes made in the virtual disk of the source VM don’t affect the linked clones and changes to the disk of the linked don’t affect the parent.
  • It can be performed with the parent VM powered on but, it will have some performance degradation and probably inconsistent data (if for example, the parent VM hosts a DB).

Cons

  • Recommended but not mandatory that the parent VM has to be powered off.
  • There is a storage/disk dependency as the linked clone is created from the parent’s VM snapshot then, if you delete that snapshot, inconsistencies will occur in the clone (and at the end you will delete it).
  • Performance on the destination clone will be impacted (as virtual machines are sharing storage)

 

To conclude

Linked clones have multiple benefits compared to full clones and it has many use cases as we saw before.

You can easily replicate the status of a VM (snapshot) and deploy linked clones to your end-users with all the benefits as for example space savings or the deployment speed.

To end this series, we will look at instant clones, another type of clone that is even faster than linked clones but, with some particularities.

Experience at a local VMUG – Barcelona VMUG

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I am going to talk about my experience at a local VMUG, in my case the VMUG from Barcelona (BCN). It was my first time at a local VMUG event and this is why I decided to share my thoughts about it.

VMUG – What is?

As you probably know VMUG stands for VMware User Group. Basically, you will find an international community of people where they share their experiences and discuss things related to VMware and other technologies.

At your local VMUG, you will find VMUG members that you can meet online or in person, sponsors. There you can find many passionate people about VMware and connect with them, so I highly recommend to attend to the VMUG events as it is a great experience to learn concepts or technologies and connect with a lot of people.

There are many communities around the world if you want to find your local VMUG go and register at https://www.vmug.com/

vmug_booth

VMUG – Why attend?

Because you won’t regret it!

I didn’t imagine that the environment and people were so good, everyone is passioned about technology, mainly VMware things, and you can hear their stories and share experiences that both probably lived in your life.

Hence, it doesn’t matter if you’re presenting or attending your local VMUG, the thing is to go there, meet people and learn about the sessions! You will find that a lot of people share some passion for VMware and technology so, don’t be shy to say hello and try to meet them.

Presenting at a local VMUG

I’ve been involved in this local VMUG for a year approximately but, I never had the chance to attend any event. Since VMworld I didn’t hear anything about a new event so, I spoke with the VMUG forum about when would be a new event and finally, it ended with myself presenting my session.

In my case, I presented a session (in Spanish) about Clones in vSphere (I’ll do a post about presenting in the near future) on March, 15th.vmug_present_aboutme

You didn’t expect something like my case, I was lucky to present at my first time in this event but, usually, it’s better to go there and meet the people before presenting and not in the other way.

Final thoughts

I am glad that I finally was able to attend and meet a lot of VMUG members, you can learn a lot from people through their sessions and also make connections that will be valuable in the future.

I would highly recommend attending and experience the passion of VMUG members and the knowledge that you can gather from them.

Also, I would like to acknowledge the VMUG leaders from the BCN VMUG for letting me present and the sponsors that make it possible.

I hope to see everyone in the next event!

Cloning virtual machines in vSphere series – Part 2: Full clone

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Continuing with the cloning virtual machines in vSphere series, today I am going to write about the full clone, how it works and some useful information about it.

So, let’s talk about clones… but just full clones.

clones_thematrix

How does it work?

As you probably know a full clone is an exact copy of a source VM, meaning that, everything from the parent VM is copied (VM settings, disks, files, etc.).

This action can be performed if the parent VM is powered off or powered on and, if it has snapshots it will consolidate them once the clone is done.

Fullclone_process

When you clone a VM be aware that, all data will be identical so, if you power on the clone without performing any customization, probably you will have conflicts with IPs, MAC addresses, SIDs (Windows), etc.

The great thing about a full clone is that, after the cloning operations are performed the clone will be an independent copy of a virtual machine that doesn’t share anything with the parent virtual machine (we are talking about from a compute and storage perspective within vSphere).

Ways to do it

First of all, you will need VMware vCenter to do it.

There are other ways (not official) like copying all data related to the virtual machine (.vmdk and .vmx files) and then register the “new” VM with another name.

Let’s continue with the usual ways:

vSphere Web Client

You can do it through vSphere Web Client, as simple as, right-click a VM -> “Clone to Virtual Machine…” :

vSphereWebClient_clone

Once it finishes, it takes some time (depends on the storage that the source VM has allocated) but in the end, you will have your new clone.

Likely you are more familiar about deploying templates…

Deploying a template is the same as cloning but. aside from copying the same data from the parent virtual machine, vSphere lets you customize the deployed VM for creating many clones and with different configurations as you wish.

PowerCLI

Of course, you can do it with PowerCLI. These are the minimal parameters needed to perform it (Disk Storage Format parameter is optional but recommended because, by default, it will convert all disks to Thick Provision Eager Zeroed):PowerCLIwithPercentatge_clone

New-VM -Name <CloneName> -VMHost <VMHost> -VM <VirtualMachineSourceVM> [-DiskStorageFormat <VirtualDiskStorageFormat>]

In the previous screenshot, you can see the minimum parameters required to perform a full clone, if you want to see more options you can check it here.

As you can see in the code, it’s similar to deploying a template, isn’t it?

Use cases

The main use case is deploying from a template, maybe we are not aware but, deploying from a template is just cloning our source VM (Master template) and then customizing it.

I saw many customers use it as a “rollback” when they have to perform a destructive task within the Guest OS. In this way, just shutting down the parent VM and powering on the clone.

If you think a snapshot can do the same as a clone well, not always… some applications don’t handle well doing a quiesced snapshot.

This is why, as a solution, you can create a full clone when the virtual machine is powered off and then, have a copy that will be consistent and without corruption.

Another use case could be to perform a full clone to use it in other environments. Although there are better ways to do this (with other products), when the Guest OS has many customizations, this can be an alternative solution of re-creating the entire virtual machine.

Benefits and limitations

The benefits of a full clone were mentioned before:

  • If the cloning operation is executed when the source VM is powered off, it can be used as a rollback in many cases (there are better options like a VM backup but, it can help a lot).
  • Creation of an independent VM that shares nothing with the source VM.
  • Used in templates, so, they are very useful!

These are some limitations instead of disadvantages that we can find:

  • It takes some time to create a full clone (it depends on the allocated storage) as it has to copy all storage from the source VM.
  • It can only be performed with VMware vCenter (there are other ways as I explained before but they are not official).
  • If done when the VM is powered on, it has an impact on the source VM that can be noticed by the business so, isn’t the best option to do it while the virtual machine is in running.

Conclusion

To sum up, a full clone is a great way to have an identical copy of another VM to use it as a permanent virtual machine once you configure it accordingly.

As said before, is the same as deploying a template because you are just cloning a VM (deploying a template) and then customizing it.

It usually takes some minutes to finish the clone (depending on the storage allocated in the parent VM), this is why there are other ways to deploy clones in a faster way (on the next posts!).