Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's New in DPM 2012

Today was the final day of Tech ED and it was nice to sit along with guys from DPM product group and thanks to Praveen and Prabhu for sharing details on DPM 2012 features. Earlier in the day it was interesting to discuss SCVMM 2012 and Exchange online solutions with Microsoft consultants present at event. Coming Back to DPM, I am going to keep it short and precise about the features in DPM 2012 but as I have worked on almost all versions of DPM since their first 2006 release, I felt good about the way new centralized reporting works in DPM and also the fact that very soon you will be able to deploy DPM agents from SCCM server. You will also be able to refer to AD for assigning which DPM server.

 The new centralized feature of DPM allows you to manage upto 100 DPM servers from one console while allowing role based administration and centralized reporting from same console. The most cool feature is that you will be able to integrate your DPM server with SCOM 2007R2 and have a scoped view of the issue in DPM console i.e. see only the content in scoped DPM view which is relevant for the alert coming in SCOM [No clutter]. Another interesting features are “Push to resume backups”, integration with service manager and remote console to DPM servers from centralized console. DPM 2012 supports certificates and will introduce block level de duplication. It also now enables Hyper-V item level recovery when DPM is running inside a VM [see the trick for DPM 2010] and uses XML to support applications that do not have a VSS writer and yes you will be able to manage both DPM 2010 and 2012 servers from same centralized console. Last but not the least, I understand DPM 2012 will also support CSV 2.0 i.e. what comes in server V. Next right from beginning.

Yes these features sounds very good and we all are looking forward to DPM 2012. Read more at Mike Resller Blog as it covers a few more features and I hope this was reading pleasure.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Be careful while deploying 2008 R2 SP1 on your Hyper-V R2 clusters

There are some nice fixes in 2008 R2 SP1 and i have seen successful deployment of SP1 on many clusters however I wanted to update you to be careful while deploying SP1 on your hyper-V R2 clusters as there are some reported issues with storage validation after sp1 installation and it seems issue is storage vendor agnostic and Microsoft is already aware and working with those who have reported these issues.
 At same time there are successful deployments of SP1 on hyper-v clusters too so issue may or may not be seen however if you are already seeing the issue, please report here.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Meet me at Tech ED 2011 Bangalore on 23rd March and discuss Failover Clustering

It’s good to be at Microsoft Tech ED and I can vouch that Tech ED is very helpful in getting latest information about new products being launched and to network with fellow MVP’s and Microsoft resources. There are various sessions on different technologies and you get to know the latest from the experts and interact with expert peer community and get lot of opportunities to discuss with peers how they are implementing different solutions and designs and their implementation of technology. Just to give an example I will be interacting with Microsoft DPM product team and get a sneak peek of the new version yet to be launched in Market. In another session, will be meeting the cloud and server division folks to discuss on Remote FX technology which brings value to VDI solution. At the same time MVP community will be accessible if anyone has any specific queries or want to discuss something. You will find me at Bangalore Tech Ed 2011 and feel free to discuss any queries in regards to Hyper-V, failover clustering and System Center technologies. You can find me at “Meet the MVP” session at Tech ED on 23rd March and I will be there to answer your cluster queries and we can have an interesting discussion on failover cluster.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

HP 3PAR Geocluster solution for Microsoft Failover Clustering

Somebody asked me month back about HP 3par storage which was acquired by HP last year and there was some competition for this acquisition and question was particularly about the features of 3par storage and advantages around this. Though I am not a storage expert though I am very much impressed by the features of the 3par storage. I thought writing on features of 3par and its advantage in today’s cloud scenario is very relevant. 3par features broadly can be read here

Its architecture and implementation is very different that existing storage technologies. Each physical disk is broken in 256-MB chunklets, each of which can be independently assigned and dynamically reassigned to virtual volumes of different Quality of Service (QoS) levels taking storage from different tiers [golden, silver, bronze]. Host only sees volume at its end irrespective of how that volume has been carved dynamically out of different storage tiers [which could be SSD, FC, SATA]. You can anytime change the storage tiers of your Volume dynamically as per your performance needs. On top of that HP 3par thin technology lets you use thin conversion and persistence technology and not only thin provisioning. You can convert your legacy capacity from full provisioned storage to thin provisioned storage and when data is deleted from the host, volumes are shrinked on the storage [so your storage starts thin and remains thin over the time]. Virtual domain feature enables in delivering secure, segregated access to different user groups which is very essential for a multi tenant cloud infrastructure. It enables Non-disruptive distribution and redistribution of application volumes across storage tiers to align application requirements with data QoS levels on demand and automatically analyzes how volumes use physical disks and makes intelligent, non-disruptive adjustments to ensure optimal volume performance and capacity utilization.

You can also leverage HP 3par Geocluster software for Microsoft windows failover cluster and disaster recovery by automating storage failover between primary and backup sites. In addition, GeoCluster Software support for Microsoft Hyper-V Live Migration increases flexibility through enabling non-disruptive migration of virtual servers. Read more about it here and I hope you will find 3par very attractive option for your cloud designs.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

VCenter XVP Manager and Converter enables to manage Hyper-V Infrastructure from within Vsphere Vcenter

VMware has brought a major change it its paradigm and now came with a tool from VMware labs [ Though yet not supported but more of a test, experiment tool ] which will enable customers to manage their Hyper-V environments from within Vsphere Vcenter. VMware vCenter XVP Manager and Converter provides basic virtualization management capabilities for Microsoft Hyper-V platforms towards enabling centralized visibility and control across heterogeneous virtual infrastructures. It also simplifies and enables easy migrations of virtual machines from Hyper-V platform to VMware vSphere and provides familiar vCenter Server graphical user interface for navigating through and managing Hyper-V inventory and is compatible with VMware vCenter Server 4.0 & 4.1 while being scalable to 50 Hyper-V hosts. As of now this tool does not work for Xen hypervisor or any other hypervisor except Microsoft Hyper-V. This very move confirms that VMware is acknowledging Hyper-V as competition and taking it more seriously.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cluster Shared Volume disk though manually made offline do not participate in validation tests

Happy New Year to everyone while i welcome to year 2011 and hope you enjoyed Christmas and Winter vacation. This is  the time when most of people go for vacation or spend time with their closed and loved ones. Sadly, however some of IT folks have to work even in these days either due to project deadlines or critical issues and I was approached for one such issue recently where cluster environment was not stable and strangely when engineers were running cluster validation test, it was not showing any errors.

The Golden rule is to start from cluster validation test and that is the most basic troubeshooting step that you need to do for most failover clustering issues. I asked engineer about same and asked him to follow steps provided  where one have to manually take the cluster shared volumes [CSV] offline [yes the cluster validation wizard will give warning for non CSV disk resources but not for CSV disk you need to take them offline manually before running the test, else CSV disk resources will not participate in validation tests]

  • In the Failover Cluster Manager snap-in, expand the console tree and click Cluster Shared Volumes. In the center pane, expand the listing for the volume that you are gathering information about. View the status of the volume.
  • Still in the center pane, to prepare for testing a disk in Cluster Shared Volumes, right-click the disk, click Take this resource offline, and then if prompted, confirm your choice. Repeat this action for any other disks that you want to test.
  • Right-click the cluster containing the Cluster Shared Volumes, and then click Validate This Cluster.
Strangely when i looked at the Validation report i saw only one warning error for CSV disk resource. [ In our case it is "SR" as seen below]

"This resource is marked with a state of 'Offline'. The functionality that this resource provides is not available while it is in the offline state. The resource may be put in this state by an administrator or program. It may also be a newly created resource which has not been put in the online state or the resource may be dependent on a resource that is not online. Resources can be brought online by choosing the 'Bring this resource online' action in Failover Cluster Manager."

Now because of this error, CSV disk is not participating in any test. Strangely, one get this error though the CSV disk is offline [the way it should ] and cluster validation eligibility  status is true (as seen below)

Cluster validation tool itself gives a very subtle clue about why this is happening and I was quickly able to reproduce this and show why...The problem is CSV disk was either in Redirected access mode or Maintenance mode when it was turned offline for running cluster validation test.

To fix the issue one need to bring that CSV disk online..take it out from Redirected access mode by turning it off  and switching back to Direct IO mode…and then take CSV disk offline and run validation test. This is an issue which may create some confusion for customers/engineers because they do not get any error in validation test and may think that all is good and working..but in reality the CSV disks will not participate in most of the cluster storage validation tests and you may end up seeing storage issues later on. I will try to bring this to Microsoft product team's notice via right channels so that we can have better verbatim in validation test about this warning and what needs to be done to fix the issue for valued customers. Hey wait..what was that subtle clue in validation report..

The clue was that volume consistency test was telling us that CSV disk resource is not in correct state, so once you make the sugested changes you do not get that message and dirty bit is checked on CSV disk as shown above. Now though Microsoft says that we support cluster till the time you pass the validation test and have logo but in such a tricky case though you do not get an error in validation test, you are hardly in supported territory as all storage validation tests were never performed on the CSV disk resource. Hope this information is useful and helps you if you get same issue ever or in understanding cluster validation test that it is better to check all warnings and what they really mean and its implications.


Blog is based on my Personal understanding of the Technologies mentioned above and information provided is AS IS.