Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Veeam is a great solution for Vsphere backups

Backups are always a cause for concern for any Vmware admin, I have spent many hours evaluating various products and here's why Veeam is the best solution for Image based backups.
Everyone is familar with physhical guest based backups where by something like Backup exec it used and file and application level agents are used to leverage Microsoft VSS and perform database maintance plans that will deal with flushing transaction logs ect.
The Business continuty plan provided by a guest based backup will have two main drivers.
  • RPO (recovery point objective) is the maximum acceptable amount of data loss , this will typically be 24 hours given that most backup windows are nightly
  • RTO (recovery time oblective) this will be how long it will take to get the data back to to restored state to this will usually mean catologing tapes, and configuration process for example to disimlar hardware 
This could mean hours, sometimes days of downtime
In my opnion one of the greatest benifits of VSphere is the functionalty based around Buisness Continuity.
VSphere has a new set of Storage APIs and a new feature called CBT ( Changed block tracking) which greatly enhance the speed and fucntialty of backups, in short CBT creates USN's (update sequence numbers) for the VMDK disks that backup applications can hook into a quickly find out which blocks have changed since the last backup.

So why Veeam??
  •  Easy to set up and configure with in half an hour
  •  Support for CBT
  •  The only true support for VSS application consistent backups in Windows 2008
  •  The ability to flush Exchange logs via VSS backups
  •  Nice enterprise interface via web front-end
  •  Great support and ongoing development
  •  Replication included as well as backup at great price point for SMB
  •  Run-time proprietry VSS agent
  •  Great Deduplication and Compression rates
So to summize if you want a super functional VSphere image based backup and replication tool at a great price point choose Veeam.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Vsphere upgrade of Virtual NIC causes windows server to hang on bootup

Has anyone seen a issue whereby a upgrade to Vmware Virtual hardware 4 to 7 or the Vmware tools are updated to include a new NIC card causes the rebooted server to hang on a Windows OS..??

Lets take a closer look what happens...when the virtual hardware is upgraded the Windows plug & play service will detect the new devices (new NIC) and look for the driver, this in turn kicks of the Vmware tools upgrader service wich handles the install and upgrade process, this will remove the current NIC and save the IP configuration and apply to the NIC when VMware tools installs the drivers.

The problem you have here is Windows will sometimes hold onto the old NIC as ghost device and when Windows reboots, core services that bind to the TCP/IP stack on the card ie DNS,IIS,AD will often try to attach themselves to the ghost NIC hence the hung state.

OK whats the solution... you will ned to show the hidden NIC and then delete it.

Use start >run>set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1

This will show the hidden device in Windows device manager, which you can delete

The above command will work fine in Windows 2003 for all 2008 systems  Highlight ‘Server Manager (%SERVERNAME%)’ in the left-side tree-view pane. Click ‘Change System Properties’ in the right-hand pane. Switch to the Advanced tab and click ‘Environment Variables. Create a new System variable by clicking the New button. The Variable name should be ‘devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices’ and the value should be ‘1′ as pictured below.

Reopen devmgmt.msc Click > View Show Hidden Devices and remove the ghost NIC

Good luck!
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