Random Short Take #87

Welcome to Random Short Take #87. Happy Fête Nationale du 14 juillet to those who celebrate. Let’s get random.

  • I always enjoy it when tech vendors give you a little peak behind the curtain, and Dropbox excels at this. Here is a great article on how Dropbox selects data centre sites. Not every company is operating at the scale that Dropbox is, but these kinds of articles provide useful insights nonetheless. Even if you just skip to the end and follow this process when making technology choices:
    1. Identify what you need early.
    2. Understand what’s being offered.
    3. Validate the technical details.
    4. Physically verify each proposal.
    5. Negotiate.
  • I haven’t used NetWorker for a while, but if you do, this article from Preston on what’s new in NetWorker 19.9 should be of use to you.
  • In VMware Cloud on AWS news, vCenter Federation for VMware Cloud on AWS is now live. You can read all about it here.
  • Familiar with Write Once, Read Many (WORM) storage? This article from the good folks at Datadobi on WORM retention made for some interesting reading. In short, keeping everything for ever is really a data management strategy, and it could cost you.
  • Speaking of data management, check out this article from Chin-Fah on data management and ransomware – it’s an alternative view very much worth considering.
  • Mellor wrote an article on Pixar and VAST Data’s collaboration. And he did one on DreamWorks and NetApp for good measure. I’m fascinated by media creation in general, and it’s always interesting to see what the big shops are using as part of their infrastructure toolkit.
  • JB put out a short piece highlighting some AI-related content shenanigans over at Gizmodo. The best part was the quoted reactions from staff – “16 thumbs down emoji, 11 wastebasket emoji, six clown emoji, two face palm emoji and two poop emoji.”
  • Finally, the recent Royal Commission into the “Robodebt” program completed and released a report outlining just how bad it really was. You can read Simon’s coverage over at El Reg. It’s these kinds of things that make you want to shake people when they come up with ideas that are destined to cause pain.

Random Short Take #58

Welcome to Random Short take #58.

  • One of the many reasons I like Chin-Fah is that he isn’t afraid to voice his opinion on various things. This article on what enterprise storage is (and isn’t) made for some insightful reading.
  • VMware Cloud Director 10.3 is now GA – you can read more about it here.
  • Feeling good about yourself? That’ll be quite enough of that thanks. This article from Tom on Value Added Resellers (VARs) and technical debt goes in a direction you might not expect. (Spoiler: staff are the technical debt). I don’t miss that part of the industry at all.
  • Speaking of work, this article from Preston on being busy was spot on. I’ve worked in many places in my time where it’s simply alarming how much effort gets expended in not achieving anything. It’s funny how people deal with it in different ways too.
  • I’m not done with articles by Preston though. This one on configuring a NetWorker AFTD target with S3 was enlightening. It’s been a long time since I worked with NetWorker, but this definitely wasn’t an option back then.  Most importantly, as Preston points out, “we backup to recover”, and he does a great job of demonstrating the process end to end.
  • I don’t think I talk about data protection nearly enough on this weblog, so here’s another article from a home user’s perspective on backing up data with macOS.
  • Do you have a few Rubrik environments lying around that you need to report on? Frederic has you covered.
  • Finally, the good folks at Backblaze are changing the way they do storage pods. You can read more about that here.

*Bonus Round*

I think this is the 1000th post I’ve published here. Thanks to everyone who continues to read it. I’ll be having a morning tea soon.

Random Short Take #37

Welcome to Random Short Take #37. Not a huge amount of players have worn 37 in the NBA, but Metta World Peace did a few times. When he wasn’t wearing 15, and other odd numbers. But I digress. Let’s get random.

  • Pavilion Data recently added S3 capability to its platform. It’s based on a variant of MinIO, and adds an interesting dimension to what Pavilion Data has traditionally offered. Mellor provided some good coverage here.
  • Speaking of object storage, Dell EMC recently announced ECS 3.5. You can read more on that here. The architectural white paper has been updated to reflect the new version as well.
  • Speaking of Dell EMC, Preston posted a handy article on Data Domain Retention Lock and NetWorker. Have you pre-ordered Preston’s book yet? I’ll keep asking until you do.
  • Online events are all the rage at the moment, and two noteworthy events are coming up shortly: Pure//Accelerate and VeeamON 2020. Speaking of online events, we’re running a virtual BNEVMUG next week. Details on that here. ZertoCON Virtual is also a thing.
  • Speaking of Pure Storage, this article from Cody Hosterman on NVMe and vSphere 7 is lengthy, but definitely worth the read.
  • I can’t recall whether I mentioned that this white paper  covering VCD on VCF 3.9 is available now, and I can’t be bothered checking. So here it is.
  • I’m not just a fan of Backblaze because of its cool consumer backup solution and object storage platform, I’m also a big fan because of its blog. Articles like this one are a great example of companies doing corporate culture right (at least from what I can see).
  • I have the impression that Datadobi has been doing some cool stuff recently, and this story certainly seems to back it up.

Random Short Take #17

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 17 – am I over-sharing? There’s so much I want you to know about.

  • I seem to always be including a link from the Backblaze blog. That’s mainly because they write about things I’m interested in. In this case, they’ve posted an article discussing the differences between availability and durability that I think is worth your time.
  • Speaking of interesting topics, Preston posted an article on NetWorker Pools with Data Domain that’s worth looking at if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Maintaining the data protection theme, Alastair wrote an interesting article titled “The Best Automation Is One You Don’t Write” (you know, like the best IO is one you don’t need to do?) as part of his work with Cohesity. It’s a good article, and not just because he mentions my name in it.
  • I recently wanted to change the edition of Microsoft Office I was using on my MacBook Pro and couldn’t really work out how to do it. In the end, the answer is simple. Download a Microsoft utility to remove your Office licenses, and then fire up an Office product and it will prompt you to re-enter your information at that point.
  • This is an old article, but it answered my question about validating MD5 checksums on macOS.
  • Excelero have been doing some cool stuff with Imperial College London – you can read more about that here.
  • Oh hey, Flixster Video is closing down. I received this in my inbox recently: “[f]ollowing the announcement by UltraViolet that it will be discontinuing its service on July 31, 2019, we are writing to provide you notice that Flixster Video is planning to shut down its website, applications and operations on October 31, 2019”. It makes sense, obviously, given UltraViolet’s demise, but it still drives me nuts. The ephemeral nature of digital media is why I still have a house full of various sized discs with various kinds of media stored on them. I think the answer is to give yourself over to the streaming lifestyle, and understand that you’ll never “own” media like you used to think you did. But I can’t help but feel like people outside of the US are getting shafted in that scenario.
  • In keeping up with the “random” theme of these posts, it was only last week that I learned that “Television, the Drug of the Nation” from the very excellent album “Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury” by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy was originally released by Michael Franti and Rono Tse when they were members of The Beatnigs. If you’re unfamiliar with any of this I recommend you check them out.

2009 and penguinpunk.net

It was a busy year, and I don’t normally do these type of posts, but I thought I’d try to do a year in review type thing so I can look back at the end of 2010 and see what kind of promises I’ve broken. Also, the Exchange Guy will no doubt enjoy the size comparison. You can see what I mean by that here.

In any case, here’re some broad stats on the site. In 2008 the site had 14966 unique visitors according to Advanced Web Statistics 6.5 (build 1.857). But in 2009, it had 15856 unique visitors – according to Advanced Web Statistics 6.5 (build 1.857). That’s an increase of some 890 unique visitors, also known as year-on-year growth of approximately 16.82%. I think. My maths are pretty bad at the best of times, but I normally work with storage arrays, not web statistics. In any case, most of the traffic is no doubt down to me spending time editing posts and uploading articles, but it’s nice to think that it’s been relatively consistent, if not a little lower than I’d hoped. This year (2010 for those of you playing at home), will be the site’s first full year using Google analytics, so assuming I don’t stuff things up too badly, I’ll have some prettier graphs to present this time next year. That said, MYOB / smartyhost are updating the web backend shortly so I can’t make any promises that I’ll have solid stats for this year, or even a website :)

What were the top posts? Couldn’t tell you. I do, however, have some blogging-type goals for the year:

1. Blog with more focus and frequency – although this doesn’t mean I won’t throw in random youtube clips at times.

2. Work more on the promotion of the site. Not that there’s a lot of point promoting something if it lacks content.

3. Revisit the articles section and revise where necessary. Add more articles to the articles page.

On the work front, I’m architecting the move of my current employer from a single data centre to a 2+1 active / active architecture (from a storage and virtualisation perspective). There’s more blades, more CLARiiON, more MV/S, some vSphere and SRM stuff, and that blasted Cisco MDS fabric stuff is involved too. Plus a bunch of stuff I’ve probably forgotten. So I think it will be a lot of fun, and a great achievement if we actually get anything done by June this year. I expect there’ll be some moments of sheer boredom as I work my way through 100s of incremental SAN Copies and sVMotions. But I also expect there will be moments of great excitement when we flick the switch on various things and watch a bunch of visio illustrations turn into something meaningful.

Or I might just pursue my dream of blogging about the various media streaming devices on the market. Not sure yet. In any case, thanks for reading, keep on reading, tell your friends, and click on the damn Google ads.

OT: My absence

To my three loyal readers, I must apologise for the relative paucity of blog posts recently. I’ve been consulting in a mid-large government department lately and haven’t done a lot of work that lends itself to this blog. Instead, I’ve been doing lots of pictures and lots of typing, and developing a plan of attack for their storage and data protection environment. It’s been a challenge, in so far as they have a bad habit of throwing storage at problems before checking if they’re really problems. To wit, the CX3-40f I configured last year with 5 DAEs is now fully populated with all 16 DAEs. There’s also a CX700 still doing its thing (almost fully populated), and a few other CLARiiONs performing other duties. I’ve also seen a few bizarre things happen there too, the strangest of which was when one of the sys admins uninstalled the e-mail archive program from the servers. This, in turn, deleted some C-CLIPs from the Centera, as they had no fixed policy on retention in place. Who’d have thought the Centera Backup and Recovery Module (CBRM) for EMC NetWorker actually worked? I could go on, but I think it’s best if I don’t.

So, my three month stint is almost up, but it looks like it will be extended another three months, and possibly extended again after that. So the blog posts may still be few and far between for the next little while, although I am hoping to start work on vSphere 4 shortly, and will no doubt have some stuff to write about Brocade / Cisco interop and how to make and break Cisco 9513 Directors. So, er, thanks for reading …

EMC NetWorker Library Configuration

Centuries ago, or at least in 2006, I worked at a fairly large EMC NetWorker site, looking after an ADIC (now Quantum) i2000 with 300 slots and 10 LTO-2 drives. It was a lot of fun when things went wrong, as they invariably did.  So occasionally I had to use NetWorker tools to perform configuration or rectification activities on said library d’enfer. I don’t for a moment pretend to be an expert with Networker. Nor am I necessarily super competent with backup and recovery in general. As I’ve mentioend previously, if you want to know about backup and recovery, buy a copy of Preston’s book. Fortunately for us, he has also started a NetWorker-focused blog, so I don’t need to pretend I know much about the product.

The one thing I did like about NetWorker was its extensive array of command-line tools. For a brief (and somewhat dated) overview of these commands, check out this site. But back to my story. I’ve been doing some migration work for a customer with ESX / NetWorker / some CLARiiONs and needed to introduce a new library to their backup host. For some reason, when we added the drivers for the new library, it tried (and failed) to update the drivers on the old library as well. As a result of this, NetWorker started having conniptions, and the two Dedicated Storage Nodes attached to the library weren’t particularly happy either. So the client decided we should tear it down and only present the old library to the NetWorker server. Not necessarily the path I would have preferred to take, as I’ll have to clean it up next weekend, but it was getting late on Sunday night and we were all keen to not have to deal with this problem.

So, the point of my story is that you can use a tool called jbconfig (the jukebox resource configuration tool) to configure libraries for NetWorker via the CLI. Note that you need to have drivers loaded on the host prior to configuring NetWorker – this ain’t no Backup Exec. So here’s an example of what you might see when running jbconfig, assuming that the library hasn’t been configured previously.

C:\Documents and Settings\user>jbconfig

Jbconfig is running on host backuphost.internal (Windows Server
2003 5.2),
and is using backuphost.internal as the NetWorker server.

1) Configure an AlphaStor Library.
2) Configure an Autodetected SCSI Jukebox.
3) Configure an Autodetected NDMP SCSI Jukebox.
4) Configure an SJI Jukebox.
5) Configure an STL Silo.
6) Configure a Microsoft Removable Storage Jukebox.

What kind of Jukebox are you configuring? [1] 2
14484:jbconfig: Scanning SCSI buses; this may take a while …
These are the SCSI Jukeboxes currently attached to your system:
1) scsidev@2.2.1: Standard SCSI Jukebox, DELL / PV-132T
2) scsidev@2.6.1: Standard SCSI Jukebox, IBM / 3573-TL
Which one do you want to install? 1
Installing ‘Standard SCSI Jukebox’ jukebox – scsidev@2.2.1.

What name do you want to assign to this jukebox device? pv132t
15814:jbconfig: Attempting to detect serial numbers on the jukebox and drives ..

15815:jbconfig: Will try to use SCSI information returned by jukebox to configur
e drives.

Turn NetWorker auto-cleaning on (yes / no) [yes]?

The following drive(s) can be auto-configured in this jukebox:
1> LTO Ultrium-2 @ 2.2.2 ==> \\.\Tape0
2> LTO Ultrium-2 @ 2.2.3 ==> \\.\Tape1
These are all the drives that this jukebox has reported.

To change the drive model(s) or configure them as shared or NDMP drives,
you need to bypass auto-configure. Bypass auto-configure? (yes / no) [no] yes
Is (any path of) any drive intended for NDMP use? (yes / no) [no]
Is any drive going to have more than one path defined? (yes / no) [no] yes

You will be prompted for multiple paths for each drive.
Pressing <Enter> on a null default advances to the next drive.

Please enter the device path information in one of the following formats:

\\.\Tape0 –for local path or
host:device-path –for remote node or NDMP device(s) or
host:drive-letter:directory path –for Windows disk file

Drive  1, element 256, system device name = \\.\Tape0,
local bus, target, lun value = 2.2.2,
ATNN=IBM     ULTRIUM-TD2     1110256727 model LTO Ultrium-2
Device path 1 ? [\\.\Tape0]
This path already exists in the database. Proceed with the same path?
(yes / no) [yes]
Device path 2 ? dsn01:\\.\Tape0
Device path 3 ? dsn02:\\.\Tape0
Device path 4 ?

Drive  2, element 257, system device name = \\.\Tape1,
local bus, target, lun value = 2.2.3,
ATNN=IBM     ULTRIUM-TD2     1110257072 model LTO Ultrium-2
Device path 1 ? [\\.\Tape1]
This path already exists in the database. Proceed with the same path?
(yes / no) [yes]
Device path 2 ? dsn01:\\.\Tape1
Device path 3 ? dsn02:\\.\Tape1
Device path 4 ?

Only model LTO Ultrium-2 drives have been detected.
Are all drives in this jukebox of the same model?  (yes / no) [yes]
A Dedicated Storage Node can backup only local data to its devices.
Should dsn02 be configured as a Dedicated Storage Node? (yes / no) [no] yes
A Dedicated Storage Node can backup only local data to its devices.
Should dsn01 be configured as a Dedicated Storage Node? (yes / no) [no] yes
Found device \\.\Tape0 already configured in NetWorker.
Delete existing definition? (yes / no) [no] yes
Found device \\.\Tape1 already configured in NetWorker.
Delete existing definition? (yes / no) [no] yes

Jukebox has been added successfully

The following configuration options have been set:

> Jukebox description to the control port and model.
> Autochanger control port to the port at which we found it.
> Networker managed tape autocleaning on.
> At least one drive was defined with multiple paths.  All such drives are
defined with a hardware identification as well as a path value to avoid
confusion by uniquely identifying the drive.  The hardware identification
for all drives which have one is always ‘autochanger_name – Drive #’ where
“autochanger_name” is the name you gave to the autochanger that was
just defined, and the # symbol is the drive number.
> Barcode reading to on.
> Volume labels that match the barcodes.
> Slot intended to hold cleaning cartridge to 22.  Please insure that a
cleaning cartridge is in that slot
> Number of times we will use a new cleaning cartridge to 50.
> Cleaning interval for the tape drives to 6 months.

You can review and change the characteristics of the autochanger and its
associated devices using the NetWorker Management Console.

Would you like to configure another jukebox? (yes/no) [no]

Note that even though we’d deleted the library from the NMC previously, the definitions for Tape0 and Tape1 were still present in the NetWorker configuration. I’m trying to recall whether if I deleted the library using jbedit the results would be the same.

Once you’ve setup the library using jbconfig, you should run jbverify to “check jukebox/device configurations in NetWorker”. This will identify whether you got the order of devices correct, particularly for the Dedicated Storage Nodes. Of course, one way to make sure you have everything matched up is to run inquire on each attached node prior to launching into a jbconfig session. But sometimes you don’t realise these things until you’ve done it a few times …

Enterprise Systems Backup

An ex-colleague and mentor of mine, Preston de Guise, has written the book on Enterprise Systems Backup. While Preston is a well-known EMC NetWorker expert, he has focused on delivering a book that can be applied to any enterprise backup system. I can’t say much about this book without sounding like a deranged fanboy, so check out Preston’s site and buy a copy for yourself or someone you love.

Buy it from Amazon or CRC Press.