Aug
16

Move Your DBs From Cloud or 3-Tier Clunker to Nutanix with Xtract

Xtract for DBs enables you to migrate your Microsoft SQL Server instances from non-Nutanix infrastructures (source) to Nutanix Cloud Platform (target) with a 1-click operation. You can migrate both virtual and physical SQL Servers to Nutanix. Xtract captures the state of your source SQL Server environments, applies any recommended changes, recreates the state on Nutanix, and then migrates the underlying data.

Xtract is a virtual appliance that runs as a web application. It migrates your source SQL Server instances to Nutanix in the following four phases:

Scanning. Scans and discovers your existing SQL Server environments through application-level inspection.
Design. Creates an automated best practice design for the target SQL Servers.
Deployment. Automates the full-stack deployment of the target SQL Servers with best practices.
Migration. Migrates the underlying SQL Server databases and security settings from your source SQL Servers to the target SQL Servers.
Note: Xtract supports SQL Server 2008 R2 through SQL Server 2016 running on Windows 2008 through Windows 2012 R2.

Xtract first scans your source SQL Server instances, so that it can generate a best-practice design template for your target SQL Server environment. To scan the source SQL Server instances, Xtract requires the access credentials of the source SQL Server instances to connect to the listening ports.

You can group one or more SQL Server instances for migration. Xtract performs migrations at the instance level, which means that all databases registered to a SQL Server instance are migrated and managed as part of a single migration plan. Xtract allows you to create multiple migration plans to assist with a phased migration of different SQL Server instances over time.

xtract

Once the full restore is complete and transaction logs are in the process of getting replayed, you can perform the following actions on your SQL Server instances:

In the Migration Plans screen, you can perform one of the following:

Start Cutover
The cutover operation quiesces the source SQL Server databases by placing them in the single user mode, takes a final backup, restores the backup to the target server, and then brings all the databases in the target server online and ready for use. This action completes all migration activities for a migration plan.

Test

The test operation takes a point-in-time copy of the databases in the source instance and brings them online for testing in the target SQL Server instance. This action does not provide a rollback. Once a Test action has been initiated, you can perform tests on the copy. However, if you want to perform a cutover after the Test operation, you should begin again from the scanning phase.

Come to the Nutanix Booth at VMworld in Vegas to see it in action. One-click yourself out of your AWS bill.

Aug
16

Top 10 Reasons Why Nutanix Is The Best Platform For Horizon View

1) Turn key-solution for desktops and RDSH with vGPU.
2) All roads lead to a non-persistent desktop, which means App Volumes and UEM or 3rd Party (Liquidware). Best home for user and profile data is Acropolis File Services(AFS). VDI is scale out, so should your NAS.
3) Easy restore of user files setting on AFS.
4) Easy DR for AFS.
5) AFS Home Share can spread over mutiple VMs allowing for only 1 Group Policy to manage.
6) Data locality for boot storms if you’re not using instant-clones and protection from noisy neighbour under load.
7) 2nd Copy of all data is placed based on capacity and performance to help with #5.
8) Shadow Clones and inline-dedupe for App Volume for in-memory Applications.
9) One Click Upgrades to get features, maintenance and security fixes without having to upgrade ESXi.
10) Over 400 health checks to make sure your desktops run smoothly.

Aug
15

NTC Pro Tip: Volume Groups to Save Bandwidth

Nutanix Technology Champion

Today there is no way to exclude certain disks from being replicated with protection domain on Nutanix. If you have a database that your dumping backup files to it can be problematic. To get around the problem you can use a Volume Group for the backup drive. When you go to select your SQL VM make sure to unselect “auto protect related entities” if you have Nutanix Guest Tools as it will automatically add the Volume Groups for you.
ntc-protip

By using a volume group on AHV and ESXi, ADS will automatically hosts the vDisks on nodes that are lightly loaded if load becomes heavy. No user action need. One-Click, so you can find another problem to pound your head against the desk for. 🙂

Jul
06

Recovery Points and Schedules with Near-Sync on Nutanix

Primer post on near-sync

For the GA release near-sync will be only offered with a telescopic schedule (time based retention). When you set the RPO <=15min to >=1 min you will have the option to save your snapshots for X number of weeks or months.

As example if you set the RPO to 1 min and schedule 1 month retention it would look like this:

X= is the RPO
Y = is the schedule

Every X min, create a snapshot retained for 15 mins (These are the Light-Weight Snaps. They appear as normal snap in Prism)
Every hour create a snapshot retained for 6 hours.
Every day, create a snapshot retained for 1 week
One weekly snapshot retained for 4 weeks (If you select a schedule to retain for 7 weeks, Y would be 7 weeks and no monthly snap would occur)
One Monthly snapshot retained for Y months.

Subject to change, as we’re still finalizing sizing and thresholds based on real-world testing but the user will have an option to change these retention values via NCLI.

SCHEDULE

Jul
06

Delete AFS Forcefully

There can be instances when graceful removal of file server does not work and you may see following errors, this can happen when the file server is not available and has been deleted without following the right process. Sometimes the FSVMs get deleted instead of using the delete workflow in file server section of Prism.

ncli fs delete uuid=________________________
Error: File server with uuid xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx is offline and unable to fetch file server VMs.

Use the following command to delete the file server permanently from the Minerva Database. This is run from any CVM.
minerva –fs_uuids _________________ force_fileserver_delete

file server UUID can be obtained from ncli fs ls command.

Jul
05

Powering Off and Starting Up AFS – Native File Services on Nutanix

There really isn’t a need to shut down AFS but moves and maintenance are a part of life. Here are the steps for a clean shutdown….

-DL

Shutting Down:
• Power off all guest VMs on the cluster, leaving only FSVM’s and CVM’s powered on.
• From any CVM run: minerva -a stop
• The stop command will stop AFS services and power off the FSVMs for all File Servers
• Once only the CVM’s remain powered on, run Cluster Stop from any CVM.
• Power Off the CVM’s and Hosts

Starting Up:
• Power on Hosts
• CVMs will auto-start once the Host is up
• Once all CVMs are up, run Cluster Start to initiate cluster services
• Verify all services are up with Cluster Status
• From any CVM run: minerva -a start
• The start command will power on the FSVMs for all File Servers and start AFS services
• Power on all remaining guest VMs

BmPPOTXIcAA1jBj

Jul
04

Will DR and Backup power AHV sales to 50%?

.Next has come and gone like your favorite holiday. Tons of hustle and bustle with great euphoric feelings followed by hitting a wall and being extremely tired. The Nutanix conference was chalked filled with announcements but the most powering to me were the ones related to DR and Backup. AHV being built with Cloud in mind is surging but adoption has been slowed by 3rd Party backup support. You can have this great automated hypevisor with best in class management but if you can’t back it up easily it will curb adoption.

This number will grow rapidly now with all of the backup and DR

This number will grow rapidly now with all of the backup and DR options

So before .Next 2017 DR and Backup Options for AHV included:
Commvault with support for IntelliSnapp
• Time Stream – Native DR with Time Stream
o 1 node backup with the NX-1155
o Backup/DR to Storage Only Clusters
o Cloud Connect to AWS and Azure
o DR/Backup to a full cluster.
• Any backup software with agents

After .Next 2017 announcements for AHV Backup and DR support include:
HYCU from Comtrade – Rapidly deployed software using turn-key appliances. Great choice if you have some existing hardware that you can use or place onto Nutanix. Point, click, done. Check out more here.
Rubrik – A hardware based appliances that do the heavy lifting for you. Check out more here.
Veeam – Probably best known for making backup easy on ESXi have announced support for AHV later this year. Nutanix added Veeam as a Strategic Technology Partner within the Nutanix Elevate Alliance Partner Program. Going Green!
Druva – Nutanix users can now take full advantage of Druva Phoenix’s unique cloud-first approach, with centralized data management and security. Only ESXi today and agents with AHV but agentless support is coming. More here.
• Backup and DR to full Nutanix Clusters get near-sync to achieve very low RPO. Read more on near-sync here.
Xi Cloud Services, a native cloud extension to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform that powers more than 6000 end-customers around the globe. This announcement marks another significant step towards the realization of our Enterprise Cloud vision – delivering a true cloud experience for any application, in any deployment model, using an open platform approach. For the first time, Nutanix software will be able to be consumed as a cloud service.

Maybe 50% for AHV is a lofty goal but I can see 40% by next year for new sales as people focus on their business rather than the day to day to headaches. With a very strong backing in backup and DR AHV growth will flourish.

Jun
30

The Down Low on Near-Sync On Nutanix

Nutanix refers to its current implementation of redirect-on-write snapshots as vDisk based snapshots. Nutanix has continued to improve on its implementation of snapshots by adding in Light-Weight Snapshots (LWS) to provide near-sync replication. LWS uses markers instead of creating full snapshots for RPO 15 minutes and under. LWS further reduce overhead with managing metadata and remove overhead associated high number of frequent caused by long snapshot chains. The administrator doesn’t have to worry about setting a policy between using vDisk snapshots or LWS. Acropolis Operating System (AOS) will transition between the two forms of replication based on the RPO and available bandwidth. If the network can’t handle the low RPO replication will transition out of near-sync. When the network is OK again to meet the near-sync requirements AOS will start using LWS again. In over-subscribed networks, near-sync can provide almost the same level protection a synchronous replication without impacting the running workload.

The administrator only need to set the RPO, no knowledge of near-sync is needed.

The administrator only need to set the RPO, no knowledge of near-sync is needed.

The tradeoff is that all changes are handled in SSD when near-sync is enabled. Due to this trade off Nutanix reserves a percentage of SSD space to be used by LWS when it’s enabled.

near-sync

In the above diagram, first a vDisk based snapshot is taken and replicated to the remote site. Once the fully replication is complete, LWS will begin at the set schedule. If there is no remote site setup LWS will happen locally right way. If you have the bandwidth available life is good but that’s not always the case in the real world. If you miss your RPO target repeatedly it will automatically transition back to vDisk based snapshots. Once vDisk based snapshots meets occurs fast enough it will automatically transition back to near-sync. Both transitioning out and into near-sync is controlled by advanced settings called gflags.
One the destination side AOS creates hydration points. Hydration points is a way for the LWS to transition into a vDisk based snapshot. The process for inline hydration is to:

1. Create a staging area for each VM (CG) that’s protected by the production domain
2. The staging area is essentially a directory with a set of vdisks for the VM.
3. Afterwards, any new incoming LWS’s will be applied to the same set of vdisks.
4. And the staging area can be snapshotted from time to time and then you would have individual vdisk-backed snapshots.

The source side doesn’t need to hydrate as a vDisk based snapshot is taken every hour.

Have questions? Please leave a comment.

Jun
29

ROBO Deployments & Operations Best Practices on Nutanix

The Nutanix platform’s self-healing design reduces operational and support costs, such as unnecessary site visits and overtime. With Nutanix, you can proactively schedule projects and site visits on a regular cadence, rather than working around emergencies. Prism, our end-to-end infrastructure management tool, streamlines remote cluster operations via one-click upgrades, while also providing simple orchestration for multiple cluster upgrades. Following the best practices in this new document ensures that your business services are quickly restored in the event of a disaster. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform makes deploying and operating remote and branch offices as easy as deploying to the public cloud, but with control and security on your own terms.

One section I would like to call out in the doc is how to seed your customer data if your dealing with poor WAN links.

Seed Procedure

The following procedure lets you use seed cluster (SC) storage capacity to bypass the network replication step. In the course of this procedure, the administrator stores a snapshot of the VMs on the SC while it’s installed in the ROBO site, then physically ships it to the main datacenter.

Install and configure application VMs on a ROBO cluster.
Create a protection domain (PD) called PD1 on the ROBO cluster for the VMs and volume groups.
Create an out-of-band snapshot S1 for the PD on ROBO with no expiration.
Create an empty PD called PD1 (same name used in step 2) on the SC.
Deactivate PD1 on the SC.
Create remote sites on the ROBO cluster and the SC.
Retrieve snapshot S1 from the ROBO cluster to the SC (via Prism on the SC).
Ship the SC to the datacenter.
ReIP the SC.
Create remote sites on the SC cluster and on the datacenter main cluster (DC1).
Create PD1 (same name used in steps 2 and 4) on DC1.
Deactivate PD1 on DC1.
Retrieve S1 from the SC to DC1 (via Prism on DC1). Prism generates an alert here, but though it appears to be a full data replication, the SC transferred metadata information only.
Create remote sites on DC1 and the ROBO cluster.
Set up a replication schedule for PD1 on the ROBO cluster in Prism.
Once the first scheduled replication is successful, you can delete snapshot S1 to reclaim space.

To get all of the best practices please download the full document here, https://portal.nutanix.com/#/page/solutions/details?targetId=BP-2083-ROBO-Deployment:BP-2083-ROBO-Deployment

Jun
28

HYCU for You: Icing on the cake for AHV

More-bang-for-your-buck-min

HYCU is a purpose-built application data protection solution for Nutanix. HYCU is coming out of the gate with support for AHV and some key value propositions in mind:
a. 100% Application-focus
b. Backup to NAS &/or Cloud
c. Built to be hypervisor-agnostic. Today it uses changed region tracking API’s available from AOS. Over time HYCU will use those same API’s for other hypervisors.
d. Recover in <2 minutes, deploy in <3 minutes, and learn in <4 minutes. HYCU is developed by Comtrade Software, a Boston-based company. They also develop monitoring solutions like SCOM management packs and Microsoft OMS solutions for Nutanix. Comtrade has really became a part of Nutanix during the development phase. The slack channel between the two companies was great to track progress and not to mention software that meet its release date ahead of schedule! Pick Your Backup Destination?

HYCU provides classic backup and restore through simple and intuitive workflows. You can pickup from a variety of targets to store your data.
• Backup data within datacenter and/or to the cloud
o Nutanix storage
o Third party storage – If you got it, use it.
• Cloud storage – Efficient backup to AWS and Azure that doesnot require cloud-based VM. In most cases the VM running is more costly than the storage so this is a great feature.

Other uses cases
• Application discovery
o Compliance
• Enabling self-service for VM & App/DB Administrators
o Power to protect against impact of patches / upgrades
o Protects SQL out of the box
o Rapid, context sensitive restores
• Restore to alternative location for test / debug / reporting / verification
• Full automation / orchestration through REST API integration

I believe what Veeam did for VMware early can happen again with HYCU for Nutanix. As more and more backup options hit the market for AHV it will be interesting to follow this. If you want to take a spin for your Nutanix CE cluster, sign up here: https://www.comtradesoftware.com/free-trial/