Building a vRealize Automation NSX Lab on Ravello

imageAs a vExpert, I am blessed to get 1000 CPU hours access to Ravello’s awesome platform and recently I’ve been playing with the AutoLab deployments tailored for Ravello.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ravello’s offering (where have you been?!) then it’s basically a custom hypervisor (HVX) running on either AWS or Google Cloud that allows you to run nested environments on those platforms. I did say it’s awesome.

As an avid home-lab enthusiast Ravello initially felt weird, but having used it for a while I can definitely see the potential to augment, and in some cases completely replace the home lab. I spent some time going through Nigel Poulton’s AWS course on Pluralsight to get a better understanding of the AWS platform and I think that helped, but it’s definitely not required to get started on Ravello.

One more thing to add before I start the setup – even if I didn’t have 1000 hours free, the pricing model means that you could run your lab on Ravello for a fraction of the cost of a higher spec home lab. It’s definitely an option to consider unless you’re running your lab 24/7.


PernixData FVP 3.0 GA and Lab Install

pernixdataI’ve been running “Pernix-less” since vSphere 6 was released, simply because I can’t afford to wait on learning new versions until 3rd party software catches up. It makes you truly appreciate the awesome power of FVP, even on my less than spectacular hardware in my lab, when it’s taken away for a while.

Now that FVP 3.0 has GA’d, I’m looking forward to getting my lab storage accelerated – it makes a huge difference.

What’s new in FVP 3.0? Well, to quote the release notes:

A stand alone, browser based FVP Management Console.

Support for vSphere 6.0

Performance and scalability improvements.

Ability to rename the PRNXMS database.

Online and offline license activation via the new standalone UI.

Obviously support for vSphere 6.0 was the big one I was waiting for, but don’t discount the rather understated “Performance and scalability improvements”. Not sure if renaming the database is a headline for release, but I’ll let that go. I’m really, really, REALLY hoping the license activation has improved because I found it a little clunky and frustrating before…we’ll see… (more…)

Deploying VMTurbo Virtual Health Monitor

Why pay for monitoring? VMTurbo Free Virtual MonitorHaving just welcomed VMTurbo on board as a blog sponsor, I thought I’d do a quick posting on how to deploy their free Virtual Health Monitor appliance.

Sign up for a free license here and download the appropriate version

Deploy the VMTurbo Appliance

Deploying the appliance is simply a case of importing the OVA downloaded. There’s nothing really to configure and it took 61 seconds in my lab environment, so it’s pretty quick! Network configuration is via DHCP and you can configure a static IP by logging into the console and running “ipsetup”

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Unable to start PernixData FVP Management Server – service-specific error code 0

Having finally got some SSDs to be able to use my PernixPro/PernixPrime NFR license, I thought it was about time to get PernixData’s FVP 2.0 running in my lab again. I haven’t used FVP in my lab since it was running in beta, so I was keen to see the awesome new features in action. It really is an easy install process and took me less than an hour to get my cluster up and running with VMs I/O being accelerated.

That was Friday evening – over the weekend my lab patched, and when I rebooted my FVP Management Server, the service refused to start:

Windows could not start the PernixData FVP Management Server on Local Computer


On checking the Event Log, it was as useful as a chocolate teapot:


Next, I checked the PernixData FVP log files (located in C:\Program Files\PernixData\FVP Management Server\Server\log, or your install location). Within the commons-daemon log file, a little more useful information:

[2014-10-27 09:31:17] [error] Failed creating java
[2014-10-27 09:31:17] [error] ServiceStart returned 1


At this point I double-checked the version of the Java run-time I had installed and noticed that it was the 32-bit version, rather than the required 64-bit.


PernixData FVP actually installs the correct Java runtime when you install it. My mistake was that when I went to activate my PernixData license, I installed the 32-bit JRE in order to run the activation process in the browser – at which point my FVP service would no longer start. I completely removed the 32-bit version and installed the 64-bit JRE and the service started perfectly!

Book Review: Learning Veeam Backup and Replication for VMware vSphere

I was recently sent a copy of Christian Mohn’s new book “Learning Veeam Backup and Replication for VMware vSphere” to review, and as ever this is my honest opinion of this book. I am not receiving anything other than the copy of the book for this review. I don’t work for a vendor, so I have no axe to grind!


The book starts of with explanations of basic backup strategies and explains principals like Grandfather-Father-Son media rotation and RPO/RTOs. From there it dives into the architecture of Veeam BR and its components. The remainder of chapter 1 covers a walk through of the installation of the product.

Chapter 2 covers the configuration of backups, and gives some background into the different types of backups within Veeam, their drawbacks, and how Veeam have addressed them. For example solving the problem of having to combine incremental backups with the last full, which Veeam solve with synthetic full backups. The chapter also covers backup proxies, and configuring backup jobs, copying to tape or remote repository, and the WAN accelerator.

The next chapter walks through performing restores with Veeam, including full VMs, VM files (like a vmx) and VMDKs, and guest OS files.

Chapter 4 covers the replication part of Veeam Backup and Replication, and after explaining the differences between backup and replication it covers the infrastructure required before stepping through the set-up of a replication job. It also covers the process for fail over and fail-back, and here is one example of where I’d like to see some comparison – e.g. with VMware’s SRM, which has a similar feature set.

The fifth and final chapter covers some of the more unique features of Veeam’s offering, and I thought it provided a good explanation of those features – here is where I think walk through of setup/config would be most valuable, but it reads more as a feature list than a learning guide.


I found the writing style easy to read and I thought it flowed quite well throughout the book – this is always impressive when the author’s first language isn’t English.

I did find that I had to keep reminding myself that the book is specifically written about a single product rather than a more agnostic approach – I felt it read more like a vendor produced document. Personally, I would have liked some comparison with other well-known backup products to ground it a little and perhaps some more real-world explanations to distinguish it from vendor install documentation.

Perhaps that’s a little unfair as the book is specifically about that one product, and there is added value in the explanations provided. The introduction specifically states that it’s aimed at “vSphere administrators looking for an introduction to Veeam Backup & Replication v7 for VMware” and it definitely does provide that.

Learning Veeam Backup and Replication for VMware vSphere is available on Amazon and Packt


Blogger briefing with Satyam Vaghani – PernixData

Recently I had the good fortune to be invited along to a blogger briefing with Satyam Vaghani CTO and Co-founder of PernixData.satyamvaghani-304

Those of you not in the know Satyam already has quite the track record, more notably for authoring 50+ patents, Principle engineer and Storage CTO for VMware (10 years). So it is safe to say he knows a thing or two about storage and related technology!

Nine of us (bloggers) were in attendance. (@dawoo @Archie_Hendryx @Craig_Kilborn @GreggRobertson5 @dellock6 @egrigson @julian_wood @simoneady @virtualisedgeek)

At the time of meeting Satyam, PernixData was 2 years and 2 months old and already has had a large impact on the storage industry.

FVP was of course at the forefront of discussion and how it stands unique in the  storage market place by providing clustered read and write acceleration of any shared storage.

Satyam was very clear, he believes customers should be less focused on renewing/replacing your shared storage in an effort to maintain or improve existing performance but rather focus on simply increasing the overall shared storage capacity and scale out your caching system (clustered flash) to deliver that consistent predictable high performance applications and end users demand and expect. He also highlighted how right now the storage industry has never been more fluid, after 20 years of predictable changes and advances the emergence of SSD and flash has turned the industry upside down. Flash based technologies have already been proven to exceed the performance limitations of well known products like SQL Server where the code is now having to be reviewed to take advantage of the new speeds available.


Infinio accelerator – quick review

INFINIO LOGOI recently came across Infinio and after reading about the unique way it tackled the problem of increasing I/O and reducing latency I was curious to see how it would perform in my lab.

A few things I would like to point out. First of all Infinio works only with NFS storage, secondly it does not require flash storage as it utilizes the host RAM instead however it provides only read acceleration.

I chose to setup 1 NFS store per array (RAID1 & RAID0) to see if there were any discernible differences. I had several existing lab VMs (DC and other general VMs) but for additional I/O load I added 3 I/O intensive VMs for each NFS volume.


You can see distinct increases to I/O when switched on








Path Selection Policies after removing PernixData

pernixdataRecently I have had the pleasure to use PernixData but I did come across a bit of a ‘gotcha’ after uninstalling it from my hosts.

If like me you use iSCSI then you will likely spend a bit of time setting up your Path Selection Polices to suit your specific needs, so it was interesting to note the following.

When you do uninstall and remove PernixData from your hosts your Path Selection Polices do not revert back to your original configuration rather they revert back to the default vSphere setting of MRU (Most recently used).

This is worth noting as this is not mentioned in the documentation PernixData provide.

UPDATE – After being contacted by the guys at PernixData I can confirm they will be updating their documentation shortly to reflect this outcome.

Pernixdata – ICM and initial impressions – part 1

pernixdataSince the keynote by Frank Denneman at the LonVMUG many months ago the PernixData product has been something I wanted to test to see what benefits it may or may not bring to our SQL environment, I did have the good fortune to briefly beta test it last year but this blog post will cover the current full version (FVP I am aware that 1.5 is just around the corner and with it comes full support for vSphere 5.5 whereas the current version that I will be installing supports ESXi hosts on 5.0 or 5.1 and vCenter 5.5 (not mentioned in the minimum requirements)


  • 3x Dell R715
  • 3x Dell SSD (1 installed in each host)
  • iSCSI connected SAN

ESXi Host preparation

The first job is to install the PernixData host extensions to the hosts, I opted to copy the extension to a data store that was accessible to all the hosts. After putting the first host into maintenance mode I quickly encounter my first issue.





This was simply as a result of not removing the previous install from this particular host so it was easy enough to fix by simply removing the previous installation with the following command cp /opt/pernixdata/bin/ /tmp/ && /tmp/ (as outlined in the PernixData FVP install guide)

After a reboot of the host (just to make sure) I reran the installation with success.

Management server install

As per the PernixData documentation I created a new AD account which had the appropriate admin permissions on vCenter and  local admin rights on the dedicated VM for the FVP management server.

Because this environment uses a vCenter 5.5 Appliance I created a small dedicated VM (Server 2008 R2) for the FVP management server, I installed SQL Express 2008 R2 and then the SQL Express management studio. Once SQL was installed I proceeded to install the FVP Management server, the installation went ahead with no problems. I rebooted the VM (just to be sure) and then once back up I reopened my vSphere client hoping to see the Management plugin listed in the Plugins, however it was not there. I checked the PernixData Windows service which had indeed started successfully.

Checking the logs (<INSTALLDIR>\server\log\prnxms.log) there was clearly a problem.

2014-02-28 11:50:53,371 [pool-3-thread-1] ERROR Context – Logging by SSPI failed A general system error occurred: User mydomain\pernixuseraccount, cause: N3Vpx6Common3Sso23DomainNotFoundExceptionE(No Domain found with ID: mydomain)

I went and double checked the username and its credentials, everything seemed perfectly fine, I restarted the service still the same error.

I wanted to see what configuration was actually being used so I took a quick look at the Configuration file (<INSTALLDIR>\server\conf\prnxms.config)

The following lines in the config file were empty


So as a test I populated the fields with the correct information


It is also important to ensure the following line is set to cleartext (as shown) before restarting the service


After restarting the Management server service it will encrypt the password text and reset the line entry to the following


I then closed and reopened the vSphere client and voila! the FVP Management plug was listed as an available plugin.

After installing the plugin I created a flash Cluster but at this point did not add any SSD devices to the cluster, this will allow us to then add any targeted VMs and gather existing metrics for a few days so we can then compare how much benefit the targetted VMs actually get after “switching it on”.

In my next post I will go over the results and my overall experience of using the PernixData product.