CommVault Backup Solution For Virtual Environments

On January the 26th CommVault introduced their new datamanagement solution Simpana 8. Normally I’m not that much into backup solution. They need to do their job, period! But this one looks very impressive. In my opinion it’s more like “backup virtualization”. Out-of-the-box it provides data-deduplication. How wonderfull is that. This includes embedded-deduplication (backup to disk) and device-deduplication (backup to tape). Resulting in a reduction of data management costs by up to 40% in the first year and reduces the tape consumables by up to 90%!

CommVault data deduplication methods

CommVault data deduplication methods

Backing up all of a sudden became an easy job and besides that eliminating the backup window.

But also cool is that CommVault has a very nice backup solution for virtual environments. It works for both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESX. It includes data-protection, archive, replication and reporting. All this integrated to deliver a complete virtualization solution managed from a single console. How wonderfull is that.

Besides that the software delivers the following capabilities to protect virtualized environments:

– Automated discovery of virtual machines using default protection policies
– Agentless backup of virtual machines eliminating resource consumption
– Multiple backup options, including image-level, file-level, and volume-level
– Multiple recovery options, from individual files to entire virtual machines from any physical server
– Embedded, global deduplication eliminates redundant data and reduces storage footprint
– Flexible architecture for seamless, consistent, reliable data protection across physical and virtual servers
– Fast, cost-effective, and reliable disaster recovery for business continuity
– Centralized management of virtualized and non-virtualized environments

 All great features you want from your backup solution. Giving you an easy to manage backup solution at various datalayers in your virtual environment. I’m impressed, hope to try this a.s.a.p. 🙂

For more information go here.

To ESXi or not to ESXi? That's the question…

ESXi is the small footprint hypervisor created by VMware. It can be implemented on bare-metal servers and is used to host virtual machines. It can be managed by vCenter and is supported by all other VMware product.

So as far as the above few lines state, it is the same as VMware’s “thick” hypervisor : ESX. And there are even some advantages which the “thin” ESXi has over ESX, being :

  • It’s “thin”; As I already stated above, ESXi is a small footprint installation. 32 Mb(!!!) agains approx. 2~3 Gb.
  • Quick install; Boot,accept license, choose disk, install, run. A simple installation method to install it on your server. You can even use a USB drive to boot from.
  • Easy update; Updating ESXi can be compared to flashing a BIOS. Because it’s such a small footprint, just download the newest version and replace the current one. Fast and easy.
  • Simple configuration menu; ESXi comes with a simple configuration menu (again BIOS like) which provides you with all the options you can configure in ESXi. No more service console!
  • More secure; ESXi having such a small footprint (less patches!) and having no external communication interface (CLI for example) except for VC / RCLI makes it more secure then ESX.

Ok, so why don’t we all switch to this small and practicle hypervisor? Well there are some disadvantages which can withhold you from implementing ESXi in a IT production environment, being :

  • Service console is gone; For people already working with the fat ESX : No more service console. Which can be a disadvantage if your IT department frequently uses the command line.
  • No central unattended distribution method; You can’t install ESXi unattended. Which is something you want if you have a large VI. Currently there are no unattended distribution methods as far as I know.
  • Can’t install local agents; There is no service console anymore. So you can’t use local agents on your ESXi host. Everything needs to be able to communicate with the VI API or any other remote connect method to gather information.

Conclusion : ESXi is very suitable for corporate production environment. ESXi has the same functional specs as ESX; you can host virtual machines on it and it can be managed using vCenter. However ESXi has advantages and disadvanstages over ESX. Every environment needs to be evaluated if ESXi is suited for it. If currently you are still dependent on something ESXi can’t provide, for example agent in service console, then continue using ESX.

But switching to ESXi is the future! So if you decide not to  switch now, prepare yourself for the future. Start using ESXi in your test environment, gain experience. Communicate current flaws to VMware and your third party tooling / hardware vendors. They can make this product better with your input!

For more information look at following links. There is a lot of information about ESXi. Read it and make your decision.

VMware whitepaper The Architecture of VMware ESXi

VMware whitepaper Managing VMware ESXi

Presentation by Amir Sharif (VMware) Managing ESXi in the datacenter (Need VMworld login account)

David Sumsky : Differences between ESX and ESXi

David Sumsky : Technical differences between ESX and ESXi

KB 1006543 : ESX and ESXi comparison

KB 1003345 : Differences in supported networking features between ESX server 3.5 and ESX server 3i

Update: When using ESXi you can install agents in VMware’s VIMA. Which also can be used to run the esxcfg commands (Thanx for the additional info goes to Duncan Epping)

The Future Of Computing

Over at CES 2009 last week Microsoft’s Janet Galore gave a conceptual demo of how Microsoft’s technologies will change the way we find, share and use information. The video below will show you the next gen technologies and the way we will use them. A far as I can see we will:

  • Be connected everywhere; Each device will be connected to that one big cloud we have, the internet.
  • Have applications with social network integration; Social networking will integrate with applications. No more addressbooks, creating logins, sending emails, etc. We just share all information through the application we’re working in. How cool is that!
  • Flexible user interface; Apple may be a few steps ahead, but the flexible easy to use interfaces will also make its way in to the most common interface we use. Maybe even your own customized user interface for all devices. Talk about personal tweaking.
  • “Mind map” like presentation of information. I like mindmapping. It’s fast and structured method of showing information in two-dimensional form. Would be great to have such a feature in the future to present large amounts of information.
  • Multi language information display. Would be nice to write something in Dutch and everybody all over the world can read my blog post in their own language.
  • Device interaction. Maybe the coolest feature of them all. Devices that can interact with one another. Sharing information for you without much hassle and on display.

So have a look at this video and see what the future has to offer (according to Microsoft ofcourse 😉 ).

For more information go here.

Use SCOPE approach with server virtualization

Starting server virtualization is always a difficult task to begin with. First thing you need to deside is which servers you want to virtualize (Well some pointers in that direction : all of them!). But with all difficult tasks you need to take a structured approach. Business isn’t  waiting for you to bring down their critical applications. Therefor approach it one step at a time. This gives you the structured approach you need, slowly entering the learning curve of virtualization and giving your IT department the time to adapt to all virtualization technologies.

I would always advice to use a capacity planning tool for your “physical” server environmen, before beginning to start server virtualization. Tools like VMware Capacity Planner and Novell Platespin PowerRecon give you a good insight in what the workloads are on your physical servers. This will then be presented to you in a report with an advice for the most optimal virtual workload distribution across your “yet to be build” virtual infrastructure.

Besides these technical tools, you can also use SCOPE. A conceptual tool by Danielle Ruest and Nelson Ruest. SCOPE lets you quickly identify which workloads to start with. Begin in the lab, maybe even with the lab machines themselves, and slowly move your virtual workloads into production.


SCOPE is the step-by-step approach to virtualize your complete environment. So virtualize your environment in the following steps :

  1. Easy workloads; Servers that don’t consume a large workload and can be easily virtualized.
  2. Production workloads; Server used by users on a day-to-day business but that aren’t critical to your line of business
  3. Operational workloads; These server are mainly used by the IT department itself. Servers which demand a high workload but aren’t business critical
  4. Complex workloads; Server that are, already without virtualization, complex to maintain. These includes the servers which have common applications installed on them in mostly enabled with clustering / load balancing.
  5. Special workload; Each IT infrastructue has those servers which require special attention. When finishing the virtualization of your complete IT infrastructure, these servers will finish the job.

So as you can see, SCOPE gives you a five step approach to virtualizing your IT infrastructure. This will hopefully help you in creating a good virtualization strategy!

More information you can find here.

Cloud Computing Explained #2

Cloud computing, the term being hyped at the moment besides virtualization. Or is it the same a virtualization? Is cloud computing only infrastructure or is there more? You can probably see from my thoughts that the term “cloud computing” still isn’t clear to me. But I don’t think I’m the only one.

I’m reading all I can about it, but again a video says more then a thousand words.  This second video (#1 can be viewed here) emerged on YouTube explaining what cloud computing is all about.  So for all of you wanting to know more about this term see the video below.

VMware Distributed Power Management Video

Video has been on the net some time now. It was published before VMworld 2008. Still I love to put it here to show you what an amazing feature it is. It’s also great because you can see what the VMware product line is capable of.  The video shows you a normal business day with a 4-node VMware cluster being hammered by your average production servers accompanied by some very nice music.

Nice comparison of hypervisors

Danielle Ruest and Neil Ruest over at Redmond Magazine created a nice comparison of hypervisors that are currently available. Lately VMware, Citrix and Microsoft are bashing one another about who has the best, smallest, cheapest, etc. hypervisor. Hope this article will clear things up a little bit…

I especially like their conclusion, stating to find out yourself first before making a choice.

Article conclusion :

Don’t get fooled by stories that outline just how expensive one hypervisor is compared to another. What counts is experience, stability and guest operating system density. When you begin to build your own internal cloud, you’ll quickly discover that the best hypervisor is the one you can master in the shortest possible time frame. All vendors offer free virtualization technologies. Try them out in your lab, and see for yourself which one will run the most VMs and offer the best performance on a given set of hardware resources.

The full article can be found here.

Microsoft Virtualization Products Explained

Virtualization Solutions

 I’m always looking for material to help other people understand what virtualization is all about. Came across this document by Mitch Tulloch of the Microsoft Virtualization Team. It isa nice PDF document about the different types of infrastructure virtualization solutions (based upon Microsoft technologies ofcourse) and is written in such a style that everybody can understand it. So if your looking for information about virtualization and are new to it, please have a look at this document. Ofcourse it’s also usefull for all you virtualizaton geeks as a reference to all the Microsoft Virtualization products.

 Your can find the document here

Cloud Computing Explained

rPath created a video for everybody who is as confused as I was when I first heard the term “cloud computing”. It explains cloud computing in plain english (as they state it). But also give you an explanation on how buzz words like virtualization, utility computing and software-as-a-service correlate to cloud computing.

Well get yourself a nice bucket of popcorn and enjoy!

Hello virtual world!

Welcome to Think©Loud! This is my first post on my newly created blog. Wanted to do this some time, but have been planning this for a couple of months. It’s still a work in progress, but hey everybody got to start somewhere…