Category: Technical Information

Electric Data CenterI have been reading about software defined storage lately.  Software defined storage (SDS) is a confusing term.  What is it?  In its simplest form, It is abstracting the software away from the storage hardware.

 

Why do this?  it is similar is some aspects to when VMWare abstracted the OS from the Hardware.  Software Defined Storage gives flexibility, speed, easy expandability to the overall storage system.  Key features:  Server Side/Hyper-visor side read/write caching; elimination of LUN mapping; Simple Scale up and Scale out.

 

Making the storage software separate from the hardware has many traditional SAN vendors chasing to create their own solutions.  If you search SDS, you get a who's who of SAN and Server Venders.  RedHat has an open source storage server, IBM, EMC, VMWare, etc.  There are a few new players Gridstore, Nutanix and SimpliVity.  Each of of these vendor solutions have different pros/cons features and benefits and most importantly cost.

 

If you are interested in learning more about SDS, contact us at Deltaware, we can help you determine if SDS is an option for you as well as help identify a solution that integrates with your current systems.

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Ever had to get an ISO file on a VMWare server that was new?  Here are two ways to move ISO files to new (Blank) VMWare systems.  Both methods require a properly configured VMWare system with properly configured networking.

 

The first method:  Use an external NFS mount.  Use this method when a customer uses NFS in the environment and there are large amounts of VMWare hosts running in the environment.

VMWare Storage

  1. Log in to the vSphere Client and select the VMWare host from the Inventory panel.
  2. Click the Configuration tab and click Storage in the Hardware panel.
  3. Click Datastores and click Add Storage.
  4. Select Network File System as the storage type and click Next.
  5. Enter the server name, the mount point folder name, and the datastore name.
  6. For the server name, you can enter an IP address, a DNS name, or an NFS UUID.

 

*Note: Use the same server name for each VMWare host.

 

The second method:  Use the VMWare datastore browser. 

VMWare datastore

  1. Log in to the vSphere Client and select the VMWare host from the Inventory panel.
  2. In the inventory, click Datastores and on the Objects tab, select the datastore to which you will upload the file.
  3. Click Browse this datastore.
  4. (Optional) Click the Create a new folder icon.
  5. Select the folder that you created or select an existing folder, and click the Upload a File icon (Upload file to datastore).
  6. If the Client Integration Access Control dialog box appears, click Allow to allow the plug-in to access your operating system and proceed with the file upload.VMWare Datastore
  7. On the local computer, find the ISO file and upload it.
  8. ISO upload times vary, depending on file size and network upload speed.
  9. Refresh the datastore file browser to see the uploaded file in the list.

 

*Note:  I have had issues with incomplete uploads when trying to use this method over a WAN.

 

After you upload the ISO image installation media, you can configure the virtual machine CD-ROM drive to access the ISO file that was uploaded.

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I have been installing Guest OS's and VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) on my SimpliVity OmniCubes for the past couple of weeks.  The largest wow factor for me has come from OmniCubes ability to compress data and remove redundant data.  My OmniCube Systems are configured in two different Data Centers (Rogers, MN and Alexandria, MN)

 

"Once and Forever" this quote refers to the Data Deduplication, Compression and Optimization provided in hardware via the OmniCube Accelerator™.  This card Dedupes, Compresses and optimizes the data as it enters the OmniCube system the first time.  Why is this important?  Less data being stored means less IOPS needed, less storage used, less bandwidth required on replication, less number of times going to management asking for more disk space, etc.

 

The OmniCube Accelerator, being a separate hardware device, performs the deduplication, compression and optimization independent of the OmniCube host system.  It does the work in parallel and as the data enters the system.  This hardware independence keeps the host systems resources dedicated to running VMWare and Guest OS's.

 

A picture says a thousand words, SimpliVity has put in some nice graphics depicting exactly how much data that is stored in the system, how much as VM (Virtual Machine) Data, how much accounts for local and remote backups and the overall efficiency of the system.

SimpliVity Data Center Overview
SimpliVity Data Center Overview

 

The screen is split into two sections, the section on the left spells out the logical amount of storage that is currently in the OmniCube.  The section on the right describes the physical media and how much data is actually stored on the system.

 

What amazes me the most is the significant data efficiency ratios that I was able to achieve in such a short time-frame.   I have a combination of Windows 7 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2012 R2, Ubuntu 12.10 and Ubuntu 13.12 all on the system.  The VM data accounts for 477 GB of primary data.  Including local and remote backups my logical foot print is 2.3 TB in size.  The physical foot print is only 47 GB in size!  This represents a 10:1 savings in primary storage and a 49:1 savings on total storage capacity!

 

Of course, these ratios vary.  The data stored by each environment is unique and the amount of savings to be had will vary based on actual data stored.  I do not expect my customers to have the same results as I, since my data is not very volatile.  Customers that I have talked to that utilize SimpliVity have indicated that they all have significant data efficiency rates.

 

A by-product, that was almost as amazing to me, was the speed at which my backups finished with the hardware deduplication engine.   I have backed up and moved an entire Windows Server from one data center to the other in about 60 seconds.  Unlike VM Centric Snapshots, the SimpliVity Backup is a full backup each time it is performed.

 

I started my demonstration build with the thought in mind to show how well the OmniCube Accelerator reduces data.  SimpliVity has greatly exceeded the expectations I had before I started building the demonstration site.   Click this link to download a whitepaper discussing how SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Engine (DVE) leverages real-time deduplication, compression and optimization technologies.

 

Contact us if you want to see results like this in your environment!

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We (DeltaWare) have been using Office 365 E3 for about 6 months now and we have been pleasantly surprised how easy it is to use and administer.  I have compiled a list of features that we like the best.

 

Office365

  1. Reduced the amount of servers needed at our location.  We had an onsite Exchange,  Lync, and file server.  By moving to Office 365 freed up the resources three servers, the maintenance associated with them, and the complexity of firewall rules and external IP addresses.  The systems also work easily whether working on-site or remote.
  2. Ease of access from our devices.  We use a mixture of Windows laptops, Windows tablets, Android OS and Apple IOS.  We can get our email and communicate with ease.
  3. Access to Microsoft Office on up five different devices per person.
  4. We are using features that we did not have access to before like SkyDrive Pro (OneDrive), MS SharePoint, OneNote.
  5. Compliance Features - Features span areas of data loss prevention (DLP), eDiscovery, auditing and reporting.  This is key for companies needing to adhere to security rules like HIPAA.
  6. Regular updates - Updates for all of the Office 365 products are done automatically by Microsoft personnel in the background with no downtime.  This insures that we always have the latest spam filters, product updates and security patches.

 

We at DeltaWare like using Office 365 to simplify our lives, we are sure that you will like it as well!

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Having performed years of remote support, sometimes a quick short cut get things done much faster than mouse navigation.  One item that I use is the shell: command.

 

The shell command opens up a particular windows explorer folder, this is useful when trying to determine what the operating system is using for default folders.  I use this commonly for getting to a location and seeing what files exist or changing particular parameters.  The shell command can also be useful when writing scripts or other automation tasks.Run

 

The list below has been tested on Windows 8.1.  It may not be a complete list of shell commands.  To get the command to function (in Windows 8.1), open a run dialog by right clicking on start,  select run, paste or type in the shell command and click ok.

 

An alternative method is to open a cmd prompt and type the command.  When utilized this way cmd needs to know that it is targeted at windows explorer.  Each Shell Command must have explorer added to the beginning.  For example c:>explorer shell:command  is the same as opening a Run dialog and typing shell:command.

 

I have highlighted the few that I found new in Windows 8.1 in red.

 

shell:AccountPictures                               C:Users(Current-UserAccountPictures

shell:AddNewProgramsFolder                Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsGet Programs

shell:AppData                                             C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoaming

shell:AppsFolder                                        Applications

shell:Application Shortcuts                      C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsApplication Shortcuts

shell:AppUpdatesFolder                           Installed Updates

shell:Cache                                                  C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet Files

shell:CD Burning                                         C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsBurnBurn

shell:ChangeRemoveProgramsFolder    Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsPrograms and Features

shell:Common Administrative Tools        C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsAdministrative Tools

shell:Common AppData                             C:ProgramData

shell:Common Desktop                             C:UsersPublicDesktop

shell:Common Documents                       C:UsersPublicDocuments

shell:CommonDownloads                         C:UsersPublicDownloads

shell:CommonMusic                                   C:UsersPublicMusic

shell:CommonPictures                               C:UsersPublicPictures

shell:Common Programs                           C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms

shell:CommonRingtones                           C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsRingtones

shell:Common Start Menu                        C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart Menu

shell:Common Startup                               C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsStartup

shell:Common Templates                          C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsTemplates

shell:CommonVideo                                   C:UsersPublicVideos

shell:ConflictFolder                                     Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsSync CenterConflicts

shell:ConnectionsFolder                           Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsNetwork Connections

shell:Contacts                                              C:Users(Current-User)Contacts

shell:ControlPanelFolder                           Control PanelAll Control Panel Items

shell:Cookies                                               C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsINetCookies

shell:CookiesLow                                      C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsINetCookiesLow

shell:CredentialManager                           C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftCredentials

shell:CryptoKeys                                         C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftCrypto

shell:desktop                                               Current-User desktop folder

shell:device Metadata Store                     C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsDeviceMetadataStore

shell:documentsLibrary                             Current-User LibrariesDocuments

shell:downloads                                          C:Users(Current-User)Downloads

shell:dpapiKeys                                           C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftProtect

shell:Favorites                                             C:Users(Current-User)Favorites

shell:Fonts                                                   C:WindowsFonts

shell:Games                                                Current-User Games

shell:GameTasks                                        C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsGameExplorer

shell:History                                               C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsHistory

shell:ImplicitAppShortcuts                       C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick LaunchUser PinnedImplicitAppShortcuts

shell:InternetFolder                                   Opens a new Internet Explorer

shell:Libraries                                              Libraries - Useful in Windows 8.1 since Microsoft hid this folder

shell:Links                                                    C:Users(Current-User)Links

shell:Local AppData                                   C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocal

shell:LocalAppDataLow                             C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalLow

shell:MusicLibrary                                      LibrariesMusic

shell:MyComputerFolder                          Opens "This PC"

shell:My Music                                            C:Users(Current-User)Music

shell:My Pictures                                        C:Users(Current-User)Pictures

shell:My Video                                            C:Users(Current-User)Videos

shell:NetHood                                            C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsNetwork Shortcuts

shell:NetworkPlacesFolder                      "Network"

shell:Personal                                             C:Users(Current-User)Documents

shell:PicturesLibrary                                  LibrariesPictures

shell:PrintersFolder                                   All Control Panel ItemsPrinters

shell:PrintHood                                         C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsPrinter Shortcuts

shell:Profile                                                C:Users(Current-User)

shell:ProgramFiles                                    C:Program Files

shell:ProgramFilesCommon                    C:Program FilesCommon Files

shell:ProgramFilesCommonX64              C:Program FilesCommon Files (64-bit Windows only)

shell:ProgramFilesCommonX86              C:Program Files (x86)Common Files (64-bit Windows only)

shell:ProgramFilesX86                               C:Program Files (x86) (64-bit Windows only)

shell:ProgramFilesX64                               C:Program Files (64-bit Windows only)

shell:Programs                                           C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms

shell:Public                                                  C:Public

shell:PublicAccountPictures                     C:UsersPublicAccountPictures

shell:PublicGameTasks                             C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsGameExplorer

shell:PublicLibraries                                  C:UsersPublicLibraries

shell:Quick Launch                                    C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick Launch

shell:Recent                                                C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsRecent

shell:RecycleBinFolder                              Recycle Bin

shell:ResourceDir                                      C:WindowsResources

shell:Ringtones                                          C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsRingtones

shell:Roaming Tiles                                   C:Users(Current-User)AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsRoamingTiles

shell:SavedGames                                     C:Users(Current-User)Saved Games

shell:Searches                                            C:Users(Current-User)Searches

shell:SearchHomeFolder                          Search Results window opens.

shell:SendTo                                               C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsSendTo

shell:SkyDrive                                            SkyDrive shell folder

shell:SkyDriveDocuments                       C:Users(Current-User)SkyDriveDocuments

shell:Start Menu                                       C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart Menu

shell:Startup                                             C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsStartup

shell:SyncCenterFolder                          Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsSync Center

shell:SyncResultsFolder                         Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsSync CenterSync Results

shell:SyncSetupFolder                            Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsSync CenterSync Setup

shell:System                                             C:WindowsSystem32

shell:SystemX86                                      C:WindowsSysWOW64

shell:SystemCertificates                         C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftSystemCertificates

shell:Templates                                        C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsTemplates

shell:ThisPCDesktopFolder                    Desktop

shell:User Pinned                                    C:Users(Current-User)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick LaunchUser Pinned

shell:UserProfiles                                    C:Users

shell:UsersFilesFolder                            C:Users(Current-User)

shell:UsersFilesFolderDesktop            C:Users(Current-User)Desktop

shell:UsersLibrariesFolder                     Libraries

shell:VideosLibrary                                  LibrariesVideos

shell:Windows                                          C:Windows