Altaro VM backup 7: the restores (part 2)

So a couple of weeks ago I managed to get my homelab backups running with Altaro.  Backups off course are nice but are worthless if you can’t recover them. This is  why this 2nd and last part of mini serie is about restoring the backups. Altaro has several options available: Restore clone, to a different host, File level restore and Exchange Item level restore plus the option to do a sandbox restore or simulation for testing those backups.

Table of Contents

Disk Usage
VM Restore
File level restore
Sandbox and verification
Boot from backup
Reports
Conclusion

Disk usage

Before restoring anything I was curious how much disk space is in use

Not that much, disk E is in use for the domain controller, file server, pfsense and server 2012 template while disk F is in use for the vCenter server, Platform Service controller and windows 7 template.

And this is how Altaro shows everything int he dashboard (can’t find any other reporting option on storage, yes that’s a hint Altaro I want that stuff in the mail!)

A very small growth rate but then I haven’t done a while lot with the homelab in this time. But the compression and dedupe are nice while the cpu doesn’t even spike that much each day.


VM restore

Ok, enough text about disk usage, let’s actually restore something! First up is VM restore.

To start select the datastore where the VM is saved. I would have preferred to select the VM first because at this point I don’t care where it is saved I want it back asap. And yes I can select all datastores but that shouldn’t be needed.

Click next and select the VM to be restored

Here I can select the point in time to restore from, the name of the restored VM (why does the default name contain clone while it’s a restore?), where to restore to and to disabled the NIC or not.

In vCenter you’ll see a new VM created, renamed and snapshotted

Now Altaro will fill it up and after 23 minutes of waiting (on my slow server) I had a fully functional VM that thought it had crashed 😉


File Level restore

File level restore isn’t that different from a VM level restore. I won’t bore you with the screenshots but first select the datastore and vm to restore from. Then select the point in time you want to get something back from. I don’t really get the order in which this is presented either.

Select the disk, partition, folder and eventually file to restore

Select the place to restore it to (why isn’t the original VM an option over here?)

And the file is restored


Sandbox and verification

Sandbox testing the VM’s is rather easy as well. First choose what you actually want to test. At first I’ll try the option to verify folders. For some steps I will only show the image because I am afraid that you’ve already fallen asleep by now.

Very weird but I can’t select any folders to test? My guess is that all folders will be tested, why do you name it verify folders then?

The full Test Restore is exactly the same but it mounts the VM so you can see it booting. To me this sounds exactly like restoring a VM with its NIC disabled. There seems to be no notification of a successful test and I needed to go to the dashboard to see if it succeeded. And there only the result is visible and no logs or anything. Also the option to remove the sandbox VM is missing.

The option to remove the test VM that seems to be missing is available in the Schedule test drills option. First refresh your infrastructure and select the VMware schedule type

Add a new Sandbox restore schedule, again there are 2 major options, file test and full test restore

So for the full test restore you can select after how much time the VM will be deleted. Besides the schedule not a whole lot of options.

After the schedule has been created you need to drag a VM to the schedule. I guess this will test the last version of the VM backup but for me it would be nice to also test two versions earlier or something.


Boot from backup

The storage I use won’t be able to handle this properly but Altaro also has the option to boot a VM directly from the storage it is saved on. First select if you want to do a verification or recovery mode boot. To show the screens I will take the first option.

It has the same screens to select storage,VM and date so I won’t bother you again with those. At the version tab you can again select the host, datastore to restore to and if you want to have the NIC’s disabled or not.


Reports

The reporting doesn’t really contain a whole lot except a list of succeeded or failed tasks. The detail button doesn’t add a whole lot of information either.

The error history shows a bit more information but still not a lot.


Conclusion

Altaro is a reasonable well done product that lack’s a bit in options for the professional in me. Getting it running is easy and for smaller environments (up to 50 VM’s) where there is no dedicated admin it should get the job done. If they make the move to a Linux based appliance that might be better because for these smaller environments every penny and thus license counts. What I do like are the build in options to actually test the backups.

Getting Started with Altaro VM backup 7 (part 1)

One of the perks of being a VMware vExpert is that you now and then get licenses for and a chance to play with new software. Since I needed a backup solution for my lab I remembered a couple of Backup software builders int he list of companies that support the community. From this list I decided to give Altaro a go and requested the vExpert NFR License. Within a day I received the license and it turned out they just released a brand new version of their software: Version 7!

You can go to Altaro’s website to see what’s new in this version.

The mail contained a download link to the software and after a while I had a new (backup) vm rolled out (someone who wants to sponsor a NUC with 32GB RAM for me? ML150G6’s are slooooooow). Installing the software is next next finish so I won’t bore with that. One thing I noticed is no requirement for a database server. Let’s hope my disks are fast enough for what Altaro does.

This post is in no means a deep dive in what Altaro can give you. It’s a step by step guide to set it up and get started with the product. Also I show some features that are present in the console. Except for the NFR license Altaro has had no influence on this post itself.

Getting Started

The first thing you see after the installation is the Welcome screen that let’s you choose to connect to a local or remote server. Just select this machine (I like it that they mention the required port for the remote server though!)

Next up is the Quick Setup screen, select add Hyper-V / VMware Host (duh)

So here you can select between loose ESXi hosts and vCenter, I selected vCenter.

Enter the vCenter’s dns name/ip address and proper credentials (yes I am lazy in my lab) and next (it wil test the connection itself anyway. Under port settings you can set alternate ports if required.

Altaro will now recognize and add the ESXi hosts that are added to the vCenter server. It had no problems with my LABESX01 that is powered down. Hit finish to end this.

You are taken to the hosts screen where they show running on a trial license.

You can hit the 30 days remaining to add licenses, the licensing options will be shown.

The license can be added with the appropriate button. Enter the license key and select assign license.

You need to repeat this for all hosts!

After this I went back to the quick setup screen to add storage. Altaro has several options to write to but I added a couple of cmdk’s to the backup server that run on local slow as **** sata drives on this server.

Select physical disk

Select the disk (yes these screenshots are mixed up), create a new folder if you want and choose select .

When the storage is added you can link vm’s to the storage by drag & drop.

back to the quick setup i went and choose to create the first backup. this will take you to the take backup screen, select the vm to backup and hit take backup.

Schedules

I decided to remove the original schedules and add a new one. The time might look strange but during the daytime no-one is home and I ain’t playing with it unlike in the evening and sometimes nights. After deleting the old ones click Add Backup Schedule

Select the time and days you want to run the backup at.

When the schedule is created drag and drop the vm’s to the schedule to link them. Don’t forget to save these settings at the bottom.

Retention

Setting retentions is fairly easy, by default vm’s are linked to the 2 week retention policy. If you remove them by clicking the X they wil get moved to the Never delete policy! Please be aware that after adding a retention time I wasn’t able to remove it so this might get cluttered easily.

Notifications

Fairly basic stuff in here, you can get notified by email or events int he event log.

Advanced Settings

Not that extremely advanced but under advanced settings you can select deduplication, encryption, iso’s to be backupped and if Change Block tracking needs to be used. The last option is exclude drives where you actually select the vmdk to exclude so make sure what vmdk is what drive or mapping.

VSS Settings

Under VSS Settings you have the option to select application consistent  backups and to truncate logs.

The Master encryption Key

.The name says enough about what this does.

The End of part 1

In this part one we got started using Altaro Vm Backup 7 and viewed some of the options In the management console. In the next part we’re going to see if we can actually restore files, maybe start a vm from backup and see what the sandboxing does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New VMware fling: View Client Resizer

I must have missed i during the holiday season but VMware has released a new fling: the View Client Resizer. It’s a simple fling that let’s you easily select any resolution you want to check your VMware Horizon View environment on to see how it behaves. The steps below I have done on a 2-screen setup.

  1. First you go to https://labs.vmware.com/flings/view-client-resizer and download the zip file
  2. Next unpack the zip file
  3. Start the executable
  4. Start the Horizon View client and open a VDI session
  5. Push refresh in the tool and it wil show the active sessions in the pulldown menu
  6.  
  7. Click resize and the session wil go to the top left corner of the Primary monitor in that resolution.

You can pick any of the default resolutions or make one up (smartphone resolutions for example ) as long as the x is between the digits with a minimum right now it seems of 800*600

 

Beware of MS KB3170455 with Windows 7 floating desktops

Yes I know 3170455 was released last summer but early last month when I released our new golden image we ran into a problem with this update. What happened was that users had problems with some printers. When adding them they got this warning:

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(This is an example picture, I believe Xerox has proper drivers now)

And when they logged in to a fresh desktop they couldn’t print and when we checked their printer it said it needed drivers.

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What I found was that this only happened with drivers of the non packaged type. Microsoft has been pushing to use packaged drivers ever since Windows Vista came out but apparently some manufacturers stil use older style not supported drivers. This is easily checked when you go into Print management and have included the column packaged.

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Microsoft has been giving these warnings for a while but up until this kb there was a workaround by setting this group policy setting:

Computer Configuration>Policies> Administrative Templates>Printers>Point and Print Restrictions from Not Configured to Disabled or enabled with some settings.

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With this KB installed and probably also with he other kb’s for other OS mentioned in the accompanying security bulletin: https://technet.microsoft.com/library/security/MS16-087 Windows ignores this setting and gives the warning anyway. For most systems clicking the allow once won’t be a big issue but when you have floating desktops where the printers get added every logon this is an issue so please be aware of this!

VCAP6-DTM Deploy prep started

After VMworld I decided vcap6-dtm deploy would be my first real attempt at a vcap (I don’t count the design since 2 weeks prep impossibly is enough). In between the vcp7-dtm beta came around so the prepping for the Deploy exam really starts now. I am currently rebuilding my homelab for this since this wil take hours and hours of lab time. Some very good people have already attempted and failed this exam so i really need to take all the time I can get. To bad the blueprint isn’t available as a pdf but I copy/pasted the page from VMware.com and it can be found here. I have downloaded most of the documents stated in there and those can be found over here.

 

Is updating @VMware ESXi at @Nutanix really that easy?

Do you want the short answer or the long answer?

Short: Yes!

Long: Absolutely!

The real story:

  • After doing several Acropolis (CVM) & NCC (Health check) upgrades before on my customer’s Nutanix clusters today was the first time to do an actual hypervisor upgrade. Since we run everything on VMware we wanted to go from 5.5u2 to 6.0u2. The first things to do is to check all compatibility charts and with Acropolis at 4.6.4 and NCC at 2.2.8 we had green lights all over the board.
  • What I always do first before doing anything is running a health check. Since NCC 2.2 you can run some of the checks parallel to save some time:
ncc health_checks run_all -parallel=4

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  • After the check and make sure DRS is set on automated and vSphere HA is turned on as it should otherwise you won’t be updating anything!
  • Next up is heading to Prism, no we’re not doing any cli work when a GUI is better and just as fast!
  • The first thing to do is upload the software (Offline bundle zip file from VMware.com and json file from Nutanix.com)

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  • Go to Software Upgrade

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  • Select Upload the hypervisor Binary

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  • Select the binary and the Json files and hit Upload Now

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  • When this is done hit the arrow besides the upgrade button and select the pre-check (the real upgrade also does this but it is never wrong to check twice!)

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  • Enter the IP of the vCenter (not DNS!) and credentials

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  • This won’t take long but if you get bored hit the Nothing do to button for a game of 2048 presented to you by our friends at Nutanix

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  • You might need to re-open the Software Upgrade but but somewhere it will be done now

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  • When this finishes successful it’s time to hit the real upgrade button

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  • You know what to do here right?

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  • The waiting game has started since there will be a lot of vMotion’s and reboots
  • This it might be time for this again

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  • If you re-open the Software Upgrade bit it will show the versions of ESXi the cluster is now running

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  • Aaaaaaand we’re done

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So actually creating this post took longer then the preparation and actions for the upgrade themselves. For me that was 5 minutes work in preparation and about 20 minutes per host for the upgrade itself.

 

 

 

 

Received the VCAP6-DTM Design beta exam result

Well as expected I failed this one miserably! I scored 183 where 300 was required while the scoring range is 100-500. Points to improve are all over the place so I guess it’s all back to the drawing boards while I’m still not sure if I want to do the deploy first or not.

Also I only hard from people whom also failed this Beta and no passes yet!

VMworld 2016 US Part 4 – the last one!

So right now it’s thursday evening and here I am in my hotel room too damn tired to even go outside. VMworld is a wrap and wow it was awesome. Yesterday I had 2 more sessions. First a quick vExpert session at the Docker booth where we got a nice vExpert embroided hat.Then it was time to get the vExpert Raspberry Pi 3 at the Datrium booth. Men they had big issues on getting them in but succeeded at last so thank you very much for that! I ended with a Rubrik session with Chris Wahl that was pretty good. In the evening it was time for the biggest party of them all at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. To be honest I think the sound of the bands sucked and the music of the dj’s wasn’t good either but I had an awesome time playing all the games, talking to people ad even made a lap in 1 of the 50! Rental cars that wil probably be going back to budget with hardly any tires left.

So today was the last day and I did only 1 session and that was about troubleshooting Horizon and killed the time by doing some labs and hanging at the vBrownbag area where I learned a lot by listening to the sessions. This space just seemed to be vExpert HQ the whole week.

All in all I think this was the best way ever to experience your first VMworld. I really want to thank all vExperts for welcoming me in the community because I don’t think I would have had such an awesome experience without you guys!

VMworld 2016 US report part 3

Wow it’s wednesday already, time flies at VMworld! Yesterday again was an awesome day, first the 2nd keynote and after I had to head out to the Luxor for the Inner Circle fireside chat.

The Inner Circle is a group of about a 1000 people that is engaged by the VMware Customer Advocacy program. We have our own forum, weekly polls on the site and surveys by mail. Our feedback gets handled by VMware on a high level and personally I really have the idea that they listen to us. The fireside chat they had an idea of how to do it but it ended as an organized free for all where VMware received honest, harsh but really good feedback. In short they got slaughtered on several topics. They did not expect this so it was good to see that they seemed to handle it pretty wel. Later in the day I went to stop by at their boot hand asked them to get more vExperts involved because I think we are exactly the kind of people that can give this feedback.

Because of the Inner Circle session running way over time and me getting hungry pretty bad I missed the uem 9 sessions so I hope that one is recorded. My final session of the day was the vSphere 6.x Host Resource Deep Dive by my fellow Dutchies Frank Denneman and Niels Hagoort. This session was soo deep the entire Mount Everest might fit into it. Really good stuf and very useful.

After the sessions it was partytime! First a quick beer and a snack at the Inner Circle reception and after I hopped on the bus to The Mob Museum for my first vExpert party. First we had our mugshots taken. We got a print but also digitally by mail so please check mine on Twitter. We had great fun over there and had Pat Gelsinger over doing a Q&A for over an hour! Best quote? Hyper-V is free as a puppy!

Today I had a hard time waking up, not getting out of bed but during my first session at 8 am I was not paying enough attention at all. But still it was a good session on how to architect a HA resilient scalable mobility & desktop environment. After that I had a session about troubleshooting avSphere 6 environment by a couple of GSS guys and picked up a lot of good stuff!