DELL EMC World 2017 Concludes

Today DELL EMC World 2017 ends with a dinner with DELL EMC management and engineers to discus our impressions on the information we took away from DELL EMC World 2017. I would like to thank the ever hard working Sarah Vela for making this possible. It’s much appreciated.

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Professionally I’m blessed with multiple opportunities to attend conferences and summits. That’s where I get to talk to the skilled and passionate people who work on the technologies we work with intensively. This is very much a two way street where we learn from each other. And on many conferences I might also be a speaker or participate in advisory boards to provide feedback. Some of those latter discussions are under NDA. This is normal and I have NDA’s with other companies as well. That’s the legal side of the trust we place in each other in order to discuss evolving and future technologies.

I attend multiple events from different players. Some of these disagree with me and that is fine. We learn from being challenged. It helps us define more clearly what we design and build as well as why and how. More and more solutions become a more diverse, multi pronged combination of components with their specific capabilities at our disposal. These change fast and so do our solutions. An element not to be ignored in designing those solutions. That’s one take away from DELL EMC world that seems to have hit home. The other is that some companies are in a rather dire IT condition due to years of stand still.

I’m happy to see that today and tomorrow DELL EMC has the technologies needed for us to deliver modern IT solutions. The way in which we choose to do so is our choice and DELL EMC states it is committed to supporting that. As a testimonial to that we got to see the the DELL EMC Storage Spaces Direct Ready nodes based on the soon to be available generation 14 PowerEdge servers.

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That is how we worked for many years with DELL and we have been assured we can continue to work with DELL EMC. That what Michael Dell committed to and I have seen them deliver on that promise for many years. For me that’s enough to be confident in that until proven different. Even if that message was sometimes brought in a way that made me think Las Vegas had gotten the better of some conference managers. But let’s not get the form in the way of the content.

On a final note, Dell EMC is not anti public cloud or pro on-premises. That’s how it should be and that how we deliver IT. We use the tools at our disposal to build the best possible solutions we can. What we use depends on the needs and changes as technology evolves. That’s OK. Saying you need hardware doesn’t make you a cloud hater or vice versa. The world is not that simple.

Full or Thick Provisioned Volume on Compellent

Introduction

There are pundits out there that claim that you cannot create a fully provisioned LUN on a Compellent SAN.  Now that what I call unsubstantiated rumors, better know as bull shit.

Sure the magic sauce of many modern storage array lies in thin provisioning. Let there be no mistake about that. But there are scenarios where you might want to leverage a fully provisioned volume. This is also know a s thick provisioned LUN. You can read about one such a scenario where they make perfect sense in this blog post Mind the UNMAP Impact On Performance In Certain Scenarios

Create a  Full or Thick Provisioned Volume on Compellent

First of all you create brand new volume in the Storage Center System Explorer. That’s a standard as it gets.

You then map this volume to a server

At that moment, before you even mount that volume on your server let alone do anything else such a bringing it on line or formatting it you’ll “Preallocate Storage” for that volume in Storage Center.

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You’ll get a warning as this is not a default action and you should only do so when the conditions of the IO warrant this.

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When you continue you’ll get some feedback. This can take quite some time depending on the size of the volume.

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When it’s done peek at the statistics of that full or this provisioned volume on the Compellent.This is what it looks like when you look at the statistics for that volume after is was done. So before we even formatted the volume on a server and wrote data to it. It’s using all the space on the SAN for the start.

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Due to data protection it’s even more. It’s clear form the image above that a 500GB disk in RAID 10 fully provisioned is using 1TB of space as its all still in RAID 10 (no tiering down has occurred yet). Raid 10 has an overhead factor 2. The volume is for a large part in Tier 2 because my Tier 1 is full, so writing spilled over into Tier 2.

Now compare this to a thinly provisioned volume that we just created and again we haven’t even touched it in any other way.

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Yup, until we actually write data to the volume it’s highly space efficient, there is absolutely no spaces use and we’ll see only a little when we mount, initialize the disk in Windows, create a simple volume and format it.image

This is completely in Tier 2 and my tier 1 is full. I accept donations of SANs and SSD’s for my lab it this bothers you Winking smile. When we write data to it you’ll see this rise and over time you’ll see it tier down and up as well.

DELL Compellent Storage Center 7.1 Certified for Windows Server 2016

When it comes to selecting storage, especially when it comes to a “traditional” SAN, you all know that price performance wise I’ve been using the DELL Compellent series with great success for many years now. It’s a very capable solution that also has some other benefits when it comes to Windows Server and Hyper-V. It has one of the better hardware VSS providers, way better than average support for ODX  and UNMAP etc. but it’s also very good at delivering fast support for new versions of Windows Server. This has allowed us to move from Windows Server 2008 R2 to 2012 and from there to Windows Server 2012 R2 very fast.

In that regards I’m very happy to see that Storage Center 7.1 is already in the catalog as certified for Windows Server 2016.

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Customers that have up to date hardware and want to move fast to benefit from and leverage the new and improved capabilities in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V, Clustering, Networking, …are ready to do so. Nice Smile.

Disk2VHD on a Generation 2 VM results in an unbootable VHDX

Most people who have been in IT for a while will know the Windows  Sysinternals tools and most certainly the small but brilliant Disk2VHD tool we can use for Physical To Virtual (P2V) and Virtual to Virtual (V2V) conversions. It’s free, it’s good and it’s trustworthy as it’s made available by Microsoft.

For legacy systems, whether they are physical  with IDE/SATA/SAS controllers or virtual with an IDE generation 1 VMS thing normally go smooth.

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But sometimes you have hiccups. One of those is when you do a V2V of a generation 2 virtual machine using Disk2VHD. It’s a small issue, when you create a new generation 2 VM and point it to the OS vhdx it just won’t boot. That’s pretty annoying.

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Why do a V2V in such a case you might ask. Well, sometimes is the only or fasted way to get out of pickle with a ton of phantom, non-removable checkpoints you’ve gotten yourself into.

But back to the real subject, how to fix this. What we need to do is repair the boot partition. Well recreate it actually as when you look at it after the conversion you’ll notice is RAW. That’s no good. So let’s walk through how to fix a vdhx that your created from a source generation 2 Hyper-V vm via Disk2VHD.

First of all create a new generation 2 VM that we’ll use with our new VHDX we created using Disk2VHD. Don’t create a new vdhx but select to use an existing one and point it to the one we just created with Disk2VHD. Rename it if needed to something more suitable.

Don’t boot the VM but add a DVD and attach the Windows Server ISO of the version your vhdx contains to the DVD.

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Move the DVD to the top of the boot order I firmware.

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The VM will boot to the DVD when you hit a key.

Select your language and keyboard layoout when asked and the don’t install or upgrade the OS but boot

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Type diskpart and  list the disks. Select the disk we need (the OS disk, the only one here) and list the volumes. You can see that volume 3 off 99MB is RAW. That’s not supposed to be that way. So let’s fix this by creating boot loader directory structure, repair the boot record by creating the boot sector & copy the needed boot files into it.

Type:

select volume 3

assign drive letter L:

FORMAT FS=FAT32 LABEL=”BOOT”

That’s it we can now us that 99MB volume to make our disk bootable to windows again.  Type Exit to leave diskpart.

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So now we have a formatted boot partition we can create the need folder structure and fix the boot record and configure our UEFI bootloader

Switch to the L: volume

create efi\microsoft\boot folder structure for the bootloader as show below with the md command(make directory)

Type: bootrec /fixboot to create the bootrecord

Type: bcdboot C:\Windows  /l en-us /s l: /f ALL

This creates the BCD store & copies the boot files from the windows system directory

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Just click Continue to exit and continue to Windows Server 2012R2

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.. and voila, your new VM has now booted.

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Now it’s a matter of cleaning up the remnants of the original VMs hardware such as the NIC and maybe some other devices. The NIC is very important as it will have any static TCP/IP configuration you might want to assign tied to it which mean you can’t reuse it for your new VM. So, the 1st thing to do is uninstall the old network adapters from device managers, you’ll see them when you select “show hidden devices” in the view menu.

Good luck!