Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21

Introduction

This is just a quick blog post to let you know the Hyper-V Amigos have released 2 webcasts recently. These are Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21. You will find a link to the videos and a description of the content below.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast – Episode 20

In episode 20 of the Hyper-V Amigo ShowCast, we continue our journey in the different ways in which we can use storage spaces in backup targets. In our previous “Hyper-V Amigos ShowCast (Episode 19)– Windows Server 2019 as Veeam Backup Target Part I” we looked at stand-alone or member servers with Storage Spaces. With both direct-attached storage and SMB files shares as backup targets. We also played with Multi Resilient Volumes.

For this webcast, we have one 2 node S2D cluster set up for the Hyper-V workload (Azure Stack HCI). On a second 2 node S2D cluster, we host 2 SOFS file shares. Each on their own CSV LUN. SOFS on S2D is supported for backups and archival workloads. And as it is SMB3 and we have RDMA capable NICs we can leverage RDMA (RoCE, Mellanox ConnectX-5) to benefit from CPU offloading and superb throughput at ultra-low latency.

Hyper-V Amigos Show Cast Episode 20

Some extra information

The General Purpose File Server (GPFS role) is not supported on S2D for now. You can use GPFS with shared storage and in combination with continuous availability. This performs well as a high available backup target as well. The benefit here is that this is cost-effective (Windows Server Standard licenses will do) and you get to use the shared storage of your choice. But in this show cast, we focus on the S2D scenario and we didn’t build a non-supported scenario.

You would normally expect to notice the performance impact of continuous availability when you compare the speeds with the previous episode where we used a non-high available file share (no continuous availability possible). But we have better storage in the lab for this test, the source system is usually the bottleneck and as such our results were pretty awesome.

The lab has 4 Tarox server nodes with a mix of Intel Optane DC Memory (Persistent Memory or Storage Class Memory), Intel NVMe and Intel SSD disks. For the networking, we leverage Mellanox ConnectX-5 100Gbps NICs and SN2100 100Gbps switches. Hence we both had a grin on our face just prepping this lab.

As a side note, the performance impact of continuous availability and write-through is expected. I have written about it before here. The reason why you might contemplate to use it. Next to a requirement for high availability, is due to the small but realistic data corruption risk you have with not continuously available SMB shares. The reason is that they do not provide write-through for guaranteed data persistence.

We also demonstrate the “Instant Recovery” capability of Veeam to make workloads available fast and point out the benefits.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast – Episode 21

In episode 21 we are diving into leveraging the Veeam Agent for Windows integrated with Veeam Backup & Replication (v10 RC1)  to protect our physical S2D nodes. For shops that don’t have an automated cluster node build processes set up or rely on external help to come in and do it this can be a huge time saver.

We walk through the entire process and end up doing a bare metal recovery of one of the S2D nodes. The steps include:

  • Setting up an Active Directory protection group for our S2D cluster.
  • Creating a backup job for a Windows Server, where we select failover cluster as type (Which has only the “Managed by Backup Server”  as the mode).
  • We run a backup
  • After that, we create the Veeam Agent Recovery Media (the most finicky part)
  • Finally, we restore one of the S2D hosts completely using the bare metal recovery option

Some more information

Now we had some issues in the lab one of them suffering to a BSOD on the laptop used to make the recording and being a bit too impatient when booting from the ISO over a BMC virtual CD/DVD. Hence we had to glue some parts together and fast forward through the boring bits. We do appreciate that watching a system bot for 10 minutes doesn’t make for good infotainment. Other than that, it went fine and we were able to demonstrate the process from the beginning to the end.

As is the case with any process you should test and experiment to make sure you are familiar with the process. That makes it all a little easier and hurt a little less when the day comes you have to do it for real.

We hope the show cast helps you look into some of the capabilities and options you have with Veeam in regards to protecting any workloads. Long gone are the days that Veeam was only about protecting virtual Machines. Veeam is about protecting data where ever it lives. In VMs, physical servers, workstations, PCs, laptop, on-prem, in the cloud and Office 365. On top of that, you can restore it where ever you want to avoid lock-in and costly migration projects and tools. Check it out.

Conclusion

We will be doing more web casts on Veeam Backup & Replication v10 in 2020 as it will be generally available in Q1 as far I can guess.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21

But with Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21, that’s it for 2019. Enjoy the holidays during this festive season. The Hyper-V Amigos wish you a Merry X-Mas and a very happy New Year in 2020!

Presenting at Experts Live 2019 Europe in Prague

Presenting at Experts Live 2019 Europe in Prague

I am happy to announce that I will be presenting at Experts Live 2019 Europe in Prague. The conference is held between 20-22 November 2019. This is my first time speaking there and I am really looking forward to it.

I am speaking at Experts Live Europe 2019
My session is: Hyper-V backups – The good, the bad and the ugly

I will be talking about Hyper-V backups, the good, the bad and the ugly. Many people are still on older Windows Server versions and the improvements in backup alone should make for a strong use case to upgrade. I’ll show you why. I’ll share details improvements in speed, reliability, and scalability no matter what storage technology you use. Local, HCI, SAN, … they all benefit. We’ll share tips on how to leverage the improvements for the best results and make you backups shine. Finally, we’ll provide some feedback on what is still needs improvement. Remember as long as you run workloads on virtual machines you have to maintain it, keep it up to date and protected! If you know all this already, no worries, come for the over 40 other experts presenting. Take a look at the session catalog and see for your self.

Join us!

The conference focusses on Microsoft technologies at large and deals with Cloud, Datacenter, Security, Identity Management and the Modern Workplace. As such it realizes there is a lot of variety out there in building blocks used to make a company run. This means it offers content that reflects that reality and helps people succeed in their digital efforts to help their businesses run smoothly and securely on-premises as well as in the hybrid and public cloud.

I encourage you to attend if you have the opportunity. The content of other Experts Live Conferences I have done in the past was always excellent and the speakers were very knowledgeable. The same goes for Experts Live Europe I hear from my fellow MVP and colleagues who have attended before. Note that It is right after Microsoft Ignite 2019 and there are quite a lot of Microsoft attending as well. This means you’ll be getting some new information and insights hot of the press.

Life long learning is fun and doesn’t only happen at your desk or in a course. Get out of the office and into the world. It helps to get rid of the blinders and widen your view and vision on what is possible. It helps to learn from others, from your peers. So don’t delay and register here

Network, socialize, share and learn

With so many colleagues, experts, Microsoft Cloud Advocates, Program Managers and technologists at the event it offers excellent networking opportunities.

I will be around at the VIP Cloud Party, which provides plenty of networking opportunities and the chance to chat to the presenters and your peers. On top of that, I will be available between sessions and the “Ask The Experts” (ATE) speaker booth.

If you have questions about Hyper-V, Backup, Storage, Networking and best practices do come and find me. I don’t know it all, far from, but I have been able to help out many people before at conferences. Whether you work in small, medium or enterprise-sized organizations it’s free to ask and the worst that can happen is that I don’t know. I have a sweet spot for RDMA and PMEM, so if you ‘d like to chat, come find me!

Join us in Prague at Ask The Experts Europe

I hope to see you in wonderful Prague at a great conference! I am looking forward to meeting you there and presenting at Experts Live 2019 Europe in Prague. You can make new friends and catch up with others while you educate yourself. That’s a great deal.

The lure of having a Ransomware Fund

Introduction

What is the the lure of having a ransomware fund all about? It’s the idea that just paying is the best way to deal with a ransomware incident.While preventing as many ransomware attacks as possible is great, it is not something that will be 100% effective. Detecting an incident as early as possible is key to minimizing the effects. This even in the event of successful and early detection some data has been compromised (encrypted). The nature and function of that data will determine the blast radius and the fall out. To recover from that the attack needs to be stopped by finding and eliminating the points of infection.Next to that, the proven ability to restore data and do so fast is a key capability when it comes to recovering form a ransomware attack. If you don’t you’ll either need to eat the loss or try to pay up.

Dealing with Ransomware step by step

  • Prevention is not 100% effective. Don’t bank on it.
  • Early detection
  • Swift & adequate response
  • Quarantine, wipe (nuke from orbit) of contaminated systems & data
  • See if a free decryption solution is available via the security community or your police services cyber crime department
  • Restore your data. You must have multiple options. You must have implemented the 3-2-1 rule. But beware, your off site, air gapped copy cannot be too old. You need to have fairly recent backups in there to have a decent RPO that is meaningful to the business.
  • Bring data, systems and services back into production.

Now make sure you can do this for end user files, server data (images, VMs, Databases, configuration files,  backups) regardless of where it is (on-premises, private, hybrid & public cloud) what delivery model it comes in (Physical, virtual, IAAS, PAAS, SAAS, Serverless).

The lure of having a Ransomware Fund (Isn’t it cheaper to pay?)

Now some bean counter might come up with the idea that paying is cheaper (and easier) than prevention, let alone backup & restore capabilities.

The lure of having a Ransomware Fund

Some would even consider it a “cost of doing business”. This is the the lure of having a ransomware Fund. Ouch, well I know many parts of the world are a lot less save than mine but this is a path down a slippery slope so dangerous you will fall down sooner or later. Let’s look at why that is.

petya ransomware

The lure of having a Ransomware Fund

First, let’s not forget about the down time caused no matter how you resolve it. So prevention and early detection are key. You might not even survive if you pay and get your data back.

Secondly, while I love the idea of prevention and early detection this doesn’t mean that you can get rid of your backup and restore capabilities. Prevention is an mitigation strategy, it doesn’t eradicate the issue. Early detection minimizes the immediate and secondary damage in many cases. But not in all cases and it is also not perfect.

Third, when you pay your ransom how sure are you you’ll get your decryption key and be able to access your data? Well it seems only in 50% of the cases. Now, some ransomware “businesses’’ have a better customer service than many commercial companies and governments. But that doesn’t mean all of them do and by definition they are not honest people. Unless you consider ransomware “Encryption As A Service” that helps you with GDPR. I think not. You might think that a smart ransomware player delivers not to ruin future revenue streams by acquiring a bad reputation. Probably true, but they to can make mistakes, you can make mistakes, you can become road kill of vandals or of criminals who desire or are hired to incur havoc on a certain industry.

Finally, you might end up being a repeat victim as you have shown the willingness & ability to pay. Don’t forget that ransomware is not like mobster protection money. It will not protect you from others or the same ones doing it again.

Conclusion

Banking on having an emergency stash of Bitcoin (ransomware fund) just to pay ransomware isn’t your best option. It might be a last resort faced with the alternative of bankruptcy but even then it remains a costly and risky gamble.

I know that for some people in IT, backups seem outdated and from a gone by era, a solution to a problem form yesterday. I kid you not. Well, I advise you to think again and act upon what you concluded.

 

It’s not as simple as renaming the avhdx to vhdx

This arrives in via the feedback option on my blog

Hi. I see through your website that you are an expert in vhdx / avhdx file. I had a system crash with data loss. I think this data is in an avhdx file. When I rename this file in vhdx, I can mount it but I have an error: the file is corrupted. Do you know a procedure to repair this type of file? I thank you in advance for your support!

Oh dear! An expert? While flattery can get you a long way in life with certain people virtual disks are impervious to that sort of thing. Look, MVP, Veeam Vanguard, Dell Rockstar … tip of the spear, edge of the sword, it’s all fine and well but it’s no good to split a granite piece of rock and virtual disks don’t care about titles, jut about how they are designed to work.

Before we dive into some more details please use the comments sections under the relevant blog post to ask questions. That way everyone can benefit form the answer. It’s all quite anonymous if you want it to be. Secondly vendors like Microsoft have great public support forums with many thousand pairs of eyes reading. That might also work better and faster for your needs.

Some details

When you have avhdx your data is stored in the avhdx and in the parent disks (more avhdx but at least always one vhdx). While you can throw away what’s in a avhdx under certain conditions (and lose that data) and mount the vhdx you cannot throw away the vhdx and hope to be able to access the data in the avhdx you rename to vhdx.

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For a case of real data corruption, not just phantom or mixed up VHDX/AVHDX chain, where you can try to intervene, even manually if needed – and if you have the skills – you’ll have to recover or restore data.

If the storage on which the vhdx/avhdx reside is corrupted a good but time-consuming run of chksdk /f /r can do the job. I have done that before with success. But there are no guarantees in this game.

Other than that, or when the storage is gone, it is restore time. This can be leveraging whatever backup solution you use or VSS snapshots on the storage side of things. Those options are your best bet. You can find some more info on manually manipulating vhdx/avhdx files here but that’s not what you’re facing here it seems.

If you don’t have recovery options in place, what can I say?

Stop what you’re doing and contact a good data recovery company. Only damage can come from trying if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can hope trial and error will fix it but that would be the triumph of hope over experience. You’re usually not that lucky. Trust me.

The snarky bit

I’ll fight like hell if I’m in a pickle and the data is valuable. But it’s near to impossible to do it for someone else as it’s hard, time consuming and often it’s a case were the files have been worked on before, so they tend to be messed up. If the data is not that valuable, just eat the loss.

In reality my time always seems less valuable then peoples their data . Now if you say you can help me retire early by trying anyway and are OK with a best effort, no guarantees given deal I might do it. But I’m pretty sure investing in backups and restores is way cheaper and will lead to better results. Your data is important and valuable, even when my time is not. Just saying