HOWTO: Process for Upgrading Veeam Backup & Replication 7 to 8

As a VMware vExpert we are kindly provided free licenses for Veeam Backup & Replication and Veeam One. I have been using Veeam B&R for the last year and have successfully used it to protect half a dozen of my key lab machines and do one or two restores over that time.

The licenses we are provided with by Veeam are based on a 365 day evaluation, so my backup server was reaching its expiry date this week. I was running Veeam B&R version 7.x, so as part of the upgrade license I also needed to update the Veeam software from version 7 to 8.

This turned out to be an incredibly easy process with only a couple of minor tweaks at the end to get things up and running. As you can see from the screenshots below the installation and update of Veeam is pretty much a next, next, finish type of installation.

It’s also with mentioning that I have documented the process for upgrading Veeam B&R, but the process for upgrading Veeam One is pretty much the same.

As with any standard upgrade to software running in a virtual machine, I started by taking a snapshot of that machine.

Next step was to mount the ISO file Veeam into a virtual machine operating system and start the install wizard.

Of course I read every single word of the license agreement.

The installer recognised the previous version of the software and offered to upgrade to latest automatically.

I then pointed the install wizard to the evaluation license key provided to me by the folks at Veeam.

A number of basic checks are completed to ensure that the appropriate pre-requisites are in place.

Next you would enter the service account for Veeam. Obviously being a home lab and me being incredibly lazy, this is the local machine administrator in this case. In any production environment this should of course be a dedicated account.

The existing SQL express database instance is selected.

Veeam recognises this has an instance on it which can be upgraded.

The installer is now ready to run.

After about five minutes installation is complete.

After a quick reboot, the server is back up and running and I log back in. When I launch Veeam B&R 8 for the first time, it recognises that some server components still need to be upgraded.

Again this is just a next, next, finish setup.

The only issues I have seen after the upgrade were a couple of VMs which failed their backups. After a reboot of said machines, everything was right as rain and backups are running as normal.

Once I was sure everything was working properly, and had run a couple of successful backups, I committed and deleted the snapshots taken at the start of the process.

Conclusion
Overall the process was very simple and very slick, exactly what you want from a software upgrade. Particularly impressive considering this was a full version upgrade, not just a point release. You can see why their marketing department came up with the tagline “It Just Works”!

Although most organisations I have worked for in the past have generally used more traditional backup vendors, Veeam is definitely enterprise ready and well worth considering. The only drawback, is that if you run a mixed environment of physical and virtual machines, you may require multiple backup platforms. Even then, Veeam Endpoint can do this in some scenarios AFAIK.

And now for something completely different… British Gas Hive Smart Thermostat Review

Having recently had the Hive smart thermostat system installed in our house by British Gas, I’ve been asked by a handful of people subsequently as to whether it is any good, so here are a few notes to that end… being a thermostat review of course, it does have the potential to be the most boring blog post ever! With that in mind, if you have narcoleptic tenancies or have pretty much anything else to do, I suggest you stop reading now!

Installation
We didn’t get off to a great start as there were some scheduling issues with BG getting the right engineer to come and complete the fitting (not all of their engineers are currently trained to do so). That aside, the actual install was relatively quick and simple, with a minor niggle when the engineer had to contact the Hive team to reset the device and get it to make its original connection “back to base”.

The thermostat is also completely wireless (using standard AA batteries), so we we’re able to relocate it as part of the installation, into our living room. Point to note, it is ideally meant to be installed at a height of 1.5m from the floor, something which our engineer didn’t actually mention when fitting it below this height. The wireless feature is very handy though, as the location of our old wired thermostat was not ideal and this will now more accurately allow us to control the temperatures based on where we spend the most time.

Functionality
Ultimately it’s a thermostat, so functionally it simply:

  • Turns our upstairs hot water on and off on a schedule (downstairs is on demand already).
  • Turns the heating on until it reaches the defined temperature.

But, compared to a standard on/off thermostat, it also:

  • Allows different temperatures at different times of day, instead of just being based on whatever temperature your legacy thermostat is currently set to.
  • Has built in freeze protection, so even if you turn it off when you leave the house, if the temperature drops below 5 degrees, it will automatically turn on your heating; very useful indeed!
  • Geolocation – Can use your current location (via the smart phone app) to turn your heating on / off depending on whether you are in the house, or within a specified distance of it.

Usability
Between myself using the app and my wife using the wall unit for the past week I can confirm that it is fine, but the wall unit UI is not quite as intuitive as it perhaps could be. For example changing the current scheduled temp will temporarily show the desired temp, then switch back to showing the current temp. This led my wife to believing that it had not accepted her new temp! Perhaps a better UI would have been to show both temps (current and target) on the same screen in different size fonts…

I have not yet tested the Geolocation feature so won’t comment on that yet, other than that I hope Hive are not keeping a track of your location history on their systems – this is not made clear on their FAQ website and would be a bit creepy if they were!

Configurability
Temperature on the thermostat can be set to the nearest 0.5 degrees, which is granular enough for us.

The only minor bugbear I found was that the original firmware delivered was based on a 4-slot schedule. For example:

  • 0600-0900
  • 0900-1600
  • 1600-2300
  • 2300-0600

That’s all very well if you are out during the day every day or want the same temperature most of the time, but what about weekends, or even if you have young children at home during the day. The recently added functionality to the system is a 6-slot schedule. So now you can have (for example):

  • 0600-0900
  • 0900-1200
  • 1200-1400
  • 1400-1600
  • 1600-2300
  • 2300-0600

This is much more useful, particularly for heating. I have found the 4-slot schedule perfectly adequate for the hot water schedule.

Customer Service
So far my only interaction with customer services was when I posted a tweet that I could really do with the 6-slot schedule (not rolled out to everyone at this point). A very polite customer agent at Hive picked up on my tweet:

He got my account details via DM, pushed out a firmware update to my device to add the functionality, and DM’d me again to let me know when it was updated a couple of hours later. How about that for customer service?!

Performance
The app can be a little slow refreshing your current heating status and temperature at times, even on a decent 3G connection and occasionally even on wifi. Other than that it’s pretty quick and easy to use. Telling the thermostat to increase the temperature usually results in the boiler kicking in 5-30 seconds later.

Security
As I understand it, Hive uses the fast growing industry standard ZigBee protocol, which uses 128-bit AES encryption for its communication between devices.

The hub itself is apparently an AlertMe SmartHub Nano, which runs a variant of Linux. This should be reasonably secure assuming it has been locked down, and that BG provide regular security patching to the device, especially in light of recent major security issues such ShellShock. Ultimately the device does not require you to open inbound ports on your router, so assuming all comms between hub and central system are SSL encrypted as they are with the apps, then it’s no less secure than your laptop accessing a secure website over wifi.

Money Saving & Costs
It’s too soon to tell whether it has saved any real money, but I do know that with the more specific schedules than we could achieve with our old thermostat I think it is likely that it will save money. Whether we get close to the claimed £150 pa on the website, I’m not convinced, but even if it only achieves a third of that, then it should pay for itself within 3 years.

The system comes with a one year warranty. Beyond that we use British Gas HomeCare, so any issues are covered by BG as part of our service plan. If you are not using BG HomeCare, then your mileage and potential costs may vary!

Moving House
Interestingly, if you move house or move into a house which has a hub, you can still use the standard thermostat functionality and configure it using the wall unit, but you would need to buy a new hub to get the online and app features, which seems somewhat unreasonable and wasteful to me!

Conclusion
Overall I’m pretty happy with the system and I think it will likely save some money in the long run, whilst providing a more convenient experience and comfortable home. My wife is less so, but then again, she still uses a BlackBerry!

Fingers crossed it lives up to expectations and that reliability proves good over the coming months and years!

NanoLab – Part 7 – VMware vSphere 6 on Intel NUC

Just one quick bit of good news relating to the recent vSphere 6 announcements… during the beta I tested the Intel 82579V adapter which comes as standard in the original generation of Intel NUCs, and found that it works out of the box in vSphere 6! Superb!

That means no more messing around with VIBs, you just install ESXi and start creating VMs!

There are a significant number of people in the community now using Intel NUC machines in their home labs for their low noise, power utilisation and cost. This may indicate VMware endeavouring to get more behind the home labbing community!

IMG_0002.jpg

I will post more on this when vSphere goes GA. Hopefully this support won’t change between now and then, as I believe it may have once or twice in the past…

IMG_0003.jpg

For more info on these brilliant devices, see other posts in this series: Intel NUC NanoLab

HP Discover Europe 2014 – Day 2 Roundup

Day 2 started early with the first sessions beginning around 8.30am. I won’t bore you with the details of my day, but I will go through three really great new products / features I spent time learning about. Much of the info below came from slides, or discussions with product managers / engineers, so should not be taken as gospel!

HP OneView
I have to admit I have been a little lax in having a look at OneView as yet. I took the opportunity at the event to have a chat with some of the OneView engineers, and take the hands on lab. If you haven’t already done so, and you have any HP kit on premises, I strongly suggest you take a look at this product! I’m not going to go into any depth here, except to describe one of my favourite features.

OneView has the ability to connect into your servers, storage, and fabric, then auto-deploy, configure and manage your environment, end-to-end. An example of this might be if you are provisioning a new server. OneView can create new volumes based on specific policies, auto-configure all of your SAN zoning between your server initiator and targets (with single initiator, multiple target or single initiator, single array options only for now), then build the OS, configure and mount the storage on the server. How cool is that?

HP OneView

HP OneView

This is currently based on a specific subset of vendors, mainly only HP and Brocade AFAIK, but other vendors are being added in the future.

Having played with it in the lab, I can confirm that it is pretty easy to learn and use, with most information and configurations layed out reasonably intuitively in the BUI.

For more information on OneView see HP’s site.

ProLiant Gen9 Features
As I understand it, one of the key strategies behind the new ProLiant range is to ensure that HP are not losing on price / value against some of their less pricey competitors (who shall of course remain nameless as you know who they are already!). The premise here is that instead of buying top of the range servers with all the wizardry built in by default (with an appropriately top of the range price!), you can start with a base unit and only add the features you actually need. A prime example of this being that you don’t need a storage controller if you just boot from USB for a hypervisor!

This strategy has led to the removal (by default, you can configure it back again) of things like 10Gb FlexibleLOM network ports, front panel fault indicators, the onboard RAID card is now a plugin module, etc. The theory being that the Gen 9 servers, though newer, should actually come in at a better price point than their Gen 8 ancestors. The marketing shpiel is that the new Gen 9 servers deliver “the right compute for the right workload at the right economics every time”.

HP Gen 9

HP Gen 9

Cheesy marketing slogan? Absolutely!

Do they seem to deliver on this? From some of the indicative pricing I’ve seen so far, I’d say yes…

Just as a quick overview of the new ranges:

  • 10 Series (DL60 / DL80 Gen 9)
    • The 10 series is designed to be an entry level model for SMBs. These also now come with dual PSU as a CTO option, which suddenly makes them a lot more attractive in my mind.
  • 100 Series (DL160DL180 Gen 9)
    • This is not the same as the old 100 series machines from the G7 era and before. It is effectively equivalent to a DL3x0e (entry) machine in the previous generation ranges.
  • 300 Series (DL360 / DL380 Gen 9)
    • This now equates to the original DL3x0p series of machines, and has the maximum scalability and performance in mind.
The following (poor photo sorry) is a great slide which just lists out the key differences between each model in the range:
HP Proliant DL80/180/380 Gen 9

HP Proliant DL80/180/380 Gen 9

I suggest checking the quick specs for more info!

3PAR File Personas
As regards one of my favourite announcements from the entire event (apart from The Machine, which I will do a post on some time in the future), I was able to gather some more info on the awesome new File Personas announcement.

The first, most notable fact was that the HP are so confident in the resilience of their new arrays, that they are offering a 99.9999% Availability Guarantee! Many SLAs in the IT industry are not necessarily a guarantee of a claimed level of availability, but more a level of commercial risk accepted by the vendor or provider. That said, going with “Six Nines” definitely shows belief in your product set!

HP 3PAR File Personas

HP 3PAR File Personas

A few nuggets of info I gleaned from attending the File Personas breakout session were as follows:

  • Priority Optimisation will work but is not currently certified as supported. The following technologies are inherited from block persona, and are supported from day one:
    • Wide striping
    • Replication
    • Thin Provisioning
  • From a multi tenancy perspective, the initial release will only utilise up to one Active Directory source per array (not per Virtual File Server) as the controllers each have machine accounts in your domain, which is somewhat disappointing as a service provider who always asks “can it be multi-tenanted?”. It will provide up to 4 IPs per virtual file server, and these can be on separate VLANs and trusts may be used, so there is some scope for flexibility.
  • Licensing and configuration of virtual file servers is always based on multiples of 1TiB (note TiB not TB), but you can then use quotas to subdivide your file store allocations below this.
  • The $129 per TiB is based on the amount allocated to a virtual file server, irrespective of the back end storage or thin provisioning utilisation. You will not be forced to license the entire array. For example:
    • You have an array with say 100 TiB of usable space
    • 10TiB allocation to a virtual file server
    • 5TiB in use by end user files
    • 10TiB of license required

The price point seems genuinely good value to me. Compared to the cost of purchasing, powering and managing something like a Windows File Server Cluster, it’s really a no-brainer!

That should just about do it for today! Final day tomorrow will be mainly comprised of a few more sessions followed by a looooong wait for my flight home…

Disclaimer: As an HP customer, HP kindly provided my accommodation and entry to the HP discover event, but there was no expectation or request for me to write about their products or services.

%d bloggers like this: