Cisco CCNA – Full Lab Guide for your exam by Flackbox

Today I want to make sure you don’t miss the chance to get a free Cisco CCNA Lab Guide to pass the latest 200-125 CCNA and 100-105 & 200-105 ICND exams.

One of my blog colleagues Neil Anderson (flackbox.com) spend a lot of time to put together a 350 page gudie that helps you to pass the exams and understanding the content. The guide contains:
– The IOS Operating System
– The Life of a Packet
– The Cisco Troubleshooting Methodology
– Cisco Router and Switch Basics
– Cisco Device Management
– Routing Fundamentals
– Dynamic Routing Protocols
– … and much more

To get started and for more information’s click on the image below to reach his website.

Well done Neil.

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Cisco HyperFlex integration details and Q&A

With Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 2 we launched our integration with Cisco HyperFlex. The integration leverages our Backup from Storage Snapshot technology to optimize the data transfer for Veeam backups as well as replications. Since then I got a lot of positive feedback and questions around the integration. That’s why I want to answer the most common questions in this blog post. A brief overview on the integration itself was already done by my colleague Michael Cade earlier this year.

Besides this blog post we already started the work on an implementation and best practice guide so stay tuned and check our website regularly.

Why does Veeam integrate into Cisco HyperFlex?

The main reason why Veeam started to integrate into storage arrays, regardless if it is Cisco HyperFlex or any other storage we support, is to avoid or at least minimize the time of VMware Redo-Log Snapshots (native VMware VM Snapshots).

If you run a VM backup without the integration, the workflow will always create a VMware Redo-Log Snapshot; Veeam will read all data while VMware redirects all writes into the Redo-Log File and after the backup/replica is done, the VM Snapshot will be deleted as shown in the graphic below on the left side. Especially the VM snapshot delete can take a lot of time and consume serious amounts of storage resources until done.

Cisco HyperFlex integration

Using the Cisco HyperFlex integration means avoiding VMware VM Snapshots completely. As you can see on the right side in the graphic above, the workflow will create a Cisco HX Snapshot; Veeam reads all data out of the Snapshots and after the backup/replica is done Cisco will delete the HX Snapshot which has almost no impact in the VM or the rest of the production.

With that the Veeam integration into Cisco HyperFlex is the only one where no more VMware Snapshots are needed at all.

What are the requirements and which Veeam features can be leveraged with Cisco HyperFlex?
Before going ahead and trying the integration please be aware of the following requirements. 50% of the questions and errors I get are due to the fact that at least one of the following requirements is missing:

  • VMs reside on a Cisco HyperFlex 2.0 or newer cluster (HX version < 2.0 are not supported)
  • Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 2 or newer is installed on the backup server
  • License for Veeam Backup & Replication Enterprise Plus Edition is installed on the backup server
  • Cisco HyperFlex storage system is added to the Veeam storage infrastructure and the vCenter server is added to virtual infrastructure
  • Backup proxy is properly configured in the backup infrastructure
  • VM must not have any existing VMware native Snapshot before the first job kicks off
  • The “Enable backup from storage snapshots option is selected in the job settings
  • When using Backup from Storage Snapshot over NFS:
    • Veeam Proxy server has access to the Cisco HyperFlex NFS Backend
    • Required VMware Firewall Ports are open for IOVisor Backup (see Helpcenter article)

As of today Veeam supports Backup from Storage Snapshots with Cisco HyperFlex. All other storage related features like Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots, OnDemand Sandbox from Storage Snapshots, Snapshot only job…etc. are not supported. Of course, you can use all regular Veeam features leveraging the Veeam backup.

How do I configure the Cisco HyperFlex integration?

The Cisco HyperFlex integration is like any other Veeam Storage Integration. For us Cisco HyperFlex is not a HyperConverged system but seen as a storage system. That’s why you need to navigate to “Storage Infrastructure” within your Veeam Backup & Replication installation to add the Cisco HyperFlex system. After selecting “Add Storage” you will be promoted with the following wizard:

1. Select “Cisco HyperFlex”

Cisco HyperFlex integration

2. Add the Cisco HyperFlex Management IP address of the Data Platform

Cisco HyperFlex integration

a) To find the needed IP address simply open the advanced Cisco HX settings within your VMware Webclient

Cisco HyperFlex integration

b) The needed IP can be found here

Cisco HyperFlex integration

3. Define the login credentials for the management

Cisco HyperFlex integration

4. Optional: Define Veeam Proxies to be used for this cluster

Cisco HyperFlex integration

5. Finish the wizard

Cisco HyperFlex integration

After finishing the wizard, you will see the following dialog that adds the Cisco HyperFlex system to the Veeam installation.

Cisco HyperFlex integration

If you see any warning message here the reason is most likely that your Veeam proxy server doesn’t have the needed backend NFS data access or the VMware Firewall ports are not opened. More details in the next questions.

What access is needed on the Veeam Proxy to get Backup from Storage Snapshots working?

The Veeam integration with Cisco HyperFlex works with all available data transport modes.

Cisco HyperFlex integration

No matter if you use NFS (1, 2) as the transport protocol by accessing the backend Cisco HyperFlex data network or if you use the regular transport modes Hot-Add (3) and NBD (4), Veeam will always leverage a Cisco HyperFlex Snapshot as a source.

For NBD and Hot-Add, no additional configuration is needed. After the Cisco HX system is added to the Veeam installation Cisco HX snapshots will be automatically used.

For NFS as transport mode there are two ways to access the data:

  • Backup from Storage Snapshots over IO Visor on ESX(i) hosts (1): The IO Visor is a Cisco HyperFlex software module that runs on every ESXi host that is part of the Cisco HyperFlex cluster. It presents HyperFlex NFS datastores to the ESX(i) hosts and optimizes the data paths in the HyperFlex cluster. The backup over IO Visor is the preferred method as it provides the high speed of VM data reading and balances the load across the HyperFlex cluster.
  • Backup from Storage Snapshots over HyperFlex Controller Cluster IP (2): In this processing mode, all traffic is handled by a single HX controller that holds the HyperFlex Controller Cluster IP.

Cisco HyperFlex integration

No matter which NFS mode you use, the Veeam Proxy will need access to the backend NFS data network of Cisco HX. The graphic above shows which networks are accessed by the Veeam proxy server. I’m used to saying, configure your Veeam proxy server with the same management and storage access like what you would do with an additional ESXi host.

The HyperFlex Controller Cluster IP does not require any additional confirmation as all needed communication will be handled by Veeam and Cisco APIs.

For the IOVisior backup you need to open specific VMware Firewall ports as the Veeam proxy server needs to access a module running within the VMware ESXi. Information on how to open the needed ports is listed in the next question.

How do I open the needed VMware Firewall Ports?

The Cisco HyperFlex IO Visor is a software component that runs on all ESXi hosts within a Cisco HyperFlex cluster. It works as an NFS server for Veeam traffic.

You need to allow NFS traffic from the backup proxies to ESXi hosts. As Cisco IO Visor based NFS communication uses dynamic ports, you need to create an ESXi firewall rule with inbound ports 0-65535 and the backup proxy IP addresses as allowed IP addresses.

You can do this in three ways:

  • Create a VMware ESXi host VIB host extension file that creates the firewall rule, install/enable it on all hosts and set the backup proxy IP addresses as allowed ones. For more information, see KB article 2291.
  • Use a predefined VMware ESXi host extension VIB file from the Veeam Community GitHUB project. For more information, see KB article 2298.
  • Use ESXi command line interface to create a temporary firewall rule (until the next ESXi host reboot). For more information, see KB article 2299.

Conclusion

As you can see the integration is very powerful and there are a lot of details when it comes down to the configuration. Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 2 offers Availability for Cisco HyperFlex 2.0 by providing both an optimized backup and replication workflow to lower the recovery time and point objectives (RTPO) to < 15 minutes for ALL applications and data running on top of it.

Here are some useful links, including our newly released Cisco Validated Designs:

How to: Upgrade NetApp ONTAP Simulator 9.1 to 9.2

For my tests and lab activities it’s always important to work with the latest version of software products. As the NetApp ONTAP simulator usually comes some times after the GA I decided to upgrade the simulator with the regular GA package and want to share here how to do it.

Before you start you need to:
– download the latest ONTAP 9.2 build
– make sure your root aggregate and root volume has enough free space
– disable snapshot scheduling and reserve on vol0 (yes, the vol0 on the node)
– The guide is for a single-node simulator

Read More »

Synology 1517+: Initial setup

As my Homelab is growing and the data explodes it was time to replace my private NAS system with a new one. As my current one, a Synology DS213j, works since 3 years without any problem it was clear for me to look at Synology again. I love the features they offer esp. the Cloud Station and the Surveillance Station as well as the multi-protocol support are key for me in my lab. And as they recently added their own Virtualization layer called “Virtual DSM” it was also clear that I will go for a model supporting it. After some research the decision was made that the new one will be the DS1517+, Synology’s new 5-bay flagship. As disks I’m using the Seagate IronWolf 4TB NAS disks. FYI, the screenshots are a mix of english one (from Synology guides) and german ones (as my system is installed in german language, not translated).

This blog post is the first of a new series showing you the initial as well as some advanced setup of the Synology. The planned posts are:
1. Initial setup – this post
2. Disk, Volume and Network Configuration
3. User, Folder/Share Configuration
4. CloudStation Configuration
5. Surveillance Station
6. A first look into Virtual DSM
Read More »

FlexPod goes SolidFire: FlexPod SF

Being at Cisco Live in Las Vegas last week I was glad that I had the chance to join the FlexPod SF launch happening on June 22nd. Unfortunately, I forgot to make some pictures but I want to tell you some details on the new FlexPod.

NTAP01651_SolidFire_Logo_Blk_MediumSF.jpg

According to IDC, FlexPod® is the #1 worldwide fastest growing integrated infrastructure and certified reference (source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker 2017 Q1) with a revenue growth rate of 26.1%. The other two vendors in the top three of market share saw their revenues decline. FlexPod SF is the first scale-out converged infrastructure solution in the industry, allowing customers to incrementally add storage as they consume it.

Since FlexPod was started in 2010 the validated Cisco + NetApp solution had great success and shows some amazing numbers:
2017-06-30 04_33_27-FlexPod_SF_Winnning Together June 15 PARTNER WEBCAST.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Reader .jpg

In 2015 NetApp then acquired SolidFire to grow their All-Flash Leadership and to offer a Scale-out storage system for the Next-Generation, Application-Centric data center.

And now, 2 years later FlexPod & SolidFire get together and the FlexPod SF is born.

2017-06-30 04_38_55-FlexPod SF partner deck_Final.pptx [Schreibgeschützt] - PowerPoint.jpg

The new FlexPod comes with Cisco UCS B-Series M4 Blades and Nexus 9k switching and contains the SF9608 storage nodes which can get up to 300000 IOPS in a 4-node cluster.
The design is fully validated and can be implemented like the regular FlexPod installations. 2017-06-30 04_41_56-FlexPod SF partner deck_Final.pptx [Schreibgeschützt] - PowerPoint.jpgLooking at the high-level design picture it is similar to what we already see and install since years so there won’t be a big need to learn everything from scratch again which is another plus point here.
The backend runs end-to-end iSCSI and depending on the B-Series Blade configuration you can run a 10G or 40G environment.
2017-06-30 04_45_43-FlexPod SF partner deck_Final.pptx [Schreibgeschützt] - PowerPoint
The SF9608 Node itself runs on Cisco UCS C220 M4 Hardware and comes with the following hardware:
– CPU: 2 x 2.6GHz CPU (E5-2640v3)
– Memory: 256 GB RAM
– 8 x 960GB SSD drives (non-SED)
– 7.6TB raw capacity (per node)
2017-06-30 04_51_42-FlexPod SF partner deck_Final.pptx [Schreibgeschützt] - PowerPoint
As mentioned before the solution runs iSCSI all the way and offers all benefits and features SolidFire had build-in. Esp. the QoS policies to define min. as well as max. performance for dedicated data streams is one of my favorite feature. It also helps to avoid “Noisy Neighbors” by setting limits for these workloads. Below you can find a performance chart before SolidFire QoS was enabled and after it was enabled:
QoS disabled:
Bild2QoS enabled:
Bild3

Overall I like the fact that the FlexPod Family is growing, not only in revenue but also with new family members. I’m looking forward to see the FlexPod SF in action (ok I saw it at Cisco Live already) and to talk to customers using it to get some feedback.
2017-06-30 04_53_14-FlexPod SF partner deck_Final.pptx [Schreibgeschützt] - PowerPoint.jpg

That’s me done for now, need to board the flight back home. I hope you like the post and look forward to see u again on my blog or receive your feedback.

 

NetApp goes HyperConverged-isch with NetApp HCI

On June 5th NetApp decided to disrupt the IT market and came out with several announcements around the Data Fabric, ONTAP 9 and finally their own HyperConverged solution. In this blogpost, I’d like to look a little bit deeper in how the HCI solution looks like and what we can expect when it is GA.
2017-06-14 20_11_26-Final Data Fabric Partner Webcast Slides-052617.pptx [Geschützte Ansicht] - Powe
According to IDC, the global HCI (hyper converged infrastructure) market is at $3 billion in annual revenue, and it’s expected to grow to $7 billion by 2020. NetApp HCI enables the customers to gain additional market opportunity and differentiation by selling an enterprise-scale hyper converged infrastructure into the most demanding data centers. Our IT market and industry is heading into the “Next Generation Data Center” and HCI is for sure one of the players in this area. To achieve consolidation and still maintain flexibility on the journey to the cloud customers need to look for new was on how to build their environments.

2017-06-14 20_10_46-New notification

Read More »

How-To ONTAP 9.1: root volume damaged

Recently I had two power outages on my lab. And after the second one my ONTAP 9.1 simulator came up with the error:
“root volume damaged”
“please contact NetApp support”
“The contents of the root volume may have changed and the local management
configuration … This node is not fully operational.
Contact support personnel …”

But as it is an simulator I tried to fix by myself. And after a while I found a solution that fixed it for me. If you see the same error the how to below can may help you out.

IMPORTANT: The following how to was used for a ONTAP 9.1 simulator in a NON-Production environment. No warranty and don’t use it in production clusters.
You are performing everything on your own risk so please always involve NetApp Support.

Read More »

VMworld Session Voting

Some days ago VMware opened the session voting for this years VMworld in US and EMEA.

And one of my session also made it into the voting so please take 2 minutes of time and vote for me.

Session: Availability for the Digital Transformation [1324]
How much do you rely on data and applications today? We live in the digital age and we all rely on constant access to information. With this digital transformation, businesses are seeking greater speed, agility, and faster time to market – all while reducing cost, complexity and meeting user needs for access to applications and data anytime and anywhere. Get the latest business trends and learn about the challenges when it comes down to data availability for our always-on world. To make sure data and applications are available 24/7/365 you need to have a proper DR plan with associated SLAs in place. Learn how to create such a plan and what questions need to be answered before it’s too late.

Looking forward to see u at VMworld 2017.