Category Archives: Storage

First Look – Leveraging the Nimble Secondary Flash Array with Veeam – Setup guide

Following on with the setup guide of the Nimble Secondary Flash Array, I am going to go through the deployment options, and the settings needed for implementation with Veeam Backup and Replication.

What will be covered in this blog post?

  • Quick overview of the SFA
  • Deployment Options
    • Utilizing features of Veeam with the SFA
    • Using a backup repository LUN
  • Best practices to use as backup repository
    • Veeam Proxy – Direct SAN Access
    • Creating your LUN on the SFA for use as a backup repository
    • Setting up your backup repository in Veeam
    • vPower NFS Service on the mount server
    • Backup Job settings
    • SureBackup / SureReplica
    • Backup Job – Nimble Storage Primary Snapshot – Configure Secondary destinations for this job
    • Encryption – Don’t do it in Veeam!
  • Viewing data reduction savings on the Nimble Secondary Storage
  • Summary

My test lab looks similar to the below diagram provided by Veeam (Benefits of using Nimble SFA with Veeam).

Quick overview of the SFA

The SFA is essentially the same as the previous Nimble Storage devices before it, the same hardware and software. But with one key difference, the software has been optimized against data reduction and space-saving efficiencies, rather than for performance. Which means you would purchase the Nimble CS/AF range for production workloads, with high IOP performance and low latency. And the SFA would be used for your DR environment, backup solution, providing the same low latency to allow for high-speed recovery, and long-term archival of data.

Deployment options

With the deployment of an SFA, you are looking at roughly the same deployment options as the CS/AF array for use with Veeam (This blog, Veeam Blog). However with the high dedupe expectancy, you are able to store a hell of a lot more data!

So the options are as follows;

  1. iSCSI or FC LUN to your server as a Veeam Backup Repo.
    • Instant VM Recovery
    • Backup Repository
    • SureBackup / SureReplica
    • Virtual Labs
  2. Replication Target for an existing Nimble.
    • Utilizing Veeam Storage Integration
      • Backup VMs from Secondary Storage Snapshot
      • Control Nimble Storage Snapshot schedules and replication of volumes

If we take option one, we open up a few options directly with Veeam. You can use the high IOPs performance and low latency, for features such as Instant VM recovery, where by the Veeam Backup and Replication server hosts an NFS datastore to your virtual environment and spins up a running copy of your recovered virtual machine quickly with little fuss.

Continue reading First Look – Leveraging the Nimble Secondary Flash Array with Veeam – Setup guide

Setting up a Nimble Secondary Flash Array from scratch

Nimble Storage have released their newest addition in the line up, the SFA, or to give its full name, the Secondary Flash Array. And in this post, we are going to look at how to set one up from scratch.

Taken from the following datasheet;

The Nimble Secondary Flash Array represents a new type of secondary data storage optimized for both capacity and performance. It adds high-performance flash storage to a capacity-optimized architecture for a unique backup platform that lets you put your backup data to work.

The Nimble Secondary Flash Array is optimized for backup, disaster recovery and secondary data storage. By using Flash, it lets you put your backup data to work for Dev/Test, QA and analytics. Instantly backup and recover data from any primary storage system. And our integration with Veeam backup software simplifies data lifecycle management and provides a path to cloud archiving.
Before you get started

As you can imagine it’s as easy as setting up one of the existing Nimble Arrays, as I blogged about previous (Setup via GUI, via CLI). Actually the configuration via CLI is the exact same!

First things to note; the SFA ships with the NimOS 4.x, which is now HTML5 based, and there is extra port requirement for access if you have a firewall or a web proxy in the situ, TCP 5392, which is used for RESTapi access. In my testing, I found that the Sophos web filter that was setup in transparent mode, caused issues with my login page on the Nimble, when I removed it from the equation, I noticed my Firefox gave me a pop-up window as per the below.

How to setup the array – initial configuration
  • Launch the Nimble Setup Manager, this can be downloaded from https://infosight.nimblestorage.com

You’ll see below I actually used an older version, and it still worked fine discovering the array. When you click next, you’ll be presented a dialog box explaining that your default browser will be launched to continue the setup (as part of the new HTML5 interface).

 

 

  • Accept the certificate error, as the Nimble uses a self signed cert on the web interface

Continue reading Setting up a Nimble Secondary Flash Array from scratch

HPE Stealthily Buys Nimble Storage – Someone was bound to do it

Today heralds a shock to the IT industry, even though many kept asking “when will someone snap up Nimble Storage”, I think we can say that HPE was not the company we expected to do it, especially after the purchase of Simplivity just a month and half ago.

Nimble Storage and HPE today announced the sale, via the following posts;

Below is a HPE slide shared by Nick Dyer highlighting the main points why HPE took the plunge and opened the wallets for Nimble Storage.

Looking back

The storage industry for the big players has been pretty static until the likes of Nimble Storage, Tintri, and Tegile hit out with innovative ways of addressing todays storage needs. Its well documented that one of the biggest losers was NetApp, unable to adapt, and finding unhappy customers turning to other vendors in the market.

Nimble Storage quickly found their way to the top of the pile, amongst the new wave of storage startups, leaving their new age competitors to suffer.

It’s not all been plain sailing

Nimble Storage hit a slight stall in their market share take over, they have great success with their adaptive platform, but as flash disks became cost-effective for day-to-day production use, Nimble were slow to react in getting an “All Flash Array” to the market, leaving other vendors such as Pure Storage to forge their niche in the market. Managing to (eventually) bounce back with a solid offering in the all flash market, Nimble have now cornered themselves as the solid competition against the big players in the market, e.g. Dell/EMC, HPE, NetApp.

Innovation is hard to do

I asked Joe Baugley in a interview recently what changes we should expect with the bigger vendors in the IT industry;

"The challenge comes when some organisations are too big and institutionalized to know what it is they do any more and what they should be doing."

HP is facing strong competition in almost all areas of the IT markets it competes in, and the successful churning beast has realised its time to reinvent or get left behind, reminiscing somewhat in the wake of the decline and rebirth of Microsoft. Splitting the company into two separate parts, HP and HPE, has possibly been the saviour of HP. It allows the company to concentrate on the deadwood in strategic sections, and trim down any bulk that’s been left unchecked over the years.

This doesn’t fix one of the immediate issues however, when you are a huge company, how do you innovate? The answer we generally see is “you don’t, you just buy someone who is”.

It can be argued that 3PAR has been a success for HPE (as part of an acquisition), however it faces strong competition in the storage market, and is by no way the golden goose in the coop.

Meg Whitman alluded the fact that acquisitions for HPE will be on the way, as the company becomes more “nimbler” in its ability to act, and address the markets it competes in.

Nimble Storage is more than just storage

For most people, this purchase is a no brainer. Nimble Storage are disruptive, and for all the right reasons. It was only a matter of time before someone made them an offer they could not refuse, was HPE the expected contender? Not in most people’s books. It’s a great move for HPE, although the dust has yet to settle, it’s already being touted that Nimble Storage plugs the gap between the HP MSA and 3PAR portfolio. For me, it’s a daft comparison, I think it offers something more than just a plug to a portfolio gap.

Nimble Storage offer an innovate way of decoupling performance from the disks, so you can easily scale performance or capacity as needed. Fix the adage, if you need performance, add more disks. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

For many customers and prospective customers, its Infosight that’s the jewel in the crown. Built from the ground up, the cloud analytics platform offers a unique selling point no other vendor can match.

This is selling point for Nimble, no longer do they go to a customer and spend their time in a contest as to who has the better specs when coming up against vendor X. Instead they take customers on a journey, selling the benefits of more than just fast storage, showing customers how to understand their environment and get the best from it, ensuring that the next 5 years plus are catered for in a purchase made today.

They offer a unique vision for a customer, especially those who have suffered resource sprawl in their environments, unable to get an insight into their platforms without a major cost to the business. Nimble Storage offers a gateway to allowing customers to capture this information, all included with the purchase of a storage array, focusing on only one of the benefits of Nimble Storage versus the competition.

And this is without mentioning the recently announced Nimble Cloud Volumes, and alternative way to get your data into the cloud, but providing better availability guarantees than AWS or Azure. Ironically announced just before the AWS outage.

What’s next? Unanswered questions

Today’s announcement leaves many questions, which will no doubt be answered as the dust settles;

  • What happens with the Cisco partnership
  • What happens with the Lenovo partnership
  • Have HPE bought Nimble for the innovation, or to remove them as competition to 3PAR
  • What will a rebranded Nimble look like?
  • Is Nimble Cloud Volumes a viable way for HPE to enter back into the cloud market?
  • What does this mean for Tintri and Tegile?

It’s safe to say at the moment its business as usual, whether you are a prospective customer, or an existing customer. Today’s announcement should give you confidence in Nimble Storage as a product, earmarking them as the leader of the next generation storage devices. If you are a Tintri or Tegile customer, you may well be asking yourself if you have invested in the wrong product.

HPE, in my books, can only looking to expand on Nimble’s success, utilizing the Infosight model further, and starting to approach all hardware integrations the same. If HPE can pull this off, it means their portfolio will complement one another better. Imagine having the Infosight like data and analytics for your HP Blade Chassis? Nimble were almost at that point working with Lenovo to achieve something similar, whereby they would have a full stack solution monitoring. But we will probably see this now with HPE products instead.

I sign off by hoping that this purchase is positive for all the employees of Nimble Storage, they are a great set of guys and girls there, and truly one of the better vendors I’ve worked with. So now we sit and wait to see how HPE can push Nimble Storage’s success further.
Regards
Dean


Nimble Storage – The life of a failed disk

Today I found out a disk had failed in a production SAN. Oh no!!!

But like previous experiences, this is different. And my support experience is pretty darn good. So I thought lets write this up. Because you always here about the terrible failures and pain in the arse experiences, never the good.

Note:  This post is about the support experience, but it must be noted, there was performance or end user impact during this failure either!

The notifications

So the first notification came in, telling me the disk was unhealthy and that it was being inspected by the array, the main thing is;

  • Informed me of the issue
  • Informed me of the actions

Second notification, confirmation the RAID was in a degraded state.

Third notification,  confirmation the disk had failed.

The support call

Or rather the lack of support call, I logged onto Nimble Infosight. Continue reading Nimble Storage – The life of a failed disk

First look at Veeam 9.5 & Nimble Storage Integration – Part 2

This is a continuation piece regarding the integration of Nimble Storage to the Veeam Backup & Replication software in the upcoming release 9.5.

Part 1

  • So what does the integration give us?
  • The test environment
  • Adding the Nimble Storage Array into Veeam
    • Configuration
    • Nimble Audit Logs

Part 2

  • Now we’ve added the Nimble Storage Array
  • What can we do with Snapshots?
    • Controlling Nimble Storage  snapshots and restoring files from the Veeam console
    • Backing up a Virtual Machine from a Nimble Snapshot
    • Backing up a Virtual machine to a Nimble Snapshot (Snapshot-only Job)
    • Replicating a Virtual Machine from a Nimble Snapshot
  • SureBackup from Nimble Snapshots

Following on from part one of this first look two part blog series, where we added the Nimble Storage Arrays into the Veeam software, we continue to see how this integration piece works.

Now we have added the Nimble Storage Array

So before we get started, we can now see the datastores of the Nimble Storage Array, and the snapshots of each datastore. In the second screenshot, we can see the enumeration of VMware virtual machines and which host they are were attached to.

Adding Nimble Storage to Veeam - Storage Infrastructure - Nimble Array and SnapshotsAdding Nimble Storage to Veeam - Storage Infrastructure - Nimble Array and Snapshots 02

Controlling Nimble Storage  snapshots

Continue reading First look at Veeam 9.5 & Nimble Storage Integration – Part 2