Monthly Archives: April 2009

Getting Exchange PPTs Ready for EMC World

For EMC World 2009, I’ve got two presentations that I’m putting the finishing touches on:

1. Exchange Disaster Recovery: Good, Better, Best

This will highlight key differences in the styles of replication available to an Exchange environment: host-based, appliance-based, or array based. I’ve got some very interesting data comparing the built-in options of Exchange 2007 CCR and SCR versus EMC RecoverPoint and our array based offerings SRDF and MirrorView.

2. Microsoft Exchange 2007 Storage Best Practices for SAN and DAS Deployments

This session will discuss our latest best practices and discuss how EMC can offer low-cost solutions that meet the budget as well as mission critical deployments for businesses that truly consider Exchange to be a mission critical application.

On a related note, a recent customer asked “what do you consider to be mission critical?”  My answer was “if your employees would flip if Exchange was down for a few minutes, then it’s mission critical.  If you use Exchange for just about everything, it’s probably mission critical.  If you are sending alerts that mark specific business events and provide notifications to line-of-business managers, then it’s probably mission critical.  If you lost email data, and you’d fear your job – it just might be mission critical.”  Sorry for sounding so Jeff Foxworthy. :)

V-Max and Microsoft Application Documents

Here’s some documents from various departments within EMC around the new Symmetrix V-Max and Microsoft Applications.

If you are implementing Exchange, SQL, or SharePoint in your environment today, I highly suggest you take a look (and read) the following:

EMC Proven Solutions

EMC Partner Engineering Whitepapers

Exchange 2010 Public Beta Arrives

Today, Microsoft has released a public beta of Exchange 2010 and has affirmed the name publically (although the name slipped onto the web via Paul Thurrott SuperSite months ago).   Here’s the new  Microsoft Exchange 2010 Homepage.

So far, the major themes being highlighted via Flash animation include:

  • Unified messaging
  • Exchange Online
  • Archiving and Retention

PC World Coverage here

Exchange 2010 tries to fend off Google Apps (Computerworld)

Even more coverage here

Download it here:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=1898ed2c-2f88-48ac-824e-d3d20fad77d7

Video: Microsoft AdCenter Using V-Max

I took some rough notes on this great video that features Mike Anderson, Senior Systems Engineer, and Bong Kang, SAN Engineering Lead for the Microsoft Advertising group and their endorsement of the new Symmetrix V-Max.

AdCenter has very rigorous service level agreements on how fast they return intelligence data.

The ability to grow the array without downtime is a huge win for AdCenter.

Easier to deploy, automate.  We like the fast it has a lot of performance to meet SLAs.

We can start with a small footprint and grow as we need, putting the pieces anywhere we want as we need it.  Allows us to deploy just as we need it without affecting production application or the rest of the datacenter space.

This saves time and money and saves us from orphaning power and capacity in our facility.

In our testing, we found V-Max delivers higher performance and better response time… The faster we can make our application go, the more money we are going to make.

Automation is huge.

Today to get a LUN on the host we use 3 spreadsheets and a lot of scripts.
With V-Max we cut time to mask and present storage by about 70%. With V-Max we create a few groups and the storage is ready on the host.

New Virtual LUN migration features allow us to enable non-disputive migrations to lower-cost, higher capacity space as the data ages. Virtual LUN migration “simplifies our process, meaning we don’t have to necessarily have all of the meetings with our business teams, our development teams, and our operational folks to get a maintenance window.  We know we’re comfortable moving the data online at any time.”

The Symmetrix Manage Console (SMC) has a wizard that allows us to move LUNs and that saves us a lot of time.   It allows multiple tasks at the same time.

We get huge gains in automation, and reduced administrative overhead. We also greatly reduce power and cooling requirements and cost of storage per GB.

They love being able to add performance “where we need it, when we need it”

Reduced capital expenditures and operational expenditures over the life of the array.

EMC Symmetrix VMAX and Mixed Microsoft Workloads

overtake-the-future

I work in the Proven Solutions team at EMC.  Our entire group recently got involved to test out the new VMAX, and in the Microsoft arena, there were a lot of meetings and a lot of speculation of what we should test.  It certainly Overtook The Future free-time of a lot of people…

If you work within a company, you probably know there are dreamers and realists when it comes to any project.  For this one, the dreamers wanted to showcase an all-in-one solution that would show how this new platform could show the new features while consolidating multiple mixed workloads without the array even breathing heavy.  The realists were quoted as saying popular phrases such as “scope creep,” and “timelines.”  Well thank goodness, the dreamers won.

Once the scope of the all-in-one (SQL, SharePoint, Exchange) project was decided, Project (insert code name) got many teams working together in a way that I think is fairly unique across the industry.  Just look at some of the MSIT whitepapers. Look at HP’s papers.  Look at any company and you have islands of documentation and knowledge.  A paper by the Exchange team for Exchange people only.  Or a deep SQL paper that about 1 guy in your company can understand.  A SharePoint backup guide that only a few people will ever look at.  Sure, these papers provide unique material to a focused audience, but it also means it’s likely that they aren’t going to have a clue about what happens outside their little area of focus. None of these papers gives you perspective that ALL of your Windows servers can be and should be closer together.

Having your Windows environment closer probably means its stored data is closer which means data backups and replication are probably going to be easier to think about.  It means that the SQL gal can tell the Exchange guy what she thinks about log shipping, based on her experience, and have an intelligent conversation about it.  It means the teams can work together like a plumber, electrician, and a framer – sticking to their core area but retain a surprising amount of knowledge about the big picture. This gets them thinking like architects or CIO’s and not thinking like single-product people.

I wrote a fairly well received post back in December about consolidation and de-consolidation and and the fact remains true today for your company or even for your home.

When your data is in close proximity to you, and in less places – it’s easier to manage.  When your data is distributed and in more places – it’s harder to manage.

Unless you have a really intelligent system to distribute your information ($), then this will always remain true.

So instead of doing configurations for SQL, and then for SharePoint, and then for Exchange – we worked together to build a mixed workload that showcased the standard division of control and priority settings of the VMAX, but also utilized the newer features that enable easier storage allocations, online LUN migration, and thin provisioning.  We did this all on the same storage hardware – the VMAX.

Some details.

V-MAX Microsoft Apps Visio

We took a combination of Exchange 2007, SQL 2008, and SharePoint 2007 and as usual beat the hell out of them until we understood the thresholds and the limits.   We used ESX 3.5 (ESX 4.0 would have been new and might have presented delays at this scale) to virtualize everything – including all of the SQL databases.  We’ve been a little conservative on this in the past, but we were happy to find performance exceeded our expectations.

We tried a few unique cases:

  • Live Migrations of SharePoint Web Front End – under 3 minutes without disruption. Check.
  • Live Migration of a Heavy (75,000  user) SQL environment – 17 minutes without disruption or downtime.  Check.
  • Simulated power failures – all servers back up and running in under 6 minutes. Check.
  • Migrating a SQL database from RAID1 to RAID5 while the application stays online and processing requests.  Check.
  • Utilizing Replication Manager to clone each copy of the production database and logs. Check.
  • Adding Kroll Ontrack PowerControls to be able to get file-level restore granularity from SQL or Exchange or SharePoint databases.  Check.

Using standard performance testing tools for Exchange (LoadGen/JetStress), SQL (TPC-E workload) and SharePoint (Knowledge Lake VSTS scripts), we achieved a consolidated, virtualized workload that can perform, scale, and move around the system as needs change over time.

What about Hyper-V?

Well, don’t get confused – although much of the testing we did was based on VMware, there is no reason the functionality embedded within this new platform cannot be leveraged with Hyper-V.  The V-Max is an excellent platform to get simplified provisioning of your virtualized Microsoft environment – whether or not the hypervisor is Hyper-V or VMware.  In my role, I really don’t care.  We do what our customers ask for.

Virtual Servers and Virtual Storage

When I say virtual servers need virtual storage – there’s a few key enabling technologies that come to mind that are new to the V-Max platform, which are quickly becoming the new requirements for today’s datacenter:

Autoprovisioning Groups— Autoprovisioning Groups provide an easier, faster way to provision storage in Symmetrix V-Max arrays. In virtual server environments applications running on V-Max arrays require a fault tolerant environment with clustered servers as well as multiple paths to devices for guest Virtual Machines (VMs). Autoprovisioning Groups were developed to make storage allocation easier and faster, especially with these types of configurations.

Advanced Tiered Storage Management—The Virtual Provisioning component of this package allows you to present a large amount of capacity to a host and then consume space only as needed from a shared pool. This improves total cost of ownership (TCO) by reducing initial over-allocation of storage capacity and simplifies management by reducing the steps required to support growth.

Virtual LUNs—Virtual LUN technology enables data migration within an array without host or application disruption. Virtual LUN brings a tiered storage strategy to life by easily moving information throughout the storage system as its value changes over time. It can assist in system reconfiguration, performance improvement, and consolidation efforts while helping maintain vital service levels.

I’ll post some more on the specifics of the testing we performed over the next couple of days and cap it off with the Reference Architecture and WhitePaper for this solution.

- Brian

EMC Symmetrix V-Max in Use at Microsoft adCenter

A snippet from the Press Release.

Microsoft adCenter, a part of Microsoft Advertising, is a tool that helps advertisers manage their search advertising campaigns on Microsoft Live Search. adCenter also recently beta tested the new Symmetrix V-Max systems. “Our advanced capabilities enable advertisers to target their ads to the right consumers and maximize effectiveness,” said Bong Kang, SAN engineering lead, Microsoft adCenter. “Our infrastructure uses EMC Symmetrix systems and software to more rapidly analyze information. The new Symmetrix V-Max systems have the ability to easily move data from the highest-performing media to lower-performing drives based on how the information is being used. The ability to scale performance along with capacity is a key capability as our business continues to grow.”

Windows 7 – No More Easter Eggs?

easter_egg_purple_ribbonThese days, Microsoft has matured into a company that thinks it must take itself pretty seriously.

Here’s a question about Easter Eggs on the Microsoft Technet Forums by Drew26

Can we get some easter eggs in Windows 7? They’re so much fun and add an element of exploring features of an operating system… Just an idea. There’s no need to, really, but it would be neat?

The answer is nowhere to be found in the Wikipedia entry.   But here’s some insight from the Technet Forums:

Sorry… But it ain’t gonna happen. While I would agree that finding hidden Easter eggs can be kind of fun and the like, corporate customers would never let it fly. They won’t be buying an OS where hidden stuff can pop out and distract users from doing their jobs or possibly be exploitable.

Or this, more patronizing response (could be from a MS guy?):

Sadly, I think the days of enterprising individuals putting flight sims in Excel are over, Drew. :-)

With all the planning, testing, and whatnot that is involved it’s not good for people to toss in random stuff.

On second thought, there is always the registry, that’s full of features that aren’t discoverable via UI.

Hacking the registry instead of flying around – which one seems more like a risk to your computer?

Personally an Easter Egg or two can be appreciated, what if it’s not the typical Easter Egg but something with a bit more thought and organization to it?     Like the fictional commercials (Hanso Foundation or Oceanic Airlines)   sometimes aired during episodes of Lost, or the show Fringe which offers letter-based clues based on images shown before commercial breaks…  the element of scavenging around for clues embedded deeper within the OS can lead to great viral press and genuine interest.  Right now, the most digging people are doing in Windows are not to find interesting new features, but more to find security holes.

The closest they got was when I opened up a beta version of Windows 7 and saw a betta fish background… haha.  They could do a lot more, whether it be a contest to design Windows 7 wallpaper (helping to build the final OS package), or dropping in wallpaper that promoted interesting features within the OS…

I think this time around, we’re seeing a more serious company release a very serious product – Windows 7 is very fast and stable from what I’ve experienced – and they need a successful product to right the wrongs of Vista.

If you’re a Windows geek like me, the only Easter Eggs you could see this year will be on Easter Sunday.

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If you got this far, I must say thanks for reading my blog, and as your reward- here are some cool Easter eggs that are popular on the ‘intertubes’ these days:

1. Flickr Snow: Click on a Flickr picture.  Up above where the address is located, add the following:           ?snow=1

Can you guess what will happen?    (just show me)   [update 7/19/10 I don't think this works anymore... even less Easter Eggs = bad]

2. Google Flight Simulator: Get Google Earth 42.  On PC  hit Ctrl+Alt+A.  Mac users hit Cmd+Opt+A

A full fledged flight simulator will appear and you can choose airport and your plane. Click here for instructions.

3. Google Microsoft Search: Well, this isn’t really an Easter Egg, but it’s a high powered version of a Google Custom Search.

When you go to www.google.com/microsoft they make sure the returned search results have “something” to do with Microsoft.   Try searching my name in a regular Google.com search and you get the former broadcaster from New Zealand, “Hendo.”  Now, try the “Google Microsoft” search engine and most of the results are me!

4. Here’s a new one: Google Maps Foreclosure Visualization.

Happy Easter everyone.

Windows Server 2008 Foundation

The low end of Windows 7 – Starter Edition – has already been discussed quite a bit across the blogosphere, and its big brother is a bit jealous.  Like the future desktop version, Windows Server 2008 Foundation is intended to go lower (in price and functionality) than prior releases of the operating system.  Get em hooked, get em to upgrade is always the name of the game in software, isn’t it?

Windows 7 Starter Edition will have a “cap” of 3 applications and doesn’t support customized wallpaper from what I hear.

Windows Server 2008 Foundation will have a “cap” of 15 users, doesn’t include or support Hyper-V, and cannot be used on multi-core machines (multiprocessors are OK).  It will be primarily targeted for small companies and emerging economies such as China, Brazil, and India.  Better to have something cheap compared to promoting further piracy, I guess. Cheap is about $150-200, compared with Windows 2008 standard which you can find for about $500.

In the US market, I think it could be a new option for home users who are looking to build their own sandboxes with “real” servers and don’t want to pay full price for a higher-end product.  The lack of Hyper-V support is unfortunate, because I think a lot of people would want to get their hands on this technology, at least to test out and learn.  And if people can put apps (Exchange, SQL) on it, they (Microsoft) should theoretically get the licensing revenue anyway…

BUT – where does Home Server fit?  What about MinWin:)

Press Release

Paul Thorrutt’s Super Site for Windows Coverage

Video Coverage

Do you want to Overtake The Future?

On April 14th, EMC will make a landmark announcement about its breakthrough approach to crossing the divide to the virtual data center of the future. Hear from senior EMC executives, EMC technologists, and industry analysts, and have in-depth background information at your fingertips.

You’ll want to see this…   Register today.

OvertakeTheFuture.com

Maybe You’ll Want to Discuss the Event After?

TWEEVO – The New Pop-Up Video

Off topic post – I’ve got an idea that could be explored by enterprising web-developers who wish to make some money riding the Twitter wave.

You know Twitter – real-time updates across the web across a huge assortment of channels – and you know Tivo which essential turns TV into an on-demand database.

What about combining the two? Well, to me, TWEEVO could be the new pop-up video.

For me, Twitter is the most fun when I’m watching something real-time such as the debates, a TV show with rabid fans like Lost, or events like EMC’s upcoming EMC World or Microsoft TechEd (stretch reference).

For some of these real-time events (TV shows especially) I wouldn’t mind watching a video on one side of the screen and the tweets on another.  I know it’s a bit of information overload, but it’s the layering of content and opinion that I think people are progressing towards.  I’d like to go back and watch a few episodes of Lost with Tweets turned on – starting at the same time the show starts.

Today you now have the ability to annotate YouTube videos – marking certain points in the video that you feel need to be explained or underlined – but it takes a little time and effort.  If a video instead could be associated with a Twitter hash-tag, then you have something that is simple and powerful – TWEEVO !   The hash-tags might need to get a bit longer to accommodate such a purpose – episode names perhaps, but it’s not unlikely.

Google is rumored to be in talks with Twitter for a potential acquisition and it would make perfect sense.  Evan has the connections and has sold to Google before, Twitter would extend Google’s reach to real-time search, and they could combine the technology like above to make something unique that people would probably love… TWEEVO!

SourceOne – Archiving 2.0 for Exchange and More

Consider EmailXtender to be EMC’s first generation archiving product.

SourceOne is EMC’s Archiving 2.0 product – completely re-written to match today’s needs.

The most significant and unique difference to me is the ability to assign roles to specific jobs within their archiving framework.  In this sense, EMC is releasing a significant archiving product which looks a lot like some of Microsoft’s popular enterprise applications out there.

In Exchange you have Hub, CAS, and Mailbox roles… in SharePoint you have web front ends, app servers, and database roles.  These roles can live on the same server, but in large environments people might prefer to break out individual components to allow for max performance, scalability, and reliability.

Like Exchange and SharePoint – SourceOne effectively breaks out all of the unique roles within the archiving framework to allow for flexible re-distribution of resources as your requirements change.  “Resources” in this case includes input sources, workers, archive, and the master server.   They can all be on the same server or broken out over time onto dedicate physical or virtual servers.

Over time the amount of data you will archive could increase – you can scale a component rather than re-architecting the whole system.  As we add other archiving inputs (perhaps SharePoint) you will need to make sure there are enough workers and archive servers for the new data.

And you can break out components temporarily.  Let’s say you want to pull in all of your PST files across the company… you’d provision a few servers for the task at hand during off hours, then re-purpose them to something else after the ingestion is complete.

This is a big announcement and it makes me happy we didn’t do it yesterday :)

Interesting links to check out

EMC’s course syllabus for SourceOne

Even if you don’t take the class, you can learn a little about how the product works by reviewing this.

Coverage from other EMC Bloggers

Chucks Blog (Chuck Hollis)

Chuck gives his high level view of how this product enables enterprise-wide ILM and how ILM benefits organizations.

StorageZilla (Mark Twomey)

Zilla talks about how email archiving products really haven’t caught up with the rising tidal wave of email within a company.