Author Archives: Chris

Vendor Brief: Rubrik

clip_image001Rubrik have become the new “cool kid” of backups and in the past couple of years I’ve seen lots of enthusiasm in the community for the product. To reinforce this their stand at the Barcelona show featured a Mercedes Formula 1 car, their marketing giveaways include custom LEGO figures based on Mr Men books (you can’t not be cool with that combination), and they topped it all when they gave away 1000 copies of the Host Resources Deep Dive book by Niels Hagoort and Frank Denneman to attendees. Aside from the swag Rubrik have made impressive steps in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and received awards at VMworld US last month.

Whilst at VMworld I was privileged to be able to get a Rubrik executive briefing with Bipul Sinha, Cofounder and CEO, and Jerry Rijnbeek, Director of Sales Engineering. This was a great paring for me, Jerry being the salesman was suitably enthusiastic and outgoing about Rubrik both now and in the future whilst Bipul was quieter, more reserved, whilst exuding confidence in the product they had built and its ability to simply meet a backup requirement quickly and painlessly.

This confidence is reflected in one of Rubrik’s big selling points- there are numerous customer stories offered where it’s taken hours (or less!) between an engineer arriving onsite with a Brik and a virtual environment being protected. Rubrik achieves this by owning the whole backup stack- they supply the hardware in a 2U box called a Brik and they write the software (“We are a software company” I was reminded). Therefore, with a VMware environment at least, it’s pretty much just a case of giving the box some IP addresses and pointing it at vCenter.

Rubrik as a company was founded in 2014, and sells itself as building a product for now, rather than adapting a product built for the past. This is a position which in my opinion divides the backup market- on the one hand are the more longstanding vendors (or at least those that follow a traditional model) who start from the position of file and database backup to tape and have then incorporated backup to disk (and cloud) and backup of virtual environments. Rubrik (and others) are coming from the other direction, building a product for today’s virtual environment backing up to disk or cloud and then incorporating things like file and database. Both routes have their merits depending on the environment that needs protecting.

A key feature in the Rubrik model is the ability to recover the backup quickly. This is done by provisioning a datastore directly from the “Brik”- one single unit can offer 30K IOPS, so even a production workload can be stood up almost instantly without the need to copy back to primary storage first. Once running the application can be vMotioned back to a more permanent location when convenient.

Another traditional feature of backup which is turned on its head is the notion of a backup window and schedule. A modern application doesn’t necessarily have a quiet time between 3 and 4 AM, especially in our 24/7 always-on world. The Rubrik software looks at the VM usage over time and tries to make an intelligent decision on when to do the backup- ideally when the CPU isn’t off the charts for example.

clip_image002After the briefing Jerry took me back to the show floor and introduced me to Rutger Kosters (VCDX #209) who was kind enough to spend some time showing me a live demo- I was assured that 10 minutes would be enough for me to learn 95% about the product, it’s so straightforward.

Whilst 10 minutes might be a bit generous before taking on a production environment, we were able to go through a number of the features. Taking a VM, protecting it using the web-based UI (APIs are also available) and then pulling up a backup snapshot for use as a test VM. Beyond the basic “Brik connected to vCenter” Rutger was also able to show me how a second box could be added to scale the capacity, or to add replication. There’s also the possibility to replicate to the cloud for longer retention (via NFS/S3/Azure).

Whilst I’m aware that this was a sales pitch, and the flip-side of the coin is rarely shown in such situations, I was impressed particularly by the simplicity the solution offers in protecting a Virtual Environment

Beginners Guide to….. Rubrik

What does it do?

It backs up your virtual environment and enables the opportunity to use those backups for test/dev, recovery testing, etc.

What do I need to buy?

A “Brik”- a 2U box which needs power and network connectivity. This contains four nodes and some disks.

How do I use it?

To Backup– Point your Brik at vCenter using the web interface, select VMs (or folders/ datacentres etc) and apply a backup policy.

To Restore– Via the web interface or API, stand up the VM directly on the Rubrik appliance, Storage vMotion it (back) to primary storage if required at your convenience.

Where can I find out more?

Please read my standard Declaration/Disclaimer and before rushing out to buy anything bear in mind that this article is based on a sales discussion at a trade show rather than a POC or production installation. I wasn’t paid to write this article or offered any payment, although I did independently pick up a Rubrik LEGO minifig and a signed copy of the Host DeepDive book. Oh, and a fidget spinner.

VMworld 2017 Europe Tuesday Keynote

Even when VMworld US had been weeks in advance of the European event there had been a lot in common between the keynotes so with the two legs being just days apart this year more similarity was inevitable. My write-ups of the VMworld 2017 US keynotes can be found elsewhere on this blog, so I’ll be trying to avoid too much duplication.

Jean-Pierre Brulard kicked off the proceedings touching on the tragic events that occurred in Barcelona only weeks ago before welcoming the eleven thousand visitors to VMworld who had travelled from 95 countries across the globe.

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VMworld 2017 Europe Monday

clip_image001Yesterday the VMworld faithful started arriving at El-Prat Airport in Barcelona, heading to registration at the Fira Gran Via, and checking into their hotels in the city. To get the event started the annual vRockstar gathering offered the chance to renew old friendships and make some new ones. This year vRockstar found a new home by the marina at the “Soho House” club. Thanks again to the organisers Patrick Redknap and Marco Broeken and the numerous sponsors they managed to persuade to dip into their pockets.

Monday morning, bright and early it was time to go back to the Fira and have the Monday morning explore. Monday is primarily Partner/TAM day but there are a number of sessions open to all attendees, plus the Hands-On Labs, Education Lounge, and VMTN Community area are all up and running in the VMVillage. Continue reading

Missing Content Libraries.

Symptoms

I came to deploy a Virtual Machine from a Content Library on vSphere 6.5 and discovered that the Content Library had disappeared.

clip_image001

Cause

The Content Library Service was stopped.

image

Attempting to start the service caused an error- both through the GUI and command line.

login as: root
VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.5.0.10000
Type: vCenter Server with an embedded Platform Services Controller
[email protected]'s password:
Last login: Thu Sep 7 12:55:51 2017 from

[email protected] [ ~ ]# service-control --status vmware-content-library
Stopped:
vmware-content-library
[email protected] [ ~ ]# service-control --start vmware-content-library
  Perform start operation. vmon_profile=None, svc_names=['vmware-content-library'], include_coreossvcs=False, include_leafossvcs=False
  2017-09-07T13:27:38.208Z Service content-library state STOPPED
  Error executing start on service content-library. Details {
  "resolution": null,
  "detail": [
  {
  "args": [
  "content-library"
  ],
  "id": "install.ciscommon.service.failstart",
  "localized": "An error occurred while starting service 'content-library'",
  "translatable": "An error occurred while starting service '%(0)s'"
  }
  ],
  "componentKey": null,
  "problemId": null
  }
  Service-control failed. Error {
  "resolution": null,
  "detail": [
  {
  "args": [
  "content-library"
  ],
  "id": "install.ciscommon.service.failstart",
  "localized": "An error occurred while starting service 'content-library'",
  "translatable": "An error occurred while starting service '%(0)s'"
  }
  ],
  "componentKey": null,
  "problemId": null
  }
[email protected] [ ~ ]#

The symptoms possibly started following an upgrade of vCenter to 6.5 Update 1.

 

Solution

Removing the ts-config.properties files (see VMware KB2151085 here) allowed me to restart the service.

[email protected]</a> [ ~ ]# cd /etc/vmware-content-library/config
[email protected]</a> [ /etc/vmware-content-library/config ]# ls
  cls-config.properties ts-config.properties ts-config.properties.rpmnew vdcs-config.properties
[email protected]</a> [ /etc/vmware-content-library/config ]# cp ts-config.properties ts-config.properties.orig
[email protected]</a> [ /etc/vmware-content-library/config ]# cp ts-config.properties.rpmnew ts-config.properties.rpmnew.orig
[email protected]</a> [ /etc/vmware-content-library/config ]# mv ts-config.properties.rpmnew ts-config.properties

[email protected]</a> [ /etc/vmware-content-library/config ]# service-control --stop vmware-content-library;service-control --start vmware-content-library
  Perform stop operation. vmon_profile=None, svc_names=['vmware-content-library'], include_coreossvcs=False, include_leafossvcs=False
  Successfully stopped service content-library
  Perform start operation. vmon_profile=None, svc_names=['vmware-content-library'], include_coreossvcs=False, include_leafossvcs=False
  2017-09-07T13:29:15.212Z Service content-library state STOPPED
  Successfully started service content-library
[email protected]</a> [ /etc/vmware-content-library/config ]#

 

The Content Library however was still not visible until after a reboot of the vCenter Server Appliance.

image

VMworld

VMworld US 2017 Tuesday Keynote Highlights

Following on from my write up of the Monday keynote, here’s my highlights from the Tuesday VMworld keynote streamed from Las Vegas.

Pat Gelsinger kicked off the Keynote for the second day in a row, starting off with a fireside chat with Michael Dell using questions submitted by attendees from the previous day. A similar format was played out last year, but this was much more relaxed, and felt to me much more like a discussion between two leaders and less like the “Mr Gelsinger interviews Mr Dell” from before.

2017-08-29 (15)

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