Container Days Boston 2016 (Day 1)

Just finished 2 days at the Microsoft N.E.R.D Center (love that name!) attending Container Days and have to say it was an excellent small conference experience!

Dynamic Infra Days (@DynInfraDays) did a fabulous job hosting and coordinating, the crew was well informed and very helpful too.

Day 1:

The opening session, From Hello World to Real World: Creating a Production-Grade Container Environment, with Shannon Williams (@smw355) and Bill Maxwell from Rancher (@Rancher_Labs) really set things on the right track. The was followed up with an OpenSpaces “Ignite-off” where 12 talks/discussions were selected for later in the day.

There were some hard choices on what to attend for the rest of the morning, and since I still consider myself a n00b, I tried to stick with a basic track and chose Docker for the Developer,  from Borja Burgos over Hiding in Plain Sight: Managing Secrets in a Container Environment, from Jeff Mitchell. Next up I went with Layer-X: Globally-aware, Pluggable Scheduling for Mesos, with Scott Weiss over ComplianceOps: Containers in Regulated Environments from Elliot Murphy. I was quite impressed with Layer-X and plan to read up a bit more on the details.

I unfortunately had to duck out for a bit and missed Understanding Cluster Schedulers, and Why You’ll Want a Better One with Ionel Gog & Malte Schwarzkopf, I’ll look for the link of the recording and any slides though as this sounds like it was pretty good.

The OpenSpaces/Ignite/Un-conference sessions were interesting and I jumped in and out of a few. I really liked Quinn Murphy’s (@qh_murphy) talk on Monolithic & Microservices, great story and good point that Encapsulation is a big win early in the journey!

Sat in a session called Introduction to Overlay Networks; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from Andrey Sibiryov that was quite interesting and I look forward to reviewing the slides from that in the future, I tweeted quite a few of them out live and can always fall back to those if I can’t find the slides. (#TweetingFTW) I missed Introducing Service Fabric; A Distributed Services Platform from James Sturtevant as it ran in parallel, hope to find the recording and slides for that one too.

Day 1 wrapped up with a trip to Mead Hall for drinks, discussion and apps and was a nice finish to the day; lots of networking and an extensive Beer list made it worth the short walk for sure.

Check out Twitter and #cdbos for some great pics and info from the event!

VxRail and Data Domain Virtual Edition

VxRail has taken off since being announced and a great new edition to the Marketplace will be Data Domain Virtual Edition or DDVE; as of this post I haven’t heard of an availability date for the Marketplace. DDVE is available for download from EMC however. The download is a .zip that extracts to a Folder containing an .ova for installation.

The addition of DDVE enhances the package for a full operating solution in the ROBO space and Small Business space by complementing the included VMware Data Protection solution that is powered by EMC Avamar. DDVE includes:

  • DDBoost, for increased backup speed by up to 50%
  • Encryption, through inline encryption for data at rest
  • Data Domain Replicator with up to 99% bandwidth reduction, for those replicating backups to another location
  • Data Domain Management Center for a single management interface for DDVE and DD systems

VxRail stems from VMware’s EVO:Rail, and utilizes VMware vSphere 6 and Virtual SAN 6.1 in a 2U appliance that houses four Nodes and associated drives. Various models and specs can be found on the VxRail page at VCE.

Testing was done with a single VxRail 120:

  • Processor Cores per node: 12
  • Processors per node: 2 Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2620 v3 2.4 GHz
  • RAM per node: 192 GB (12 x 16 GB)
  • Caching SSD per node: 400GB
  • Storage (Raw) per node: 3.6 TB
  • Network Connection per node: 2 x 10 GbE SFP+

VxRail utilizes several interfaces to accomplish tasks; VxRail Manager gives you a Dashboard overview and allows deployment of VMs in 3 sizes, Small, Medium, and Large from ISO. VxRail Manger Extension allows you to view the physical platform, dump logs, view the Community Forum most recent posts, setup Support and access the Market Place to add additional components like CloudArray, and eventually DDVE. In order to deploy an OVA/OVF you’ll have to access vCenter via the IP assigned during setup, and that is where we’ll deploy DDVE from.

Reading through the ‘Installation and Administration guide’, and ‘DDVE — Best Practices’ guide will get you acquainted with requirements and help plan your deployment. Until your license is applied you’ll be limited to 500GB, regardless of the size of disks you deploy, and that should be adequate for most testing purposes. One of the recommended deployment settings from both guides is to use ‘thick’ provisioning, “Thick Provision Lazy Zero” is recommended for faster deployment. As VxRail uses VMware Virtual SAN for storage we are not given the option of thick during an OVA/OVF deployment through vSphere, however there is a way to provide for this method. We can create a new Storage Policy that equates to Thick Provision Lazy Zero and here’s how:

  • From the vSphere Web Client Home page, select ‘VM Storage Policies’vSphereWebClientHome-VM_Storage_Policies
  • Select the ‘Virtual SAN Default Storage Policy’ and then click the ‘Clone a VM Storage Policy’ button vSphereWebClientVM_Storage_Policies-Clone_VirtualSAN_Default
  • We’ll make one change from the Default policy, setting the Space Reservation to 100%. The default is 0%, effectively Thin Provisioning, so changing this to 100% will give us a Thick Disk VirtualSANStoragePolicy-SpaceReservForThick
  • Save the Policy to your preferred policy name and that’s it.

Now we can deploy the OVA for DDVE, the deployment will provision the default 2 disks as thick with Disk 1 at 250GB (OS Disk) and Disk 2 at 10GB (Cache Disk). You can leave the Storage Policy at the default for this part, or select the new Thick Policy that we created.

Once deployed, and before starting, we will need to add the Storage Disk(s) and this is where we want to make sure the Thick Policy is applied per the recommendation from the  ‘Installation and Administration guide’ as well as the ‘DDVE — Best Practices’ guide.

Select the DDVE VM in vSphere Web Client and edit the settings to add the Storage Disk. Here I’ve added a 1TB Disk and chosen the Thick Policy that we created.VxRail-DDVE-QualTest-DDVE_1TB_Config-DiskAdd

After adding the disk our VM summary should look something like this VxRail-DDVE-QualTest-DDVE_1TB_Config

Now that we have our DDVE configured we can start the VM and go through changing the default password, setting up networking and adding our license. Here’s an example of the DAT test, before creating the file system to allow for Read and Write tests, showing VxRail would support up to a 16TiB DDVE config!



Hope you enjoyed this bit of info and it wasn’t TL;DR.

For a follow up I plan to cover upsizing the DDVE for an 8TB config, stay tuned!

Here are a few links for more info on Data Domain Virtual Edition and VxRail:

*Saw this via Twitter today:

Virtual Ghetto, run by William Lam from VMware (@lamw), posted that the vSphere Web Client deploys all OVA/OVFs as ‘thick.

Thanks to EMC E2E Validation Lab Team, VxRail Engineering, DDVE Team, and Jase McCarty (@jasemccarty) for answering questions, helping with setup, and putting up with me in general!