Digital Trasformation & Data Mobility

If Cloud has been the most used word in the last five years, the words that have been buzzing the IT world in the last five months are Digital Transformation

From Wikipedia:

Digital Transformation (DT or DX) is the adoption of digital technology to transform services and businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology”.

Or: Digital Transformation must help companies to be more competitive through the fast deployment of new services always aligned with business needs.

Note 1: Digital transformation is the basket, technologies to be used are the apples, services are the means of transport, shops are clients/customers.

1. Can all the already existing architectures work for Digital Transformation?

  • I prefer to answer rebuilding the question with more appropriate words:

2. Does Digital transformation require that data, applications, and services move from and to different architectures?

  • Yes, this is a must and It is called Data Mobility

Note 2: Data mobility regards the innovative technologies able to move data and services among different architectures, wherever they are located.

3. Does Data-Mobility mean that the services can be independent of the below Infrastructure?

  • Actually, it is not completely true; it means that, despite nowadays there is not a standard language allowing different architecture/infrastructure to talk to each other, the Data-mobility is able to get over this limitation.

4. Is it independent from any vendors?

  • When a standard is released all vendors want to implement it asap because they are sure that these features will improve their revenue. Currently, this standard doesn’t still exist.

    Note 3: I think the reason is that there are so many objects to count, analyze, and develop that the economical effort to do it is at the moment not justified

    5. Is already there a Ready technology “Data-Mobility”?

    The answer could be quite long but, to do short a long story, I wrote the following article that is composed of two main parts:

  • Application Layer (Container – Kubernetes)
  • Data Layer (Backup, Replica)

Application Layer – Container – Kubernetes

Using Local Persistent Volumes with Container Engine for Kubernetes | IaaS Blog - Oracle Cloud Infrastructure News

In the modern world, services are running in a virtual environment (VMware, Hyper-V, KVM, etc).

There are still old services that run on legacy architecture (Mainframe, AS400 ….), (old doesn’t mean that they are not updated but just they have a very long story)

In the next years, the services will be run in a special “area” called “container“.

The container runs on Operating System and can be hosted in a virtual/physical/Cloud architecture.

Why containers and skills on them are so required?

There are many reasons and I’m listing them in the next rows.

  1. The need of IT Managers is to move data among architectures in order to improve resilience and lower costs.
  2. The Container technology simplifies the developer code writing because it has a standard widely used language.
  3. The services ran on the container are fast to develop, update and change.
  4. The container is de facto a new standard that has a great advantage. It gets over the obstacle of missing standards among architectures (private, hybrid, and public Cloud).

A deep dive about point d.

Any company has its own core business and in the majority of cases, it needs IT technology.

Any size of the company?
Yes, just think about your personal use of the mobile phone, maybe to book a table at the restaurant or buying a ticket for a movie. I’m also quite sure it will help us get over the Covid threat.

This is the reason why I’m still thinking that IT is not a “cost” but a way to get more business and money improving efficiency in any company.

Are there specif features to allow the data-mobility in the Kubernetes environment?

Yes and for giving you a great example please have a look at the Kasten K10 product because it has many and advanced features (The topic will be well covered in the next articles because it is one of my great working passions).

Data-LayerCloud Backup Restore Icona - Download gratuito, PNG e vettoriale

What about services that can’t be containerized?

Is there a simple way to move data among different architectures?

Yes, that’s possible using copies of the data of VMs, Physical Servers.

In this business scenario, it’s important that the software can create Backup/Replicas wherever the workloads are located.

Is it enough?

From my point of view, it is not. The software has to be able to restore data intra-architectures.

For example, a customer can need to restore some on-premises workloads of his VMware architecture in a public cloud,  or restore a backup of a VM located in a public cloud to a Hyper-V on-premises environment.

In other words, working with Backup/Replica and restore in a multi-cloud environment.

The next pictures show the Data Process.

I called it “The cycle of Data” because leveraging from a copy it is possible to freely move data from and to any Infrastructure (Public, hybrid, private Cloud).

Pictures 1 and 2 are just examples of the data-mobility concept. They can be modified by adding more platforms.

The starting point of Picture 1 is a backup on-premises that can be restored on-premises and on-cloud. Picture 2 shows backup of a public cloud workload restored on cloud or on-premises.

It’s an open circle where data can be moved around platforms.

Note 4: A good suggestion is to use data-mobility architecture to set up a cold disaster recovery site (cold because data used to restore site are backup).

Picture 1

Picture 2

There is one more point to complete this article and it is the Replica feature.

Note 5: For Replica I intend the way to create a mirror of the production workload. Comparing to backup, in this scenario the workload can be switched-on without any restore operation because it is already written in the language of the host-hypervisor.

The main scope of replica technology is to create a hot Disaster Recovery site.

More details about how to orchestrate DR are available on this site at the voice Veeam Availability Orchestrator (Now Veeam Disaster Recovery Orchestrator)

The replica can be developed with three different technologies: 

  • Lun/Storage replication
  • I/O split
  • Snapshot based

I’m going to cover those scenarios and kasten k10 business cases in future articles.

That’s all for today folks.

See you soon, and take care.

NUC upgrade to ESXi 7.0.1 – Part 2

Phase 2: Upgrading ESXi Host

In the previous article, I described how to prepare a customized ISO. If you lost it please click on this link.

Let’s continue!

Requirements: the task I performed before starting the procedure here described has been the vCenter upgrade to 7.0.1-c. I remind you that my starting point was Esxi 7.0.0.b that is fully supported by vCenter 7.0.1-c.

There are two main ways to upgrade the ESXi Hosts.

The first is related to the use of a VMware feature. It’s the vSphere Lifecycle Manager (vLCM) and you can taste part of its potential by watching this video guide.

Instead, I preferred to use an old approach working with a bootable USB pen with the custom ISO prepared in the previous article. The steps are:

1. Shutdown ESXi Hosts
2. Remove the USB-NIC
3. Insert the Pen Drive with custom ISO
4. Upgrade the host following the wizard (The main point is shown in Picture 1)

Picture 1

5. Reboot the host.

6. Now it’s time to install the USB-Nic Driver. It is available from “USB Network Native Driver for ESXi” web site and this article allows me to say thx to the excellent job of  Songtao Zheng and William Lam

Before proceeding please read the instruction carefully and DO NOT insert all the USB cards together. (I have got three USB-NIC cards)

Why? Because during the procedure, I have had more than one purple screen and after a deep analysis I discovered that it depended on the USB-NIC cards.

To get over this issue I created the following procedure.

Picture 2

7. Switch off the ESXi NUC and insert the first USB-NIC card in port-1 and the second in port-4 (please refer to picture 2 to know the nomenclature of the port)

8. Now switch on the NUC and check if it boots correctly.

9. Switch off the NUC and insert the third USB-NUC on port-2.

10. Reboot NUC and check if it works as aspected.

Before ending this article I suggest creating a map between vmks and the physical MAC Address of the USB NIC. The main advantage is that it allows maintaining the same vmkusb address after a reboot also.

Some useful commands:

To Identify the Mac Address:
# esxcli network nic list |grep vusb |awk ‘{print $1, $8}’

To Check persisting binding:
# esxcli system module parameters list -m vmkusb_nic_fling

NUC upgrade to ESXi 7.0.1- Part 1

Last weekend I upgraded all my Servers to the last VMware ESXi release (7.0.1 C) and this article is meant to describe all steps I performed.

Just a recommendation before starting. I worked in my lab that it’s not a production environment.

MyLAB before upgrade:

  1. NUC8i7beh2
  2. VMware ESXi 7.0.0 (Build 16324942)
  3. Every NUC has three more network cards added to the embedded standard NIC. They have been obtained through the USB ports leveraging three adapter USB/Ethernet and the flings driver.  Please refer to the FLINGS website to get all info.

The procedure is composed of two main phases and this article will cover the first part.

Phase 1: Creating a customize ISO

Is this step required?

Oh well, it depends if the Standard ESXi VMware ISO has already the driver of your embedded network card inside. The standard ISO, unfortunately, does not contain the NUC8i7BEH network drive (it is named ne1000)

If you upgrade the ESXi through the standard ISO, the process fails with the error shown in picture 1.

Picture 1

How to get over it?

Before upgrading it, it’s necessary to know the driver used by the embedded NIC Card. If you don’t know it, please read the next instructions carefully (they are command launched on host ESXi you are going to upgrade):

1.   lspci -v | grep -A1 -i ethernet
take a note of the string composed of 4:4 values ( xxxx:yyyy)

2.   lspci -n | grep xxx:yyy
take a note of how the nic is named (in my case [vmnic0])

The next step is getting the name of the driver directly from the VMware website (Matrix compatibility).

From that web page, filling up the empty field with the value yyyy and filtering the result by IO Devices, it’s possible to get the device driver name.

For my LAB the result is shown in picture 2 where I highlighted the device driver name in yellow.

Picture 2

The last command to check if the driver is already installed (It should be present) is:

3.   vmkload_mod -l | grep “Device Driver”

In my case: vmkload_mod -l | grep ne1000
                          ne1000          1          352

Optional: if you use the USB ports to add more NIC, please uninstall the fling drivers before proceeding.

4.   esxcli software vib remove  –vibname=vmkusb-nic-fling (before vibname two scores –   –  )

It’s time to create our custom ISO

a- Download the offline bundle from VMware Site, for example:

VMware- ESXi-7.0U1c-17325551-depot.zip

b- Download the NUC ethernet driver for your device (ne1000 in my case).

I found an useful PowerShell script to get it:

#add the software repository
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
#define as variable the name of the driver
$vib = Get-EsxSoftwarePackage ne1000
$vib | select Name,Version | ft -AutoSize
$vib[4] | fl
#Get the driver
Invoke-WebRequest $vib[4].SourceUrls[0] -OutFile d:\pkg\ne1000_0.8.4-10vmw.700.1.0.15843807.vib

c- The PowerShell script to create a custom ISO is available on VMware Front Experience Site.

This great script has a lot of options; please refer to the official documentation to see how to create the ISO.

In my case I just launched the following command:

.\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.6.0.ps1 -v701 -izip D:\ISO\ESXi-7-0-1\VMware-ESXi-7.0U1c-17325551-depot.zip -pkgDir D:\pkg\ -OutDir D:\ISO\ESXi-7-0-1\ -nsc

d- The last step is creating a bootable USB pen using the just created custom ISO as a source.

I have chosen Rufus to perform this task.

In the next article, we are going to see the final step to upgrade the NUC