How to: Upgrading DellEMC PowerProtect

In this blog post, I will show how easy it is to upgrade a PowerProtect Virtual Instance running within VMware. If you have ever administered Avamar before, you know just how painful it can be to upgrade.

It consisted of:

    1. Open a SR
    2. Performing a health check
    3. Downloading several RPM files that were GBs in size,
    4. Uploading those files to the node
    5. Running Prechecks (Better Hope you Checkpoint didn’t fail)
    6. Making sure your Data Domain on a code that was compatible with Avamar
    7. Taking a Checkpoint, stopping all backup jobs, Replication jobs, etc

Normally this would take several hours. Then once that was done (if you didn’t have any issues with the file system), you would ensure GSAN and MCS is working. To say the process was easy would be an understatement. The process often took weeks to plan and execute.

Thankfully, upgrading the PowerProtect Data Manager is much easier. I was able to download the patch, upgrade the appliance and resume backups in about an hour.

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To get started log into the appliance.

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Select Upgrade.

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Select Upload Package.

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Select the previously download package, and select Open.

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The file will now upload.

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The upload may take several minutes.

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Once you get confirmation the package has been uploaded, select OK.

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You will now see a prompt to upgrade. When you select “Upgrade” the process, which includes VMware taking a snapshot of the server, begin. The snapshot will allow you to roll back if issues are experienced during the upgrade.

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The final confirmation includes putting the Lockbox Passphrase in (normally the same as Root).

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Select YES to confirm the upgrade process.

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The upgrade process now begins. Do not interrupt the process.

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You will now see the Upgrade status displayed. This process may take several minutes to complete.

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Continue to monitor and watch the install progress as each RPM is installed.

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Once the upgrade has been completed, at 100%, you can refresh the page if it doesn’t redirect you to the PowerProtect main screen. Once that completes, you have been upgraded.

How to: Protecting Workloads with PowerProtect

In a previous blog post, I stated how to deploy DellEMC PowerProtect. However, once PowerProtect is deployed you must add a workload in order to start protecting data. In this blog post, I will show you the steps required in order to protect VM workloads within VMware.

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How to: Deploying DellEMC PowerProtect

PowerProtect is a Software defined data management software from DellEMC. It comes in two different variants, a hardware appliance with storage and a Virtual edition. The Virtual Edition must be pointed to a Data Domain. This software has been written from the ground up, and mainly competes against Rubrik and Cohesity. PowerProtect uses protection policies to protect assets. This software has been written from the ground up, and appears to have address a lot of the shortcomings that newer backup vendors poke DellEMC for. Personally (my open unofficial opinion), I believe this solution will eventually replace traditional Avamar/Data Domain/IDPA.

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How to: Enabling vSphere/vSAN Encryption

How to: Enabling vSphere/vSAN Encryption

Previously, I wrote a blog post on how to configure vSAN/vSphere encryption. This was just the first step of a two step process. The first step, as previously stated, was how to deploy and configure the KMS Keystore. Without the KMS Keystore, encryption can’t occur. However once that is deployed, enabling vSphere/vSAN encryption is as simple as toggling a switch! Check out this post before proceeding.

Within this blog post I will go over both methods, which include:

1) Per VM Encryption in vSphere
2) vSAN Encryption

Part 1: Enable and Configure per VM encryption within vSphere

To get started log into vSphere so that a new encryption policy can be created. It’s always best to create a new one to not only show how to, but also leave the defaults as defaults.

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Select Menu, then Policies and Profiles.

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Select VM Storage Policies. 

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Create new VM Storage Policies.

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Name the policy.

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Ensure Enable host based rules is selected.

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Select Use Storage Policy components “Default Encryption properties” is selected.

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You should see all available Datastores.

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Select finish. You have successfully created a VM Encryption policy. Alternatively, you can use the default “VM Encryption Policy”. 

Now that you have created a Policy, you can not select a VM to encrypt.

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Select a VM and go to edit, the VM Options.

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Select the Encryption drop down and select the KMS01 Encryption Policy, which was created earlier.

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Select the individual Disk to encrypt, you can select one or both for more granular Disk Encryption options. Only the selected Disk will be encrypted.

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Once you hit “OK” the Reconfiguration of the VM will begin. This will take some time.

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Once completed, you should see a lock showing you that the VM is now encrypted!

Part 2: Enable and Configure vSAN encryption 

To get started, log into vSphere, then go to your vSAN DataCenter and vSAN Cluster.

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Go to configure, then go to vSAN and select Services. Note the Encryption is set to disabled. Select Edit.

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Toggle Encryption to ON.

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Select KMS Cluster, which was previously deployed. Select Apply.

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The cluster will now reconfigure to enable Encryption.

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Several Disk and Disk Groups will be reconfigured.

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You may see Disks added or removed from the cluster.

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Additionally, you may see some Entity Scanned, etc.

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Wait until all tasks have completed.

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Select a VM and go to edit, the VM Options. Select the Encryption drop down and select the KMS01 Encryption Policy, which was created earlier. Select the individual Disk to encrypt, you can select one or both for more granular Disk Encryption options. Only the selected Disk will be encrypted. Once you hit “OK” the Reconfiguration of the VM will begin. This will take some time, and once completed you should see a lock indicating you VM is now encrypted!

Note: You can create additional policies or use defaults. vSphere should come with a default VM Encryption Policy and a vSAN policy. You can edit and select different ones, the process is the same. Best practice is to create new policies with you exact requirements.

VMware HomeLab: SuperMicro E300-8D

Well the day is finally here, the day that I can share that I’ve successfully purchased my very own HomeLab! This has been a source of struggle for me, since I’ve always wanted a HomeLab. I entertained and researched various setups, including the Intel NUC. During my search I came across the SuperMicro E300-8D, which supports up to 128GB of RAM. For more information on the E300-8D, check out SuperMicro’s Website.   It was the perfect price point and it allowed me to get the most out of my investment. It fit what I was looking for, which was a small footprint server that didn’t require much power. Additionally I wanted something quiet. While some have complained about the noise, I don’t believe it’s an issue with the stock fans, so long that it isn’t located within a sleeping area. The Server is setup in my Home Office.  I also wanted to ensure I had plenty of memory so that I wouldn’t have any issues when provisioning a nested ESXi vSAN Lab.

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How to: Back up your vCenter Server Appliance

In my opinion, one of the best features within the 6.5 vCenter Server Appliance is the ability to perform backups from the appliance itself (natively). No agents, snapshots or scripts required. It really is quite simple, and I’m glad VMware added this additional feature. How many times have you heard someone explain the importance of backups?

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vSAN: What is it? How is it different?

Today’s blog post is all about vSAN. vSAN, according to VMware, is VMware’s hyper-converged software solution.  In order to understand the differences between hyper-converged and software defined, let’s look at the definition for each. With all of the cool/hip buzz words, there is a lot of misunderstandings, and often times these words are interchangeably used without understanding the terminology correctly.

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