Nutanix SCVMM Fast Clones Plug-in

Hi Everyone…I love to show off the cool Microsoft integrations that Nutanix has and most recently Nutanix released System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 R2 Fast Clones plug-in.

With NOS 4.1.3, Nutanix has released a Fast Clone plugin for SCVMM.  The plug-in has the ability to provide space efficient, low impact clones from SCVMM and quickly. The plugin is a wrapper around Nutanix powershell commands for Fast Cones. The plugin does need proper access rights to the Hyper-V hosts and SCVMM and already should be setup for most environments that have Nutanix with Hyper-V deployed.  You will need to install the plugin on the SCVMM host along with the Nutanix powershell command-lets.

Once you have the SCVMM Fast Clones plug-in installed, you can start creating Fast Clones right away. Installation is quick and easy and creating clones is just as easy as shown below.

To create VM clones using the Nutanix Fast Clones wizard, follow the below steps:

  1. Start the SCVMM
  2. Navigate to the Nutanix hosts.
  3. Select a host and then select the VM to be cloned.
  4. To invoke the wizard, do one of the following: Click the “Nutanix Fast Clone” button on the top menu-bar. Right-click the target VM and select “Nutanix Fast Clone” from the pop-up context menu:
    fastclones2 Fast Clones
  5. In the Introduction screen, read the instructions and then click the “Next” button.  NOTE: On start of the wizard, it makes a connection to the VMM to be able to communicate with it to run SCVMM PowerShell cmdlets to gather information about the selected VM.
    fastclones1 Fast Clones
  6. The “Identity” screen is displayed. The “Source VM Name” and “Source VM Host Name” is prepopulated, enter the following information and then click the “Next” button:
    1. Clone Type: Click the “Clone One Virtual Machine” radio button and enter a name for the clone when creating a single clone or click the “Clone Multiple Virtual Machines” radio button and enter the following information:
      1. VM Prefix Name: This is the root part of the new VM name.
      2. Beginning Suffix: a number to start the numbering of the new VMs
      3. Number of Clones: a number between 1 and 100.
        fastclones3 Fast Clones
  7. In the Authentication screen, enter the Prism and VMM Service Account user names and passwords in the appropriate fields, and then click the “Next” button.
    fastclones4 Fast Clones
  8. In the “Select Path” screen, select the destination path and then click the “Next” button. Leave the default path “as is” or change it to a new path as needed by clicking the “Change the default path” box. Click the Browse button to select a destination path for the clone VMs. This is the path where virtual machine configuration files will be stored. The path must be on the same Nutanix SMB share as the VM configuration file.
    fastclones5 Fast Clones
  9. In the “Add Properties” screen, click the appropriate radio button to either power on or not power on the VMs after cloning and then click the “Next” button.
    fastclones6 Fast Clones
  10. In the Summary screen below, review (confirm) the settings are correct.
    fastclones7 Fast Clones
    Clicking the “View Script” button displays the script to be executed:
    fastclones9 Fast Clones
    Clicking the “Enable Verbose Messages” displays detailed log messages as the VMs are being created.
  11. When the settings are correct, click the “Create” button to create the cloned VM(s). An hour glass is displayed and progress messages are displayed.
  12. After the clones are created, click the Finish button to close the wizard and you just created VM’s at lighting speed.fastclones10 Fast Clones

If you want to check out Fast Clones for your environment, you can download Fast Clones from the Nutanix Portal at https://portal.nutanix.com.

Below is a demo video shows traditional cloning vs Fast Clones that my buddy @mcghem created.  It shows the awesome benefit of Fast Clones.

As always, if you have any questions please post a comment.

Until next time….Rob

Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference 2015…Picture Highlights

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Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference 2015 WPC is the largest event for Microsoft partners When it comes to meeting the right people in the right place, bigger is better. The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) brings together over 15,000 attendees … Continue reading

NPP Training series – Cluster Components with Hyper-V

To continue NPP training series here is my next topic: Cluster Components

If you missed other parts of my series, check out links below:
Part 1 – NPP Training series – Nutanix Terminology
Part 2 – NPP Training series – Nutanix Terminology
Cluster Architecture with Hyper-V

Data Structure on Nutanix with Hyper-V
I/O Path Overview

To give credit, most of the content was taken from Steve Poitras’s “Nutanix Bible” blog as his content is the most accurate and then I put a Hyper-V lean to it.

Cluster Components

The Nutanix platform is composed of the following high-level components:

NDFS_Cluster Components

Cassandra

  • Key Role: Distributed metadata store
  • Description: Cassandra stores and manages all of the cluster metadata in a distributed ring like manner based upon a heavily modified Apache Cassandra.  The Paxos algorithm is utilized to enforce strict consistency.  This service runs on every node in the cluster.  Cassandra is accessed via an interface called Medusa.

Medusa

  • Key Role: Abstraction layer
  • Description: Medusa is the Nutanix abstraction layer that sits in front of the cluster’s distributed metadata database, which is managed by Cassandra..

Zookeeper

  • Key Role: Cluster configuration manager
  • Description: Zeus stores all of the cluster configuration including hosts, IPs, state, etc. and is based upon Apache Zookeeper.  This service runs on three nodes in the cluster, one of which is elected as a leader.  The leader receives all requests and forwards them to the peers.  If the leader fails to respond a new leader is automatically elected.   Zookeeper is accessed via an interface called Zeus.

Zeus

  • Key Role:  Library interface
  • Description: Zeus is the Nutanix library interface that all other components use to access the cluster configuration, such as IP addresses. Currently implemented using Zookeeper, Zeus is responsible for critical, cluster-wide data such as cluster configuration and leadership locks.

Stargate

  • Key Role: Data I/O manager
  • Description: Stargate is responsible for all data management and I/O operations and is the main interface from Hyper-V (via SMB 3.0).  This service runs on every node in the cluster in order to serve localized I/O.

Curator

  • Key Role: Map reduce cluster management and cleanup
  • Description: Curator is responsible for managing and distributing tasks throughout the cluster including disk balancing, proactive scrubbing, and many more items.  Curator runs on every node and is controlled by an elected Curator Master who is responsible for the task and job delegation.  There are two scan types for Curator, a full scan which occurs around every 6 hours and a partial scan which occurs every hour.

Prism

  • Key Role: UI and API
  • Description: Prism is the management gateway for component and administrators to configure and monitor the Nutanix cluster.  This includes Ncli, the HTML5 UI and REST API.  Prism runs on every node in the cluster and uses an elected leader like all components in the cluster.

prism1 Cluster Components prism2 Cluster Components

Genesis

  • Key Role: Cluster component & service manager
  • Description:  Genesis is a process which runs on each node and is responsible for any services interactions (start/stop/etc.) as well as for the initial configuration. Genesis is a process which runs independently of the cluster and does not require the cluster to be configured/running.  The only requirement for genesis to be running is that Zookeeper is up and running.  The cluster_init and cluster_status pages are displayed by the genesis process.

Chronos

  • Key Role: Job and Task scheduler
  • Description: Chronos is responsible for taking the jobs and tasks resulting from a Curator scan and scheduling/throttling tasks among nodes.  Chronos runs on every node and is controlled by an elected Chronos Master who is responsible for the task and job delegation and runs on the same node as the Curator Master.

Cerebro

  • Key Role: Replication/DR manager
  • Description: Cerebro is responsible for the replication and DR capabilities of DFS(Distributed Storage Fabric).  This includes the scheduling of snapshots, the replication to remote sites, and the site migration/failover.  Cerebro runs on every node in the Nutanix cluster and all nodes participate in replication to remote clusters/sites.

Pithos

  • Key Role: vDisk configuration manager
  • Description: Pithos is responsible for vDisk (DFS file) configuration data.  Pithos runs on every node and is built on top of Cassandra.

Next up, Data Structures which comprises high level structs for Nutanix Distributed Filesystem

Until next time, Rob….

VHD vs. VHDX: Hmm….What’s the Difference

I get asked this all the time….and here is my answer. Microsoft’s virtual hard disk format, VHDX, has some important advantages over the legacy VHD format, as this VHD vs. VHDX comparison shows.

The release of Windows Server 2012 brought many new virtualization improvements, but one that caught the eye of many IT pros was the introduction of the VHDX file format. Windows Server 2012 supports the new format but also lets Hyper-V administrators use the legacy VHD format. With two virtual hard disk formats to choose from, let’s take a minute to talk about VHD vs. VHDX.

A look at VHD vs. VHDX

One of the biggest advantages of VHDX compared with the legacy VHD format is virtual disk storage capacity. Before Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V virtual hard disks had a 2 TB limit. VHDX files have a 64 TB capacity. The advantages of VHDX aren’t limited to improved capacity, however; VHDX files were designed to work with today’s modern hardware and have a 4 KB logical sector size that improves performance compared with VHD files.

The VHDX format also provides protection against file corruption related to power failures by continuously keeping track of updates in the metadata, a feature not available with the VHD format. Larger block sizes for dynamic and differencing disks, as well as the ability to store custom metadata, also give the new format the edge in the VHD vs. VHDX comparison.

Now let’s look at different storage types with VHD\VHDX. Hyper-V allows you to create 2 primary hard disk storage types, fixed or dynamic.
Dynamic size drives are allocated with the minimum space needed and space is expanded as you write additional drive to the volume. There is performance loss on disk writes that require storage to be expanded. For example, if you create a dynamic volume with 10 GB and as you write data and use up the entire 10GB allocation then the volume needs to be expanded first then your data will be written to the volume. This expansion adds overhead and can slow down data writes by 25% or more.

Fixed drive sizes presets the size for your storage. Since the file is preallocated on the Hyper-V host there is no loss in performance due to the need for expansion of space.
The big difference between VHD and VHDX is the way this expansion is handled. In tests performed by others, they have seen negligible difference in overhead with Dynamic VHDX volumes when they expand to accommodate additional data.
You can easily convert your VHD volumes to VHDX and vise visa. As always, make a backup and make sure you have enough time allocated for the conversion. The larger the volume, the longer the conversion will take.

Converting VHD to VHDX with Hyper-V
If you want to convert VHD files into VHDX file format, Hyper-V Manager console provides an easy way to do it. The way it works is it will create a new VHDX disk and copy the data from the existing VHD to the new disk. After it copies the data, you have two disks such as original VHD disk and new VHDX disk exactly with the same content. Once you confirm the newly generated VHDX disk is fully functional, you can opt for deleting old original VHD disk.

Now let’s see how we can convert VHD to VHDX.

  1. You cant convert a disk which is in use, so make sure you don’t have any virtual machines accessing the disk.
  2. Next step is to open the Hyper-V VM settings, go to the hard drive you want to convert. After selecting the disk which you want to convert, confirm it again. After confirming press Edit button.
  3. Go to the Locate Disk tab and select or enter the name and location of the existing VHD file.
  4. Then select a Choose Action tab and select Convert option as shown in the screenshot below
    .
  5. 5. In next step as shown in the screenshot below select the VHDX file format and click Next
    .
  6. Next step is to choose a disk type the new disk should be fixed size or dynamically expanding. Press Next to select the name and location of the new VHDX file format.
  7. Review the configuration in Summary Tab. And to finish, it will start operation for creating new VHDX file. This makes an exact copy of VHD file format as a new VHDX file. Now you can mount the new VHDX disk to the Hyper-V VM.
  8. Once you are satisfied with the operation of new VM with the new VHDX disk, then you can safely delete old VHD disk.
  9. You can use the same process to convert VHDX to VHD as converting VHD to VHDX disk.

First, it’s important to note that while you can create and use both formats with Windows Server 2012/R2, VHDX files are not compatible with Windows Server 2008. Microsoft recommends that most Windows Server 2012/R2 users upgrade VHD files to VHDX to take advantage of these benefits. However, if you expect you might want to move a VM to a previous version of Windows Server or Azure, it could be easier to keep your VHD files.

It is important to note, that the VHDX format is not supported in Microsoft Azure.  Hopefully, that will change soon, ya, you Hyper-V & Azure Team……. because building Hybrid clouds with VHDX is the way to go   🙂

Until next time, Rob…