vSphere 5 Network Config

As part of moving our production server environment to a colo facility and the coinciding upgrade from ESX 4.1 (fat) to ESXi 5, I get to basically rebuild my entire vSphere environment from the ground up. It’s a great opportunity as I’ve definitely learned a lot over the past 3 years or so of using VMware on a regular basis and I’ve been itching to change some things that I’ll hopefully go in to in some posts later on in this process.

My task today is nailing down my network configurations. I’ve got 8 NICs total at my disposal in each of my Dell R710 servers – the four embedded Broadcom 5709 (2 separate dual-port controllers by design) and an additional four on an add-in Intel I340-T4. I want to make the iSCSI as fast as possible and the rest of the networking as redundant as possible. I’ve not bonded ports in my vSphere config before, but thinking that’s where I want to go at least with the production network side.

I have some ideas already, but I’m curious – what would YOU do?

My First 5K

Yesterday, I ran my first ever 5K. It all started about 10 weeks ago when I decided to get healthier. I knew that to stay motivated, I needed something more than just an abstract goal to work towards, and the Sunburst Races seemed to be a great target to shoot for. I’ve never been a runner, but I felt a 5K was a great way to get started and see if I had it in me.

Bonnie dropped me off in downtown South Bend yesterday morning and the starting gun went off at 7:15 and half an hour later, my race was complete!

That’s an official time of 29:39 – just barely under my goal time of 30 minutes. It’s a great sense of personal accomplishment and I know I can improve on that time with more/better training and just educating myself on how to actually run a race.

As part of my training leading up to race day, I made a pretty drastic change to my diet and eating habits. I didn’t keep any real records of my calorie intake and how many I burned during exercise, but I did make a conscious effort to eat less “bad” food in favor of healthier choices and just exercise more. I eliminated almost all snacking – especially after dinner sweets. As a result of these changes, I dropped almost 20 pounds of couch potato off my body in the past 10 weeks and feel so much more energetic.

I really am so glad I decided to get off the couch and participate in the Sunburst 5K. I’m already looking for something else to run in the fall – maybe even a 10K. Only time will tell…

One Step Closer

Almost a year ago exactly, we paid off my car. Tonight, we eliminated another payment from our budget: my student loan. It’s been six years since I made the decision to leave Gardner-Webb without finishing my undergraduate studies, so that’s quite a while to be making payments for a degree I don’t have, and if Sallie Mae had her way, I’d still be paying for many more years to come.

Do I regret the decision? Nah. Not having the piece of paper really hasn’t held me back from working my dream job. I may not have gotten a degree from GWU, but I do have an amazing wife to show for it. Come to think of it, it was a small price to pay.

Seven Days and Seven Years

Seven years ago today, my life changed. I was invited over to a small dorm room on the campus of Gardner-Webb to help celebrate the birthday of my cousin Nikki. It was a Sunday night and there were probably a dozen people there, friends of my cousin and her roommate Heather, and I knew all of them. Except for one. I met Bonnie for the first time that night and was immediately interested in getting to know more about her.

I thought about her quite a bit over the next seven days. The following Sunday night, pretty much the same group of people was re-gathered in the same dorm to celebrate Heather’s birthday. That night sealed the deal. I flirted and was flirted back with. A few days later, I snagged Bonnie’s AIM screen name from one of our many mutual friends and we started chatting quite often. About six weeks later, we declared ourselves as “officially dating” and the rest is pretty much history.

I may have only met Bonnie seven years ago, but I swear I’ve known her for forever and I’m looking forward to spending the next seven years and many, many, many more after that with her.

Upgrade MD3000i to new 7.x firmware

There seems to be a lot of interest from the Church IT community about the MD3000i and its new firmware.This is by no means an exhaustive guide and I take no blame or resposibility to anything that happens to your array or the data stored on it in the event you goof something up during the upgrade. As with any major firmware upgrade, take ALL NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS to ensure the safety of your data. I’d suggest purchasing an EqualLogic array from Jason Powell/VR6 Systems to back it all up on. Just kidding. Sorta. Anyway – make sure the data is backed up and then verify your backup! The upgrade was seamless for me, but your mileage may vary! Once you’ve read this post, I’d also advise you to read any Dell documentation you can find and then you can come back here to use the “shortcut” guide to complete the upgrade. To upgrade the MD3000i to the newest 07.xx firmware and gain support for RAID6 and >2TB LUNs, follow these steps:

Download the latest MD3000i Resource CD and run the installer. (Note: The download is an ISO, so you’ll need to burn it to CD, mount it with a utility, or use something like 7-zip to extract the contents.) For some reason, Dell doesn’t list the Resource CD listed under downloads for the MD3000i – stupid, I know. This Resource CD updates the Modular Disk Storage Manager software utility, the Firmware Cross Generation Upgrade Utility needed to perform the upgrade to version 07.xx firmware , new host software, and as of this writing – the very latest 07.xx firmware. If you have any doubts about getting the latest firmware, grab it from the MD3000i downloads page on support.dell.com

Next, I’d suggest making sure your physical hard drives have the latest firmware. Go to the MD3000i Hard Disk Drive Firmware Updates page and grab the archive. The README in the zip file contains excellent instructions on how to do this, so there’s no point in my repeating them here.

Finally, before running the upgrade, your array needs to be ready to go in to OFFLINE mode. Stop all I/O operations by stopping iSCSI initiators on any servers connected to the device or to keep things simple, just completely shut down those servers if possible. For kicks, I ran a “ping -t” against each controller’s management IP while running the firmware update. This let me watch the controllers bounce up and down as the updates were being applied and gives you another way to monitor the status of the upgrade.

Once you’re ready, locate the MD Firmware Cross Generation Upgrade Utility in your Start menu and run that. You’ll need to add your MD3000i controllers to the utility when it starts. If you have dual controllers, be sure you plug in BOTH IP addresses. Once the array is added, you’ll be prompted to authenticate if you have a password set on your array configuration. Click the “Download…” button on the left of the utility and browse to the location where your firmware is selected. You’ll need the NVSRAM upgrade also, so choose Simplex version for single-controller and Duplex version for a dual-controller module. I heard the upgrade takes around 30 minutes and it took almost exactly a half-hour for mine to complete.

If you have any other tips or advice for other MD3000i users, leave them in the comments!

Much Love

I just need to make a quick note here of how much I love my awesome wife.

She’s off to her first day at her new job and I know she’s doing great! She left me a really long list of things to get done. I guess her going back to work does have some consequences. The next few weeks of me remembering how to do some household chores should be interesting to say the least!

Merge Free Space on Dell PowerVault MD3000i

I recently ran into an issue while trying to manipulate some virtual disks on our MD3000i SAN at GCC. I know lots of other CITRT folks either have one of these “inexpensive” SANs, so I thought I’d document this here. Apologies to all my friends and family who have been haggling me to post something NON-TECHIE, but this is NOT that post.

A quick bit of background: We’re using our MD3000i strictly as media file archive and really want the SAN to be one really large LUN/partition so that the space is the most flexible. When we first implemented the MD3000i, we were limited to 2TB per LUN/partition and were splitting things up by year. 2007 was about 1.8TB of data and with one month remaining in 2008, the 2008 LUN was already full. You can see where we were already having an issue with 2TB limit.

Dell recently released new firmware for the MD3000i that supports a LUN size of larger than 2TB. I applied that before leaving the office on Friday and quickly started deleting the virtual disks that didn’t have any real data on them yet so I could create a new, larger partition and begin moving data around. Much to my surprise, I saw this in the Dell Modular Disk Storage Manager:

The stupid controllers left the Free Space from the virtual disks I removed in their respective physical locations on the disk. This was stupid, so I Tweeted about it. I exchanged a few tweets back and forth with Derek Mangrum and he hooked me up! He had ran in to the same issue before and sent over a rather handy list of commands he’d used on his own array as well as the SMcli reference guide from SANtricity, who apparently is the actual manufacturer of the Dell-rebranded MD3000i. I had to tweak the command a little because we have dual controllers, but this is the final recipe:
C:\Program Files\Dell\MD Storage Manager\client>SMcli controller_0_IP  controller_1_IP -p yourarraypassword -c “start diskGroup [1] defragment;”

If you only have a single-controller, you can eliminate the second IP and be sure to replace “yourarraypassword” with uh, your array password. Also, if you have more than one diskGroup, replace the 1 after diskGroup with the diskGroup you wish to “defragment.” And yes, the brackets around the diskGroup number MUST STAY or you’ll get syntax errors.

For what it’s worth, I despise the SMcli tool. I’d much rather have a REAL command-line interface directly on the array controllers. My opinions aside, SMcli is insanely powerful and you can do a lot more through that tool than you can through the Dell MDSM GUI tool.In a few days, I’ll post again about how to use SMcli to expand a LUN. Stay tuned!

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