When Rubrik launched in 2014 with version 1 of the product, it focused on Protecting VMware vSphere workloads. It was able to protect a VMs VMDKs and index the data therein, therefore making the files searchable for easy file-level recovery. In addition, you are also able to live mount a vSphere virtual machine backup snapshot directly from the Rubrik cluster using NFS, essentially bringing the backup snapshot to life as a running virtual machine within seconds. Not only can you do it on one VM, but many virtual machine snapshots at the same time.
But innovation for us doesn't stop at virtual machines. We added support for protecting Microsoft SQL databases, using the native SQL APIs. And yes, of course, we are able to live mount a SQL database backup snapshot from the Rubrik cluster back into SQL server, making the backup snapshot available for querying in MSSQL.
We also support the live mounting of backup snapshots for Hyper-V VMs and managed volumes (containing Oracle Backups).
With CDM4.2 now officially released, I'd like to look at one of the new features we've added, Windows Volumes, and yes, you've guessed it, the live mounting of Windows Volume snapshots.
Windows Volume protection in CDM4.2 enables you to take a backup of a full Windows Volume and therefore the system state. Prior to CDM4.2, Rubrik was able to take a file-level backup of a Windows and Linux VM, but the system state wasn't being protected. In CDM4.2 we are now able to protect the full drive volume, as well as make any backup snapshots of that volume available via our live-mount feature within seconds, by exposing the backup snapshot as an SMB share from the Rubrik cluster.
After a snapshot has been taken of a full Windows Volume, we are able to recover individual files from the volume snapshot (multiple file restores are also a new feature in 4.2), in the same way as what is possible with a VM-level backup or a file-level backup, by either searching for the filename or by browsing the backup snapshot. In addition, we can choose to mount the snapshot which will expose the data within the snapshot as an SMB share:
When selecting the mount option, you will see a list of all the volumes that were backed up with Rubrik:
Selecting the volume and clicking next will present us will a list of available Windows hosts with the Rubrik Connector installed. We can also choose not to mount the snapshot to a specific host, but to rather just expose the backup snapshot via SMB by providing a link to the SMB share:
For someone with a strong background in automation and scripting, the ability to expose backup data of a full Windows Volume via SMB without the need to mount the snapshot to a particular host is a game changer. Remember, this is Rubrik we're talking about. Therefore, if it's in the UI, it was first in the API. And if it's in the API, we can use it in automation. Just think of the possibilities. You can take a backup snapshot of any point in time, programmatically live-mount it via the Rubrik REST API, which will return an SMB link, and use the data in that snapshot for dev/test purposes. When done, just unmount the snapshot again using the API.
For this post, I have selected a C: volume for a Windows host called "mysqldev". I've also opted to mount the snapshot back on to the "mysqldev" host. In the Rubrik UI, we can see the live mount has succeeded by clicking "Live Mounts -> Windows Volumes":
The backup snapshot has been mounted on the "mysqldev" VM under C:\rubrik-mounts:
At Rubrik, we believe that backup infrastructure and the data held within can serve a bigger purpose than just an insurance policy. If you're backing up the data, why not use it in a meaningful way? This feature, as with many other such features in CDM4.2 is just another way that we help enable you to get more out of your backups. Don't Backup, Go Forward!
So, more than a month has passed since I've joined Rubrik on the 2nd of January 2018. Those who know me would know that before moving to Rubrik, I worked for Computercenter for nine years. So what's it like leaving a secure role in a large corporate environment after such a long time, to join a 4-year-old startup?
We had an issue today where the vRealize Automation (vRA) 7 Event Broker Service (EBS) would time out. The timeouts would happen intermittently, during different stages of the provisioning lifecycle. We noticed that something was not right when extensibility workflow calls to vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) would return after the vRO workflows completed, but the provisioning lifecycle state for the virtual machine would fail to change or progress and eventually time out with an EBS timeout message.
I've been with Computacenter now for 8 and a half years, during which time I have been privileged to have worked with many talented people and for many wonderful customers. However, every good thing does eventually come to an end. After much deliberation, I've decided that the time has come to bring this chapter of my life to a close.
It is not often that you hear of IT professionals who stay with the same business for 8 or more years. Many of my friends in the industry have changed companies several times during my time at Computacenter. However, within Computacenter, many people have been in the business for much longer than my eight years, some have been there for more than 20 years. When asked why, I'm sure most, if not all of them will tell you that it is an excellent place to work, with many opportunities and a great culture.
However, sometimes opportunities come and find us, rather than us actively looking for them. I've had my fair share of offers over the past eight years to join other businesses, but I've never really felt that those opportunities were right for me. However, this time, I could not just sit back and pass on the opportunity.
So, I am pleased to announce, that as of the 2nd of January 2018, I will be joining Rubrik as a Solutions Architect within the EMEA region. I'm looking forward to the new challenges that await in vendor land.
I've learned a lot during my time at Computacenter, and I will always be grateful for all the support I enjoyed from individuals within the business. However, I believe the move to Rubrik will take me out of my comfort zone and help me grow even further, and I am excited for what lies ahead and grateful for the opportunity. Onwards and upwards!
Custom properties in VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) provide us with the ability to set data on vRA objects and to change configurations that affect the behaviour of objects in vRA. For example, when set on a vSphere Virtual Machine component contained in a composite blueprint in vRA 7, the property "VirtualMachine.Admin.ThinProvision" results in the virtual machine deployed with thin provisioned disks in vSphere. The "VirtualMachine.Admin.ThinProvision" property is a custom property that the out of the box vSphere provisioning workflow uses when set, and we do not have to do anything other than specifying a "true" value for the property to have an effect on the resulting virtual machine. VMware has developed the built-in workflows to make use of custom properties such as "VirtualMachine.Admin.ThinProvision" when they are specified on various components. These properties are documented in the "Custom Properties Reference" documentation provided with vRA 6 and 7.
Custom properties that ship out of the box with vRA, however, are only a small part of where the concept of custom properties can be used to extend the capabilities of your automation solution. Just as the built-in workflows make use of custom properties, so can your workflows take advantage of custom properties that you define using vRealize Orchestrator (vRO).
I have been dabbling in the world of vRO plugin development. Yes, I know, vRO is a product that doesn't get much love from the VMware community, and I do not think that is fair. People seem to have decided that the product is too complicated and where possible would rather write a PowerCLI script to automate things. The truth is, that when you take a little bit of time to look at vRO, you will find that it is not that complicated to develop vRO workflows and the possibilities are endless. I know, so I'm telling people that vRO isn't that complicated in a blog post which is targeted at myself for when I run into this issue in the future! So, if you are finding workflow development too complicated a task, this post is not for you, as I doubt you will be interested in plug-in development.
Last night I was searching for a domain name for a new personal project that I would like to kick off. Personally, I don't find searching for a new domain name a fun thing to do. I wanted to see if I could find a domain name which is made up of a combination of words. Some of these include the terms tech, cloud, river, stream, sphere, and many others. As I started my search, I quickly came up with domain names that were already taken. I then decided to look at synonyms for some of these terms. It was at this point that I noticed something peculiar about the word "cloud". This is not a serious post, but just a bit of fun, so check this out:
This blog post has the potential to be a very controversial. I'm sure there will be many in the IT industry who will want to protest against a post like this, but there will also be others who would agree with this post.
Disclaimer: Following a review of the first draft of this article, and after careful consideration, I opted to remove about three paragraphs of text. The three pieces of text outlined some of the current buzzwords that drive some of us mad. It also included an extract of text from a website of a well known international consultancy (and no, it's not the one I work for ;-) ), that quite simply put, is a paragraph entirely formed out of BS buzzwords and phrases. You know, one of those monologues that consist of a lot of fancy buzzwords, but doesn't tell you anything. I decided to remove the text as I don't want this article to look like an attack on any individuals or organisations. I didn't mention any names of persons or organisations in this article, nor did I have any particular names in mind when I was writing the article. However, I am conscious of the fact that some people will be drawing conclusions. Therefore, any conclusions drawn by the reader are their own, and do not necessarily represent truth, or align with my intent with this article. You might also be reading some parts of this article and think "this guy is writing about my organisation!". Well, if you've been around the IT industry long enough, you will know that his issue is everywhere. No, it's not just your company. I'll place a bet that it is in every IT business out there.
Following on from my original vRetreat blog post, I thought it would make sense to report on some of the technical IT discussions that happened on the day, For this blog post, I am going to be focusing on the presentation by Darren Swift from Zerto.
So who and what is Zerto? Well, as started on the "About Zerto" page on their website, "Zerto provides enterprise-class disaster recovery and business continuity software specifically for virtualised datacenters and cloud environments."
In simple terms, Zerto provides hypervisor-level replication and automation with no hypervisor vendor-specific lock-in. It provides continuous replication (no snapshots) of virtual machines between hypervisors and replaces traditional array-based replication solutions that were not built to deal with virtualised environments.
I was honoured to have been invited to attend the inaugural vRetreat event in the UK. The event, arranged by Red-Track Ltd, took place at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone on 27 January 2017, and was attended several well known bloggers and virtualisation community members. The day was made possible by Zerto, Veeam and Cohesity who presented on their respective products and upcoming capabilities within their product suites. This provided ample opportunity for those present to discuss several product features and their possible use cases in the world of hybrid and public cloud infrastructure.