Pushing Virtual Limits

Mea culpa – An excuse for my abscence
September 21, 2008, 3:48 pm
Filed under: vmware | Tags: , , , ,

So I am sure most of you have seen or looked at – or maybe played with – EMC Documentum CenterStage?

I have been spending a LOT of time with it. Hopefully I will be able to go live with some of the neat things we have made happen even with the beta. When this client gets released to the Documentum public I can’t wait to hear the reaction.

Beyond that I have added on another 4 servers to my ESX deployment and then started working with some fresh VM stuff to see how that is going to impact how we work.
Favorite new feature in VC 2.5u2 – Hot cloning – We implemented the update and our users found the feature before we even told them about it! Now that is reading the market correctly.

Beyond the normal craziness I officially start a new role within EMC on Monday. The up side – I still get to keep my virtual infrastructure. It should be lots of great new stuff and I will be working with a group that handles ALL of EMC software. This should give me the opportunity to talk with some really smart folks about how they would work on some of the niggling VMware issues I have found.

My plan for Monday is to get some time with our #1 networker engineer and see if he can enlighten me on all the things I have been missing in my very limited NW deployment. (1 VM out of 555+)

Vkernel has pushed out a number of great updates to their Capacity Analyzer 2 Beta – I am getting some real value add from having all my virtual centers on one screen.

On a side note I hope everyone read about VMworld and ESX4 – All I can say is I am excited by what I saw publicly discussed. Powerpath in ESX – Drool


EMC Adds “Facebook like” features to D6.5 – Sort of but not really
July 24, 2008, 2:52 pm
Filed under: CenterStage | Tags: , , , ,

OK here is the link to the article.

My two cents – If you read the article I don’t see “FaceBook” like features anywhere in there. I think the guys who wrote the article and have seen the product are just blown out of the water by an entire suite of Documentum based offerings that are intuitive and look amazing.

I know – DCTM has always been a work horse but it hasn’t been the prettiest horse in the stable. With CenterStage and the other new applications I am blown away by how good they look and more importantly how responsive they are. Pretty and slow doesn’t work for me. D6.5 is wicked fast.

Take a look at the article but I think they were going more for hype than substance.

Magellan on Youtube
June 13, 2008, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Magellan | Tags: , , , ,

Youtube posting of Magellan

These are the latest builds being demoed on Youtube. Unfortunately I can’t go into too much more detail on this upcoming release other than giving pointers to what product management has already released into the wild.

Take a look – it is very cool stuff!

*Edit – OK so it is just a rehash of EMC World. I will see what I can do to beg some fresh kibble for us all.

Case in point why clustering (*) is not the best way to deploy eRoom (especially when it is virtualized)
June 9, 2008, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Documentation, vmware | Tags: , , , ,

Let’s assume the following default configuration as our existing infrastructure –

3 MSFT 2k3 clusters + SQL backend clusters. For this discussion the SQL back end just needs to be available and is a whole different scaling discussion.

This gives us SIX multi cpu boxes ( 2 – 2cpu, and 4 x 4cpu) where only half of them are ever doing anything. Compound that with the fact that these boxes have huge amounts of RAM (in excess of 10GB) and yet the utility of having that level of ram has been called into question. Microsoft lists the limits here.

If we assume that MSFT Clustering Services are perfect (*cough*) and simple to configure we still have to deal with the limiting factors of eRoom. eRoom is configured to fail over as a result of ONE instance – Deadlock Detection. Now if someone unplugs the other box the system should fail over but eRoom will only ever instigate the fail over when it see that one specific problem.

If IIS dies will eRoom failover? No

If erScheduler dies will we failover? No

etc etc etc

When we go to an eRoom advanced configuration using multiple web servers we take those 3 passive nodes and make them active. This gives us 6 active web servers to share the load. Using the default provisioning that means that if one of those nodes catches on fire we should expect only ~16.5% of services to be interrupted compared with 33% in the cluster configuration. In theory the cluster should fail over and minimize the outage without intervention – it works pretty well.


If you are willing to take a slightly more manual approach you can reprovision the Facilities hosted on that server to any of the other servers on the fly. Nothing is stored on the application server so losing one merely causes that server to go down without directly impacting the other systems. Reprovisioning can be done without any downtime or impact to the other facilities.

Now to explain the asterisk. If you are going to run eRoom in a cluster here is how you should do it.

Take our original 6 boxes and install ESX on one of them. On that host create B nodes for the 3 primary clusters. Turn off the spare box to save the electricity and run your Active/Passive configuration with physical hardware for the active node and let the passive nodes idle on VM. Physical to Virtual Clusters are the only reasonable way to do an active/passive cluster configuration.

This type of cluster isn’t any “better” than a physical/physical model but it is cheaper in the long run to maintain and setup.

Running Documentum eRoom 7 in VMware – Notes and tricks
June 9, 2008, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Documentation, vmware | Tags: , ,

Frequently I get asked about how to deploy eRoom in a VMware infrastructure. Some people don’t even know that we fully support VMware (I blame this on the fact that VMware changed its logo to remove the “an EMC Company” subscript).

eRoom is a fantastic application to run in a VM. We fully support VM ESX 2.5-3.5 (2.5 support may fall of the chart soon – see EMC Support Note ESG25111 for the most current supportability matrix).

The problem I have with this basic eRoom v7.4 design and implementation is that so much depends on load and use cases. Lets assume 1,000 licensed users and 2 TB of data. Here is how I would design and deploy this environment:

5 total VMs

2 – Application VM, 1 CPU 2GB ram 20GB hdd- no reservations on RAM or CPU – Server 2003 SP2

1 – Index server/File Server – 4 vCPU, 2GB ram, 2 HDDs (OS on one and file share/indexing data on the second) – There are a few reasons for the multiple CPU count. It should always be N+1 where N = the number of application servers. The primary reason for multiple vCPUs is a VMware defect with their hardware acceleration feature which can cause a problem with the indexing engine.

1 – IRM server – Same as the application server above

1 – SQL 2005 DB Vm (Build per MSFT spec)

This system plan allows the greatest flexibility through the eRoom Advanced feature set. I will write about provisioning at a later date but it is still one of the most impressive features within eRoom.

Given a choice between eRoom in a cluster and multiple eRoom servers there should be no question in the choice to use multiple eRoom servers rather than a cluster. That deserves a post all for itself but the short answer is that eRoom in a cluster provides an active/passive configuration whereas eRoom advanced with multiple web servers provides active/active/active/etc configurations which allow you to truly scale your installation.