Windows 2012 Licensing & Ram limitations....

Not long ago Microsoft decided to only sell licensing for 2012 Server, no more 2008; however one can down grade for free.  Keys and ISO's for either operating system are available on Microsoft's eopen website.

Interestingly, there is no more Windows Enterprise, only Standard & DataCenter.  So what happens if one needs to run Win2k8 Enterprise (because they have more than 32gb of ram or other requirements)?  In the past one would have had to pay the upgrade price from Std. to Enterprise, but now all one needs to do is buy W2k12 Standard, and they have the option of down grading to 2008/2008r2 Std. or Enterprise!  The ISO to download and the Key are exactly the same!

Small Business server also ceases to exists.  SBS 2011 is the last version; it has been replaced by Windows Server 2012 Essentials (up to 25 users) & Foundation (up to 15 users).  Windows Foundation does not support any sort of Virtulization.

Also some ram maximums/limitations:
Windows 8 supports 128gb ram; Pro. & Ent. support 512gb.
Windows Server 2012 Std, DC, Server Storage Std, MultiPoint Premium, Hyper Core all support 4Tb.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials supports 64gb.
Windows Server 2012 Server Storage Workd group, MultiPoint Std., Foundations supports 32gb.


Asus RT-N66U wireless router.
On the surface it seems like a great appliance, with all sorts of crazy features such as streaming media, sharing files, and being a torrent client.  It also serves as a limited firewall. 

Two of the biggest issues I had with this device was putting in a business enviroment behind another (real)firewall.  The first issue was solved by the box not be a router (doing double NAT) vs. being just a WAP.  The 2nd issues was figuring out how setup it up in non-routing mode, the menu wasn't there; I had to re-run the setup wizard.  3rd was trying to use the "guest wireless" mode in addition to a secure wireless network.  The idea being to have to SSID's, one trusted for access to the LAN, and the other one just internet access, no LAN access.  When it was in routed mode, when connecting to the Asus it would disconnect you and attempt to reconnect you to the other SSID.  In WAP mode, a wireless client would not get an IP address, because the Guest feature works by preventing access to the LAN; well if ones DHCP server is on the LAN, and the ASUS doesn't act as a DHCP server when in WAP mode, there is no way for the client to get an address.
HP G6 ML350 dual quad core, 192gb of ram....should be enough! :)

Datto Backup Appliance

Datto is a backup appliance that uses commodity hardware and their version of a special software to do disk to disk backups and replicate to the cloud.

The particular appliance I am using is an SL2000.  It actually is a SuperMicro 2U case w/ MSI motherboard.  It uses the mother board's on board SATA controller plus a PCI-E Adaptec SATA card to control four 1tb SATA drives for storage and another 500gb SATA drive for the operating system.  Yes that is correct, the operating system is on a single non-RAID SATA drive.

Technical support was unable to tell me if the settings could be exported and imported, incase of a drive failure.  They could not also verify, if the OS drive gets replaced, will the old backup jobs get seen, or will all backups start from scratch. 

Under the covers this machine runs Ubuntu Linux.  Although one doesn't need to know any about Linux to use it.  Controlling all things backup is done right on the appliance using a web interface or browing to the appliance's IP address from another computer.  AlsoVNC is also preinstalled and preconfigured for remote access.   No extra software to install.  What also is cool that if one types in on the LAN it automatically comes up!  The machines getting backed up get a small agent; there is no Linux support as of yet.

The software that does all the heavy lifting is called Shadow Craft.  Most of the backup is actually yet another re-written version of Microsoft's Volume Shadow Services.

The HIGHER end models have Virtual Box installed on them and one can the backup as a VM.  The backup files are actually stored as VMDK's so running them as a VM is quick and painless.  One also has the option of running a backup as a VM is a private VLAN/test environment for testing or pulling out individual files.

The Cloud:
One of the advantages to this style backup is that one has backups on site.  One thing that most people forget about when backing up to the cloud is recovery.  If one has 400gb of data in the cloud that they need to restore, does one really want to wait for that stuff to download?   This way one has 1gbps access to the data.  Datto includes cloud storage; the device replicates to Datto's Data Center (say that three times fast); which gets a COPY of the data off site.  The replication can be throttled as to not swap the internet connection; it cannot be sheduled.

The initial synchronization to the cloud is done via a USB drive that Datto sends you w/ a prepaid FedEx shipping label.  Although one has to order the drive, it doesn't just come automatically.

Backing Up:
Currently this client is backing up three remote locations over a VPN to a central site.  Thus far none of the backups will achieve over 0.23mbps, despite having a 24mbps down and 5mbps up connection rate.  The backups can be scheduled; in this case they are scheduled for only after business hours (again to not swap the Internet connection, however they cannot be throttled).  Unfortunately, if the backup job continues to run until it is complete.  Which means if the job doesn't finish it will run into business hours and the end users ask: "why is everything so slow".... I don't understand why they don't have a backup window like Backup Exec has had for over 7 years!?!

Backups are incrementals.  They maximum time between backups is one hour during the allowable window.  So in this case from 10pm until 7am is the window, so there will be 9 incremental backups.  Assuming there is a full backup already done.  The Datto automatically takes care of rolling the incrementals into a full backup weekly; very slick!

-super easy to setup
-backups don't get much simpler
-disaster recovery becomes a snap
-its over simplification removes doing any advanced options and tweaking.
-this particular case is rather cheap and the cover doesn't fit right
-potential weak point in having a single drive housing the OS
-too many unknowns about configuration & retaining backup jobs in event of an OS crash
-software based RAID can be fragile and a bottle neck for speed
-if a backup job fails it starts over from the beginning.
-it appears to be file level and not block level backup