Veeam 7.x "FREE"

Some may have noticed a plethora of ads for Veem lately, and many of them say their product is free.  Well what it really is, that you get there full blown software for a trial period, but at the end of the trial you get to keep their "free software" Veeam Zip.

Veeam Zip, is a program to backup VM's into a single file.  It cannot be scheduled (at least through the GUI), there is no job log to go back to, one cannot include or exclude files, folders, or drives, it is the whole VM or nothing.

Once the trial period ends, changing the configuration becomes difficult.  For instance, I had a test ESXi server up for a while.   I cannot remove that test server from the Veeam GUI because it says it is in use by job "backup job1".  Ok, so I will just delete the backup job, Oh wait, can't do that because that portion of the program has been been crippled.

It is CPU intensive for the backup server.  I had two vCPU's assigned to the backup server and during the jobs it would have both of them at 100% utilized.  Upgrading to four vCPU's, made the backup job go faster and all four vCPU's hovered around 80% used.  In this test my throughput went from roughly 30Mbps to 38Mbps.  At this point Veeam reported that the "source" (meaning the source VM) was the bottle neck, which could be as the VM being backuped up as well as the backup server both live on a set of mirrored SATA drives.

How it works.  Once a job is started. 1. A Vmware snapshot is taken of the target VM.  2. The original VMDK for that target VM is mounted to backup server.  3. The backup takes place.  4. Target VMDKs are unmounted, ESX merges the snapshots.

I did play with the compression settings a bit.  Veeam does get ride of white space and the swap file, then compresses the backup.  Some of the VM's I was backing up saw roughly 30% decrease in space.  Switching the compression to maximum added another 5 minutes to a 15 minute job and took the backup file from 7.3gb down to 6.5gb.

Veeam Zip is a cool tool.  I forse using it instead of copying VMDK's around, or other ways to migrate VM's to different ESXi servers.  Or using it for a monthly backup in addition to another method; I am thinking of some smaller clients who are only using Agent/file based backup programs and aren't willing to spend the money to upgrade their software.
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FreeNAS usage part1

For a quick test I used Veeam Zip 7.0.x to backup my VM's to the FreeNAS.  Electricity usage spiked at 71 watts, at rest the server consumes a mere 61 watts.  It looks as though we are getting 30~40Mbps sustained transfer rates, Veeam showed spikes up to 70Mbps.  Currently, assuming I am reading the graphs right it is not CPU or ram bound, that being said perhaps I will switch to ZFS.  Also I don't have LACP/RoundRobin, or any sort of load balancing between the NICs on the FreeNAS. I have ESXi set up to use RoundRobin on two NICs.

FreeNAS build

I got a Lacie 1U NAS from a customer, it unfortunately died, the cpu fan quit working and the poor little Atom proc. melted itself.  So basically I got a 1U ITX case and power supply for free.  This gave me a good excuse to redo my shared storage in my home lab.  My requirements are that it have low power consumption, cheap, support iSCSI, and cheap.

I shopped around a bit for an ITX motherboard.  I settled on the Gigabyte GA-C1037n.  I paid roughly $103 for it shipped.  I choose this board because it has dual 1gbps NICs, it has more than one desktop ram slot, supports 16gb of ram (unfortunately it doesn't do ECC), it has an expansion slot (albeit 32-bit PCI an not PCI-X).  It only has three SATA ports, one of which is a 6gbps port.  So I am stuck at three drives, unless I use a SATA controller in the PCI slot, but MEH, if I need more space I will just put bigger drives in.  A 64bit cpu, as developers are stopping production of x86 code.  This cpu consumes a mere 17watts!  Compare that to a dual core pentium at 65 watts, or a quad core at 95.  

Celeron 1037u 1.8ghz, 1737 cpu mark, 2mb cache, 17w
Celeron 1007u 1.5ghz, 1379 cpu mark, 2mb cache, 17w
Atom D2700 2.1ghz 841cpu mark, 1mb cache, 10w
Celeron 847 1.1ghz, 985 cpu mark, 2mb cache, 17w
Intel e2160 Core2Duo 1.8ghz, 996 cpu mark, 1mb cache, 65w 

The ram was kinda sort free, as they were pulls from other projects,  so 6gb PC3 total (4gb & 2gb).  One day it will get upgraded to 16gb.  Unfortunately it is highly recommended to NOT run the ZFS file system with less than 8gb.  So UFS and 6gb for the time being, but more on that part later.

The first issue I ran into was the case need an appointment with Mr. Dremel as the sound card ports got in the way of the case.  Also the IO shield that came w/ the motherboard is too tall to fit.  The next issue was that it wouldn't power up.  The power supply that came with the case did not have the 28pin ATX motherboard connector nor did it have the 4pin ATX connector.  Unfortunately the 4pin connector is required for it to boot.  I attempted to make one by snipping a 4pin connector from a scrap power supply, and adapted it to a molex connector; no joy.  Purchased a new power supply from NewEgg for $30.  This case also has three fans in it, with a goofy two pin connector.  I ended up snipping that pig tall off of the old power supply and splicing it in on the new one, less than ideal but it will do.

FreeNAS 9.2.1 was installed on a 4gb USB thumb drive; turns out that a few of my 2gb drives (which is all that is required) where just a few bytes too small.  Two 1tb 7200rpm SATA drives are installed.  I added a Trendnet PCI 1gbps NIC, as I think what I want is to have this NIC for management, NTP, CIFS, etc.  The two onboards I will dedicated to iSCSI traffic, which is on a separate VLAN.  

New Genre of Computer Virus

I stumbled upon a new genre of computer virus today. The client called in saying printing was slow on their terminal server.  I logged onto  their terminal server; noticed the whole machine was rather slow.  Noticed in task manager that 100% of the CPU was consumed by an a program called "sysctrl32.exe" also noticed that there were four users logged in, each one had one instance of this program consuming 25%.  Researching this program came up with almost no results.  I then ran an Eset OnLine Virus scan, and it found a trojan.  Turns out this is a virus that mines BitCoins for some cybercriminal!  Brilliant! Kinda wish I had thought of it! :)