In my diagnosis, I logged in to the SSH console of the source appliance, and noticed that the partitions containing the VUM data (which includes update files) was around 7.4GB. This is the “/storage/updatemgr/” partition.
I wasn’t sure if this was included, but the 8GB of configuration, minus the 7.4GB of VUM data, could technically get me to around 0.6GB for migration if this was in fact included.
In my environment, I have the default (and simple) implementation of VUM with the only customization being the HPE VIBs depot. I figured maybe I should blast away the VUM and start from scratch on VMware vCSA 7.0 to see if this fixes the issue.
To fix this issue, I simply completely reset the VMware Update Manager Database.
For details on this process and before performing these steps, please see VMware KB 2147284.
Let’s get to it:
Close the migration window (you can reopen this later)
Log in to your vCSA source appliance via SSH or console
Run the applicable steps as defined in the VMware KB 2147284 to reset VUM (WARNING: commands are version specific). In my case on vCSA 6.5 I ran the following commands:
When you’re looking for additional or enhanced options to secure you’re business and enterprise IT systems, MFA/2FA can help you achieve this. Get away from the traditional single password, and implement additional means of authentication! MFA provides a great compliment to your cyber-security policies.
MFA is short for Multi Factor authentication, additionally 2FA is short for Two Factor Authentication. While they are somewhat the same, multi means many, and 2 means two. Additional security is provided with both, since it provides more means of authentication.
Traditionally, users authenticate with 1 (one) level of authentication: their password. In simple terms MFA/2FA in addition to a password, provides a 2nd method of authentication and identity validation. By requiring users to authentication with a 2nd mechanism, this provides enhanced security.
Why use MFA/2FA
In a large portion of security breaches, we see users passwords become compromised. This can happen during a phishing attack, virus, keylogger, or other ways. Once a malicious user or bot has a users credentials (username and password), they can access resources available to that user.
By implementing a 2nd level of authentication, even if a users password becomes compromised, the real (or malicious user) must pass a 2nd authentication check. While this is easy for the real user, in most cases it’s nearly impossible for a malicious user. If a password get’s compromised, nothing can be accessed as it requires a 2nd level of authentication. If this 2nd method is a cell phone or hardware token, a malicious user won’t be ale to access the users resources unless they steal the cell phone, or hardware token.
How does MFA/2FA work
When deploying MFA or 2FA you have the option of using an app, hardware token (fob), or phone verification to perform the additional authentication check.
After a user attempts to logs on to a computer or service with their username and password, the 2nd level of authentication will be presented, and must pass in order for the login request to succeed.
Please see below for an example of 2FA selection screen after a successful username and password:
After selecting an authentication method for MFA or 2FA, you can use the following
2FA with App (Duo Push)
Duo Push sends an authentication challenge to your mobile device which a user can then approve or deny.
Please see below for an example of Duo Push:
Once the user selects to approve or deny the login request, the original login will either be approved or denied. We often see this as being the preferred MFA/2FA method.
2FA with phone verification (Call Me)
Duo phone verification (Call Me) will call you on your phone number (pre-configured by your IT staff) and challenge you to either hangup to deny the login request, or press a button on the keypad to accept the login request.
While we rarely use this option, it is handy to have as a backup method.
2FA with Hardware Token (Passcode)
Duo Passcode challenges are handled using a hardware token (or you can generate a passcode using the Duo App). Once you select this method, you will be prompted to enter the passcode to complete the 2FA authentication challenge. If you enter the correct passcode, the login will be accepted.
Here is a Duo D-100 Token that uses HOTP (HMAC-based One Time Password):
When you press the green button, a passcode will be temporarily displayed on the LCD display which you can use to complete the passcode challenge.
You can purchase Hardware Token’s directly from Digitally Accurate Inc by contacting us, your existing Duo Partner, or from Duo directly. Duo is also compatible with other 3rd party hardware tokens that use HOTP and TOTP.
2FA with U2F
While you can’t visibly see the option for U2F, you can use U2F as an MFA or 2FA authentication challenge. This includes devices like a Yubikey from Yubico, which plugs in to the USB port of your computer. You can attach a Yubikey to your key chain, and bring it around with you. The Yubikey simply plugs in to your USB port and has a button that you press when you want to authenticate.
When the 2FA window pops up, simply hit the button and your Yubikey will complete the MFA/2FA challange.
What can MFA/2FA protect
Duo MFA supports numerous cloud and on-premise applications, services, protocols, and technologies. While the list is very large (full list available at https://duo.com/product/every-application), we regularly deploy and use Duo Security for the following configurations.
Windows Logins (Server and Workstation Logon)
Duo MFA can be deployed to not only protect your Windows Servers and Workstations, but also your remote access system as well.
When logging on to a Windows Server or Windows Workstation, a user will be presented with the following screen for 2FA authentication:
Below you can see a video demonstration of DUO on Windows Login.
DUO works with both Windows Logins and RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) Logins.
VMWare Horizon View Clients (VMWare VDI Logon)
Duo MFA can be deployed to protect your VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) by requiring MFA or 2FA when users log in to access their desktops.
When logging on to the VMware Horizon Client, a user will be presented with the following screen for 2FA authentication:
Below you can see a video demonstration of DUO on VMware Horizon View (VDI) Login.
Sophos UTM (Admin and User Portal Logon)
Duo MFA can be deployed to protect your Sophos UTM firewall. You can protect the admin account, as well as user accounts when accessing the user portal.
If you’re using the VPN functionality on the Sophos UTM, you can also protect VPN logins with Duo MFA.
Unix and Linux (Server and Workstation Logon)
Duo MFA can be deployed to protect your Unix and Linux Servers. You can protect all user accounts, including the root user.
We regularly deploy this with Fedora and CentOS (even FreePBX) and you can protect both SSH and/or console logins.
When logging on to a Unix or Linux server, a user will be presented with the following screen for 2FA authentication:
Below you can see a video demonstration of DUO on Linux.
Duo MFA can be deployed to protect your WordPress blog. You can protect your admin and other user accounts.
If you have a popular blog, you know how often bots are attempting to hack and brute force your passwords. If by chance your admin password becomes compromised, using MFA or 2FA can protect your site.
When logging on to a WordPress blog admin interface, a user will be presented with the following screen for 2FA authentication:
Below you can see a video demonstration of DUO on a WordPress blog.
How easy is it to implement
Implementing Duo MFA is very easy and works with your existing IT Infrastructure. It can easily be setup, configured, and maintained on your existing servers, workstations, and network devices.
Duo offers numerous plugins (for windows), as well as options for RADIUS type authentication mechanisms, and other types of authentication.
How easy is it to manage
Duo is managed through the Duo Security web portal. Your IT admins can manage users, MFA devices, tokens, and secured applications via the web interface. You can also deploy appliances that allow users to manage, provision, and add their MFA devices and settings.
Duo also integrates with Active Directory to make managing and maintaining users easy and fairly automated.
Need to add 5 SATA drives or SSDs to your system? The IO-PCE585-5I is a solid option!
The IO-PCE585-5I PCIe card adds 5 SATA ports to your system via a single PCIe x4 card using 2 PCIe lanes. Because the card uses PCIe 3.1a, this sounds like a perfect HBA to use to add SSD’s to your system.
This card can be used in workstations, DIY NAS (Network Attached Storage), and servers, however for the sake of this review, we’ll be installing it in a custom built FreeNAS system to see how the card performs and if it provides all the features and functionality we need.
A big thank you to IOCREST for shipping me out this card to review, they know I love storage products! 🙂
The IO-PCE585-5I card is strictly an HBA (a Host Bus Adapter). This card provides JBOD access to the disks so that each can be independently accessed by the computer or servers operating system.
Typically HBAs (or RAID cards in IT mode) are used for storage systems to provide direct access to disks, so that that the host operating system can perform software RAID, or deploy a special filesystem like ZFS on the disks.
The IOCREST IO-PCE585-5I is the perfect card to accomplish this task as it supports numerous different operating systems and provides JBOD access of disks to the host operating system.
In addition to the above, the IO-PCE585-5I provides 5 SATA 6Gb/s ports and uses PCIe 3 with 2 PCIe lanes, to provide a theoretical maximum throughput close to 2GB/s, making this card perfect for SSD use as well!
Need more drives or SSDs? With the PCIe 2x interface, simply just add more to your system!
While you could use this card with Windows software RAID, or Linux mdraid, we’ll be testing the card with FreeNAS, a NAS system built on FreeBSD.
This card is also marketed as the SI-PEX40139 and IO-PEX40139 Part Numbers.
Let’s get in to the technical details and specs on the card.
According to the packaging, the IO-PCE585-5I features the following:
Supports up to two lanes over PCIe 3.0
Complies with PCI Express Base Specification Revision 3.1a.
Supports PCIe link layer power saving mode
Supports 5 SATA 6Gb/s ports
Supports command-based and FIS-based for Port Multipliers
Complies with SATA Specification Revision 3.2
Supports AHCI mode and IDE programming interface
Supports Native Command Queue (NCQ)
Supports SATA link power saving mode (partial and slumber)
Supports SATA plug-in detection capable
Supports drive power control and staggered spin-up
Supports SATA Partial / Slumber power management state
Supports SATA Port Multiplier
Whats included in the packaging?
1 × IO-PCE585-5I (IO-PEX40139) PCIe 3.0 card to 5 SATA 6Gb/s
1 × User Manual
5 × SATA Cables
1 x Low Profile Bracket
1 x Driver CD (not needed, but nice to have)
Unboxing, Installation, and Configuration
It comes in a very small and simple package.
Opening the box, you’ll see the package contents.
And finally the card. Please note that it comes with the full-height PCIe bracket installed. It also ships with the half-height bracket and can easily be replaced.
Installation in FreeNAS Server and cabling
We’ll be installing this card in to a computer system, in which we will then install the latest version of FreeNAS. The original plan is to connect the IO-PCE585-5I to a 5-Bay SATA Hotswap backplane/drive cage full of Seagate 1TB Barracuda Hard Drives for testing.
The card installed easily, however we ran in to an issue when running the cabling. The included SATA cables have right angel connectors on the end that connects to the drive, which stops us from being able to connect them to the backplane’s connectors. To overcome this we could either buy new cables, or directly connect to the disks. I chose the latter.
I installed the card in the system, and booted it up. The HBA’s BIOS was shown.
I then installed FreeNAS.
Inside of the FreeNAS UI the disks are all detected! I ran an “lspci” to see what the controller is listed as.
SATA controller: JMicron Technology Corp. Device 0585
I went ahead and created a ZFS striped pool, created a dataset, and got ready for testing.
Speedtest and benchmark
Originally I was planning on providing numerous benchmarks, however in every case I hit the speed limit of the hard disks connected to the controller. Ultimately this is great because the card is fast, but bad because I can’t pinpoint the exact performance numbers.
To get exact numbers, I may possibly write up another blog post in the future when I can connect some SSDs to test the controllers max speed. At this time I don’t have any immediately available.
One thing to note though is that when I installed the card in a system with PCIe 2.0 slots, the card didn’t run at the expected speed limitations of PCIe 2.0, but way under. For some reason I could not exceed 390MB/sec (reads or writes) when technically I should have been able to achieve close to 1GB/sec. I’m assuming this is due to performance loss with backwards compatibility with the slower PCIe standard. I would recommend using this with a motherboard that supports PCIe 3.0 or higher.
The card also has beautiful blue LED activity indicators to show I/O on each disk independently.
After some thorough testing, the card proved to be stable and worked great!
Additional Notes & Issues
Two additional pieces of information worth noting:
IO-PCE585-5I Chipset – The IO-PCE585-5I uses a JMicron JMB585 chipset. This chipset is known to work well and stable with FreeNAS.
Boot Support – Installing this card in different systems, I noticed that all of them allowed me to boot from the disks connected to the IO-PCE585-5I.
While this card is great, I would like to point out the following issues and problems I had that are worth mentioning:
SATA Cable Connectors – While it’s nice that this card ships with the SATA cables included, note that the end of the cable that connects to the drive is right-angled. In my situation, I couldn’t use these cables to connect to the 5 drive backplane because there wasn’t clearance for the connector. You can always purchase other cables to use.
Using card on PCIe 2.0 Motherboard – If you use this PCIe 3.0 card on a motherboard with PCIe 2.0 slots it will function, however you will experience a major performance decrease. This performance degradation will be larger than the bandwidth limitations of PCIe 2.0.
This card is a great option to add 5 hard disks or solid state drives to your FreeNAS storage system, or computer for that matter! It’s fast, stable, and inexpensive.
I would definitely recommend the IOCREST IO-PCE585-5I.
In the ever-evolving world of IT and End User Computing (EUC), new technologies and solutions are constantly being developed to decrease costs, improve functionality, and help the business’ bottom line. In this pursuit, as far as end user computing goes, two technologies have emerged: Hosted Desktop Infrastructure (HDI), and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). In this post I hope to explain the differences and compare the technologies.
We’re at a point where due to the low cost of backend server computing, performance, and storage, it doesn’t make sense to waste end user hardware and resources. By deploying thin clients, zero clients, or software clients, we can reduce the cost per user for workstations or desktop computers, and consolidate these on the backend side of things. By moving moving EUC to the data center (or server room), we can reduce power requirements, reduce hardware and licensing costs, and take advantage of some cool technologies thanks to the use of virtualization and/or Storage (SANs), snapshots, fancy provisioning, backup and disaster recovery, and others.
And it doesn’t stop there, utilizing these technologies minimizes the resources required and spent on managing, monitoring, and supporting end user computing. For businesses this is a significant reduction in costs, as well as downtime.
What is Hosted Desktop Infrastructure (HDI) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
Many IT professionals still don’t fully understand the difference between HDI and VDI, but it’s as sample as this: Hosted Desktop Infrastructure runs natively on the bare metal (whether it’s a server, or SoC) and is controlled and provided by a provisioning server or connection broker, whereas Virtual Desktop Infrastructure virtualizes (like you’re accustomed to with servers) the desktops in a virtual environment and is controlled and provided via hypervisors running on the physical hardware.
Hosted Desktop Infrastructure (HDI)
As mentioned above, Hosted Desktop Infrastructure hosts the End User Computing sessions on bare metal hardware in your datacenter (on servers). A connection broker handles the connections from the thin clients, zero clients, or software clients to the bare metal allowing the end user to see the video display, and interact with the workstation instance via keyboard and mouse.
Remote Access capabilities
Reduction in EUC hardware and cost-savings
Simplifies IT Management and Support
Runs on bare metal hardware
Resources are dedicated and not shared, the user has full access to the hardware the instance runs on (CPU, Memory, GPU, etc)
Easily provide accelerated graphics to EUC instances without additional costs
Reduction in licensing as virtualization products don’t need to be used
Limited instance count to possible instances on hardware
Scaling out requires immediate purchase of hardware
Some virtualization features are not available since this solution doesn’t use virtualization
Additional backup strategy may need to be implemented separate from your virtualized infrastructure
If you require dedicated resources for end users and want to be as cost-effective as possible, HDI is a great candidate.
An example HDI deployment would utilize HPE Moonshot which is one of the main uses for HPE Moonshot 1500 chassis. HPE Moonshot allows you to provision up to 180 OS instances for each HPE Moonshot 1500 chassis.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure virtualizes the end user operating system instances exactly how you virtualize your server infrastructure. In VMware environments, VMware Horizon View can provision, manage, and maintain the end user computing environments (virtual machines) to dynamically assign, distribute, manage, and broker sessions for users. The software product handles the connections and interaction between the virtualized workstation instances and the thin client, zero client, or software client.
Remote Access capabilities
Reduction in EUC hardware and cost-savings
Simplifies IT Management and Support
Runs as a virtual machine
Shared resources (you don’t waste hardware or resources as end users share the resources)
Easy to scale out (add more backend infrastructure as required, don’t need to “halt” scaling while waiting for equipment)
Can over-commit (over-provision)
Backup strategy is consistent with your virtualized infrastructure
Capabilities such as VMware DRS, VMware HA
Resources are not dedicated and are shared, users share the server resources (CPU, Memory, GPU, etc)
Extra licensing may be required
Extra licensing required for virtual accelerated graphics (GPU)
If you want to share a pool of resources, require high availability, and/or have dynamic requirements then virtualization would be the way to go. You can over commit resources while expanding and growing your environment without any discontinuation of services. With virtualization you also have access to technologies such as DRS, HA, and special Backup and DR capabilities.
Both technologies are great and have their own use cases depending on your business requirements. Make sure you research and weigh each of the options if you’re considering either technologies. Both are amazing technologies which will compliment and enhance your IT strategy.
Well, it was about time… I just purchased two Ubiquiti UniFi US-8 Gigabit Switches to replace a couple of aged Linksys Routers and Switches.
I’ll be outlining why I purchased these, how they are setup, my impressions, and review.
Make sure you check out the video review below, and read the entire written review below as well!
Now on to the written review…
The back story
Yes, you read the first paragraph correctly, I’m replacing wireless routers with the UniFi US 8 Port switch.
While my core infrastructure in my server room is all Ubiquiti UniFi, I still have a few routers/switches deployed around the house to act as “VLAN breakout boxes“. These are Linksys wireless routers that I have hacked and installed OpenWRT on to act as switches for VLAN trunks and also provide native access to VLANs.
Originally these were working fine (minus the ability to manage them from the UniFi controller), but as time went on the hardware started to fail. I also wanted to fully migrate to an end-to-end UniFi Switching solution.
In the end, I want to replace all these 3rd party switches and deploy UniFi switches to provide switching with the VLAN trunks and provide native access to VLANs. I also want to be able to manage these all from the UniFi Controller I’m running on a Linux virtual machine.
To meet this goal, I purchased 2 of the Ubiquiti UniFi US-8, 8 port Gigabit manageable switches.
Ubiquiti UniFi US-8 Switch
So I placed an order through distribution for 2 of these switches.
As with all UniFi product, I was very impressed with the packaging.
And here is the entire package unboxed.
Another good looking UniFi Switch!
The UniFi Switch 8 is available in two variants, the non-PoE and PoE version.
8Gbps of Non-Blocking Throughput
8Gbps of Non-Blocking Throughput
16Gbps Switching Capacity
16Gbps Switching Capacity
12W Power Consumption
12W Power Consumption
Powered by PoE (Port 1) or AC/DC Power Adapter
Powered by AC/DC Power Adapter
48V PoE Passthrough on Port 8 (Powered by PoE passthrough from Port 1, or DC Power Adapter)
4 Auto-Sensing 802.3af PoE Ports (Ports 5-8)
UniFi Controller Adoption
After plugging in the two switches, they instantly appeared in the UniFi controller and required a firmware update to adopt.
Adoption was easy, and I was ready to configure the devices! Click on the images to view the screenshots.
Configuration and Setup
I went ahead and configured the management VLANs, along with the required VLAN and switch port profiles on the applicable ports.
One of these switches were going in my furnace room which has a direct link (VLAN trunk) from my server room. The other switch is going on my office desk, which will connect back to the furnace room (VLAN trunk). The switch on my desk will provide native access to one of my main VLANs.
I also planed on powering a UniFi nanoHD on my main floor with the PoE passthrough port, so I also enabled that on the switch residing in my furnace room.
Configuration was easy and took minutes. I then installed the switches physically in their designated place.
One things I want to note that I found really handy was the ability to restart and reset PoE devices via the UniFi Controller web interface. I’ve never had to reset any of my nanoHDs, but it’s handy to know I have the ability.
Everything worked perfectly once the switches were configured, setup, and implemented.
These are great little switches, however the price point can be a bit much when compared to the new UniFi USW-Flex-Mini switches. I’d still highly recommend this switch, especially if you have an end-to-end UniFi setup.
One thing I love doing is mixing technology with sport.
In my free time I’m often hiking, cycling, running, or working out. I regularly use technology to supplement and track my activities. It helps to record, remember, track, and compete with myself.
I use a combo of hardware and software to do so, including watches, phones, software, etc but today I wanted to put emphasis on the Snapchat Spectacles.
The Snapchat Spectacles
I’ve had a pair of the 1st generation Snapchat Spectacles since they were released (I had to use my US shipping address to bring them over to Canada). Over the years I’ve used them to collect videos and haven’t really done much with them, with the exception of sending snaps to friends.
Thankfully I save everything I record and as of the past year, incorporating my new hobby with video, I’ve been able to use some of the old footage to generate some AMAZING videos!
See below for a video I put together of 3 beautiful mountain summits I hiked in one month, first person from the Snapchat Spectacles.
If you keep reading through to the end of the post there’s another video.
First person view
As you can see, even the first version of the Snapchat Spectacles generates some beautiful HD video, providing a first person view of the wearers field of vision.
You might say it’s similar to wearing a GoPro, but what I like about the Spectacles is that the camera is mounted beside your eyes, which makes the video capture that much more personal.
What I’d really like is the ability to continuously record HD video non-stop and even possibly record to my mobile device. Even if this couldn’t be accomplished wirelessly and required a wire to my mobile device, I would still be using it all the time.
Another thing that would be nice would be more size options, as the first generation are way too small for my head, LOL! 🙂
Tech is awesome, and I love using tech like this to share personal experiences!
Snapchat, if you’re listening, I’d love to help with the design of future versions of the Snapchat Spectacles…
We all love speed, whether it’s our internet connection or our home network. And as our internet speeds approach gigabits per second, it’s about time our networks hit 10Gb per second…
High speed networking, particularly 10Gig network is becoming more cost-effective day by day, and with vendors releasing affordable switches, there hasn’t been a better time to upgrade.
Today we’re going 10Gig with the Ubiquiti UniFi US-16-XG switch.
I’ll be discussing my configuration and setup, why you should use this switch for your homelab and/or business, as well as providing a review on the equipment.
Make sure you check out the video below and read the entire post!
Let’s get to it!
The back story
Just like the backstory with my original Ubiquiti UniFi Review, I wanted to optimize my network, increase speeds, and remove bottlenecks.
Most of my servers have 10Gig network adapters (through 10GbaseT or SFP+ ports), and I wanted to upgrade my other servers. I always wanted the ability to add more uplinks to allow a single host/server to have redundant connections to my network.
Up until now, I had 2 hosts connected via my Ubiquiti UniFi US-48 switch via the SFP+ ports with a SFP+ to 10GbaseT module. Using both of the 10Gig ports disallows anymore 10Gig devices being connected. Also, the converter module adds latency.
Ultimately I wanted to implement a solution that included a new 10Gb network switch acting as a backbone for the network, with connections to my servers, storage, 10Gig devices, and secondary 1Gb switches.
While not needed, it would be nice to have access to both SFP+ connections, as well as 10GbaseT as I have devices that use both.
At the same time, I wanted something that would be easy to manage, affordable, and compatible with equipment from other vendors.
I chose the Ubiquiti UniFi US-16-XG Switch for the task, along with an assortment of cables.
Ubiquiti UniFi US-16-XG Switch
After already being extremely please with the Ubiquiti UniFi product line, I was happy to purchase a unit for internal use, as my company sells Ubiquiti products.
Receiving the product, I was very impressed with the packaging and shipping.
And here I present the Ubiquiti UniFi 16 XG Switch…
You’ll notice the trademark UniFi product design. On the front, the UniFi 16 XG switch has 12 x 10Gb SFP+ ports, along with 4 x 10GbaseT ports. All ports can be used at the same time as none are shared.
The backside of the switch has a console port, along with 2 fans, DC power input, and the AC power.
Overall, it’s a good looking unit. It has even better looking specs…
The UniFi 16 XG switch specifications:
12 x 10Gb SFP+ Ports
4 x 10GbaseT Ports
160 Gbps Total Non-Blocking Line Rate
1U Form Factor
Layer 2 Switching
Fully Managed via UniFi Controller
The SFP+ ports allow you to use a DAC (Direct Attach Cable) for connectivity, or fiber modules. You can also populate them with converters, such as the Ubiquiti 10GBASE-T SFP+ CopperModule.
You can also attach 4 devices to the 10GbaseT ports.
UDC-3 “FiberCable” DAC
I also purchased 2 x Ubiquiti UDC-3 SFP+ DAC cables. These cables provide connectivity between 2 devices with DAC ports. These can be purchased in lengths of 1 meter, 2 meter, and 3 meters with the part numbers of UDC-1, UDC-2, and UDC-3 respectively.
10Gtek Cable DAC
To test compatibility and have cables from other vendors (in case of any future issues), I also purchased an assortment of 10Gtek SFP+ DAC cables. I specifically chose these as I wanted to have a couple of half meter cables to connect the switches with an aggregated LAG.
UniFi Controller Adoption
To get quickly up and running, I setup the US-16-XG on my workbench, plugged in a network cable in to one of the 10GbaseT ports, and powered it on.
Boot-up was quick and it appeared in the UniFi Controller immediately. It required a firmware update before being able to adopt it to the controller.
After a quick firmware update, I was able to adopt and configure the switch.
The device had a “Test date” of March 2020 on the box, and the UniFi controller reported it as a hardware revision 13.
Configuration and Setup
Implementing, configuration, and setup will be an ongoing process over the next few weeks as I add more storage, servers, and devices to the switch.
The main priority was to test cable compatibility, connect the US-16-XG to my US-48, test throughput, and put my servers directly on the new switch.
I decided to just go ahead and start hooking it up. I decided to do this live without shutting anything down. I went ahead and perfomed the following:
Put the US-16-XG on top of the US-48
Disconnect servers from SFP+ CopperModules on US-48 switch
Plug servers in to 10GbaseT ports on US-16-XG
Remove SFP+ to 10GbaseT CopperModule from US-48 SFP+ ports
Connect both switches with a SFP+ DAC cable
Performing these steps only took a few seconds and everything was up and running. One particular thing I’d like to note is that the port auto-negotiation time on the US-16-XG was extremely quick.
Taking a look at the UniFi Controller view of the US-16-XG, we see the following.
Everything is looking good! Ports auto-detected the correct speed, traffic was being passed, and all is good.
After running like this for a few days, I went ahead and tested the 10Gtek cables which worked perfectly.
To increase redundancy and throughput, I used 2 x 0.5-Meter 10Gtek SFP+ DAC cables and configured an aggregated LAG between the two switches which has also been working perfectly!
In the coming weeks I will be connecting more servers as well as my SAN, so keep checking back for updated posts.
This is a great switch at an amazing price-point to take your business network or homelab network to 10Gig speeds. I highly recommend it!
Small network 10Gig switch
10Gig backbone for numerous other switches
SAN switch for small SAN network
What I liked the most:
Easy setup as always with all the UniFi equipment
Beautiful management interface via the UniFi Controller
Near silent running
Ability to use both SFP+ and 10GbaseT
Compatibility with SFP+ DAC Cables
What could be improved:
Redundant power supplies
Option for more ports
Bug with mobile app showing 10Mbps manual speed for 10Gig ports
This month on June 23rd, HPE is hosting their annual HPE Discover event. This year is a little bit different as COVID-19 has resulted in a change of the usual in-person event, and this year’s event is now being hosted as a virtual experience.
I expect it’ll be the same great content as they have every year, only difference is you’ll be able to virtually experience it from the comfort of your own home.
I’m especially excited to say that I’ve been invited to be special VIP Influencer for the event, so I’ll be posting some content on Twitter, LinkedIn, and of course generating some posts on my blog.
Looking at using SSD and NVMe with your FreeNAS setup and ZFS? There’s considerations and optimizations that must be factored in to make sure you’re not wasting all that sweet performance. In this post I’ll be providing you with my own FreeNAS ZFS optimizations for SSD and NVMe.
This post will contain observations and tweaks I’ve discovered during testing and production of a FreeNAS ZFS pool sitting on NVMe vdevs. I will update it with more information as I use and test the array more.
It’s important to note that while your SSD and/or NVMe ZFS pool technically could reach insane speeds, you will probably always be limited by the network access speeds.
With this in mind, to optimize your ZFS SSD and/or NVMe pool, you may be trading off features and functionality to max out your drives. These optimizations may in fact be wasted if you reach the network speed bottleneck.
Some feature you may be giving up may actually help extend the life or endurance of your SSD such as compression and deduplication, as they reduce the number of writes performed on each of your vdevs (drives).
You may wish to skip these optimizations should your network be the limiting factor, which will allow you to utilize these features with no performance or minimal performance degradation to the final client. You should measure your network throughput to establish the baseline of your network bottleneck.
Deploying SSD and NVMe with FreeNAS
For reference, the environment I deployed FreeNAS with NVMe SSD consists of:
1 x FreeNAS instance running as VM with PCI passthrough to NVMe
10Gb networking between DL360 Servers and network
1Gb network between ML310 and network
As mentioned above, FreeNAS is virtualizatized on one of the HPE DL360 Proliant servers and has 8 CPUs and 32GB of RAM. The NVME are provided by VMware ESXi as PCI passthrough devices. There has been no issues with stability in 3 weeks of testing.
VMXNET3 NIC is used on VMs to achieve 10Gb networking
Using PCI passthrough, snapshots on FreeNAS VM are disabled (this is fine)
NFS VM datastore is used for testing as the host running the FreeNAS VM has the NFS datastore store mounted on itself.
There are a number of considerations that must be factored in when virtualization FreeNAS however those are beyond the scope of this blog post. I will be creating a separate post for this in the future.
Use Case (Fast and Risky or Slow and Secure)
The use case of your setup will depict which optimizations you can use as some of the optimizations in this post will increase the risk of data loss (such as disabled sync writes and RAIDz levels).
Fast and Risky
Since SSDs are more reliable and less likely to fail, if you’re using the SSD storage as temporary hot storage, you could simply using striping to stripe across multiple vdevs (devices). If a failure occurred, the data would be lost, however if you’re were just using this for “staging” or using hot data and the risk was acceptable, this is an option to drastically increase speeds.
Example use case for fast and risky
VDI Pool for clones
VMs that can be restored easily from snapshots
Temporary high speed data dump storage
The risk can be lowered by replicating the pool or dataset to slower storage on a frequent or regular basis.
Slow and Secure
Using RAIDz-1 or higher will allow for vdev (drive) failures, but with each level increase, performance will be lost due to parity calculations.
Example use case for slow and secure
Regular storage for all VMs
Slow and Secure storage is the type of storage found in most applications used for SAN or NAS storage.
SSD Endurance and Lifetime
Solid state drives have a lifetime that’s typically measured in lifetime writes. If you’re storing sensitive data, you should plan ahead to mitigate the risk of failure when the drive reaches it’s full lifetime.
Steps to mitigate failures
Before putting the stripe or RAIDz pool in to production, perform some large bogus writes and stagger the amount of data written on the SSDs individually. While this will reduce the life counter on the SSDs, it’ll help you offset and stagger the lifetime of each drives so they don’t die at the same time.
If using RAIDz-1 or higher, preemptively replace the SSD before the lifetime is hit. Do this well in advance and stagger it to further create a different between the lifetime of each drive.
Decommissioning the drives preemptively and early doesn’t mean you have to throw them away, this is just to secure the data on the ZFS pool. You can can continue to use these drives in other systems with non-critical data, and possibly use the drive well beyond it’s recommended lifetime.
Compression and Deduplication
Using compression and deduplication with ZFS is CPU intensive (and RAM intensive for deduplication).
The CPU usage is negligible when using these features on traditional magnetic storage (traditional magentic platter hard drive storage) because when using traditional hard drives, the drives are the performance bottleneck.
SSD are a total different thing, specifically with NVMe. With storage speeds in the gigabytes per second, CPUs cannot keep up with the deduplication and compression of data being written and become the bottleneck.
I performed a simple test comparing speeds with compression and dedupe with the same VM running CrystalDiskMark on an NFS VMware datastore running over 10Gb networking. The VM was configured with a single drive on a VMware NVME controller.
NVMe SSD with compression and deduplication
NVMe SSD with deduplication only
NVMe SSD with compression only
Now this is really interesting, that we actually see a massive speed increase with compression only. This is because I have a server class CPU with multiple cores and a ton of RAM. With lower performing specs, you may notice a decrease in performance.
NVMe SSD without compression and deduplication
In my case, the 10Gb networking was the bottleneck on read operations as there was virtually no change. It was a different story for write operations as you can see there is a drastic change in write speeds. Write speeds are greatly increased when writes aren’t being compressed or deduped.
Note that on faster networks, read speeds could and will be affected.
If your network connection to the client application is the limiting factor and the system can keep up with that bottleneck then you will be able to get away with using these features.
Higher throughput with compression and deduplication can be reached with higher frequency CPUs (more Ghz), more cores (for more client connections). Remember that large amounts of RAM are required for deduplication.
Using compression and deduplication may also reduce the writes to your SSD vdevs, prolonging the lifetime and reducing the cost of maintaining the solution.
ZFS ZIL and SLOG
When it comes to writes on a filesystem, there a different kinds.
Synchronous – Writes that are made to a filesystem that are only marked as completed and successful once it has actually been written to the physical media.
Asynchronous – Writes that are made to a filesystem that are marked as completed or successful before the write has actually been completed and committed to the physical media.
The type of write performed can be requested by the application or service that’s performing the write, or it can be explicitly set on the file system itself. In FreeNAS (in our example) you can override this by setting the “sync” option on the zpool, dataset, or zvol.
Disabling sync will allow writes to be marked as completed before they actually are, essentially “caching” writes in a buffer in memory. See below for “Ram Caching and Sync Writes”. Setting this to “standard” will perform the type of write requested by the client, and setting to “always” will result in all writes being synchronous.
We can speed up and assist writes by using a SLOG for ZIL.
ZIL stands for ZFS Intent Log, and SLOG standards for Separated Log which is usually stored on a dedicated SLOG device.
By utilizing a SLOG for ZIL, you can have dedicated SSDs which will act as your intent log for writes to the zpool. On writes that request a synchronous write, they will be marked as completed when sent to the ZIL and written to the SLOG device.
Implementing a SLOG that is slower than the combined speed of your ZFS pool will result in a performance loss. You SLOG should be faster than the pool it’s acting as a ZIL for.
Implementing a SLOG that is faster than the combined speed of your ZFS pool will result in a performance gain on writes, as it essentially act as “write cache” for synchronous writes and will possibly even perform more orderly writes when it commits it to the actual vdevs in the pool.
If using a SLOG for ZIL, it is highly recommend to use an SSD that has PLP (power loss protection) as well as a mirrored set to avoid data loss and/or corruption in the event of a power loss, crash, or freeze.
RAM Caching and Sync Writes
In the event you do not have a SLOG device to provide a ZIL to your zpool, and you have a substantial amount of memory, you can disable sync writes on the pool which will drastically increase write operations as they will be buffered in RAM memory.
Disabling sync on your zpool, dataset, or zvol, will tell the client application that all writes has been complete and committed to disk (HD or SSD) before it has actually done so. This allows the system to cache writes in the system memory.
In the event of a power loss, crash, or freeze, this data will be lost and/or possibly result in corruption.
You would only want to do this if you had the need for fast storage where data loss would is acceptable (such as video editing, a VDI clone desktop pool, etc).
Utilizing a SLOG for ZIL is much better (and safer) then this method, however I still wanted to provide this for informational purposes as it does apply to some use cases.
SSD Sector Size
Traditional drives typically used 512k physical sector sizes. Newer hard drives and SSDs use 4k sectors, but often emulate 512k logical sectors (called 512e) for compatibility. SSD’s specifically sometimes ship with 512e to increase compatibility with operating systems and the ability to clone your old drive to the new SSD during migrations.
When emulating 512k logical sectors on an HD or SSD that uses 4k physical native sectors, an operation that writes 4k will result in 4 operations instead of 1. This increases overhead and could result in reduced IO and speed, as well as create more wear on the SSD when performing writes.
Some HDs and SSDs come with utilities or tools to change the sector size of the drive. I highly recommend changing it to it’s native sector size.
iSCSI vs NFS
Technically faster speeds should possible using iSCSI instead of NFS, however special care must be made when using iSCSI.
If you’re using iSCSI and the host that is virtualizing the FreeNAS instance is also mounting the iSCSI VMFS target that it’s presenting, you must unmount this iSCSI volume every time you go plan to shut down the FreeNAS instance, or the entire host that is hosting it. Unmounting the iSCSI datastore also means unregistering any VMs that reside on it.
If you simply shutdown the FreeNAS instance that’s hosting the iSCSI datastore, this will result in a improper unclean unmount of the VMFS volume and could lead to data loss, even if no VMs are running.
NFS provides a cleaner mechanism, as the FreeNAS handles the unmount of the base filesystem cleanly on shutdown and to the ESXi hosts it appears as an NFS disconnect. If VMs are not running (and no I/O is occuring) when the FreeNAS instance is shut down, data loss is not a concern.
Since you’re pushing more data, more I/O, and at a faster pace, we need to optimize all layers of the solution as much as possible. To reduce overhead on the networking side of things, if possible, you should implement jumbo frames.
Instead of sending many smaller packets which independently require acknowledgement, you can send fewer larger packets. This significantly reduces overhead and allows for faster speed.
In my case, my FreeNAS instance will be providing both NAS and SAN services to the network, thus has 2 virtual NICs. On my internal LAN where it’s acting as a NAS (NIC 1), it will be using the default MTU of 1500 byte frames to make sure it can communicate with workstations that are accessing the shares. On my SAN network (NIC 2) where it will be acting as a SAN, it will have a configured MTU of 9000 byte frames. All other devices (SANs, client NICs, and iSCSI initiators) on the SAN network have a matching MTU of 9000.
Please note that consumer SSDs usually do not have PLP (Power Loss Prevention). This means that in the event of a power failure, any data sitting on the write cache on the SSD may be lost. This could put your data at risk. Using enterprise solid state drives remedies this issue as they often come with PLP.
SSD’s are great for storage, whether it be file, block, NFS, or iSCSI! It’s in my opinion that NVMe and all flash arrays is where the future of storage is going.
I hope this information helps, and if you feel I left anything out, or if anything needs to be corrected, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
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