Thursday, February 24, 2011

Iomega StorCenter ix2 Network Attached Storage for Hyper-V backup

imageRunning a virtualized environment like Hyper-V has some limitations that you don’t have with a physical server environment. Physical USB ports and DVD drives are shared by multiple virtual servers and they can’t all access them at the same time. Currently Hyper-V doesn’t support using external USB drives. If that is your typical backup and restore strategy, as is often the case for small businesses, you need another option like a Network Attached Storage (NAS) unit.

In my lab environment I selected the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 1 TB Network Attached Storage. After a lot of research and pouring over user submitted reviews, I found that this cost effective unit had a proportionately smaller number of bad reviews compared to the other units I researched.

Noteable features that appealed to me were

  • RAID 1 with automatic RAID rebuild (two 500Gb SATA drives mirrored for redundancy)
  • User replaceable hard drives (I was going to easily outgrow the 500Gb available storage space)
  • One touch backup of the backup to a connected external USB drive
  • Ability to connect additional external USB drives for network accessible storage

The not so good

The web interface stopped working once with a “device not available” error or simply a HTTP server error web page after an extremely long browser hang. The drive itself continued to store and serve my backup images and shared files, but not being able to access the web interface got me wondering what else wasn’t functioning (like the RAID controller possibly?).

The web interface is the easiest way to check the amount of free space and perform firmware upgrades. The Iomega support website provided no useful help at all. With some research I found that other people were having similar issues with the ix4 model and a reboot of the NAS unit restored the web interface. Unfortunately for them, they were using the device to store their running virtual hard drives since the device is VMware certified. They had to first power down all the virtual servers (VM’s) before power cycling the NAS and power each of the VM’s back up - which is a serious inconvenience for the administrator and any users of the virtual servers.

A simple power cycle corrected my issue, but hopefully it will not be a regular occurrence as I don’t have physical access to my lab at all times.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Introduction to MSSQL Management Data Warehouse (MDW) presentation

Last night I presented an intro to SQL Server 2008’s MDW to the fwPASS Professional Association. The subject is primarily of interest to DBA’s rather than Developers since it is best leveraged by monitoring and managing an environment of multiple SQL Servers.