UniFi Routers, VMware vSphere and vLAN Fun

Published On: 2020-10-05By:

Recently we upgraded the networking in our CoLo from our existing horrible, not all the features work correctly, bought off eBay NetGear switches to a brand new (actually purchased new) Ubiquiti network stack. We went with Ubiquiti because they have a really good reputation, they have a fantastic price point, and the UI is really simple to use while giving us all of the features that we were looking for.

Like any good IT deployment, we hit a snag when we were pushing out out network configuration. All of our servers have 10 Gig network cards in them, and our SAN also has 10 Gig network cards for our NFS shares (we are a VMware vSphere shop), so we have a storage network. We also wanted to put our VMs on the 10 Gig cards, as they were on 1 Gig ports before and we wanted them to have more bandwidth available to them.

In the UniFi software on the Ubiquiti equipment has two different networking setups. The base network which we setup as our management network. Then any other subsets that need to be setup are configured, but they require a VLAN to be configured. We had a few networks to setup, and those were our Infrastructure network which we gave a VLAN of 4 to, our Storage network which we gave a VLAN of 5 to, and our lab which we gave a VLAN of 100 to.

Our VMware servers all have a dedicated NIC which we are using for our Management ports, so we didn’t need to have the Management network be accessible from the NIC that the VMs were going to use. Within the UniFi software I created was is called a port profile which can contain a variety of subnets. This way a single switch port can be on multiple subnets, which was exactly what I wanted. I wanted the 10 Gig ports and their NICs to be on the Storage, Infrastructure, and Lab networks. So I created a single port profile with all of these subnets in it. As you can see from the screenshot below, when you do this you select a netive network for the port profile.

After I got this setup, I was getting weird responses from the VMs and the VMware hosts that were trying to talk to the storage. I put VLAN Ids in VMware or all these networks as well, but things still working talking correctly.

It turns out, that whatever network you have configured as the native network, within VMware this means that you don’t put a VLAN ID for it. So in my case the storage network within VMware does not get a VLAN ID, while the other networks do; even through the storage network has a VLAN ID of 5 within the UniFi OS.

Once I did that, the storage for the VMs was able to talk perfectly and all the VM Subnets worked as expected.

Denny

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A Viable Future for PASS

Published On: 2020-09-30By:

I have received feedback that some folks think I just want to burn PASS down, or that I don’t want a for profit company involved with a community organization. Neither of those things are remotely what I’m thinking—I’ve only been loud and writing about it here, because I want PASS to survive, which is going to be near impossible with a loss of its main revenue source (in-person PASS Summit) and its expenses (C&C) which haven’t dropped nearly enough in the face of the aforementioned revenue loss. What do I see as a future for PASS?

Summit

Virtual Summit is going to happen in 2020, it’s also probably going to lose money. It’s effectively a sunk cost at this point, so I’m not going to waste any time talking about that. In 2021, PASS has a tough decision to make—large international conferences are unlikely to be a thing until 2022, when the covid vaccine has been broadly distributed. Planning a virtual conference in 2021 is risky as well, given that most of the competition is free. I think doing a low cost (and lower overhead) smaller scale event using a much cheaper platform like Microsoft Teams or even GoToWebinar would be a good small bet, without much risk. I also think a small conference the size of the old SQL Rally (a few hundred people and run in a hotel, not a conference center) could be viable for Q4 of 2021.

The reason for doing this would be an effort to try to keep the fundamental networking aspect of PASS going, while reducing financial risk. The original SQL Rally was a community organized event—by keeping it small, you not only reduce costs, but you also reduce the time to plan, which allows you to have a better assessment of the pandemic situation. PASS could also think about leveraging larger SQL Saturdays like Atlanta and Dallas, amongst others to be candidates for a Rally, as these events have community organizers who are very experienced at running larger scale events.

The Managing Organization

I’ve said what I’m going to say about C&C, but it’s very clear that PASS as an organization is untenable with its current cashflow situation. This means costs need to be drastically cut wherever possible. PASS won’t be in the business of planning large in person conferences until 2022, and therefore doesn’t require a large event management firm dedicated to its management. I would recommend hiring a full-time executive director (yes, I know I said we need to reduce spending) to manage the organization and manage vendor relationships. C&C currently has a seat on the on the PASS exec board with a title of Executive Director, which is a conflict of interest, and I would propose ending that immediately. The Executive Director role needs to be someone who understands both data and analytics and building communities. Finding this person will be a challenge, but I believe they are out there. I would also move to stop using the custom developed platforms PASS is using and move to using Software as a Service platforms where possible. Sessionize is probably the most obvious solution here, but there are others.

The Role of the Board

As I was reading the by-laws and guidance for the PASS BoD, I came across this paragraph.

Role of PASS Board Members

PASS Board members are the fiduciaries who steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the organization has adequate resources to advance its mission. They are responsible for the short- and long-term strategic direction of the PASS organization.

Beyond this, what PASS needs from the Board is perspective and expertise. Perspective and expertise as a data professional, PASS community member, from their region, or from drawing on other relevant experience (i.e. speaker, business leader, other Board experience).

What PASS does not need from the Board is tactical execution or day to day management of organizational activities.

The challenge is to do this while also providing focus for the organization. Focus to drive the evolution of the organization and to prevent distraction from impeding momentum.

“What PASS does not need from the Board is tactical execution or day to day management of organizational activities”—I can’t imagine running a SQL Saturday and completely outsourcing everything to a third party—I feel the same way about our community organization, especially in this time of crisis. I think this is completely wrong, and the main reason why PASS is in the situation it is right now. The Board of Directors needs to take an active role in managing the organization, period. We, as a community organization are in a situation where the organization might go bankrupt and die, and while this is largely due to a black swan event (the pandemic), it is also due to decisions made that are in the interest of the managing firm, and not the community. When I was heavily involved in running my PASS chapter, I had a board member, who’s portfolio was chapters, who took an active interest in the chapters, and their needs and worked his tail off to make things better. Unfortunately, he was not re-elected, and things never got any better from there.

The board needs to take an active role—while the day to day operations of the org, would be managed by the executive director, and eventually some administrative staff, in a time where the organization needs to be austere with its spending, being on the board should require you to get your hands dirty. I would also try to involve the community—there are lots of projects, that over time could have been open sourced, but there has always been push back from the board. Given the success of community managed projects like DBATools, I see no reason to not engage volunteers who are willing to help, especially on community facing projects.

I’ve been involved in PASS for nearly 15 years now—I want it to survive, because having a centralized community organization is a good thing and makes the community stronger. The central organization also provides governance and helps with sponsors. PASS cannot survive financially in its current state, and we as a community must band together to help it survive and foster the changes to make it a sustainable organization. While we are doing that, we can make it a better community org.

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Modern Database Performance Tuning Methods

Published On: 2020-09-28By:

On Thursday, October 15th, 2020 at 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern / 6pm UTC Thomas LaRock and Denny Cherry will be presenting a live webcast on to walk you through a variety of performance tuning methods, which ones are right for you and your systems, and how to know when to call for help.

We encourage everyone that works with a SQL Server database system to join us on this webcast by signing up for it today and we’ll see you on October 15.

Denny

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How to Save Money with Your Azure Virtual Machine Demos

Published On: 2020-09-23By:

Sorry for spammy, SEO title, we got to pay the bills. Sometimes it’s fun to just write some code to solve problems, and not think about the world’s larger problems for a few hours. Last week, I learned something new from a client—that you can change managed disks in Azure in Premium Storage to Standard Storage if the VM connected to those disks is powered off. This is a cost savings of nearly $100/month per month per disk (assuming 1 TB disks) and since the SQL Server image in the marketplace uses two 1 TB disks, this can save you a good amount of money from your Azure spend.

silver and gold coins
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This code will loop through each resource group in your subscription and look for resource groups with the Tag “Use:Demo”. If you aren’t familiar with Tags in Azure (or AWS) they are a metadata application layer that allows you to more easily identity and filter resources. The most common use case is to make your Azure bill easier to navigate. However, you can also incorporate tagging into your management operations, as you see in this example.

After it identifies each resource group with that tag, it will then look for VMs in those resource groups, and power them down if they are running, and then migrate each premium disk on the VM to Standard. I have similar code in Github to do the opposite, however, I haven’t glammed it up to support the tagging functionality yet.

This code is available at DCAC’s GitHub here. To take this a step further you could create an Azure Automation runbook to deploy this code. In order to do that you would need to import the modules Az.Resources and Az.Compute into your automation account.  

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