First steps with a cloud environment – VMCE labs
While working for Copaco, i have the privilege of using our in house Lab environment for testing and development. In the past, our Veeam VMCE labs were also hosted from that same environment. The hardware is getting older, power costs are quite high and it needed a lot of maintenance.
Every time I hosted a Veeam training I had to redeploy/restore the Lab environment for my students and create users and passwords so they could make a VPN connection to our labs and use RDP to login to a Veeam Backup Server.
About a year ago, we’ve moved all the Veeam Labs to Learning on Demand; up to date hardware and a full flash backend to work with. Lovely! Per VMCE training, students save about 2 hours or more because labs are done just so much faster than before and best of all; their labs are available for 180 days after the training! It is a a huge plus if you can actually utilize your VMCE labs when preparing for your VMCE and VMCE-ADO exam.
Needless to say the first step into the cloud was a huge improvement for both me and the students. Student evaluations show that they have a better learning experience and less lab problems than ever before.
Now, a year later it’s about time that I start to move my test labs and all its workload into the cloud as well. On premises I had the availability of a C7000 Blade chassis with 16 Dual socket Gen 8 Blade servers connected to a FC and iSCSI SAN. This sounds nice on paper, but if you know what the CPU, RAM and I/O load is of a Veeam test environment can be, it’s a lot less impressive than you think. Include the power consumption of it all and it’s suddenly very feasible to take a look at the Cloud instead.
It was either; upgrade hardware, expand the SAN (more enclosures and go for flash for performance) and replace the old instable switches/fabrics or a quite move to a cloud environment with new servers and more CPU cores then I would possibly need, a 1GB internet connection, 10Gbe network connections running on a full flash SAN. Easy pick don’t you think?
A couple phone calls with Rick van den Hoogenhof from 2tCloud and I’ve landed in a testing Valhalla called Windows Azure Pack or WAP. A big bonus to using WAP from 2tCloud is the fixed price principle. I don’t have to worry about leaving a machine on or off, so I can’t continue where I left the other day and prices are even lower than those of Windows Azure Stack.
After provisioning a VM network and a couple VM’s inside the 2tCloud portal, it was time to create some VM’s to start testing. Deployment of a VM in side Windows Azure Pack is so easy and fast, that I start to wonder why I didn’t move to the cloud earlier.
The second step is to create a VM. To deploy a new VM, pick an OS template, username and password, connect it to a network and a couple minutes later you’re good to go. Since I just started in the cloud, I took it easy and deployed 3 server ‘manually’, as far as still call it manually. You can either connect a VM directly to a Public IP adress, or create a VM switch and use NAT to acces the internet.
After clicking the OK button the VM will be created and within minutes you are good to go.
If you work in the cloud daily, it’s easier to create a couple predefined VM templates; Virtual hardware, networks and OS combinations, ready to be deployed whenever you need them.
When I moved the workload to the cloud, I did expect it to take a couple hours before I can start doing my first Veeam tests. This due previous experiences in an newly deployed on premise installation. Instead of needing to worry about vSwitches, SAN connections and networking, I was done in about 30 minutes and eagerly installing Veeam Backup and Replication to start my first tests in the cloud. I’ll save that story for another day, but i can already spoil that it exceeded my expectations!