ESXi6, Fun, SSDs

Software Raid in Windows and NVMe U.2 Drive Benchmark

I have recently acquired a couple Intel 750 NVMe U.2 Drives to play around with.  In order to utilize these drives you need to source a SuperMicro AOC-SLG3-2E4 NVMe PCIe card or similar variant.  I good write up on the HBAs available is from our good friends at ServerTheHome.

In my VMware Server, I have passed through the two NVMe drives into a Windows 2016 VM.  From there we launch Disk Management, and below we see the two drives.


For our testing we want the raw speed at first, so we right click on a drive and select “New Striped Volume”.  If we want redundancy we would choose a Mirrored Volume.  If we just wanted the combined storage of the two drives to appear to the OS as one drive, we would chose Spanned Volume.


For there we make sure both our drives are selected.


We assign the drive a letter, tell the OS to format the drive, give it a name if we wish, and click Finish.

We will get a warming, as the OS will convert the Disk from basic to dynamic.  Snip20170427_4.png

A note, if you receive an error message stating that there is not enough space on the drive, be sure you have the same Disk Type before you start and that the same amount of space is available on each drive.  For myself one drive was GPT and the other was Basic, resulting in a slight mismatch of drive space.  Once both drives were set to GPT, the drive space was the same and the mirrored operation could continue.

The drives will format and then appear once completed.


Once formatted we can run some benchmarks against the hardware.


In a RAID0 essentially this is what we expect to see, double the Reads and double the Writes.

The ATTO Results are also as expected.  There is some ludicrous speeds here, but you need an application that needs and can take advantage of these speeds.


ESXi6, Home Lab, VMware

How to Setup Swap in ESXi 6.5

Another VMware basics post and this time I will teach you how to set up Swap for an ESXi Host.  The Swap here is for the VMKernel, and basically can create performance boost for those hosts that are heavily utilized.  For myself, I created a RAID 1 Volume of two Intel DC3710 800GB SSDs to for this.

The steps to do this are easy.  First create a datastore on your volume of choice.  It is best to use a low latency SSD that is local to the hosts.

Then we go to Host-> Manager and under the System Tab select Swap.


Then we click Edit Settings, and change the Data Store to the one we just created.


That’s it, now we have the Cache there.

If we browse to the DataStore we can see there is a swap file created.



Cannot Create Datastore on VMware ESXi 6.5

I have been in the process of rebuilding my Plex Server and restoring the data.  I popped in four 4TB WD Red NAS Drives and attached them to my 12G Controller.  I figured it would be easy to create a datastore across the Raid 5 Drive and contine on my way.   Unfortunately that was not the case, and I kept recieving errors similar to the one seen below.

Snip20170417_1.pngWhile rather annoying, what I believe happens is that the Drives had a previous partition on them that ESXi just can not read or write to.  So what we have to do is do some configuration in the ESXi Shell.

First we need to enable SSH on this host, which is very simple.  At the Host Tab, click Actions -> Services – Enable Secure Shell (SSH).  ESXi will enable the service and pop up a reminder warning for you.


Next we SSH into our ESXi Host.


We then need to determine the Disk ID of the Device we wish to fix.  For us this is easy, as ESXi appends this to the name of the Device under Storage ->Devices. Snip20170417_4.png

From there we go back to the Shell and cd to /dev/disks where we should see a bunch of disk IDs.


Then we run partedUtil mklabel /dev/disks/diskid msdos


Then we run through the steps to create the new Datastore and after a bit of a wait we should see the new Datastore created.


So there we have it, we have our Plex Datastore and I can create my new disk and start sharing my Media much to my fiancee’s enjoyment.   She has really missed her Power Rangers.  Also don’t forget to turn off SSH access for safety’s sake.



Fun, Home Lab

How to Build a Windows 2016 Active Directory and DNS Server

In preparation for a vSphere 6.5 installation, one thing you need is working DNS and Active Directory and for that reason I will show you how to build an Active Directory and DNS Server on Windows 2016.

For the purposes of this post, we will be building the host as a Virtual Machine and it will be a single node Active Directory setup.  As, I only have a single ESXi hosts, it does not make much sense to build two Active Directory Nodes at this time.   We will start with our standard blank Windows Server 2016 Install.


I have purposely over provisioned this Virtual Machine, so that once vRealize Operations Manager installed and running for a time, I can show you how to properly size Virtual Machines using that tool.

Once you have the Base Windows Install configured, we need to set a couple settings.  First of all, make sure you have a static IP address set for your domain controller.  Secondly, you want to have the DNS Server set to resolve itself, as this host will become a domain controller.

We now want to install the following Roles

  1.  DNS Server
  2.  Active Directory Domain Services

I will also be installing Active Directory Certificate Services and Active Directory Federation Services to be able to generate my own certificates and to work with Single Sign One.


We then step through the installer and let all the components install.  The defaults are kept for the installer.  Once it finishes, we will be asked to setup a Domain Name among other items.  You will be warned that you don’t have a static IP setup even if you have already done so.  It is safe to ignore that message.

Once all that is complete, you will need to do the Post Deployment Configuration.


I will only focus on the Domain Controller promotion steps.


Before we start that we need to configure our DNS server.  Launch DNS Manager and right click on Forward Lookup Zones and create a new zone to create our Primary Zone.Snip20170408_8.png

Then we name our zone.


Then we name and save our Zone File.


Then we set dynamic updates.  For now I do not wish to do so.  We change this at a later date if we need to.


We also need to create the reverse lookup as well, and we follow similar steps the forward zones.




No we enter in our Network ID.  This is the first three Octets of our IPs.  You will need to do this for each VLAN you wish to have in DNS.  I currently only have one so this easy for me.


As in the forward zones I am not allowing dynamic updates.  Once Active Directory is up I can edit these zones to allow from Domain Joined Hosts.

Now we start the Domain Setup.

For us since we are creating a new forest, we choose that setting and give it a name.


We then set the Directory Services Restore Mode Password.  Make sure this is something you will remember.


The next step will warn you about DNS Integration and be greyed out to integrate.  That is okay, we will fix this.

Next we select our NETBIOS Name.  This is the short name you enter when you join a server to the domain.  Snip20170408_12.png

Next we decided where to put our AD DS Database, log files, and SYSVOL.  I suggest you move this to a seperate drive and not the OS Drive.  So that case in the event that you lose the OS Drive, you can easily bring the Active Directory back up.  In our case we store the files on the E Drive.


We can review our settings before we install.  What is great is that Windows Provides you the script to build this Active Directory Forest Again.  For example, if you have a DR scenario this script could be used to quickly bring up a new forest.

Ours is very simple as seen below


So what if we stopped here, because say we had to reboot or another reason.  What would the script look like when executed?


Once the password is entered for the Administrator, the Installer will do its thing.


If all goes well you will be asked to restart the computer.  We do see a couple errors regarding kgas.local, but since we already created that resolution we should be fine.

Once everything is rebooted we should see a domain login


Finally lets enable Dynamic Updates.   Launch DNS Manager and right click on your forward zone and click Properties.  Only the Properties Screen, change the dropdown under Dynamic Updates to say Secure only


Repeat this step for all zones, and that’s it.  Your AD and DNS Server is up.  Verify that AD is working by querying the IP and Hostname of the server you’ve builtSnip20170408_25.png

If it returns a result you are all set!