An easy way to quickly migrate a VMware VM to Synology VMM

When it comes to virtualization, I’m working with VMware products in my homelab, alongside (hardware) products from other manufacturers. But some special circumstances made a special solution to a problem necessary. Due to a month of military duty, when I was at home only for the weekend, I shut down my homelab. Not also due to this fact, but also because I’m currently building my own customized rack, where I will install my homelab hardware. Be sure to check my blog frequently to get more information about the rack, as I will blog about it soon!

What’s the reason for this migration?

I’m using Ubiquiti hardware for my networking (lab switches, home networking, including wireless), and also a Pi-Hole as my ad-blocker. These are the only “business-critical” services in my home network. And they were running on my homelab. But what should I do when I shut down everything? Well, VMware Workstation to the rescue! I’m (actually, I was) running an ESXi on VMware Workstation on my gaming computer. This ESXi server was managed with vCenter as a replication target for Veeam Backup and Replication. Quickly migrate the VMs to that virtual ESXi host, and that’s it. But what when I accidentally shut down this PC? Or I want to shut it down? I need another solution which is more like 24/7!

What’s the solution?

That made me think about Synology. I knew that at least some Synology NAS systems can run virtual workloads directly, either as a virtual machine or within Docker. I didn’t want to go with Docker because of the lack of knowledge, and I have only limited system resources on that NAS box. So it will be two VMs running on my Synology box! But how?

You can’t just vmotion your VMware VM to Synology VMM (Virtual Machine Manager). You can export the VMDK files or create an OVF, which you then import into Synology VMM. But that took to long, somehow (in certain circumstances I can be impatient …).

This blog post will show you how you can easily backup your VMware VMs to a Synology box, with their own toolset, and restore it directly into Synology VMM. It might come in handy, in case you’re searching also for a nifty solution to run a Pi-Hole or a Ubiquiti controller. Or some other small VMs.

To be honest, the Synology box isn’t a Ferrari, or a Fright Liner in terms of performance and / or capacity. Such a NAS is always somehow limited in CPU resources and memory. In my case, I was happy that I maxed-out the memory when I initially bought the NAS box. My current NAS looks like this:

You can see, there are not many resources, but it should be fine for some tiny Linux VM. A domain controller can even run on it if the resources are used sparingly. But don’t expect too much… And let’s dive into the topic now.

Read moreAn easy way to quickly migrate a VMware VM to Synology VMM

Synology now with backup for Office 365

Long time no hear, and I’m really sorry for that. It was a busy time, with a new job, huge project and also military duty in between. But now things are calming down, and so do I. And I’ve got some time for a new blog post.

Recently i stumbled across a newsletter from Synology. They now have a backup tool for Office 365 available which is free of costs for 10 users. Extra license packs can be purchased for adding and renewing additional licenses. That doesn’t sound so bad. But wait. Office 365 is in the cloud, doesn’t Microsoft back it up so that I don’t have to worry about? Well, long story short, NO. There is some retention like deleted items and stuff, and you can modify specific settings. But backing up Office 365 data is all in your own responsibility. There are various backup solutions like Veeam Backup for Office 365 which work absolutely great, and also the recently announced solution from Synology which I’m writing about today. Let’s look at it a little closer.

Unfortunately not every Synolgy NAS system is supported, so please have a look at the list here if your devices is on it or not. Lucky me, i bought a new NAS for my vSphere homelab some months ago which fits perfectly for this test setup.

Supported NAS systems

  • 18 series:FS1018, RS3618xs, RS818RP+, RS818+, RS2818RP+, RS2418RP+, RS2418+, DS3018xs, DS418play, DS918+, DS718+, DS218+, DS1618+
  • 17 series:FS3017, FS2017, RS3617xs, RS3617RPxs, RS4017xs+, RS3617xs+, RS18017xs+, DS3617xs, DS1817+, DS1517+
  • 16 series:RS2416RP+, RS2416+, RS18016xs+, DS416play, DS916+, DS716+II, DS716+, DS216+II, DS216+
  • 15 series:RS815RP+, RS815+, RC18015xs+, DS3615xs, DS415+, DS2415+, DS1815+, DS1515+
  • 14 series:RS3614xs, RS3614RPxs, RS814RP+, RS814+, RS3614xs+, RS2414RP+, RS2414+
  • 13 series:RS3413xs+, RS10613xs+, DS713+, DS2413+, DS1813+, DS1513+
  • 12 series:RS3412xs, RS3412RPxs, RS812RP+, RS812+, RS2212RP+, RS2212+, DS3612xs, DS712+, DS412+, DS1812+, DS1512+
  • 11 series:RS3411xs, RS3411RPxs, RS2211RP+, RS2211+, DS3611xs, DS411+II, DS411+, DS2411+, DS1511+

More information about Active Backup for Office 365

Synology has plenty of information about Active Backup for Office 365 on their website.

Some of the features:

  • Protection of mail, calendar, contacts, OneDrive
  • With Active Backup for Office 365 Portal enabled, both employees and admins can easily locate items for restoration and restore/export them with simple clicks
  • Mail/calendar attachments (if stored in Btrfs volumes) and OneDrive files that contain identical content will only be stored to Synology NAS once, which saves storage space
  • Files stored in Btrfs volumes on Synology NAS can be deduplicated with previous versions, minimizing the storage space required

But now let’s talk tech and let’s dive into the setup and configuration of Active Backup for Office 365.

Read moreSynology now with backup for Office 365

VMware – Create VAAI supported iSCSI LUNs on Synology

VAAI

Today i was working with storage topics. I tried to create iSCSI connections in my vSphere homelab and tried to figure out how to connect or mount iSCSI storage. I had already some iSCSI storage connected to my nested ESXi hosts. But i felt as there is something not correct. And i was right. After some research on the internet i’ve found out that you should take another approach to add iSCSI storage as i did in my previous post. There is a way that your new iSCSI storage on your Synology NAS is fully vSphere and VAAI compatible. Let me show you how you do that.

  1. Before we start to create storage and add it to our ESXi hosts you have to install the VAAI plugin from Synology:
    1. How do I install Synology NFS VAAI Plug-in on an ESXi host?
  2. Reboot your hosts after plugin installation

Now your hosts are ready to get connected to your VAAI supported Synology NAS. Let’s create now the iSCSI LUNs in the next step.

Read moreVMware – Create VAAI supported iSCSI LUNs on Synology

VMware – Homelab storage extension installed

storage

Recently i ordered the last piece of hardware for 2016 for use in my VMware vSphere homelab. I failled in the fourth VCP exam in December 2016 and that gave me the kick to extend my homelab a little, and look into storage stuff in detail.

Thoughts and requirements

I had some ideas in mind and received good inputs from my fellow homelab colleagues, but there are so much possibilities for extending storage. There are various NAS manufacturers and storage vendors. You can “extend” your storage even virtually with some virtual storage appliances. But i have to keep my budget small, well as small as possible for my needs. I don’t have a sponsor (would be nice indeed). So for the extension of my homelab any storage device other than a NAS costs way too much money. And i want to use real physical existent storage, so also a no-go for virtual storage appliances (which also requires some physical storage in the back end). This made the field of choice at least a little smaller, not much, and i’m still kicking out some devices to find the one which suits my needs the best.

Another point is network connectivity. My decision was to have four network ports on this specific NAS device. It should support link aggregation, load balancing and failover. The NAS device should also support NFS and iSCSI protocols so i can reach it from my ESXi hosts and use it. It would be the best for the integration into my homelab when i’m already familiar with a specific kind of device / operating system / manufacturer. Yes, i know, that’s not a real decision maker, at least not the best. But why struggle if there exist easy to setup systems? And last but not least it should be supported within VMware, for example with VAAI.

With all this points from above i decided to go for a Synology NAS device.

The hardware

The base system is a Synology DS1515+ NAS device. The technical specifications:

CPU Model Intel Atom C2538
CPU Architecture 64-bit
CPU Frequency Quad Core 2.4 GHz
System Memory 2 GB DDR3
Memory Expandable up to 6 GB (2 GB + 4 GB)
Drive Bay(s) 5
Hot Swappable Drive YES
RJ-45 1GbE LAN Port 4
VMware vSphere 5 with VAAI YES
VMware vSphere 6 with VAAI YES

Details specifications are available here: Synology DS1515+

Disks (capazity / cache)

I ordered also three WD Red SATA disk with 4TB each and two Sandisk X400 SSDs with 512GB each. In this configuration i’ll get enough raw storage space (roughly 8TB usable capazity). With two SSD in a Synology multi-bay NAS i can also configure read-write cache (you’ll get read cache only with one SSD).

So let’s get our hands on the hardware…

Read moreVMware – Homelab storage extension installed