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Trouble with Hyper-V, Virtual Machine manager and XenClient

So in my Hyper-V enviroment all of hosts are administered by Virtual Machine Manager. The other day I needed to deploy Citrix XenClient to a hyper-v host (Since its the only hypervisor that is supported for the syncronizer part)

Now by default when installing XenClient it sets up the TomCat service running on port 443. After the XenClient installation was complete and I didn’t think much about it for the next week or so.

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After that I needed to deploy a new virtual machine from a template to the same host, and then I started getting some strange error messages on the job status in VMM

“A Hardware Management error has occured trying to contact server”

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Now I could either change the ports used for BITS in VMM by following the instructions here –> http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2405062 or I could change the ports of the TomCat engine by following the setup her –> http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX134691

So in my case I changed VMM To use different ports for BITS (Since I have other products that might run on 443 on a Hyper-V server.

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After I changed the port, VM deployment worked as it should again!

Vmware products dictionary

So the last couple of days have all been about VMworld, with the keynotes being fullpacked regarding to updates and new stuff that are coming. The list is long with updates and rebranding of different products and new suites that are available. A funny story thou is that VMware releasted today a Workspace Suite (Which looks exactly like the suite that Citrix is selling, “the market guys should really learn how to use Google”)

The one thing that I find annoying with Vmware is the ability to actually describe what a product does. On their website its not common to find a good describtion of their long list of products, so I decided to make one for you instead, hopefully this comes handy for some Smilefjes

and note this is super short.

vSphere: This is VMware’s hypervisor

vCenter: This is their management software to manage vSphere servers.

vCenter Site Recovery Manager: Replication and recovery/failover to S2S

vCenter Orchestrator: Workflow and process automation software.

vCenter Log Insight: Log analysis tool

vCenter Operations Manager: Monitoring software against the virtual layer and hardware

vCenter Hyperic: Agent based monitoring software against operatingsystem and application and services.

vCenter Converter: P2V utility

vCenter Configuration Manager: Configuration and Compliance management.

NSX: Network virtualization and security platform.

vSphere Data Protection Manager: Backup software

vCloud Air:  A Hybrid Cloud solution, allows customers to extend their datacenter to VMware’s datacenters.

vCloud Director: A private cloud IaaS solution

vCloud Connector: Connects private cloud and the public cloud within a single management

vCloud Automation Center: Self-service catalog with the ability to create service templates

VSAN: Virtualised Software-defined Storage

VVOL: The ability to move much of the managmeent capabilities frmo the SAN to the VM level

vRealize Air Automation: The ability to provision and manage infrastructure and services across public/private clouds

Horizon: End user platform to deliver VDI/RDS solutions.

Now VMware has also created some new bundles.

Workspace Suite: Contains Horizon, AirWatch and WorkSpace Portal

EVO RAIL:  A Prebuilt architecture which is going to be prebundled from specific OEM vendors. Which contains vSphere, vCenter, VSAN, Log insight.

Getting started with RemoteFX vGPU on Windows Server 2012 R2

Now Microsoft has made alot of improvements with the latest RemoteFX feature in 2012 R2, (Now i’ve written a bit of the requirements of remoteFX before –> http://msandbu.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/remotefx-and-vgpu-2012r2-requirements/)

Most important thing to remember about remoteFX vGPU is that it is only supported on Enterprise Client OS (Therefore Windows 7 and 8 Enterprise SKUes)

It also requires Hyper-V 2012 / 2012 R2 installed with Remote Desktop Virtualization Host role installed.

It also requires a graphics card, http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2013/11/05/gpu-requirements-for-remotefx-on-windows-server-2012-r2.aspx

In my case I have Dell R720 with S7000 Firepro card. Now you need to install the FirePro drivers for 2012 R2 on the host.

After that you need to check for enabled the GPU to be used for RemoteFX. image

After that you need to have a virtual machine installed with Windows 7/8 enterprise Generation 1, and you need to attach a RemoteFX adapter to it. NOTE if you are running Windows 7 you need to update integration services!

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Note that the number of monitors and resolution define how much video memory is dediated to the virtual machine. You can see the vRAM allocation overview here –> http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2013/12/04/remotefx-vgpu-improvements-in-windows-server-2012-r2.aspx

Now when you have configured a virtual machine with RemoteFX you can boot it and RDP to it.

To be sure that you are using RemoteFX you can look at the following.

DXDIAG:

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Device Manager:

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Now to have optimal performance you need make sure that TCP/UDP 3389 is open, since RemoteFX uses UDP for most of the graphic transport. Now remember thet vGPU only supports DirectX acceleration (not OpenGL)

there are custom performance counters within the virtual machine to monitor, if for instance network is the issue/ performance locally or something else.

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Now Microsoft states that RemoteFX is now supported on WAN and yeah it does work, but not at the same performance that Citrix or VMware has at the moment. ill come back with some more detailed tests on remoteFX vGPU comparted to 3D vGPU HDX later.

Monitoring Office365 from SCOM

Microsoft released today a managment pack to monitor Office365 from System Center Operations Manager. The MP is available from here –> http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=43708

In order to setup the monitor you first need a global administrator account in the subscribtion account. You can do it here –> https://portal.office.com/UserManagement/ActiveUsers.aspx

NOTE: The global administrator account does not require to have a active license.

The installation is pretty straight forward, just imporant the management pack. After that is done you have to restart the console. Then you can go into administration –> Office365.

From here you need to add an subscribtion

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Now we need to add a subscription name (This is something unique to SCOM not something in Office365)

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Next you need to define which resource pool should take charge of the monitor part. After that is done you are finished with the configuration. (NOTE the wizard does not validate the credentials so if you enter wrong credentials here.

Now the service dashboard only shows what happening in the admin center

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Which shows the overall state of the subscription, and active alerts which are for instance planned service downtime.

Netscaler TCP profile nstcp_default_xa_xd_profile

Netscaler has the ability to use something called TCP profiles, which allows “non-TCP” experts to customize the Netscaler based upon what application is being used or what kind of network is be used or devices that are accessing the service.

Now this might be the easiest performance tuning feature on the Netscaler.

The different profiles can be viewed under System –> Profiles –> TCP Profiles

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Now by default when you create a service or virtual server it will automatically bind itself to the nstcp_default_profile so let’s take a look at it.

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If we for instance setup a Netscaler Gateway solution for ICA access, we should use the nstcp_default_XA_XD_profile. Why you say? let’s take a look at it and compare the difference.

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Not so much differences here. except a couple of things.

* Window Scaling
* Nagle’s algorithm
* Selective Ack (SACK)
* Maximum Packets per MSS
* Maximum Packts per Retransmission

Now all the differences here are within a key area. ICA is a “chatty” procotol, which might send out a lot of small packets. nstcp_xa_xd profile allows the Netscaler to send more packets inside a TCP segment. Window scaling and Selective Acknowledgement are also enabled for this profile for better experience over long pipes. Nagle’s algorithm increases the efficiency of a network application system by decreasing the number of packets that must be sent.

By choosing this profile for a NS gateway you gain a lower ICA RTT and less latency since packets will flow faster. And note you can attach a profile to a vServer by going into Advanced –> Profiles –> TCP profiles

Storefront monitor not working properly for HTTPS services in 10.5

Now I just recently became aware from Twitter that the 10.5 Netscaler monitor for Storefront is not working properly for HTTPS enabled Storefront servers.

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The problem with the monitor is that it uses an IP based check (and not a hostname based check) which would allow the monitor to work properly since the digital certificate it presents does not match its IP-address.

NOTE: This only fails if the monitor is matched against a SSL based service and you have configured the monitor with secure

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Now in older versions of the monitor it had an own “hostname” parameter, but that is now deprecated. Now all we have is a Store name setting there.

There is a workaround which was listed on the Citrix forums by a member there.

Here’s a workaround:

  1. Edit the file /netscaler/monitors/nssf.pl
  2. At line 23, insert the following before the current ENV line:

$ENV{PERL_LWP_SSL_VERIFY_HOSTNAME} = 0;

So let’s see if Citrix fixes this issue in the next release! Smilefjes

Citrix Connector for System Center Configuration manager 7.5 walkthrough

Earlier today, Citrix released their updated System Center Configuration Manager connector to XenDesktop 7.5. It can be downloaded from here –> http://www.citrix.com/downloads/xendesktop/product-software/xendesktop-and-xenapp-75-connector-for-sccm.html note that it requires an mycitrix account in order to download it.

So what does it do ? well a couple of things. Mostly it’s about pushing software out to regular clients and servers including XenApp/XenDesktop servers where the clients might get the XD/XA version of an application. You can also use it to publish applications directly to XD/XA from Configuration Manager which makes it easy to maintain a consistant software library.

Now there are a couple of components here that are needed.

* Citrix Connector Service (This does the syncing, publishing and orchestration jobs between Configuration Manager site and the XA/XD site)

* Citrix DT handler (This component is needed on VDA servers/clients and on managed clients which you want to use the integration between) NOTE: There are different DT handlers for clients and VDA agents

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So in my case I installed the Citrix Connector Service on my site server since it is a demo-enviroment. Now the installation is pretty straight forward.

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Install both the service and the console extension

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Enter a service account for the connector serivce

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New in this release is the ability to define maintance windows, in case you want automated deployment to VDA agents.

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Now after the installation is finished there are a few things which should be done first.

Make sure that Configuration Manager client is installed on the VDA agents you want to use with this deployment. Now you should create an application of the DT handler and deploy out to all VDA agents.

  • Using the following installation paramters msiexec /i «CitrixDTHandler_x64.msi» /q
  • Also all applications you want to publish should be pre-created and added to Configuration manager.

Now in my case, I have installed the DThandler on 1 VDA server, and have created 7-zip as an application in Configuration Manager. When we open Configuration Manager Console we have some new options. First of under Assets and Complliance we have the machine catalogs listed up

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First of we need to deploy 7-zip to the machine catalog and VDA agents. After that Configuration Manager has gotten the info that the application has been installed

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We can go ahead and do a publication action. Go into Software library and into Citrix Applications Publications andchoose Create Publication.

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Then we run trough the wizard

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Now the connector has been added a nifty new feature which check if all the prerequistes are in place.

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So after we have done the wizard and the syncronization is complete the application will appear in the XenDesktop studio.

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So now we have successfully installed 7-zip on a VDA agent and successfully published it from Configuration Manager. So this means that the application is available as an resource if the user starts up Citrix Receiver or logs into StoreFront.

Now onto the next option, what if we want users to get applications from Software Center or the Application Catalog (But they can start a citrix session if we want them to?) this is part of the DT handler on the managed clients.

Now let’s deploy 7-zip from Configuration Manager to some managed clients, first of we need to create a new deployment type which references the newly published applications. in the the deployment type choose XenApp

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Under publishing you need to choose the existing Citrix deployment that was published earlier.

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NOTE: Citrix DT handler needs to be installed on the clients.

Now go trough the wizard and after you are done with the wizard you need to give the XenApp deployment type a lower priority then the other option.

Now after you have created the deployment type and you want to deploy the appliaction you need to choose the clients or the users which are defined in the delivery groups

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Now if you head over to the application portal on a managed client with a valid user, the application will appear.

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Now if you click this application the configuration manager agent and the DT components will interact and publish the application in the receiver. If you have a valid single-sign-on deployment working on your Xendesktop enviroment you can see that 7-zip is published on the managed clients desktop

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this is a quick walkthrough but it gives you the quick overview of what you can use this connector with. You can also integrate it with MCS and PVS, also we can integrate App-V applications. Also important to remember that with XenDesktop 7.5 you can integrate with Configuration Manager for Wake on lan functionality.

Veeam Management pack for Hyper-V and Vmware walktrough

Yesterday, Veeam released their new management pack which for the first time includes support for both Vmware and Hyper-V. Now I have gotten a lot of questions regarding (Why have Hyper-V monitoring if Microsoft has it ?) well Veeam’s pack has alot more features included, such as capacity planning, heat maps and so on.

The management pack can be downloaded as an free trial from veeam’s website here –> http://www.veeam.com/system-center-management-pack-vmware-hyperv.html

Now as for the architecture of the functionality here it’s quite simple

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First of there are two components.

* Veeam Virtualization Extesions (Service and UI) it manages connections to VMware systems and the Veeam Collector(s), controling licensing, load balancing, and high availability

* Veeam Collector component gathers data from VMware and injects its information into the Ops Agent.

It is possible to install all of these components on the management server itself. You can also install the collector service on other servers which have the Opsmgr agent installed. The virtualization extension service must be installed on the management server.

In my case I wanted to install this on the mangement server itself, since I have a small enviroment. Before I started the installation I needed to make sure that the management server was operating in proxy mode.

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Next I started the installation on the management server. Now as with all of Veeams setup it can automatically configure all prerequisites and is pretty straight forward. (Note it will automatically import all required management packs into SCOM1

If you have a large enviroment it is recommended to split ut collectors into different hosts and create a resource pool (There is an online calculator which can help you find out how many collectors you need) http://www.veeam.com/support/mp_deployment.html

You can also define if collector roles should be automatically deployed

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After the installation is complete (using the default ports) you will find the extensions shortcut on the desktop

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By default this opens a website on the localhost (using port 4430) from here we need to enter the connection information to Vmware (Hyper-V hosts are discovered automatically when they have the agent installed) Same with Veeam Backup servers as well.

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After you have entered the connection info you will also get a header saying the recommended number of collector hosts.

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After this is finished setup you can open the OpsMgr console. From here there is one final task that is needed. Which is to Configure the Health Service, this can be dome from tasks under _All_active_Alerts under VMware monitoring pane.

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After this is done you need to expect atleast 15 min before data is populated into your OpsMgr servers, depending on the load. You can also view the events logs on the Opsmgr servers to see that data is correctly imported.

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and after a while, voila!

I can for instance view info about storage usage

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Vm information

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Now I could show grafs and statistics all day but one of the cool stuff in this release, is the cloud capacity planning reports.

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They allow it to see for instance how many virtual machines I would need in Azure (and what type) to move them there.

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Setup Management pack for SQL 2012 with Operations Manager

Now Microsoft recently released their new management pack for SQL Server, which included new dashboard views for SQL administrators. Now this is nice and it gives a clear overview of the current configuration and what’s happening at the time. Now it supports most the SQL versions, except 2014 (yet…)

Version

32-bit SQL Server on 32-bit OS

32-bit SQL Server on 64-bit OS

64-bit SQL Server on 64-bit OS

SQL Server 2005

Supported

Supported*

Supported (for SQL Server 2005 SP2 or later only)

SQL Server 2008

Supported

Supported*

Supported

SQL Server 2008 R2

Supported

Supported*

Supported

SQL Server 2012

Supported

Supported*

Supported

Another heads up! is that by default Microsoft recommends that you monitor no more then 50 databases (per agent) to avoid spikes in the CPU usage. And also not all features are discovered and monitored by default

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So in order to get monitoring on these features we would neeed to create en override on the different objects. This can be done by going into Authoring –> Management Pack –> Objects –> Object Discovery –> Scope –> (Choose SQL objects) right-click on the feature which is not enabled and choose Override –> choose a class for which you want this overide to work for. Then create a new management pack and choose Enabled == True

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Now the installation is quite simple, head to this webpage and download the management packs –> http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=10631

Download and then go into the Operations Manager Console –> Administration –> Management Packs –> Import

(NOTE: it is also an best-practice to import the Windows Server management packs first in order to properly monitor aspects such as disk, processor, memory, network)

And after we have imported the management packs we get alot of tasks related to SQL in the dashboard

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In order to use these we need to install the SQL management studio on the Operations Manager server. After you have imported the managmeent pack you also need to attach accounts to the SQL profiles in order to have the proper access to the SQL servers.

This post from Kevin Holman (which is a couple of years old, still explains in good detail how to configure the profiles and accounts –> http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinholman/archive/2010/09/08/configuring-run-as-accounts-and-profiles-in-r2-a-sql-management-pack-example.aspx)

Now after you have properly configured the managment pack with permissions, its time to do some proper tuning. For instance by default, the mangement pack will not inform about database backups, which I find a bit disturbing since this is something I would really want to monitor.

In order to enable this monitor go into Monitoring pane –> Microsoft SQL Server –> SQL Server Database Engines –> Databases –> Databases view (Then choose a random SQL database) right-click choose open –> Health explorer (Click the filter monitors to remove showing of unhealth objects) Then under Database backup status it does not have any info.

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Now right-click on that object and choose override –> choose enabled true and enter a date here where it should check how old the database is.

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After you have then stored this in a mangement pack and choosen which object this rule should apply to, Operations Manager should start to report back with the status if you have taken backup or not.

I can see that after enabling the rule, the alarm appears.

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Now there are of course loads of different monitors, which will cause overhead to the SQL server and the operations manager. Many monitors are by default added because Microsoft thinks its a good idea, but your database admin or yourself might not agree. Important to remember that Microsoft have to create a baseline which applies to most setups but if you don’t agree you can customize to your hearts desire! Smilefjes

So I live by a rule with Operations Manager, if you don’t need to monitor it. Disable it!
Last but not least a preview of the new dashboards which comes with the new management pack

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Dell VRTX and disk management

Dell introduced their new VRTX platform last year. For those who haven’t heard about VRTX it it was the start of fully-converged hardware solutions from Dell. Its a nifty piece of hardware which allows for up to 4 nodes and 25 harddrives to share midplane allowing for simultaions access to the storage.

No compromise on scalable performance

It is also possible to put some PCI-E cards in there as well

  • 8 flexible PCIe slots:
    • 3 full-height/full-length slots (150W) with double-wide card support (225W)
    • 5 low-profile/half-length slots (25W)

All within the same tower, making it an ideal solution with for remote sites/offices with need for a small powerhouse.

The VRTX comes with a custom made disk management solution, which operates differently unlike the other Dell software. So for instance if we need to create an Hyper-V cluster we would need to have shared storage in place, the disk setup is configured from the CMC.

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(NOTE After we have configured the disks, it will not appear in the iDrac of the indivudual nodes, this is by design, but it will appear when setting up the OS)

first you need to go into Storage –> Virtual disks

(NOTE: make sure you have updated the PERC before creating the virtual disks!)

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Create Virtual disks –> From here you need to select the number of disks you want to add to the virtual drive

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Important to note here, In my case I want to create a RAID 10 set with one hot spare (Since RAID 10 has the best read-performance of the differnet raid levels not very dependant on a good controller). Ref https://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/eserver/v1r2/index.jsp?topic=%2Fdiricinfo%2Ffqy0_cselraid.html
First I create the RAID 10 set and define my storage policies. Important to note that if you have a newer Dell VRTX with dual PERC  you do not have the ability to do a write cache and you will not get the performance you want.

After you are done choose disks and policies choose Create Virtual disk. When the operations is complete you can go to manage and choose assign hot spare

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Next we have to do the mapping, go back to the Storage pane. From here we need to assign it to multiple assigment

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It is important to note that a virtual disk can only assigned to a virtual adapter, and a virtual adapter can only be asigned to ONE server.  From here you can see that my server slot mappings are by default assigned a virtual adapter.

Now go back  to the Virtual disks pane and choose Assign, from here we can assign the virtual disk to a virtual adapter. Here we choose full access.

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Then choose Apply. Now when going back to the storage pane you can see the overview of the storage layout

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