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Release Note: ARX Cloud Extender version 1.8.1
Release Note

Software Release Date: 02/14/2011
Original Publication Date: 06/21/2011

Summary:

The ARX CE application runs on a Windows file Server, enabling it to become a gateway to private, hybrid, and public cloud storage. ARX CE replicates file content to cloud storage on a user-defined schedule, and recalls (or retrieves) the file content in response to client requests. An ARX managed volume can use the ARX CE as a tier-2 or tier-3 storage device for files that have not been modified for long periods of time. You can also use the ARX CE in front of an ARX, possibly at multiple remote sites, to migrate files from these sites to a central ARX pair. ARX CE supports Amazon S3 and EMC® Atmos®-powered public cloud services, and EMC Atmos with NFS-based or CIFS-based file servers for private cloud storage.

This release note documents Release 1.8.1 (Build 19) of the ARX CE software. This replaces a previously-posted build of Release 1.8.1.

Note: F5 offers general availability releases and general sustaining releases. For detailed information on our policies, refer to SOL8986: F5 software life-cycle policy.

ARX CE versioning does not follow F5 standard practice for New Product compliance with our Software Life-cycle Support Policy as the numeric versioning of the ARX CE product starts at 1.8.1 instead of the anticipated version of 1.0.0. This product is still supported by our Software Life-cycle Policy and version 1.8.1 will be treated as a major release per the life-cycle policy described in the solution above.

Future maintenance, minor, and major releases will follow this numbering pattern:

  • 1.8.2 for a maintenance release,
  • 1.9.0 for a minor release, and
  • 2.0.0 for a major release.

Contents:

- User Documentation for This Release
- Minimum System Requirements and Supported Browsers
     - New/Updated Certifications
- Licensing
     - Configuration Changes
- Features
- Fixes
- Required Configuration Changes
     - ARX CE
- Known Issues
     - Agent
     - Documentation
     - Management
- Contacting F5 Networks

User Documentation for This Release

In addition to these release notes, the ARX CE comes with the following manuals:

These manuals are posted on https://downloads.f5.com/, together with the software installation kit.

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Minimum System Requirements and Supported Browsers

You can install the ARX CE on any of the following Windows Servers:

  • Windows Server 2003® Service Pack 1 and above,
  • Windows Server 2003 R2,
  • Windows Server 2008®, or
  • Windows Server 2008 R2.

The host machine requires the following minimum resources for the ARX CE:

  • 1 GB of RAM,
  • 2 GB of disk space for log files, and
  • enough additional disk space to store a large percentage of potential client files at their full (non-stub) sizes.

The minimum supported browsers for the ARX CE GUI are:

  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® (IE), version 8.0
  • Mozilla® Firefox® 3.6, and other browsers that use the Mozilla engine

The ARX CE GUI requires JavaScript support.

New/Updated Certifications

As of Release 1.8.1, build 19, the ARX CE is certified for use with the following new options:

  1. EMC Atmos-powered public cloud-storage providers, and
  2. private cloud build outs with EMC Atmos.

For a complete list of vendor equipment that is usable with this release, refer to the ARX Compatibility Matrix (available from your ARX GUI).

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Licensing

Before you install the ARX CE, you must acquire proper licensing. These licensing steps follow a different model than standard F5 licensing.

For Evaluation Orders

  1. In your order E-mail from F5, find an attached zip file with your license.
  2. Unzip the license to find these three files:
    • auth,
    • pkey, and
    • license.crt.
  3. Place these license files on the Windows Server(s) intended for the ARX CE. Copies of each of these files must reside in the same directory as
    • ARX CE Admin Tools (in ...\F5 ARX Cloud Extender\secure by default)
    • ARX CE Agent (in ...\F5 ARX CE Agent\), and
    • ARX CE Gateway (also in ...\F5 ARX CE Agent\).
    Each of these components is described below.

For Production Orders

Initial Installations

  1. Your order E-Mail from F5 requests that you generate a certificate request. Follow the instructions in the E-mail and return the certificate request to F5.
    The program used to create the certificate request also creates files named "auth" and "pkey" - these files must be kept secret and not sent to F5.
  2. F5 sends a second E-mail after receiving the certificate request; this is the license.crt file, which is the certificate along with your entitlements.
  3. Extract all three of the above files and place them into a single directory:
    • auth,
    • pkey, and
    • license.crt.
  4. Make these license files available to the Windows Server(s) intended for the ARX CE. Copies of each of these files must reside in the same directory as
    • ARX CE Admin Tools (in ...\F5 ARX Cloud Extender\secure by default)
    • ARX CE Agent (in ...\F5 ARX CE Agent\), and
    • ARX CE Gateway (also in ...\F5 ARX CE Agent\).
    Each of these components is described below.

Upgrades

  1. Contact F5 and order an add-on ARX CE SKU.
    F5 responds with an E-mail requesting a serial number.
  2. Reply to the E-mail with an ARX CE license serial number, the one for the ARX CE Agent that you want to enhance.
    The serial number is in the ARX CE GUI. Click on About in the upper right-hand corner of the Control Panel UI, then find the License Serial Number field.
  3. F5 returns a new license.crt file with the added entitlement.
  4. Replace the pre-existing license.crt file on the ARX CE control panel and any associated ARX CE agents).

Installation

For installation instructions, refer to the Installation chapter of the ARX Cloud Extender Administration Guide.

Configuration Changes

Once you install the ARX CE software, refer to the Required Configuration Changes section, which contains important information about configuration on the ARX CE, the host server for the ARX CE, and the ARX.

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Features

Release 1.8.1 introduces support for a new cloud destination, EMC Atmos. Contact your F5 Sales representative to purchase an ARX CE Atmos Connector for EMC Atmos. You can use Atmos or the formerly-released Amazon S3 as a migration destination for files on the ARX CE.

Fixes

Release 1.8.1 contains the following fixes:

349223
An uninstall of ARX CE from Windows Server 2008 left behind some defunct ARX CE icons. From the Windows Server 2008 Start menu, the quick launch section contained broken shortcuts for the uninstalled items. Old folders and icons were still visible from the All Programs menu. The ARX CE uninstall process now properly cleans up these items.

349591
The Admin Tools Setup Wizard contains fields for entering a username and password for the admin user, but did not contain a field for re-typing the password. This release of the wizard includes the password-confirmation field.

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Required Configuration Changes

After the ARX CE software is installed onto its Windows host(s), you must ensure that the ARX, Windows Host(s), and ARX CE have properly-coordinated configuration options.

All of these configuration requirements are also included in the manual, Deploying the F5 ARX with F5 ARX Cloud Extender, where they are each described in context.

ARX

ARX snapshots are not supported for the ARX CE. The ARX CE is a temporary staging area for files that migrate to and from cloud storage, so snapshots would typically capture the metadata files (or stubs) that stand in for absent files.

All ARX file-placement rules and tiering rules should run to completion before the ARX CE rules migrate files to cloud storage. Set your ARX schedules to finish before the ARX CE rules begin.

Windows Host(s)

Configure the Windows Server's Anti-Virus or Search and Indexing applications to ignore offline files. If these applications read the clients' offline files, the ARX CE restores all of them from cloud storage. Refer to the ARX Cloud Extender Administration Guide for more information.

The Windows host also requires a CIFS share, to be used as a staging area for transfers to the Cloud. This share should be large enough to accommodate a large percentage of the full-size (non-stub) files that could possibly migrate to it.

ARX CE

Amazon S3 has a Web Access site where you can create "buckets" of cloud storage; do not create buckets for the ARX CE from this site. Create them from the ARX CE Admin Tools, as described in Deploying the F5 ARX with F5 ARX Cloud Extender

Amazon also supports write access through its Amazon Web Services (AWS) Management Console; do not modify any files through this interface. This is considered direct access to back-end files behind the ARX, and compromises ARX metadata. Access all ARX files through an ARX VIP, and modify them from there.

Do not install IPv6 on the Windows Host(s). IPv6 is not supported with the ARX CE.

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Known Issues

The following items are known issues in the current release.

Agent

After DISK FULL is corrected de migration of a single file renders the DISK FULL. (350884)
The following sequence of events leads to a spurious "disk full" status for the ARX CE disk:

  1. Attempt a de migrate operation that leads to a genuine "disk full" status,
  2. Migrate enough files off of the ARX CE disk to make room for the next de migrate operation, and then
  3. Access a file through the ARX to trigger another de migrate.

The final de migrate operation completes, but leaves the ARX CE disk in a spurious "full" state.

After an ARX CE disk is full from de migrates, message is unclear about resumption of de migrates. (349991)
If the ARX CE disk fills up from a de migrate, the de migration process logs a message that it will de migrate in 30 minutes. The message does not clearly indicate that you must make more space on the Windows server for de migrations to resume. Additionally, when the de migration later resumes, there is no log message to alert you that de migrations have re started.

Documentation

Error message when cloud provider account is disabled gives no indication this is the issue. (348818)
The ARX CE Control Panel issues the following message when the cloud-storage provider has canceled your account:

[Forbidden! Please ensure that Access Key ID and Secret Key are correct.]

This error message is unclear about possible causes and solutions.

Workaround: Contact your cloud-storage provider and confirm that your service account is still valid.

Uninstall process is not documented. (349225)
The ARX CE documentation does not include a process for un-installing the ARX CE software from its Windows host(s).

Workaround: Use these steps to un-installing any ARX CE software:

  1. Confirm that the Windows share has enough disk space to hold the file content for all of its files.
  2. Use an ARX CE policy rule to de migrate all of the share's files from the cloud.
  3. Using the credentials of a Windows user in the Administrators group, uninstall the ARX CE software.

Management

Windows Explorer may cause unexpected de migrate operations for certain files from cloud storage. (347326)
Windows Explorer may trigger unexpected file-content de migrations from cloud storage; this is due to the file-type awareness of the Windows-Explorer application. The migrations occur when an Explorer user single-clicks the file and leaves the file selected. If Windows Explorer is aware of the file type, it de migrates the file's content in order to populate its "Details" and/or "Preview" panes with the file's metadata. For example, Windows Explorer displays author information for Microsoft Word files and a thumbnail image for JPEG files.

Workaround:

  • Clients can avoid this issue by disabling both the "Details" pane and the "Preview" pane in Windows Explorer. They can disable these panes by opening the Organize -> Layout menu in Explorer and un- checking the Details Pane and the Preview Pane options.
  • Create ARX CE policies to avoid migrating (to cloud storage) any files that exhibit this behavior.
  • Create ARX CE policies to delay migrating a file based on last-accessed time. This amounts to effectively tuning the ARX CE's file cache. Note, with this option, more local disk is required.

Unable to launch DRTool when logged into server running Admin Tools as a Domain User. (348073)
After the ARX CE installation, only the local Administrator has sufficient privileges to run the DRTool application. Other users in the Administrators group get a "Permission Denied" error when they invoke Start > All Programs > ARX Cloud Extender > ARX CE Admin Tools > ARX CE DR. This problem occurs even when you install the ARX CE using the same (non-Administrator) credentials.

Workaround: After the installation, provide any desired non-Administrator user with Read access to the following directory:

C:\\Program Files(x86)\\F5 ARX Cloud Extender\\secure

Contacting F5 Networks

Please prepare the following information before you contact F5 Support about the ARX CE:

  • license Serial Number, which is in the About pane in the ARX CE control panel,
  • ARX CE version, which is 1.8.1 (build number 19; the full number is 1.8.1.19),
  • operating system for the ARX CE host machine(s),
  • connectors in use (Amazon S3 or EMC Atmos),
  • cloud-service provider,
  • source and destination URIs,
  • any error messages received, and
  • any applicable log files.

Appendix A of the ARX Cloud Extender Administration Guide provides details on finding some of this information.

You can contact F5 through any of the following means:

  F5 Online Knowledge Base: An online repository of answers to frequently-asked questions.
http://support.f5.com/
F5 Services Support Online: F5's online customer support request system.
https://websupport.f5.com/
F5 Software Trial Support: Follow this link to log in for support of your F5 software trial:
https://www.f5.com/trial/secure/support.php/
Telephone: Follow this link for a list of international Support numbers:
http://www.f5.com/training-support/customer-support/contact/

For additional information, please visit http://www.f5.com.


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