I was at two customer sites recently deploying VNXe Gen1 (VNXe3150) and VNXe Gen2 (VNXe3200) systems. On both occasions there was an element of surprise from the customer about provisioning capabilities of these systems to create NFS File Systems on the VNXe systems and then automatically add the VMware NFS datastores to appropriate ESXi hosts. The surprise was the tight integration with EMC VNXe and VMware vSphere making the provisioning process a quick, easy and painless process. Particularly the conversation around the VNXe3200 led me to identify some other great integrations between VMware VNXe3200 and VMware vSphere. This post will identify these integration points and outline how to configure them. Without further ado…

VMware Array Integration (VAI)

VAI is an end to end discovery of VMware environments from within the VNXe system console. VNXe3200 uses VAI to import and view VMware Virtual Centers, ESXi servers, virtual machines, and VM disks. Related ESXi hosts can be automatically registered by adding the vCenter or by entering IP address of individual ESXi hosts.

ESXi hosts

As indicated above the polling process to ESXi information  is done in the background and you can also poll a host or all hosts at any time upon user request. As seen below all relevant VM info can be viewed which can be very useful indeed.

VM Info

The VNXe3200 system can also create and monitor VMware NFS/VMFS datastores from within Unisphere for VNXe and VNXe CLI using VAI. Below is an example ESXi command that can be executed to achieve creating a 2TB NFS Datastore.

uemcli -d 10.244.221.76 -u admin -p Password123# /stor/prov/vmware/nfs create -name NFSSQLData01 -descr “SQL VMs” -server Nas01 -pool performance -size 2TB

The Datastore creation can be verified as follows;

uemcli -d 10.244.221.76 -u admin -p Password123# /stor/prov/vmware/nfs -id NFSSQLData01 show

The screenshots above were taken utilising the VNXe3200 demo tool which is freely available to download from ECN (EMC Community Network) site.

VMware vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI)

VAAI was brought about to improve host utilisation by offloading storage related tasks that would be more efficiently managed by the storage system than the ESXi host. The ESXi host hands off to the Storage Processor to complete the tasks which in turn acknowledges to the host when the task is complete. The following tasks (which are referred to as VAAI primitives) can be offloaded;

Block

  • Fully Copy or Hardware-Assisted Move
  • Block Zero or Hardware-Assisted Zeroing
  • Atomic Test and Set (ATS) or Hardware-Assisted Locking
  • Thin Provisioning (Dead Space Reclamation)

NAS

  • Fast Copy
  • Snap-of-Snap
  • Extended Statistics
  • Reserve Space

For VNXe3200 block the VAAI primitives are available by default on the ESXi host and no plug-in is required. You can verify VAAI is enabled as seen below

vSphere Client:
1. In the vSphere Client inventory panel, click the host.
2. Click the Configuration tab, then click Advanced Settings under Software.
3. Check that these options are set to 1 (enabled):
DataMover.HardwareAcceleratedMove
DataMover.HardwareAcceleratedInit
VMFS3.HardwareAcceleratedLocking

ESXi vCLI:

Use commands listed below and check if the Int Value is set to 1 (enabled):
# esxcli system settings advanced list -o /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedMove
# esxcli system settings advanced list -o /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedInit
# esxcli system settings advanced list -o /VMFS3/HardwareAcceleratedLocking

 

On the other hand the VAAI Plugin for file is not installed by default. It must be downloaded from EMC Support and then installed.

———–

Download

———–

https://download.emc.com/downloads/DL36290_vStorage_APIs_for_Array_Integration_(VAAI)_Plug-in_2.0.zip?source=OLS

 

———–

Installing

———–

After you uncompress the zip file, the VAAI Plug-in is available for installation.

  1. On the Virtual Center host, import the EMCNasVAAI plugin.zip bundle by using VMware Update Manager (VUM) 6.0 or 5.5 release.
  2. Create and attach the baseline on VUM by selecting the baseline type as Host Extension.
  3. Proceed to remediate the bundle on ESXi 6.0 or ESXi 5.5 host.
  4. Run esxcli software vib list | grep “EMC” command on the ESXi 6.0 or ESXi 5.5 host to ensure the EMCNasPlugin is installed after the reboot.

VMware Storage Integrator (VSI)

VSI enables the VMware vSphere admin from within the Web Client to manage and maintain the VNXe3200 for the following funtions

  • Viewing VNXe3200 Storage Property details
  • Provisioning of VNXe3200 storage for associated NFS Datastores, VMFS Datastores or RDMs

From  high level

  • Download the Storage Integration service vApp ovf file
  • Deploy the VSI vAPP
  • Register the VSI Plug-In
  • Registering the Storage Integration service in order to use VSI Plugin
  • Login into Storage Integration service as a storage admin and configure storage access for VNXe
  • Using VSI Plugin  in vSphere Web Client register VNXe storage system

VSI at this stage can be used to view and manage VNXe3200 Storage provisioning.

Full details of VSI (which covers not just the VNXe3200 storage system) Product can be found below    https://support.emc.com/docu62318_VSI_for_VMware_vSphere_Web_Client_Version_6.7_Product_Guide.pdf?language=en_US

VMware vStorage for Storage Awareness (VASA)

This VMware API enables storage vendors (EMC and it’s VNXe3200 in this instance) to present storage capabilities, topologies and state to vCenter via Storage Provider implementation. These exposed capabilities enables users to create storage policy based management.The VNXe3200 has native VASA support which means no plugin is required. The high level steps for utilising VASA with the VNXe can be summarised as follows;

  • Create VNXe3200 VASA Storage Provider
    • VASA URL and login credentials are all that is required
  • Create a VM Storage Profile based on known storage capabilities
    • e.g. Select a capability (Auto Tier Storage; Fast Cache; Thin) for a Fast Cache and Thin Enabled Pool with Tiered Storage
  • Create a new VM and when assigning storage select VM Storage profile created to identify compatible data store.

Note: VASA 2.0 released with vSphere 6 has undergone significant development in support of vVols but that could be the subject of a whole other post. 

A great demo of the VNXe3200 VASA implementation from EMC Corporate Engineering is included below for further reference

I hope people find this blog post covering the VNXe Integration points with VMware of benefit and can utilise this in their environments. Please feel free to share it about 🙂

Usual disclaimer folks

It’s that time of the year again when the new crew that have been selected to represent the EMC Elect are announced. Please find the definitive list here.

I was delighted to be asked to be part of the judging committee this year. An experience I will cherish. There was plenty of debate between judges in the run up to Christmas and in January. The criteria was very tough indeed and some folk lost out this year that did  surprise me. I can honestly say that all the members selected will be great for the EMC community at large and will turn up as great active contributors.

Slack was the tool we used to collaborate and it worked fantastically well. Great idea Mark Browne and Tommy Drogden!

For the disappointed nominees not selected this year, please do not be disheartened as a badge is not the measure of the person so keep interacting, keep sharing knowledge, keep informing EMC from the front lines what is not working and what is working.

As a judge I was automatically elected to the 2016 EMC Elect. Thanks to the folk who nominated me (anyway) I plan to make a difference this year and bring my A game. It will be a year of change and certain element of politics I am sure too as the merge with Dell concludes but the Elect will continue to connect people to technology and connecting people with a great community despite any distractions the merger brings 🙂

Logo

 

There are many many posts out there on this already but I thought by way of a blog post me sharing what I used to learn may help somebody sitting on the fence regarding certifications  or re-certifications and also skilling up on VMware vSphere 6. I just passed VCP6-DCV so thought I would capture my thoughts while it was still fresh.

The main objective for me was to re-immerse myself in vSphere. I recently after much lobbying have joined the VMware team at work now splitting my time with Data Center team (EMC/VCE/Cisco/Brocade) and the VMware team. From a post sales (PSO type role) I will focus on becoming a core vSphere, VMware SRM, vROPS and VSAN SME. For my Pre-Sales VMware SE hat a wider brief is necessary but looking forward to that as I have NSX, Automation and DevOps SME’s in house to call on while the ramp up happens there too. The point here is to say my journey is only beginning so watch this space 🙂

vSphere 6 Training Resources

Greg Shields has put together an excellent training series on vSphere 6 for Pluralsight. As an EMC Elect member Pluralsight very kindly gave a free years subscription so I could take advantage. This course (and many other related and unrelated courses) are well worth checking out!

http://blog.pluralsight.com/learning-path-vmware-vsphere-6-data-center-virtualization-vcp6-dcv

I was lucky enough to attend a classroom based training course which was pitched to align to VCP6-DCV which it will more than cover and it did give me well needed hands on with the trainer fielding my many questions. But in truth the course had so much detail it intimidated me a bit to the point that I didn’t know the manual detail cover to cover so thought I was goosed for the exam but you  will certainly not need to (for VCAP yes) so fear not. The course is excellent to learn vSphere in great detail which is better than any result in an exam. Course link and spec below

VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale v6

At VMworld I attended sessions on Managing vSphere 6.0 deployments which were excellent. I downloaded these sessions as an education for myself and there are some nuggets there even for the more seasoned among ye. These are available free here  for viewing or download so utilise it. The particular sessions that will help with up-skilling on vSphere 6 and prepare you for VCP6-DCV are;

INF4944 – Managing vSphere 6.0 Deployments and Upgrades, Part 1
INF5123 – Managing vSphere 6.0 Deployments and Upgrades, Part 2

As I was watching this back I saw on one of the slides a resource the presenters used for demos. I didn’t utilise it for my VCP6 but I will for field work, general knowledge and as Sunny Dua mentioned in becoming a vSphere 6 Ninja. Check this free VMware resource out for product and feature walkthroughs.

https://featurewalkthrough.vmware.com

From a book perspective I kept it to one  for the moment (others ready for design and advanced admin I won’t bore you with now) and that is Mastering vSphere 6 by Nick Marshall, Grant Orchard and Josh Atwell all of whom are vRockstars in the VMware community. For anyone who has not picked up one of the previous versions this is a really good book and should be on every engineers desk or laptop for reference.

vSphere 6 Study Guides

There are many study guides out there but I focused on two. Either one would do but two gives extra coverage for blue print topics in my opinion.

First up is the Unoffficial official guide By Josh Coen and Jason Langer. Very comprehensive and VEEAM kindly sponsored them to produce it

http://virtuallanger.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/vcp6-dcv_sg.pdf

The second one I referenced was from Vladan SEGET who has an excellent blog and active blog. You will find other study guides there as well as other resources so bookmark it.

http://www.vladan.fr/vcp6-dcv/

Hands-on without your own lab

The VMware hands on labs came in handy from two perspectives. Firstly it gets you necessary face time (when you don’t have your own kit) with vSphere 6 to negotiate new features and also to review existing. Secondly the lab notes/script associated with the HOL was a very good reference as well as it documents new features all in one place as well as a refresher on common tasks. I unashamedly took “HOL-SDC-1410 – Virtualization 101 – vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM)” which can be found in the HOL catalog to find out vSphere 6 new features and walk-throughs.

Practice Questions

Paul McSharry has some excellent resources on his website but in particular I wanted to draw your attention to his practice VCP exam questions which he very kindly put together himself for the community which will quickly indicate to you whether you are ready to sit the exam or are still a bit off the pace.

http://www.elasticsky.co.uk/more-vcp6-dcv-questions/

Reflections and what’s next

This is a comprehensive list to get through and all are not necessary to pass the VCP6-DCV exam. I didn’t cover everything comprehensively as I simply didn’t have the time and eating into family time studying isn’t that fair in December so wanted to get it knocked out. I didn’t ace the exam in 20 minutes or anything I found it a fair but tough enough test of knowledge. I am going to continue to use and reference these resources now to plug any weak areas the exam identified.

I am looking forward to preparing for VCIX6-DCV which is my next target along side my other short term goal of more consultancy and hands on field work. The VCIX6-DCV will have Advanced Admin (VCAP6-DCA) and Advanced design exams (VCAP6-DCD) for one badge/cert. These v6 exams have not been released yet but more detail on the news to come can be found here. Advanced Admin (VCAP6-DCA) will be my first goal so I may be picking a few peoples brains on how best to prepare as I have never done one of the VMware advanced or lab based exams before. It will be a challenge but one that I finally need to get off the pot and go after!

Usual disclaimer folks

Yes it is that time of the year to recognise members of the EMC community whether they be from a Customer, Partner or EMC background for contributions to the community that have benefited you personally or action(s) that benefited others you deem worthy of recognition.

Get voting and nominate people!! Even better nominate yourself! It only takes a few moments and recognition from peers can enable people to be put forward to the judging committee to decide whether their actions match the criteria for them to be selected as one of the EMC Elect members.

I am delighted to say that I was asked to join the judging panel (and accepted) to lend a hand in selecting the EMC Elect class of 2016. This privilege means I am automatically elected to EMC Elect 2016 so this is not a plea for people to vote for me but more to raise awareness that voting for 2016 candidates is live for the month of November.

Where do I vote and what is the criteria for nominating a potential candidate?

Easy just click here to vote

Below is the suggested criteria but if you feel you have good reason just vote for your EMC hero or go-to person anyway 😉

Key Characteristics of an outstanding EMC Elect candidate include:

  • Engagement – Members are those engaging on the EMC Community Network, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or many other social channels, and in person at events.
  • Commitment – Being a part of the EMC conversation day in and day out, offering thoughtful feedback and staying optimistic in your language.
  • Leadership – The kind of people who take every opportunity to engage with their peers and represent others as part of the community

2015 has been an excellent year for EMC Elect and 2016 is hotting up to be even better so be a part of it!

EMC_Elect_Nominate.png

XtremIO 4.0 was announced at EMCWorld 2015 in May and is finally GA this Tuesday June 30th. Much has been said about this impending release by none other than Chad Sakac, and EMC proper among others. Nobody can deny that XtremIO is the most successful product in the EMC portfolio in a long long time. In saying that there were two issues for me that continued to bother me and more importantly customers;

1.) Disruptive upgrade process for code upgrades and for scaling out to another Xbrick in the cluster

While the code upgrade process was addressed in previous releases (once inline compression feature was introduced) scaling out the XIO cluster meant a fork lift upgrade (lift the data off, expand cluster and restore data).

2.) Native Remote replication

Native Remote replication is a feature most EMC Customers immediately look for with the likes of VMAX SRDF or VNX with Recoverpoint. You could understand prioritising compression and snap ahead but not an easy discussion point involving the likes of Federated Tiered Storage to achieve it with VMAX or with VPLEX for Recoverpoint.

XtremIO 4.0 blows this all out of the water!

In terms of Scaling Out you can now scale out non disruptively to 8 Xbricks (or 16 Active-Active Controllers/Nodes) with Xbricks ranging in capacity from 10TB, 20TB and now with 4.0 40TB Xbricks. When Scaling out the XIO Cluster now auto-balances after expansion. The management GUI XMS can manage up to 8 Clusters now so scaling out in this release has been addressed in more ways than one.

In terms of Remote Replication with 4.0, Native remote replication is implemented with RecoverPoint Asyschronous replication with a unique snap based solution without the need for any RecoverPoint (array-based) splitter. The XtremIO snap based solutions implemented a SCSI DIFF api for RecoverPoint to issue the instruction to ensure to only take/replicate differential snaps across to target Site (after initial full sync for first snapshot). Coupling this with RecoverPoint’s write-folding, deduplication and compression capabilities means a significant reduction in bandwidth consumption. The current implementation is asynchronous with RTO of <60 seconds. The EMC vLAB demonstrating this technology integration is now available as well so reach out if you want to get hooked up with a demo. For those not aware what EMC vLab is and how it works I will post something on that soon for awareness.

XIO and RP Summary

Note: For those not aware, RecoverPoint is a well established Replication and Data Protection solution in the Industry with over 23K deployed and present in 85% of Fortune 200 customers but for those not familiar RecoverPoint brings with it Local & Remote (Bi-Directional) Protection and Point in Time recovery capabilities as well as fully integrating with VMware SRM.

While this post was meant to specifically allay any concerns (which I also had) on Fork lift upgrades and Remote replication I do want to mention briefly some enhancements to XIO snapshots as part of the 4.0 release hitting the streets June 30th as there are so many features included in this release these important updates could get missed. The unique in-memory, space efficient and high performance snapshots in XtremIO are best described here but below is a list of the enhancements in this release;

– Refresh and Restore capability (including to an existing snap as well as production volume)

– Snapshot scheduling

– Read Only Snapshots

– Consistency groups (or can be considered as snapshot sets)

– Read Only snapshots

There is an extensive list of features in XtremIO 4.0 as seen below.

Feature List

I am sure you will see further posts from folk in the community as 4.0 goes GA and hopefully very soon we should be getting a demo unit in our office so hopefully more posts to follow on this topic from me.

Usual disclaimer folks

EMC Partner Awards

 

Yes this is a work related post on a personal blog but temper the tut tuts knowing it is coming from a place of thanks rather than seeking to sell. EMC Partner awards night last Thursday in the Dylan hotel Dublin was a great night and very enjoyable. From the title of the post you can gather that I am glad to inform that Asystec (where I work 😉 ) picked up the most prestigious award of the night, EMC Partner of the year 2015.

All the team are very proud of the achievement because all the hard work paid off! It was a mutually successful year for both EMC and Asystec as a result of our partnership developing opportunities and delivering successful solutions as a team rather than two distinct entities.

The purpose of the post is to say a quick note of thanks to the EMC technical team in Ireland who were not there on the night for me to say it in person. The EMC Customer Engineers, Implementation Engineers, Solution Architects and System Engineers are an awesome team (no point naming names here, they know who they are!) when they work in tandem addressing the common goal of delivering successful solutions for the customer. Our success last year would not have been possible without these folk. I’m just glad we as a team (Aystec and EMC) were interchangeable from a Sales or Technical perspective without any decrease in quality/standards or customer communication as a result.

Now the challenge is to make the next year even better for all concerned!

Usual disclaimer folks

Who is going to receive the medals below for Top VMware Virtualisation blogs 2015?? Time will tell and all will be revealed soon enough but all voting must be completed by March 16th and results will be announced on a special broadcast March 19th.

 

Top vBlogs Medal

Top vBlogs Medal

 

Eric Siebert over at vSphere-land site started producing Top 10 Virtualisation blog lists all the way back in 2008.  The concept to me is a fantastic one. It is an acknowledgment and recognition to the VMware Virtualisation top bloggers for their contributions by the very people that benefit from the hard work put into their blogs, you the public. If you find yourself a regular researcher to all things vSphere/related product suites and technologies then you will have come across the many excellent blogs out there. The content pages are filled and fueled by their passion for VMware technology. Please recognise this work by taking a couple of minutes to cast your vote on the 2015 Top vBlogs. There are a number of sub-categories as well to keep things interesting.

Look forward to the results as my vote is cast!

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: