EMC Unity Setup Guide

The EMC Unity product line is a flexible storage solution with a rich feature set and small datacentre footprint. EMC claim this product installs in 2 minutes, configures in 15 as one of its key features, in this post we’ll put that to the test and walk through the setup of an EMC Unity 300 array.

EMC also offer a software defined version of the Unity technology in the form of a virtual storage appliance, read more about it at Deploying EMC Unity VSA.



The EMC Unity hybrid and all flash storage range implements an integrated architecture for block, file, and VMware VVOLs powered by the Intel E5-2600 processors. The Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE) leverages dual storage processors and full 12-Gb SAS back-end connectivity to deliver high levels of performance and efficiency. Disk Array Enclosures (DAE) are added to scale out capacity up to 3 PB top end. There is concurrent support for native NAS, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel protocols whilst the unit itself takes up less rack space than it’s competitors. Unity arrays can be managed from the HTML5 web client, or through the CloudIQ service, and offer a full range of enterprise storage features. For more information see the Unity platform white paper.

Some considerations when creating storage pools; typically we want to configure less storage pools to reduce complexity and increase flexibility. However configuring multiple storage pools may be required if you want to separate workloads for different I/O profiles or use FAST Cache. When sizing a storage pool remember that all data written to LUNs, file systems, and datastores is stored in the pool, as well as configuration information, change tracking, and snapshots. Storage pools must maintain free capacity to operate, EMC recommend at least 10%.

You will need to make design decisions based on your environment around storage pool capacities and configured RAID protection. The Unity range offers RAID 1/0, RAID 5, or RAID 6 configured at storage pool level. EMC generally recommends smaller RAID widths as providing the best performance and availability, at the cost of slightly less usable capacity, e.g. for RAID 6 use 4+2 or 6+2 instead of 10+2 or 14+2. Unity automatically reserves 1 out of every 30 drives of the same type for use as a hot spare, you can reduce the number of hot spare drives by decreasing the number of individual drive types.

Unity arrays use the first 4 drives to store configuration information and critical system data, these are known as the system drives and run from DPE Disk 0 through to DPE Disk 3. The system drives cannot be used as hot spares but can be added to storage pools in smaller configurations, if no other disks are available. The usable capacity of system drives is reduced by around 100 GB, therefore storage pools utilising system drives should use a smaller RAID width. For larger configurations with high drive counts EMC does not recommend using the system drives as heavy client workload may slow down management operations. This restriction does not apply to all-flash.


In addition to the boxed system components you will need:

  • Cabinet vertical space of 2U for the DPE, 2U for each optional 25-drive DAE, or 3U for each 15-drive DAE.
  • Cat 5 or better and Gigabit Ethernet switch ports x 2 for management connections.
  • Cables and ports for your chosen connectivity: 4 x Converged Network Adapter (CNA) ports which can be set at 10GbE, or 4, 8, or 16Gbps Fibre Channel. Once set they cannot be changed. 4 x 10GbE for file/iSCSI.
  • Slotted or Phillips screwdriver for installation.
  • A Windows based computer to run the initialisation and setup.
  • If you are unable to connect the Windows computer to the same subnet as the EMC Unity then you will need a USB drive to configure the array with a management IP address.


The Unity 300 base comes with the following:

  • Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE) 2U component.
  • Front bezel for DPE.
  • Rail kit consisting of 2 rails and 6 screws.
  • Accessory kit consisting of an anti-static wrist strap, cable ties, stickers, etc.
  • Power cords.

Any additional disk shelves contain:

  • Disk Array Enclosure (DAE) 2U component (each).
  • Front bezel for DAE.
  • 2 snap in rails, 3 screws per rail.
  • Power cords.
  • Mini-SAS HD cables (1 metre connect DAEs together, 2 metre connects to DPE).


EMC recommend installing the DPE at the bottom of the cabinet and installing any additional DAE’s above.

The rails clip into the rack using spring clips at the front and rear. Start with the rear and secure with 1 x M5 screw on each side once the rails are in place. The array then slides in and is secured with 2 x M5 screws per rail at the front. Do not tighten the screws until they are all in place. Once the  array is racked clip on the front bezel, a key is also enclosed.

If you require further assistance racking the devices see page 19 of the EMC Unity Installation Guide.


First connect the 2 management ports to the switch, management ports have a white border around them, service ports yellow. Next plug in the cables for your chosen front end connectivity, i.e. Fibre Channel or Ethernet. Front end ports need to be connected and configured symmetrically across both storage processors to facilitate high availability. Furthermore you should use all front-end ports that are installed in the system, so that workload is spread across as many resources as possible.

When configuring switch ports for iSCSI and NAS configure Jumbo frames (MTU 9000) for optimum performance. NAS ports should also be configured with LACP grouped per storage processor, to provide path redundancy and performance improvements.

If you have purchased additional DAEs then these need to be connected using the included SAS cables. There are 2 on-board 12Gb SAS ports in each storage processor in the DPE. An additional 4-port 12 Gb SAS I/O module can be provisioned with the higher end Unity products but in general this is only required for extremely high bandwidth.

When cabling DAEs to the DPE, balance them as evenly as possible across all available buses. The drives in the DPE are serviced by SAS Bus 0; therefore, the first DAE should be cabled to SAS Bus 1. Daisy chain additional DAEs in a continuation of the following oder:

  • DAE 1 connects to SAS Bus 1 (on-board port 1)
  • DAE 2 connects to SAS Bus 0 (on-board port 0)
  • DAE 3 connects to SAS Bus 1 (on-board port 1)


If you are attaching a large number of DAE’s see page 33 of the EMC Unity Installation Guide for further cabling examples and a guide to the stickers included.

The power cables included with the array are colour coded with an intended use of: grey for Power Distribution Unit (PDU) A, black for PDU B. Once the array has power it will take approximately 10 – 15 minutes to power up.



To access the web UI for setup we have a couple of options for automatic or manual IP addressing.

Automatic – if the array has access to network DHCP and DNS servers (with dynamic DNS enabled) then it will automatically be assigned an IP address. After power up if the SP Fault LED is solid blue then a management address has been assigned. This IP is dynamically added to DNS in the format of serialnumber.dnszone. If the SP Fault LED alternates between solid blue and flashing amber then a management address has not been assigned as the DHCP or DNS server could not be reached.

Manual – download and install the EMC Connection Utility. The Connection Utility gives you two options; automatically detect unconfigured storage systems in the same subnet as your Windows client, or manually configure an IP in a configuration file for use with a USB flash drive which the array automatically reads.


Depending on how IP addressing has been assigned open a browser and enter the IP address manually configured, or the DNS entry (serialnumber.dnszone). Log in to Unisphere using the default credentials admin Password123#.


The Initial Configuration Wizard launches the first time you login. This self explanatory wizard guides you through the basic setup of the array, any settings you skip here can be configured later through the appropriate menus.

For a more in depth look at the configuration settings and Unisphere interface see the EMC Unity Configuration Guide, otherwise continue with the configuration wizard as outlined below.


Accept the license agreement and click Next.


Configure the admin and service passwords and click Next.


Install the license file provided by your EMC vendor and click Next.


Configure DNS settings and click Next.


Configure NTP server settings and click Next.


Create the storage pools required for your environment, see the notes on storage pools above under the Architecture heading. Click Next.


Configure the email alert settings for your system and click Next.


If applicable configure the iSCSI interfaces for use with the Unity system and click Next.


If you intend on creating File level storage resources on the Unity system then configure at least one NAS server for each storage processor. NAS Servers require a separate IP to be configured for network access.


The configuration wizard is now complete, click Close.


It is good practise to update the Unity Operating Environment (OE) upon install of the new system. Arrays shipped with v4.0.1.8404134 will include a letter advising the administrator upgrades the software due to an issue with this version of the OE. See Upgrading EMC Unity OE for further assistance.


That’s it, the initial configuration is complete and is incredibly quick and easy providing all the pre-prep is done beforehand. You can now begin the process of adding hosts and presenting LUNs. Any configuration of additional features is done through the HTML5 Unisphere web client, for more information see the EMC Unity Configuration Guide. Once storage resources are created you can configure replication between Unity systems by following the Configuring EMC Unity Replication guide.

See also Configuring VVOLs with EMC Unity.

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