Upgrading EMC Unity OE

The EMC Unity features an active/active controller configuration designed to allow for non-disruptive software updates. However, it is still best practise to mitigate the risk by performing software updates out of core business hours. In this post we will quickly run through an Operating Environment (OE) upgrade for a newly commissioned Unity 300 array; which was installed using the EMC Unity Setup Guide. Arrays shipped with v4.0.1.8404134 include a letter advising the administrator to upgrade the software due to an issue with this version of the OE. The latest OE can be downloaded from EMC Downloads, you will need an EMC account for access.

From the Unity dashboard select the settings gear and click Software Upgrades, the current version will be listed. Click Start Upgrade. To ensure the system is ready to be upgraded click Perform Health Checks, address any issues that arise from the health check, otherwise click Next.

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Browse to the gpg file downloaded earlier, once uploaded click Next.

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Confirm you are happy for the storage processors to individually reboot and click Next.

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Review the details on the summary page and click Finish.

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The software update will now commence, an ETA will be displayed in the top right hand corner.

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When the upgrade has completed click to Reload Unisphere, you will be returned to the dashboard. Click the settings gear again and Software Upgrades, verify that the installed version number is correct.

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The software update is now complete. You can also update disk firmware by selecting Disk Firmware from the settings menu and following the same steps outlined above.

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.

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Architecture

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.

Requirements

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.

Unboxing

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).

Racking

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.

Cabling

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)

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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.

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Setup

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.

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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#.

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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.

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Accept the license agreement and click Next.

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Configure the admin and service passwords and click Next.

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

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Configure DNS settings and click Next.

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Configure NTP server settings and click Next.

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

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

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

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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.

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The configuration wizard is now complete, click Close.

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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.

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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.

Deploying EMC Unity VSA

The EMC Unity product line is a mid-range storage platform built completely from the group up as an eventual replacement for most VNX and VNXe use cases. The Unity virtual storage appliance is a software defined storage platform bringing the software intelligence of Unity arrays to your existing storage infrastructure.

The Unity VSA is ideal for remote office and branch offices (ROBO) as well as hardware consolidation and IT staging and testing. It comes in a 4 TB free community edition and a subscription based professional edition which seamlessly scales up from 10 TB to 20 or 50 TB. The virtual storage appliance includes all the features of the Unity range such as replication, data protection snapshots, FAST VP auto-tiering and more.

See also EMC Unity Setup Guide, which covers a walkthrough on the setup of a physical Unity array.

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Key features

  • Affordable software defined solution
  • Deploy to your existing storage infrastructure
  • Quick and easy setup of CIFS, NFS and iSCSI
  • Unified block, file and VMware VVOLs support
  • Allows VMware administrators to manage storage from vCenter
  • HTML5-enabled Unisphere management
  • Manage virtual storage and physical arrays together

Requirements

  • ESXi 5.5 or later (must be ESXi 6.0 or later for VVOLs)
  • The use of VMware vCenter Server to manage ESXi is optional but recommended
  • The Unity VSA requires 2 vCPU, 12 GB RAM and 6 NICs (4 ports for I/O, 1 for Unisphere, 1 for system use)

If you are deploying the Unity VSA in a production environment then you should consider how the data is stored across your existing hardware ensuring RAID and HA are configured appropriately. If you are presenting VMware datastores or virtual volumes then contact EMC support for best practises and the VMware vStorage APIs for Storage Integration (VAAI) and vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA).

Deploying Unity VSA

Download the OVA file from https://www.emc.com/products-solutions/trial-software-download/unity-vsa.htm and deploy the OVA to vSphere. Accept the extra configuration options, this is just to disable time synchronisation of the virtual machine as it is controlled from within the appliance.

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The only customisation settings required are the system name and network settings.

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Once the appliance has been deployed right click the virtual machine and select Edit Settings. Add the virtual hard disks required for the file systems on your virtual appliance, this can be done later but you will not be able to create any storage pools until additional disks are added. Note that virtual hard disks 1 – 3 are for system use and should not be modified.

Powered on the appliance, when it has fully booted browse to the IP address configured during the OVF deployment process. Log in with the default user of admin with password Password123#.

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The Unisphere configuration wizard will auto start, click Next.

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Accept the license agreement and click Next.

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Configure the admin and service passwords, click Next.

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Obtain a license key from https://www.emc.com/auth/elmeval.htm and click Install License to upload the .lic file, click Next.

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Configure the DNS servers and click Next.

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Configure the NTP servers and click Next.

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You can create a pool now or later. To create a storage pool now click Create Pools. Unisphere scans for virtual disks available to the VM that can be used for a storage pool. Once the storage pool has been created click Next.

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Configure the SMTP server and recipients for email alerts, click Next.

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Add the network interfaces to use for iSCSI and click Next.

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Add a NAS server to store metadata, click Next.

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This concludes the Unisphere configuration wizard.

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You will be returned to the Unisphere dashboard.

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The virtual storage appliance has now been deployed and uses the same software and Unisphere interface as its hardware counterpart. From here you can go ahead and setup CIFS and NFS shares or present iSCSI targets.