Tag Archives: Storage

ESXi 6.5 FCoE Adapters Missing

After installing or upgrading to ESXi 6.5 FCoE adapters and datastores are missing. In this case the hardware in use is a HP ProLiant BL460c Gen9 server with HP FlexFabric 10Gb 2-port 536FLB adapters, although this seems to have been a problem for other vendors (see here) and versions too.

This issue should be resolved with a driver provided by the vendor which has the FCoE auto discovery on boot parameter enabled. Cross reference your hardware against the VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide here, and confirm you are using the correct version of the bnx2fc driver and firmware. If no updated driver is available from the vendor then review the workarounds outlined below.

Stateful Installs

Credit to this article, SSH onto the host and run the following commands.

esxcli fcoe adapter list lists the discovered FCoE adapters, at this stage there will be no results.

esxcli fcoe nic list lists the adapters available as potential FCoE candidates. Locate the name of the adapter.

esxcli fcoe nic enable -n vmnicX enables the adapter, replace vmnicX with the adapter name, for example vmnic2.

esxcli fcoe nic discover -n vmnicX enables discovery on the adapter, replace vmnicX with the adapter name.

esxcli fcoe adapter list lists the discovered FCoE adapters, you should now see the FCoE adapters listed.

The storage adapters should now be showing in the vSphere web client, however if you are using stateless installs with Auto Deploy, then this workaround is not persistent and is lost at reboot.

storageadapters2

Stateless Installs

Credit to this article, we were able to create a custom script bundle to enable discovery on the FCoE adapters as part of the deploy rule with the steps below. Custom script bundles open up a lot of possibilities with Auto Deploy, but at this stage they are CLI only. I also noticed that if you create a deploy rule with a script bundle from the CLI, although it shows in the GUI if you then edit that rule in the GUI (for something unrelated, e.g. updated host profile) then it removes the script bundle without warning. So this is something you would need to weigh up against your environment, if you are already using CLI to configure deploy rules it shouldn’t be a problem.

PowerCLI can now be installed directly through PowerShell, if you don’t already have PowerCLI installed see here.

  • First up we’ll need to create the script on a Linux / Unix system. I just used a test ESXi host we had kicking about over SSH. Type vi scriptname.sh replacing with an appropriate name for your script.
  • The file will open, type i to begin editing.
  • On the first line enter #!/bin/ash followed by the relevant enable and discover commands from the section above. You can see in the example below the commands for enabling vmnic2 and vmnic3 as FCoE adapters.

ssh1

  • Press escape to leave the text editor and type :wq to save changes to the file and close.
  • Next we need to create the script bundle that will be imported into Auto Deploy. Type tar -cvzf bundlename.tgz scriptname.sh

ssh2

  • Copy the script bundle with the .tgz extension to your local machine, or the computer from where you will be using PowerCLI to create the deploy rule. In my case I copied the file over with WinSCP.
  • You should also have an ESXi image in zip format, make a note of the location. Add the script bundle and the ESXi software depot by running the following commands Add-ScriptBundle location\bundlename.tgz and Add-EsxSoftwareDepot location\file.zip. If you need further assistance with building custom images or using PowerCLI to manage Auto Deploy see the VMware Auto Deploy 6.x Guide and How to Create Custom ESXi Images posts.

ps1

  • Build the deploy rule using your own variables, again if you’re already using Auto Deploy I’m assuming you know this bit, we’re just adding an additional item in for the script bundle. See the guide referenced above if you need assistance creating deploy rules. I have used:
    • New-DeployRule -Name "Test Rule" -Item "autodeploy-script","HPE-ESXi-6.5.0-Build-5146846", LAB_Cluster, -Pattern "ipv4=192.168.0.101" | Add-DeployRule

ps2

  • The deploy rule is created and activated, I can now see it in the Auto Deploy GUI in the vSphere web client, with the associated script bundle. When the host boots from the deploy rule the script is extracted and executed, and the FCoE adapters are automatically enabled and discovered on boot.

autodeployGUI

  • If you don’t use the | Add-DeployRule parameter then the deploy rule will be created but show inactive. You can activate using the GUI but do not edit the rule using the GUI or the script bundle will break.
  • If you are updating an existing image then don’t forget to remove cached rules by remediating host associations, under the Deployed Hosts tab.

VMware vSAN 6.7 Install Guide

VMware vSAN utilises server attached flash devices and local hard disk drives to create a shared datastore across hosts in a vSphere cluster. VMware vSAN achieves high availability by adding a software layer leveraging existing server hardware to provide the same resiliency and features as expensive SAN, NAS, or DAS arrays. Further to this vSAN is uniquely embedded within the hypervisor kernel, directly in the I/O path allowing it to make rapid data placement decisions without the installation of additional VIBs or virtual appliances. This post intends to give an overview of vSAN 6.5/6.7 and how to enable it.

VSAN

For further reading visit the VMware Documentation Centre and expand vSAN under the relevant version.

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Key Features

  • Data protection and availability with built-in failure tolerance, asynchronous long distance replication, and stretched clusters between geographically separate sites.
  • Leverages distributed RAID and cache mirroring to protect data against loss of a disk, host network or rack.
  • Minimises storage latency by accelerating read/write disk I/O traffic with built-in caching on server attached flash devices.
  • Software based deduplication, compression, and data-at-rest encryption (v6.6 and higher) with minimal CPU and memory overhead.
  • Easily scale storage capacity and performance by adding new nodes or drives without disruption.
  • VM-centric storage policies to automate balancing and provisioning of storage resources and QoS.
  • Fully integrates with the VMware stack including vMotion, DRS, High Availability, Fault Tolerance, Site Recovery Manager, vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations, and vSphere Integrated Containers.

Requirements

  • Between 3 and 64 hosts for a standard cluster, a two node cluster can also be implemented with the use of an offsite witness host.
  • Each capacity contributing host in the cluster must contain at least one flash drive for cache and one flash or HDD for persistent storage.
  • SATA/SAS HBA or RAID controller in pass-through mode or RAID 0 mode.
  • All hosts participating in a vSAN cluster must be connected to a Layer 2 or Layer 3 network using either IPv4 or IPv6.
  • If you are using vSAN 6.5 or earlier then multicast must be enabled on the physical switches that handle vSAN traffic, vSAN 6.6 and higher requires Unicast.
  • Host bandwidth to the vSAN network must be at least 1Gbps for Hybrid configurations or 10Gbps for All-Flash.
  • If you are deploying vSAN to your existing hardware and not using the VMware hyper-converged software stack then check the Hardware Compatibility Guide.
  • For compatibility with additional VMware products see the Product Interoperability Matrix.
  • Before implementing vSAN review Designing and Sizing a Virtual SAN Cluster.

Licensing

VMware vSAN can be added to any version of vSphere and is licensed per CPU, per VM, or per concurrent user. The current licensing model comes in three tiers; standard, advanced, and enterprise, as well as standard and advanced ROBO (Remote Office/Branch Office) versions. Features such as data-at-rest encryption and stretched clusters need enterprise licensing. RAID 5/6 erasure coding, deduplication and compression require advanced licensing. For full details see the licensing guide for the relevant vSAN version: vSAN 6.5 | vSAN 6.6 | vSAN 6.7.

vSAN Ports

Before configuring vSAN each host in the cluster must be configured with a VMkernel port for use with vSAN traffic.

In the vSphere client (HTML5) or vSphere web client browse to each of the hosts in the designated cluster for which you intend to use vSAN, open the Configure tab and select Networking. Click VMKernel Adapters and the Add Networking icon. Ensure the connection type is VMkernel Network Adapter and click Next.

VMK_1

Select a New standard switch and click Next.

VMK_2

Assign physical adapters to the switch using the green plus symbol. For production environments make sure multiple physical network adapters are assigned for redundancy. When you have finished the network adapter configuration click Next.

VMK_3

Configure a name for the VMkernel port and a VLAN ID if required. Ensure Virtual SAN is selected under enabled services and click Next.

VMK_4

Configure the network settings for the VMkernel port and click Next.

VMK_5

On the Summary page click Finish.

For lab environments with limited physical interfaces you select the Management Network and click the Edit Settings icon. Add Virtual SAN traffic to the list of available services and click Ok. The vSAN traffic will now share the management network, this is obviously not recommended for production workloads.

vSAN 6.7 Configuration

In vSphere 6.7 the HTML5 client now includes support for vSAN. To enable vSAN browse to the appropriate cluster in the vSphere client and click the Configure tab. Expand vSAN and select Services, vSAN is turned off by default so click Configure.

VSAN_1

Select the vSAN configuration and click Next. The standard option is a Single site cluster where all hosts are at one site. A two host cluster with third witness node (not contributing capacity), or stretched cluster across sites, can also be used.

VSAN_2

Enable any additional services that are required, these can also be enabled later. Click Next.

VSAN_3

Select the disks to use in the vSAN configuration and click Next. For each capacity contributing host one flash device should be selected for the cache tier, and at least one more device for the capacity tier.

VSAN_4

If your vSAN cluster spans multiple racks or chassis then you may have included fault domains in your vSAN design. Configure any required fault domains here and then click Next.

VSAN_5

Review the settings in the summary page and click Finish. The selected resources are pooled into a single vSAN datastore and you can start provisioning machines right away.

VSAN_6

Additional vSAN services such as deduplication and compression can be configured after initial setup using the menu options under vSAN in the cluster Configuration tab. The vSAN menu options in the cluster Monitor tab also provide a number of good monitoring tools and dashboards.

VSAN_7

vSAN 6.5/6.6 Configuration

For vSAN 6.6.2 and earlier the required features need enabling from the vSphere web client, only vSAN 6.7 has HTML5 support.

To enable vSAN browse to the appropriate cluster in the vSphere web client and click the Configure tab. Expand Virtual SAN and select General, you will see a message that Virtual SAN is not enabled, so click Configure.

enablevsan1

By default any suitable disks will be added to the vSAN datastore. To manually select disks change the disk claiming setting to Manual. Review the other capability options by hovering over the grey information circle, select any appropriate features and click Next. If you change any settings on the capabilities page additional menu pages will be added for configuration of these settings.

enablevsan2

The network validation page will confirm that each host in the cluster has a valid vSAN kernel port, click Next.

enablevsan3

Review the details on the summary page and click Finish. The virtual SAN will now pool the selected resources into the vSAN datastore and you can start provisioning machines right away. vSAN creates and presents a single datastore containing all disks for each vSphere cluster. You can amend vSAN settings or add additional capabilities at a later date using the menu options under the Virtual SAN heading of the Configure tab of a vSphere cluster.

EMC VNXe Setup Guide

The VNXe is the most affordable hybrid and all-flash array across the EMC product range. Although the future potentially sits with the newly released Unity line, the VNXe remains a popular, flexible, and efficient storage solution for SMBs and ROBOs. This post will walk through the setup of an EMC VNXe device.

vnxe

Architecture

The VNXe 3200 is powered by dual Intel Xeon E5-2407 4-Core processors, providing up to 3x the performance of its 3150 predecessor. The Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE) leverages dual controllers and 6-Gb SAS back-end connectivity to deliver high levels of availability and efficiency, whilst lowering storage costs per I/O. Disk Array Enclosures (DAE) are added to scale out capacity up to 500 TB top end. There is concurrent support for NAS and SAN, with CIFS, SMB3, NFS, iSCSI and Fibre Channel (up to 8Gb) protocols, whilst the unit itself has a small datacentre footprint. For more information see the EMC VNXe Data Sheet.

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. 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 VNXe range offers multicore RAID 1/10/5/6 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.

VNXe arrays use the first 4 drives to store configuration information and critical system data, these are known as the system or vault drives and run from DPE Disk 0 through to DPE Disk 3. The system drives can be added to storage pools however usable capacity of system drives is reduced, 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 (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, and 2U for each optional 25-drive DAE.
  • 2 x Cat 5e or better GbE management connections.
  • Between 2 and 8 Cat 5e or better GbE or 10GbE data connections, or, between 2 and 8 Gb FC connections, depending on your chosen connection protocol.
  • 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 VNXe then you will need a USB drive to configure the array with a management IP address.
  • Phillips screwdriver for installation.

Unboxing

The VNXe base comes with the following:

  • Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE) 2U component consisting of 12 x 3.5″ bays or 25 x 2.5″ bays.
  • Rail kit consisting of 2 adjustable rails and 10 screws, or 2 snap-in rails and 6 screws.
  • Accessory kit consisting of an mini-USB adaptor, cable ties, stickers, etc.
  • Front bezel for DPE.
  • Power cords.

Any additional disk shelves contain:

  • Disk Array Enclosure (DAE) 2U component consisting of 12 x 3.5″ bays or 25 x 2.5″ bays.
  • Rail kit consisting of 2 adjustable rails and 10 screws, or 2 snap-in rails and 6 screws.
  • Front bezel for DAE.
  • Power cords.
  • Mini-SAS and mini-SAS HD to mini-SAS cables.

Racking

EMC recommend installing the DPE at the bottom of the cabinet and installing any additional DAE’s above. The snap-in method is the most commonly used rail set and the one we will use here. For assistance with racking the adjustable rails see page 16 of the EMC VNXe Install Guide.

Locate the left and right markings on each rail. Align the 2U key tabs with the U-space in the rear rack channel. Push the key tabs and adaptors into the rear mounting holes until the spring clips snap into place. Round the front push in the spring clip and release once the rail is lined up with the mounting holes. Secure the rear of the rail using 1 x M5 screw on each side.

Slide the DPE into the rails until they click into the rear tabs on each rail. The tabs secure and support the rear of the enclosure, the front is secured using 2 x M5 screws on each side. Repeat the process for any additional DAEs.

 

racking

Cabling

First connect the 2 management ports to the switch, management ports have a LAN/management symbol above them. Do not use the service ports, service ports have a wrench/spanner symbol above them. 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. 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 6Gb SAS ports in each storage processor in the DPE. 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. Connect SP A SAS Port 1 to DAE 1 Link Controller Card (LCC) A (cable 1 in the image below). Connect SP B SAS Port 1 to DAE 1 LCC B (cable 2).

sas

The mini-SAS HD connectors are used for the DPE ports, the mini-SAS connectors are used for DAE ports. Mini-SAS to mini-SAS cables are used for cabling DAEs together. If you are attaching additional DAE’s see page 28 of the EMC VNXe Install Guide.

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. Finally, clip the front bezels into place and secure with the key included.

power

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.domain. 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 Connection Utility from EMC Downloads. 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#.

unisphere1

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.

unisphere2

Once the configuration wizard is complete you will be returned to the home dashboard. It is recommended that the operating system is updated straight away. This can be achieved from the Settings drop down menu, and selecting Update software. Software can either be obtained online direct from the VNXe, or downloaded from EMC Downloads and then uploaded to the array. If you skipped the configuration wizard there are some basic configuration settings below to get you started.

First browse to the Management Settings page of the Settings drop down menu. Under the General tab we can configure the system name and management network settings. The Network tab features DNS settings, NTP settings, and remote logging.

network

To apply a license (.lic file provided by EMC) go to Settings, Manage Licenses; upload and install the license file. Also under Settings select Configure alerts, connect to EMC and configure SMTP and alert settings here.

alerts.png

It is recommended that physical network interfaces are  pooled together. To configure link aggregation browse to Settings, More Configuration, Advanced Configuration. Tick the Aggregation box.

linkaggregation

Storage pools are configured under System, Storage Pools. You will see 2 default pools; Hot Spare Pool and Unconfigured Disks. To configure the number of hot spares, or configure a storage pool and RAID group, select the appropriate pool and click Configure Disks. Follow the Disk Configuration Wizard.

diskconfig

To change the admin password at any time go to Settings, User administration. To enable SSH (optional) navigate to Settings, Service System and enter the service password. Select Enable SSH and click Execute service action.

You can now move on to configure the chosen protocol for the array, whether that be creating CIFS/NFS servers and shares through Settings, Manage Shared Folder Server Settings, or presenting iSCSI or FC storage through Hosts or Settings, iSCSI Server Settings. For further assistance with the VNXe GUI see EMC Unisphere for VNXe.

Configuring VVOLs with EMC Unity

This post will walk through the setup of VMware VVOLs with EMC Unity. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Virtual Volumes then see this KB. You can read more about the EMC Unity physical array by reviewing the EMC Unity Setup Guide, or the Unity Virtual Appliance by reviewing the Deploying EMC Unity VSA post.

EMC Unity VVOL Components

The vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) provider is built into the controller, so there is no additional installation or configuration required. This design also offers high availability of VVOLs which is native to the controller configuration of the Unity product line. Virtual machines are provisioned based on the VMware Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) framework which uses the VASA client, both features are key to VVOLs and were introduced with vSphere 6.

The Unisphere interface was rebuilt when EMC introduced Unity; the first midrange EMC product to officially support VVOLs. Unity provides both NAS and SAN connectivity for VVOLs, meaning virtual volumes can be provsioined via Fibre Channel, iSCSI, or NFS. The Protocol Endpoints are the NAS Server interfaces, iSCSI initiators, and Fibre Channel ports zoned to the ESXi hosts. VVOLs reside in VVOL datastores, known as storage containers, which are made up of storage allocations from one or more capability profiles. A capability profile is built on top of one or more underlying storage pools – a storage pool can contain different disk types.

emcvvols

Prerequisites

  • Before you can implement VVOLs you need to be running vSphere 6.
  • If you have already licensed vSphere for standard or above there is no additional cost.
  • At the time of writing all products in the EMC Unity range support VVOLs. If you are using an alternative storage provider cross check your hardware with VVOLs in the VMware compatibility checker, and check with your storage provider that they support VASA.
  • Check the license pack for your Unity array covers VVOLs, this will be listed in the feature table on the licensing email from EMC. If you are unsure check with your account manager.
  • The Unity 300 and 400 arrays support up to 9000 VVOLs. The Unity 500 supports 13500 VVOLs and the Unity 600 supports 30,000 VVOLs.

EMC Unity Configuration

First let’s add the vCenter Server to Unity so that ESXi hosts can be discovered. Log into the Unisphere web client and select VMware from the Access menu on the left hand side. Select vCenters and click the add symbol to add the vCenter Server. Enter the vCenter details to discover ESXi hosts that are connected via the Protocol Endpoints.

hosts

To deliver virtual volumes we need a storage pool. A storage pool was most likely configured during the setup of the Unity array. However if not, then select Pools from the Storage menu, create a storage pool using the create pool wizard.

If you already have a storage pool select VMware from the Storage menu and open the Capability Profiles tab. A capability profile is used to advertise the available characteristics of a storage pool, in this case virtual volumes. Click the add symbol to create a new capability profile. Give the profile a name and click Next.

vvol1

Select the storage pool the capability profile should use and click Next.

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Review the summary page and click Finish.

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The capability profile will now be created.

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Once complete we can go ahead and create a storage container fo virtual volumes, in EMC this is called a VVOL datastore. Select the Datastores tab and click the add symbol to create a new VMware datastore. Select VVOL and click Next.

vvol5

Enter a name for the virtual volume datastore and click Next.

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Select the capability profile we created earlier and click Next, multiple capability profiles can be assigned.

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Configure the hosts that should have access to the virtual volume datastore and click Next.

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Review the summary page and click Finish. Storage containers are now presented to the vCenter hosts specified during access configuration, these are thin provisioned by default. For further details see the official EMC Unity VVOLs White Paper.

vSphere Configuration

Since VVOLs are a new feature of vSphere 6 all configuration is done in the vSphere web client. The first task is to register the Unity VASA provider; from the home page in the vSphere web client click vCenter Inventory Lists, vCenter Servers, select the vCenter Server, click Manage and open the Storage Providers tab. Click the green add symbol to add a new VASA provider. Enter the URL of the Unity system and admin credentials, click Ok. The URL should be in the following format https:// :8443/vasa/version.xml where is the management IP address or FQDN of the Unity system.

storageprovider

Next we can provision VVOLs from the storage container (or VVOL datastore in EMC Unity) that we just created. From the home page in the vSphere web client click Storage, and Add Datastore. Pick the datacentre location and click Next, select VVOL as the type of datastore and click Next.

vvoldatastore

The available storage container should now be highlighted, verify the name and size, enter a name for your new datastore and click Next.

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Select the hosts that require access and click Next, review the details in the final screen and click Finish. You may need to do a rescan on the hosts but at this stage we are ready to provision a new virtual machine to the virtual volume datastore with the default storage policy. This represents VVOLs in its simplest form, the virtual machine files are now thin provisioned and stored natively in the storage container we created on the Unity array. You can create additional storage based policies using the vSphere 6.0 Documentation Centre.

The release of vSphere 6.5 included VVOLs 2 built on VASA 3.0 which features support for array based replication. You can read more about what’s new here.

EMC Unity Configuration Guide

Following on from the EMC Unity Setup Guide this post will walk through the configuration of an EMC Unity array with iSCSI connectivity using the management web interface. Before beginning, ensure your Unity device is up to date by following the EMC Unity Update Guide. The EMC Unity is also available as a Virtual Storage Appliance.

unityhybrid

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 useable 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.

Configuration Settings

Browse to the management IP address of the Unity array configured during installation. If you have not changed the admin password the default login is admin Password123#.

The welcome dashboard gives an overview of health and capacity. Note the icons in the top right hand corner. The first symbol shows the overall system state, if there are no issues this will be a green tick. The second icon lists active jobs and the third any active alarms. Next is the settings menu, logged in user menu, and help.

icons

Let’s start by opening the settings menu using the gear icon. The Software and Licenses page lists the licensed enabled features. To install a license click Install License and upload the .lic file provided by EMC. You can also view system limits, install language packs, software updates, and disk firmware.

settings1

The Users and Groups page can be used to add local users or an LDAP identity source.

settings2

Use the Management page to configure NTP servers and DNS. The host name and management address can also be changed here if required as well as optional services such as Unisphere Central (centralised management), remote logging, and encryption.

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The Storage Configuration page allows for configuration of FAST cache; FAST cache extends existing cache using enterprise flash drives to provide instant access to frequently used data. You can also view the spare disks in the system, but it’s best to come back to this after we’ve configured our storage pool.

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Configure auto-support on the Support Configuration page by entering the support credentials and contact details. Make sure you use the EMC support account where the support contract is associated.

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The Access page lists the iSCSI (Ethernet) and FC ports. Double click the port to view further details, all ports should be connected and green.

For Ethernet ports it is good practise to create link aggregation where more than one port is used for the same traffic, e.g. iSCSI data, or replication. Aggregating ports together pools the resources to create a highly available configuration, iSCSI or other services then use the port aggregation group to distribute I/O and provide redundancy. Select the first port for the group and click Link Aggregation, Create Link Aggregation. You can add or remove additional ports by selecting the port and clicking Link Aggregation, and Add to Link Aggregation or Remove from Link Aggregation.

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Configure email alerts, and SNMP traps if required, using the Alerts page.

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Next we’ll go through the menu options in the left hand navigation pane.

System

The System View page lists basic system information such as the model, serial number, and software version. If any hardware issues are detected they will be listed here.

unisphere1

The Performance page shows IOPS and bandwidth , you can also create I/O limits.

The Service page shows a number of service related tasks and logs, as well as any technical advisories issued by EMC. Auto-support functionality should already be enabled as we configured it earlier using the Support Configuration page of the Settings menu. The support contract will auto-populate once refreshed providing the correct support settings have been entered.

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Access

The Hosts page allows for configuration of network hosts, such as Windows or Linux machines, for storage access. An individual host can be added, or a subnet or netgroup; to allow access to multiple hosts or network segments. The VMware page provides a single workflow for adding vCenter servers and ESXi host discovery. Virtual machine and VMDK information can also be imported.

For block storage resources you must register initiators using the Initiators tab. Initiators are servers initiating Fibre Channel or iSCSI sessions, and are identified by a unique World Wide Name (WWN) or iSCSI Qualified Name (IQN). The link between the initiator and the port on the storage system is called the initiator path; an initiator can be associated with multiple initiator paths. At this point for iSCSI paths to show up iSCSI interfaces must be configured on the Block page, see the Storage section above for further details. For FC paths the appropriate zoning on the FC switch must be complete for the initiator paths to be seen by the storage system.

Data Protection

The Data Protection section gives you two ways of protecting data on the array. The first is Snapshots; snapshots are used to create point in time copies of your data. There are 3 built in snapshot policies with different retention periods, or you can create your own by clicking the add symbol.

The second option is Replication, replication allows data to be copied to a different Unity array or Virtual Storage Appliance, on or off-site. To facilitate replication you must first create an interface by clicking the Interfaces tab and the add symbol. Chose an Ethernet interface, or link aggregation group, to use and configure the network settings. Next click the Connections tab and the add symbol. Enter the details of the remote Unity system to be a replication target and the connection mode; asynchronous replication, which takes an initial copy and then only updates with incremental (changed) data (recommended for most use cases) or synchronous replication, which takes full copies of the data at each replication interval. Finally configure replication on the storage resource you wish to replicate, as outlined under the Storage section below.

To configure replication see the Configuring EMC Unity Replication post.

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Storage

Before using any disks in the system they must be allocated to a storage pool. When creating storage pools take into consideration the notes in the Architecture section above. To create a storage pool click Pools and the add symbol. Assign disks to the storage pool and select a RAID configuration, a storage pool can be made up of 2 performance tiers (types of disks) with different RAID types.

The Unity array is able to provide both block level and file level storage. For block level resources click Block and iSCSI Interfaces. Use the add button to add iSCSI interfaces for use with block level storage, chose the interface(s), storage pool, and configure the networking settings. LUNs can be created and mapped to a host, subnet, or netgroup using the LUNs tab.

For file level resources click File and NAS Servers, click the add symbol to create a NAS server, chose the interface(s), storage pool, configure the networking settings, and select the sharing protocols to use. It is good practise to create at least one NAS server each on SPA and SPB, and distribute resources evenly. Once your NAS servers are ready you can create File Systems, and then SMB shares or NFS Shares using the appropriate tabs.

During the creating of storage objects such as LUNs or file systems, you have the option to configure snapshots and replication. These features can also be configured at a later date by selecting the storage object and clicking the edit icon. Snapshots can be configured using one of the built in policies or creating your own under the Data Protection section above. When creating replication sessions you need to specify a replication schedule and target.

The VMware page can be used to configure VVOLs, read more about this at Configuring VVOLs with EMC Unity.

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Events and Support

The Events page lists all alerts from information to critical, as well as a record of all jobs that have been initiated on the device. The Support page provides links to documentation, training, and support.

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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.

Windows 2016 Storage Spaces Direct

Storage Spaces Direct for Windows Server 2016 is a software defined storage solution providing pooled storage resources across industry standard servers with attached local drives. Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) is able to provide scalability, built-in fault tolerance, resource efficiency, high performance, simplified management, and cost savings.

Storage Spaces Direct is a feature included at no extra cost with Datacentre editions of Windows Server 2016. S2D can be deployed across Windows clusters comprising of between 2 and 16 physical servers, with over 400 drives, using the Software Storage Bus to establishe a software-defined storage fabric spanning the cluster. Existing clusters can be scaled out by simply adding more drives, or more servers to the cluster. Storage Spaces Direct will automatically detect additional resources and absorb these drives into the pool; redistributing existing volumes. Resiliency is provided across not only drives, components, and servers; but can also be configured for chasis, rack, and site fault tolerance by creating fault domains to which the data spread will comply. The video below provided by Microsoft goes into more detail about fault domains and how they provide resiliency.

Furthermore volumes can be configured to use mirror resiliency or parity resiliency to protect data. Using mirror resiliency provides resiliency to drive and server failures by storing a default of 3 copies across different drives in different servers. This is a simple deployment with minimal CPU overhead but a relatively inefficient use of storage. Alternatively we can use parity resiliency, where parity symbols are spread across a larger set of data symbols to provide both drive and server resiliency, but also a more efficient use of storage resources (requires 4 physical servers). You can learn more about both these methods at the Volume Resiliency blog by Microsoft.

The main use case for Storage Spaces Direct is a private cloud (either on or off-premises) using one of two deployment models. Hyper-Converged where compute and storage reside on the same servers, in this use case virtual machines would sit directly on top of the volumes provided by S2D. Using a Private Cloud Storage or Converged deployment method S2D is disaggregated from the hypervisor, providing a separate storage cluster for larger-scale deployments such as Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service). A SoFS (Scale-out File Server) is built on S2D to provide network-attached storage over SMB3 file shares.

Storage Spaces Direct is configured using a number of PowerShell cmdlets, and utilises Failover Clustering and Cluster Shared Volumes. For instructions on enabling and configuring S2D see Configuring Storage Spaces Direct – Step by Step, Robert Keith, Argon Systems. The requirements are as follows:

  • Windows Server 2016 Datacentre Edition.
  • Minimum of 2 servers, maximum of 16, with local-attached SATA, SAS, or NVMe drives.
  • Each server must have at least 2 solid-state drives plus at least 4 additional drives, the read/write cache uses the fastest media present by default.
  • The SATA and SAS devices should be behind a HBA and SAS expander.
  • Storage Spaces Direct uses SMB3, including SMB Direct and SMB Multichannel, over Ethernet to communicate between servers. 10 GbE or above is recommended for optimum performance.
  • All hardware must support SMB (Server Message Block) and RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access).

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