May 7th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

Up until now I went through a basic ViPR SRM installation, getting a basic single VM environment setup. What I want to show in this post is my favorite ViPR SRM feature – topology maps. To understand why these are useful, lets step back and give some scenarios:

You are the personal responsible for supporting the storage within your environment, you may support other things but ultimately when there is a storage related problem your name is called. An application own comes to you and says their application is slow, and that the network team said everything on their end is fine so its probably the storage. Great – now what?

  1. You come into a new organization – whether as an internal IT person or a var and you’ve inherited an environment cabled by 3 monkeys and a cat with no documentation – now what?

This is where topology maps can be very useful. The topology maps is that end-to-end visualization and monitoring component I mentioned in previous posts. I see from my virtual machine or even some applications such as SQL Server all the way through to the underlying storage, and drill down on each component. Let me shows you some examples.

To access the topology maps, click on Explore >> Hosts – small aside here – host could be any physical or virtual server in the environment discovered by ViPR SRM, not just ESXi hosts. So this could be an ESXi host, a virtual machine, or a physical host running its own OS.

vipr-srm-explore-reports-hosts

From this report, you can see a list of all the hosts in the environment, which for some could be a very extensive list. I should mention that the filter field is not a search field, so you cannot type the end of a machine name; for example maybe all your VM names end in OS type or some other identifier, you couldn’t just type W2K8 to find a server name myserver-w2k8, you would have to start with myserver, but would then see a list of all servers starting with that string. You can filter on any column that has the funnel icon, so for example I could filter on just physical hosts, or virtual machines by clicking the funnel icon in the host type column;

vipr-srm-filter

Using the example above, let’s say an application owner has complained about performance and you need to investigate to see if storage could be the problem. Filter on the host name, in this case I will pick on mhmbd078-W2K8, as you can see below I start typing that name and can select it from a the list or type it in full and hit enter to filter on that one host

vipr-srm-filter-hostname

 

Now I just see that specific host, in this case a virtual machine as you can see here with 16GB of memory and 4 vCPU:

vipr-srm-single-host-explore

This much information is available in just a few clicks, now there are many places you could get this information but as I continue to drill deeper, you will start to see just how much information we have at hand. With just what is available so far, you might be able to say to the application owner who issued the complain that there is not enough memory, for example maybe you know that this particular application needs 32GB of memory, so disk I/O could be a problem if the application and OS are constantly swapping to disk. But, maybe so far everything checks out, if I click on any of the text here, it will take me into the detail of that virtual machine.

Now, this is where it gets interesting; what you see below is the topology map for mbmbd078-w2k8, we can see the host, the datastore it is on, the host it is on, the VSANs it is connected to and the arrays connected to those VSANs. Also, notice to the right we have different reports related to the host, we can see attributes about the host which is show by default, you can also see:

  • Capacity information about the hosts local disks, in this case VMDKs and since it is a virtual machine, the datastore
  • Path details for the disks attached to the host
  • Related storage performance
  • Events related to the host

vipr-srm-topology-map

You can click on any element in the map to see details specific to that item, for example if you click on the datastore – DS_Bootcamp_D you can see reports about the datastore, or on the host – you guessed it, reports about the host. You may have also noticed the + icon next to some of the elements, this is because there are additional components, using VSAN0040 as an example, we can click on the + sign to see switches in that VSAN

vipr-srm-exapanded-element

Now I see two switches, each with their own + icon, I can keep drilling down and see ports on that switch as well. I can expand different elements and hover over different components to see how they are connected. For example I have expanded my host to see my HBAs, I can see that the particular HBA I am interested in is connected to VSAN mptb023 so I have expanded that as well and drilled down to see the switch ports. While I have some limited lab resolution available, you can see here that when I hover over the HBA from the host it highlights the path to the port on the switch – in this case fc1/6 (as shown by the blue highlighted line)

vipr-srm-show-details

This is just one specific report, and I have only skimmed the surface of the data available in this report. Imagine being able to show this to an application owner as you troubleshoot each component, and explain how/why any particular piece of the infrastructure supporting the application is, or isn’t doing what it is supposed to. For those folks who worked in a silo’d type group, I’d urge you not use this information to punt back over your wall to someone else, but rather be the person to start poking some pinholes in the silo, call up a virtualization, OS, or network person depending on what you might think the problem is and work with them, sharing knowledge and help the application owner be a happy customer. After all, even if you are “internal” IT – you are still providing a service to the business – they are you customers, treat them like it. Silos will only fall if someone starts poking holes, no reason it can’t be you.

If you haven’t done so, chat with your EMC rep (they can likey get you in touch with an SE who can help if you have any setup questions) and head over to support.emc.com to sign up for an account and download ViPR SRM which comes with a 30 day license.

ViPR SRM Explore Reports and Topology Maps

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April 23rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

In my last two posts I touched on what ViPR SRM can do, and the quick installation.

With the ViPR SRM installation out of the way, it’s time to start adding Solution Packs. Solution Packs are use to connect to various systems, such as VMware vCenter, so ViPR SRM can collection information about virtual machines, ESXi hosts, datastores, and HBA’s. Additionally, you connect ViPR SRM to your switches and storage for, quite literally, an end to end view of your environment.

  • First, log into http://:58080/APG and click on Administration (upper right corner)
  • Once you are in the Administration interface, click on Centralized Management on the left navigation menu, a new window or tab will open
  • In the new window, click on Solution Pack Center (back in the upper right corner)

vipr-srm-solution-packs

  • In the search box in the upper right corner, type vCenter to filer the results, and click on VMware vCenter
  • When the vCenter box opens, click on the install button.

virp-srm-vcenter-install-pack

  • Follow the wizard and review the options; it’s a basic wizard – next, next; if using PowerPath click Enable the Host PowerPath alerts for example and click next, next, next, next, and finally install. ViPR SRM will go through and install the selected components.

vipr-srm-solutions-pack-vcenter-installed

  • Click OK. Repeat the above steps for your environment. At the very least, the Storage Compliance pack is useful. Here is the EMC XtremIO solution pack which I will be installing to show examples from.

vipr-srm-solution-pack-xtremio

  • With the solution packs installed, we need to provide each some information. Expand Discovery Center in the left navigation menu, expand Devices Management and click on VMware vCenter
  • Click on the Add new device… button and fill in the information to connect to vCenter. I suggest using dedicated accounts for external services, so for example here is my app_viprsrm user account which has admin privileges in vCenter. Click the test button to confirm the account has access, and then click OK. Repeat for multiple vCenters or the storage in your environment you added a pack for.

info

Don’t forget to click the Save button!

save

vcenter-vipr-srm-credsDepending on your environment, you may also want to add your FC switches as well. Switch monitoring is done by adding a Solution pack for your switch, and connecting to it via SNMP. While logged in as admin go to http://:58080/device-discovery, click Collectors, click New Collector, and Save. This will add an SNMP collector to the local VM. Once the collector is added click on Devices, New Device, and fill in the appropriate information.

vipr-srm-snp-device-discovery

With all switches added, click the check box next to it, and click the magnifying glass icon under actions; this will discover the switch.

ViPR SRM will now start collecting data, to expidite the process click on Scheduled Tasks (left navigation menu), check box for the “import-properties-default” task, and click the Run Now button. If you return to the User Interface (back in the Administration page, click User Interface) and go to Explore >> Hosts you should see your vCenter hosts as well as virtual machines.

vipr-srm-vcenter-hosts

If you navigate to Explore >> Storage you should also see the storage devices you added.

vipr-srm-storage

With the configuration out of the way, I can now start to explore my environment with the various reports available, which I will do in the next post!

ViPR SRM Solution Packs for vCenter and XtremIO

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November 4th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

*Disclaimer – I work for EMC.  I was not asked to write this post nor was it reviewed/approved by my employer prior to publishing.  It is simply based on my learning experience as I get to know this solution*

I’ve had the opportunity for the last few days to spend some time getting to know EMC VPLEX, and wow – I wish I knew about this a few years ago.  VPLEX enables continuous available of storage arrays either locally (Local) or over distance (Metro and Geo).  In addition of continuous availability in the event of array maintenance or failure it also provides the means to migrate data from different arrays.  Now before you keep reading know that I am still learning about this solution as well – if you know this solution well and I’ve got something wrong here please let me know.

VPLEX works by sitting between the hosts and storage arrays.  Rather than zoning a host to a physical array, you zone the host to the VPLEX.  Then the VPLEX is zoned to the storage array to present available storage to the host.  Since my host is access storage through the VPLEX, and not on the array directly I can take out entire physical arrays behind the VPLEX and depending on my configuration have no affect on the host or the availability of storage.

Of particular interest to me is the Metro configuration, I could stretch a distributed volume and VMware cluster across data centers (assuming < 5ms round trip between data centers) and in the event of a site outage have access to my original virtual infrastructure.  Now a site outage could be many things – an array failure, network failure or natural disaster scenario that takes out accessibility to that physical location.  I had the opportunity in a course I was teaching last week to have some folks who helped me whiteboard what this looks like:

Whiteboarding a VPLEX Metro

VPLEX Metro whiteboard session

VPLEX Metro whiteboard session

What we have here are two arrays behind a VPLEX Metro setup – one array each in site A and B and one VPLEX in site A and B.  A distributed volume is created on the VPLEX and hosts are zoned to the VPLEX like you would typically directly to the array.  Since it is zoned to the VPLEX, and the VPLEX is setup in a Metro configuration each host can access the VPLEX in each site.  If a site fails, multipathing rules for the host would move to the VPLEX in site B and continue operation.  The witness in the middle is in a 3rd failure domain and used to monitor the VPLEXs to ensure the failure is not just communication between the VPLEXs and manage VPLEX rules appropriately.

Now as I said in the beginning I am still getting to know VPLEX, if you want to learn more check out the free EMC Education Services VPLEX eLearning on ECN.  There is also a VPLEX practice test available if you want to test your VPLEX knowledge after the eLearning and figure out what, if any other training  you want to purse.

Getting to know EMC VPLEX

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October 3rd, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

So, here we are, almost 2015 and folks are STILL complaining about the web client.  Yes, in 5.1 it sucked.  Yes the fact that it is written in Flash is not ideal.  Yes VMware added the ability to manage hardware version 10 VMs back to the C# client.  And yes there were rumors about at VMworld that the C# client will in fact live into the next version of vSphere.  But, folks, its time.  I was where you are not to long ago; loving the warm coziness of the C# client for my day to day work but then three things happened.  The 5.5 web client actually rocks, I switched to a Mac and I wrote a book and didn’t want to be that person using with screenshots of the C# client in a book where the focus was vSphere 5.5.

I hope to turn this into a regular series, with small tips on how to get he most out of the web client for those still clinging to the C# client.  So here we go; The Related Objects tab.  The Related Objects tab might just be one of the most useful areas of the web client; regardless of what yo are looking at you can see a list of… you guessed it, related objects.  For example If I am looking at a Data Center I can see all of the hosts, clusters, VMs, datastores, switches etc… right from the Related Objects tab

vSphere Web Client Related Objects Tab

vSphere Web Client Related Objects Tab

The wonderful thing about the Related Objects tab – its everywhere and changes context based on what you are looking at.  For example if I click on my Cluster >> Related Objects I won’t see information about other clusters, just items related to that specific cluster.  If I click on a VM/vApp I will see information about that VM.  I can continue to drill down in the Related Objects tab.  It’s not only information but I can make setting changes right there, no need to bounce back and forth to different screens.  If I need to make a change to the vSwitch/Portgroup my VM is connected to, right click and edit – boom all done!

VMware vSphere Web Client Tips – Love Related Objects Tab

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August 25th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer:  Infinio is a sponsor of virtxpert.com – I was not asked to write this article, I am simply sharing the news about the new features from a great product**

While at VMworld I learned that Infinio has announced a new version of Infinio Accelerator which now supports block storage protocols (iSCSI, FC, and FCoE) as well as NAS (NFS).  Infinio came out of beta last year at VMworld with their RAM based read cache solution for NAS storage.  Now companies who need to accelerate traditional block are also able to do so with the easy to install Infinio Accelerator.

how-infinio-works

From the press release:

In addition to support for the NFS storage protocol, v2.0 will also include full support for Fibre Channel, iSCSI, FCoE, and environments with multiple protocols. No matter which storage protocol customers choose, the Infinio user experience remains the same, including wizard-driven installation, zero operational impact, and instant access to advanced reporting.

In addition to block storage support, Infinio also announced application level reporting and a sizing adviser to help you determine how much memory to allocate to cache.  You can sign up to be notified when the beta of version two will be available at here: http://www.infinio.com/infinio-accelerator-20.  If you are at VMworld this week, swing by booth 623 for a demo.

Infinio-VMworld14-booth-623-map

Infinio Accelerator v2 announced at #VMworld – Now with iSCSI and FC support

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