Tag Archives: VNXe

Hands-on with VNXe 3200: Initial setup


Here I go again. About two years ago I started writing a series of blog posts about my hands-on experience with newly released VNXe 3300. At that time the VNXe 3300 was just released and there wasn’t that much documentation out there. So I did lots of testing and had to make my own “best practices”. The previous blog series is one of the reasons why I now have a chance to test and write about the VNXe 3200.

On June 10 Chad published this blog post: “Summer Gift Part 2 – 10 VNXe arrays free to play with for volunteers!”. I was surprised to find myself mentioned on the post and even more surprised to find out that one of the devices was reserved for me. So while I was on vacation last week the test unit arrived:

  • VNXe 3200 – 2U Form Factor/12 Drive DPE
    • 3.5” Drives
    • 6 x 600GB 15K Pack
    • 3 X 100GB eMLC Flash Drives (for FAST auto-tiering)
    • 2 X 100GB eMLC Flash Drives (for FAST Cache)
    • 9TB Raw Capacity

VNXe 3200 is basically a combination of the new VNX MCx multicore technology and the old VNXe OE/Unisphere. I won’t go through all the new features but there are a few worth mentioning:

  • Multi-core RAID (MCR), Multi-core Cache (MCC), Multi-core Flash (MCF)
  • “Active/Active” file
  • Single container for block and file
  • Linux-based platform

More details about the new features on EMC VNXe Series website.

Unboxing

Well not much to write about this: Install rack rails, lay DPE on those, connect cables and the VNXe was ready for configuration. However, this was something I hadn’t seen before with the previous VNXe:

power

Quick look in the installation documentation and it revealed to be a power adapter for the front LED-lights: image

Initial setup 

There have been several new versions of the VNXe OE since my first VNXe blog post but the “Unisphere Configuration Wizard” still looks similar. Going through the wizard takes about 10 minutes but I skipped most of the configurations as usual. I prefer to upgrade the VNXe to the latest software version before I do any configurations to new devices. After the configuration wizard is completed you will get a popup and you will be directed to the EMC support website where the latest version can be downloaded.

softwareupgrade

Conclusions

Even though there is totally new hardware running under the hood Unisphere still looks and feels the same as on the latest software vesion on VNXe 3100/3150/3300. I still agree that VNXe is simple to install and configure. Of course I haven’t configured any storage pools or iscsi servers yet. I’ll cover those on the next posts. Also performance and some of the new features will be reviewed later.

Software version 2.0.3:

unisphere

 

Software version 2.4.2:

242_1

Software version 3.0.1:

301_1

 

 

 


VNXe OE 2.4 and 2.5″ form factor disks


Once again I had a chance to play around with some shiny new hardware. And once again the hardware was VNXe 3300 but this time it was something that I hadn’t seen before: 2.5” form factor with 46 600GB 10k disks. If you have read about the new RAID configurations in OE  2.4.0 you might figure out what kind of configuration I have in my mind with this HW.

In this post I will go through some of the new features introduced in VNXe OE 2.4.0, do some configuration comparisons between 3.5” and 2.5” form factors and also between VNXe and VNX. Of course I had to do some performance testing as well with the new RAID configurations so I will introduce the results later in this post.

VNXe OE 2.4.0.20932 release notes

Customizable Dashboard

Along with the new OE came the ability to customize UI dashboard. The look of the Unisphere UI on new or upgraded VNXe is now similar to Unisphere Remote. You can customize the dashboard and also create new tabs and add desired view blocks to the tabs.

VNXe dashboard

vnxe_dashboard1

Jobs

Some of the operations are now added as background jobs and you don’t have to wait that the operation is finished. Steps of the operations are also more detailed when viewed from the jobs page. Number of active jobs is also shown next to the alerts on the status bar dependent on what page are you on.

jobs

New RAID configurations

Now this is one of the enhancements that I’ve been waiting for because VNXe can only utilize four RAID groups in a pool. So with the previous OE this would mean that datastore in 6+1 RAID 5 pool could only utilize 28 disks. Now with the 10+1 RAID 5 pool structure datastores can utilize as many as 44 disks. This also means increased max iops per datastore. 3.5” form factor 15k disk RAID 5 pool max iops is increased from ~4900 to ~7700 and with 2.5” form factor 10k disk RAID 5 pool max iops is increased from ~3500 to ~5500. Iops is not the only thing to be looked at. Size of the pool matters too and not to forget the rack space that the VNXe will use. While I was sizing the last VNXe that we ordered I made this comparison chart to compare the pool size, iops and rack space with different disk form factors in VNX and VNXe.

comparison

Interesting setup with the VNXe 3150 and 2.5” form factor disks is the 21TB and 5500 iops packed in 4U rack space. VNXe 3300 with same specs would take 5U space and VNX5300 would take 6U space. Of course the SP performance is a bit different between these arrays but so is the price.

Performance

I’ve already posted some performance test results from VNX 3100 and 3300 so I added those results to the charts for comparison. I’ve also ran some tests on VNX 5300 that I haven’t posted yet and also added those results on the charts.

avgmbps1

avgmbps2

avgiops1

avgiops2

avglatency1

avglatency2

There is a significant difference in the max throughput between 1G and 10G modules on VNXe. Then again the real life test results are quite similar.

Disclaimer

These results reflect the performance of the environment that the tests were ran in. Results may vary depending on the hardware and how the environment is configured.


Hidden VNXe performance statistics revised


In my previous post covering the VNXe hidden statistics I explained where to find the “hidden” statistics files and how to extract the data into usable format. Now it seems that EMC has changed the statistics gathering interval from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. I started playing around with the new data and created a spreadsheet template that generates graphs for IOps and MB/s for the past 2 months, 1 month, 2 weeks, 1 week and 24 hours. In this post I will share the template and also explain how to use it.

Exporting data from SQLite database and importing it into the spreadsheet

The first two steps are explained in more detail in my previous post

  • Get stats_basic_summary.db and old.stats_basic_summary.db files from VNXe
  • Export data from those files to stats_basic_summary.txt and old.stats_basic_summary.txt files.
  • Download the spreadsheet template from here. (I have tested it with OpenOffice and Microsoft Excel and it works better with Excel. I was planning to use Google Docs but there is just too much data on the spreadsheet so it didn’t work.)
  • Import stats_basic_summary.txt content into the spreadsheets stats_basic_summary.db sheet starting from A1 and using Delimited data type and tab + comma delimiters

  • Import old.stats_basic_summary.txt content into the spreadsheets old.stats_basic_summary.db sheet starting from A1 and using Delimited data type and tab + comma delimiters

If you now go to the “2 months” sheet the graphs might look like this:

Removing zeros from the statistics

Sometimes VNXe seems to fail updating the statistics to the database and only zeros are added. When using the data without taking the zeros out it will produce graphs as shown above. Rows 43-2772 on the imported sheets are used for the statistics and it is important to find all zero rows to get the graphs working properly.

Data from the previous row should be copied to replace the zeros from column D onward. All the statistics values seem to be running numbers and for the graphs the latter value is deducted from the previous value. So replacing the zeros with the value from previous row will make the particular timestamp to be zero on the graph.

After all the zeros are replaced in most cases the statistics and graphs will show the correct values.

Performance counters reset during the data gathering

If the statistics and graphs are still not showing the correct values after removing the zeros from the data the issue might be that the performance counters were reset during the data gathering period. When this happens there might be a row of zeros before the reset.

To fix this the zero row should be replaced as described above and the row below the zeros should be deleted.

Disclaimer

This method for gathering and presenting the statistics is not approved or confirmed by EMC. This is something I have found and it seems to work in the environments I work with. So the statistics might not be accurate.


EMC World 2012: Hands-On Labs


Hands-On Labs (HOL) are always on my priority list when attending conferences or local EMC/VMware forums. Recorded breakout sessions can be viewed after the conference but HOLs are not available afterwards, at least not yet. The HOL setup was similar to last VMworld HOLs: most of the HOLs were running on virtual appliances and accessed using zero/thin clients.

VNXe Labs

There were two VNXe Hands-on labs available:

VNXe Unisphere Administrator

Remote Monitoring of Multiple VNXe Systems

I did the first HOL where the objectives were to create CIFS server/share and also generic iSCSI server/datastore and then connect those to Windows VM. For someone who has been working with CIFS and generic iSCSI servers this might already be a familiar topic. But for someone who has only been working with vSphere datastores on VNXe this was a good introduction to CIFS and the generic iSCSI side of the VNXe.

While I was at the lab I had a quick chat with Mike Gore from EMC who is responsible of the VNXe labs at the EMC World. I asked him why there weren’t any VNXe labs focusing on the vSphere side and he mentioned that those could be available in future events and that the current labs are more like an introduction to VNXe.

Unisphere Analyzer Evaluating FAST Cache and FAST-VP on VNX

I’ve been working with CLARiiONs the past 8 years so Navisphere, Unisphere and also Analyzer have become very familiar to me. I still wanted to do this HOL and see if there was something that could help me in the future when digging into analyzer statistics. It was a very good lab for refreshing memory and also to give some new hints what to look for in analyzer.

ProShpere Storage Resource Management

This was the most interesting HOL that I took. I’ve been looking into ProSphere after it was released but never had a chance to test it in our environment. Like I mentioned earlier I’ve been using Unisphere Analyzer to dig in to the CLARiiON performance statistics but it is really hard to see the overall performance using analyzer. So ProSphere gives a great overall view of the environment including host, storage path and storage performance. I’m definitely going to use this in the near future.

RecoverPoint

I’ve been using MirrorView also several years now and wanted to see what RecoverPoint would offer compared to MirrorView. And the answer is simple: a lot more. Of course when comparing these two it is good to first evaluate the data protection needs. RecoverPoint might be a bit overkill just to replicate one VMware datastore and would not be the most cost efficient way to do it. But it was a very useful lab and gave me a good overview of RecoverPoint and what it could be used for.

One can use several hours viewing demos and reading documents but in my opinion hands on experience is the best way to learn new things. So once again EMC succeeded delivering a good number of very well executed hands-on labs. Big thanks to the vSpeclialists and other crew members who made the HOLs possible. I hope I can attend more HOLs in the future events.

Check out also Chad’s post about the HOLs.


VNXe 3150 highlights


VNXe 3150 was announced at EMC World and here are some highlights:

  • 2U 25 drive arrays with 2.5″ drives
  • Max 100 drives
  • Supports flash and 3TB NL-SAS drives
  • 10GB I/O modules available
  • Quad core processor

VNXe 3150 is expected to ship 2nd half of 2012


VNXe document updates


Along with the operating environment version 2.2 upgrade there were several documents added or updated on the EMC Support page. The documents can be found from Support by product –  VNXe Series – Documentation. Here are links to some of the documents:

VNXe Unisphere CLI User Guide

Using a VNXe System with VMware

Using a VNXe System with Microsoft Exchange

Using a VNXe System with Generic iSCSI Storage

Using a VNXe System with Microsoft Windows Hyper-V

Using an EMC VNXe System with CIFS Shared Folders

Using an EMC VNXe System with NFS Shared Folders

VNXe Security Configuration Guide

Couple of previously published useful documents:

White Paper: EMC VNXe High Availability

VNXe Service Commands

Check out the EMC Support page for other updated documents.


VNXe MR2 and Unisphere Remote


EMC released a new Operation Environment (MR2 – 2.2.0.17142) for the VNXe on March 16. At the same time a new product called Unisphere Remote was released. I have already upgraded several VNXes to the latest OE and also installed the Unisphere Remote appliance and decided to do a quick review of both.

New features and fixed bugs

It’s about three months since I wrote about my hands on experience with the VNXe 3100. On that post I covered some findings that I did during the implementation. One big issue that I found was that in certain circumstances datastores would be disconnected when changing the VNXe MTU settings. I reported this to EMC and I was pleased reading the release notes of the MR2 and noticing that this issue had been fixed on it. So about two months after I reported the bug a new OE was released where the bug was fixed.

There are several other bugs fixed on the latest OE but there are also some very interesting new features:

  • Unisphere Remote to manage multiple VNXes from single management console
  • EMC Secure Remote Support (ESRS)
  • Enhanced iSCSI replication workflow
  • Extended VNXe Unisphere CLI functionality: Support for Hyper-V storage resources and CIFS without AD integration.
  • VNXe and VMware Management features: VAAI for NFS and more NFS features for vCenter.

Upgrading to the new OE

Upgrading the VNXe to the latest OE follows the same form that I have described in my earlier posts and the upgrade will take about an hour. During the upgrade I could see high latency on the datastores when the other SP was rebooted and the datastores moved to the other SP. Good to keep that in mind when planning the upgrade.

The first place after the upgrade where the new OE can be spotted is the login page. Unisphere version has changed from 1.6 to 1.7.

After logging in the first time after the upgrade post-upgrade configuration wizard will be shown and will help to configure the new features. I skipped the wizard and started exploring the UI.

The first new feature will be found from Settings > More configurations

Also relating to ESRS some new System Information fields have been added in Settings > Management Settings where detailed information about the device can be inserted to help EMC identify the device and contact the administrator.

Unisphere Remote

MR2 also changed the Settings > Management Settings page and a new Network tab has been added where Unisphere Remote Configuration can now be found. This is also one of the other new features on the latest MR2.

To start using Unisphere Remote a virtual appliance is also needed. That can be downloaded from EMC support site. After the virtual appliance deployment the Unisphere Remote is ready to be used.

It looks and feels just like a VNXe and it’s very easy to get around with. The only thing missing now are the VNXes. I already introduced the configuration for VNXe and the needed information for VNXe can be found under Settings on Unisphere Remote.

Adding IP address, Server Hash and Challenge Pharse on the VNXe are the only required configurations for the VNXe. Couple of minutes after adding these settings the VNXe will be visible on Unisphere Remote.

The Dashboard page is fully customizable by moving the current widgets or adding new widgets. Also new tabs can be added and customized by adding widgets on them.

By default only five devices are shown on the Dashboard but that can be changed from widget settings to 10 or 20 depending of the widget.

What is the benefit of Unisphere Remote then? It basically gives a quick overview of your VNXes showing the most/least utilized VNXe by CPU and also by capacity depending how the dashboard is configured. Unisphere Remote only gathers data that can be viewed from a single UI but the devices connected to it cannot be managed from the Remote. However, there are links to open an individual VNXe Unisphere from the Remote. So with a proper LDAP configuration VNXe management through Unisphere Remote will be seamless which is a huge benefit when managing tens or hundreds of VNXes.

Conclusions

After running the latest OE for a couple of days now on production I’m very happy with it, even before running as intensive tests as I have with the other versions. EMC seems to have put a lot of effort on this version. They have fixed some major issues and also added some great new features.

From the new features that I listed above I’ve mostly been concentrating on the Unisphere Remote and after using it only for a couple of days I can already see the benefit of it. Only by looking at the description of the ESRS I can also see the benefit of that as well.


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