Hands-on with VNXe 3300 Part 1: Initial setup


Couple of months ago I had a chance to play around with VNXe 3300 loaded with 30x300GB SAS drives before it was put on production. I was curious to see how the VNXe 3300 would pefrorm compared to CX4-240. I had already made some peformance testing on the CX4-240 so I had half of the data already collected. Before I could start testing I had to do the initial setup and configuration. During the configuration I encountered some issues.

I will be posting the whole experience in seven parts [edited 9/23/2011]:

  1. Initial setup and configuration
  2. iSCSI and NFS servers
  3. Upgrade to latest software version: new features and fixed “known issues”
  4. Storage pools
  5. Storage provisioning
  6. VNXe performance
  7. Wrap up

Initial setup

EMC has a really good video on YouTube about the initial setup and configuration. I also recommend reading the VNXe 3300 installation guide. I’m not going to go through the installation steps but basically there are two ways to set up the VNXe: auto discovery or manual configuration. I wasn’t physically at the same site where the VNXe was and couldn’t get the auto discovery working remotely. So I used the manual configuration method and one of my colleagues inserted the USB-drive containing the configuration to the VNXe and powered it on. After VNXe had completed the network configurations I was able to connect to Unisphere using web browser.

After the first login ‘Unisphere Configuration Wizard’ will show up and help to go through the configuration steps:

  • License Agreement
  • Unisphere Passwords
  • DNS
  • Time Server
  • Disk Configuration
  • EMC Product Support Option
  • EMC Support Credentials
  • Storage Server Options
  • Shared Folder Server
  • iSCSI Server
  • Unisphere Licenses

It takes about 10 minutes to complete the initial setup if all necessary dns and time server names and ip addresses are ready before starting it and then VNXe is basically ready to be used. The only things left to do is to connect the hosts and provision some storage for them. I wanted to play around with the configuration so I skipped the disk configurations and storage server options. When you exit the configuration wizard a “Unisphere Licenses” prompt will appear. There are two options to obtain the licenses: from file or from Powerlink. I chose the Powerlink option and this is when I encountered the first problem:

So I wasn’t able to obtain the license file from Powerlink. I didn’t think it was a big deal, maybe a configuration mishap during the setup so I used EMC’s Support portal (http://supportbeta.emc.com/) to get the license file and uploaded it to the VNXe. Now I was ready to start playing around with the VNXe.

Unisphere

After been using Navisphere for several years Unisphere is a huge improvement for the UI. I was already familiar with Unisphere after using it on CLARiiON CX4 and Celerra NX3e.

Unisphere dashboard view gives an overall view of used and free space and also system alerts. Unisphere is really easy to navigate, simple to use and  fast (even when using through a slower link). EMC has posted really good videos on Youtube about Unisphere so I’m not going to go into details of that.

EMC Online Support

This is one of the big new features that EMC introduced with the VNXe. From Unisphere the user is able to watch how to videos, access online training and community, open support requests, start live chat with technical support, download software updates and more. Of course I wanted to try out these nice new features. When I tried to click anything on the support page I got the same “Unable to connect to EMC Online Support” error that I got when trying to obtain the licenses. So maybe there was some kind of mishap during the initial setup. I checked the EMC Support Credentials and those were ok. I also checked the network configuration on the VNXe and was able to connect to internet from the pc that I was using the Unishpere from. Everything seemed to be ok but I still got the same error. I decided to open a chat session with technical support from EMC Support portal (http://supportbeta.emc.com/). I explained my issue to the technician and got an answer to my question. He told me that it’s a known issue reported by most customers and that they are looking into it and expecting to fix the issue in the future release.

Ok so I can’t use the support functions on VNXe for now. Not a big show stopper. I can still open my browser and access all the documentation, support contracts, documents and software upgrades via EMC Support portal (http://supportbeta.emc.com/).

Software Update

Browsing the EMC support portal I found out that there was a new software update (2.0.3 at the time) available for the VNXe. So I downloaded it to my local pc, uploaded it to the VNXe (Settings – More configurations – Update Software), performed a health check and installed the new software update. Again, very easy and the whole process took about an hour.

Conclusions

In this post I only covered the steps to get the VNXe up and running. At this point the VNXe3300 would get an excellent grade judging by the steps that I’ve gone through so far. I can’t disagree with EMC using “simple” as one of the adjectives to describe the VNXe. I would also add the adjective easy to that list. VNXe is easy and fast to implement, simple to navigate and also very easy to get familiar with.

Even though the built in VNXe support functions didn’t work it’s not like it’s missing some major functionality. All the same support functions can be found from supportbeta.emc.com site. Also the experience that I had using the online chat was very pleasant. The technician knew the product and promptly responded with an answer. I was really hoping that the issue would be fixed in the next software version. Well now I know it was and I will cover that in part four.

In the next post (part 2) I will go through the iSCSI and NFS server configurations and how to connect hosts to VNXe.

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6 responses to “Hands-on with VNXe 3300 Part 1: Initial setup

  • Blaine Homer

    Sorry I have to disagree… my experience has been a bit more frustrating. Purchased a VNXe 3100 and when it arrived I promptly took it out of the box and went through the ridiculously sized quick start guide (as if making it bigger makes it easier, or is going to make any of us read it closer). Maybe that is what we are paying for, poster sized printing.

    Anyway, up and running in about 10 minutes or less, until I logged into Unisphere. Then it said i needed a license file, attempted everything. Bottom line my product ID number\serial number could not be found in there “system”.

    This is ridiculous, can’t believe customers allow a company to send out a product and not have it work… at all…until it evidently does something on its end. Give me a hey if you don’t do this in 60 days…30 days….whatever. But don’t waste my time with your incompetence.

    Also, your experience with chat was certainly different than mine. Everything said, use the chat, don’t waste time waiting for help on the phone…well there chat simply popped up a broken html window. Figured it was my browser (IE9), so I tried Chrome, FireFox, and even Maxithon with the same outcome, so I waited on hold for 45 minutes to get someone that basically said have you tried to use the chat…nice.

    12 hours later still waiting to get an email response.

    Just purchased a new car, and they gave me the keys so I could drive it away…imagine that.

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    […] If your curiosity is still not quashed at this point, I highly recommend reading up on Chad Sakac’s thoughts on the VNXe system, which includes demos and detailed specs, Christopher Kusek’s VNXe system breakdown, which will link further to Chuck Hollis’ history lesson, and Jase McCathy’s shoot of VNXe body shots. If you want to know what it feels like to own one, Henri has done a phenomenal job at mapping his experiences here. […]

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  • dscriven (@dscriven)

    I Had this issue as well, from what I can gather from the support chappy at EMC its when the company registered against the device as the purchaser is not the same as the company registering the vnxe licence. In our case we purchased 2 3100’s through a 3rd party company so their name was on EMC’s PO and ours was on the licence registration (which apparently EMC auto registrations services do not like)

  • superkikim

    Excellent article, thank you. Just left Dell after 16 years (oh god…) and joined a small company starting a partnership with EMC. Well, I’m back on EMC again… yooohhooo..
    I have now a VNXe 3300 eval unit in my hands, and your article will be perfect for me to start.

    Regarding the license issue, guys, I understand this might be really frustrating, but does it make the VNXe a bad product ? I guess there’s (a lot of) room for improvement, I can agree with that, but such aggressiveness seems a bit exagerated to me. VNX and VNXe, products and processes are quite new… Give them some time to adjust. EMC is in this kind of small market. Previously, Dell was doing all the job with small businesses.

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