Hands-on with VNXe 3300 Part 7: Wrap up


When I started writing this series my first plan was to just make four quick posts about my experience with EMC VNXe 3300. After I started going further into detail on the configuration I realized that I couldn’t get everything that I wanted to express to fit in four posts. So I ended up adding three more posts to the series. Still, with this series I’m just touching the surface of VNXe 3300. There are so many functionalities that I didn’t go through or didn’t even mention. That was also my intention with this series. I wanted to write about my experience and look in to those features that I would implement.

  1. Initial setup and configuration
  2. iSCSI and NFS servers
  3. Software update
  4. Storage pools
  5. Storage provisioning
  6. VNXe performance
  7. Wrap up

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Simple, Efficient, Affordable

Those are the words that EMC uses for marketing VNXe and I can mostly agree that those are accurate adjectives for VNXe. In the first part I also wanted to add the adjective “easy” among those words. A user can do the initial setup and VNXe can be operational in less than an hour depending on the software version. Unisphere UI layout is also very user friendly and illustrative. Configuration and updating SW are easy and simple.

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Customers buying VNXe just based on the marketing material might face a big surprise when looking in to the actual memory configuration. Yes, VNXe has 12GB memory per SP, but only 256MB is dedicated for read cache and 1GB dedicated for write cache.

Configuration considerations

Even though it is easy and simple to get VNXe up and running and to start provisioning storage this doesn’t mean that the planning phase can be ignored. User can easily be in a really bad situation and the only way out is to delete all datastores to do the proper reconfigurations. Creating only one iSCSI server and putting all datastores on that one server creates a situation where all the I/O goes through one SP and the other SP is idle. Depending on the ESX iSCSI settings only one network port on VNXe could be utilized even if a four port trunk was configured. Fixing this problem is not as easy as creating it. VNXe doesn’t allow changing the datastore iSCSI server after the datastore is created. To assign a different iSCSI server for a datastore it has to be deleted and recreated. This is, again, one issue that I’m hoping will be fixed.

When using four 1GB ports my suggestion would be to configure NIC aggregation on VNXe as I described in part 2. For the ESX configuration I would suggest reading the detailed comment Ken posted in part 6 about the ESX iSCSI configurations. What comes to the VNXe iSCSI and datastore configurations I ended up creating equal number of datastores for each SP and also dedicating one iSCSI server per datastore to get the most out of the four port trunk.

Issues

The issues that I faced during the configuration were mostly minor usability flaws and some of those were already fixed in the latest software version. The biggest issue that I found was that the VNXe had to be powered off before a software update if it had been running for more than 42 days. I’ve discussed these issues with EMC and hopefully they will be fixed in the future releases.

Conclusions

Despite all the criticism I think that VNXe 3300 is a great product and it will be even better when the few small flaws are fixed. I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of new features will be introduced in the future software releases. Chad Sakac gave a hint on his blog post about FAST VP support coming in to VNXe at some point. He also mentioned that VAAI (file) and SRM support will be coming out still this year.

I can see some new VNXe 3300 related blog posts in my near future but I think it is time to close this series and keep the new posts separate. If you have any questions about my experience with VNXe or other general questions about it please leave a comment.

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