On Friday before Christmas we ordered VNXe 3100 with 21 600GB SAS drives and it was delivered in less than two weeks. Exactly two weeks after the order was placed we had the first virtual machine running on it.
Last year I made a seven post series about my hands-on experience with VNXe 3300. This is my first VNXe 3100 that I’m working with and also my first VNXe unboxing. With the 3300s I relied on my colleagues to do all the physical installation because I was 5000 miles away from the datacenter. With this one I did everything by myself from unboxing to installing the first VM.
My previous posts are still valid so in this post I’ll try to concentrate on the differences between the 3300 and 3100. Will Huber has really good posts on unboxing and configuring the VNXe 3100. During the installation I also found a couple of problems from the latest OE (126.96.36.19908). I will describe one of the issues in this post and for the bigger thing I will do a separate post.
I will also do a follow up post about the performance differences between 3300 and 3100 when I get all the tests done. I’m also planning to do some tests with FusionIO IOturbine and I will post those results when I get the card and the tests done.
VNXe and the additional DAE came in two pretty heavy boxes. Which box to open first? Well the box that you need to open first tells you that:
So like a kid on Christmas day I opened the boxes and the first thing that I see is this big poster explaining the installation procedure. The rack rails are easy and quick to install. The arrays are quite heavy but managed to lift those on the rack also by myself.
After doing all the cabling it was time to power on the VNXe. Before doing this you need to decide how you are going to do the initial configuration (assigning IP). In my previous post I mentioned that there are two options for doing it using VNXe ConnectionUtility: auto discovery or manual configuration. With the manual configuration the VNXe ConnectionUtility basically creates a text file on the USB stick that will be inserted into the VNXe before the first boot. A faster way is to skip the download and installation of the 57mb package and create the file manually on a USB stick. So get a USB stick, create IW_CONF.txt file on the USB stick and add the following content to it replacing the [abcd] variables with your own:
After that just insert the USB into the VNXe and power it on. The whole process of unboxing, cabling and powering on took me about one and a half hours.
While the VNXe was starting up I downloaded the latest Operating Environment (188.8.131.5208) so that I was ready to run the upgrade after the system was up and running. After the first login ‘Unisphere Configuration Wizard’ will show up and you need to go through several steps. I skipped some of those (creating iscsi server, creating storage pool, licensing) and started the upgrade process (see my previous post).
After the upgrade was done I logged back in and saw the prompt about the license. I clicked the “obtain license” button and a new browser window opened and following the instructions I got the license file. I’ve heard complaints about IE and the licensing page not working. The issue might be browser popup blocker. It is also stated on the license page that the popup blocker should be disabled.
After this quick LACP trunk configuration on the switch and ESXi side iSCSI configurations I was ready to provision some storage and do some testing.
Issues that I found out
During the testing I found an issue with the MTU settings when using iSCSI. A problem that will cause datastores to be disconnected from ESXi. Even reverting back to the original MTU settings the datastores can’t be connected to ESXi and new datastores can’t be created. I will describe this in a separate post.
The other issue that I found was more cosmetic. When having two iSCSI servers on the same SP and provisioning the first VMware storage on the second iSCSI server Unisphere will give the following error:
For some reason VNXe can’t initiate the VMFS datastore creation process on ESXi. But LUN is still visible on ESXi and VMFS datastore can be manually created. So it’s not a big issue but still annoying.
There seems to be small improvements to the latest operation environment (184.108.40.20608). Provisioning storage to ESX server feels a bit faster and also VMFS datastore is also created every time if having only one iSCSI server on SP. In the previous OE the VMFS datastore was created about 50% of the time when storage was provisioned to ESXi.
In the previous posts I have mentioned how easy and simple VNXe is to configure and the 3100 is no different from the 3300 from that point of view. Overall VNXe 3100 seems to be a really good product considering the fairly low price of it. A quick look at the performance tests shows quite similar results to the ones that I got from the 3300. I will do a separate post about the performance comparison of these two VNXes.
Although it is good to keep in mind the difference between marketing material and the reality. VNXe 3300 is advertised to have 12GB memory per SP but in reality it has only 256MB read cache and 1GB write cache. 3100 is advertised to have 8GB memory but it has only 128MB read cache and 768MB write cache.