Category Archives: VNXe

EMC World 2012: Wrap-up


Week after the EMC World and my brain is still digesting all the information from the conference. I started going through my notes from last week and thought how I can squeeze everything in one post. So I decided to do separate posts about Hands-On Labs and Social Networking. In this post I will go through some of the new product announcements and also other interesting things that I witnessed last during the EMC World.

A couple of interesting facts that Joe Tucci mentioned on his keynote:

  • E and M on EMC comes from the founders names: Richard Egan and Roger Marino.
  • The first “EMC World” was held in 2001 and was called “EMC wizards” having about 1300 customers attending.

Announcements

Pat Gelsingers keynote was all about new product announcements and demos. Chad Sakacc did a great job with the demos and also managed to scare everyone with a big explosion on his second demo. There were actually 42 new products and technologies announced and one of those was very interesting: VNXe 3150. I already did a quick post about VNXe 3150 highlights during the EMC World.

Another really interesting announcement was the VNX software upgrade that goes by the name “Inyo” at this point and will be available in the second half of 2012. This brings several new enhancements and features to VNX. Two of those that I’ve been waiting since the FAST pools were initially introduced: mixed pools and automatic pool rebalancing. Also a very welcomed addition is the Storage Analytics package. Chad Sakacc and Sean Thulin have written great posts covering the “Inyo” and its new features.

Session highlights

One interesting session that I attended was titled as “VNX & VNXe: Unisphere future visions and directions”. The main topic was the future single Unisphere for VNX and VNXe combining simplicity and flexibility. This will bring the VNXe simplicity and application-centric storage management to VNXe but will not take away the flexibility of VNX and the ability to manually create datastores and LUNs. There will also be some improvements to serviceability: simplifying self-service and problem notifications. Downloading updates and scheduling those using Unisphere is one of the major improvements that were mentioned about the serviceability.

In the future both VNX and VNXe can be managed using Unisphere remote. There will also be performance monitoring, history and analytics available in the future Unisphere remote. Last but not least a mobile app (monitoring first) and a unified cli are also on the way.

Chad’s World

Once again Chad and Wade filled the room with their entertaining “Chad’s World Live II – The Comeback Tour” show. And of course they had something face melting to announce: Project Razor

If you wonder who the gorilla is hugging Chad, check out the Cloud Freaky 2012 video:


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.


EMC World is right around the corner


Yes, it’s less than a week to the EMC World kick off. Last year I attended the EMC World for the first time and it reminded me a lot of VMworld, of course the focus was a bit different. Lots of great breakout sessions and hands-on labs. I met many great people there and we still keep in contact on a regular basis. I also met some new vendors with whom I have been working with after the event and even met some old colleagues. I had a great experience attending last year.

This year I will be doing something different than just attending breakout sessions, hands-on labs and hanging in the bloggers lounge. You may have read my post on me and Matt doing the VNXe Ask the Expert event on EMC Community Network (ECN). That event was quite a success and lead to an invitation to the EMC World. So I’m one of the “Ask the Experts” attending EMC World and will be at the EMC online support booth on Mon-Wed during lunch time (2-2.30pm) to talk about VNXe and ECN. Other experts (Ian AndersonMatthew Brender, Mark Browne, Luigi Danakos and Sean Thulin) are also attending and will be at the booth available for a chat. So come by the booth or stop us on the expo floor to say hi and talk about virtualization, storage and the community. All of us will also be attending the Buzz Talk – Join the EMC Support Forums Legends session on Wednesday at 10.30-11am. There will also be other ECN/Ask The Experts gatherings and those will be promoted on Twitter/ECN when the exact times have been confirmed. I’ve also heard that there could be some “ECN reporters” walking around the expo with notepads interviewing people and posting some cool things on ECN.

“An update from Mark on what’s happening for Ask the Expert @ EMC World”:

Then, of course, there is the fun part: the opening reception, grand opening reception, #CXIparty, Support Community Mixer, #vBeers/#StorageBeers/#vStogies (on Tue I think), customer appreciation event and a concert by Maroon 5. These are great opportunities to continue the tech talk and do some networking in a bit more relaxed environment.

I’m really looking forward to hearing some product announcements, the keynotes, breakout sessions, hands-on labs, chats with vendors and other customers, parties and of course seeing old friends and meeting new people as well. I’ll see you there and if you are not attending make sure to check ECN and blogs for updates from EMC World: Bloggers Lounge – EMC World 2012.


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.


VNXe 3100 performance


Earlier this year I installed a VNXe 3100 and have now done some testing with it. I have already covered the VNXe 3300 performance in a couple of my previous posts: Hands-on with VNXe 3300 Part 6: Performance and VNXe 3300 performance follow up (EFDs and RR settings). The 3100 has fewer disks than the 3300, also less memory and only two I/O ports. So I wanted to see how the 3100 would perform compared to the 3300. I ran the same Iometer tests that I ran on the 3300. In this post I will compare those results to the ones that I introduced in the previous posts. The environment is a bit different so I will quickly describe that before presenting the results.

Test environment

  • EMC VNXe 3100 (21 600GB SAS Drives)
  • Dell PE 2900 server
  • HP ProCurve 2510G
  • Two 1Gb iSCSI NICs
  • ESXi 4.1U1 / ESXi 5.0
  • Virtual Win 2008 R2 (1vCPU and 4GB memory)

Test results

I ran the tests on both ESXi 4.1 and ESXi 5.0 but the iSCSI results were very similar so I used the average of both. NFS results had some differences so I will present the results for both 4 and 5 separately. I also did the tests with and without LAG and also when changing the default RR settings. VNXe was configured with one 20 disk pool with 100GB datastore provisioned to ESXi servers. The tests were run on 20GB virtual disk on the 100GB datastore.

[update] My main focus in these tests has been on iSCSI because that is what we are planning to use. I only ran quick tests with the generic NFS and not with the one that is configured under Storage – VMware. After Paul’s comment I ran a couple of test on the “VMware NFS” and I then added “ESXi 4 VMware NFS” to the test results:

Conclusions

With default settings the performance of the 3300 and the 3100 is fairly similar. The 3300 gives better throughput when the default IO operation limit is set from the default 1000 to 1. The differences on the physical configurations might also have an effect on this. With random workload the performance is similar even when the default settings are changed. Of course the real difference would be seen when both would be under heavy load. During the tests there was only the test server running on the VNXes.

On the NFS I didn’t have comparable results from the 3300. I ran different tests on the 3300 and those results weren’t good either. The odd thing is that ESXi 4 and ESXi 5 gave quite different results when running the tests on NFS.

Looking these and the previous results I would still be sticking with iSCSI on VNXe. What comes to the performance of the 3100 it is surprisingly close to its bigger sibling 3300.

[update] Looking at the new test results NFS is performing as well as iSCSI. With the modified RR settings iSCSI gets better max throughput but then again with random workloads NFS seems to perform better. So the type of NFS storage provisioned to the ESX hosts makes a difference. Now comes the question NFS or iSCSI? Performance vice either one is a good choice. But which one suits your environment better?

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.


Ask The Expert wrap up


It has now been almost two weeks since the EMC Ask the Expert: VNXe front-end Networks with VMware event ended. We had a couple of meetings before hand where we discussed and planned the event, but we really didn’t know what to expect from it. Matt and I were committed to answer the questions during the two weeks so it was a bit different than a normal community thread. Now looking at the amount of views the discussion got we know that it was a success. During the two weeks of time that the event was active we had more than 2300 views on the page. We had several people asking questions and opinions from us. As a summary Matt and I wrote a document that covers the main concerns discussed during the event. In this document we look into the VNXe HA configurations, link aggregation and also do a quick overview of the ESX side configurations:

Ask the Expert Wrap ups – for the community, by the community

I was really excited when I was asked to participate a great event like this. Thank you Mark, Matt and Sean, it was great working with you guys!


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