EMC released a new Operation Environment (MR2 – 188.8.131.5242) 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.
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.
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.