Thursday, November 5, 2009

NetApp Insight: - NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC)

Now that my certification tests are out of the way, (I'm now NCDA and NCIE-SAN!!) this is my first article of the sessions from NetApp Insight.  As predicted, I'm behind on my sessions but I have a lot of notes and I hope to post 1-2 sessions a day until I'm caught up.

Jeremy LeBlanc presented the session and the content was awesome.  If you aren't familiar with the VSC, it is a plugin to VMware vCenter to allow insight (get it??) into the NetApp storage from VMware.  The plugin requires vCenter 4.0 but it will report on vSphere with full functionality and ESX 3.5 with some limitations.

Think of the VSC as a replacement for the Host Utilities Kit (HUK) for VMware.  The plugin allows you to see and correct many common issues with timeouts and best practice settings for both ESX4 and ESXi4Note the ESXi4 support because the HUK isn't available on ESXi due to the lack of a service console.

Here are some other features of the VSC:
  • The plugin provides optional SSL authentication to NetApp storage
  • The SAN datastores and NFS datastores are broken into separate views to prevent confusion
  • VSC will report on many volume and LUN options (volume guarantee, space reservation, volume options, no_atime_update, create_ucode, etc)
  • It will check NFS datastores for read/write and root access
  • VSC has dedupe reporting at the volume and LUN level
  • It provides the ability to check and correct adapter settings, MPIO settings, and NFS settings
  • This plugin will also collect NetApp, ESX, and switch configuration information and bundle all diagnostic information into a zip file to send to support!
  • It provides the ability to push vmdk alignment tools to ESX (see my notes in the next section)
  • VSC allows the user to mount an ISO to Windows and Linux virtual machines to set timeout settings in the guest virtual machines
Here are some "features" of the VSC:
  • The screen is not automatically refreshed, you must manually refresh the view by pressing the button in the upper right corner
  • The alignment tools can only be pushed to ESX servers, no ESXi suport due to no console on ESXi
  • The VSC will NOT report on virtual machine alignment and will not perform alignments.  This was a feature that was considered at one time (and will probably be in a future version), but it the VSC will only push the tools to the server "automagically" right now.  The tools must still be run from the ESX service console.  For more information on how to do that, please see my article on alignment.
  • VSC doesn't have any "logic" around dedupe.  I offered this as a suggestion.  If dedupe is set on a LUN but space reservation is still turned on, there should be an alert for proper dedupe configuration.  The same thing should happen at the volume level.  All the information is in the interface,  I would like to see some help for customers in this area
  • The volume free space doesn't differentiate between snapshot data and active file system data
I'm very impressed with the product and I will be loading it on our test lab shortly.  At that time I hope to include some screen shots and some more in-depth information.

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