Golden Nuggets: #2 NetApp VSC – Provisioning

Wizard_LegoI previously wrote a post or two related to NetApp’s Virtual Storage Console for VMware vCenter, including its uses and how to install it. In this post I would like to highlight its importance in a NetApp/VMware or FlexPod environment.

NetApp’s VSC is a very handy tool that will allow you to achieve many tasks in an automated fashion rather than doing them manually; therefore, it will save you time and eliminate the possibility of human error. During the configuration and provisioning process, the human error factor can result in a lot of frustration for the admin/engineer, as troubleshooting often ends with the finding of a simple step that was missed. VSC is not a new tool, but there is a new version (6.0) that introduces new features and fixes. VVols requires VSC 6.0 , by the way.

One of the coolest features of VSC (IMHO), is the provisioning of storage from the VMware Web client. If we were to create an NFS datastore for VMware, the manual process will include the creation of a volume, granting the correct permissions for the export, and then mounting the datastore to each host. This takes quite a bit of time and requires having to jump between UIs.

VSC allows you to do all the aforementioned steps from the VMware client (Web or C#) from one easy to use provisioning wizard. You can provision datastores, volumes, exports, and permissions by simply right-clicking the cluster or an individual host. If  you do this from the cluster level, VSC will create the volume and exports which is cool, but the coolest part is that it will also add the hosts’ IP addresses with the necessary permissions to the export, and it creates and mounts the datastores on all hosts within the cluster, NFS in this case. That alone is a good reason to have VSC, albeit there are many other tasks that VSC is capable of.

One of the frequently asked questions I see on both the VMware and NetApp communities, relates to errors and failure to mount an NFS datastore in vCenter. Often times it relates to the permissions within the exports, so VSC will do all this for you and prevent such issues.

Note: Please refer to NetApp’s Interoperability Matrix Tool (IMT) to determine which version you need. Specific versions are needed for VMware’s Web client and the same goes for the vSphere Client.

VSC_Cluster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VSC options for Cluster

 

VSC_Host

 

 

 

 

VSC options for Host

 

 

Get your NetApp – VVols while they are HOT

pistonToday, the long awaited NetApp VASA Provider (VP) and the new shiny VSC console have been released to general availability.

So what does VASA and VSC have to do with VVols? Everything. In previous posts I talked about both NetApp’s VSC and VASA provider for VMware here. These offerings along with VAAI provide a tight integration between VMware and NetApp. Given the transition from VMware’s C# Client (fat) to Web Client, it resulted in the need of updated versions, and this is how VSC 6.0 and VASA Provider 6.0 were born.

Now to VVols. In order to be able to deploy VVols with NetApp there are a few requirements.

  • vSphere 6.0 (or later)
  • NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.1 or later (thanks Nick for the clarification)
  • VSC 6.0
  • NetApp VASA Provider 6.0

You can see now why this announcement is such a big deal, both VSC and VP make up the engine that powers up the VVols machine. Both vSphere and cDOT 8.2.1 have been out for a while, but those that wanted to test drive VVols with GA code could not do that until today except by using beta code.

VSC brings and additional enhancement with its new version and that is the addition of PowerShell cmdlets for most VSC features. These cmdlets along with PowerCLI and NetApp’s PowerShell Tool Kit can provide tighter integration and automation between NetApp and VMware.

 

You can download VSC and VP from the links below:

VSC_6.0_Download

NetApp_cDOT_VASA_Provider_6.0

NetApp VSC, VASA, VAAI for VMware vSphere: Why do I need this?

In most software meetings, round tables, and customer reviews and councils I have been part of, the feedback has been about a common topic the majority of the time. Customers want to have a single location/interface to manage multiple products. Fortunately, some aspects of NetApp storage can be managed through VMware’s WEB UI by leveraging Virtual Storage Console (VSC), VASA provider, and VAAI for VMware.

VSC is a vCenter plug-in that delivers VM management for environments running NetApp storage. VSC allows for storage configuration and monitoring, datastore provisioning and VM cloning, online VM optimization as well as backup and recovery of VMs and datastores. VSC is a very useful and convenient tool that will give you a glance of your storage status and also allow you to optimize your VMs that have not been properly aligned by migrating them to another storage target and aligning the VMDKs properly.

VSC_Main

 VSC Main Page

 

VSC_Align

VMDK alignment using VSC

 

The VASA provider for NetApp ONTAP is a virtual appliance that supports VMware’s VASA (vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness). It leverages VSC as the console and provides information to the vCenter about NetApp Storage that has been associated with VSC. VASA allows for the management of storage profiles defined as Service Level Objectives (SLO) as well as alarms to monitor the NetApp environment when aggregates and volumes are nearing their storage capacity.

The last piece of the puzzle is VAAI. VMware VAAI (vSphere Storage APIs – Array Integration) allows for hardware acceleration and offload certain operations that originally occurs at the host level, to the storage system. This reduces the overhead and consumption of resources on the ESXi host and improves performance. VAAI is great for speeding up I/O operations on the VMware side.

You could pick and choose which of these components to install as you see fit, but ideally you would want to deploy all three to take advantage of these enhancements and integration. The VSC software is installed on a server and associated with a specific vCenter. The NFS plug-in for VMware VAAI is installed on each VMware host and the VASA provider is deployed as a virtual appliance. It is important to point out that VSC  can also be utilized to set NetApp’s recommended values on ESXi hosts for better performance.

 

VSC_Logo

VSC_HostOptions

 VSC ESXi Host Options

 

VSC_VM_Options

VSC VM Options