Setting up iSCSI with VMware ESXi and the FlashArray

I’ve been with Pure Storage for about ten months (time flies!) and a noticeable trend I’ve seen in the past six or so months is in the number of customers who are deciding to use iSCSI as their storage protocol of choice. This is increasingly common in greenfield environments where they don’t want to invest in a Fibre Channel infrastructure. I’ve helped quite a few set this up in VMware environments so I thought I would put a post together on configuring ESXi software iSCSI with the Pure Storage FlashArray (I have yet to see a hardware iSCSI setup).

Before I begin, I highly recommend reading the following two documents from VMware:

http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/iSCSI_design_deploy.pdf

http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/vmware-multipathing-configuration-software-iSCSI-port-binding.pdf

They are not long and provide very good insight into the how/what/why of iSCSI on VMware. Some of the images are a bit old, but the underlying concepts have not changed. Continue reading

FlashArray XCOPY Data Reduction Reporting Enhancement

Recently the Purity Operating Environment 4.1.1 release  came out with quite a few enhancements. Many of these were for replication, certain new GUI features and the new vSphere Web Client Plugin is included. What I wanted to talk about here is a space reporting enhancement that was made concerning VAAI XCOPY (Full Copy). First some history…

First off a quick refresher on XCOPY. XCOPY is a VAAI feature that provides for offloading virtual disk copying/migration inside of one array. So operations like Storage vMotion, Cloning or Deploy from Template. Telling an array to move something from location A to location B is much faster than having ESXi issue tons of reads and writes over the SAN and it also therefore reduces CPU overhead on the ESXi host and reduces traffic on the SAN. Faster cloning/migration and less overhead–yay! This lets ESXi focus on what it does best: manage and run virtual machines while letting the array do what it does best: manage and move around data. Continue reading

Pure Storage FlashArray SRA for Site Recovery Manager

I’ve have been working with VMware’s vCenter Site Recovery Manager since the tail end of the 1.x release and I have to say this is the most excited I have been about a Storage Replication Adapter release that I can remember. Since I started with Pure in late April 2014 I have been working with our development team and product management to design and shape this initial release of the Pure Storage SRA. I have to say it has been a blast–a really great team that does some really amazing work! It is now officially approved and posted on VMware’s  compatibility guide and SRA download site:

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/detail.php?productid=38264&deviceCategory=sra&details=1&partner=399

https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/details?downloadGroup=SRM_SRA55&productId=451

srmpure

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FlashRecover replication on the Pure Storage FlashArray

Last year Pure Storage introduced built-in replication on the FlashArray 400 series in our Purity Operating Environment version 4.0. Our replication offers a variety of benefits–they center around two things. First it is completely free. There is no license charge for replication itself or by capacity. If you need to have is two FlashArrays and a TCP/IP network between the two of them to replicate over. No additional hardware to buy for the array or license packages required (all of our software is always free). Secondly, it is very easy to use–from a green field array to replicating volumes takes maybe five minutes–in reality probably far less than that. So I wanted to take some time to review how our replication is setup and how it works. I went over replication briefly when we released Purity 4.0, but I think it is time for a closer look.

replication

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Pure Storage vSphere Web Client Plugin 2.0 Released

The vSphere Web Client Plugin for the Pure Storage FlashArray has been updated and released and it is the largest update to the plugin since, well, it was first released. A lot of feature enhancements–the majority focused on integrating local and remote replication management into the plugin. Our long term goal is to offer feature parity of FlashArray management with the plugin as compared to our own GUI. It is getting close. Let’s take a look at the new features.intro

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ESXi IO Operations Limit Parameter and IO Balance

Quick post here. I am working on updating some documentation and I wanted to add a bit more color to a section on changing the IO Operations limit for ESXi NMP Round Robin devices. The Pure Storage recommendation is to change this value to one from the default of 1,000. Therefore, ESXi will switch logical paths after each I/O instead of 1,000. There are some performance benefits to this and some evidence for improved failover time (in the case of a path failure) with this setting. I am not going to get into the veracity of these benefits right now. What I wanted to share here is that there is no doubt changing this to 1 makes a big difference to I/O balance on the array itself. Continue reading