Pure Storage FlashArray and Re-Examining VMware Virtual Disk Types

A bit of a long rambling one here. Here it goes…

Virtual Disk allocation mechanism choice is something that was somewhat of a hot topic a few years back with the “thin on thin” question almost becoming a religious debate at times. Essentially this has cooled down and vendors have made their recommendations and end users have their preferences and that’s that. With the true advent of the all-flash-array such as the Pure Storage FlashArray with deduplication, compression, pattern removal etc. I feel like this somewhat basic topic is worth revisiting now.

To review there are three main virtual disk types (there are others, namely SESparse but I am going to stick with the most common for this discussion):

  • Eagerzeroedthick–This type is fully allocated upon creation. This means that it reserves the entire indicated capacity on the VMFS volume and zeroes the entire encompassed region on the underlying storage prior to allowing writes from a guest OS. This means that is takes longer to provision as it has to write GBs or TBs of zeroes before the virtual disk creation is complete and ready to use. I will refer to this as EZT from now on.
  • Zeroedthick–This type fully reserves the space on VMFS but does not pre-zero the underlying storage. Zeroing is done on an as needed basis, when a guest OS writes to a new segment of the virtual disk the encompassing block is zeroed first than the new write is committed.
  • Thin–This type neither reserves space on the VMFS or pre-zeroes. Zeroing is done on an as-needed basis like zeroedthick. The virtual disk physical capacity grows in segments defined by the block size of the VMFS, usually 1 MB.

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PowerShell and Pure Storage REST API Scripting

Previously I blogged about using PowerShell with the Pure Storage FlashArray to enable scripting of common tasks like provisioning or snapshotting. In that post I showed how to use SSH to run Purity operations, but with the introduction of the REST APIs (fully available in 3.4+) there is now a much better and cleaner way to script this. You no longer need to install extra SSH modules and the like, all you need is theĀ Invoke-RestMethod in PowerShell.

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Pure Storage at VMworld 2014

A lot of activity coming up this year at VMworld 2014 and Pure Storage has a large part in it. Between our booth, staffing presence, tons of sessions and 1:1 meetings there aren’t any steps we are missing. This will be my 7th VMworld and from a storage perspective I have never been more excited! A lot in store by VMware (notably vVols) and Pure has some great demo we are working on as well.

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Updated Best Practices document for VMware vSphere and Pure Storage FlashArrays

Heyo–quick post here. One of my first focuses since joining Pure Storage was to update their best practices guide for VMware vSphere. It’s finally out! Updates include a lot of the stuff that I have posted on this blog as of late (essentially whatever I worked on that day went also directly here–I won’t always be this prolific).

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Using VMware Log Insight with the Pure Storage FlashArray

I’ve done a few VMware Log Insight posts in the past year but I have yet to do one for Pure Storage. Log Insight is a product that I really love and VMware has been updating it like crazy since its initial release. Just recently they announced the 2.0 version of Log Insight (more info here). Besides just being functionally useful it is VERY easy to use–from kicking off the deployment (it is an OVA) to first use it takes about ten minutes maximum.

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PowerShell and the Pure Storage FlashArray CLI

Scripting is a wonderful thing–saves me tons of time. PowerShell is no exception. VMware offers a very robust PowerShell cmdlet offering (called PowerCLI) which allows you to do essentially anything you can think of in vSphere. Of course this is all specific to VMware or Windows. What about including scripting commands for Pure Storage into PowerShell (PowerCLI) scripts? It is actually pretty simple using the readily available SSH plugin for PowerShell.

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Integrating Active Directory with the Pure Storage FlashArray

Ah access controls…always popular–who doesn’t want everyone to be admins?! Well…um…admins don’t! In this post I am going to run through integrating Active Directory with the Pure Storage FlashArray. Then talk about how it works with the vSphere Web Client Plugin because I would be ashamed if I didn’t at least mention VMware once in a post.

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