Another look at ESXi iSCSI Multipathing (or a Lack Thereof)

I jumped on a call the other day to talk about iSCSI setup for a new FlashArray and the main reason for the discussion had to do with co-existence of a pre-existing array from another vendor. They were following my blog post on iSCSI setup and things didn’t quite match up.

To setup multi-pathing (the recommended way) for Software iSCSI is to configure more than one vmkernel port that each have exactly one active host adapter (physical NIC). You then add those vmkernel ports to the iSCSI software adapter and the iSCSI adapter will then use those specific NICs for I/O transmission and load-balance across those ports.

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PowerCLI Script to Create VMware Clusters on the FlashArray

The first step prior to provisioning storage on the FlashArray is to actually create the host records on the array itself. These records, in their most basic form, are just names of hosts with associated WWNs or IQNs. Pretty simple process in general, but as these VMware clusters get larger and larger (vSphere 6.0 now allows 64 hosts per cluster) scripting this configuration becomes a bit more appealing. Granted, this is a one-off operation, but still saves you from a tedious task. So I wrote one. This script also integrates setting the best practices on the ESXi hosts in the cluster and in the case of iSCSI adds the FlashArray iSCSI ports as a target on the host software iSCSI adapters.

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Configuring iSCSI CHAP in VMware with the FlashArray

I recently posted the process of configuring iSCSI on ESXi with the Pure Storage FlashArray. One of the things I left out is (optional) CHAP security configuration. It is a pretty straight forward process but worth writing down to save anyone who wants to configure it a few document cross-reference checks.

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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

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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.

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