Updated VMware and Pure Storage Best Practices Guide

Quick post here. I have updated the Pure Storage FlashArray Best Practices Guide for VMware vSphere. Not a total overhaul but there are some changes to note.

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Updates include:

  • New information for vSphere 6.0 This mostly focuses on what supports vSphere 6.0 and re-enforcing that current best practices remain the same. Expect a lot more vSphere 6 content though in forthcoming updates. As new storage features are tested and considered in the latest version of the VMware platfom they will be included in this guide, such as VVols.
  • Queue Depth changes are no longer mentioned in this document. Messing with this is considered a tweak that most people will not need. Don’t broke what isn’t broken is the mantra here.
  • More instruction on iSCSI setup and clarified instruction.
  • General tightening and simplification of the document
  • New content pack for Log Insight (which will be out soon). The changes are detailed in the document

If you use this guide, please delete the old versions and download the new one!

http://info.purestorage.com/rs/purestorage/images/Pure%20Storage%20and%20vSphere%20Best%20Practices.pdf

 

Required ESXi permissions for UNMAP through PowerCLI

I received a question recently on another UNMAP post what are the minimum permissions required to run UNMAP with PowerCLI and finally got around to looking into it. Turns out it is very straight forward. If you run it with a read-only account–it will fail. Since it is creating a file and making changes some configuration authority is required. Running as read only will look like this:

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Direct Guest OS UNMAP in vSphere 6.0

This is certainly not my first post about UNMAP and I am pretty sure it will not be my last, but I think this is one of the more interesting updates of late. vSphere 6.0 has a new feature that supports the ability for direct UNMAP operations from inside a virtual machine issued from a Guest OS. Importantly this is now supported using a virtual disk instead of the traditional requirement of a raw device mapping.

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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