Virtual Storage Integrator 5.6: VPLEX Provisioning

Besides the much anticipated (and long awaited) striped meta capability in Unified Storage Management (USM) 5.6 for VMAX, there is now VPLEX provisioning! For those of us who use VPLEX with VMware this simplifies the creation of datastores on VPLEX.

As Cody has already covered the introduction to VSI 5.6, I am not going to rehash it here. So we’ll take it as read (see bottom for link if needed), and move right on to the VPLEX provisioning. Let’s start with the requirements for VPLEX provisioning:

  • VSI Unified Storage Management feature version 5.6 installed on the host on which you use the vSphere Client (no VSI web client support in this version)
  • A VPLEX environment – e.g. Local, Metro Cluster with the following characteristics:
    • Ability to attach to the management server as the user “service”
    • One or more unclaimed or claimed volumes are available
    • One or more initiator groups are created
    • One or more storage views are created
    • Network ports are configured
    • Network connectivity exists between one or more storage processors and ESXi servers
      • Each ESXi host that will access storage is configured in a storage view
  • vSphere 5.x

If all the above is true, time to provision! The first thing we need to do is add our VPLEX to the Storage Systems within USM so we can use it in provisioning. So after USM is installed, start the vSphere Client (can’t install VSI with the Client open) and navigate to Home > Solutions and Applications > EMC VSI:


Clicking on the icon will bring up the VSI management screen. Select Unified Storage Management on the left-hand side Features panel. Note that the contents of the Features panel may be different than below, depending on what VSI features are on the client. This will bring up the Storage Systems screen of USM where we can add the VPLEX. From here, select the “Add” button and we are on our way to adding the VPLEX. The only information that will be required for input is the IP of the management server (you only need one for Metro Clusters – it will find both) and the service user password. I have an animated walk through below which uses a VPLEX Metro Cluster.

add_systemClick to open in new tab for clarity

With the VPLEX in place in USM, we can now provision from it and to our VMware cluster environment. Right-click on your cluster or host and navigate to EMC > Storage Manager > Provision Storage:

clusterClick to open in new tab

Once in the wizard, you will traverse through the following steps:

  1. Select Disk/LUN.
  2. Select the previously configured VPLEX. If you forgot to add it you can do it here too.
  3. Choose the VMFS format to use. It defaults to VMFS-5.
  4. Select either a VMFS Datastore or an RDM. For the Datastore supply a name. Now select from where you want the storage to be take. Since this is a Metro Cluster you have the option of choosing both sites which will result in a distributed volume. Note there is also the ability to create local mirrors. If you plan on using unclaimed devices (shown here), you can check the Preserve Thin Provisioning box if appropriate for the array(s) backing the VPLEX. Checking this box though has no impact when using claimed devices.
  5. In the next screen use the drop-down box to select the array to use for storage and then choose the appropriate claimed or unclaimed volume. Unlike VMAX provisioning there is no need to specify a size since the volumes must already be available.
    • If using a Metro Cluster and you have chosen both clusters, a second screen will allow you to select the storage volume from the second cluster. Note this volume can be the same size or larger than on the first cluster.
  6. Next, select the storage views (previously created on the VPLEX). For this environment there are no default views since a Metro Cluster will have a separate view on each cluster. A VPLEX Local would display the views without requiring the “Details” button to be selected.
  7. Finally select the consistency group into which the volume should be placed. Provisioning is now complete!

new_vplex_provision_largerClick to open in new tab for clarity

Once you hit Finish, a number of tasks will be run, including creating extents and devices on the VPLEX. In the vSphere Client you will see something similar to this:

tasksClick to open in new tab

If there are problems, Cody mentioned in his entry where the log files are located for USM. All provisioning activity, no matter the array type, will go there.

When the datastore is created, you can utilize another great VSI feature, Storage Viewer. If installed and configured to see the VPLEX, it will provide details about the underlying objects of the datastore like so:

VSI_post_creationClick to open in new tab

If you have VMware and VPLEX give it a go, all VSI features are free after all!


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