VSI 6.4 for vSphere Web Client

VSI for vSphere Web Client version 6.4 is now generally available for download.  I purposely delayed my post from the actual GA which was a couple weeks ago because I found a particularly problematic bug which I asked the developers if they could quickly resolve, which in fact they did.  Well to be fair it was more of a misunderstanding in required functionality, but in any case we took care of it.  The current VSI 6.4 software that is posted today (we just replaced the binary it isn’t a different download) has this fix so now we can talk about the release.

VSI 6.4 brings two major areas of improvement for the VMAX arrays:

  • VMAX3 support – discover, view, and provision storage
  • VMAX2 enhancements – bringing forth features from the thick client like additional storage details, multiple RDM provisioning, and datastore extension including metavolumes (recall the VMAX3 array does not allow device expansion)

I thought I would just use some videos to demonstrate these features and go easy on the text in this post.  Before each video I will note any information I deem important about the release or feature, even if I call it out in the recording.

Let’s start with the basic setup and provisioning for VMAX3.  Some of the video treads over known water, but I wanted to include the whole story.  Things to note:

  • There is still no ability to create a masking view with VSI.  Therefore when provisioning from a VMAX3 array you will only see SLOs that are already presented to the host/cluster.
  • For VMAX2 you need to use SMI-S 4.6.x, for VMAX3 you need SMI-S 8.0.1.  VSI will not display VMAX2 arrays even if SMI-S 8.0.1 sees them (video will demonstrate that).
  • In this release there is a temporary dialog box that appears when provisioning.  This is due to the 2 different SMI-S versions required for VMAX2 and VMAX3 arrays.  For VMAX3 you choose VMAX3, for VMAX2 you select Other.  That will go away in VSI 6.5.

Click to play in browser

In this second video I demonstrate how to add multiple RDMs at once.  We had this feature for VMAX2 in VSI Classic and now it is extended to the VSI Web Client for both VMAX arrays.  Things to note:

  • You have the option of allowing VSI to auto-select the virtual device node identifier (e.g. SCSI 0:12) or selecting it yourself.
  • VSI will not allow you to provision an RDM that is smaller than 1.3x GB in size.  Unfortunately this was an oversight by the VSI team.  They support many platforms and that size requirement was added for another reason and VMAX was collateral damage.  For most use cases this isn’t a problem, but the big one is creating Gatekeepers for use with Solutions Enabler or Unisphere for VMAX.  I know this will be fixed in VSI 6.5.  Here is a screenshot of the error you will see:

RDM_limitClick to enlarge – use browser back button to return to post

This video is nice and short:

Click to play in browser

The final video demonstrates how to extend a VMAX2 datastore with VSI 6.4.  The primary use case for this is metavolumes – concatenated or striped.  As VMAX/VMware best practice calls for using striped metavolumes, that is what the video will show.  There are two parts to the demo, the first is the expansion of the metavolume while the second is the deletion of the BCV device used during the expansion.  The second part is optional and in fact if you are not the system administrator (SA) you probably cannot do the second part; however you can tell your SA to do it for you.  The notes on this one are very important:

  • Striped metavolume expansion can only be done using multiples of the existing meta member size.  If you are not the SA, you will need to ask him/her what the member size is and use it or a multiple of it when expanding.  If you don’t want to wait, however, the easiest thing to do is to try expansion with some very small number and let VSI fail.  In the error message it will tell you the meta member size.  I show this in the video.  I am working with development to either display the member size to the VMware user (say in datastore properties), or to have a drop-down box with it and multiples of it.
  • When striped metavolumes are expanded, a separate BCV (clone) is created to temporarily store the data while the device is expanded.  The reason for this is two-fold:  Protect the data and to re-stripe the data after the expansion.  All expansions are online after all.  After the expansion is complete, we do not delete the BCV.  Unfortunately it occupies thin pool space equal to the size of the device.  You or the SA can manually delete the BCV after expansion, or at the very least unbind it from the thin pool to free-up space.  As VSI does not provide the BCV device ID you have to search for it.  The device type will be BCV+TDEV and will always be named according to the VSI convention which you’ll see in the video.  This is another area I have asked developers to address – at the very least we need to tell you the device ID, if not clean things up for you.
  • Concatenated metavolumes do not have the above restrictions as data is written sequentially across the meta members – fill up first, move on to next, and so forth.  When you add a member it is simply tacked onto the end.
  • The VSI menu for extending a datastore will only appear if it is possible.
  • The VMAX3 array does not support device expansion and therefore neither does VSI.

Click to play in browser

So that will do it.  With each release we get a little closer to incorporating all the VSI thick features into the web client.  I hope our next release will just about complete the process.

Software/Doc links:


Over the past months I’ve had a number of comments or emails from customers concerning issues with the VSI plug-in in the vSphere Web Client.  I’ve decided it is better to include a potential resolution here rather than to continue to answer them individually.  Some of the problems customers have mentioned are:

There are a number of reasons why these problems occur but primarily it is a failed installation or upgrade that does not clean up properly.  Unfortunately I have found that sometimes simply uninstalling the plug-in through SIS is not enough to clean things up.  So I am going to provide a more complete way to remove the plug-in which will leave no trace of it in the vSphere Web Client.  I’ll have images for each step below.

mobClick to enlarge – use browser back button to return to post

  • When logged in, select “content” from the home page:

contentClick to enlarge – use browser back button to return to post

  • Next, select “Extension Manager”:

service_contentClick to enlarge – use browser back button to return to post

  • Copy (highlight it do NOT click on it) the VSI extension name (cntrl-c) “com.emc.vsi.plugin” and select “UnregisterExtension”:

extension_managerClick to enlarge – use browser back button to return to post

  • In the VALUE field paste the VSI extension name you copied in the last step, and select “Invoke Method”. The result should be “void” as in the screenshot:

unregisterClick to enlarge – use browser back button to return to post

  • Now restart the vSphere Web Client

Once these steps are complete you can re-register the vCenter in SIS and with any luck things will work.


2 thoughts on “VSI 6.4 for vSphere Web Client

Add yours

  1. Hi Drew, is there any news yet on the integration of VPLEX into VSI for vSphere Web Client? I know it was in the “normal” VSI from 5.6 but haven’t seen it yet on the new 6.x series for vSphere Web Client…

    1. Hi Michel,

      It will be integrated in the next release 6.5 which should be generally available in early April.

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