As I mentioned in my post on the Q3 VMAX3 release, the SRDF SRA and SRDF Adapter Utilities (SRDF-AU) lag the VMAX3 releases by about 2 weeks – yes I was off by a week sorry about that. In any case they are here today so the wait is over. The SRDF SRA and SRDF-AU version 6.0 (like VMware we skipped 5.9) are now available on EMC Support and can be found here:
For the readers who are unaware, the SRDF SRA and SRDF-AU are two separate products. The SRDF SRA is required to use VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) with SRDF. It enables the integration of our replication technology and VMware’s disaster recovery software. The SRDF-AU, on the other hand, is not required to use SRDF with SRM. What it does do is make using the SRDF SRA easier. It provides a GUI interface to modify the XML files that the SRDF SRA utilizes. You can of course modify the SRDF SRA XML files manually, which is why the SRDF-AU is not required, but many will agree with me that it is, well a pain. Well enough with the PSA, let’s talk about the new releases.
Starting with the SRDF SRA 6.0, there are two new capabilities it brings. The first is to support Solutions Enabler 8.1 and the Q3 VMAX3 release. As with all new SRDF SRA releases, only the latest Solutions Enabler is supported to ensure the latest VMAX3 release can be supported. The second feature is to support SRM 6.0. We are a bit late to the game on this one seeing as it released in Q1, but our focus has to be on the VMAX platform and sometimes it just isn’t possible to qualify everything at once. This leads me to mention the two things that the SRDF SRA will not support: SRM 6.1 and SRDF Metro. These two are not unrelated since SRM 6.1 is the first release to support stretched storage and SRDF Metro is stretched storage. It won’t be too long, however, as this should be rectified in the first half of next year.
The SRDF-AU, although bringing no additional features other than supporting SRDF SRA 6.0, is nonetheless where all the changes have been made. First, I should call out the name change. Up until this release, the SRDF-AU were known as the VSI Symmetrix SRA Utilities (aka SRA Utilities) and were a feature of the Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI). With release 6.0, the product is now independent and known as the SRDF Adapter Utilities. The other big change is that it is now integrated into the vSphere Web Client and is no longer part of the thick client. This is a welcome change seeing as SRM has been in the Web Client since version 5.8.
Fortunately, the install is as straightforward as before. It does not require Solutions Enabler to be installed first (nor installed on the same host for that matter), only the vSphere Web Client (in other words the vCenter) and generally you just need it on the recovery site. If you watch the install you will note that it stops and starts the vSphere Web Client service during the install. I’ve captured some shots here:
Once installed, log into the vSphere Web Client. You will notice there is a new icon for the SRDF-AU in the Home page of the client.
Within the SRDF-AU main screen, there are the following sub-screens for the configuration: Settings, Global Options, FailoverTest/GoldCopy, RDF Device Masking, Test Replica Masking, and Create CGs. There are no longer multiple locations within the client to use the utilities. Everything is together. Here is a quick gif I did toggling through the various tabs of the plug-in.
Now technically speaking there are no new features or bug fixes in this release, but in reality it is a new product. The first thing you’ll notice, viewing the gif, is that the SRDF-AU uses SMI-S for discovery, rather than Solutions Enabler. If you have ever suffered through the security settings on SE, SMI-S is a welcome change. The development team also has spent a great deal of time changing the algorithms to improve performance, along with adding user-friendly features such as reloading the last saved data for failover testing, rather than simply rediscovering everything again. So if you spent all that time setting up your pairs, they are still there next time.
Once configured, you no longer save the XML to the SRDF SRA location, rather it saves to the SRDF-AU local directory from where it can be obtained; alternatively the GUI offers a download button so you can save it where you want.
Personally I like the auto-fill features best – both when setting up the pairs and here when I want it to set my storage group for masking:
I’ll close with a bit more housekeeping. There are a couple caveats to keep in mind when deploying the SRDF-AU which should be apparent after reading through the above. They are:
- SRDF-AU does not support the vCSA or vCenter virtual appliance. It relies on the ability to stop and start the vSphere Web Client on Microsoft Windows. Development is aware of the limitation and is working on ways to address this.
- The XML files that the SRDF-AU modifies, are not placed directly in the SRDF SRA directory. They are stored in this directory structure: C:\ProgramData\EMC\SRAUtilities but also can be downloaded from within the client (as demonstrated above), and are done so based on the user accessing the vSphere Web Client.
- The SRDF-AU (and the SRDF SRA) does not support SRDF Metro. If you have Metro configured you will see an error message like the one below telling you the mode is not supported.
And remember the SRDF SRA and SRDF-AU, despite being separate products, are versioned together so be sure to use the SRDF-AU 6.0 with the SRDF SRA 6.0.