VSI 6.7 GA – a couple feature gems

VSI 6.7 is now available for download.  You can find the documentation and binary download here:

VSI 6.7 Documentation and Download

There are 4 new features in this release of note. They are:

  • View consolidated datastore info on a host for all registered storage systems
  • Register and use the Solutions Integration Service from the VSI plugin without specifying credentials
  • Use UNMAP to reclaim space for VNX and VMAX datastores
  • Name XtremIO snapshots during creation

For me, the two gems in this are the consolidated host view and the reclaim capability on VMAX datastores (not that I don’t like VNX and XtremIO of course).  The host view is a feature hold-over from the old thick client.  Now you can highlight a host in the Web Client and on the right-hand side select the monitor tab where you will find a new sub-tab named “EMC Datastore Viewer“.  All datastores for that host will be shown along with storage detail such as Runtime Name, Revision (code level), Capacity, Owner, etc.  Here is an example of VMAX3 datastores, though the viewer displays detail from all VSI supported storage arrays.


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

From this sub-tab, each datastore is a hyperlink to the individual datastore’s detail.  Note there is currently a VMware bug which will cause a new browser tab to open to display this detail, however you can access it from the left-hand menu without the hyperlink and avoid the extra tab.

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

The feature still has one more component on the roadmap and that will be to display all the devices for a particular host.  This is also a feature that existed in the thick client.

The second addition in VSI 6.7, which is particular to VMAX and VNX, is the ability to reclaim storage.  In vSphere reclaiming storage occurs at the datastore level through the UNMAP VAAI primitive.  Reclaiming storage in VMware is not an automated process.  It requires running an esxcli storage command on the ESXi host against a datastore.  If you need a refresher on VAAI or UNMAP there is a whitepaper you can review on my Important Docs list.  What the new VSI feature does is allow you to execute an UNMAP on a datastore through the Web Client.  By right-clicking on the datastore and accessing the VSI menu, a new option is available for reclaiming:

reclaim_menuThe reclaim wizard will require the root password to the ESXi host just as if you ran the command on the host yourself.  I recorded a looped gif for this feature to walk through it,:

unmapClick to play

Now if you looked closely in the gif you would have seen that there is a scheduling capability for reclaim.  This was grayed out for my demo because I did not enable that capability.  In order to schedule reclaim you must indicate that during SIS registration.  There is a new check box that says “Enable XtremeIO cloning and scheduling for reclaim operation“.  The wording is a bit misleading since certainly to my reading it indicates only XtremeIO reclaim can be scheduled.  This is not the case as all platforms are able to schedule reclaim, save VPLEX which doesn’t support the UNMAP primitive yet.  I’ve requested they fix that wording though I don’t expect it until 6.8 as it is so minor:

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

If you check that box during SIS registration, when you go to run the reclaim, the option to schedule will be available.  If you forget to check the box when you register, just unregister and re-register SIS.  You can schedule in the following increments:  Daily, Weekly, or Monthly. Note the schedule stays in place until you Unschedule.  I’ve shown all the options in a callout.  The option to unschedule will only be available if a schedule exists.

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

Remember reclaiming can be taxing so we always recommend doing it during a maintenance window or when the datastore is being minimally accessed.  Even in my lab testing with low I/O requirements the logs indicated a slowed response from the datastore during the reclaim.  Reclaiming through VSI uses VMware’s default block size for UNMAP (200 blocks).  Generally that is our recommendation, however I wrote a blog this summer on how to calculate values other than the default for some more recent vSphere releases due to changes VMware made (UNMAP behavior).

As always, VSI is a free plug-in from EMC so give it go!


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