VSI 8.0 – HTML 5

Today the newest version of the Virtual Storage Integrator, 8.0, is available for download here. VSI 8.0 is the first version to support the HTML 5 client available with vSphere 6.5 and 6.7. As VMware moves toward an HTML 5 client only, we are following suit and therefore the VSI 7.x releases are the last versions to support the vSphere Web Client. Fortunately you can run both 7.x and 8.0 in the same vCenter since they rely on different GUI interfaces. VSI 8.0, however, only supports PowerMaxOS which means only the VMAX All Flash and PowerMax arrays.

As with our move (if you can remember that far back) from the thick VSI client to the first VSI web client,  VSI 8.0 does not have full feature parity with VSI 7.x. VSI 8.0 was a complete redesign so the foundation occupied much of the developers’ time, limiting the number of features, as well as storage, that could be included. In the first release XtremIO, Unity, and VMAX/PowerMax are supported. Features for each of the platforms vary some, though as we move forward in releases parity will be achieved.

VSI 8.0 is distributed as an OVA file, just like its predecessor. When deployed, the usual IP information is supplied, but there is a VSI registration section that is important to fill out. It will ensure the VSI plugin is installed in your selected vCenter. I’ve highlighted the screen here:

You’ll notice that while I have only supplied a single vCenter, you can include more though it requires that the user/pass is the same for all vCenters AND that they share the same Platform Services Controller (PSC) or are a replication partner. It is important to register one to avoid using the CLI, but additional vCenters can be added through the GUI. The requirement of the same PSC as the initial vCenter is enforced whether or not you add one during OVA deployment. (If you need to register other vCenters with different PSCs, then you would need another vApp deployment.) Once deployed you can power on the VM and it will automatically register the vCenter. The first time you login to the vCenter you may see this message:

Just log out and in and you should see the new menu item:

One thing you’ll notice right away is that VSI 8.0 does not have the management interface that VSI 7.x had. The VM that is deployed contains the Integration Services which is the driving engine but there is no separate web site to access for management. All management activities are done within the vSphere Client itself. After accessing the plugin from the drop-down menu, you’ll see the dashboard.

Rather than continue the screenshots I have a video below which goes through the various screens and capabilities of the plugin. Before I do that, here is a quick overview of the functionality (and futures) and a brief explanation of the provisioning model.

  • In-context storage translation for datastores
    • Future RDM translation
  • VMFS Datastore provisioning
    • Future service level selection/compression/deduplication
    • Future NFS
    • Future VMFS 5
    • Future RDM provisioning
    • Future deletion
  • Future host settings
  • Future manual UNMAP

Certainly there are other futures in the works, but the ones I listed are near term.

Provisioning model

Now I wanted to explain the provisioning model briefly because I think it can be confusing. VSI 8.0 uses what it terms Storage Groups (SGs). These SGs are used to control provisioning by allowing the administrator to limit the total storage in each one. When you add one in VSI, VSI will create it on the array, though with a system generated name. For instance, I created an SG named VSI_Test, and VSI created this SG name on the array:  VSI_1024_6184318244271_VSI_Test. Now when I go to provision a datastore, I will select one of the SGs I have access to along with an initiator group for either the cluster or host. VSI will create the new device, and then place it in 2 SGs, the one it created and then one that is in a masking view to the host/cluster. These, let’s call them tracking SGs, will never be put in a masking view. They are only there for device tracking. So how does VSI pick the SG that is in the masking view? It does so by using the first SG listed alphabetically. Therefore if you want to ensure the device is associated with a particular service level or even compression/deduplication, rename your SG so it lists first alphabetically. Note that if for some reason VSI fails to add the device to the first SG, it will then try the next one and so on.

**Important

VSI does not prevent manipulation of the tracking SG from the array – e.g. Unisphere, CLI. For instance, if I add devices to the tracking SG, VSI assumes they are related to VSI and their storage will count against the maximum set for the storage group.

Demo

Now onto the demo. I run through the following tasks:

  • Add a PowerMax array (only local arrays will be listed and can be added)
  • Provision a datastore using a new tracking storage group
  • View datastore properties

One housekeeping item about the documentation here. If you choose to enable SSH for the vApp (what is known as the IAPI), the login password for root is root. You’ll have to change the password immediately upon logging in, but you won’t find the password in the docs.

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