VSI 8.2 is now GA and brings a few features for the PowerMax/VMAX platform. The binary and documentation are available on the support site here. The product guide contains information on upgrading from earlier releases which is made all the more easy with DockerHub. If required (e.g. isolated environments) you can upgrade via a package. There is a new OVA, of course, if you are installing from scratch.
The new features for PowerMax/VMAX are:
- Re-designed user/group (usage) limits
- Datastore expansion
- RDM menu off right-click (technically a debt from the last release, but let’s call it a feature)
Let’s start with the last one first. In VSI 8.1 if you wanted to add an RDM to a VM, you had to do it within the VM Configure page in the Dell EMC VSI menu. It is more navigation than is necessary. Now you can right-click on a VM and go to the Dell EMC VSI Actions menu and there is a “+RDM” option. I’ve create a GIF of the process:
You may have noticed that subtle error in the GIF when I tried to add an RDM smaller than 10 GB. We currently restrict RDM creation to 10 GB or larger. I believe this was a result of the other platforms’ requirements and honestly it was never vetted with PowerMax engineering (me). This will be corrected in the next release (or a patch) so that you can create an RDM that is as small as 1 MB. For PowerMax, this is important to fix because one of the typical functions of RDMs in VMware for us is for Gatekeepers which are usually 3 cylinders or 3 MB in size.
It is now possible to set user and group limits within VSI. We had some user limits in 8.0 but the model was poor so we fixed it. There are 3 possible ways to limit storage:
- Maximum device capacity
- Maximum number of devices
- Maximum total capacity
There are 2 times you can set the limits. The first is when you register the storage array. You will be able to select the users and the limits for the arrays you register. Note, however, that the limits will be the same for all users. The other way limits are set is in the VSI plugin screen under User/Groups. This will allow you to have more fine-grain control. Each of the 3 parameters has a green check mark and red ‘x’ next to it. When you set the value you want, you need to select the check mark to apply the change. Select the ‘x’ to clear the field. When you have the values all configured, select the large ‘Save’ button in the right-hand corner which becomes available (grayed-out unless a change is made). Because of the way the screen itself is constructed, it was necessary to use these check marks.
You will also notice there is an ‘Edit limits for all’ option in case you have many storage systems and want the same limits for all of them. I have another GIF with a quick run through of setting limits.
Note you cannot set limits for both the user and the group in which the user is a member. It is best, therefore, to decide up-front which one should control VSI limits. Choosing the group is most advantageous since it covers all users, but if any user in that group has different usage requirements, then limiting by user is appropriate. If you try to use both, you will get an error.
Also as you can see we limit by array, not storage group. You may give a user or group access to as many storage groups as you like, but they will all be bound by the same storage limits (if any).
Caveats about User/Group Limits
- VSI will keep track of devices the user creates, regardless if the device limit is “unlimited”. Keep that in mind if at a future time you wish to set a limit.
- As we have no delete capability, there is no way to remove created devices from user limits. Again, keep this in mind when setting limits. This is demonstrated in the datastore expansion video below.
- As I mentioned you can set the limits by user or group but you cannot have conflicts – i.e. I cannot set a user limit of 10 GB per device and then set the group limit, of which the user is a member, to 5 GB. I will be given a warning that they conflict and no change will be made. Now this is where a problem can arise. If I receive this warning and then realize I meant to set the limits at the group, not the user, I would first remove the user limits. That will succeed. Then I will try to set the group limit to that 5 GB and I will receive the same warning that it conflicts with the user. Of course there is no user limit at this point but unfortunately the user limits are set in the IAPI database and cannot be removed unless you un-register the array and re-register. Obviously that is less than ideal so we will work on correcting it.
VSI will now permit the expansion of datastores. This was a feature available in older versions of VSI for VMAX but has now been brought forward. The feature is made available by right-clicking on a VSI datastore and selecting the VSI menu option.
I recorded a demo of the expansion with some additions related to how VSI handles user limits. The demo will do the following, showing how user limits are impacted:
- Create a new datastore with VSI
- Expand the datastore
- Delete the datastore
Caveats about Expand datastore
- If you are the owner of the array, you will be able to expand datastores that VSI did NOT create, as long as the underlying device is in a registered storage group for that array. This capability is disabled for other users, however.
The user limits in this release can be confusing, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment.