I had a request to do an updated post on Virtual Storage Integrator or VSI. The last post I did was on version 8.6 which had some new features for the PowerMax array. And although the current version 9.1 released in January does not have new features for PowerMax, the interface has changed a bit so it does seem worthwhile to cover it.
The management of VSI itself is where the majority of the changes were made. These changes are apparent when accessing the Plugin Management screen directly, but also the VSI section within the vSphere client.
Let’s start with the deployment of VSI which is changed slightly from 8.6. The plugin is still delivered as an OVA file which requires the user to supply basic networking information and then acknowledge an additional step will be required to register the vCenter. Once deployed, access the hostname/IP directly for the setup screen.
If desired, import certificates.
In the next step, decide whether you want to enable SSH to the VSI VM. I always do this in my lab, but of course there are risks in doing so. As the blue box warns you, this is not setting the root user password which by default is still “root”. You’ll have to login to the VM and then change it.
VSI is comprised of four containers, one of which is a Redis database:
You can set the password in the next screen.
Step 5 is where we actually register VSI into the vCenter. As with all previous VSI releases of this architecture, there is no support for multiple vCenters unless they are in linked mode. In any case, you cannot enter a second one here you can only do that after initial registration.
In the final screen you can review the settings and then select FINISH.
VSI will complete the tasks while the user waits then returns the result. Success is registered below.
If we CLOSE here we will then default to the Plug-in Settings page. You can see below the option to add another linked vCenter is now available. There is a Certificates tab and Logging tab which speak for themselves. Note in 8.6 these tabs were menu items on the left-hand side.
In 9.1, however, there are two new items which were not available: VSI Virtual Machine Settings and Upgrade. If we click on the first menu, you can see below there are three different tabs: SSH Settings (shown here), VSI Virtual Machine Updates, and Docker Network Settings.
The Virtual Machine Updates tab checks to see if there are available patches for the Photon OS. This is quite useful in keeping up-to-date with security fixes. Here see that my environment immediately needs a patch after deployment:
If you select the UPDATE option, another dialog is presented warning the user that applying the patch will disconnect all sessions. Select UPDATE here to complete the upgrade.
After application, now the page indicates no patch is needed.
The final tab is for Docker settings. I’m not sure why they include this one, but I don’t recommend changing the values.
The Upgrade menu now provide a UI for updating the VSI environment. While previously you could upgrade using Docker Hub in the CLI, this new interface simplifies the process.
Note you cannot upgrade to the most current release, 9.1.1, using this functionality. Please follow the Release Notes for the methodology to use.
For the remainder of the GUI changes, I walked through the interface in a demo. I also included provisioning a datastore just so you could see that part of VSI has not changed since 8.6. A couple reminders about how provisioning works in VSI:
- VSI can only provision to storage groups that are presented in a masking view to a host or hosts/cluster. It cannot create any autoprovisioning objects.
- Storage groups must be registered in VSI for provisioning. This allows a level of control for the storage admin.
- There is NO integration with SRDF. Only local replication is possible, i.e., snapshots. However, VSI will not prevent you from registering a storage group that is being used to manage SRDF relationships. Ergo, it will allow you to break storage group management for SRDF. You can, of course, add the device in VSI and then setup an SRDF pair through Unisphere (or ask your SA to do it) afterwards. Not clear if this is a roadmap item yet as we honestly don’t have a lot of PowerMax customers using VSI for the provisioning feature.
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