Lab Overview - HOL-PRT-1467 - Virtual Volumes with Dell EqualLogic
Reminder: This is a virtualized lab environment running pre-beta software, and therefore performance to be slower than normal - please be patient. Please do complete the pre-flight steps to insure that things are working - this will help insure a smoother experience for you.
The features and their implementation as shown in the lab are subject to change. No decision to purchase a product should be made based on this technical preview.
Virtual Volumes (VVol) is about making the storage system VM-centric, in other words making the VMDK a first class citizen in the storage world. Right now, everything is pretty much LUN-centric or volume-centric, especially when it comes to snapshots, clones and replication.
With VVol most of the data operations can be offloaded to the storage arrays. In this new approach we have now made storage arrays aware of VMDK. How are the data operations, data capacity and communication mechanism managed between vSphere and the VVol.
In order to provide management capabilities to operations listed above we introduced the following concepts:
· Vendor Provider (VP) – management of data operations
· Storage Containers (SC) – management of data capacity
· Protocol Endpoints (PE) – management of access control and communications
Vendor Provider (VP)
Is a plug-in that is built by the storage vendors. This plug-in uses a set of out-of-band management APIs, known as VASA. The VASA Provider is able to export storage array capabilities and present them to vSphere through the VASA APIs.
Storage Containers (SC)
Storage containers are equivalent to datastores in a sense, but they are focus around the allocation of chunks of physical storage, think of them as a reservation of space. SC is based on the grouping of VMDKs onto which application specific SLAs are translated to capabilities through the VASA APIs.
Protocol Endpoint (PE)
Protocol endpoints are the access points from the hosts to the storage systems, which are created by storage administrators. All path and policies are administered by protocol endpoints.
Enjoy the Dell EqualLogic Virtual Volume lab.
In this lab you will:
You will get to see how these day to day task are accelerated by the Virtual Volume integration with Dell EqualLogic, and how the work flows involved remain similar, to what you do today.
As previously mentioned, this lab is built on pre-beta releases of software and firmware from VMware and Dell, and has a few less than ideal quirks. To work around or resolve these quirks a few pre-flight steps are recommended to insure a smooth running lab.
Check the status of virtual machine TestVM1
Module 1 - Working with Dell EqualLogic and VVOLs (60 Mins)
In this step we will walk through creating a new Storage Container on the array. While a Storage Container is seen and interacted with a lot like a datastore from vSphere, it is not a LUN or volume on the array, but rather is a reservation of space on the array.
Note: You may be prompted by a Java security warning dialog. Check the checkbox, and click Run to continue.
From the Activities pane, click on Create storage container
Note: In the real world Storage Containers will be significantly larger, typically many TBs in size.
In this step, we will add the new Storage Container to vCenter. Adding a Storage Container to vCenter is similar to adding a traditional datastore, however there are some differences. For example; the step of rescanning the storage controller for new storage, is now handled by the VASA Provider's out of band management communication
From vCenter Home page click on vCenter> Datastores and click the Create a new datastore icon
Expand out Datacenter Site B and select Cluster Site B, click Next to continue.
Select VVOL as the datastore Type, click Next to continue.
Select the Storage Container you created on the EqualLogic SAN (vvol2 was the suggested name), and click Next to continue.
Note: vCenter will default to naming the Datastore after the Storage Container name, if you prefer a different name, change the datastore name after selecting the Storage Container, not before.
Select the only host esx-02b.corp.local to be granted access to the datastore. Click Next to continue.
Note: Due to limitations in the lab, only select esx-02b.corp.local. In a real world environment you'd not be restricted in what hosts you grant access to, and typically you would grant access to all hosts in the cluster.
Finally, on the Ready to Complete dialog, review the settings, and click Finish to complete this task.
A new datastore of type VVOL is now available for use within the environment.
The process for cloning a VM to a virtual volume datastore, is the same as cloning to a traditional datastore.
There are a few different ways for performing this task, one of these is described below.
From the vSphere web client Home tab click on Inventory Trees and select the Hosts and Cluster tab.
Right click on the VM Test-VM1, and from the context menu select Clone to Virtual Machine.
Note: Due to limitation in the environment, please select the specified host.
Reminder: Performance in this virtualized lab environment is not reflective of real world. Expect this clone operation to take about 3 minutes in this virtualized lab environment. In a real world environment this task would be completed in a manner of seconds.
A traditional virtual machine clone or copy operation occurs by reading the data up the storage stack, and then writing that same data back down the storage stack. The target of these writes can often be the same SAN, and even the same datastore. This up and down the storage stack clone operation places a load on the ESXi hosts, the storage fabric or network, and on the SAN.
With the VAAI Full Copy primitive, this clone operation is off loaded to the storage. The vSphere environment will instead request that the SAN take a range of blocks, and make a copy of them. This results in the task being an operation that is internal to the SAN, that can be completed in a shorter period of time, and without a load being placed on the ESXi host or the storage fabric or network.
With Virtual Volume clone the operation is changed yet again. With Virtual Volumes a virtual machine consists as a collection of two or more volumes on the array. To create a copy of that virtual machine, vSphere will request that array, via the VASA Provider, to create a clone of the volumes.
With the Dell PS Series storage array's virtual page architecture, the task of creating a clone of a volume, and therefore a clone a virtual machine, initially just involves creating a series of read-only pointers to the existing pages that make up the source volume. This task is quickly completed, after all, it is just a copying a pointers to data, not actually copying any large amounts of data. At a later stage, when a write needs to be made to one of these read-only pages, the pointer will be allocated a new page, the write will then be completed, and the remainder of the page copied from the original. This results in very rapid cloning of virtual machines, and reduced space consumption due to shared pages.
In this step, you'll see some of the virtual machine awareness that the EqualLogic SAN now has due to the Virtual Volume feature. This enables storage administrator to be more aware, and have a greater understanding, of the activities in the VMware virtual environment that uses the storage.
Note: This shows the virtual machine awareness that the pre-beta EqualLogic SAN firmware. This differs from the awareness that the current beta has, and will differ from future releases.
As shown in the screenshot above the EqualLogic SAN is aware of the virtual machines that are stored on datastores of type VVOL, also known as Storage Containers.
It is aware of:
Troubleshooting step: If no information is displayed, or stale information is displayed, click on the Refresh Data button highlighted in red. If this does not resolve the issue, refresh the browser window. Log back in using the user name: grpadmin and password: eqleql, and click the VMware button in the lower left to return to this view.
Selecting an individual virtual machine will populate the lower half of the pane with additional information about the individual virtual machine's virtual volumes and their properties:
Types of virtual volumes:
After this step, you will better understand how VMware virtual machine snapshots integrate with the EqualLogic SAN.
Note: If the virtual machine was powered on, uncheck the checkbox Snapshot the virtual machine's memory, as leaving it checked will greatly increase the time, in this virtualized lab environment, for taking a snapshot.
Traditional VMware snapshots have been limited in their usability. VMware knowledgeable base article on best practices for snapshots, KB1025279, makes the following recommendations:
With Virtual Volume the traditional VMware snapshots have now become SAN based volume snapshots, but are managed from the vSphere client.
Array based snapshots use
Now that a VMware Snapshot has been taken, we can see that the virtual volume of type data has a snapshot associated with it.
If the virtual machine was powered on, and the Snapshot the virtual machine's memory checkbox was selected, an additional virtual volume of type Memory would be created reflecting the virtual machine's memory state at the time of the snapshot.
The status of the snapshot revert process can be monitored in the Recent Tasks pane.
In this virtualized environment expect this restore to take approximately 60 seconds - but this will vary based on load. In the real world, this will occur almost instantly. On restores where a memory dump was taken during the snapshot, the restore will take a little longer, but will be completed in under a minute, depending upon load and the size of the memory dump.
The restore of a virtual machine using virtual volumes occurs almost instantly due to the underlying use of SAN volumes. From a high level the following occurs when a restore takes place:
Remember, the snapshot does not consist of blocks of data, but rather or a collection of pointer to blocks of data. Some of those blocks of data will be shared with other snapshots, some with the base volume, and some will be unique to that snapshot. This is all managed through the use of pointers. When a snapshot ages out, or is deleted, any blocks that were unique to it are deleted, as no other snapshots have pointers to them. Any blocks that were shared with other snapshots will just have the pointer from the deleted snapshots remove.
Module 2 - Dell Virtual Storage Manager, more then just a VASA Provider (30 Mins)
Dell Virtual Storage Manager (VSM) is more that just the VASA Provider for the EqualLogic SAN. It is also a vSphere plugin, enabling many of the day-to-day EqualLogic storage administration tasks to be completed from within the vSphere Web Client. In this example you'll create a new Storage Container for virtual volumes without leaving the vSphere Web Client.
From the vSphere Home page click on the Dell Virtual Storage Manager icon to access the plug-in.
VSM enables many day-to-day storage administration tasks to be completed from within the vSphere Web Client. Feel free to explore VSM beyond the creation of a Storage Container backed datastore
Click on Datastores under VSM Inventory in the left hand pane.
Click on the Create Dell Datastore icon - circled in the above screenshot.
In a non-lab environment typically a storage container would be assigned to all hosts in the cluster.
With a few clicks, and from the comfort of the vSphere Web Client, a vSphere administrator can easily add additional datastores of type VVol or type VMFS to their vSphere environment.
They can also re-size them, and delete them. Feel free to go ahead and do so.
Feel free to explore more of VSM, though do note that not all the features are complete in this pre-beta build.
There are numerous reason for needing to protect a collections of virtual machines. The most common reason would be that the virtual machines work together to support an application, and having a common re-store point is required. To achieve this, virtual machines are grouped together into a VM and Template Folder. VSM will then snapshot the folder and all virtual machines within it. VSM can also schedule snapshots occur against an individual virtual machine or folder of virtual machines, at a particular point in time, or an a regular schedule.
Drag and drop the virtual machines from their current inventory location, into the folder you just created.
Thank you for selecting the Virtual Volumes with Dell EqualLogic lab.
Please complete the survey and provide feedback.
Thank you for participating in the VMware Hands-on Labs. Be sure to visit http://hol.vmware.com/ to continue your lab experience online.
Lab SKU: HOL-PRT-1467