VMware Hands-on Labs - HOL-PRT-1467

Lab Overview - HOL-PRT-1467 - Virtual Volumes with Dell EqualLogic

Lab Guidance

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.


What is Virtual Volume or VVol

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.



What this lab will cover

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.


Pre-flight Instructions

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.


Restart VPXD service


Always recommended:

  1. Browse to c:\hol and double click on restartVPXD.bat
  2. This will restart the VPXD Service on the vCenter Server appliance
  3. This will complete in about 15 seconds or so.
  4. If after logging in the vCenter Server webgui displays a "Could not connect..." error message at the top of the page, or an "Unexpected status code: 503" in the right hand pane, log out of the webgui and repeat this step.




Log into vSphere and EqualLogic environments

  1. From the Control Center desktop launch Mozilla Firefox. The homepage should be set to vcsa-01b.corp.local, if not click on the Site B Web Client bookmark.
  2. Log in using the following: User name= root and Password = VMware1!
  3. Open a second browse window and click on the VVOLGRP - EqualLogic Group Manager bookmark.
  4. Log in using the following: User name= grpadmin and Password = eqleql



Required: Check VM status, and reboot esx-02b.corp.local


Check the status of virtual machine TestVM1

  1. From the Hosts and Clusters view, check the status of the virtual machine TestVM1.
  2. If the virtual machine shows as inaccessible (as shown in the screenshot above); then it the host esx-02b.corp.local needs to be rebooted.
  3. Right click on the host esx-02b.corp.local and select Reboot. This will take a few minutes to complete.



Check VASA Provider status, and rescan if necessary


  1. From the vSphere Web Client click on vCenter > vCenter Servers > vcsa-01b.corp.local select the Manage tab, and then Storage Providers (you may need to scroll right).
  2. Verify that the Dell EqualLogic VASA Provider shows as Online, and that the EqualLogic SAN VVOLGRP shows 1/1 online and displays an Active status. If not click the Rescan icon circled in the screenshot above.
  3. If a Rescan does not resolve the issue continue to Re-register VASA Provider below



Re-register the VASA Provider


  1. From the Hosts and Clusters view, select the Dell Virtual Storage Manager virtual machine, and click on Launch Console.
  2. Log into the console using the username: root, and the password eql



Re-register the VASA Provider


  1. Enter 1 to select Configuration options.
  2. Enter 3 to Configure VMware VASA



Re-register the VASA Provider


  1. Press Enter to select the previously configured username.
  2. For the password enter password.
  3. Re-enter the password, for verification.
  4. Enter y to proceed with these settings.
  5. The VASA Provider will register with the vCenter VASA Service - this can take up to two minutes.


Module 1 - Working with Dell EqualLogic and VVOLs (60 Mins)

Creating a new Storage Container

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.


Log into the EqualLogic Group Manager webgui


  1. Open a browse window and click on the VVOLGRP - EqualLogic Group Manager bookmark.
  2. Log in using the following: User name= grpadmin and Password = eqleql

Note: You may be prompted by a Java security warning dialog. Check the checkbox, and click Run to continue.



Accessing the VMware section of the EqualLogic Group Manager webgui


  1. From the EqualLogic Group Manager web interface click on the VMware tab in the lower left corner.
  2. From here you can see three objects: Configuration which manages the Protocol Endpoint (PE) which is where the Access Controls are set, Storage Containers (SC), from where you can create, resize and delete Storage Containers, and finally Virtual Machines, where information about the VMs stored on a Datastore of type Virtual Volume can be seen. We'll return to look at the Virtual Machine information later.



Click on Create storage container


From the Activities pane, click on Create storage container



General settings


  1. Provide a Name for the Storage Container; vvol2, is suggested. Optionally provide a Description. As this environment consists of only one Storage Pool, the default pool has been selected. Click Next to continue.



Physical space


  1. Set the Container physical size to 5GB, and click Next to continue.
  2. Review the setting on the Summary step and then click Finish.

Note: In the real world Storage Containers will be significantly larger, typically many TBs in size.


Adding the new Storage Container to vCenter

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


Create a new datastore


From vCenter Home page click on vCenter> Datastores and click the Create a new datastore icon



Select the location for the new datastore


Expand out Datacenter Site B and select Cluster Site B, click Next to continue.



Select the type of datastore


Select VVOL as the datastore Type, click Next to continue.



Name and container selection


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 hosts accessibility


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.



Ready to complete


Finally, on the Ready to Complete dialog, review the settings, and click Finish to complete this task.



New storage available


A new datastore of type VVOL is now available for use within the environment.


Clone a VM to the new Virtual Volume Datastore

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.


Host and Clusters tab


From the vSphere web client Home tab click on Inventory Trees and select the Hosts and Cluster tab.



Clone Test-VM1


Right click on the VM Test-VM1, and from the context menu select Clone to Virtual Machine.



Select a name and folder


  1. Specify a name for the cloned VM
  2. Select a location for the VM
  3. Click Next to continue.



Select a compute resource


Note: Due to limitation in the environment, please select the specified host.

  1. Expand out Cluster Site B and select the host esx-02b.corp.local
  2. Click Next to continue.



Select storage


  1. Select the datastore of type VVOL that you previously added.
  2. Click Next to continue.



Select clone options


  1. None of the options should be selected.
  2. Click Next to continue.



Ready to complete


  1. This final dialog summarizes the options selected on the previous screens.
  2. Click Finish to continue.



What happens now?

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.


How "VM aware" is the EqualLogic SAN about the virtual machines

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.


Return to EqualLogic Group Manager


  1. Return to the EqualLogic Group Manager browser tab.
  2. Select the Virtual machines object



EqualLogic Virtual Machines pane


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.



EqualLogic Virtual Machines pane - individual virtual machine


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:


How "VM aware" is the EqualLogic SAN about the virtual machines snapshots?

After this step, you will better understand how VMware virtual machine snapshots integrate with the EqualLogic SAN.


Take a VMware snapshot of the virtual machine


  1. Return to the vSphere web client and the Hosts and Cluster tab.
  2. Right click on the VM Clone of Test-VM1, and from the context menu select Take Snapshot.



Take VM Snapshot of Clone of Test-VM1


  1. Provide a Name and optionally a Description for the snapshot.
  2. Click OK to continue.

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.



How does Virtual Volume change VMware snapshots?


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



Return to EqualLogic Group Manager


  1. Return to the EqualLogic Group Manager browser tab.
  2. Select the Virtual machines object



Virtual machines snapshot information


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.



Restoring a virtual machine from snapshot


  1. Return to the vSphere web client and the Hosts and Cluster tab.
  2. Right click on the VM Clone of Test-VM1, and from the context menu select Manage Snapshot.



Manage VM Snapshots


  1. Select the virtual machine snapshot you wish to restore, in this example Snap 01.
  2. Click the Revert to button, and acknowledge the Confirm Revert to Snapshot dialog by clicking Yes,this will begin the revert process.
  3. Click the Close button to exit this screen.



Status of snapshot restore


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.



Virtual machine restored

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)

End-to-end Storage Container creation from within the vSphere Web Client

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.


Access the Dell VSM plug-in


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



Access the Datastore section


Click on Datastores under VSM Inventory in the left hand pane.



Launch the Create Dell Datastore wizard


Click on the Create Dell Datastore icon - circled in the above screenshot.



Name, Type & Placement


  1. Provide a Name for the datastore that is to be created. This same name will be used when creating the Storage Container on the SAN.
  2. Select a datastore Type of VVOL.
  3. Finally, select the inventory location of Datacenter Site B.
  4. Click Next to continue.



Hardware Resource


  1. Expand out Cluster Site B and select host esx-02b.corp.local.
  2. Wait for the Hardware Details pane to populate prior to clicking Next to continue.

In a non-lab environment typically a storage container would be assigned to all hosts in the cluster.



Storage Location & Size


  1. From the PS Group dropdown select VVOLGRP
  2. From the Storage Pool dropdown select default
  3. Set the Number of Datastores to a value from 1 to 3. If a value greater than 1 is selected, then the datastore and storage container names will be suffixed with a two digit number.
  4. Set the Container Size to 1GB. Capacity is limited in this virtualized environment, in a real world environment a storage container would be many terabytes in size.
  5. The Storage Pool Capacity pie chart will auto-update to reflect your choices, enabling you to be aware of the impact of your choices to the amount of available space.
  6. Clicking Next to continue.



Ready to Complete


  1. Verify that the summary screen reflects the choices you want.
  2. Clicking Finish to have VSM begin executing the task.
  3. The status of the task can be monitored by watching the pop-up in the bottom right corner.
  4. For a more detailed look at status of the task, click the pop-up, to see the status of all the sub-tasks.



More storage is available


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.


Protecting a collection of virtual machines

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.


VM and Templates view

  1. From the vSphere Web Client home page, select Inventory Trees
  2. Then select the VMs and Templates tree view



Create a virtual machine folder


  1. Select the datacenter Datacenter Site B
  2. Click on the Actions dropdown
  3. Click on the All vCenter Actions
  4. Finally, click on New VM and Template Folder



Enter a name for the folder


  1. Enter a name for the folder
  2. Click OK to continue



Move the VMs to the folder

Drag and drop the virtual machines from their current inventory location, into the folder you just created.



Access Create Snapshot


  1. Select the folder you created
  2. Select the Manage tab
  3. Select the Dell VSM button - due to the resolution of the screen, you'll need to scroll to the right, or unpin the Work In Progress pane.
  4. Select Snapshots
  5. Finally, click on Create Snapshot



Create Snapshot of Folder


  1. From the Create Snapshot of Folder: dialog, there are a number of options available that may or may not be applicable to your environment.
  2. Include volumes accessed by guest iSCSI initiators: VSM will check to see if the virtual machine is access EqualLogic volumes using the Guest OS initiator and will also snapshot those volumes.
  3. Preform virtual machine memory dump: VSM will include the current memory state of the virtual machine with the snapshot. At restore time this will return the virtual machine to its current running state.
  4. Ignore unsupported datastores: If the virtual machine has virtual disks on other datastore, such as local datastores, it will not include those virtual disks in the snapshot. If this checkbox is not checked and the virtual machines does have virtual disks on un-support datastores, the snapshot will fail.
  5. The Plan Details lists all the virtual machines that are included in the snapshot, what virtual disks they have, and where these disks reside.
  6. Click OK to continue



Results of the snapshot


  1. Now that you have a snapshot, this screen makes more sense.
  2. From the Snapshots not only can you create snapshots, but you can see the snapshots you have that you can restore from, the details of those individual snapshots, you can delete the snapshots, and, in a later version you'll be able to clone a virtual machine from the snapshot of another virtual machine.
  3. This information can also be accessed under the individual virtual machines > Managed > Dell VSM > Snapshots page, and from the Dell VSM > VSM Inventory > Data Recovery > Snapshots.
  4. Restoring from a snapshot can also be initiated from any of these locations.



A snapshot is only as good as it's restore


  1. Click on the Selective Restore icon, just to the right of the Create Snapshot icon.
  2. Even though you created a snapshot that consisted of multiple virtual machines, when issues occur, you often don't need to restore all the virtual machines, just some of them. VSM will let you select which particular virtual machines you wish to restore.
  3. Select one of the virtual machines, and click Next to continue



A snapshot is only as good as it's restore


  1. Prior to attempting the restore process VSM will analyze the task in order to detect possible problems. For example, if the target datastore no longer exists, etc, and seek additional input from the user.
  2. Click Cancel to end this task, as the restore process takes some time in the lab environment, and you completed a similar task earlier.



Lab complete

Thank you for selecting the Virtual Volumes with Dell EqualLogic lab.

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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

Version: 20150226-113059