VMAX and VMware VAAI White Paper Update

One of the documents that my colleague Drew Tonnesen (@drewtonnesen) and I maintain is a white paper that explains the how, what, why, when, etc. of  using VMware’s VAAI block primitives (WRITE SAME, XCOPY, ATS and UNMAP) with Symmetrix VMAX storage systems. We update this document around twice a year or as needed to take into account new Enginuity releases or VMware releases. We just posted the latest update this weekend on EMC’s website:

http://www.emc.com/collateral/hardware/white-papers/h8115-vmware-vstorage-vmax-wp.pdf

This update was partially due to catching up with new Enginuity releases (5876.229 and some other minor 5875/5876 updates) but was mostly due to customer and field requests/pain-points when troubleshooting or understanding when it is supported and when it is not. It is sometimes difficult to navigate both the VMware and EMC HCLs to quickly discover the details of this support–especially for minor levels of code so we thought we would do the leg work for you and consolidate it all in an easy-to-understand (hopefully!) place  in this paper.

So besides numerous clarifications and minor additions the paper features two new main sections; troubleshooting VAAI with esxtop and an exhaustive table of VAAI support information that details out each Enginuity level. I have added the table from the paper into this post below for quick reference. This table is accurate as of July 8th, 2013 so as this post ages make sure to check the paper or EMC guides for updates. I will try to remember to update this if things come up though.

Enginuity Code Level

VAAI primitives supported

Minimum  version of vSphere required

Important Notes

5876.229.145

(5876 2013 Q2 SR )

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy, UNMAP

vSphere 4.1, vSphere 5.0 U1 for UNMAP

5876.163.105

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy, UNMAP

vSphere 4.1, vSphere 5.0 U1 for UNMAP

Refer to ETA emc319797 for E Pack information.

5876.159.102

(5876 2012 Q4 SR)

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy, UNMAP

vSphere 4.1, vSphere 5.0 U1 for UNMAP

First Enginuity level with support for the UNMAP primitive. Refer to ETA emc319797 for E Pack information.

5876.85.59

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

5876.82.57

(5876 GA)

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

5875.300.232

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

5875.286.218

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

5875.269.201

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

5875.267.201

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

First Enginuity level that supports vSphere 5.1 without E Pack.

5875.249.188

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

This E Pack described in ETA emc289707 fixes a problem with ATS where a VMFS-5 datastore can fail to create (fix included in 5875.267.201).  Note this Enginuity level + E Pack is the minimum version required to use vSphere 5.1.

5875.231.172

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

Recommended base level for using VAAI.

5875.198.148

ATS, Block Zero, Full Copy

vSphere 4.1

If upgrade is not possible refer to ETA emc263675 for E Pack information.  EMC does not recommend using VAAI prior to this Enginuity release and E Pack.

This table shows all of the Enginuity levels (as of this date) that support any type of VAAI primitive as well as the vSphere version supported. Note that earlier or later versions of vSphere may be supported with that Enginuity level, but if you want VAAI support specifically you need the vSphere version(s) mentioned. Also occasionally there are important fixes for either identified issues or for increased performance. Without the ePack VAAI is not supported with that level.

Also note that this only includes VMware-related ePacks and ETAs (EMC Technical Advisories). There may be others unrelated to VMware for that code level. As always it is recommended to be at the target code level for a given family that is designated by EMC.

Questions? Suggestions for additions to the paper? Hit me up on Twitter @codyhosterman