Virtual Storage Integrator 5.6: Provisioning VMAX Striped Metas

Hey all! So as many of you have heard we (EMC) has released the latest version of the Virtual Storage Integrator today (September 16th 2013). There are plenty of blogs/posts that go into all of the details of the new release so I will not regurgitate all of that here. But for those of you who have not seen these posts check them out at these links:–whats-new

UPDATE: See a full video demo by Drew Tonnesen (@drewtonnesen) here:

One thing I do want to say before I go on is that the VSI Symmetrix SRA Utilities 5.6 have NOT been released yet. These are on hold until the new SRDF SRA is released later this year.

So a lot of new features–mainly around provisioning which in turn means updates to the VSI feature called USM or Unified Storage Management. XtremeIO, VPLEX and of course enhanced VMAX support. So (shocking, right?) I am going to focus on the VMAX enhancement in this post.

If you seen the other posts about VSI USM 5.6 the major VMAX enhancement is the ability to provision new storage using Symmetrix STRIPED metavolumes (yesss finally!). Prior to this release only standard volumes or concatenated metavolumes were supported. As many of you know striped metavolumes are our best practice for the Symmetrix (due to performance) which is documented all over the place, for VMware environments we recommend this in our best practices techbook:

So we couldn’t really recommend customers/partners use USM with VMAX for anything but test/dev environments until USM supported striped metas. So now, fire in the hole!

So first what do we need to provision? As always check the release notes here (page 6):

But in short:

  • VSI Unified Storage Management version 5.6 installed on the host you use the vSphere Client (note that it doesn’t yet support the web client)
  • An SMI-S provider configured–can be on any remote server that the host has USM installed has network access to over port 5988 or 5989. These ports are just defaults though and can be changed.
  • That SMI-S provider must have gatekeeper access to the array you want to provision from–no less than 6 GKs as always
  • SMI-S version must be 4.6 or higher (is bundled with the Unisphere 1.6 or SE 7.6 vApps or comes as a standalone installer with a special SMI-S build of SE)
  • Any VMAX array–it does not support DMX. Eagle-eyed readers may see the release notes and product guide says it supports 5773–this is incorrect and I am going to get that fixed. VMAX only, so 5874-5876.
  • vSphere 5.x
  • A masking view for the host/cluster must already be in place, as well as a thin pool must be configured on the array. Oh yeah and zoning.
  • Credentials to the SMI-S provider, default creds are admin/#1Password

So let’s provision.

1. Install VSI USM on the host that you run the vSphere Client. This is a client-side plug-in, not a server-side one so you must install it on every host you want to use it on.

2. Authenticate the VMAX array from SMI-S. So there are two (kind of three) ways to do this. If you are the VMware admin and the Storage admin and you therefore have unfettered access to both the VMware environment and the VMAX in question authenticate the array in the vSphere Client. If you want to control your rogue VMware admin you can use the Access Control Utility to create profiles for them. Let’s look at that first.

2a. Create Access Control Utility profiles. This is a separate executable from USM but does come packaged with the download. Install it on any Windows host–doesnt need to be the same as the host running USM.

NOTE: Using ACU is OPTIONAL! Arrays can be authenticated from within the vSphere Client, skip to step 2b for that.


Start up the software after installation and you will be presented with a screen listing any currently configured profiles. So it will likely be empty.


Click Add. Follow the wizard that appears and is shown in the below GIF. You need the following information:

  • SMI-S Provider IP/FQDN and credentials
  • VMAX Serial Number
  • Which pool you want them to use
  • Which masking view you want them to use
Click to open in new tab

After the wizard you can select the new profile and click export on the lower right (note that if the window is sized too small you may not see the export button). This will allow you to save the profile and export it as a file and give it to whomever needs it. An XML file is created and the contents encrypted with a password you enter at the time of export. In order to edit it, you will need to remember the password.


2b. If you want to provision yourself and have the SMI-S credentials you don’t need to use ACU if you dont want to. You can login to the vSphere Client and do it there. Once USM is installed launch the vSphere Client and go to Home > Solutions & Applications > EMC VSI


The VSI management screen will appear, click on Unified Storage Management link on the left and then the Add button above the storage systems pane. This will authorize users of USM on that host to be able to provision from that array (any pool). You just need the array serial number and the SMI-S provider IP/FQDN and credentials.

Click to open in new tab

3. Once you have authorized the VMAX (whether or it be through ACU or VSI) start the provisioning wizard. If you have done neither that is okay (you will have a chance in the wizard to add an array) but you need the SMI-S credentials. In the Hosts & Clusters view in the vSphere Client, right-click on a cluster or host object and choose the EMC option followed by Storage Manager then Provision Storage…

Click to open in new tab

4. Go through the wizard. Follow these steps:

  1. Select Disk/LUN
  2. Select the storage array. If there are none or the right one is not present, click the Add button to start the add storage system wizard or to import an ACU profile
  3. Once an array has been added, select it and click next
  4. Choose a thin pool
  5. Choose a masking view. USM will filter out masking views that do not have the proper WWNs in them
  6. Choose the VMFS version
  7. Choose either VMFS or RDM, if VMFS give it a name. USM will also use that name to give the Symmetrix device(s) a friendly name
  8. Choose a size in MB, GB or TB
  9. Choosed Striped (note concatenated is the default)
Click to open in new tab

Once you finish the wizard, USM will create the device, add it to the masking view and then rescan the host(s) and format the VMFS (if VMFS is chosen of course). If successful you will see the following events in the vSphere Client:


If something goes wrong check the log named EMC.VSI.VSphere4.Features.USD.UnifiedStorageManagement.txt either in the VSI Log Viewer feature in the VSI home or at the location C:Users<username>AppDataRoamingEMCVirtual Storage IntegratorvSphere4Logs.

USM will try to make the meta member sizes as large as possible. I created a 1 TB meta and it made five 200 GB members, for a 2 TB it used nine, 233 GB members. Still some work that can be done to get member counts a little nicer, but an excellent and much needed step.

If you look at the log you can see what USM did when it came to sizing, you will see things like such indicating it created five 200 GB members to form the 1 TB volume:

Begin to create thin device VSI_USM_DS with size 209716 MB
The device VSI_USM_DS with WWN 60000970000195701238533030373734 is created successfully
Begin to create thin device VSI_USM_DS with size 209716 MB
The device VSI_USM_DS with WWN 60000970000195701238533030373735 is created successfully
Begin to create thin device VSI_USM_DS with size 209716 MB
The device VSI_USM_DS with WWN 60000970000195701238533030373736 is created successfully
Begin to create thin device VSI_USM_DS with size 209716 MB
The device VSI_USM_DS with WWN 60000970000195701238533030373737 is created successfully
Begin to create thin device VSI_USM_DS with size 209716 MB
The device VSI_USM_DS with WWN 60000970000195701238533030373738 is created successfully

Note that currently USM does not support expanding a striped meta–this is something you need to do manually if desired down the road. Checkout my earlier post on that here:

For more information on USM check out the product guide:

So there you have it–try it out! As a reminder VSI and all of its features are free.

6 Replies to “Virtual Storage Integrator 5.6: Provisioning VMAX Striped Metas”

  1. ACU does indeed also work for VNX–I believe the control is actually a bit more granular than was is offered for the VMAX in fact. Currently there is no mechanism within VSI for email notifications, so you would probably have to set up something from the array. Might be able to set something up from the vCenter side though when that task appears too, but that’s me thinking aloud. I’ll look into this. I don’t have a VNX but I will see what I can dig up on my VMAX

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