Virtual Storage Integrator: Symmetrix SRA Utilities 5.6

Late last week I posted a summary blog on the latest SRDF Storage Replication Adapter for VMware Site Recovery Manager here:

I detailed out the new features etc for the 5.5 release and briefly mentioned the latest release of the Virtual Storage Integrator Symmetrix SRA Utilities that helps users configure the SRDF SRA. On 10/25, we posted the latest release of the SRA Utilities, version 5.6.

Version 5.6 of the SRA Utilities have been enhanced in tandem with the SRDF SRA to support the new features that the SRA has to offer. Most of these enhancements relate to the masking control functionality that is newly supported by the SRA.


Check out the release notes and the product guide here:

The requirements to use this version of the SRA Utilities are similar to the SRA itself:

  • Solutions Enabler 7.6.1
  • SRDF SRA 5.5
  • VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.1 or 5.5
  • vSphere Client 5.1 or 5.5
  • VMAX 10K, 20K or 40K

So what specifically is new? Check it out:

New Global Options

The SRDF SRA added three new global options in the release and like all of the options they are also stored in an XML file on the SRM server(s) that can be referenced when necessary by the SRA. To ease configuration of these options the SRA Utilities offer a global options editor that is integrated into the vSphere Client. Open the vSphere Client on the SRM server and if the SRA Utilities are installed it can be accessed in Home > Solutions and Applications > EMC > SRA Utilities > SRDF SRA Global Options.


Test Replica Masking Control allows the SRA to mask/unmask devices during test recovery and only need to be set on the given recovery site. RDF Device Masking Control, when enabled, allows the SRA to remove R1s and/or add R2/s during recovery. If you want the SRA to do both, it will need to be enabled on both SRM servers. Lastly Reverse Replication During Recovery should be set on the recovery side and allows the SRA to initiate SRDF swap/re-establish operations during recovery instead of reprotect. Note all of these are disabled by default.

Support for non-Star three site SRDF configuration

The SRDF SRA 5.5 greatly enhanced support for non-Star three site SRDF configuration (Cascaded and Concurrent) and prior releases of VSI did not support it at all. Now both the SRA and VSI fully support these SRDF configurations. In the test recovery configuration screens (when the Star Device option is unchecked) VSI will list all valid two-site SRDF configurations and non-Star three site configurations. It will indicate the mode of SRDF for the given leg (Sync or Async) and if it is two-site, concurrent or cascaded.


Note that VSI adheres to the FailoverToAsyncSite global option. So depending on how that is set is what will be returned in VSI.

Masking Control

One of the biggest additions in functionality for the SRDF SRA 5.5 release is the ability for the SRA to remove and add devices to masking views when necessary during recovery or test recovery operations. Quick overview:

  1. Add TimeFinder replica devices to the recovery environment during a test recovery
  2. Remove TimeFinder replica devices from the recovery environment during a cleanup procedure after a test
  3. If TestFailoveWithoutLocalSnapshots is enabled it will do the same for R2 or R21 devices instead of TimeFinder devices in 1 and 2 above
  4. Remove RDF1 devices from protected environment during PrepareFailover during a recovery
  5. Add RDF2/21 devices to recovery environment prior to the SCSI rescan during a recovery operation

The SRA does not create or delete masking views, port groups, initiator groups or storage groups. These must all be pre-created and associated. All the SRA does is either remove or add devices to a storage group. In order for the SRA to know what storage group it should add devices to users must create the associations in a new XML file called EmcSrdfSraDeviceMaskingControl.xml. This file simply associates a given device on a given array with a storage group name.

This file can be of course edited by hand, but VSI offers a new screen to make it much easier to do from within the vSphere Client.

The new VSI screen is under the Hosts & Clusters view in the vSphere Client and appears when the vCenter object is selected in the inventory. Click the EMC VSI tab that appears.


If this is the protected site, VSI will just list out all of the RDF1 devices that are valid for SRM presented to the hosts in that vCenter instance. Once those devices are listed you can select the drop down in the storage group column for any of the devices that need to be configured and choose the correct storage group it should be removed from. Click save to commit the changes to the XML file.

If it is the recovery site, or a bi-directional SRM configuration, there is an option to also return R2 devices. If you choose this option VSI will also return R2 devices. This is achieved by an additional connection wizard in which you supply credentials to the remove vCenter. This allows VSI to connect to the remote vCenter and query for any RDF1 devices. It will then return the respective R2 devices of those discovered R1s. The storage groups that are returned are the groups that are in masking views with the correct HBA WWNs from the recovery site.


Also if this is the recovery site you can configure the TimeFinder replica device storage group associations by clicking “Test Replica Masking” instead.

This will query the local recovery VMware environment for supported RDF2/21 devices. It will then list all replica devices that are valid for that R2. These replica devices may or may not be presented to the recovery cluster. Choose the appropriate device and then the relevant storage group. Note that it will list all valid types regardless of the TimeFinder mode you end up choosing. In other words, in the drop down list might be VDEVs (for TimeFinder/Snap) TDEVs (for Clone or VP Snap) or RAID/TDEVs (for Clone).


Note that currently the test replica masking configuration feature in VSI requires that the RDF2 devices be presented at the time of configuration, unlike the RDF masking configuration. This means that if the RDF2 devices are not present you will not be able to use VSI to configure storage group associations for the TimeFinder devices unless you temporarily present the RDF2 devices.

Test Recovery Configuration Enhancement for non-visible devices

The last VSI enhancement I want to discuss is the test failover configuration screen. This is the screen where you configure RDF2/TimeFinder replica pairs that the SRA will use for test recovery.

Prior to VSI 5.6, the SRDF SRA could not use TimeFinder devices that were not already present to the recovery cluster(s) because it did not have the capability to present them itself. Therefore, VSI would only return candidate replicas in VSI that were already present in a masking view and available to the recovery VMware environment.

Now that the SRDF SRA supports TimeFinder devices that are not present at the time of a test VSI has been changed to allow for this. There is a new option in the test failover configuration screen called Non-Visible Replica. This is by default unchecked and when unchecked VSI will still verify masking records of the TimeFinder candidate replicas. When checked, this filter is removed, or well more accurately, altered. When checked the following new behaviors can be noted:

  1. A new column called “Replica Status” is added to the test failover configuration screen. When you select a candidate replica device in the “Replica Device” column, the “Replica Status” column will be automatically populated with whether or not that replica is actually in a masking view for the recovery cluster. If it is it will say “Visible”, if not it will say “Non-Visible”.
  2. VSI will no longer require that the device be presented to the recovery cluster.
  3. VSI will return candidates that are either presented to the recovery cluster or candidates that have ZERO masking records. The latter rule is to protect users from accidentally choosing a device that is in use in another environment. If they want to use a device like that, they must configure the XML file manually.


Note that this feature still requires RDF2 devices to be presented to the recovery environment. Hopefully maybe in a future release VSI can piggyback on the connection query it uses to find RDF2 devices in masking control and take it one step further to find the TimeFinder devices that are valid for them. Also this is not supported with Star devices.

That should about cover it for VSI 5.6 enhancements–look for the updated SRDF/SRM techbook in a few days for a lot more detail on this. So download the SRA and VSI respectively at the two links below and enjoy!

2 Replies to “Virtual Storage Integrator: Symmetrix SRA Utilities 5.6”

  1. We’ve been trying to install this at a client but I dont think we have the right module. Powerlink only shows a general VSI which, when installed, did not product the expected SRA Utilities panel. Is there a separate “SRA utilities for Symmetrix” package?

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