No that’s not a typo–VVols are now capitalized as vVols. So, FYI.
Anywho…as you may or may not be aware, we just released our 5.3.0 version of the FlashArray Purity Operating Environment, with quite a few things in it. One of the features is part of a larger solution that I think is a really good example of the power of VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols). One of the main arguments I have been making for VVols is that they allow you to use features on your array as they were intended (snapshots is a great example there) but also allows us (the storage vendor) to do things that simply weren’t possible, or were rather difficult to do with VMFS without compromise.
This particular feature I am referring to is what we are calling EncryptReduce. Previously called (in its beta form) End-to-End Encryption, this is a solution we partnered with Thales with its Vormetric Transparent Encryption product. We initially announced it here.
This doesn’t come up very often these days, but every once and awhile it does and every time it does, I look to see if we have documentation on it and there never seems to be. After writing this post I did find a forum post where my friend Drew answers it there too. Well anyways let’s quickly explain the situation.
Most block vendors these days tell customers to change their path switching policy for their storage in ESXi from the default of Round Robin (1,000) to 1. This makes ESXi switches logical paths for a given device after every I/O instead of every 1,000. The reason I say this doesn’t come up much anymore is that in modern version of ESXi (6.0 express patch+, 6.5 U1+ and 6.7+) we (Pure) have rules in ESXi that makes sure this is set by default without any user configuration. Many other vendors do as well.
Anyways, when using VMware tools to see if a device is configured properly, depending on how it is set, it can readout differently.
Not long ago I posted about our initial release of our vSphere Plugin that supports the HTML-5 UI–the main problem though is that it did not yet support the VVol stuff we put in the original flash/flex based plugin.
So accordingly, the most common question I received was “when are you adding VVol support to this one?”. And my response was “Soon! We are working on it”.
Phew that title is a mouthful. Sorry about that. But at least you know what I’m gonna talk about here. Nothing particularly profound, but obviously something every customer must do. I’ve been on a solid PowerShell kick as of late so why not put pen to paper here.
So whether you are using VVols or VMFS (or gross: RDMs) you need to do a bit of prep work to get things up and running. I will likely write a post on doing this with the vSphere Client Plugin, but for now let’s focus on doing it with PowerShell.
So step one is to install the PowerShell module that will help you. This is hosted on the PowerShell Gallery, so it is fairly simple to install:
If you already have it installed, don’t forget to pull the latest version:
I recently saw a post on Reddit about pulling a VM storage policy from a VM using vRO and it was stated that it was not possible which was said to be confirmed by VMware support.
‘Now I don’t know when they asked VMware support, and if it was two years or so ago, then that was true. But it is certainly not true now. Though I will admit, it is not super intuitive to figure out unless you know where to look. Here is how you do it.
Btw, I only tested this with VVol storage policies, but it really should not matter at all.
A VVol datastore, is not a file system, so it is not a traditional datastore. It is just a capacity quota. So when you “mount” a VVol datastore, you aren’t really performing a traditional mounting operation as there is no underlying physical storage to address during the mount. So instead of mounting some storage device, you are mounting what is called a storage container. This is the meta data object that represents the certain amount of capacity that can be provisioned from a given array. An array can have more than one storage containers, for reasons of multi-tenancy or whatever.
In a VMFS world, when you go to create a new datastore, you pass it the serial number of the storage you want to format with VMFS. You know that serial, because, well, you created the storage device. When you “mount” a VVol datastore, instead of a device serial, you supply the storage container UUID. It comes in the form of vvol:e0ad83893ead3681-b1b7f56a45ff64f1. Of course the characters will vary a bit.
I’ve been making a lot of updates to my PowerShell module around VVols recently and this was the last “table stakes” cmdlet I wanted to add. There are certainly more to come, but now we definitely have the basics. In 18.104.22.168 release of the PowerShell module I added a cmdlet called Mount-PfaVvolDatastore.
As of today we support a single VVol datastore–though we are working on adding support for more than one.
A common question I hear is “can I install the Pure vSphere Plugin via PowerShell?” and my answer has been up until now, “sorry no :(”
But I was asked it twice last week and I decided to actually think about it? Why couldn’t it be automated? Just because we host in in the FlashArray and it is normally installed via our GUI? That GUI has to be executing code to do the install.
Installing a vSphere plugin is really two steps. First registering the plugin as an extension (this says what the plugin is, what version, etc). And then actually installing the plugin files to the vCenter. In a normal situation, someone logs into our GUI, connect to the vCenter and then runs the “install” which is really just registering the extension. In that registered extension, there is a link to where the plugin files can be downloaded from. This is step 2. At some point after registration, the vSphere Client downloads the files. In the Flash version, it happened the next time you logged in (this is why logging in took so long the first time you logged in after installing plugin). In the HTML-5 vSphere Client, this happens in the background, so there is no delay in logging in.
Registering VASA providers is the first step in setting up VVols for a given vCenter, so automating this process is something that might be of interest to folks. We currently have this process in our vSphere Plugin, as well as in our vRO plugin, and of course you can do it manually. What about PowerShell? Well we have that too!