The vSphere Web Client Plugin for the Pure Storage FlashArray has been updated and released and it is the largest update to the plugin since, well, it was first released. A lot of feature enhancements–the majority focused on integrating local and remote replication management into the plugin. Our long term goal is to offer feature parity of FlashArray management with the plugin as compared to our own GUI. It is getting close. Let’s take a look at the new features.
Pure Storage announced last week our very first converged architecture offering appropriately named FlashStack. The initial release of FlashStack is built off of Cisco hardware (UCS of course) and the FlashArray. We have two reference architectures presently, one for VMware Horizon View and one for general purpose VMware vSphere environments (choose your own guest OSes). My colleague Ravi Venkat (@ravivenk) architected the View ref arch, while I focused on the general vSphere one. In this blog post I am going to overview what we did with the vSphere ref arch. For more information on either, refer to the respective reference architecture white papers at the usual place:
UPDATE: In-guest UNMAP is now supported in a VM and sDelete and such is no longer required. Please refer to these posts:
Direct Guest OS UNMAP in vSphere 6.0
Reclaiming “dirty” or “dead” space is a topic that goes by my desk quite often these days–since the FlashArray is a data reduction array it is especially important that space is not wasted on the array–throws off the economics etc. Therefore UNMAP is an important VAAI feature to leverage in any AFA environment. Supporting UNMAP is definitely table stakes for AFAs.
Note–I am doing to use the terms “dead”, “dirty” and “stranded” to define space that needs to be reclaimed interchangeably. So anyways…
Unfortunately UNMAP in its current form does not satisfy all of the reclamation use cases. UNMAP will only reclaim space on any array when capacity is cleared from the VMFS volume–so when a VM (or virtual disk) is deleted or migrated elsewhere. It does not have the ability to reclaim space when data is “deleted” inside a virtual machine by the guest OS when using virtual disks. VMware does not know this capacity has been cleared and neither can the array. So until this virtual disk is deleted or moved the capacity cannot be reclaimed with UNMAP. So to be clear, UNMAP with vmkfstools (in ESXi 5.0/5.1) or esxcli (in ESXi 5.5) does not allow you to reclaim space that remains stranded inside of virtual disks.
The other day I stumbled upon a new VMware labs “Fling” called PowerActions. Basically it allows you to run in-context PowerShell/PowerCLI scripts right from within the vSphere Web Client. My mouth drooled at the promise of what this could deliver–and it really delivered! This is my new favorite tool by a landslide. See the announcement here from @alanrenouf http://www.virtu-al.net/2014/09/16/powercli-vsphere-web-clientannouncing-poweractions/. I’d recommend readin this first before you continue down with my post.
I have done a few posts on here that involve the Pure Storage Plugin for the vSphere Web Client (here and here) since I joined. Well here is another. We just released a new version of the Web Client Plugin (I am going to refer to it as WCP for the rest of this post because I am a lazy typist). We bundle the WCP into Purity and therefore the WCP is installed, updated and uninstalled from our GUI/CLI to vCenter (yes we do also offer a mechanism to update it outside of upgrading Purity itself). Our latest release of Purity, 4.0.12, includes WCP version 1.1.13–while there is no new functionality there are two important fixes.
The Pure Storage Content Pack for VMware vCenter Log Insight is now live on the VMware Solution Exchange! Download it today for free. As past posts have shown I have done a decent amount of work with Log Insight here at Pure and in my previous job. A product I have really liked from VMware for a variety of reasons, a big one being that it is so very easy to use. We really improved our syslog feature on the FlashArray in the 4.0 Purity release, so it was the perfect time to create our first content pack!
As people are probably aware, VMware just released the slew of new product updates that was announced at VMworld. vSphere 5.5 U2 at the core, but essentially all of the major products had updates–the one in particular interest to me was vCenter Site Recovery Manager. This latest release, numbered 5.8 is probably the biggest update to SRM since probably 5.0 moving to 5.1, arguably bigger. I am still playing around with it, but I wanted to share some of the things I found of interest in it.
This is a question that has come up quite often and I have blogged about this for several different products in the past. What Firewall rules do I need to create to install and use the Pure Storage Plugin for the vSphere Web Client? Luckily this is fairly simple. For instructions on using and installing the Web Client plugin check out these posts here and here.
When you go to install the plugin from the array GUI and you see the following error it could very well be a network error:
Just like last year, Pure Storage is sponsoring a post-VMworld event called “Evolve”. This will feature some great keynote speakers as well as some technical sessions on the state of the industry. This will take place on Thursday, August 28th after VMworld has officially come to a close and will be right there next to the Moscone Center. I highly recommend you stick around for this (yes, it’s free)!
Today I posted a new document to our repository on purestorage.com: Pure Storage and VMware Storage APIs for Array Integration—VAAI. This is a new white paper that describes in detail the VAAI block primitives that VMware offers and that we support. Furthermore, performance expectations are described, comparing before/after and how the operations do at scale. There are some best practices listed as well, the why and how of those recommendations are also described within.
I have to say, especially when it comes to XCOPY, I have never seen a storage array do so well with it. It is really quite impressive how fast XCOPY sessions complete and how scaling it up (in terms of numbers of VMs or size of the VMDKs) doesn’t weaken the process at all. The main purpose of this post is to alert you to the new document but I will go over some high level performance pieces of information as well. Read the document for the details and more.