New vVol Replication PowerShell Cmdlets

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s work to make 2021 a better year.

In furtherance of that goal, I have put out a few new vVol-related PowerShell cmdlets! So baby steps I guess.

The following are the new cmdlets:

Basics:

  • Get-PfaVvolStorageArray

Replication:

  • Get-PfaVvolReplicationGroup
  • Get-PfaVvolReplicationGroupPartner
  • Get-PfaVvolFaultDomain

Storage Policy Management:

  • Build-PfaVvolStoragePolicyConfig
  • Edit-PfaVvolStoragePolicy
  • Get-PfaVvolStoragePolicy
  • New-PfaVvolStoragePolicy
  • Set-PfaVvolVmStoragePolicy

Now to walk through how to use them. This post will talk about the basics and the replication cmdlets. The next post will talk about the profile cmdlets.

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vVols, please report to the Principal’s Office! VCF 4.1 and vVols!

Note: This is another guest blog by Kyle Grossmiller. Kyle is a Sr. Solutions Architect at Pure and works with Cody on all things VMware.

In VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) version 4.1, vVols have taken center stage as a Principal Storage type available for Workload Domain deployments.  This inclusion in one of VMware’s premier products reinforces the continued emphasis on vVols and all the benefits that they enable from VMware.  vVols with iSCSI is particularly exciting to us as this is the first instance of the iSCSI protocol being supported as a Principal Storage type within VCF.  We at Pure Storage are honored to have had a little bit of influence over this added functionality by serving as a design partner for this new feature and we are confident you are going to like what you see!

Someone who is using VMFS datastore with VCF today might ask themselves ‘why vVols’? This is a great question deserving of an expansive answer beyond this blog post.  Fundamentally, though, using vVols enables you to fully use the FlashArray in the way it was intended.  By leverage VASA (VMware API for Storage Awareness) you gain far more granular control and monitoring abilities over your individual VMs.  Native FlashArray capabilities such as snapshots and replication are directly executed against the underlying array via policy-driven constructs.  Further information on these and other benefits with vVols are available here.

Using vVols as Principal Storage is a lot like the methods VCF customers are used to for pre-existing Principal Storage options.  Image an ESXi host, apply a few prerequisites to it, commission it to SDDC manager and create Workload Domains.  Deploying Workload Domains with VMware Cloud Foundation automates and takes all the guesswork out of deploying vCenter and NSX-T for modern use cases such as Kubernetes via Workload Management

Stepping into some specifics for a moment; here’s the process on how to use FlashArray iSCSI and vVols for VCF Workload Domains:

The most fundamental update to SDDC Manager to allow vVols is the capability to register a VASA Provider.  In the below screenshot and following detailed information, we show an example of how you can add a FlashArray using another block protocol:  Fibre Channel:

  1. Provide a descriptive name for the VASA provider.  It is recommended to use the FlashArray name and append it with -ct0 or -ct1 to denote which controller the entry is associated with.
  2. Provide the URL for the VASA provider.  This cannot be the management VIP of the array.  Instead this field needs to be the management IP address associated with one of the controllers.  The URL also is required to have the VASA port and version.xml appended to it.  The format for the URL is:  https://<IP of FlashArrayController>:8084/version.xml
  3. Give a FlashArray user name with the arrayadmin role.  The procedure for how to create such a user can be found here.  While the pureuser account can be used, we recommend creating and using a separate FlashArray user for VASA operations.
  4. Provide the password for the FlashArray username to be used.
  5. Container Name must be Vvol container.  Note that this value is case-sensitive.
  6. For Container Type, select FC from the drop-down menu to use Fibre Channel.
  7. Once all entries are completed, click Save.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to share here so we will be expanding on this substantially in the very near future on our VMware Platform Guide site.

Rounding out this post, I’m happy to show a demo video of just how easy it is to deploy a FC+vVols-based Workload Domain with VMware Cloud Foundation.

Extending vVols to VMware Cloud Foundation

Note: This is a guest blog by Kyle Grossmiller. Kyle is a Sr. Solutions Architect at Pure and works with Cody on all things VMware.

As we’ve covered in past posts, VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) offers immense advantage to VMware users in terms of simplifying day 0 and 1 activities and streamlining management operations within the vSphere ecosystem.  Today, we dive into how to use the Pure Storage leading vVols implementation as Supplemental storage with your Management and Workload Domains. 

First though, a brief description of the differences between Principal Storage and Supplemental Storage and how it relates to VCF is in order to set the table.  Fortunately, it is very easy to distinguish between the two storage types:

Principal Storage is any storage type that you can connect to your Workload Domain as a part of the setup process within SDDC Manager.  Today, that’s comprised of vSAN, NFS and VMFS on Fibre Channel, pictured below.  We’ve shown how to use VMFS on FC previously.

Supplemental Storage simply means that you connect your storage system to a Workload Domain after it has been deployed.  Examples of this storage type today include iSCSI and the focus of this blog:  vVols.

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FlashArray HTML-5 vSphere Client Plugin VVol Support

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”.

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Retrieving Storage Policy of a VM with vRO

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.

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Generating the default VVol Storage Container ID

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.

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Mounting a VVol Datastore with PowerCLI

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 1.2.2.1 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.

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Registering VASA with PowerShell

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!

In our PowerShell Pure/VMware module there are three new cmdlets:

  • new-pfavasaprovider
  • get-pfavasaprovider
  • remove-pfavasaprovider
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First Class Disks and VVols

One of the major advantages we have seen with VVols is making a virtual disk a first class citizen on the array. We can restore, copy, replicate them (and their VMs) as storage objects were meant to be restored, copied, replicated etc.

Though one thing about virtual disks is that by default–they are not first class citizens in vSphere, VVols or otherwise. To create one, it has to be associated with a VM.

To retrieve one in PowerCLI (for example) get-harddisk requires a datastore or a VM to return a result:

Same if I want to create a new one:

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PowerCLI and VVols Part VIII: Running a Failover–Planned Migration

In the previous post in this series I explored how to run a VVol-based test failover of a virtual machine. Now I will walk through running an actual failover.

There are two types of failovers; a planned migration (everything is up an running) and a disaster recovery failover (part or all of the original site is down).

For this post, I will start with running a planned migration.

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