We just released our latest version of our Storage Replication Adapter, version 4.0 for VMware Site Recovery Manager. There are a lot of enhancements in this release and improvements–if you are on 3.1 (or certainly earlier) I recommend an upgrade when you get a chance.
For all the need-to-know information (release notes, user guide, videos, download link, etc.) see here:
Datastores can now be provisioned to ActiveDR pods via the plugin:
There is a new tab “Continuous” which is where you will find ActiveDR-enabled pods. The fields show the source pod (where the volume would go), the target pod (where the volume will be replicated to), the source and target arrays (which currently own those pods), the replication direction, and the “lag”. The lag is how far behind the target pod is from the source pod.
When you click on a datastore, you will see a few more pieces of information in the FlashArray summary panel:
This will show the ActiveDR information if the volume of course is in an enabled ActiveDR pair. The plugin also supports all of the usual features with ActiveDR datastores: resize, rename, QoS, snapshot, refresh from snapshot, copy from snapshot.
Demo of provisioning and ActiveDR datastore:
You can create a snapshot of a VM using the standard VMware snapshot tool, but that snapshots every single virtual disk–which you may not want/need. We used to have the ability in the plugin to create a one-off snapshot of a vVol, but removed it due to some early issues that have since been resolved. This feature has been reintroduced:
Now you can click on a vVol-type VM and navigate to the Configure tab and click on Pure Storage – > Virtual Volumes.
You can select a single vVol disk and click Create Snapshot.
This will create a new single snapshot of the volume that is that vVol. You can then restore from it, or copy from it with the other tools.
You can also do this with the home directory (config) vVol. Why would you want to snapshot this? Well because protects your virtual machine configuration. The pointer files, the VMX file, snapshot hierarchies, logs, etc. If you accidentally make a change to the VMX file that breaks your VM (or you made a lot and don’t know what you did) the restore can restore the config without having to restore the entire VM.
The other reason, is “undelete” protection. When you delete a VM, ESXi first deletes all of the files from the config vVol, then it tells the array to delete the volumes. When we delete volumes, we put the volumes in the destroyed volumes folder, then they get permanently deleted in 24 hours (by default) or manually by an admin (unless safemode is turned on and then manual eradication is not possible).
The problem here, is that if you delete a VM, we can restore the config volume itself, but VMware wiped the data from it. So it is blank. VMware does not wipe the data from the virtual disks, so those can be “undeleted” and the original data is still there. So to fully restore an undeleted VM, we need a snapshot of the config vVol. This will restore all of the files.
The ideal option here, is to assign a snapshot storage policy to the home vVol (or even more ideally all of the vVols) to have the array snapshot on a schedule:
So to do this, create a 1 hour snapshot protection group on the FlashArray:
Import the protection group into vSphere as an SPBM policy:
Select and import:
And it is now a policy:
Then assign the policy and the group to the VM (or just the VM home to protect the config).
If you don’t need frequent snapshots of the config vVol and just one will do (or whenever you want), this is what we added. You can select the VM home and click the Create Snapshot button:
Alternatively we have another place to do this. If you click on the VM summary tab and look at the FlashArray panel, there is an Undelete Protection box. If we do not see any snapshots for the config vVol, we will show a warning like below:
What this means, is that we cannot fully restore this VM if it is accidentally deleted. The data, yes. But the VM configuration, no. You can create a snapshot from here too, by clicking Snapshot now…
If it is protected, we will show the timestamp of the latest discovered snapshot:
So if you delete it:
You can restore via the plugin easily:
If the VM configuration is changing a lot–you probably want to protect via schedule. If the VM does not change a lot, then one off snapshots will work fine.
ESXi Host Personality
Also, we now set the ESXi host personality when creating new clusters:
This is important for some ActiveDR and ActiveCluster scenarios, so it is our best practice by default.
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.
One of the (many) fun things we get to work on at Pure is researching and figuring out new ways to streamline things that are traditionally repetitive and time-consuming (read: boring). Recently, we looked at how we could go about automating the deployment of FlashStack™ end-to-end; since a traditional deployment absolutely includes some of these repetitive tasks. Our goal is to start off with a completely greenfield FlashStack (racked, powered, cabled and otherwise completely unconfigured) and automate everything possible to end up with a fully-functional VMware environment ready for use. After some thought, reading and discussion, we found that this goal was achievable with the combination of SmartConfig™ and VMware Cloud Foundation™.
Automating a FlashStack deployment makes a ton of sense: From the moment new hardware is procured and delivered to a datacenter, the race is on for it to switch from a liability to a money producing asset for the business. Further, using SmartConfig and Cloud Foundation together is really combining two blueprint-driven solutions: Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) and VMware Validated Designs (VVDs). That does a lot to take the guesswork out of building the underlying infrastructure and hypervisor layers since firmware, hardware and software versions have all been pre validated and tested by Cisco, VMware and Pure Storage. In addition, these two tools also go through setting up these blueprints automatically via a customizable and repeatable framework.
Once we started working through this in the lab, the following automation workflow emerged:
Along with some introduction to the key technologies in play, we have divided the in-depth deployment guide into 3 core parts. All of these sections, including product overviews and click-by-click instructions are publicly available here on the Pure Storage VMware Platform Guide.
Deploy FlashStack with ESXi via SmartConfig. The input of this section will be factory reset Cisco hardware and the output will be a fully functional imaged/zoned/deployed UCS chassis with ESXi7 installed and ready for use with VMware Cloud Foundation.
Build VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager on FlashStack. The primary input for CloudBuilder is, not ironically, the output of the work in part 1. Specifically, ESXi hosts and their underlying infrastructure, from which we will automatically deploy a Management Domain with CloudBuilder.
The last section will show how to deploy a VMware Cloud Foundation Workload Domain with Pure Storage as both Principle Storage (VMFS on FC) and Supplemental Storage (vVols). Options such as iSCSI are covered in additional KB articles in the VMware Cloud Foundation section of the Pure Storage support site.
Post-deployment, customers will enjoy the benefits of single-click lifecycle management for the bulk of their UCS and VMware components and the ability to dynamically scale up or down their Workload Domain deployment resources independently or collectively based upon specific needs (e.g. compute/memory, network and/or storage) all from SDDC Manager.
For those who prefer a more interactive demo, I’ve recorded an in-depth overview video of this automation project followed by a four-part demo video series that shows click-by-click just how easy and fast it is to deploy a FlashStack with VMware from scratch.
Craig Waters and I gave a Light Board session on this subject:
And this is an in-depth PowerPoint overview of the project:
Finally, this is a video series showing the end-to-end process in-depth broken into a few parts for brevity.
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:
This post will be about managing one-off snapshots with VVols on the FlashArray with PowerCLI.
One of the still semi-valid reasons I have seen DBAs say “I dont want to virtualize because…” Is that they have simple snapshot/recovery scripts for their physical server that allows them to quickly restore DBs from snapshots. Doing this on VMFS requires A LOT of coordination with the VMware layer.
So they tell the VMware team–“okay I will virtualize but I want RDMs”. Well the VMware team says “well we’d rather die”
…and around in circles we go…
VVols provides the ability to provide this benefit (easy snapshot stuff) but still get the benefits of VMware stuff (vMotion, Storage vMotion, cloning, etc) without the downside of RDMs.
A few months back I was reviewing our VMware training for our field (and after some direct feedback) realized it wasn’t really doing what our field needed. It was too nuts and bolts technical–which isn’t really what was needed by the masses. There was more of a desire to understand the value of the VMware product, the value of the integration and the value that we as Pure can bring to it.
The ones that wanted/needed more technical training could get that as needed.
In short, what they wanted to be able to do was have the “I’m staffing a booth at a conference and someone asks me about vRealize Orchestrator”. Not being an expert in the product, how to do I quickly understand the value, so I know if I am chasing the right product/solution and I should inquire further.
One of the first technical benefits users can enjoy around VVols is the use of snapshotting. Snapshots created through VMware of VMs have always been a point of contention which as severely limited their usability (see a post I did around the performance impact of them here).
With VVols, when you right-click on a VM and choose take snapshot, VMware does not create the performance-impacting delta VMDK files that were traditionally used, but instead VMware entirely offloads this process to the array. So the array creates the snapshots and VMware just tracks them.
But since VMs are now a collection of individual volumes on the array (a VVol is just an array volume) you can also snapshot and restore individual virtual disks as well directly on the array.