VSAN Part 26 – Does Disk Size Matter?

I was involved in an interesting thread recently with one of our VSAN partners regarding disk sizes used in VSAN, and what impact smaller drives may have. In an earlier post, I discussed reasons why VSAN would stripe a VMDK storage object even though a stripe width was not requested in the VM Storage Policy – Why is my Storage Object striped?

In that post, I highlighted the fact that if the VMDK storage object is too big to fit onto the free space of a single hard disk, then it will automatically be striped across multiple hard disks. However there is another VSAN object that disks size may also impact – the VM Home Namespace.

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Network Virtualization (NSX) and vSphere Data Protection Interop

NSX-300x206In this third article in the series of backing up the vCloud Suite, we turn our attentions to NSX, VMware’s Network Virtualization product. Before starting, I should point out that NSX has a recommended way of backing up and restoring configuration information via the use of an FTP server, which you need to configure in your infrastructure to hold this exported metadata. However this exercise looks at how you might be able to use VDP to back up and restore an NSX configuration using image level backups. Once again, I wanted to see whether I could restore the NSX environment to a particular point in time, in-place and also by restoring to a new location. This is the same infrastructure that I used for backing up and restoring vCops and backing up and restoring vCAC and VCO. On this occasion, I was using NSX version 6.0.4, vCenter 5.5U1 and VDP version 5.5.6.46.

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VAAI-NAS, vCloud Director and Cloning Offload Strangeness

tintriI was in a conversation with one of my pals over at Tintri last week (Fintan), and he observed some strange behaviour when provisioning VMs from a catalog in vCloud Director (vCD). When he disabled Fast Provisioning, he expected that provisioning further VMs from the catalog would still be offloaded via the VAAI-NAS plugin. All the ESXi hosts have the VAAI-NAS plugin from Tintri installed. However,  it seems that the provisioning/cloning operation was not being offloaded to the array, and the ESXi hosts resources were being used for the operation instead. Deployments of VMs from the catalogs were taking minutes rather than seconds. What was going on?

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Heads Up! VASA Storage Providers disconnected – VSAN Capabilities Missing

I’m a bit late in bringing this to your attention, but there is a potential issue with VASA storage providers disconnecting from vCenter resulting in no VSAN capabilities being visible when you try to create a VM Storage Policy. These storage providers (there is one on each ESXi host participating in the VSAN Cluster) provide out-of-band information about the underlying storage system, in this case VSAN. If there isn’t at least one of these providers on the ESXi hosts communicating to the SMS (Storage Monitoring Service) on vCenter, then vCenter will not be able to display any of the capabilities of the VSAN datastore, which means you will be unable to build any further storage policies for virtual machine deployments (currently deployed VMs already using VM Storage Policies are unaffected). Even a resynchronization operation fails to reconnect the storage providers to vCenter. This seems to be predominantly related to vCenter servers which were upgraded to vCenter 5.5U1 and not newly installed vCenter servers.

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My VMworld 2014 #STO2996-SPO #STO3162 #TEX1985

vmworld-2014-active-banner-v4I am extremely excited about this year’s VMworld. I’m participating is some really great sessions, and the Essential VSAN book which Duncan Epping and I have been working on for the past 7-8 months should be available too. Continue reading

Heads Up! HP Smart Array Driver Issue

hp-logoWe’ve seen a spate of incidents recently related to the HP Smart Array Drivers that are shipped as part of ESXi 5.x. Worst case scenario – this is leading to out of memory conditions and a PSOD (Purple Screen of Death) on the ESXi host in some cases. The bug is in the hpsa 5.5.0.58-1 driver and all Smart Array controllers that use this driver are exposed to this issue. For details on the symptom, check out VMware KB article 2075978.

HP have also released a Customer Advisory c04302261 on the issue.

This was a tricky one to deal with, as one possible step might be to roll back/downgrade the driver to an earlier version. Unfortunately, not only is this not supported (or documented), but you might also find that an older driver may not work with a newer storage controller. The good news is that HP now have a new version of the driver available which fixes the issue. Customers should upgrade to HP Smart Array Controller Driver (hpsa) Version 5.0.0.60-1 (ESXi 5.0 and ESXi 5.1) or Version 5.5.0.60-1 (ESXi 5.5). Details on where to locate the driver and how to upgrade it are located in their advisory. Think about doing this as soon as possible.

vCenter Operations Manager and vSphere Data Protection Interop

I am currently involved in a project that looks at how we can back up and restore various components of the VMware vCloud Suite. One of these components is vCOps, vCenter Operations Manager. I wanted to verify that I could backup and restore vCOps with VDP, VMware’s Data Protection product. There were a couple of scenarios that I wished to test:

  1. Restore vCops VMs outside of a vApp construct and verify that it was still operational
  2. Restore vCOps VMs inside of a new vApp construct and verify that it was still operational
  3. Restore vCOps VMs inside of the original vApp construct and verify that it was still operational

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