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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Heads Up! Patches now available for NFS APD Issue

Very quick update …

Many readers will be aware of an ongoing issue with NFS in ESXi 5.5U1. My colleague, Duncan, wrote an article about it on his blog site recently entitled – Alert: vSphere 5.5 & NFS issue. Essentially, your NFS datastore may experience an APD (All Paths Down) condition. The issue is also described in KB article 2076392.

I’m pleased to say that VMware has now produced a patch to address this issue. The patch is 5.5EP4 (June 2014) and can be downloaded from VMware’s patch repository site here and will address this issue. Search on ESXi (Embedded and Installable), version 5.5.0. Another KB article, 2077360, has more information about the patch fix.

Introduction to vCloud Hybrid Services (vCHS) – Disaster Recovery (DR)

vCHS-PoweredI just recently received my credentials to VMware’s vCloud Hybrid Services. One of the first things I was interested in testing out was the Disaster Recovery Service, which uses VMware’s vSphere Replication technology to protect VMs in your on-premise DC to vCHS. The following post provides the steps to configure the replication target as your vCHS VDC (virtual data center), and then configuring replication on a VM.

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VAAI UNMAP Performance Considerations

I was involved in some conversations recently on how the VAAI UNMAP command behaved, and what were the characteristics which affected its performance. For those of you who do not know, UNMAP is our mechanism for reclaiming dead or stranded space from thinly provisioned VMFS volumes. Prior to this capability, the ESXi host had no way of informing the storage array that the space that was being previously consumed by a particular VM or file is no longer in use. This meant that the array thought that more space was being consumed than was actually the case. UNMAP, part of the vSphere APIs for Array Integration, enables administrators to overcome tho challenge by telling the array that these blocks on a thin provisioned volume are no longer in use and that they can be reclaimed.

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vSphere Web Client Short Cuts

Every once in a while, you learn about something that is kind of neat. In some conversations with our UI team, I recently learnt about a few cool vSphere Web Client short cuts to jump to between different views.

  • Ctrl + Alt + 1 = Go to Home View
  • Ctrl + Alt + 2 = Go to vCenter Home View
  • Ctrl + Alt + 3 = Go to the Hosts & Clusters View
  • Ctrl + Alt + 4 = Got to the VM & Templates View
  • Ctrl + Alt + 5 = Got to the Datastores View
  • Ctrl + Alt + 6 = Go to the Networks View
  • Ctrl + Alt + S = Place cursor in the Search field

Pretty nice.

EMC World 2014 Highlights (abridged)

Although I didn’t attend EMC World this year, there were a lot of interesting announcements. I managed to catch up with Matt Cowger (who sorts of sits between both the EMC & VMware camps) and ran through some of the main highlights from this year’s conference. There has been a lot written about EMC World already (and I mean a lot) so I’m going to try to keep the highlights to a minimum, and provide links to where you can read more.

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