VC Ops Adapters – Storage and Brocade SAN

I’ve been doing a bit of work over the past number of weeks on the adapters for vCenter Operations  (vC OPs) with my old pal Paudie. We are working on vCenter Operations 5.8 and using a vSphere 5.5U1 environment. Since we have a Brocade Fibre Channel switch and an EMC VNX array in our lab, I wanted to get the Management Pack for Storage Devices (MPSD) and the Brocade SAN Analytics Management Pack deployed, and see what information we could glean from those extension packs. When we completed the configuration, we were able to go into the vC OPs customs view and see details like the following Brocade – Health Overview and Storage Components Heatmap:

VCOPs - Brocade - Health OverviewVCOPs -Storage Components HeatmapCaution: We spent a lot of time trying to figure out why the MPSD adapter would not connect to the CIMOM service on Brocade’s Network Advisor. This boiled down to networking/DNS configuration issues. The MPSD release notes for vC OPs describe the issue. As they say, I should have RTFM. Anyhow, here are the steps we went through to get this setup going. I’m afraid it is rather long, but hopefully you will find the information in here useful.

Step 1: Setup the Brocade switch to generate SNMP traps

This is probably going to vary on a switch by switch basis. Since our switch was a DS5000 from Brocade, these are the steps that are needed to generate an SNMP trap when a change occurs on the switch. The Brocade Network Advisor SAN User Manual has further details.

DS_5000B:admin> trackchangesshow
Track changes status: OFF
Track changes generate SNMP-TRAP: NO

DS_5000B:admin> trackchangesset 1,1
Committing configuration…done.

DS_5000B:admin> trackchangesshow
Track changes status: ON
Track changes generate SNMP-TRAP: YES

Step 2: Register VASA Provider for the VNX array

We burned a lot of cycles here as the procedure to register the VASA provider for the VNX has changed a few times, and there are a number of blog posts out there which detail how to set up a VASA provider for older versions of flare code. We are running flare code 32 on our VNX 5500, and found that the correct procedure was documented here – Configuring VASA with VNX blog post. Once VASA was registered (and note that there is no need for Solutions Enabler or SMI or anything like that now), we could see the array capabilities surfaced up in vCenter:


Step 3: Install & Configure Brocade Network Advisor

The next step is to install a piece of software called the Brocade Network Advisor (BNA). This contains a CIMOM server and SMI Agent, and both must be configured during the installation:

BNA - SMI-AgentWhen the BNA is deployed, all services should show up as running when examined through the BNA Server Management Console:

BNA - Everything runningIf you need to change the configuration, you can click on the Configure SMI agent button. This will also allow you to verify the CIMOM information:

BNA - CIMOM enabledYou will now need to add any Brocade fibre channel switches which connect your ESXi hosts to the storage array, in our case, to the EMC VNX. These switches have to support Brocade Network Advisor. The switches are added via the Network Advisor – Product Status and Traffic. In the first screen shot, no switches are visible. You need to click on the Discover link and add FC switch details.

BNA - before discoverIn the next screen shot, the discovery is complete and the FC switch is now visible. This process needs to be repeated for all switches in your fabric which connect the ESXi hosts to the storage arrays:

BNA - post discoverAnd that is the infrastructure components/configuration completed. We now install the vC OPs PAK which have the add-ons for the Brocade and Storage Devices.

Step 4 – Install the vCOPs PAKs

The PAKs can be found on the VMware Solutions Exchange web site. The Brocade SAN Analytics Management Pack and the MPSD – Management Pack for Storage Devices can both be found on that site.We decided to install them both. Note that these are completely independent PAKs – there is no reliance on one to the other. However both display different information about our fabric and storage, so we decided to add both.

These packs must be installed via the admin interface of the vC OPs UI. In the Update tab, browse to the PAK and click Update. You will get a warning to say that you will not be able to revert to the previous version of vCenter Operations Manager, so be sure to have a backup to revert to if something goes wrong. The status tab will inform you if the new adapter from the PAK is running after installation. In the screenshot below, you can see that a new Adapter called STORAGE_DEVICES is now running successfully:

vCOPs PAK Install StatusThe same procedure would need to be repeated for both PAKs.

Step 5 – Configuring the Adapters and Credentials

There are the final steps., and the appropriate documentation should be referenced for the correct and exact steps.

Basically, you need to do a “Describe” operation, and then create new adapters and new credentials for the add-ons to vC Ops. This process is well described in the documentation, but to do a “Describe”, you must login to the vC Ops custom UI (https://vcops-ip-address-or-hostname/vcops-custom), navigate to ADMIN > SUPPORT > INFO, and from Adapters Info click on the icon for “Describe”, select Yes and then OK. This is not the easiest icon to find, but it is located in the upper right hand corner of the Adapters window. This describe operation finds the adapter files, gathers information about the abilities of the adapter, and updates the user interface with information about the adapter.

Once that is completed, you can now go ahead and create adapters for both the Brocade Switch and the Storage Devices. You will need credentials for the BNA to hand, as well as the IP address of the BNA host and the ports used by CIMOM (24600), the SMI Agent (5989) and SNMP (162). These are available via the BNA if you wish to double-check. Again, the documentation for the Brocade SAN Analytics Management Pack and the MPSD – Management Pack for Storage Devices can both be found on the VMware Solutions Exchange site. The creation of the Adapters also has a “Test” button to verify that everything you added is correct.

As I mentioned in the introduction, we had some issues with the MPSD communicating to the BNA CIMOM. This turned out to be nothing more than DNS/network related, and the work around in the release notes solved the issue for us. The Brocade SAN Analytics just worked out of the box, and no issues were encountered.

Step 6 – Build Customer vC OPs dashboards using this new data

At this point, you are now in a position to build your own custom dashboards using this new data from the Brocade switch and the EMC VNX storage array. A number of default dashboards are provided, however more can be built if you so wish.

I am not going to cover this here – but I may return to it at a future time. However there are a number of bloggers out there who have step-by-step instructions on how to do this. A quick google for “vC Ops custom dashboards” should lead you to some.

Key Takeaways/Lessons Learnt

The steps which cost us most time could have been quicker if we had done the following:

  1. Ensure that all hosts participating in this configuration components have DNS fully configured and that both forward and reverse lookups are working.
  2. Ensure that you are implementing a VASA provider that is correct for the storage array and firmware version on that array.

9 Replies to “VC Ops Adapters – Storage and Brocade SAN”

    1. The BNA was only needed to look at the switch events. To just get storage info, we simply needed the VASA provider registered. One would assume that other FC switch vendors (e.g. Cisco) have something similar which can be used, but I haven’t checked tbh, as I don’t have access to that kit.

      1. Thanks Cormac. I’ve been trying to get it working with VNX and Cisco Nexus 5596s. I’ll look at what you’ve done with BNA and see if I can model that for the Nexus switches.

  1. Hi,

    I’m having some trouble getting this up and running. For the Brocade adapter, I believe I have everything configured correctly, and the test comes back ok. However, in the adapter log I get:

    ERROR [Task Processor worker thread 6] (4410) com.brocade.vcops.adapter.BrocadeFabricAdapter.start – Error starting snmp trap listener Permission denied

    Any suggestions?


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