Category Archives: hardware

Dell EMC World 2016 Austin, TX, USA

Dell EMC World 2016

You’ve all heard the news last week (at least, I think you did): On September 7 the huge merger between Dell and EMC took place, making the Dell Technologies transaction the biggest technology company integration in history! So the digital transformation is really here, and Dell Technologies / Dell EMC is leading the way. From October 18 to 20, Dell EMC will host business and IT leaders from around the world for the biggest enterprise technology event of the year, Dell EMC World 2016 in Austin, Texas. And I received an invite to join the EMC Elect and Dell Rock Stars to report on the news that Michael Dell and others will bring us. Many thanks go to Mark Browne, who made sure EMC Elect people were invited to be present at this event. We’ll be in super secret influencer meetings, sneak peek preview breakfasts and we’ll be sitting in a reserved seat section to watch Michael Dell perform on stage! Yeah, I’m pretty excited! After being invited to the VNX2 launch in Milan in 2013, I’m once again present at a major event as part of the EMC Elect.

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How to add new members to an existing Cisco smart zone

Cisco MDS

DCNM is down. I love the tool, but the downside is that you forget how to use the CLI. I faced downtime of our DCNM appliance and was forced to use the CLI instead. No big deal actually, but I still want to post the commands to use when you need to add new hosts to existing zones.

First you might want to create a new device alias for the new hosts:

device-alias database
device-alias name server1 pwwn 20:11:00:15:b9:00:00:00
device-alias name server2 pwwn 20:11:00:15:b9:00:00:01
device-alias commit

And then you want to add the new aliases to the existing (smart) zone:

zone name NameOfZone vsan 123
member device-alias server1 init
member device-alias server2 init
zone commit vsan 123

You don’t need to commit the whole zoneset again, since that one didn’t change. Check it by running:

zoneset activate name ZoneSetName vsan 123

That’s it! there’s not much to it, and can save you a lot of time as well!

Useful EMC VMAX CLI commands


Over the years I collected a number of useful CLI commands to control the DMX / VMAX machines I worked with. Even though nowadays Unisphere for VMAX is a useful tool, nothing really beats the command line!
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How to list Host LUN ids in VMAX Masking Views


Creating tdevs and masking them to hosts (storage groups in a masking view) is relatively easy in the Unisphere for VMAX interface, but what if you add a few tdevs of exactly the same size and you want to make sure that the VMware administrator uses the right LUN for each VMFS he’s going to create? One way to make sure he knows which LUN corresponds with what tdev is the Host LUN id. To list the host LUN ids

symaccess -sid 1234 show view mv_some-maskingview-name

or (a bit more verbose)

symaccess -sid 1234 list view -name mv_some-maskingview-name -detail

The second command shows each initiator group nested within other initiator groups as well.

Both generate a table with the following headers:

Sym                                                            Host
Dev     Dir:Port    Physical    Device    Name    Lun    Attr    Cap(MB)

The column under “Host Lun” shows the Host LUN ids.

Free EMC trial software / virtual appliances

virtual machine

A quick heads-up this time about building your own lab environment

Sometimes you just want to run a VNX, Avamar, PowerPath, Data Domain or Isilon as a virtual machine to see how things work, or to write work instructions. And EMC offers a lot of these virtual appliances for free!

Take a look at these:


EMC Unity: simplicity redefined

EMC Unity

It’s been a while since the VNX2 was born: September 2013, I remember it very well. Being a part of the EMC Elect, I was invited to be at the actual launch in Milan (Italy) and what a ride it was! The whole launch was wrapped around Formula 1 technology and it sure was “speed 2 lead“. That “old” VNX2, which I’m still perfectly happy with by the way, was a revolution in my humble opinion: multi-core everything, in short MCx. And yes, it was like everything just went faster, smoother and better.

New technologies

But with new technologies popping up every so many months now, it was time for a new mid-range storage array. Flash storage isn’t a novelty anymore, it’s a must! And the “old” hybrid arrays were fine, but needed some fine-tuning. With flash devices growing bigger every quarter or half a year and faster as well, the whole back-end needed an upgrade. The old 6 Gb back-end (x4) needed an upgrade.

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How to gather performance statistics from an EMC XtremIO


The XtremIO GUI looks very slick and it has this chronometer with IOps and MBps and everything, but when you need to have MiTrend analyze the statistics, the questions comes to mind: what statistics, what files?

How do I get my hands on these files?

First log on to the XtremIO GUI. Then click on the administration button


Now click on the “CLI Terminal TAB” and type:


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Create and retrieve spcollect files from the command line (VNX)

Hard Drive

Java, it’s a curse. And now you suddenly need to upload the spcollect files to EMC and Java isn’t installed or incompatible and Unisphere won’t start.

Now what?

Make sure you have NAVISECCLI installed and just do it from the CLI!

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Cisco MDS “fabric merge” and “switch add” prerequisites

Cisco MDS

Prerequisites when adding a new SAN switch to an existing SAN fabric

When using enhanced device aliases, make sure you enable this on the new switch as well:

device-alias mode enhanced
device-alias commit

You can verify if this is enabled on an existing switch by this command:

sh run | grep “device-alias mode”

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Uptime defined, or what is uptime exactly?

Five nines

You often hear vendors mentioning their system has five 9s of uptime, but what exactly is uptime?

Some define uptime only for their own specific piece of technology. For example, a storage array with five 9s uptime, can only tolerate 5 minutes and 15 seconds of downtime per year, but if your network vendor also has a five 9 uptime specification and your power company and your data center and your internet provider and a whole lot of other components…. do the math!

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The “Internet Of Things”, or simply IoT, what’s it good for?

Internet of Things

Internet Of Things, the IoT

We’ve all heard the hype about the IoT, the Internet Of Things, but is it really a hype? Back in the dark ages (the 90s), a company called Novell already claimed that coffee machines and refrigerators would be equipped with a mini OS and an IP address, so automatic ordering systems could make sure you always have specific foods (or beer) in your fridge.

But at the same time the world was running low on IP addresses, so actually providing all these electronic devices with a unique address was a challenge. The solution was IPv6 which provides a few more addresses than IPv4 does.

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The EMC / Dell merger: my tears and thoughts

Dell EMC

It’s been a few weeks now since Mr Dell, Silver Lake and MSD Partners announced they want to take over EMC and with that become the world’s largest privately held IT company. For me I relived the whole HP / Compaq merger and at that time Compaq was my favorite company. My whole world collapsed. What was going to happen to the world I lived in? It was going to disappear! But luckily it did not. The best pieces of Compaq at the time, their servers, were simply rebranded and sold as HP Proliants and the Alpha CPU “suddenly” appeared as the Itanium from Intel. And everybody was happy. Well, sort of. At least the server department kept on delivering what they were famous for.

And now this happened

I never realized Michael Dell was even in a position to actually raise that kind of money. But with help from Silver Lake and MSD Partners he succeeded to raise sixty five Billion US Dollars! Just imagine! Oh, wouldn’t I like to get my hands on a small portion of that!! But that’s a whole other story. Forget the money, forget the stock exchange market: what will this mean for both companies and the people working there? As some of you know, I’m involved with both the EMC education department as well as the customer facing piece of EMC Support and I want to share my thoughts on the future of my current “Compaq” equivalent, aka “EMC”.

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The next big merger? Western Digital wants to buy SanDisk!

WD SanDisk

According to rumors Western Digital would love to buy SanDisk for $19B. Multiple companies are interested in buying SanDisk, but it’s WD that seems to have the advantage. The deal will perhaps already take place during next week!

Micron also interested

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Is the SCM promise really worth the wait?


HP and SanDisk are making revolutionary memory market ready

The IT companies HP and SanDisk are promising that their Storage Class Memory (SCM) will be 1000 times as fast as the current generation of flash memory. That’s quite an assumption or is it really proven that it will be this fast.


Storage Class Memory (SCM) is a combination of the memristor technology HP is working on for years already and SanDisk’s ReRAM technology. The new type of memory has some pretty impressive characteristics:

  • It’s 1000x faster
  • It lasts a 1000x longer

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Troubleshooting connectivity issues on a Brocade SAN


I recently had the “pleasure” to figure out what was wrong with a Brocade based SAN environment. Servers were loosing connectivity on one of the HBAs, but all links were online and further investigation was necessary.

Going through all the error counters on each of the long wave SFPs finally revealed one of the SFPs’ health as marginal (hence it was still online, but very buggy indeed). The webtools GUI showed this particular SFP als orange instead of green. Disabling and re-enabling this SFP didn’t help and I decided to shut this SFP for good. And guess what: all my troubles went away. The trunk this SFP was in went back to a non-redundant, but healthy state and all servers got back to normal operations and got their redundant paths back.

So to summarize the story: look for marginal or even faulted SFPs when vague connectivity issues arise. If links are redundant, shutting the faulty one might help.

Adding or replacing a Cisco SAN switch in an IVR topology

Cisco MDS

If you have multiple datacenters or a multi tenant fibre channel environment and you’re using Cisco FC switches, it’s a best practice to use VSANs to separate the configurations of each location / tenant. To allow storage arrays and / or hosts in different VSANs to communicate with each other Inter VSAN Routing needs to be used.

If you need to have 2 EMC VNX storage arrays “talk” to each other for MirrorView for example over 2 or more datacenters (for data replication purposes that is) or hosts in one DC talk to storage in another DC, using transit VSANs (and therefore IVR) will keep your VSANs with equipment indoors and the slightly more vulnerable VSAN outdoors. If some farmer with his tractor rips your single mode fiber, only the outdoor VSAN will be fractured and the indoor VSANs remain unharmed. And of course communication between the remote sites is interrupted, but the indoor VSANs / fabrics remain unchanged.

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Cisco MDS NX-OS zoning on the CLI

Cisco MDS

The Cisco Fabric Manager or the newer DCNM can be great for creating a limited number of zones and aliases, but when the number of zones exceeds 10 or 20 or so, creating, cloning and editing these can be a pain in the B@TT.

FC-SWITCH-01# conf t
Enter configuration commands, one per line. End with CNTL/Z.


Create aliases:

FC-SWITCH-01(config)# fcalias name VM101-HBA1 vsan 45
FC-SWITCH-01(config)# member pwwn 20:21:22:25:B6:00:00:01

Enhanced zone session has been created. Please ‘commit’ the changes when done.


FC-SWITCH-01(config-fcalias)# fcalias name VM101-HBA1 vsan 45
FC-SWITCH-01(config-fcalias)# member pwwn 20:21:22:25:B6:00:00:02
FC-SWITCH-01(config-fcalias)# fcalias name VM102-HBA1 vsan 45
FC-SWITCH-01(config-fcalias)# member pwwn 20:21:22:25:B6:00:00:03

FC-SWITCH-01(config-fcalias)# device-alias commit

Create two new zones:

FC-SWITCH-01(config-zone)# zone name VM101-HBA1_VNX-5600-08-SPA6 vsan 45
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zone)# member fcalias VNX5600-08-SPA6
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zone)# member fcalias VM101-HBA1
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zone)# zone name VM102-HBA1_VNX-5600-08-SPB7 vsan 45
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zone)# member fcalias VNX5600-08-SPB7
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zone)# member fcalias VM102-HBA1
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zone)# zone commit vsan 45

Commit operation initiated. Check zone status

Now add the two new zones to a zoneset:

FC-SWITCH-01(config)# zoneset name ZS_VSAN170 vsan 45
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zoneset)# member VM101-HBA1_VNX-5600-08-SPA6
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zoneset)# member VM102-HBA1_VNX-5600-08-SPB7
FC-SWITCH-01(config-zoneset)# zone commit vsan 45


Maximum distances using fiber cable types OM1/OM2/OM3/OM4/OS1

What are the maximum distances using different fiber grades?


fiber cable specs graph

The graphs show the direction where OM-specs are going compared to distances.

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Cisco MDS: Fabric is already locked

Cisco MDS

When you encounter a fabric lock, because you accidentally left the GUI or CLI without committing the changes, you can try the following to clear the lock and retry to apply your changes:

  1. run ‘show cfs lock’ to see who lock`s the fabric
  2. run ‘clear device-alias session’ to clear the lock when you were doing zoning activities

Instead of the “clear device-alias session” in line 2, another common possibility to get the lock cleared is:

  • ‘clear ivr session’ (when you were in the middle of IVR activities)

Other locks can occur, but the device-alias and ivr are probably the most common. At least the ones that I encountered so far.

Cisco zoning: some commonly used – show – commands

Cisco MDS

When you need to look up the current zoning config of a Cisco SAN-switch / VSAN, there’s a number of commands that will help you. Because a “show run” doesn’t always do the trick well, especially if you have a large config. And using the “sh run | i “some text you’re looking for” doesn’t always help as well if you don’t know the exact phrase you’re looking for.

I hope this table helps:

show Command
show zone Displays zone information for all VSANs.
show zone vsan 100 Displays zone information for VSAN 100.
show zoneset vsan 100 Displays information for the zone set in VSAN 100.
show zoneset vsan 2-5 Displays configured zone set information for a range of VSANs (2, 3, 4 and 5 in this case).
show zone name AZone Displays members of zone “AZONE”.
show fcalias vsan 100 Displays fcalias configuration in VSAN 100.
show zone member pwwn 20:00:00:25:b1:34:aa:c2 Displays membership status of a port wwn. Very good if you’re concerned that 1 HBA is used in more than 1 zone!
show zone statistics Displays zone statistics.
show zone statistics read-only-zoning Displays read-only zoning statistics.
show zoneset active Displays the active zone sets.
show zoneset brief Displays brief descriptions of zone sets.
show zone active Displays the active zones.
show zone status Displays zone status.
show zone Displays zone statistics.
show running Displays the interface-based zones.
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