Category Archives: Storage array

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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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 Smart zoning – part II: examples

Smart zoning examples

In my smart zoning post from last February I already presented the way to get started with Cisco smart zoning. I initially planned to give a more detailed calculation on how much time you can save if you were using smart zoning compared to SIST zoning.

SAN fabric

I was talking to an EMC SAN instructor (Richard Butler) this week and after I did a little white boarding and used my hands to picture how massive a traditional SIST zone environment would be, we agreed smart zoning is the way to go.

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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.

Want to play around with VMware VVOLs? Here’s your chance! The Software Defined VNX is here!

Hard Drive

VMware now has this great new feature to be more in control of where its data blocks actually land on the storage system: VVOLs. But up until now EMC didn’t have a system capable of actually providing the back end for that. Until now I said. Starting with the VNXe 3200 all storage arrays are made vVOL capable and you can play around with that yourself. FOR FREE!

The Software Defined VNX is now a reality!

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How to get started setting up ESRS on the latest OE for Block and MCx codes

It’s just another short post on a single command again. This time I was looking for an easy way to get started on ESRS on the latest OE for Block code or the newer MCx code (33.071 or newer).

First of all you need to set up DNS in your VNX machine. In Unisphere, go to settings and click on “configure DNS”.

Also, if there’s a firewall blocking internet traffic, you need to make sure the storage processors can reach * over tcp ports 443 and 8443.

After this you can use the following command on the CLI:

naviseccli -h [SPx ip#] esrsconfig -agentProvision -user [Online Support logon name] –password [Online Support super secret password]

Repeat this for the other SP as well.

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Checking VNX mirrorview replication progress from the CLI

It’s a very short post, but in case you’re looking for the command:

naviseccli -h [SPx ip#] mirror -sync -listsyncprogress -name [LUN name]


It’s that simple!

Oh, I’m assuming you already have the logon credentials in a security file, if not, you need to add these to the command:

naviseccli -h [SPx ip#] -user [username] -password [super secret password] -scope [0-1-2] mirror -sync -listsyncprogress -name [LUN name]

How to start copy to hotspare manually

Hard Drive

I recently had to manually invoke a hot spare in a VNX 5200, but in Unisphere the option was greyed out.


On the CLI the command wasn’t supported. Now what?


According to the proper command is now

naviseccli -h [ip of one SP] copytodisk [source-disk] [hot spare]


Using the “getdisk” command will show you the actual rebuild has started.

Bare in mind that the way to address disks is in the format “Bus_Enclosure_Disk”, so for example 1_2_3 means disk 3 (the 4th disk) in enclosure 2 on bus 1.

In Unisphere you can actually see the progress of the rebuild:

Disk Rebuild in Unisphere

Symmetrix offers a new kind of MAXimum Virtualisation (VMAX)


The mother of all arrays has just been given an upgrade!

Well ok, maybe EMC did not produce the mother, since it’s fair to say IBM 3390 disk subsystem came first, but since the first Symmetrix came out in the early 90s with as much as a dozen or two disks, EMC has come a long way. They set the standard when it came to enterprise storage arrays. And it wasn’t just size that mattered back then: performance was and is still the number one objective for the Symms. After the “dark ages” (roughly before the year 2000) things got serious with the DMX series in 2003. The number of disks went up and loads of cache had to make sure that performance was guaranteed. DMX1, DMX2, DMX3/4 were quite a success.

And then there was VMAX

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Increased response times on VNX when using Windows 2012

Windows 2012 can cause higher response times on VNX

When Windows 2012 issues Trim or Unmap commands to thin LUNs on a VNX, the Storage Processor response times can increase or may initiate a bugcheck.

As part of disk operations to reclaim free space from thin LUNs, Windows 2012 Server can issue large numbers of the SCSI command 0x9E/0x12 (Service Action/Get LBA Status). This SCSI command results in what is called a “DESCRIBE_EXTENTS” I/O on the VNX Storage Processor (SP.) These commands are used as part of the Trim/Unmap process to see if each logical block address (LBA) that has been freed up on the host’s file system is allocated on the VNX thin LUN. The host would then issue Unmap SCSI commands to shrink the allocated space in the thin LUN, thus freeing up blocks that were no longer in use in the file system. RecoverPoint also issues these same SCSI commands when the Thin LUN Extender mechanism is enabled, which can cause similar performance issues. See knowledge base article KB174052 for more information about the RecoverPoint variation of this issue and how to prevent it.

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Optimizing performance using VAAI and the ESX MaxHWTransferSize setting

xcopy transfer size

If you’re running an EMC VNX using a lower version than block OE version, you might want to upgrade to the latest and greatest version (patch 209 or newer). The 209 offers EMC’s latest fixes and enhancements for VAAI performance. Many of the found performance issues have been fixed in the 209 code. However, in some environments sub-optimal performance has been detected with xcopy operations, or in some cases with the performance of non-xcopy IO during xcopy operations to the same pool.

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Converting SPcollect files into XLS

javascript on the CLI

Converting SPCollect files into XLS or “How to run javascript on the command line”

Converting EMC SPcollect files into a readable Excel spreadsheet can be done by a js script named “ArrayConfigToXLS.js”. When you install USM (Unisphere Service Manager) a folder called C:\EMC will be created (or on another location since you can specify where this will be created). In that folder a sub-folder called “repository” exists and one of the files you’ll find there is “ArrayConfigToXLS.js”.

Take one of the two SPcollect files (Clariion or VNX), open the zip file and look for the file CKM[serial]SP[A_or_B]_[date]_[time]_[some_number] and open that zip file. Look for the file called “SPA_arrayconfig.xml”; sort on extension and pick that xml, that’s easier, since it will be the only xml there.

Copy that xml to c:\EMC\repository, open a CLI (e.g. CMD.exe) and type:

cscript ArrayConfigToXLS.js SPA_arrayconfig.xml SPA_arrayconfig.xls

The “script” will allow you to run the “js” script and the outcome is that an XLS will be created. Now open the XLS in your favorite spreadsheet application and you’ll find the configuration of your EMC array!

How to change the VNX weekly heartbeat date and time

Changing the time for the weekly heartbeat

People with Clariion or VNX systems installed on site know that these arrays will email “home” (that’s EMC/you) once a week on a seemingly random date/time. Ok, once the day of the week and the time are set, each week the “I’m still alive” email will go out at that time. But what if you don’t want to have that email sent out at Thursday at 2:47AM and you want all of your arrays to send out that email on Saturday at noon sharp? You will need to adjust the parameters. I didn’t find a way to change the weekday, so I’m changing the time less than a day before it needs to run. So if I want it to run on Saturday at noon, I could run this script on Friday after noon. It will pick the next available day automatically.

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Gridstore – Virtualization changes everything and nothing


George Symons, Gridstore

Gridstore as a storage company is obviously focussing on SDS. Virtualization has changed the way storage vendors need to look at their storage solutions, because their storage now needs to react on how applications work to be able to provide an optimal performance. And of course cost. How customers want their storage solutions is about cost. It needs to be cheaper, perform better and provide more insight in what the data is actually doing there.

Virtualization changes everything and nothing

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