Category Archives: Storage array - Page 2

Symmetrix offers a new kind of MAXimum Virtualisation (VMAX)

100-200-400K

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 05.32.000.5.209, 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]_sus.zip 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

GridStore

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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Storage Field Day 5 – what’s happening?

Storage Field Day 5

Suddenly, I received this tweet. Something about Tech Field Day, Storage Field Day. What? Ok, I actually met Stephen Foskett last year in Las Vegas and I know Gabrie Van Zanten, a colleague of mine, visited the TFD event. Also Roy Mikes, another friend of mine attended the event in the past. I had a decent share of information about the event, but it was still no surprise that I was honored by the invitation I received.

Software Defined Data Center Symposium

The first full day the delegates will attend the SDDC Symposium in Santa Clara. On April 22 the whole day is for discussions of OpenFlow, software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined storage, converged infrastructure, and the greater software-defined future! I’m quite curious who will be there, what we can discuss about and the depth in which discussions will go, but I guess I’ll have to see and find out. It’s exciting for sure!

The actual SFD5 event Read more »

Reaching USPEED – EMC Walhalla

It sure took me a while to read through the tons of performance related materials, but I admit that having done the Clariion IE Expert, Clariion TA and of course the latest VNX IE Expert and VNX TA Expert exams also helped. I got my invitation to join the USPEED gang a little over a year ago, in early 2013 and just like my fellow colleagues I was swamped in work and unable to even start reading through all the material.

During a beta I did for EMC in February ’14 I became interested again in actually getting that certification and all the goodies that come with it and I started reading and testing myself. For a test I just did the free VNX IE Specialist and Expert test exams as well as the TA specialist and expert exams: these are wonderful exams that can prepare you to actually enter the major league of storage gods (ahem).

EMC Walhalla!

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How to translate Windows disk ids to storage array’s LUNs

Converting disk information in a VM into the actual LUN information

We’ve all been there: you have a certain Windows virtual machine with several disks of the same size and you don’t know which Windows-disk is in fact which storage LUN.

The VMware settings for this VM might look like this:

VM-config

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Which Hot Spare will be used for a failed drive? – part 2

Hard Drive

A while ago I talked about Hot Spares and how they are picked when a rebuild is necessary. It was almost 2 years ago and you can read it here.

Since then the rebuild / equalize technology has changed! Well, not for existing systems, but the new VNX family aka VNX2 does things a bit differently.

In the old days when a drive failed, a suitable Hot spare would kick in and the unprotected LUNs (regarding the failed drive) would be rebuild onto the Hot Spare. After a while, when the rebuild was done and the failed drive was replaced by a replacement drive, the data on the Hot spare would need to be copied to that new drive. This was called equalizing.

In the VNX2 (with MCx) this last step doesn’t exist anymore. So that means the Hot spare that was used to contain the rebuilt data is not longer a Hot Spare! It has become a regular drive! And that replacement drive will now be a new Hot Spare. When configuring a new VNX2 you’d see rules about Hot Spares and you simply don’t even need to configure Hot Spares anymore. Just make sure you have some unconfigured drives and you’re good. Your VNX2 will make sure they’re used as Hot Spares from then on.

If I remember correctly the DMX4 had a similar feature back in 2008, but it now flowed to the midrange platform as well.

 

CX or VNX Mirrorview with Snapview active on the remote side

If you have a primary LUN which is replicated using MirrorView/S and you decide to run SnapView snapshots on the remote side, consider that writes to the secondary LUN may have to wait for the COFW activity to complete before an acknowledgement is sent back to the primary array.

So if you’re performing tests on the remote site by using SnapView snapshots, you may want to consider suspending the MirrorView session(s) first in order to guarantee performance on the production site.

A good scenario would be to create clones from the temporary fractured mirrors and as soon as the clones are fully in sync, split the clone from its primary – being the MirrorView secondary – and start the resync in MirrorView.

MirrorView has to wait for SnapViewAfter the write from the primary array (1) a COFW (Copy On First Write) (2) must take place if the write (1) overwrites a block that hasn’t been written to yet in order to maintain the point in time of the snapshot. After the COFW (2) is complete the acknowledgement (ACK) (3) can be sent back to the primary array.

So even if the snapshot isn’t used by a host, there’s already an increased activity on the remote array.

If the snapshot is in use by a host that writes to the snapshot, an unchanged block on the secondary LUN need to be copied to the RLP (Reserved LUN Pool) first before the overwrite can take place. This will also slow down any ACKs that need to be sent back to the primary array.

Conclusion

Be very careful when starting SnapView sessions on a secondary LUN and even more careful when using the secondary LUNs since it can have a severe impact on the response times of the primary LUN.

(s)low budget drives: the future of archiving

Flash storage

Storage growth

Most of the data we collect and store on our computers eventually ends up in some sort of archive. I think we can all agree on that, right? Do we ever throw anything away? Well, some data doesn’t really make sense after a while and can (and will) be deleted, but a lot of data “might be useful” after some time and so we keep it. And don’t forget the tons of digital memories we create using photo and video cameras!  I estimate that I’m creating about 100 GB of digital photos and videos throughout the year and that’s increasing every year as well with the new cameras we’re using. More pixels, DSLR cameras, RAW photography and HD or even 4k HD videos are probably taking up most of the space we need extra each year.

Where do we store our data?

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Cisco becomes a storage vendor

Twitter, Facebook, Google+… it’s all over the (social) news

Wednesday September 11 it was all over the news: all my popular news resources mentioned in one way or the other that Cisco is now into storage. The “Software Defined Data Center” buzz word is “buzzing” since the beginning of 2013, at least I didn’t hear much of it before that.

Many companies (including my employer Open Line Consultancy with Storage As A Service and Backup As A Service) already do business this way for years, it’s just that all of a sudden it has a popular name that everybody’s using since this year. But thinking about clouds with automated processes to fine tune and schedule every wish for storage, cpu or memory has really become popular. And with Cisco now acquiring Whiptail, this vendor will now be able to participate in this rising market space.

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How to set the “The array is alive” on a specific day and time on a VNX

The need for weekly messages

EMC’s Symmetrix already knew this feature for a decade or so (or even longer), but since a few years EMC’s pushing customers to make every array to email home once a week so they can keep track of its pulse. And they’re not joking about its importance either, since once an array skips a beat, a severity 1 ticket is being created to get that fixed as soon as possible. EMC truly seems to care about the arrays they have running all over the world, so they’re indeed in good shape and being monitored actively.

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EMC Midrange Mega Launch: the new VNX

Midrange Mega Launch 2013: #Speed2Lead in real life!

Although the Clariion platform was a great platform a couple of years ago, the constant growth of customers’ environments and their need for more performance automatically means that storage vendors constantly need to improve their products as well. EMC VNX was able to serve customers just right for the last few years. With the introduction of flash storage in storage arrays performance issues seemed gone, but know that flash devices can easily outperform any rotating device (disk) by 20, 30, maybe even 50 times and depending on the I/O pattern, the back-end of an array could be a serious bottleneck since it wasn’t originally designed for performance demands like that and the old FLARE that ran on the CPUs wasn’t sufficient for the performance demand. So although FAST VP helps getting hot data to performance efficient devices and cold data to the slower and cheaper devices, it’s obvious that the array technology needed to be upgraded. And just like every 3 years or so, the necessity for new technology has come.

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EMC World 2013 – day 4

A little late, but better late than never. This last EMC World post has been sitting in my drafts, knowing two of my coleagues already posted theirs about the exact same thing that I wanted to talk about. And since I don’t want to play copy cat, I’m going to refer to their posts. That seems the best thing to do.

EMC World 2013, day 4

Thursday is traditionally (half) a day to say goodbye to the many old and new friends, visit some last day sessions, leave the hotel and head back to the airport, but this year I planned ahead and I decided to stay a bit longer for some quality time with the EMC Elect: My plane wouldn’t leave until Saturday afternoon!! I had to switch hotels though from the fancy and luxurious Venetian to the hotel next door “Harrah’s”. It’s a huge step down, but Harrah’s does what it’s supposed to do and that’s offering me a bed to sleep.

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Migrating hosts to new storage ports, LIVE

Migrating hosts to new storage ports, LIVE!

Many SAN administrators will face this challenge from time to time: certain hosts need to start using new storage ports. Reasons vary, but in the EMC Clariion/VNX world this might happen because it’s decided to dedicate the mirrorview ports to mirrorview only instead of allowing hosts to use these ports as well. Obviously having dedicated replication ports will improve replication performance and for synchronous replication this will also improve the production host performance since the write acknowledgement from the remote array will be quicker and the extra latency is limited to a minimum.
So you end up wanting to free the SPA1 and SPB1 ports (most Clarrions) or SPA0 and SPB0 (VNX). But disalowing hosts to use these ports means they will loose access to these paths. This just might be disruptive! Or not?

There’s a way to migrate nondisruptively!

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Other useful features of USM

Techs focussed on EMC will know “EMC USM” for its use in upgrading storage arrays like Clariion and VNX as well as disk firmwares and installing enablers, but it can be used for other purposes as well.

Gearoid Griffin, a fellow EMC Elect 2013 member, wrote a nice article about it. Go have a look, I find it very interesting!

You can find his article on https://community.emc.com/people/GearoidG/blog/2013/04/04/other-useful-features-of-usm.

EMC SAN Copy best practices

SAN Copy zoningEMC SAN Copy best practices

  • Just like with MirrorView ports: don’t use SC ports as host front end ports. Try to use dedicated ports for SC
  • Make sure the zoning is correct between the source SAN Copy port and the target SAN Copy port
  • Don’t use zones with multiple storage array (initiator) ports in them. Try to use SIST whenever you can: Single Initiator, Single Target so you’re certain there can only be 1 initiator in each zone

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DIP upgrade from EMC VNX 5500 to VNX 5700

Data In Place upgrading an EMC VNX 5500 to VNX 5700

Last week I had the pleasure of being involved in a data in place upgrade of a VNX 5500 that was in desperate need of more capacity and performance. The decision was made to perform a DIP, so this is in fact an easy procedure: replace the Storage Processors and you’re good to go? Well, almost.

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