Unity File System setup on Dell EMC for NAS Shares

Dell EMC UnityVSA provides access to different types of storage including File, Block and VMware based. This article follows up the dedicated series to this appliance. At this stage everything is ready to configure the Unity File system on the Dell EMC virtual appliance which will provide access to the Network shares based on CIFS over SMB for Windows clients and NFS for Unix, Linux and Windows based clients.

In terms of requirements before proceeding with the Unity File System setup is to have a Storage Pool and NAS Server at ready. These two in fact, are the major components to create and configure the Unity File System.

The Dell EMC UnityVSA appliance allows to create several File Systems with separate settings. This article covers the creation of a single Unity File System dedicated to Microsoft Windows clients. Pretty much same steps are available also for NFS clients.

What are the benefits of using different Unity File System configurations?

Storage utilization: For each one of the File Systems created the Dell EMC UnityVSA can configure the allocation of storage as Thin and Thick Provisioning. Values can be changed where required (by increasing size) and the new space available can be used to provide more storage space to the individual shares hosted on the same file system.

Snapshot: Snapshots can be either manual or scheduled with the option to granularly restore the content. The appliance is already shipping with configurations for default, long and short retention policies. In addition, the option to add custom ones.

FAST VP: Built-in option that automatically moves “cold” data to lowest tiers by leaving space for “hot” data. Different performance tiers based on storage technology (eg, HDD, SATA, SSD, FLASH etc..) are configured as part of the Storage Pools.

Replication: Data from NAS Server Shares can be replicated to another Dell EMC UnityVSA sitting locally or in remote location. Replication is configurable based on desired RPO. Also, considering the amount of data to be transferred over WAN public links.

Quota: Allows to define thresholds on used storage based on individual Users accessing the CIFS and NFS shares. It can also use a grace period when exceeding the agreed quotas.

Advanced settings: allows to enable / disable with notifications specific advanced settings like “Sync Writes”, “OpLocks” and more.

These are only a few examples which make the Dell EMC UnityVSA a flexible solution for the majority of environments and homelab too! Next the process to setup a Dell EMC Unity File System.


How to setup Dell EMC Unity File System

Within the Unisphere web interface from the Storage > File section there is the link to create the Dell EMC Unity File System. Before proceeding with the configuration the NAS Server and Storage Pool should be available already. Dell EMC Unity File System Unisphere

The wizard automatically highlights the available options based on the selected NAS Server to create the Unity File System. The protocol section identifies if SMB, NFS or multi protocol NAS Server can be used. Dell EMC Unity File System nas server protocol

Next is to provide the name of the Unity File System. This could be for example the organization name and also the location rather than the department name. Within the File system will be created the single network shares. Dell EMC Unity File System name

The Storage section gives the option to select which Storage Pool should be used. In addition, the ability with thin or thick provisioning to allocate storage from the same Storage Pool. This section also include the tiering policy. These settings can also be changed at a later time. Of course, it won’t be possible to reduce thick provisioned storage. Dell EMC Unity File System Storage

This is the point where the wizard allows to create the first Network Share based on SMB as per screenshot. Dell EMC Unity File System Shares

The wizard allows to also enable advanced options pertinent to SMB shares like:

  • Continuous availability
  • Protocol encryption
  • Access based enumeration
  • Branch cache
  • Offline availability

Some of these features might be required from particular applications leveraging SMB shares. Dell EMC Unity File System SMB Shares settings

As mentioned above the option to enable scheduled snapshots with predefined intervals and also the ability to decide on retention periods. Dell EMC Unity File System snapshot

When multiple Dell EMC UnityVSA are available it is possible to replicate the content across different appliances which also helps achieving the 3-2-1 rule: 3 copies of your data, stored on 2 different media, 1 being offsite/offline. Dell EMC Unity File System Replication

And finally the wizard completes the configuration with a completed status. Dell EMC Unity File System wizard completed

From the same view of course there is the option to create several File Systems according to need. Dell EMC Unity File System list

Within the Unity File System of course there is the option to add / modify network shares. Dell EMC Unity File System share

It requires the Share name and also the option to specify a different path. Dell EMC Unity File System share setup

As mentioned earlier also the advanced settings are available. Dell EMC Unity File System share advanced

A quick summary before committing shows the main settings. Dell EMC Unity File System share summary

The wizard is now completed successfully. Dell EMC Unity File System share wizard

In the Storage > File > SMB Shares section the list of all CIFS network shares associated to the NAS Server. Dell EMC Unity File System shares list

From Windows client when connecting to the NAS Server it is possible to access the Shares. When configuring the Dell EMC NAS Server with Active Directory Domain it offers a better integration so that Users and Groups permissions on the Shares can be edited globally. Dell EMC Unity File System shares windows

As a test copying and deleting files proves the Read/Write access to the network share. Dell EMC Unity File System share content

Another usage for this network shares is to provide protection by mean of the NDMP protocol. It allows to backup directly to Tapes “bypassing” the backup application requestor. The Dell EMC UnityVSA includes support for the NDMP protocol and the next article covers its configuration.

About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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