One of the recurring tasks that VMware Admins are facing almost on a daily basis is about the provisioning of VMware datastores where to run the virtual machines. Although the cost per gigabyte (or terabyte now!) is becoming cheaper, managing multiple tiers of storage is becoming increasingly difficult. And the “disk” is definitely one of the resources that VMware provides that is always on demand for the ever growing application’s data. The Dell EMC UnityVSA embraces the Software Defined Storage (SDS) approach to ease the life of VMware Admins managing different types of storages across several tiers. The purpose of this article is in fact covering the quick and simple steps on how to manage Dell EMC Unity Storage for VMware.
Now in the case of the Dell EMC UnityVSA it supports both File and Block storage types which means it can provide NFS, VMFS and even VVols type of datastores for VMware. In addition, the ability to create policies like auto-tiering, IOPS limits, burst rates, access, snapshots and replication. Since the Dell EMC Unity Storage fully integrates with the VMware VASA and VAAI APIs this means that it is also possible to create specific “Storage Policy Based Management” rules (SPBM) which automatically dictate the placement of the VMs and vApps including the encryption (now built into VMware 6.7). Also, the ability to limit certain workloads based on such storage policies avoiding specific datastores to be the bottleneck. For example when running backups for large or critical VMs sitting on volumes with low IOPS. The idea is to cover these scenarios and more in dedicated articles showing the benefits that come from nice features coupled with monitoring.
What are the benefits of using Dell EMC Unity Storage to provision VMware datastores?
Thinking about the life of a VMware Admin probably the most immediate one is how to make storage provisioning an easy task. All operations are controlled from the web console of the Unisphere and these include amongst the others the creation of the LUN, the VMware datastore type, the association with the VMware Hosts and rescanning. The rest of the article shows these steps in more detail.
How to manage Dell EMC Unity Storage for VMware
From the UnityVSA web console, Dashboard > Storage > VMware the link to create and manage Dell EMC unity storage for VMware. Before proceeding, it is recommended to register the UnityVSA with the VMware VASA Provider as shown in the previous article.
The wizard offers the available option based on the configured storage or volumes in Pools. In this case the wizard will create a VMware Datastore formatted with VMFS file system.
Next is to provide a name and a quick description for the VMware datastore.
In the Storage section the wizard allows to select the disk Pool. This is interesting as Dell EMC UnityVSA can manage separate Pools based on disk types like SSD, HDD and more. Very useful for tiering critical from standard applications for example. For each VMware datastore the UnityVSA can choose the allocation size and type. For example by selecting “Thin” provisioning when the selected Pool is not dedicated to a single datastore or purpose. In fact the same Pool can also host other types of storage like CIFS over SMB shares.
For critical applications and where the availability of the storage is required it might be necessary to limit the IOPS to specific threshold avoiding impact to the storage. More on this in a dedicated article.
The access section allows to determine which VMware vSphere Hosts are allowed to share this resource. Very important as it is making the vMotion tasks more transparent to the end user. Especially when migrating CPU resources rather than storage. Also, for each vSphere Host the option to specify a LUN ID (HLU).
The snapshot section gives the option to leverage the capabilities of the Storage Processor managing the disks presented to the UnityVSA. Snapshots can be scheduled and it is also possible to provide custom retention schemes. Interestingly enough the Dell EMC UnityVSA provides the option to grant access to the storage itself or even specific volume snapshots.
For those environments where multiple UnityVSA are present there is the option to replicate in sync and async modes the content of the storage.
In the last step of the wizard a quick summary showing the main details before committing changes.
A few seconds later the datastore “demo-unity-vmfs” is created and mounted on all selected vSphere Hosts in vCenter environment.
From the same page for each datastore the Unity VSA is showing the pertinent details. Very useful when coupled with Capability Profiles and Protocol Endpoints.
When browsing the storage resources now in the VMware vCenter the newly created datastore is ready to use.