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November 12, 2012

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TomR

Chad, ugh....please do not charge for VSI. We have been VSI from the first version and it is a great tool. We aren't on vSphere 5 yet so we are not using SDRS or VASA but we will when we migrate 1Q 2013. The main issue I see with these tools is that you need to have the storage admins go to the VMware admins and say "Hey! Install these tools it will make both of our lives easier". In our shop we are both the storage admins and VMware admins so it was an easy conversation. Until you can get the storage/VMware guys on the same page regarding these tools you will have low adoption rates. Perhaps have the local TC's invite the VMware guys to the meeting the next time they meet with the storage guys to discuss performance/SR's. Then demo VSI/SDRS/VASA and I am sure you will have a greater adoption rates, or it will least it will get the conversation started.

Thorsten Tüllmann

Please don't charge for VSI. I can see how a price tag might change the product's visibility, but I am pretty sure your TC's can do that with arguments as well. Our TC convinced me to give it a try when it was still called Storage Viewer and I would not want to miss it.

Maybe storage and virtualization are still too far apart in many shops. The virtualization people do not necessarily know EMC's less known products and the storage people might hesitate to give away too much of their responsibility.

It might be the same thing with VASA. And VASA used to be much more complex to setup with far less benefits than VSI. Configuration for VMAX with a manual solutions enabler installation was a bit cumbersome. I agree that Inyo is a different story. With VASA getting more and more important, adoption rates should rise soon.

Chris

Because it crashes the C# client.

Because the Indian guys on chat support don't know anything about it.

Because the guys on phone support don't know about it either.

Alan

Great information, thanks. Do you have any info/insight into VAAI and thin provisioning? Specifically the UNMAP command.

Jay Weinshenker

I use VSI (Love it, please don't charge for it), SDRS / SIOC and VASA.

It was quite poorly documented and PITA setup to get VASA working with my NS480 / vCenter... and given what it tells me, I'm really not sure it was worth the effort, as our naming scheme for datastores (or our Datastore Cluster names) tell us the same info.

I think VASA has potential.

One thing I've wondered about and asked my TC about, given that EMC is always looking for ways to integrate vSphere / VNX better - in the event of a drive failure in a RAID set, rather than rebuild that drive as the default, why not tie that in to SDRS Maint mode - I imagine it's much less stressful on a drive to move off my data then to rebuild the RAID set. Sure, I want the RAID set rebuilt, but if I can lower the risk by moving my data first, I care alot less if the RAID set fails.

I realize that this is probably easier to implement with traditional thick LUNS vs say, a multi raid level Storage Pool, but I figured I'd go with the easy example.

That's the sort of tie ins I would hope to someday be done by VASA.

Brett

Agree don't charge I use it our Infrastructure team for VMware is also storage so that will be why it was an easy pickup.

As for problems yes VASA is pointless for us as we use storage pools on the VNX so all LUNS show with the same features no matter what the FAST VP settings on the LUN. So we don't use that part yet.

Jim Millard

Chad, you know I was one of those guys who always raised his hands in those informal polls. I was in a position to implement these tools because I was both storage & VMware admin, and found certain functions of the tools to be very useful--especially the custom multipathing plugin (Equallogic). Having been on that side and now working for a partner, I've got some new insights into the answers to your questions.
1) Why not use the plugins? In small business, they become very useful, especially when handling repeat processes by the one or two people that are responsible for the whole infrastructure. But SMB tends to not need that functionality beyond the initial setup of volumes: they aren't adding, resizing and removing volumes/LUNs with that much frequency. They also don't have such huge infrastructure that it isn't tough to touch a 2-5 hosts. Second and bigger point: they're scare silly of letting any configuration automation touch their storage & infrastructure. I've dealt with solid folks who won't allow any automation that can "accidentally" delete/remove/unpresent storage. In some cases, it's a "once bitten" reaction, but it still exists.
Third, using the plugins result in a non-standard implementation. The newbie admin that cuts his/her teeth on the environment that leverages plugins may struggle to perform tasks using the native environment. When thing require support, that "non-standard" environment can also result in a negative experience with 3rd-party support personnel.
2) SIOC is great when you're able to isolate the storage to virtual workloads only, particularly within the management domain of one vCenter. But most of the SMBs I work with have a mix of physical and virtual workloads on their one, "very expensive" array; yes, the virtual is an increasingly larger percentage, but it's still present, and non-virtual workloads put a damper on SIOC's effectiveness.
3) Early use of VASA from most storage vendors required YAVA (yet another virtual appliance) as the go-between: point a virtual appliance at the storage system; point vCenter at the virtual appliance. The hookup may be easy, but results in another workload for your virtual environment. It also represents another piece of software to keep up-to-date. I like that EMC has built the provider into the arrays, but that may be one of the exceptions out there.

VTexan

For those EMC customers interested in the VSI Plugins - i've posted some step by step, screen shot by screen shot, install guides for the various plugins we have here: http://www.vtexan.com/category/emc-install-guides/ - easy peasy !

Tommyt aka @vTexan
yes - i do feel a little dirty posting this :)

Adam

How do you configure VASA in the web client? I don't see Storage Providers.

Travis F

Don't charge for VSI. It's a GREAT CONCEPT but the product isn't mature. I've identified multiple bugs and paying for them would be terrible. It's too much hype and too much trouble if it doesn't work properly and consistently. I'd like to add much wind to the VSI sails because I think it meets a need and it's the right technique, but it's got to work well when delivered for prime-time production use.

We've been using sDRS and it's a good feature that moves in the right direction but needs continued refinement. It works consistently but it's not as intuitive or beneficial as it could be. ie. When a vm is being moved it's hard to know where its coming from and going to, drag and drop sdrs is unavailable in sClusters, sometimes moves can't be cancelled, knowing which hosts participate is unclear after configuration, etc. Practically, SRDS only offers initial placement benefits to me because of replication implications and Fast VP, but it comes with some disadvantages also.

I haven't dug into VASA yet, but I'll do it soon.

IMO, The features are a mixed bag in present form. From someone who's trying to use VSI & SDRS, I'm not as convinced they are worth the effort of the masses. Not unlike many products, rev 2 and rev 3 are more appropriate for the majority.

Jason

You can check out a cool demo of how to configure VASA with VNX running the OE 32 Inyo code release that Chad describes here:

https://community.emc.com/videos/3689

Ken

@Chris
@Travis F

Please let us know of your issues. Send all details and logs to nastoolsupport@emc.com. I will have them looked at right away.

Dominic Rivera

I like the *idea* of VSI, but hate the implementation. Is there a reason that the plugin cannot be fully contained ( ie, no more solutions enabler ). I've found solutions enabler to be one of the buggier pieces of software I've ever dealt with and requires you to install components of it locally on every machine that you want to run the VSI from. I have a large number of arrays, and can't talk to all of them simultaneously since the plugin can only talk to a single remote solutions enabler and a single SE instance can't/doesn't have visibility to all of the arrays I need to fetch data from. It's also incredibly slow at reporting information back to the VIC, and doesn't add a lot of value when used with powerpath in terms of licensing / PP/VE config changes or integration with the PowerPath viewer. VPLEX pathing rules?

EMC really needs to double down here and spend the time to get it right if they want to create value in the stack here. It's great that it's free but I'd be a lot more inclined to pay for something that was great.

Andrea

Enterprise plus featureset. Simple as that... can't even eval the product if VMware wants to withhold features from some of their clientbase. Will I put a buggy plugin in my production environment? No sir.

Brent

Hi Chad,

I'm not certain that the issue is strictly monetary. As you know I cover a Global Account for EMC and we continually get caught in the middle of permissions concerns. As we walked through the installation for a group within our account, simply for testing and live demonstration, we had to have no less than 3 groups get involved to approve access. Once the involved groups saw what was being shared and the required levels of access, they each wanted what the tool would show but wanted to minimize viewing or control viewing for the other groups. ultimately, the deployment was stalled till better permissions controls could be both understood and implemented. We are not done on this campaign trail.

I'm not doing justice with this simpleton articulation to the actual scenario, but I am certain you get the theme.

Food for thought,
Brent

INDStorage

Agree with everyone else here, I don't think adoption has anything to do with it being free.

This tool is a homerun in the mid-market where there are a limited number of admins, and they typically do both storage and VMware. I would think if you sampled only this market segment you'd find much higher adoption - at least among my customers :) That being said, Jim Millard makes a good point that mid-market customers (especially SMB) simply don't make that many changes to their environment. I saw a recent case where we tried to install VSI and got a strange certificate error. With 2 hosts and just a couple datastores, it wasn't worth the hassle to the customer to open a support ticket and spend hours troubleshooting when we could do it the old fashioned way in <10 mins.

In enterprise accounts, I still some concerns about delegation of rights, not so much that the tool can't support it, but storage admins just don't want VMware admins creating LUNs on "their" array. Even if it is in a dedicated VMware storage pool that isn't shared with other non-VMware apps.

Anthony

Is recoverpoint replication exposed to VASA yet, with VNX or VMAX?
Reading the EMC VASA guide recently it still says recoverpoint will show up as non replicated, this is to be incorporated in a future release.

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