Do you recall the post I published in September of 2009 titled “VMworld 2009 – Thoughts from the show“? If you read this post you may recall that many VI Admins shared a recurring theme that thru the virtualization of the data center they were becoming quasi-storage administrators.
Oh, there’s no doubt about it. The task of bringing storage online is a multi-step process that requires the coordination of information and tasks between the storage admin and VI admin teams. Unfortunately for the VI admin there are considerably more tasks related to the basic processes, like the provisioning of storage, that they must complete as compared to the storage admin.
To illustrate this point I have created the following graphic depicting the storage provisioning process.
I don’t mean to upset any storage admins here, but this transformation of the role around who’s actually the storage admin is spot on. Consider the number of configuration parameters multiplied by the number of nodes, which the VI admin must manage the storage connectivity for. They have their hands full.
What is clear is the model is broken
Going back to last fall’s post you may recall that I posed challenges to address this issue to the VI community and VMware’s storage partners. To the former I suggested they demand more integration from their storage vendors. To the later I challenged them to step up and eliminate the “Ever Multiplying Complexity” associated with managing the ever-growing shared storage architectures in virtual infrastructures.
As Six months has passed and I believe its time to measure the progress of the industry to integrate and significantly simplify the role of managing storage. I will cover the results of the joint engineering efforts from NetApp and VMware in this short series of posts.
Introducing the new model from NetApp
Since VMworld NetApp has continued to develop the Rapid Cloning Utility (RCU) vCenter plug-in, released the Virtual Storage Console (VSC) vCenter plug-in, and update our storage best practices document TR-3749 (available as download or for purchase as a book). By combining the recent releases of these tools NetApp is delivering a new model for provisioning, managing, and monitoring storage with VMware.
I would like to clarify one point. Just because there is a new model available to you, it does not mean you must change your processes; however, I trust that once we dig into the gains made by the new process, you will be looking to implement the new model sooner rather than later.
Before we begin…
In order to take advantage of the new model you will need to ensure your environment meets the following requirements.
- NetApp FAS, vSeries, or IBM N-Series arrays running Data ONTAP 126.96.36.199 or later
- Installed the RCU 3.0
- Installed the VSC 1.0
- Have a copy of TR-3749
– OK this last part isn’t actually a requirement, but it is a good idea –
The new model for storage administrators
The technologies available from NetApp provide the means for a new operational model where storage administrators can significantly simply their support for virtual infrastructures.
In this new model storage admins are responsible for configuring the physical storage array, providing data protection and managing the overall utilization of the array. Once the physical architecture is deployed NetApp admins supporting VMware can simply provision pools of ‘raw’ storage resources (aggregates, FlexVols, and storage network interfaces) directly for use in the virtual infrastructure.
This model significantly simplifies the tasks required by the storage admin while allowing the VMware admin to provision and manage datastores and the storage constructs associated with them such as LUN masking, storage I/O path management, etc… directly from physical resources assigned to the virtual infrastructure by the storage admin.
This process begins after the RCU is installed, where the storage administrator may assign storage resources for use by the virtual infrastructure. To assign these resources the storage admin will login into vCenter and open the RCU configuration panel (select a controller, properties, and assign resources).
Once a resource has been assigned it will be used exclusively by the virtual infrastructure. Resources not assigned are ignored and inaccessible by the virtual infrastructure.
To prevent further changes the storage administrator has the highly advisable option lock or restrict the ability to assign additional resources. Checking a box followed by entering a username a password completes this securing process. The account used to lock these settings is stored securely inside the RCU.
That’s it! The storage admin has completed all he or she needs to do in order to provide storage services to the VMware environment. No LUNs, no LUN masking, no NFS exports, no multipathing, etc… seriously that’s it!
Too simple to be true?
I’ll continue this post tomorrow where I will go into significant details around the functionality NetApp delivers to the VI Admins.
While I like to say, “Virtualization Changes Everything,” I believe Leonardo da Vinci said it best with, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”