vSAN – Check VM Storage Policy & Compliance

As I continue to work with vSAN I discover there’s way more to do than just move some VMs over and you’re on your way. With multiple vSAN clusters each with different configurations I needed a way to monitor the current setup and check for changes. While creating a simple script to check which VM Storage Policy is assigned to each VM isn’t very difficult, a creating a script to check the storage policy of VMs across multiple vSAN datastores proved to be a little more difficult.

We run multiple PowerCLI scripts to check health and configuration drift (thanks to a special tool created by Nick Farmer) in our environment. In the event that a new vCenter is added or new vSAN datastore is deployed, we needed a simple script that can be run without any intervention or modification. Now we can be alerted when the proper VM storage policies isn’t assigned or the current policy is out of compliance.

To further complicate things in our setup, we create a new VM Storage Policy that contains the name of the cluster in which it’s assigned.  Due to the potential differences in each vSAN cluster (stripes, failures to tolerate, replication factor, RAID, etc) having a single Storage Policy does not work for us. In the event a VM is migrated from one vSAN cluster to another we need to check that the VM storage policy matches vSAN datastore cluster policy.

What this script does is grab all the clusters in a vCenter that have vSAN enabled. For each cluster that is found with vSAN enabled, it is filtering only the VMs that live on vSAN storage (with the name of “<cluster>-vsan”. Then we get the storage based policy management (Get-SpbmEntityConfiguration) of those VMs. The script then filters for a storage policy that doesn’t contain the cluster name OR a compliance status that is compliant.

$vsanClusters = Get-cluster | Where-Object {$_.vsanenabled -eq "True"}
foreach ($cluster in $vsanClusters)
$Cluster | get-vm |?{($_.extensiondata.config.datastoreurl|%{$_.name}) -like "*-vsan*"} |
Get-SpbmEntityConfiguration | Where-Object {$_.storagepolicy -notlike "*$Cluster*" -or $_.compliancestatus -notlike "*compliant*"} |
Select-Object Entity,storagepolicy,compliancestatus

Once this is run we can see the output below. I’ve obscured the names of the VMs, but we can see that there are still 12 VMs that are using the default vSAN Storage Policy instead of the cluster-specific storage policy they should be using. In addition, we see that the compliance status is currently out of date on most of these VMs. These VMs reside on 2 separate clusters and there are also 2 VMs that were filtered because they are on local storage in these clusters instead of vSAN.



vSAN – Check VM Storage Policy & Compliance

VSAN – Compliance Status is Out of Date

Occasionally the Compliance status of the performance service will go to the “out of date” status. This is not an alert that is thrown anywhere within vCenter. You will have to check this status by logging into the vSphere web client, locating your vCenter, choose the cluster, clicking on “Manage” then choosing “Health and Performance” under “Virtual SAN”

As I have recently fixed this issue the above screenshot shows the “Compliant” status. Below are the steps to get to that point.

1. In the box for “Performance Service” click “Edit storage policy”

2. If there is a storage policy available in the drop down, select it and click “OK”. This will apply that policy and perform the compliance check.

For the lucky few where that works, that’s all you need to do. If the storage policy list is empty you’ll need to restart the vsanmgmtd service on each of the hosts.

3. Enable SSH on each of the hosts in the VSAN cluster and using an SSH client (like putty), SSH to a host and run the following command to restart the vsanmgmtd service (this is a non-impactful operation and should be able to be performed during production hours with no impact)
a. /etc/init.d/vsanmgmtd restart

4. Repeat that command on each of the hosts in the cluster until they have all restarted their services

5. Wait 5 minutes and then check to see if you are able to select a storage policy for the performance service. If not, move on to step 6

6. Now we’ll need to restart the vSphere Profile-Driven Storage Service on the vCenter server. This is also non-impactful and should be able to be performed in the middle of the day. If you’re using vCenter on windows, connect to the Windows server and restart the “Vmware vSphere Profile-Driven Storage Service”. If using VCSA (like this example) you’ll need to SSH to the VCSA and run the command below
a. Service vmware-sps restart

7. After the vmware-sps service restarts, log out of the web client and wait for 5 minutes while the storage profile service  completes its restart.

8. Log back in to the web client, navigate to the vCenter server, click “Manage” then choose the “Storage Providers” tab

9. Click the Synchronize Providers button to resync the state of the environment

10. Wait another 5 minutes while these synchronize completes. After 5 minutes, navigate to the VSAN cluster in the web client. Click on “Manage” then choose “Settings” and locate “Health and Performance” under the “Virtual SAN” section

11. In the Performance Service box, click the “Edit Storage Policy” button

12. From the drop down list you should be able to select the appropriate VSAN storage policy and then click “OK”

13. After this is selected the compliance status should change to “Compliant” and you should be all set.

So far these are the only steps that I have needed to follow in order to fix this issue. Let me know if there are any other fixes available.




VSAN – Compliance Status is Out of Date

The Beginning of Cloud Natives

Over the last 8 years I have built my career around VMware. I remember the first time I installed VMware Server at one of my jobs just to play around with and imported my first virtual machine. I had no idea what I was doing or how any of it worked, but I felt there was a future for me in this technology. As I moved on to other companies, the VMware implementations just got larger and larger; from 3 hosts all the way up to well over 1000.

Having spent time in these environments and with other users at local VMUG events and VMworld, I’ve seen that the skills required to be a VMware administrator are becoming commoditized. More people know about it than ever before, more blogs exist than ever before, and the necessity of meetings that revolve around VMware specifically seems to have run its course. While VMware remains integral to the datacenter today, there are skills we need to be developing and technologies we need to be exploring to ensure we’re not the ones being replaced when the next generation joins the workforce.

Enter Cloud Natives.
cloud natives

Cloud Natives was the idea of Dominic Rivera and myself as a means to bridge the gap between user and these new technologies. Cloud Natives looks to bring together the leaders in a technology space to present their solutions in one location. Rather than just letting vendors spew marketing material,  we take a different approach. Vendors are required to provide actual customers to present how their solutions have impacted their job and their business. No more outlandish claims, no more vanity numbers that don’t depict actual workloads, just real stories from real users.

We are kicking off 2016 with our first event on July 14th in Portland, OR. This event will be focused on one of the hottest technologies in the datacenter right now: Flash Storage. We’re bringing together the top players in the Flash Storage space and you’ll hear their customers discuss the benefits and challeneges they faced when moving away from legacy spinning disk arrays and even newer hybrid arrays.Our goal is to educate our members one event at a time.

Cloud Natives looks to bring together all the datacenter technologies into one place. Whether it’s a focus on hypervisors, traditional or next-generation storage and infrastructure, cloud providers, DevOps and automation, or anything else that is hot in the datacenter, we will be that go-to resource in the Pacific Northwest. Each event is an opportunity to evaluate multiple vendors from the perspective of the customer. With no overlapping session schedules, you can walk away better informed and get any questions answered in one event.

I encourage everyone in the Portland area to register for this event at the Cloud Natives site. Our goal is to bring a sense of community back to Portland. We want to be a place to meet and network, to encourage, to mentor and to grow in our careers. No matter the stage in our career, we all have knowledge and experience that can help someone else and it’s time we all do our part to give back to the community.

The Beginning of Cloud Natives

Cohesity – Scale-Out Secondary Storage

Backups are boring. No matter if you’re talking about swapping tapes, configuring backup jobs in your legacy agent-based  software, or spending another night restoring snapshots from your storage array; there’s just no way to make backups interesting. Cohesity aims to fix that. No, they won’t make backups sexy, but they are looking to add a bit more flash to the secondary storage market.

So what exactly is “secondary storage?” Secondary storage encompasses our backups, non-prod workloads, fileshares and the like. The secondary storage market is gaining visibility recently. With the flood of primary storage vendors, Cohesity could have been another “me-too” primary storage vendor, but they see the value in attacking an under-developed market.

The concept of Cohesity is simple. You can purchase the C2300 or C2500 models which offer 48TB or 96TB of storage respectively in each 4-node appliance (with a minimum of 3-nodes to start). Additional capactity can be added a single node at a time afterwards in 12TB or 24TB chunks depending on the model. Each node contains either 800GB or 1.6TB of flash for caching along with compute and memory. Cohesity claims they are infinitely scalable due to their distributed OASIS (Open Architecture for Scalable Intelligent Storage) architecture, though they’ve only tested up to 32 nodes at the time of this writing. Once your nodes are setup, you just point Cohesity at your vCenter Server and you now have visibility of your virtual machines.

Cohesity, leveraging VADP, is able to snapshot your configured VMs and begins ingesting all that data. The changes of these VMs are tracked (using CBT) so you’re not performing new full backups each time. All that is pretty standard in the backup world, so what sets Cohesity apart? That data is not just backed up, but it is available to actually use. Want to spin up one of these backed up VMs for testing? Space-efficient clones are created directly on the Cohesity appliance and are presented back to your ESXi hosts. Searching for a file to restore from one of these VMs? You can locate it right from the web interface and download the file without having to restore the entire VM.

The differentiator for Cohesity is not just how it scales or how simple it makes the backup process, but how it makes your backups useful. Enabling developers to access clones of your production systems to test deployments and hotfixes without impacting your production storage. Integrated QoS preventing your dev/test workloads from consuming all your resources and causing backup performance to suffer. Utilizing the onboard flash combined with global deduplication, performance of these workloads can mimic production without the cost of an all flash array.

An all-inclusive secondary storage appliance that provides visibility of data sprawl adds to the value. Often times, as production systems are backed up and cloned and cloned again, you lose sight of the origin of that data. Migrating data from one storage array to another you lose that deduplication and you’re now increasing capacity across systems to accommodate your storage footprint. By providing an all-in-one solution for your backups and dev/test workloads, you’re able to maximize your investment without the need for multiple arrays and storage targets.

The backup market is a crowded one. There are more feature rich backup software providers in the space, but many of them require the purchase of additional storage that doesn’t have the capabilities of what Cohesity provides. Having just released Version 1 in mid-October, Cohesity has a lot of capabilities in their software with what appears to be a great vision for the future. The product is still in need of refinement to simplify the process of searches, reporting, and scheduling, but the foundation of what the Cohesity team has built has me excited to see where they’ll be able to take their product.


Watch all the videos from Cohesity at Storage Field Day 8 here.

Disclaimer: During Storage Field Day 8, my expenses (flight, hotel, etc) were paid for by Tech Field Day. I am under no obligation to write about any of the presented content nor am I compensated by any of the presenting companies for such writing.

Cohesity – Scale-Out Secondary Storage

NexGen Storage – The Future is Hybrid

At Storage Field Day 8, the delegates got a sneak peak at what NexGen Storage was up to. With new product and patent announcements, there was a lot to be excited about for this hybrid array vendor.

Hybrid storage is the future. But with the death of disk and living in an all-flash world, how can that be true? While disk isn’t dead yet, it feels like it’s dying. High IOPs, low latency, and consistent performance is what makes flash so desirable. When designing a modern datacenter today, I’d be unlikely to buy spinning disk. So how can hybrid be the future?

As the cost of flash continues to drop the dependency we have on spinning disk drops as well. When it comes to enterprise storage, why pay for a fading technology when flash is becoming more and more affordable? That’s not to say disk doesn’t have a place in the datacenter; it just means the use cases are beginning to diminish. Spinning disk is generally not a place where I want my production applications to run.

NexGen Storage has been in the hybrid array space for some time. After being founded in 2010, being purchased by Fusion-io in 2013 and then eventually being spun out as its own company earlier this year, NexGen Storage has continued to focus on its hybrid arrays. The engineering efforts and customer growth didn’t stop along the way. The NexGen team stayed focused on what it does best; fast storage with predictable performance.

With the rise of flash in the datacenter, why the focus on hyrbid? With NexGen, their hybrid arrays are not just flash cache in front of spinning disk. The approach of flash and RAM caching writes and/or reads makes sense as only your working set “needs” that high speed/low latency tier, but in the event your array was unable to predict the next blocks being requested by your application the performance of spinning disk sometimes isn’t enough. Their latest model, the N5-1500, is all flash with a hybrid approach.

While the cost of flash is dropping rapidly, it still is expensive. NexGen Storage is utilizing flash over the PCIe bus for it’s caching tier which is much more expensive than just regular SSD drives. The advantage of this approach is lower latency, higher throughput, but at a more reasonable cost as you’re not filling an array with all PCIe flash. The N5 all flash series is available in 15TB to 60TB raw capacity (in 15TB increments) with all sizes coming with 2.6TB of PCIe flash.

Why the same cache tier size? With its now patented dynamic QoS, NexGen Storage is able to deliver that consistent performance businesses need for their applications. The ability to prioritize workloads and assign pre-configured QoS policies allows you to purchase a do-everything array. In many of the smaller environments I’ve worked in, you don’t have the luxury of multiple storage arrays for production and dev/test. Often time, you are hoping that your non-critical workloads do not affect your mission-critical workloads. With automated throttling and prioritizing placement of your data, you’re able to ensure development never interferes with Tier 0.

The all-flash datacenter is here today and each all-flash vendor has a different approach. This hybrid all-flash approach is what sets NexGen Storage apart along with an all-inclusive software feature set. A fast array isn’t enough anymore; you need an array that has the intelligence to deliver the performance you’re expecting at all times. Combine that with VMware Virtual Volumes support, data reduction (deduplication and compression) along with array-based snapshots and replication (between all-flash and hybrid spinning disk arrays) and you have a solution built for the next generation.

Disclaimer: During Storage Field Day 8, my expenses (flight, hotel, etc) were paid for by Tech Field Day. I am under no obligation to write about any of the presented content nor am I compensated by any of the presenting companies for such writing.

NexGen Storage – The Future is Hybrid

Thoughts in the Airport

Traveling is one of my least favorite things. I have never done well on flights, waiting to take off, sitting still for hours, and feeling trapped. That trapped feeling is worse when I’m stuck in the middle or window seat. If I’m not on aisle I don’t want to fly.

This time, however, it’s different. Sure, I’ve been to tech conferences before. I’ve been to a handful of VMworld’s, went to Cisco Live and a few smaller conferences as well. But Storage Field Day? This is my first time being selected as a delegate at a Tech Field Day event. As I sit in the airport I’m nervous for a completely different reason.

Tech Field Day events are filled with companies presenting their latest and greatest products and solutions. This is an event that skips the marketing and gets into the nitty gritty. The delegates (11 of us this time around) get to ask questions of the people who built these products and have a vast knowledge of their inner workings. Viewers watching the live stream can have their questions relayed to the presenters via Twitter and the #SFD8 hashtag so they gain a better understanding as well.

So why the nerves? Sitting alongside storage experts such as Howard Marks and Ray Lucchesi who run the GreyBeards on Storage podcast (which I subscribe to) and Scott D. Lowe who is an author, a blogger, a former CIO and someone is who well known and well respected in the industry. It just so happens that Howard and Scott have done a combined 36 Tech Field Day events. Alex Galbraith, Viper V.K, Jon Klaus, Dan Frith, Mark May, Enrico Signoretti, and Jarett Kulm are the remaining delegates who are also well known and respected as well. For a first timer like me, it doesn’t get much more intimidating.

That’s just the delegates, I haven’t even mentioned the presenters. We’ll be on-site at the Coho Data, Pure Storage, and Cohesity. With a recent IPO I’ll be curious to see what Pure will be showcasing and with their first GA release I’m interested in hearing more about Cohesity and where their product is at.

Violin Memory, Intel, INFINIDAT, Nimble Storage, Nexgen, Qumulo and Primary Data will also be presenting. With so little coming from Violin lately I’m curious what they’ve been up to (besides declaring that disk is dead). I’m also interested in where Nimble is at. With most of their competitors offering all flash solutions, Nimble is one of the last few hybrid-only vendors. Have they throw a bunch of SSD’s on their arrays and called it “All Flash” (ala NetApp) or are they working on something new?

As I sit in the airport at PDX waiting for my flight to arrive from Denver my nerves are about adding value to this event. Asking the questions and offering the perspective of a customer who has been responsible for deploying and administering storage over the last 7 years. Holding my own along side these storage industry experts and not letting myself get intimidated. This is out of my comfort zone, but I’m up for the challenge.

Thoughts in the Airport

Storage Field Day Here I Come!

Storage has been a component of my job for most of my IT career. It’s something that I’ve enjoyed, but hadn’t been something I’ve had the time to focus on. Coming from smaller organizations, I’ve been responsible for almost everything in the environment which rarely gave me an opportunity to be an expert in any one technology.

A few years ago the company I worked for was going through a storage refresh and I was tasked with evaluating our existing storage platform and determine our needs going forward. I spent time with nearly every major storage vendor there was going into depth on every aspect I could in order to determine the “best choice.” In the end I gained an understanding of storage that I never had before and it became a passion for me.

All that being said, I am both honored and humbled to be selected as a delegate for Storage Field Day 8! The Tech Field Day events have been something I’ve watched over the last couple of years and I have become a huge fan. These event give the viewers a chance to learn and ask questions about the latest technologies from the presenters. These events are about getting through the marketing and getting into the details. This is a great opportunity to educate yourself on the different products being presented.

Don’t miss all the presentations for Storage Field Day 8 on October 21-23. I am particularly interested in hearing more about what Coho Data and Cohesity are doing, but I’m looking forward to all the presentations.

Storage Field Day Here I Come!