When last we meet, we had deployed a UnityVSA virtual appliance; it was up and running sitting at the prompt for the Initial Configuration Wizard.

This post is part of a series covering the EMC Free and Frictionless software products.
Go to the first post for a table of contents.

If you’re following along and took a break, your browser session to Unisphere likely expired, which means you also lost the prompt for the Initial Configuration Wizard. Don’t fret; you can get it back. In the upper left corner of Unisphere, click on the Preferences button . On the main preferences page, there is a link to launch the Initial Configuration Wizard again.

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Ok, so back to the wizard? Good. This wizard is going to walk through a complete configuration of the UnityVSA, including changing passwords, licensing, network setup (DNS, NTP), creating pools, e-mail server, support credentials, your customer information, ESRS, iSCSI and NAS interfaces. You can choose to skip some steps, but if you complete all portions, your UnityVSA will be ready to provision storage across block and file, with LUNS, shares or VVOLS.

Before we get going, let’s cover some aspects of the VSA to plan for.

First, there is a single SP (service processor in Unity-speak; or a ‘brain’). The physical Unity (and the VNX and CLARiiON before if you are familiar with the line) has two SPs. These provide redundancy should an SP fail, given for all intents an SP is an x86 server it’s suspect to common failures. The VSA rather relies on vSphereHA to provide the redundancy should a host have a failure, and vSphereDRS/vMotion to move the workload preemptively for planned maintenance. This is germane because, for the VSA, you won’t be planning for balancing LUNs between the SPs, nor creating multiple NAS servers to span SPs, nor even iSCSI targets across SPs to allow for LUN trespass.

The second is size limitations. I’m using the community edition, a.k.a. Free and Frictionless; which is limited to 4TB of space. I do not get any support, as such ESRS will not work. If you’re planning on a production deployment, that 4TB limit will be increased to 50TB (based, of course, on how much you purchased from EMC) and then be a fully supported Unity array. With the overall size limit, you also are limited to 16 virtual disks behind the VSA (meaning 16 VMDK files you assign the VM). So plan accordingly. In my initial deployment I provided a 250GB VMDK, so if I have 15 more (16 total), I hit my 4TB max.

Third is simply the key differences from a physical array to prepare for.

  • Max pool LUN size: 16TB
  • Max pool LUNs per system: 64
  • Max pools per system: 16
  • No fibre channel support
  • No write caching (to ensure data integrity)
  • No synchronous replication
  • No RAID – this one is crucial to understand. In a physical Unity raw disks are put into RAID groups to protect against data loss during a drive failure. UnityVSA relies on the storage you provide to be protected already. Up to the limits mentioned, you can present VMDKs from multiple vSphere datastores, even from separate tiers of storage leveraging FASTVP inside UnityVSA.

Fourth and finally, a few vSphere specific notes. UnityVSA comes installed with VMware Tools, but you can’t modify it, so don’t try automatic upgrades the VMtools. The cores and memory are hard coded; so don’t try adding more to increase performance; rather split workload onto multiple UnityVSA appliances. You cannot resize virtual disks once they are in a UnityVSA pool, again add more, but pay attention to the limits. EMC doesn’t support vSphere-FT, VM-level backup/replication nor VM-level snapshots.

 

 UnityVSA_ICW__1 Got all that, now let’s setup this array! I’m going to step through detail on the options this time, because the wizard is packed full of steps, the video is also at the bottom.
 

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First off, change your passwords. If you missed it earlier, here are the defaults again:

  • admin/Password123#
  • service/service

The “admin” account is the main administrator of Unisphere, while the “service” account is used to log into the console of the VSA, where you can perform limited admin steps such as changing IP settings should you need to move the network; as well logs.

 

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Next up, licensing. Every UnityVSA needs a license, even if you’re using the Community edition. If you purchased the array, you should go through all the normal channels, LAC, support, or your rep. For community edition, copy the System UUID and follow the link: Get License Online
 

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The link to get a license will take you to EMC.com, again you’ll need to logon with the same account you used to download the OVA. Then simply paste in that System UUID and select “Unity VSA” from the drop down. Your browser will download a file that is the license key; from there you can import it into Unisphere.

I will say, I’ve heard complaints that needing to register to download and create a license is ‘friction’, but it was incredibly easy. I don’t take any issues with a registration, EMC has made it simple, and no one from sales is calling me to follow up. I’m sure EMC is tracking who’s using it, but that’s good data; downloading the OVA vs actually creating a license. I don’t find this invalidates the ‘Free and Frictionless’ motto.

UnityVSA_ICW__23 Did you get this nice message? If so good job, if not… well try again.
 

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The virtual array needs DNS servers, to talk to the outside world, communicate through ESRS, get training videos, etc… make sure to provide DNS servers that can resolve internet addresses.
 UnityVSA_ICW__21 Synchronizing time is always important, if you are providing file shares it’s extra important you’re in synch with your Active Directory. Should a client and server be more than 5 minutes apart access will be denied. So use your AD server itself, or an NTP server on the same time synch with AD.
 

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Now we’re getting into some storage. In Unity, pools are a grouping of storage which is carved up to present to hosts. In the VSA, a pool must have at least one virtual disk; though if you have more data will be balanced across the virtual disks.

A pool is the foundation of all storage, without one you cannot setup anything else on the virtual array.

 

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When creating a Pool, you’ll want to give it a name and description. Given this is a virtual array, consider including the cluster and datastore names in the description so you know where the storage is coming from.

For my purposes of testing, I named the Pool Pool_250 simply to know it was on my 250GB virtual disk.

 

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Once named, you’ll need to give the pool some virtual disks. Recall we created a 250GB virtual disk, here we are adding that into the pool.

When adding disks you need to choose a tier, typically:

  • Flash = Extreme Performance
  • FC/SAS = Performance
  • NL-SAS/SATA = Capacity

The virtual disk I provided the VSA is actually VSAN running All-Flash, but I’m selecting Capacity here simply to explore FAST VP down the road.

 

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Next up I need to give the Pool a Capability Profile. This profile is for VMware VVOL support. We’ll cover VVOL in more depth another time, but essentially it allows you to connect vSphere to Unity, and assign storage at a VM level. This is done through vSphere Storage Policy that map through to the Capability Profile.

So what is the Capability Profile used for? It encompasses all the attributes of the pool, allowing you to created a vSphere Storage Policy. There is one capability profile per pool, it includes the Service Tier (based on your storage tier and FAST VP), Space Efficiency Options and any extra tags you might want to add.

You can skip this by not checking the Create VMware Capability Profile for the Pool box at this point; but you can also modify/delete the profile later.

I went ahead and made a simple profile called CP_250_VSAN

 

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Here are the constraints, or attributes, I mentioned above. Some are set for you, then you can add tags. Tags can be shared across pools and capability profiles. I tagged this ‘VSAN’, but you could tag for applications you want on this pool, or application tiers (web, database, etc), or the location of the array.

This finishes out creating the pool itself.

 

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The Unity array will e-mail you when alerts occur, configure this to e-mail your team when there are issues.
 

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Remember me mentioning reserving a handful of IP addresses? Here we start using them. The UnityVSA has two main ways to attach storage; iSCSI and NAS (the third, fibre channel, is available on the physical array).

If you want to connect via iSCSI, you’ll need to create iSCSI Network Interfaces here.

 

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Creating an iSCSI interface is easy, you’ll pick between your four ethernet ports, provide IP address, subnet mask and gateway. You can assign multiple IP addresses to the same ethernet port; you also can run both iSCSI and NAS on the same ethernet port (you can’t share an IP address though).

How you leverage these ports is an end user design. Keep in mind, the UnityVSA itself is a single VM and thus a single point of failure. Though you could put the virtual network cards on separate virtual switches to provide some network redundancy, or you could put virtual network cards into separate VLANs to provide storage to different network segments.

 

 

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I created two iSCSI interfaces on the same network card, so that I can simulate multi-pathing at the client side down the road.
 

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Next up is creating a NAS Server, this provides file services for a particular pool. Provide a name for the NAS server, then pool to bind it too, and the service processor for it to run on (only SPA for VSA).
 

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With the NAS Server created, it will need an ethernet port and IP information. Again, this can be the same port as iSCSI, or different; your choice; but you CANNOT share IP addresses. I choose to use a different port here.
UnityVSA_ICW__7 Unity supports both Windows and *nix file shares, as well multiple options for how to secure the authentication and authorization of said shares. Both the protocol support and the associated security settings are per NAS Server. Remember we can create multiple NAS Servers; so this is how you provide access across clients.

For example, if you have two Active Directory forests you want to have shares for; one NAS Server cannot span them, though you can simply create a second NAS server for the other forest.

Or if you want to provide isolation between Windows and *nix shares, simply use two NAS servers, each with single protocol support.

One pool may have multiple NAS servers, but one NAS server can NOT have multiple pools.

This is again where the multiple NICs might come in play on UnityVSA. I could create a NAS Server on a virtual nic that is configured in vSphere for NFS access; while another NAS Server is bound to a separate virtual nic in that my Windows clients can see for SMB shares.

For my initial NAS Server, I’m going to use multi-protocol and leverage Active Directory. This will create a server entry in my AD. I’m also going to enable VVOL, NFSv4 and configure secure NFS.

 

 

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This is the secure NFS option page, by having NFS authenticate via Kerberos against Active Directory, I can use AD as my LDAP as well.
 

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With secure NFS enabled, my Unix Directory Service is going to target AD, so I simply need to provide the IP address(es) of my domain controller(s).
 

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Given I’m using Active Directory, the NAS server needs DNS Servers, these can be different from the DNS servers you entered earlier if you have separation of DNS per zones.
 

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I do not have another Unity box at this point to configure replication; something I’ll explore down the road, so leaving this unchecked.
 

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At this point all my selections are ready, clicking finish will complete all the configuration options.

At this point, my UnityVSA is connected to the network, ready to carve up the pool into LUNs, VVOLs or shares. Everything I accomplished in this wizard can be done manually inside the GUI. The Initial Configuration Wizard just streamlines all the tasks with bringing up a new Unity array. If you have a complete Unity configuration mapped out, you can see how this wizard would greatly reduce the time to value. In the next few posts I’ll explore the provisioning process; like how to leverage the new VVOL support with vSphere.

Here is the silent video, to see the steps I skipped and the general pacing of this wizard.