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vCenter plugin - some questions

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jayst136
Occasional Advisor

vCenter plugin - some questions

Hi,

i deployed quite some Nimble arrays in VMware environments and i gathered some feedback regarding the vCenter plugin.

Quite often i get these questions:

How do i specify VMFS version when i create a datastore?

How do i specify a initiator group instead of creation of individual IQN entries made by the plugin?

How do i specify a specific performance policy?

as far as i know, the only answer for these questions i can come up with is "you can't ".
I just want to confirm and at the same time ask why such limitations are in place, i cannot think of a good reason.

9 REPLIES
eforgette119
Advisor
Solution

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

Thanks for the question!  You are correct, the answer for all of these is that we don't expose that level of control through the plugin.  Below are some reasons.  Of course, none of this is written in stone.  If this is something that customers are looking for, we can certainly look at adding it.

How do i specify VMFS version when i create a datastore?

The highest supported version of VMFS is chosen based on the version of the ESX hosts that are selected.  We haven't heard of a use case where a virtual infrastructure administrator would like to choose an older version.

How do i specify a initiator group instead of creation of individual IQN entries made by the plugin?

The initiator group(s) are created and managed by the plugin for a few reasons.  First and foremost, we've found that most virtual infrastructure administrators don't want to deal with this level of detail (with regard to storage anyway).  The other reason the plugin wants to "control" this is that it allows the plugin to support workflows for both iscsi and fc.

How do i specify a specific performance policy?

The performance policy is selected automatically based on the VMFS version.  The most critical part of the performance policy selection for datastores is the "Quota Exceeded Behavior".  If the policy is "Set Offline", the ESX hosts will go into APD/PDL if the volume runs out of space.  Very few policies have this set to "Set to Non-Writeable", which would limit the number the plugin would expose.  The other issue is that the performance policy specifies the block size.  Since most guest filesystems default to a block size of 4k, this block size is the best for general purpose datastores.

Having said all of that, I understand the desire to tune the storage for an application.  The best way to achieve this is to leverage VVOLs and Storage Policy Based Management.  One of the capabilities that NimbleOS exposes to vCenter is called "Application Policy".  This maps directly to performance policy and can be set on a per virtual disk basis.

cwoods_mri124
Occasional Visitor

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

I have the same question on the vCenter initiator creation. When I deployed our CS5000, I created initiator groups based on our ESX clusters. Then I provisioned a datastore via the vCenter plugin and it dumped all the initiators for that particular cluster into the non-grouped initiator list. 

I don't have a problem with them being there so long as they can coexist with the initiator groups which will be used when provisioning volumes from the Nimble web console. 

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

Any idea when the vCenter plugin will get the capability to unmount volumes from a host or cluster (without deleting them)? I heard about a year ago that this was being worked on, or at least was on the "to-do" list.

eforgette119
Advisor

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

The two can coexist, however we tend to recommend using one management paradigm or the other for provisioning.  The challenge using both methods with FC specifically is with LU number assignment.  Ideally you'll want all ESXi hosts to see the same LU number for the same Nimble volume.  Different numbers might be assigned when the initiator is in multiple initiator groups.

jayst136
Occasional Advisor

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

Seems like the exact reason i'd like to have initiator groups instead of seperate entries. I still dont get why support is not there for both management paradigms.

eforgette119
Advisor

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

Support is an altogether different question and one I'm not qualified to answer. 

As I mentioned to Chris, technically you can do both.  You'll just need to be careful.  Note that my recommendation is for the provisioning workflows specifically.

jayst136
Occasional Advisor

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

simplicity is key and very much valued by my customers(Nimble users). It is what makes them so happy with the array. I understand the plugin needs to be simple as well.

But... It's also exactly the difference in workflow between the Nimble GUI and the vCenter plugin that makes it not the ideal setup. The workflow within the Nimble GUI is well thought out, flexible enough in providing options (perf. policy selection etc. etc.) and well understood by customers. But when the plugin is used, this workflow is changed in  way i don't think is nescessary. 

I would think it's not that difficult for devs to provide more options in the plugin (generally speaking) or to have at least have an option to use initiator groups and perf policy selection. On the other hand, i get that all effort that goes into the plugin for the old (Adobe Flex) web client goes to waste soon.

eforgette119
Advisor

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

This is still on the to-do list, so I can't give you an exact date at this time.  We know it's high on the wish list, so we're trying to get it in.  Please stay tuned!

jmartin64
Occasional Visitor

Re: vCenter plugin - some questions

I am the product manager for Nimble's VMware solution and I would be very interested to hear more about your experiences and more about the use cases you are looking to address with this type of functionality.  I've been collecting customer and partner input to help drive feature priority and your insights would be very helpful.  I can be reached at jeff.martin@hpe.com.  Let's find a time that works and have the discussion.  Thanks!