Tag Archives: Virtual Machine

A storage array built purposely for VM only

VMware VSAN demonstrates that you can make storage easier to setup for VMware Administrators. It’s directly integrated with vSphere, with no additional installation. It is purpose built for vSphere.

VSAN is a form of distributed storage, an architectural departure from central array. I certainly like the idea that my data is not put in 1 basket. However, there are thousands of array out there, so there are bound to be customers who want or need a central array. What if your physical Storage array is purpose built for VM? This means it does not support physical servers. Nope, it does not support RDM either. Only VM and its vmdk. What are some of the complexity that can be taken away, making it easier for VMware Admin to master it?

What I like about such storage array is not just what is there, but what is not there.

I had the pleasure playing with Tintri T820. They have kindly loan a unit in VMware ASEAN Lab. It’s a 4RU box. Racking and cabling took only a few minutes. Both Tintri and PTC (our joint reseller) were on site when we set it up, but they let me do the bulk of the setting. No, I did not want to read the manual as I wanted to see how easy it is.

There is no complex cabling connecting the different component of the array. It just have 2 power cable, 2 10GE cable for data, and a few 1 GE cables for replication and management. That’s it! It reminds of me ESXi server.

We booted up. To my surprise, GRUB loaded. Linux then loaded, as you can see below. This feels like a server.

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We waited for it to load. It then prompts the following screen, where I keyed in the IP address and host name. And that’s all it asked.

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Once we got the IP address, it’s all web based, as shown below. There is a one time setup, which is much longer. But the questions are pretty straight forward.

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And apparently we’re done with the configuration! I was asked to then create an NFS datastore. Tintr’s recommendation is to present 1 datastore. So I created a datastore as per below. From the screen below, you can see I have 3 vCenter Servers. That means the same Tintri datastore is mounted 3x.

Once mounted, I started migrating VM to it, so I can see some data in Tintri.

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Using web browser, we login to Tintri. No annoying Java required. Also, no installation of management software. Just a browser. Below is the main screen. The dashboard tab is the main tab. I’ve already loaded many VMs, as you can see on the right side of the screen.

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Look at the above screen carefully. Can you see what’s not there? There is no the usual storage concept or object such as LUNs, Volume, Slice, Pools, Aggregate, etc. There is also no choice of interface or protocol. There is no FC, FCoE, iSCSI. Only NFS. The entire array is 1 giant pool of 1 datastore. This is like VSAN, as VSAN also presents 1 datastore.

The next tab is “Virtual Machine”. It has a few sub tabs, which allows you to drill down. The columns on the screen are sortable. You can also filter each column. In the following screen, I have sorted the table by Latency.

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You can drill down into Virtual Disk! In the screenshow below, I again sorted by latency.

If you look at the Provisioned column, you will see an example of filtering.

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The next tab is VMStore. In here, you can see performance and other information. My performance was capped at 1 Gb as the ISL between the 2 switches in the lab is 1 Gb.

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If you have multiple Tintri boxes, you can see them all on 1 dashboard. You need to deploy a vSphere appliance. Again, only took a few minutes to set up. Below is a screenshot from Tintri global center.

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You might have noticed the Settings link near the top right of the screen. If you guess this is where you edit all the settings, you are right. It just a dialog box. Most of them are pretty self explanatory.

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I almost forgot we’re dealing with physical array here! You can bring up a hardware tab. From here, you can see that the box has 24 physical disks, with 14 (yes, 14) being SSD. You can also see that it has 3 networks (Management, Data, Replication).

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No setup is complete without installing syslog as we need to analyse it. From the Settings dialog box, you configure the target syslog. I specified my Log Insight, and you can see Tintri sends its log. I’d like to see Performance log, and I’ve asked Tintri if this can be done.

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And that’s basically it. I’m deeply impressed with its simplicity.