SimpliVity as Visionary – Just Getting Warmed Up

First off, congrats to SimpliVity and other vendors for being included on Gartner’s inaugural Converged Infrastructure (no?) Integrated Systems Magic Quadrant (MQ)! The report not only further validates this direction for infrastructure and the importance of convergence, but also highlights the breadth of scope within this space.

Reading over the report, they used a very broad definition for Integrated Systems (read more about that at Ron Singler’s blog here), which in turn lead to them not using the term ‘converged infrastructure’. The graphic depicts Gartner’s basic qualification for inclusion in the Integrated Systems category:


This resulted in the inclusion of everything from broad workload systems (VCE, SimpliVity, etc.) to workload specific systems like Oracle Exadata and Teradata. Equally interesting, however, was the exclusion of Pivot3, Scale, UCS, VSAN, Maxta, Atlantis ILIO, EMC ScaleIO,  etc.

If you look at Gartner’s Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria section (p.s. you can download the report here), you will see that they specifically excluded software-only solutions and most ‘Server SANs’ which require customer based installations and layering and only included systems that fully integrated storage (which is why no UCS without Netapp). But just because you fall into Gartner’s definition does not mean you make it into the report (e.g. Pivot3, Scale). What does this mean for vendors in the current report that will go to a software based model in the future? Or those that may OEM their software only solution to hardware vendors? Not sure, but Gartner can certainly change their criteria at their choosing.

It’s a fascinating space with explosive growth that leads to the necessity of including vendors both new and old. Note that SimpliVity had only been GA for 5 months when the data for this report was gathered. I can’t think of such a young company being this far in the Visionary quadrant, save perhaps Amazon Web Services, and even then, they had a running start (more on that over at Gabe Chapman’s blog).

What does this mean for SimpliVity? We’re certainly not taking a ‘we’re just glad to be here’ stance. It’s great affirmation of our trajectory and we’re just getting warmed up.

Change Virtual Machine SCSI Controller Type in NexentaStor VSA

Before I say anything, I shouldn’t need to say this, but I will. This is not supported. Now, on to the fun!

The current release of NexentaStor (v3.1.4.1) is made available as an OVA to make it easy to import into VMware environments. Currently this only “works” in full blown vSphere hosts and not Fusion/Workstation/Player (“works”, because with some fenagling, you can get it running in Fusion – don’t have access to Workstation/Player at the moment). Ok, already getting off track. This OVA comes with the following hardware configuration:

1 vCPU
1 x 8GB Hard Drive (syspool)
– this is configured with a VMware Paravirtual controller
1 Virtual Nic
– this is configured as a VMXNET3 device
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Nexenta VAAI-NAS Beta Released, NFS Hardware Acceleration

Skip to Update 1

Along with the release of NexentaStor 3.1.4, Nexenta Systems today officially released the (very) Beta VAAI-NAS plugin for VMware vSphere 5.x via the community forums. VAAI-NAS is still not widely supported in the NAS world, and of those that do, not all support all the primitives.  You can search the VMware Compatibility Guide for vendors that are VAAI-NAS certified.

VAAI, to catch up, is the the suite of primitives (instructions) that allow vSphere to offload certain VM operations to the array. For NAS Hardware Acceleration, these are:

  • Full File Clone – Enables virtual disks to be cloned by the NAS device (but not ‘hot’, the VM must be powered off).
  • Native Snapshot Support – Allows creation of virtual machine snapshots to be offloaded to the array.
  • Extended Statistics – Shows actual space usage on NAS datastores (great for thin provisioning).
  • Reserve Space – Enables creation of thick virtual disk files on NAS.

Everything you wanted to know about VAAI (but were afraid to ask)

At this point, all primitives are working (or supposed to, it’s beta, right?) save for the Native Snapshots.

Here’s a quick tutorial to install the agent in NexentaStor and the plugin in VMware Vsphere.

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PowerCLI Mass Add Hard Disks to Virtual Machine

While doing some iSCSI LUN testing for a certain storage vendor, I was looking for a way to add multiple hard disks to a single VM across each iSCSI LUN whose name matched a certain pattern. In my case, all luns I was testing against had the full lun path in their name so the were similar to lun1.naa.600144f0dcb8480000005142553e0001 (thanks to Alan Renouf’s post “PowerCLI: Mass provision datastore’s” for guidance on  scripting datastore creation).

However, I do not have all luns mapped to every vSphere host. Easy enough to get around this in PowerCLI. The following script prompts for the Virtual Machine name, size and hard disk format. Then filters the datastores by that VM’s vSphere host and our common string in the datastore name.

$vmname = read-host "VM Name to add disks to"

$vm = get-vm $vmname

$size = read-host "Disk Size (GB)"

$format = read-host "Disk Format (thin, thick, EagerZeroedThick)"

$datastores = $vm | Get-VMHost | Get-Datastore | Where-Object {$ -like "lun*naa*"}

foreach ($item in $datastores){
$datastore = $
write-host "Adding new $size VMDK to $vm on datastore $datastore"
New-HardDisk -vm $vm -CapacityGB $size -Datastore $datastore -StorageFormat $format

There are a lot of parameters for the New-HardDisk cmdlet that I don’t specify because the defaults were what I already wanted (e.g. Persistence, Controller, DiskType, etc.). Some, like StorageFormat which defaults to Thick Lazy Zeroed, I wanted to control.

In another case, I wanted to add multiple disks from one datastore to a vm.

### Get VM/Disk Count/Datastore information ###
$vmname = read-host "VM Name to add disks to"
$num_disks = read-host "number of disks to add"
$ds = read-host "Datastore to place the VMDK"
$format = read-host "Disk Format (thin, thick, EagerZeroedThick)"
$size = read-host "Disk Size (GB)"

$vm = get-vm $vmname
$datastore = get-datastore -name $ds

### Add $num_disks to VM
while ($x -lt $num_disks){
write-host "Adding $size VMDK to $vm on datastore $datastore"
New-HardDisk -vm $vm -CapacityGB $size -Datastore $datastore -StorageFormat $format

You can read more about the New-HardDisk cmlet at:

VMs Grayed Out (Inaccessible) After NFS Datastore Restored

[Added new workaround]

While working with a customer last week with Mike Letschin, we discovered an issue during one of their storage tests. It wasn’t a test that I’d normally seen done, but what the heck, let’s roll.

“What happens to all the VMs hosted on an NFS datastore when all NFS connectivity is lost for certain period of time?”

Well, turns out, it depends on a couple things. Was the VM powered on? How long was the NFS datastore unavailable for?

Dell Acquires AppAssure

Dell announced their acquisition of AppAssure today, a software based enterprise backup solution for physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures. They feature both local (DAS, SAN, remote disk) and cloud based backup, replication and recovery.

This further supplants the idea of Dell as being a hardware company and continues them on their path to a more solutions and services focus. As some colleagues in the field and I were just talking (@plankers, @tscalzott) that hardware (especially storage/server/network) are becoming ubiquitous, the real value will be in features and software innovations.

Here’s the press release from Dell:

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HP Tech Day 2012

This week I’m excited to be flying to Ft. Collins Colorado for an HP Tech Day that will be hosting independent bloggers to take a look at the LeftHand and 3Par products as well as their VMware integration. I’ve been to a couple demos, read a couple papers and have had some conversations with people about these products, so what makes this trip special is that we get some good ol’ fashion hands-on-lab experience. There’s a chasm of a difference between seeing the product in a slide deck and being able to kick the tires yourself.

I’m also excited to meet a group of new bloggers/storage-geeks. I’ve met a few of the guys at different events (Tech Field Day, VMWorld, Hp Cloud Tech Day, etc.) and on twitter and I’m excited to meet the rest:

Alastair Cooke, @DemitasseNZ,
Brian Knudtson, @bknudtson,
Ray Lucchesi, @raylucchesi,
Howard Marks, @DeepStorageNet,
John Obeto, @johnobeto,
Justin Paul, @recklessop,
Jeffery Powers, @geekazine,
Derek Schauland, @webjunkie,
Rick Schlander, @vmrick,
Justin Vashisht, @3cVguy,

The crew will be hosted by HP Storage Guru and all around good guy Calvin Zito (@HPStorageGuy).

As is all the rage for conferences and other intimate gatherings, a live stream of the event will be attempted. Keep an eye out on twitter for the hash tag #HPTechDay and/or #HPCI for the latest information and buzz about the event.

Can’t wait.

HP Cloud Tech Day

I had the privilege of attending an HP Cloud Tech Day this past week in Houston, organized by Ivy Communications. Tom, Chris and Halley did a great job gathering some pretty cool and smart bloggers and thinkers to hear about and give feedback on HP’s cloud offerings and aspirations. The list of attendees were:

Patrick Pushor

Christopher White

Rich Miller

Phillip Sellers

Phillip Jaenke

Bob Stein

John Obeto

Chris Wahl

Frank Owen

Michael Letschin

Ofir Nachmani

I highly recommend you check out their stuff. Super smart guys. A great mix, too, of sys admins, cloud evangelists, service providers, etc. I’ll follow up with some specific posts about the topics we covered while I was there, but here’s what we covered in day 1: HP Enterprise Business Cloud Strategy, HP View of Cloud Futures, Hyperscale for Cloud, Inner Workings and Building of a CloudSystem Infrastructure, Performance Optimized Datacenter Overview and Tour. Overall I was quite impressed. My regret is that I could only attend one full day. I will be following the rest of the action on Twitter (hash tag #hpci) and on (live video, twitter feed and chat).

Dell Management Plug-in for VMware vCenter Update 1 Released

Today, Dell released Update 1 to the 1.0.1 version of their Management Plug-in for VMware vCenter. The biggest highlight among the fixes and changes would be the added support of ESX5 (vCenter 5). If you’re currently running the 1.0.1 plugin under a vCenter 5 environment (which ‘works’, just not in a supported kind of way), you’ll need to unregister and re-register the Dell Management Plugin after upgrading (see the Release Notes for all issues/resolutions).

One of the major changes from the original 1.0 to the 1.0.1 plug-in was the promise that updates to the appliance/software would come as an RPM patch and not tied to re-deploying another OVF. I’m glad to report that this worked wonderfully. You can find full instructions in the Dell Management Plug-in for VMware vCenter User Guide (page 41), but here’s the quick and dirty:

  1. Always backup your appliance. Always backup pre-upgrade. When? Always.
  2. Open up and log into the web admin portal (https://myApplianceHostname/)
  3. Click on ‘Appliance Management’ in the left menu
  4. Click ‘Upgrade’
    – This will boot you out of the portal, upgrade the software and reboot the VM (the User Guide makes no mention that it reboots the VM, so just know that it does).
    – I recommend opening up a VM Console so you don’t have to just sit and refresh the page to see if it’s back up or not
  5. Restart your vCenter Client (this might just be me because I was having some DNS issues at the time on my desktop)

The whole process took about 10 minutes for me. It took about 7 minutes before I saw the appliance reboot.


Happy upgrading.


Dell Management Plug-In for VMware vCenter Review

Ok, I’ve had the plug-in running for a few weeks and have gone through some of the primary functions of it (firmware updates, inventory, monitoring, warranty retrieval, create hardware profile for deployment)

I’m not going to go through the initial setup, that’s been covered pretty well on

Here are the claimed major functionalities with my notes as far as day to day usage as well as some miscellaneous thoughts at the end.