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In my last Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) operations blog, I wrote about simplifying virtual networking (VMware NSX) operations in SDDC using vRealize Operations NSX management pack. In this blog, I’ll cover the other key aspect of SDDC Operations – Storage (Including VSAN)

You should definitely try the Management Pack for Storage Devices 6.0 if you are using vRealize Operations, and sign up here if you want to be notified about the next release of this software that will have beta support for VSAN 6.0.

But before you do that, let’s take a step back and look at the storage landscape. Storage environment is rapidly changing and new storage technologies are emerging such as Flash Based Arrays, virtual SAN (VSAN), Solid-state Drives, Cloud Based storage, hyper converged infrastructure etc.  You can refer to Scott’s blog to learn more about the new storage technology trends. While new technologies will mature and get adopted, existing infrastructure would continue to exist for several years. This transition era between old generation and new generation storage technologies will pose different challenges to the IT operations and storage team.

The Challenges

Three Key challenges that I foresee are:

  • Lack of end to end visibility into the storage stack across heterogeneous environment
  • Lacking holistic approach to provide analytics and actionable insights to administrators
  • Lack of correlation between compute, storage and network issues
SDDC operations Storage challenges

The Solution (for VSAN and others)

There are several point software solutions that are used for troubleshooting individual components such as storage fabric, arrays or host bus adapters, but due to reasons mentioned above, they are not sufficient. Very few previous generation end-to-end storage operations software exist that provide sufficient visibility of the physical networks and some meaningful troubleshooting capabilities.

Before we discuss the solution, what are the key components that a Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) needs in next generation end-to-end SDDC operations software?

analytics Traditional operations tools deliver, performance & availability information, capacity planning and topology analysis information. Some of them may have configuration data in addition to above and very few may be doing log analysis. Mostly though are just gathering and analyzing this data for storage components. But as we discussed earlier, in a SDDC architecture, there is a very thin line separating issues between compute, storage or networking. Problem on virtual network can impact software-defined storage on the same host and vice versa.

Unlike traditional tools and point-solutions, vRealize Operations Insight is a unified management solution for performance management, capacity optimization, and real-time log analytics, and provides predictive analytics leveraging both structured and unstructured data, enabling faster problem resolution. vRealize Operations Insight cuts across compute, network and storage domains and correlates issues across domains. There is an age old saying that 50% of the problem is resolved moment you know where is the problem. vROI exactly helps us do that by helping identifying the problem area.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at the Management Pack for Storage Devices (known as MPSD) on how it functions. There are three main components in a storage network: Hosts that have HBAs (Host Bus Adapter) or NICs (for NFS/iSCSI), Fabric (comprising of SAN or Network switches) and Arrays. In MPSD, we connect through standard protocols such as CIM, SMI-S, SNMP to the various component and then get a holistic picture of the end to end storage network. Machine learning and the analytics engine in the core platform help to correlation and provides a visibility path between VM and the datastore.  Analytics also help identify the root cause for common storage issues such as APD (All Path Down) and PDL (Permanent Device Loss).  Inbuilt dashboards provide a dashboard summary of throughput, latency and errors across SDDC while providing alerting and reporting capabilities.

VSAN

vRealize Operations with over 15,000+ customers has extensive experience in SDDC operations area. VMware vRealize Operations Insight is an IT operations management solution that delivers intelligent operations and policy-based automation from apps to storage across physical and virtual infrastructure, and can provide up to 30% reduction in capex through capacity optimization and up to 50% reduction in downtimes of tier one applications.

We had released the first version of this vRealize Operations Management Pack for Storage Devices in December 2013. Since then, we have been closely working with customers and augmenting the functionalities. We recently launched second generation of this management pack that is fully compatible with vRealize Operations Insight 6.0 in December 2014. Stay tuned for our next version that would be released shortly to add support for NFS & iSCSI protocols and long awaited VSAN beta support. Please follow VMware PEX 2015 VSAN announcements.

You can download the documentation and software at the VMware solutions exchange.

SS1

 Screen shot of a single dashboard displaying throughput of end-to-end Storage Components

ss2

 Screen shot of a single dashboard displaying heat-map of end-to-end Storage Components



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