Julian Cates

NimbleOS 3.1 - SMI-S Enhancements for System Center Virtual Machine Manager (aka SCVMM)

Blog Post created by Julian Cates Employee on Feb 29, 2016

Nimble Storage introduced support for Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) in version 2.2 of NimbleOS, and enhanced that initial support with additional functionality in the 2.3 release. We covered both releases on Nimble Connect here and here.

Now with the introduction of NimbleOS 3.0, we have enhanced our support for SCVMM even further. I’d like to cover a few of the latest innovations here.

 

Fibre Channel Support


Until now, support for SCVMM has been for iSCSI arrays only. Our Fibre Channel array customers have been asking for it, we’ve told you that it’s coming, and now we’re pleased to announce that the much anticipated support for Fibre Channel arrays with SCVMM is here. Fibre Channel array customers can now register their arrays as SMI-S providers and manage them from directly within SCVMM just like their iSCSI counterparts. In fact, it’s even easier now with Fibre Channel. If you recall from the previous blog posts on SCVMM, since our iSCSI array is a dynamic target iSCSI array – meaning each volume has a unique target address and a LUN ID of 0 – Microsoft requires us to have at least one volume present when registering the SMI-S provider with SCVMM. We refer to this required volume as a “starter volume”. With Fibre Channel – where our arrays have fixed World Wide Port Names and dynamic LUN IDs – this just isn’t required. (More on how we’ve also simplified this for iSCSI later in the post.)

 

Folder Support


Folders are a new construct available within NimbleOS 3.0, available in both Fibre Channel and iSCSI arrays. Think of them as logical storage containers that you can use to group volumes by function, put capacity limits in place, and define certain behaviors for volumes within the folders.  Let’s take a look at an example:

 

scvmm1.png

Here we are creating a new folder on the Nimble array. We have:

 

  1. Given the folder a name and optionally a description
  2. Defined a capacity limit which will be enforced for the volumes contained in the folder
  3. Specified that the folder will be used with SCVMM
  4. Specified the performance policy which will be used by volumes which are created within the folder

 

When we add this array to SCVMM we are presented with a list of folders and can pick which ones we want to bring under SCVMM control:

 

scvmm2.png

There’s another feature here that wasn’t available in the previous version. Notice the “Host Group” option. Previously, after the Add Storage Devices Wizard finished there was an additional step required which allocated the storage pools to various host groups which was necessary before any existing LUNs could be used or new LUNs created by those hosts on these newly imported storage pools. Now that step is rolled into the wizard (not necessarily a Nimble feature here, but an enhancement to SCVMM that’s worth pointing out), and storage can be allocated to host groups at the time it is imported.

 

As you can see here, we’ve imported a couple of new folders and given them different classifications, while allocating them for use by all hosts. If we take a look at the classifications and pools view within SCVMM, we can see that the folders (along with any volumes which may already exist within them) have been assigned appropriately.

 

scvmm3.png

 

Note that a “folder” in Nimble parlance shows up as a “storage pool” within SCVMM.

 

Enhanced iSCSI Support


While the folder enhancements apply regardless of whether you have a Fibre Channel or iSCSI array, there’s one new feature in NimbleOS 3.0 that is particular to iSCSI arrays and folders which have been defined with a management type of SCVMM.

 

Recall the “starter volumes” mentioned above. Again, these are necessary for dynamic target iSCSI arrays. In prior versions of NimbleOS, these had to be created manually. And not just created manually within the Nimble GUI, but created manually on the command line with some very specific parameters added to accomplish what we need for SCVMM compatibility.

 

This process has just gotten a whole lot easier. While the need for a starter volume with iSCSI arrays hasn’t gone away, you no longer have to create it manually. In fact, YOU don’t have to create it at all. When you create a folder on an iSCSI array with a management type of SCVMM, NimbleOS 3.0 automatically creates the starter volume with all of the required settings:

 

scvmm4.png

 

As you can see here, a small 1 MB starter volume has been created for us and placed within the newly created folder, which will satisfy the requirement for dynamic-target arrays and SCVMM. Super easy, no command line required!

 

Conclusion


If you’re a Nimble storage customer using Microsoft SCVMM to manage your Hyper-V environment and want a single pane of glass to manage both storage and virtualization resources, this integration is for you. Now regardless of whether you have an iSCSI array or a Fibre Channel array, integrating with SCVMM is fast and simple. And like all Nimble Storage features, there’s no extra cost to it. The SMI-S provider runs directly on the array, so there’s no extra infrastructure to deploy. In fact, you have everything you need right out of the box. Give it a try!

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