Apr 172018
 

With the news of VMware vSphere 6.7 being released today, a lot of you are looking for the download links for the 6.7 download (including vSphere 6.7, ESXi 6.7, etc…). I couldn’t find it myself, but after doing some scouring through alternative URLs, I came across the link.

VMware vSphere 6.7 Download

VMware vSphere 6.7 Download Link

Here’s the link: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_vsphere/6_7

HPe Specific (HPe Customization for ESXi) Version 6.7 is available at: https://www.hpe.com/us/en/servers/hpe-esxi.html

Unfortunately the page is blank at the moment, however you can bet the download and product listing will be added shortly!

UPDATE 10:15AM MST: The Download link is now live!

More information on the release of vSphere 6.7 can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

An article on the upgrade can be found at: https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2018/05/upgrading-vcenter-server-appliance-6-5-6-7.html

Happy Virtualizing!

Feb 222018
 
HPe MSA 2040 SAN

There’s a new and easier way to find the latest firmware for your HPe MSA SAN!

A new website setup by HPe allows you to find the latest firmware for your HPe MSA 2050/2052, MSA 1050, MSA 2040/2042/1040, and/or MSA P2000 G3. This site will include the last 3 generations of SANs in the MSA product line.

You can find the firmware download site at: https://hpe.com/storage/MSAFirmware

Hewlett Packard Enterprise was also nice enough for provide a brief video on how to navigate and use the page as well. Please see below:

Leave your feedback!

Jan 092018
 
HPe iLo Registered to Remote Support Insight Online

Many months ago, I configured the HPe Insight Online – Direct Connect on all my HPe Proliant DL360p Gen8 servers running VMware vSphere 6.5. This service is available with active support contracts (warranties), and allows your servers to “phone home” to HPe for free. This allows service and health information to be broadcast to your HPe passport and support account, to pro-actively manage, monitor, and maintain your servers. Information on the service can be found at https://www.hpe.com/ca/en/services/remote-it-support.html.

This is all pretty cool, but does it work? Read below!

I woke up this morning to notifications from my own monitoring system that a fan failure had occurred on one of my HPe Proliant server ESXi hosts. All my servers have fan redundancy so the server continued to run without problems. Scrolling through my other overnight e-mails, I also see e-mails from HPe acknowledging a support case that I had created. I had long since forgot that I configured Insight Online direct connect, so it actually took a few minutes for me to put two and two together. The server by itself took care of everything!

After reviewing all these e-mails, logging in to the HPe support portal, I had realized that the server by itself had:

  1. Identified a fan failure
  2. Sent diagnostic data off to HPe support
  3. Created an HPe support ticket and case
  4. HPe support engineers looked up the serial and part number of the server, and assigned a replacement part for the fan to be dispatched to me

I called in to HPe support, mentioned this was the first time this had ever happened and asked if there was anything additional I needed to provide. All the engineer asked, was whether I wanted an engineer to replace the part, or if I was comfortable replacing the part myself (of course I want to replace it myself). That was it!

This is VERY interesting and cool technology. I can see this being extremely valuable for customers who have 4 hour response contracts with their HPe equipment.

I’ve provided some screenshots below to show the process.

HPe Case Management E-Mail

HPe iLo Registered to Remote Support Insight Online

eRS Active Health Report Sent

HPe Remote Support Direct Connect Service Event

HPe Insight Online Automated Case

Feb 142017
 

Years ago, HPe released the GL200 firmware for their HPe MSA 2040 SAN that allowed users to provision and use virtual disk groups (and virtual volumes). This firmware came with a whole bunch of features such as Read Cache, performance tiering, thin provisioning of virtual disk group based volumes, and being able to allocate and commission new virtual disk groups as required.

(Please Note: On virtual disk groups, you cannot add a single disk to an already created disk group, you must either create another disk group (best practice to create with the same number of disks, same RAID type, and same disk type), or migrate data, delete and re-create the disk group.)

The biggest thing with virtual storage, was the fact that volumes created on virtual disk groups, could span across multiple disk groups and provide access to different types of data, over different disks that offered different performance capabilities. Essentially, via an automated process internal to the MSA 2040, the SAN would place highly used data (hot data) on faster media such as SSD based disk groups, and place regularly/seldom used data (cold data) on slower types of media such as Enterprise SAS disks, or archival MDL SAS disks.

(Please Note: To use the performance tier either requires the purchase of a performance tiering license, or is bundled if you purchase an HPe MSA 2042 which additionally comes with SSD drives for use with “Read Cache” or “Performance tier.)

 

When the firmware was first released, I had no impulse to try it out since I have 24 x 900GB SAS disks (only one type of storage), and of course everything was running great, so why change it? With that being said, I’ve wanted and planned to one day kill off my linear storage groups, and implement the virtual disk groups. The key reason for me being thin provisioning (the MSA 2040 supports the “DELETE” VAAI function), and virtual based snapshots (in my environment, I require over-commitment of the volume). As a side-note, as of ESXi 6.5, ESXi now regularly unmaps unused blocks when using the VMFS-6 filesystem (if left enabled), which is great for SANs using thin provision that support the “DELETE” VAAI function.

My environment consisted of 2 linear disk groups, 12 disks in RAID5 owned by controller A, and 12 disks in RAID5 owned by controller B (24 disks total). Two weekends ago, I went ahead and migrated all my VMs to the other datastore (on the other volume), deleted the linear disk group, created a virtual disk group, and then migrated all the VMs back, deleted my second linear volume, and created a virtual disk group.

Overall the process was very easy and fast. No downtime is required for this operation if you’re licensed for Storage vMotion in your vSphere environment.

During testing, I’ve noticed absolutely no performance loss using virtual vs linear, except for some functions that utilize the VAAI storage providers which of course run faster on the virtual disk groups since it’s being offloaded to the SAN. This was a major concern for me as block linear based storage is accessed more directly, then virtual disk groups which add an extra level of software involvement between the controllers and disks (block based access vs file based access for the iSCSI targets being provided by the controllers).

Unfortunately since I have no SSDs and no extra room for disks, I won’t be able to try the performance tiering, but I’m looking forward to it in the future.

I highly recommend implementing virtual disk groups on your HPe MSA 2040 SAN!

May 282014
 

In the last few months, my company (Digitally Accurate Inc.) and our sister company (Wagner Consulting Services), have been working on a number of new cool projects. As a result of this, we needed to purchase more servers, and implement an enterprise grade SAN. This is how we got started with the HPe MSA 2040 SAN (formerly known as the HP MSA 2040 SAN), specifically as fully loaded HPe MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN unit.

 

For the server, we just purchased another HPe Proliant DL360p Gen8 (with 2 X 10 Core Processors, and 128Gb of RAM, exact same as our existing server), however I won’t be getting that in to this blog post.

 

Now for storage, we decided to pull the trigger and purchase an HPe MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN. We purchased it as a CTO (Configure to Order), and loaded it up with 4 X 1Gb iSCSI RJ45 SFP+ modules (there’s a minimum requirement of 1 4-pack SFP), and 24 X HPe 900Gb 2.5inch 10k RPM SAS Dual Port Enterprise drives. Even though we have the 4 1Gb iSCSI modules, we aren’t using them to connect to the SAN. We also placed an order for 4 X 10Gb DAC cables.

 

To connect the SAN to the servers, we purchased 2 X HPe Dual Port 10Gb Server SFP+ NICs, one for each server. The SAN will connect to each server with 2 X 10Gb DAC cables, one going to Controller A, and one going to Controller B.

 

I must say that configuration was an absolute breeze. As always, using intelligent provisioning on the DL360p, we had ESXi up and running in seconds with it installed to the onboard 8GB micro-sd card.

 

I’m completely new to the MSA 2040 SAN and have actually never played with, or configured one. After turning it on, I immediately went to HPe’s website and downloaded the latest firmware for both the drives, and the controllers themselves. It’s a well known fact that to enable iSCSI on the unit, you have to have the controllers running the latest firmware version.

 

Turning on the unit, I noticed the management NIC on the controllers quickly grabbed an IP from my DHCP server. Logging in, I found the web interface extremely easy to use. Right away I went to the firmware upgrade section, and uploaded the appropriate firmware file for the 24 X 900GB drives. The firmware took seconds to flash. I went ahead and restarted the entire storage unit to make sure that the drives were restarted with the flashed firmware (a proper shutdown of course).

 

While you can update the controller firmware with the web interface, I chose not to do this as HPe provides a Windows executable that will connect to the management interface and update both controllers. Even though I didn’t have the unit configured yet, it’s a very interesting process that occurs. You can do live controller firmware updates with a Dual Controller MSA 2040 (as in no downtime). The way this works is, the firmware update utility first updates Controller A. If you have a multipath configuration where your hosts are configured to use both controllers, all I/O is passed to the other controller while the firmware update takes place. When it is complete, I/O resumes on that controller and the firmware update then takes place on the other controller. This allows you to do online firmware updates that will result in absolutely ZERO downtime. Very neat! PLEASE REMEMBER, this does not apply to drive firmware updates. When you update the hard drive firmware, there can be ZERO I/O occurring. You’d want to make sure all your connected hosts are offline, and no software connection exists to the SAN.

 

Anyways, the firmware update completed successfully. Now it was time to configure the unit and start playing. I read through a couple quick documents on where to get started. If I did this right the first time, I wouldn’t have to bother doing it again.

 

I used the wizards available to first configure the actually storage, and then provisioning and mapping to the hosts. When deploying a SAN, you should always write down and create a map of your Storage area Network topology. It helps when it comes time to configure, and really helps with reducing mistakes in the configuration. I quickly jaunted down the IP configuration for the various ports on each controller, the IPs I was going to assign to the NICs on the servers, and drew out a quick diagram as to how things will connect.

 

Since the MSA 2040 is a Dual Controller SAN, you want to make sure that each host can at least directly access both controllers. Therefore, in my configuration with a NIC with 2 ports, port 1 on the NIC would connect to a port on controller A of the SAN, while port 2 would connect to controller B on the SAN. When you do this and configure all the software properly (VMWare in my case), you can create a configuration that allows load balancing and fault tolerance. Keep in mind that in the Active/Active design of the MSA 2040, a controller has ownership of their configured vDisk. Most I/O will go through only to the main controller configured for that vDisk, but in the event the controller goes down, it will jump over to the other controller and I/O will proceed uninterrupted until your resolve the fault.

 

First part, I had to run the configuration wizard and set the various environment settings. This includes time, management port settings, unit names, friendly names, and most importantly host connection settings. I configured all the host ports for iSCSI and set the applicable IP addresses that I created in my SAN topology document in the above paragraph. Although the host ports can sit on the same subnets, it is best practice to use multiple subnets.

 

Jumping in to the storage provisioning wizard, I decided to create 2 separate RAID 5 arrays. The first array contains disks 1 to 12 (and while I have controller ownership set to auto, it will be assigned to controller A), and the second array contains disk 13 to 24 (again ownership is set to auto, but it will be assigned to controller B). After this, I assigned the LUN numbers, and then mapped the LUNs to all ports on the MSA 2040, ultimately allowing access to both iSCSI targets (and RAID volumes) to any port.

 

I’m now sitting here thinking “This was too easy”. And it turns out it was just that easy! The RAID volumes started to initialize.

 

At this point, I jumped on to my vSphere demo environment and configured the vDistributed iSCSI switches. I mapped the various uplinks to the various portgroups, confirmed that there was hardware link connectivity. I jumped in to the software iSCSI initator, typed in the discovery IP, and BAM! The iSCSI initiator found all available paths, and both RAID disks I configured. Did this for the other host as well, connected to the iSCSI target, formatted the volumes as VMFS and I was done!

 

I’m still shocked that such a high performace and powerful unit was this easy to configure and get running. I’ve had it running for 24 hours now and have had no problems. This DESTROYS my old storage configuration in performance, thankfully I can keep my old setup for a vDp (VMWare Data Protection) instance.

 

I’ve attached some pics below. I have to apologize for how ghetto the images/setup is. Keep in mind this is a test demo environment for showcasing the technologies and their capabilities.

 

HPe MSA 2040 SAN - Front Image

HPe MSA 2040 SAN – Front Image

HP MSA 2040 - Side Image

HP MSA 2040 – Side Image

HPe MSA 2040 SAN with drives - Front Right Image

HPe MSA 2040 SAN with drives – Front Right Image

HP MSA 2040 Rear Power Supply and iSCSI Controllers

HP MSA 2040 Rear Power Supply and iSCSI Controllers

HPe MSA 2040 Dual Controller - Rear Image

HPe MSA 2040 Dual Controller – Rear Image

HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN - Rear Image

HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN – Rear Image

HPe Proliant DL 360p Gen8 HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN

HP Proliant DL 360p Gen8
HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN

HPe MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN

HPe MSA 2040 – With Power

HP MSA 2040 - Side shot with power on

HP MSA 2040 – Side shot with power on

HP Proliant DL360p Gen8 - UID LED on

HP Proliant DL360p Gen8 – UID LED on

HP Proliant DL360p Gen8 HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN VMWare vSphere

HP Proliant DL360p Gen8
HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN
VMWare vSphere

Update: HPe has updated their product line and the 2040 has now been replaced by the HPe MSA 2050 SAN Dual Controller SAN. There are now also SSD/Cache models such as the HPe MSA 2052 Dual Controller SAN.