Virtual Storage Integrator 5.6 – What’s New

The Virtual Storage Integrator or VSI has been around for a while. Seems every release something new and exciting gets added that customer have asked for. The VSI 5.6 plugin for EMC is the latest version (9/13/2013) of the plugin to help streamline and simplify interactions between the vSphere client and the EMC storage used to support your Virtual Data Center/Private Cloud/Software Defined Data Center.

The VSI plugin can be downloaded for no extra charge if you have a current account (BTW so glad it is not powerlink anymore).

VSI Support and Downloads Page

You may just want to post a question on the EMC Community about the VSI. You can do that here.

Yeah community!

Enough background already what is new in the new version 5.6?

XtremIO Support


Awesome provisioning and visibility for the new all flash array from EMC. Ready now for the people with XtremIO and for the many waiting to get one. Coming soon!

Here is a quick demo of the XtremIO functionality. Select 720p for better viewing.

VPLEX Support


Our data mobility team is super excited about now supporting VPLEX provisioning in the VSI plugin. So now you are able to create the VPLEX datastores straight from the vSphere client. Very cool.
Update 9/23/13 Demo of VPLEX Provisioning with VSI

VMAX Provisioning with Striped Meta

We were all very excited when VMAX provisioning was added to the VSI plugin and now it is able to use the striped meta volume, which is a big deal for some VMAX users. This is an option now and you can select either method when provisioning to the VMAX.

Update 9/19/13 -> a demo from @drewtonnesen

Did you hear there is a new VNX?


The newest versions of the VNX are supported in VSI 5.6 and as you see in the slide the some of the coolest new features of the VNX will be available for use with the new VSI 5.6

I hope you are as excited about the newest release of the plugin. Remember that is supports vSphere 5.5 too!

If you have any questions please leave a comment of better yet start a thread on the community.

EMC Speed2lead in Milan Italy

EMC Speed2Lead Launch

Today in Milan EMC announced a whole new update to many products. So first, why did I get to go to Italy for the launch. Ok, so back up one more step. Thank you EMC Elect program. EMC Elect if you don’t know is the community advocate program for EMC. I am very honored to be picked for 2013 and as part of the press/analyst launch in Milan, Italy I was selected to attend.

On a side note, how freaking awesome is it to get a chance to go to Milan. Yes, it is just 2 days after I got home from VMworld but not sure I could say no to something so cool. Not saying that everyone will get to go on a cool 2 day whirlwind trip, but I really appreciate what EMC community teams are doing to encourage the community.

XtremSW 2.0


First off I want to touch on the version 2.0 of the XtremSW. Most importantly is native support for vCenter features (like vMotion).. I am very excited about not needing a special “work around” for vMotion. Additionally, this read caching ability is able to integrate with the EMC arrays on the back end and help off load read caching from the array’s own cache. Of course EMC has been saying this for a while now but that was limited to VMAX but today some of that is expanding to VNX. At first that expansion will include the management of the XtremSW software from Unisphere on the VNX and selection of the LUN’s accelerated. Just so no one is confused as far as I can tell prefetching and cache coordination is still only on the VMAX.

The Next VNX


Get used to hearing people talking about CPU cores. Taking advantage of all the cores in the Intel processors is a huge deal. When the power is in the software utilizing the CPU fully is extremely important. So while EMC VNX will have more drives and lanes and ports and all that. The software features that really make a difference like FAST, FAST Cache, VAAI will have a bunch more processor horse power to use to help you building internal cloud in the Enterprise and public cloud service offerings (for my SP friends).

but wait there is more…


The main point is all the cool features are in software and the Software Defined craze is going to push the idle CPU we have in everyone’s storage arrays. Much like vSphere does for compute, the software features in the array are going to help abstract control for the environment. Pass operations to the places in the data center that do them best. Things like tiering, snaps, and dedupe are done at the level most efficient for your workload. Provisioning, Policy creation and management will be done in ViPR. Hope it is all starting to make sense now. Let vSphere do what it is good at, let the array do what it is good at and finally automation and policy engines like vCAC and ViPR do the repetitive work.

Look at that, Solutions


If I was able to sit down with you this VMworld I would have told you about our efforts to help EMC become more Solution Centric. Making the solution the focus of the show was a big change but was just up my alley because as a vSpecialist I had to tie all the EMC and VMware pieces together. So I am happy to end this post with a shift from some cool products to some solutions that would actually help you the EMC customer and the EMC partners.

So you may have guessed from the picture of all the new VSPEX reference architectures. Solutions built to help EMC partners deliver proven solutions to our Customers. So make sure your EMC SE and partners share with you more than the new products but rather how they can help solve your business issues. To run the applications the customers of your IT organization use to make a difference for the business. So build-your-own, VSPEX, and Vblock are all great paths to get there and when the customer gets to choose they win.

Hadoop Starter Kit and EMC Solutions Insiders Episode 2

EMC Solutions Insiders is a tool to help enable and educate EMC and Partner field technical pre-sales people.

We were lucky enough to catch up with James Ruddy (@darth_ruddy) with the EMC Office of the CTO.

James created a pretty nice starter kit to help people get up and going with Hadoop on VMware using the new Big Data Extensions and of course the simplest way to attach data nodes with native HDFS on Isilon.

Check out the show page on the EMC Community Network to get more details and links. Additionally you need to go check out the Big Data Blog at EMC.


EMC Solutions Insiders – Episode 1 SDDC

EMC Solutions Insiders is a webcast for EMC SE’s and EMC Partner SE’s. The purpose is to enable the technical field on what is pertinent to our customers.

EMC Solutions Insiders on EMC Community Network

In our first attempt we were able to get an MVP, Aaron Chaisson to talk about the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC). Check out the Show page for additional links and information.

If you are an EMC customer (or want to be one) I would love to hear what you think. If you want more information contact your local EMC SE or EMC Partner SE.


VMworld 2013 – In-N-Out Burger Meetup

The annual 2vcps run to In-n-Out burger! This kid from Southern California now living in Atlanta, Georgia needs to get some burgers. So let’s meet up get a Double Double and talk a bit about all the cool things going on at VMworld.

Where: at the In-n-out in San Francsico
When: Tuesday 8/27 – 11pm – after the EMC Party – Great way to finish off or begin the rest of the night.
What: Eat Double Double, Fries

At 11pm I will be getting my Double Double, Fries and Chocolate Shake. Nothing like 1200 Calories at 11pm (only 2am EST).





EMC and ScaleIO – Give me your flash

So today EMC announced the acquisition of ScaleIO. So before you start talking about Amazon be sure the read the announcement, closely.

Pool your Flash


This is s slide from the release of all the new flash products earlier this year. Remember XtremSW? Well see that grey pooling area? Yeah just imagine how ScaleIO will slide right in.


Now expect to get more details from the smart people like Chad Sakac but I wanted to get the word out about what the target is for ScaleIO. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Some cool stuff I have learned, but this is so new please check other blogs and EMC pages for more detail.

1. Pools internal storage and presents as a block device to the host.
2. Will be used to extend the XtremSF and SW capabilities
3. Is just one part the bigger EMC Software Defined Storage strategy. Think about the other Scale Out type storage products from EMC, like XtremIO and OneFS on Isilon. Now to you can scale out that internal flash and make a big pool. Very cool.


Virtual Storage Integrator – VSI 5.5

Actually using the Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) from EMC will simplify the complex environments used to create virtual data centers and private clouds. Wanted to bring to your attention some of the new features in the VSI

What is new?


A little deeper


Demo from my good friend Itzik Reich @itzikr

Itzik shows off how to use the Recoverpoint Point in Time with VMware SRM and the VSI plugin to recover from a bookmark that is not the latest. Always WAS a problem if you could only restore using SRM to a corrupted point in the data. Now you can choose and SRM will failover to that point in time. Read Iztik’s blog post on RecoverPoint 4.0 –


Restore a VM from a VNX snapshot or RecoverPoint using the VSI plugin. Pretty cool.

Working on the demo for this now. I will post it in a few days.


More on the EMC, Cisco and Citrix 5000 on vSphere CVD (Cisco Validated Design) in 30 minutes

UPDATED May 26 – New links included Mike Brennan’s latest blog going into the testing and details of the CVD –

Scaling CVD for XenDesktop and EMC on Cisco <—-NEWEST Version of the paper!!!!

Back a few months ago I shared about the joint reference architecture that was able to boot and login 5000 users in 30 minutes. Using the Cisco UCS running VMware vSphere, with Citrix XenDesktop and an EMC VNX 7500. Cisco and Citrix answer a few questions with Craig Chapman on the joint validated design in this video:

I really like this layout and it usually takes pretty pictures to get me interested. Here is a high level overview of the design.





Some of the original CVD links:

CVD Paper – 5000 User VDI with EMC, Cisco, Citrix and VMware
Mike Brennan’s blog about 5000 VDI users

Updated May 2013
Solution Brief from Cisco 4000 Users

Update May 24, 2013 – More links:

Mike Brenner blog on the CVD
Scaling CVD for XenDesktop and EMC on Cisco <—-NEWEST Version of the paper!!!!



Come to the EMC World HoL -Thats Hands on Labs

It is always exciting to hear a bunch about what is new in Cloud, Big Data, and Information Storage but what if you could actually play with them before taking them back to work?

The EMC World Hands on Labs are here for you! These are Self-Paced labs that should take around 60 minutes.

Lab Hours:

Monday: 11:00AM- 9PM
Tuesday: 7:00AM 6:30PM
Wednesday: 7:00AM 5:00PM
Thursday: 7:00AM 2PM
*Note: Doors close 30 mins before the end of each day


Available Labs

LAB01 SRM Suite Visualize, Analyze, Optimize
LAB02 VNX with AppSync Lab: Simple Management, Advanced Protection
LAB03 EMC Software Defined Storage (SDS)
LAB04 Atmos Cloud Storage: Mature, Robust and Ready to Rock
LAB05 EMC NetWorker Backup and Recovery for Next Generation Microsoft Environments
LAB06 Flexible and Efficient Backup and Recovery for Microsoft SQL Always-On Availability Groups
using EMC NetWorker
LAB07 Easier and Faster VMware Backup and Recovery with EMC Avamar For the Storage Administrator
LAB08 Automated Backup and Recovery for Your Software Defined Data Center with EMC Avamar
LAB09 Taking Backup and Archiving To New Heights with EMC SourceOne and EMC Data Domain
LAB10 Optimizing Backups for Oracle DBAs with EMC Data Domain and EMC Data Protection Advisor
LAB11 Operational and Disaster Recovery using RecoverPoint
LAB12 Achieving High Availability in SAP environments using VMware ESXi clusters and VPLEX
LAB13 VPLEX Metro with RecoverPoint: 3-site Solution for HighAvailability and Disaster Recovery
LAB14 Introduction to VMAX Cloud Edition
LAB15 Replication for the VMAX Family
LAB16 Performance Analyzer for the VMAX Family
LAB17 Introduction to the VMAX Family
LAB18 Storage Provisioning and Monitoring with EMC Storage Integrator (ESI 2.1)
and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager
LAB19 EMC|Isilon Compliance Mode Cluster Setup, Configuration, and Management Simplicity
LAB20 EMC|Isilon Enterprise Ready with OneFS 7.0 Enhancements
LAB21 RSA Cloud Security and Compliance
LAB22 VMware vSphere Integration with VNX
LAB23 VNX Unisphere Analyzer
LAB24 VNX/VNXe Storage Monitoring & Analytics For Your Business Needs
LAB25 VNX Data Efficiency
LAB26 VNXe Unisphere Administration & Snapshots
LAB27 EMC VSPEX Virtualized Infrastructure for End User Computing
LAB28 Collaborative Big Data Analysis with the Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform
LAB29 Manage Your vCloud Suite Applications with VMware vFabric Application
LAB30 Discover VMware Horizon Workspace
LAB31 Deploy and Operate Your Cloud with the VMware vCloud Suite

As you can see, three is clearly something for everyone. Storage (hey it IS EMC World), Security, Big Data Collaboration, VMware, Horizon, Cloud Suite and VSPEX! All awesome.

Sneak peak


What a great new addition to the EMC World interface! Everything is on demand and running the very best of VMware, EMC and VCE.

Backend Infrastructure Details


The backend infrastructure is run out of our massive Durham data center, with the infrastructure being based on VCE Vblock architecture. *Note: we are also running eight XtremIO bricks to serve up the content.

  • EMC Data Center: Durham North Carolina

  • EMC: Storage (VNX & XtremIO)

  • Cisco: Servers (UCS) & Networking

  • VMware: vSphere 5.1 & vCD

Management & Monitoring Showcase (You KNOW you love Dashboards)


If you are just amused by blinking lights (I know I am) check out the displays in the HOL showing the backend HOL Cloud infrastructure:

  • EMC SRM Suite:

    • ProSphere

    • Watch4Net

  • EMC XtremIO

  • VMware vCOPS

Finally Win an Apple TV


I have an Apple TV now I wish I had 2. So do a lab and get entered to win!

VMware View Stretched Cluster

The last few days I have been considering the best way to stretch a cluster of VMware View resources. After digging and talking to people smarter than me I figured out there is a lot of things to consider and that means lots of ways to solve this. In this first post I want to highlight the first overall solution that was inspired by an actual customer. This design came from one of the fine EMC SE’s and it inspired me to share further. I stole his picture. It is very storage centric (imagine that) so most of what I share will give some detail to the VDI and VMware portion.

VMware View and VNX and Isilon


Probably more detail then you need. Important things to remember. The VPLEX will keep the Volume in sync across distance at each site. All the benefits of FAST Cache will still be in place for each site.
In this solution each location will have file data redirected to the Isilon for SMB shares. I will use the VMware View pools and entitlements to force users to each side. Group Policy (GPO) or Third Party Persona Management will direct the users to their data. We are active/active in the sense that workloads are live at each site. Active Passive for the File portion as we will only kick users to site B in the event of a planned or unplanned event.
In another post I will discuss what I learned to make it complete non-persistent site to site active active everything. There is some cool stuff coming here.
First I used Resource pools to map to the VMware View Pools I created to. In the picture below the “Dell-Blades” cluster hosts 1-3 are in site A and hosts 3-6 are site B. One problem How to make sure each pool is pinned to each location?


Create the VM Group and Host Groups first!


Create the VM Site A and B group first. Then Create the Host Groups. As simple as editing the settings in your cluster and clicking DRS Groups Manager. One gotcha is you have to have hosts and VM’s first before making the groups. This may be an issue you have have not provisioned your View desktops first (I would wait). Just use some dummy VM’s at first to get the rules created.

With the Groups created Create the Rule


Remember these rules should say “Should run on hosts in group” (big thanks to @VirtualChappy). If you don’t have the rules right failover won’t work in case of a site going away for whatever reason.

Useful Script for setting DRS Host Affinity for all VM’s in a Resource Pool


This script I located on the community forums from the amazing LucD and at fix from another community user "GotMoo" I love the VMware Community.

What is so cool is I can run this after provisioning all of my desktops to get them in the right DRS VM Group and since usually in VMware View Environments you might create and destroy desktop VM’s regularly this helps a ton.

$vCenterServer = "vcenter.domain.lab"
#authenticating and Connecting to the VC

$CurrentUserName = [Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::getcurrent().name
$cred = Get-Credential $CurrentUserName
Write-Output "Connecting to vCenter. Please stand by..."
Connect-VIServer -Server $vCenterServer -Credential $Cred


#Function for updating the Resource VM Groups
function updateDrsVmGroup ($clusterName,$resourcePoolName,$groupVMName){
$cluster = Get-Cluster -Name $clusterName
$spec = New-Object VMware.Vim.ClusterConfigSpecEx
$groupVM = New-Object VMware.Vim.ClusterGroupSpec
#Operation edit will replace the contents of the GroupVMName with the new contents seleced below.
$groupVM.operation = "edit"

$groupVM.Info = New-Object VMware.Vim.ClusterVmGroup
$groupVM.Info.Name = $groupVMName

# Perform your VM selection here. I use resource pools per cluster to identify group members,
# but you could use any method to select your VM's.
get-cluster $clusterName | Get-ResourcePool $resourcePoolName | get-vm | %{
$groupVM.Info.VM += $_.Extensiondata.MoRef
$spec.GroupSpec += $groupVM

#Apply the settings to the cluster

# Calling the function. I've found the group names to be case sensitive, so watch for that.
#updateDrsVmGroup ("ClusterName") ("ResourcePool Name") ("DRS VM Groupname")
updateDrsVmGroup ("UCS") ("DesktopsA") ("VM Site A")
updateDrsVmGroup ("UCS") ("DesktopsB") ("VM Site B")
# updateDrsVmGroup ("Cluster_STAGE") ("Group A") ("Group A VMs (Odd)")
# updateDrsVmGroup ("Cluster_STAGE") ("Group B") ("Group B VMs (Even)")
Disconnect-VIServer -Confirm:$False

More to come…

Finally this is a quick look at setting up View to be cross location. Of course other considerations about web load balancers, networking, number of View Connection Managers all need to be decided for your environment. Next post will include some of the stuff I found about keeping the users data live in both sites. Things like Windows DFS (Isilon can be a member), Atmos, VNX replication, and something called Panzura.