The new EMC VNX introducing MCx

Earlier this month EMC announced the new VNX series which promises more performance and capacity at a lower cost per GB and a smaller footprint. The hashtag for the event was #Speed2Lead which was trending on Twitter during the official event and the weeks leading up to the Mega Launch in Milan, Italy. With performance being key in the new systems, the announcement was built around the Monza race track which had the Formula 1 circus in town. Guess what the logo for the launch was?

ML3-logo

I myself was on summer holidays during the big event (ending up only a hundred miles away from Milan, albeit a week late ;)), so I couldn’t do much more than refresh twitter and get my timeline blasted to bits. So consider this a catch-up post!

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Migrating with PowerPath Migration Enabler

PowerPath Migration Enabler installWhen migrating servers from one storage system to another there are basically two options: Migrate using storage features like SAN Copy or MirrorView, or migrate using server based tools like PowerPath Migration Enabler Host Copy, VMware Storage VMotion or Robo Copy. Which option you choose depends on a lot of factors, including the environment you’re in, the amount of downtime you can afford, the amount of data, etc. I’ve grown especially fond of PowerPath Migration Enabler due to its ease of use. You can throttle its migration speed, your “old” data is left intact (so you’ve got a fallback) and once you’ve gotten use to the commands it’s child’s play to migrate non-disruptively and quickly.

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VTR SP / RC51 – Valve Clearance Adjustment

I’ve treated myself to a shiny toy not too long after I started working in IT: a 2004 Honda VTR 1000 SP-2 (branded the RC51 in the US). It’s immense fun to ride and makes all the right noises when you twist your wrist. I’ve spent two summer holidays in the Alps on this bike and another three days on a race track in the south of France. With riding comes maintenance, something I enjoy doing myself. I’ve always had a fascination and curiosity with technology: if it makes a lot of noise, looks pretty and goes fast that’s even better. It’s a chance to get my fingers dirty, learn something new, assure myself it’s done correctly and save some money while I’m at it. A while ago I had to perform a valve clearance adjustment due to hitting the 30k km mark. A job that scares most people right from the start, but actually isn’t that hard if you pay attention. Read on to find out how to do it on a VTR SP-2 / RC51!

11 RA2-1343-145

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Implementation Day 2 – Start the Isilon

You should see something like this after you start the isilonYesterday we racked and stacked the EMC Isilon systems, prepared most of the cabling and pretty much prepared to start the Isilon systems. Which is pretty uneventful if you consider we’ve been dragging along hundreds of kilograms of equipment all day yesterday… The whole process can be pretty much split in four parts: configure the cluster and initial node, join the remaining nodes, configure the network, configure the rest.

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Implementation Day 1 – Isilon Rack and Stack

xrayI’m currently contracted by a customer that has been experiencing chronic capacity and performance issues in their storage environment. After analyzing the environment and writing an advisory report we got to work and started correcting and improving many aspects of the storage systems. One component of this overhaul is installing a pair of new Isilon systems which will store PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) data generated by the radiology department. The planning and design phase took place over the last couple of months, in which we involved both internal IT people and external resources such as the PACS vendor and the suppliers. All said, discussed and done: the actual implementation of the Isilon systems is scheduled for this week. Today: Isilon rack and stack!

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VNX – Storage pools spanning DAE 0_0

Anyone working in IT knows that there are usually enormous amounts of whitepapers available to help you install, configure and run a new system or software suite. The fun more than doubles when the whitepapers start conflicting themselves. But even when they’re crystal clear, sometimes you run into a different problem: budget! With all planning and designing done, sometimes the budget or the purchased equipment does not allow you to follow ALL best practices to the letter, or at least make it a bit more challenging. In this example there’s the need to span a storage pool across DAE 0_0.

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Rebalance VNX storage paths without downtime

Recently I ran into an environment with a couple of VNX5700 systems that were attached to the front-end SAN switches with only two ports per storage processor. The customer was complaining: performance was OK most of the time but at some times during the day the performance was noticeably lower. Analysis revealed that the back-end was coping well with the workload (30-50% load on the disks and storage processors). The front-end ports were a bit (over)loaded and spewing QFULL errors. Time to cable in some extra ports and to rebalance the existing hosts over the new storage paths!

Analyzer Helper Front-End ports

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Get your units straight – kW vs kWh

Every once in a while I’m dragged into a data center power discussion, especially if I’ve prepared a big configuration or if the system needs to be placed in a data center that is pretty stressed power-wise. In most of those conversations it’s only a matter of time until someone starts mixing up the units: kW vs kWh. Since they both mean something completely different, it’s important to use the correct one.

Let’s dive right in. When IT people talk about power they usually intend to use kW (kilowatt). kW is a unit of power. Unfortunately they often use kWh (kilowatt hour) which is a unit of energy. Let’s apply this on an analogy that most IT guys can relate to: cars. Power is measured in bhp or kW, energy is measured in…. gallons of fuel that can fit in the fuel tank!
So if you are one of those people that mixes up the units: Congratulations, you’ve just sent me an email that is the equivalent of telling me your flashy red sports car has 60 liters of gasoline worth of energy. Exciting!

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EMC World – Day 4 – VNX: Leverage SSD in a VNX

Hitachi Ultrastar SSD400S SSD FamilyWelcome to the (mini-)series on VNX Performance and how to leverage SSD in a VNX systems. You can find part one on skew and data placement over here. The second post discussed the improvements for FAST Cache in VNX OE 32. This third and final post will discuss some of the ideal use cases for SSD in a VNX.

If you’ve got SSD in a VNX you can use it in two ways: as FAST Cache or as an extreme performance tier in your storage pools (FAST VP). Either of these implementations has advantages and disadvantages and they can also be used concurrently (i.e. use FAST Cache AND FAST VP). It depends on what you want to do…

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