Unisphere for VMAX – Alerting & Performance

Unisphere for VMAX dashboardSeveral weeks ago we performed a resiliency test on a VMAX10k that was about to be put into production. The customer wanted confirmation that the array was wired up properly and would respond correctly in case there were any issues like a power or disk failure.  This is fairly standard testing and makes sense: better to pull a power plug and see the array go down while there is no production running against it, right?

We pulled one power feed from each system bay and storage bay. Obviously: no problem for the VMAX, it dialed out, notified EMC it lost power on a couple of feeds and that’s it. Next up we yanked out a drive: I/O continued, the array dialed out to EMC that something was wrong with a drive, but… we didn’t see anything in Unisphere for VMAX!

Leave those drives in

This raised quite a few eyebrows at our end. If you pull a drive in a VNX (pre-MCx since there’s a cooldown timer on the newer VNXes), you will immediately see a few LEDs turn amber and an error pop up in Unisphere. And indeed, the VMAX also displayed an amber LED on the pulled drive (after it was inserted again of course)… But no alert in Unisphere for VMAX.

It turned out we had two issues:

  1. Pulling a drive from a VMAX to simulate a drive failure is not the best way to do this. It’s better to put a drive in not_ready (NR) state (which EMC Support could do for you remotely).
  2. The Unisphere for VMAX running on the SP is a limited version, actually only intended to deploy your first real management host. It does not do alerting! If we wanted alerting, we’d have to install a new management host.

So we did that… Coincidentally, at EMC World 2015 I got a peek of the new Unisphere for VMAX 8.0 which looks really slick compared to the old edition, so we went for that.

Installing the Unisphere for VMAX appliance

Using the Unisphere for VMAX V8.0.2 Installation Guide, the installation of the Unisphere for VMAX appliance is pretty straightforward:

  1. Deploy the appliance through vCenter; during this step you will have to insert the networking information.
  2. Power it on; it might take a while before it’s fully booted so be patient.
  3. Map the gatekeeper devices to the appliance; this will allow the communication with the array. There are two options:
    1. Map them manually by editing the settings of the appliance/VM in vCenter and adding the gatekeepers as Physical RDMs. This means a lot of clicking.
    2. Use the vApp Manager. This is less clicking and more waiting on a slow web interface. Pick your poison…

After you’ve deployed and started the appliance, open the vApp Manager: the URL is https://<ip_of_appliance>:5480, default credentials are seconfig/seconfig. Make sure to change the password ASAP! If you click the Map GateKeepers button you need to enter some ESX credentials before you can map the gatekeepers.

Unisphere for VMAX vApp Manager

Starting your new Unisphere for VMAX is as simple as browsing to https://<ip_of_appliance>:8443. Log in with smc/smc and once again don’t forget to change the password!

Configuring alerts

Once logged in to Unisphere for VMAX make sure the first, top left button is showing “All Symmetrix” instead of a specific Symmetrix. Next, hover over the Home button until the submenu pops up and select Administration.

Select Alert Settings and in the following menu, Notifications. Enable the type of notifications (in our case, email) and enter the the required info (mail server, sender address, recipient). You can also select which severity of events warrant an email (e.g. warning, errors, and fatal events).

Next up, enable the actual events you want to show: go back to All Symmetrix > Home > Administration > Alert Settings and select Alert Policies. Enable the alerts you’re looking for and enable the specific notification (in our case, Email) if it hasn’t been enabled yet. You might come back to this page several times in the next couple of days: if you go overboard in enabling all alerts, you might get spammed to death and change your mind.

For us, we’ve got our alerting…

Unisphere for VMAX Alerts

And there’s more – Performance!

Another pretty epic feature in Unisphere for VMAX is the performance monitoring section. There’s plenty of preconfigured dashboards which includes an utilization dashboard that (with colors green, orange and red) shows you which values are “odd” and where a bottleneck might lie.

Unisphere for VMAX Utilization

In our case we’re still (slowly) copying data to the VMAX and only one VMware cluster is currently attached to it. Hence the FE ports aren’t loaded equally and thus I see a yellow warning for the FE director balance.

Unisphere for VMAX Heatmap

The heatmap reflects this imbalance in the FE directors; only the E-directors are used. If we want to see in real-time if this is true, we can go a layer deeper and start monitoring the realtime information.

Unisphere for VMAX Realtime

Who would have guessed, the heatmap is right and I’ve got a serious imbalance in my FE directors!
There are plenty of graphs that can be produced: some are preselected, others you can compile yourself.Unisphere for VMAX workload

My two cents

I was surprised and disappointed that the Unisphere for VMAX running on the SP didn’t do alerting at all. It did however make me try the new Unisphere for VMAX 8.0, which is pretty slick. You’ll have a clean interface which responds reasonably fast (at least compared to the old one running on the VMAX SP). There’s plenty of performance analytics available which allows you to troubleshoot performance problems quickly and in detail. There’s even a projection option to forecast your system usage; more info on that soon (since we still need to gather some historical data).

Give it a shot and let me know how you like the new Unisphere for VMAX!