Today, SolidFire is proud to introduce version 2 of our VMware vCenter plug-in. Let me tell you a little bit about how I find it beneficial in my day-to-day. One of the most exciting parts of joining a new company is getting engaged with new technology. SolidFire has proven to be no exception. The last few weeks have involved expanding the Technology Solutions Lab and getting familiar with the unique features of SolidFire storage.

The first step in preparing the lab was the implementation of SolidFire’s new vCenter plugin.  This plugin takes advantage of the SolidFire array API and provides deep integration for tremendous storage administration capability to VMware administrators right in the vSphere web client.  While the plugin allows access to all critical storage functions, I’d like to point out a couple key capabilities that I’ve found operationally beneficial.

First and foremost is end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS), which delivers the ability to integrate VMware’s SIOC with SolidFire’s Volume QoS to achieve truly predictable performance guarantees at both the virtual machine and datastore level. Prior to this integration, SIOC only offered per-VM rate limiting and queue priority based on SIOC shares.

Performance is set by SIOC and enforced by SolidFire. This arrangement creates a much more efficient environment by allowing the SIOC settings of a VM to filter down and aggregate performance at the SolidFire volume level. This integration happens by mapping SIOC shares and limits values to SolidFire QoS minimum and maximum IOPS values. Each virtual machine now owns a slice of storage performance. Here is a screenshot of this mapping from the plugin:

SIOC-QoS-enablement

Once the automation is enabled (green button on the right shown in the image below), as an administrator updates SIOC values or moves VMs between datastores, the plugin updates the QoS settings accordingly. Since SolidFire’s QoS is more efficient than VMware’s SIOC, administrators implement their I/O control in vSphere but governance occurs on the storage.

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This capability is extremely valuable to VMware administrators. The new vCenter plugin lets the administrator adjust SIOC within vSphere and have confidence that the performance QoS on the SolidFire storage will be adjusted without additional effort. VMware administrators will no longer  be required to work and plan with the storage team to adjust performance. Since the per volume QoS allocations are dynamically managed across the cluster, there is no need for VM storage migrations to provide greater performance or capacity to a workload. You can see this functionality in action here:

Simplified Management is the second feature I found immediately helpful. One example of this is the ability to add new VMFS datastores directly from the SolidFire vCenter plugin. Using the plugin, I was able to add a datastore and simultaneously add a new corresponding volume on the SolidFire array. Everything is created automatically by the plugin without having to create anything on SolidFire storage first. When assigning the new volume to a Volume Access Group on the array, no additional configuration to the hosts is required to add the new datastore. The plugin will rescan the adapter as part of its workflow and the datastore will be present on all hosts that are a part of the volume access group. Even when utilizing CHAP for authentication and not using volume access groups, the plugin will perform all tasks required for static discovery.

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Another feature of Simplified Management is the consolidation of the majority of SolidFire administration tasks into the SolidFire vCenter plugin. The plugin allows you to manage user accounts, volumes, datastores and volume access groups on one or multiple SolidFire arrays from various key areas in the vSphere web client.  As someone who doesn’t often wear a storage administrator hat, I’ve found this to be a great operational benefit in the lab.

SolidFire is continuing to build a strong story as the storage of choice for enterprise VMware environments looking for simplified management, end-to-end QoS, and web-scale expansion capabilities. The vCenter client plugin makes array management a piece of cake and just a click away in the vSphere web client. If you’re interested in learning more about SolidFire and the added value we bring to VMware environments, please visit us at www.solidfire.com/vmware.

Josh Atwell

Josh Atwell is a Cloud Architect for SolidFire focusing on developing VMware and automation solutions. Over the last 10+ years he has worked very hard to allow little pieces of code to do his work for him through various automation tools. Most recently Josh worked as a vArchitect for VCE where he worked with customers to architect solutions to meet their infrastructure needs. He also served as a VMware and cloud champion, as well as being selected as a technical team lead. Prior to VCE Josh worked at Cisco on the Virtualization Infrastructure Operations team where he focused on automation for VMware, Cisco UCS, and architecting Splunk for all of IT. Josh is a contributing author to the popular Mastering vSphere series and the upcoming Devops for VMware Administrator book. He is highly involved in the virtualization community where he's been active leading technology based user groups and the vBrownBag podcast. Josh holds a degree in aerospace engineering from North Carolina State University and has maintained residence in the Raleigh, NC area.