One of the great truths in the data center is that the lifecycle management of infrastructure remains a resource-intensive exercise. Considerable hours are spent architecting, implementing, modifying, re-architecting, re-implementing, and so forth. Storage can be especially painful as it is a core pillar in the virtualized data center. Bringing in a new array, or populating storage in a net-new cluster places a bottleneck on IT’s ability to deliver the resources the business needs.
In this post I’d like to share a few resources that are currently available to SolidFire customers to help reduce that bottleneck and allow storage and virtualization administrators to focus on more meaningful tasks. These resources help realize and extend the automation gains reported by ESG I wrote about recently.
Programmatic deployment of datastores
Leveraging PowerShell with VMware’s PowerCLI and SolidFire’s PowerShell Tools, customers have the ability to provision storage into a vSphere cluster in a matter of seconds. Customers I have talked with recently have expressed a strong need for this capability, as it allows them to realize value of the SolidFire system more quickly and more programmatically.
In response, I have provided a PowerShell function in our GitHub repo that allows an administrator to create new volumes and have them attached to a vSphere cluster via iSCSI. This happens automatically and dynamically based on the characteristics of the environment.
I’ll skip all the underlying details and state simply that all that is required is that the hosts in the vSphere cluster have connectivity ready to receive new storage. A single call providing the target vSphere cluster name, the quantity and size of the volumes, as well as the performance characteristics of each volume are all that is required. This takes a task that could take a team hours to days to complete, down to approximately one minute. The SolidFire PowerShell Tools simplifies consumption of our full-featured API, making solutions such as this easier than ever before.
This solution is not the end, but simply a starting point of what is possible with SolidFire automation. Leveraging this initial work, it is possible for IT organizations to adopt this capability in a variety of ways. In some organizations the virtualization team can provide the storage team with their requirements in a file that can be leveraged to populate new storage.
Perhaps the request could be sent via a Google form or online ticketing system and then implemented by reading the results. Some organizations may use this capability to turn up new storage for new developers or for an acquisition. The available code can be easily modified to accommodate a wide range of needs.
Optimized for VMware vSphere
SolidFire is an ideal platform for VMware vSphere environments, allowing IT departments great flexibility in how they deliver storage to applications. In order to optimize the performance of the system we have a few recommended configurations that are available in our vSphere Config Guide. These configurations are not all required and should be evaluated individually. Regardless of the settings that are appropriate, it can be challenging to execute across an environment. So, we created another valuable PowerShell resource to reduce this task and help IT organizations implement SolidFire as quickly and simply as possible.
The SolidFire VMware best practices script allows administrators the ability to select and apply their needed configurations for ESXi hosts in their environment. Each option includes a description of the configuration, when it applies, and alternative mechanisms for implementing the change. The last is provided primarily for environments where PowerShell may not be used regularly by those implementing the changes. Additional resources are available and under development to assist in regularly auditing these configurations for the purpose of compliance.
Automation capabilities are a core tenet of the SolidFire system and a key driver for adoption by our enterprise and service provider customers. These resources, as well as many more on the SolidFire GitHub page, are representations of the many ways automation can be easily leveraged to simplify operational tasks and to increase the return on investment made in SolidFire.
If you’re interested in learning more about SolidFire and our automation capabilities, please reach out to schedule a demo.