VMAXHumpday, 12/17/2014 – VMAX3 Unisphere Overview, a First Look


Hello!  Welcome to my semi-regular-weekly blog about VMAX.  Today I wanted to do a quick overview of my initial impressions of the new Unisphere and VMAX3.  I decided to create a video today.  I basically spent 10 minutes on the VMAX3 before looking at this and recording, to excuse my over-use of transitional words such as ‘Umm’ and ‘stuff like that’.

Also, if you need a good refresher on why Enterprise Class Storage is still very relevant, you should go over to @thejasonnash ‘s blog @ http://jasonnash.com/2014/10/14/the-vmax3-why-enterprise-class-is-still-very-relevant/  I briefly reference it in the video.



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VMAXHumpday, 12/10/2014 – How to Expand a Striped Meta in Unisphere Online!


Hump Day!!! Whaaaaaat?

I originally took the summer off in what was my regular VMAX humpday posts…and then a little more time from blogging due to general life getting in the way…well no excuses, I should probably remedy that right now.

Recently I have been involved in several large scale implementations of VMAX’s for customers and a common theme that comes up to those that are new to VMAX is operational tasks that happen after I leave the site and customers actually have to manage an array.  One of those most common questions I get is: “Well, I’m glad you set this all up with the exact sizing that I need, but what happens if I want to expand a lun?”  or “In VNX, I just have to right click on a LUN and expand the size, is there an option to do this in VMAX?”  Well the short answer is that you can expand a LUN online, however the process to do so is not as easy as it is in VNX.  Below I will explain how to do this, break down why we do this in this way and hopefully make it a little less complicated.  I will demonstrate how to do this in Unisphere.

Before starting anything, I like to break down the components to give a little background and terminology.  Here are some terms that I will mention in this post:

Meta Member – A virtual volume that is no larger than 240GB and used / striped or concatenated together to form a Striped Meta.

Striped Meta – Meta volumes are used in VMAX to make volumes larger than 240GB’s and/or address performance considerations.  Normally striped metas are formed in 4,8 or 16 members to meet size or performance needs.  My general rule of thumb (yours may vary!) is to form Meta Luns starting around 100-150GB at 4 members, and as I reach 1TB, I start expanding them out to 8 members and beyond.  I can go into the reasoning in more detail, but it will go well beyond this blog post.

BCV-TDEV – BCVs can be detached from the active data storage at a point in time and mounted on non-critical servers to facilitate offline backup or parallel processing. Once offline processes are completed, these BCVs can be either:

  • discarded
  • re-attached (re-synchronized) to the production data again
  • used as a source to recover the production data

Why is this important to expanding a LUN?  Well a BCV is used to make a mirror of the production data while the LUN is expanded and re-striped and then mirrored back to the newly formed LUN.  This is why VMAX is cool…it protects and re-stripes.  It is also why the process takes a while to accomplish.

Alright, now that we have some terminology out of the way, let’s get to it!!

Continue reading

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VMAXHumpday, 5/21/2014 – TDATs, TDEVs, Thin pools, oh my!


Welcome to this week’s VMAXHumpday!  Hope you are having an awesome week!  Today I would like to talk about TDATs, TDEVs and Thin Pools!  Or as some people call them, the Lions, Tigers and Bears of VMAX!  OK…I Just made that up, but they can be scary if you don’t understand them.  I will do my best to explain. Continue reading

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VMAXHumpday, 5/14/2014 – One CLI Command to Rule Them All


I wanted to type up a quick post today on my absolute favorite command in the CLI.  This is my ‘One CLI Command to Rule Them All’….or the ‘How much space should I tell my pointy haired manager this VMAX array has?’.

It is pretty simple.  You want to display all the space in your thin pools, in TB.  Total, Usable and Free.  This particular VMAX I am on has quite a few pools.  So what you need to do is go into your Unisphere Server or a server that has gatekeeper access to the array, and solutions enabler installed and type:

symcfg -sid 1234 list -thin -detail -pool -tb.

Note: replace 1234 with your VMAX sid…and I’m doing this in TB.

Check out what is displayed below:



So, check out my big red arrow.  Total GBs should say Total TBs if you use the TB switch.  I’m guessing whoever added the TB option in symcfg programming forgot to change it here.  Hopefully it is fixed in a future release!  …and EMC is watching my blog :)

That’s all for now…a short and sweet VMAXHumpday to show you how to report thin pool capacity…and my favorite command ever.


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VMAXHumpday, 5/7/2014 – EMCWorld Special Edition – Storage Provisioning Future!


What would VMAXHumpday be during EMCworld without finding a really cool presentation and talking about it?  First of all, I am not at EMCWorld this year do to me slinging data around datacenters using the power of the force…wait, Open Replicator and some other stuff but I’m sure there is a ton going out there this week.  What is cool is that if you are not at the conference, you can watch a few good sessions online at www.emcworld.com.  This version of VMAXHumpday I’ll step a little bit away from tech tips and talk about an awesome presentation I watched online.

So the session I watched was Technology Preview – Hybrid Cloud by Barry Burke. (@StorageAnarchy from EMC CTO and SVP of Enterprise/Midrange) talking about the Hybrid Cloud and solve a Rubik’s cube puzzle, and basically answer what do users want? The answer is “Simple” and “Simple” ain’t easy.  He basically talks about how it takes 23 steps to provision storage today on a VMAX and how we need to move towards automation in the future to meet and define application objectives. Continue reading

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VMAXhumpday, 4/30/2014 – Masking Views 101 pt2


Happy VMAXhumpday!  Hope everyone is just doing fine.  Is it almost May already?  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Summertime now!  Can’t wait to be out on the beach, sitting in the sand…dreaming about storage…..*record screech* Whaaat whaat?  No way.  I like storage but I’m not one of those geeks (although I will admit to reading a book about Unix shell scripting once-upon-a-time).

Anyway, last week I talked to you about masking views and I mentioned that some of these things can be cascaded.  What does cascaded mean?  Well it applies to two different areas on a VMAX.  One being storage groups and the other being initiator groups as I covered before in last week’s post.

For Storage Groups – This offers a way to combine multiple groupings of child storage Continue reading

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VMAXhumpday, 4/23/2014 – Masking Views 101 pt1


Happy VMAX Humpday!

Today I will be covering something a little less technical but equally important and thrilling as my previous mini-series on Open Replicator.  I will talk about Masking views.  If you are experienced in VNX, just starting out with VMAX or have never seen a VMAX before, it would be nice to know how a VMAX can present itself to your hosts right?

So the basic concept here is that you have the following components which are formed together into a masking view in order to see storage on your servers (I’ve got pictures too!):

Storage Groups – This is where it gets confusing if you are a VNX customer.  Storage groups on a VMAX mean something entirely different.  On a VMAX, these are only the Continue reading

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VMAXhumpday, 4/16/2014 – Open Replicator pt. 2


Well, last week my Open Replicator post went over pretty good and I realized that I really needed to do another Open Replicator post…  This time it’s STONE COLD PULL Open replicator time.  Oh, and to throw something a little more different in?  Why not just do a VMAX to VMAX pull.  Oh this is gonna get fun!  Remember when I told you that control devices and remote devices are a good thing to keep track of?  Well here we go!

I like to use both Unisphere and the command line where it is appropriate.  Because I’m only migrating two servers in this example, and I need to get my new devices to talk to VMAX ports 8H1 and 5H1 (I originally zoned 8H1 and 5H1 on the new VMAX to the same on the old for OR purposes).

Continue reading

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VMAXhumpday, 4/9/2014 – Open Replicator pt. 1

VMAX Hump Day!

What day is it Mike?  Whhhaaaaat whaaaaat?!?!?  Yes it is VMAX Hump Day! Or in the twitterverse #VMAXhumpday.  Yep.  I did it.  I created a hashtag. I actually created a couple…and sometimes late at night when I’m feeling the fresh beats, I throw out my best on the mic on #VMAXrap.

Anyway, let’s get down to it.  Every week I want to bring you something fresh.  Something new.  Some of the stuff here is what you are gonna find in EMC documentation but I hope to put it in a way that is easy to understand so you don’t have to have a rocking Unix beard to understand.  It’s also going to fun!  Any ideas or suggestions you want me to do, please let me know.  Throw it in the comments below or hit me up on twitter @SANGeek.  These are going to be quick tips…no in depth reviews or walk-throughs so if you are a VMAX novice or been into it for a while I hope this provides some value.

For this humpday I want to talk about Open Replicator.  Open Replicator is simply a way to push data or pull data from VMAX to VMAX or VMAX to VNX or VMAX to a supported array.  What is the common thing you see here?  Yes you need a VMAX and you need appropriate licensing to do some or all of the functionality.  I’m not here to talk about licenses though.  Those are boring.

In order to copy stuff, you need to have a few common things.  One being connectivity between the arrays.  It is not required but I find it a lot better/faster if both arrays are sharing the same switch or have hefty ISLs between them.  Woops, sorry…  ISL – Inter switch link.  Yah a pipe that connects between two switches and provides data transfer.

Next, you have what is called a control device.  A control device is basically where you are controlling the Open Replicator session from.  So when you are running commands from Unisphere for VMAX or CLI the terminology still stays the same.  Finally you need a remote device.  Now remote device is kinda confusing because if you are pushing or pulling it can be your source or target.  So you got to understand this, otherwise you don’t want to copy a blank disk onto a full disk.  That could make your day really bad if you are still backing up to tape! :)

So you have push. It does exactly what it sounds like.  You push from the control device to the remote device.  So if you are going from Old VMAX to a nice new shiney VNX you would create a text file something like this (I’ll do some Unisphere stuff in a while…but IMHO CLI is MUCH faster):

#Control Device  #Remote Device


So what does this file do?  Well it will push Symdev (Your Control Device or Migration Device from VMAX to the VNX wwn shown here.

A command you would use then would be:

symrcopy –sid XX create –push –cold –pace 2 –name test_or –f test_or.txt -nop

So…to break it down you have:

  • ‘symrcopy’ which is the executable if you have solutions enabler installed,
  • ‘-sid XX’ your Symmetrix serial,
  • ‘create –push –cold’ self explanatory,
  • ‘-pace 2’ pace at which it runs,
  • ‘name’ naming the session, and
  • ‘-f test_or.txt’ the file you created with the devices you want to migrate.
  • ‘-nop’ Don’t prompt me…I know what I’m doing!  (although if you are a beginner…you may not want to include this).

So what does that do?  It validates the config…assumes you have all the devices setup correctly and creates the session for you.  It does not do anything until you activate it.  Now there are some fundamental steps I left out here like setting in this case the cold control device to ‘not ready’ and adding both control and remote devices to appropriate storage groups on the VMAX and VNX but it’s getting late right now and I can show you guys in action a little bit later how everything pulls together.

Now…you want to query the session to make sure what you are about to copy is OK.

You would do:

symrcopy query –f test_or.txt

which will display for you a bunch of information.  Most importantly your control and remote luns, etc.

Now you want to activate!

symrcopy activate –f test_or.txt

Sweet!  It’s copying.  Now this cold copy is an offline copy meaning that servers will be powered off during the OR session.  You can do hot sessions, etc but I wanted to start with the basics first.

So while it’s running I find the best command to run so you don’t have to keep typing (because I’m lazy) is:

symrcopy query –det –f test_or.txt –i 20

which basically shows a little more detail, transfer rate and refreshes the command every 20 seconds (the ”-i 20′ part).

Now when the status say all copied!  Then all you need to do is re-zone your server to the VNX, point the new migrated lun to it, and boot it.  If all stars align, and you aren’t running a windows 2000 server or something funky you should be good!  Congrats.  You just cold migrated a lun.

Here is an example of the query command when it is all done (blue’d out to protect the innocent):

Next on #VMAXhumpday, I will get into a little more detail and hopefully show some more examples.

Hope you enjoyed!



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The Voice of the Turtle

I grew up in Detroit. I still love Detroit Tiger’s baseball. Today marks the start of Spring for most Detroit faithful as opening day is in full effect in Detroit. I still remember skipping school my Junior and Senior years of Highschool, driving down to Tiger stadium, watching baseball and hanging out with friends. My college years were filled with more of the same, but year after year it became less frequent. Now, I am sitting in my home office in North Carolina, but still thinking about the fond memories I had as a child and my early adult years sitting in the stands and cheering my team on. This quote is what Ernie Harwell used to use to open up Spring training for the Tigers and I think it is very important to here today on this opening day and also as you look on life:

“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” – Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Ernie Harwell (Jan 25, 1918 – May 4th, 2010) was a sportscaster for the Detroit Tigers from 42 years out of 55 of his career. His official last broadcast with the Tigers was on September 29, 2002 and a few years later on September 16th, 2009 he gave a farewell address to fans of the Tigers after announcing earlier in the week he had cancer. From his 2 minute long speech (he stated he didn’t want to say too much otherwise he would be penalized for the delay of the game) he stated this:

“In my almost 92 years on this earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey. And the blessed part of that journey is that it’s going to end here in the great state of Michigan”

Ernie was happy with his legacy, he was happy with what he was blessed with and appreciative of his life here on earth.

We can learn a lot from this. How often do you say to yourself, “If I just had the promotion, I could do better”, “If I could have what my neighbor has, I would be happy”, “Wow that company is really successful, I wish my company was just like that”, and my favorite, “If I just won the lottery, I would be happy”. By comparing ourselves to other’s titles and accomplishments you don’t have and things you wish you had it is very easy to lose focus on what is important. Your individual talents, your company’s strengths, your unique way of doing things are important. By focusing on what you have now, and being the best in the moment, those things you wish you had will now become things you have because you are already happy.

No matter what you believe in, you have been put on this great earth to accomplish something. You have talents, gifts and contributions. The important thing to focus on here is that you are unique. You may not be a faster runner than Usain Bolt, but you might be a better cook. You may not own a bigger SUV than your neighbor but your yard may be better groomed. You need to look deep inside and be good at what you are good at and then things will start to be accomplished. I’m not saying it is bad to have goals, everyone should have them but if you spend time chasing those goals and not focusing on what you are doing and are good at in the present, it is very difficult to achieve the things you wish you had.

Another way to look at it is take for example, a huge rockstar concert as a microcosm of life. Ask yourself, “In a sell-out concert, who is the most important person there?” Is it the rising rock star? Maybe. Is it the person who opened the doors for the people to come in? Maybe. Is it the parking lot attendants? Maybe. Is it the concert goers? Maybe. The point is that everyone has an important part. If it wasn’t for everyone working together and doing what they are good at, the concert would not go on. Especially if the original construction company and contractors never built the facility.

I would bet Ernie Harwell understood this. He knew he was good at broadcasting, the fans knew he was good at broadcasting and in his final days on this earth, I believe he left his mark on history. Leave your mark on history but be different. As you go through life, you may not be the fastest, smartest or best as someone else but no one can ever be better than you can to yourself. Be blessed by your great journey. Be the voice of the turtle. Enjoy the flowers, Spring is here.

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