NetApp released Virtual Storage Console (VSC) version 5.0 last April. NetApp VSC for VMware vSphere is a tool that enables you to monitor, manage and provision your NetApp storage back-end from within VMware vCenter. The VSC 5.0 release only integrates with the vSphere web client, luckily so. If you still want to be able to use VSC with the desktop vSphere client, you are bound to VSC version 4.2.1.
By installing VSC, some predefined roles are implemented within vCenter. Utilizing VMware’s RBAC capabilities makes it possible to grant your vCenter administrators access rights to perform some basic storage tasks. By doing so, it relieves your storage team by not having to perform these administrative duties.
These basic storage tasks include:
- Provision datastores
- Clone virtual machines
- Check and perform virtual machine alignment
- Migrate virtual machines individually or in groups to a new or existing datastore
- Backup and restore virtual machines*
Next to the tasks above, VSC can also be used to configure vSphere hosts with the recommended NFS settings and to deploy the VAAI plugin.
Another nice new feature is the VASA (VMware APIs for Storage Awareness) appliance with support for Clustered Data ONTAP. The VASA appliance will be the foundation for the much awaited virtual Volumes (vVOL). The VASA integration with vCenter depends on the VSC plugin, so make sure VSC is installed before you deploy and configure VASA.
The VASA feature used to be a Windows based installation. As mentioned before, it is now an appliance. So just import the OVF, do some basic configuring and you’re ready to go!
The basic disk space requirements for the VASA appliance are:
- 2.1 GB for thin provisioned installation
- 54 GB for thick provisioned installation
Use the “Installation and administration guide” for VSC/VASA for installation guidelines.
With VASA installed and configured, it is possible to create Storage Capability Profiles (SCP) and attach these profiles to you Clustered ONTAP datastores. This will allow vCenter administrators to instantly see the storage capabilities of a datastore. Storage capabilities examples are; QoS settings like total IOPS or throughput, Flashpool and/or Flashcache enabled, SnapMirror, etcetera…
Three SCP’s are pre-configured as examples; Gold, Silver and Bronze. NetApp highly recommends you to create your own custom SCP’s as the pre-configured examples will possible be overwritten when a future VASA update is installed.
The direct download link for VSC 5.0 for vSphere is: http://support.netapp.com/NOW/cgi-bin/software/?product=Virtual+Storage+Console&platform=VMware+vSphere
A valid login to the NetApp NOW site is required. Although the VSC plugin is downloadable for everyone with a valid login, remember an additional license will be required for you to use the ‘Backup and Restore’ options.
Notice on the download page that you can chose to download VSC separately, or bundled with the VASA OVF.
I tested VSC 5.0 on an environment which already had a previous version installed. The installer automatically detects a previous version and upgrades it to version 5.0.
The installation is pretty straight forward. When upgrading, a point of interest could be the overview of the current and the new versions of the VSC capabilities. As stated before, an additional license is required for “Backup and Recovery” capabilities.
Once installed or upgraded, the VSC plugin must be registered within your vCenter instance. This is done by browsing to https://localhost:8143/Register.html
Fill in the vCenter Server information and click ‘Register’. Remember it is best practice to use a dedicated service account for the connection with vCenter. When successful, it will respond “The registration process has completed successfully!”
You can now access the VSC plugin using the vSphere web client and start adding your storage controllers!
Deploy VAAI plugin
The VAAI plugin can be deployed using VSC. An good alternative to this method is using VUM to deploy the VAAI vib.
When using VSC for deployment, it is required to manually copy the .vib file to the correct directory in order for VSC to ‘see’ the vib.
The correct directory is: C:\Program Files\NetApp\Virtual Storage Console\etc\vsc\web\NetAppNasPlugin.vib
Note that whatever the name of the downloaded .vib is, it should always be renamed to NetAppNasPlugin.vib!
Known issues and limitations
When using NetApp’s VSC or VASA plugins, always consider reading the release notes which includes the known issues and limitations list. There are some worth knowing about like the limitation that VSC cannot be used in combination with Linked Mode.
The release notes for VSC 5.0 are found here.
I used this blogpost by Nick Howell (NetApp) as a source next to the official NetApp documentation.
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