Announcing all-new VxRail Management Pack for vRealize Operations
Mon, 17 Aug 2020 18:31:30 -0000|
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Now adding VxRail awareness to your vRealize Operations
January 22, 2020
As the new year rolls in, VxRail team is now slowly warming up to it. Right as we settle back in after holiday festivities, we’re onto another release announcement. This time, it’s an entirely new software tool: VxRail Management Pack for vRealize Operations.
For those not familiar with what vRealize Operations, it’s VMware’s operations management software tool that provides its customers the ability to maintain and tune their virtual application infrastructure with the aid of artificial intelligence and machine learning. It connects to the vCenter Server and collects metrics, events, configurations, and logs about the vSAN clusters and virtual workloads running on them. vRealize Operations also understands the topology and object relationships of the virtual application infrastructure. With all these features, it is capable of driving intelligent remediation, ensuring configuration compliance, monitoring capacity and cost optimization, and maintaining performance optimization. It’s an outcome-based tool designed to self-drive according to user-defined intents powered by its AI/ML engine.
The VxRail Management Pack is an additional free-of-charge software pack that can be installed onto vRealize Operations to provide VxRail cluster awareness. Without this Management Pack, vRealize Operations can still detect vSAN clusters but cannot discern that they are VxRail clusters. The Management Pack consists of an adapter that collects 65 distinct VxRail events, analytics logic specific to VxRail, and three custom dashboards. These VxRail events are translated into VxRail alerts on vRealize Operations so that users have helpful information to understand health issues along with recommended course of resolution. With custom dashboards, users can easily go to VxRail-specific views to troubleshoot issues and make use of existing vRealize Operations capabilities in the context of VxRail clusters.
The VxRail Management Pack is not for every VxRail user because it requires a vRealize Operations Advanced or Enterprise license. For enterprise customers or customers who have already invested in VMware’s vRealize Operations suite, it can be an easy add-on to help manage your VxRail clusters.
To download the VxRail Management Pack, go to VMware Solution Exchange: https://marketplace.vmware.com/vsx/.
Author: Daniel Chiu, Dell EMC VxRail Technical Marketing
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Learn About the Latest Major VxRail Software Release: VxRail 8.0.000
Mon, 09 Jan 2023 14:45:15 -0000|
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Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful and restful holiday, and you have come back reinvigorated. Because much like the fitness centers in January, this VxRail blog site is going to get busy. We have a few major releases in line to greet you, and there is much to learn.
First in line is the VxRail 8.0.000 software release that provides introductory support for VMware vSphere 8, which has created quite the buzz these past few months. Let’s walk through the highlights of this release.
- For VxRail users who want to be early adopters of vSphere 8, VxRail 8.0.000 provides the first upgrade path for VxRail clusters to transition to VMware’s latest vSphere software train. Only clusters with VxRail nodes based on either the 14th generation or 15th generation PowerEdge servers can upgrade to vSphere 8, because VMware has removed support for a legacy BIOS driver used by 13th generation PowerEdge servers. Importantly, users need to upgrade their vCenter Server to version 8.0 before a cluster upgrade, and vSAN 8.0 clusters require users to upgrade their existing vSphere and vSAN licenses. In VxRail 8.0.000, the VxRail Manager has been enhanced to check platform compatibility and warn users of license issues to prevent compromised situations. Users should always consult the release notes to fully prepare for a major upgrade.
- VxRail 8.0.000 also provides introductory support for vSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA), which has garnered much attention for its potential while eliciting just as much curiosity because of its newness. To level set, vSAN ESA is an optimized version of vSAN that exploits the full potential of the very latest in hardware, such as multi-core processing, faster and larger capacity memory, and NVMe technology to unlock new capabilities to drive new levels of performance and efficiency. You can get an in-depth look at vSAN ESA in David Glynn’s blog. It is important to note that vSAN ESA is an alternative, optional vSAN architecture. The existing architecture (which is now referred to as Original Storage Architecture (OSA)) is still available in vSAN 8. It’s a choice that users can make on which one to use when deploying clusters.
In order to deploy VxRail clusters with vSAN ESA, you need to order brand-new VxRail nodes specifically configured for vSAN ESA. This new architecture eliminates the use of discrete cache and capacity drives. Nodes will require all NVMe storage drives. Each drive will contribute to cache and capacity. VxRail 8.0.000 offers two choices for platforms: E660N and the P670N. The user will select either the 3.2 TB or 6.4 TB TLC NVMe storage drives to populate each node in their new VxRail cluster with vSAN ESA. To learn about the configuration options, see David Glynn’s blog.
- The support in vSphere 8 in VxRail 8.0.000 also includes support for the increased cache size for VxRail clusters with vSAN 8.0 OSA. The increase from 600 TB to 1.6 TB will provide significant performance gain. VxRail already has cache drives that can take advantage of the larger cache size. It is easier to deploy a new cluster with a larger cache size than for an existing cluster to expand the current cache size. (For existing clusters, nodes need their disk groups rebuilt when the cache is expanded. This can be a lengthy and tedious endeavor.)
Major VMware releases like vSphere 8 often shine a light on the differentiated experience that our VxRail users enjoy. The checklist of considerations only grows when you’re looking to upgrade to a new software train. VxRail users have come to expect that VxRail provides them the necessary guardrails to guide them safely along the upgrade path to reach their destination. The 800,000 hours of test run time performed by our 100+ staff members, who are dedicated to maintaining the VxRail Continuously Validated States, is what gives our customers the confidence to move fearlessly from one software version to the next. And for customers looking to explore the potential of vSAN ESA, the partnership between VxRail and VMware engineering teams adds to why VxRail is the fastest and most effective path for users to maximize the return on their investment in VMware’s latest technologies.
If you’re interested in upgrading to VxRail 8.0.000, please read the release notes.
If you’re looking for more information about vSAN ESA and VxRail’s support for vSAN ESA, check out this blog.
Author: Daniel Chiu
Learn more about the latest major VxRail software update: VxRail 7.0.240
Wed, 15 Sep 2021 16:27:30 -0000|
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In a blink of an eye, September is already here. All those well-deserved August holidays have come and gone. As those summer memories with colorful umbrella drinks in hand fade into the background, your focus now turns to finishing this year strong. With the recent announcement on the latest VxRail software release, VxRail is providing the juice to get you well on your way.
VxRail HCI System Software version 7.0.240 has arrived with much anticipation as it includes the expansion of the VxRail product portfolio in the form of VxRail dynamic nodes and significant lifecycle management (LCM) enhancements that our VxRail customers will surely appreciate. Dynamic nodes extend the spectrum of use cases for VxRail by addressing more workload types. The LCM enhancements in the latest software release add to the operational simplicity that VxRail users truly value by increasing the level of automation and flexibility to ensure cluster integrity throughout the life of their cluster.
VxRail dynamic nodes
As VxRail dynamic nodes were described in the external launch event, they benefit customers who are committed to continue running their mission-critical data-centric workloads on Dell EMC storage arrays because of the enterprise-level resiliency and data protection capabilities but value the operational certainty that VxRail offers to their IT teams. This use case can be particularly relevant for customers who have standardized on VCF on VxRail as their infrastructural building block for their cloud operating model. These scenarios can apply to financial and medical industries among many others. For some customers, scaling of storage and compute independently in their HCI environments can better suit some of their application workloads, whether it is a better use of resources or potential reduction in license costs for compute-intensive workloads like Oracle.
Piqued your interest? Let’s move deeper into the technical details so you can better understand how VxRail dynamic nodes address these use cases.
Figure 1: VxRail dynamic node offering
- VxRail dynamic nodes are compute-only nodes running vSphere. Dynamic nodes run VMware ESXi with vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses but do not have vSAN licenses.
- They do not have any internal drives. As a result, the VxRail Manager VM runs on an external datastore that can come from either Dell EMC storage arrays (PowerStore-T, PowerMax, and Unity XT) or VMware vSAN HCI Mesh. Customers can now scale their compute and storage independently while some customers can continue to leverage their Dell EMC storage arrays for enterprise-level resiliency options.
- Dynamic nodes run on the same VxRail HCI System Software as any other VxRail cluster. The same intelligent LCM experience backed by VxRail’s Continuously Validated States exists in dynamic nodes.
Figure 2: VxRail dynamic node platforms
Like the three-flavor Neapolitan ice cream tub, there’s a flavor of dynamic nodes to match each application requirement. While there are not any cache and capacity drives on dynamic nodes, all other hardware configurations on these models are available. The E-series is the space-efficient 1U platform. The P-series is the performance-focused platform. The V-series is optimized for GPU-acceleration with up to six GPUs per node.
For those wanting to use their Dell EMC storage arrays with these brand-new VxRail dynamic nodes, here are some important pieces of information to consider.
- With VxRail 7.0.240, Dell EMC PowerStore-T, PowerMax, and UnityXT are the supported external arrays for this use case. Third-party storage arrays are not supported.
- Storage connectivity is through Fibre-Channel, either 16Gb or 32Gb Dell EMC Connectrix Brocade or Cisco MDS FC switches.
- Management of the storage array and Fibre-Channel switch is done separately including lifecycle management, zoning, and provisioning of storage. VxRail HCI System Software is responsible for the LCM of the dynamic nodes themselves.
- When deploying a dynamic node cluster, the datastores need to be already provisioned and zoned to the dynamic nodes.
- The storage array and dynamic nodes are sold separately and supported discretely by Dell Technologies.
Now let’s move onto the LCM enhancements in VxRail 7.0.240. There are three notable enhancements that VxRail users will notice – unless their thoughts have drifted away into those summertime memories.
Figure 3: Update advisor
First, update advisor is a new tool to help you plan for their next cluster update. From the Updates > Internet Updates tab, you can now see a list of available update paths for their specific cluster. This feature does not replace your responsibility to review the release notes and decide on to which version to update their cluster but, it does generate an advisory report with critical information to let you know what needs to be updated based on your cluster’s current Continuously Validated State. Update advisor is a helpful tool to plan your maintenance window.
Figure 4: Sample compliance drift report
Second, VxRail Manager now has a compliance checker that will detect any unforeseen version drift from the current Continuously Validated State running on your VxRail cluster. As shown on the image above, it provides a component-by-component report as part of the compliance check. It is run daily by default and can be initiated on-demand.
The third LCM enhancement is VxRail LCM compatibility with VMware vSphere Lifecycle Manager (vLCM).
Figure 5: VMware vSphere Lifecycle Manager vLCM framework
As a refresher, VMware vLCM was introduced in vSphere 7.0 as a framework to allow for software (ESXi) and hardware (firmware and drivers) to be updated together as a single system. VMware supplies the base image which is the ESXi image, and then it is up to the hardware vendors, like Dell Technologies, to provide the hardware support manager that plugs into that framework to supply the necessary firmware and drivers and to update them. Together, they form the baseline image which is used for the compliance checker. When updating the cluster, a desired state image is built from a combination of VMware-provided ESXi image and vendor(s)-provided firmware and drivers. Based on the drift detection analysis between the baseline and desired state images, vLCM will remediate the hosts on the cluster to complete the update.
VxRail’s newly introduced vLCM compatibility enables the VxRail Manager VM to plug into the framework to perform cluster updates using VxRail-provided desired state images in the form of Continuously Validated States. Essentially, VxRail has automated the hardware support manager plugin setup and exporting the depot of firmware and drivers to vCenter, which is a very manual process for other HCI solutions. While other hardware support manager plugins to vLCM require a multiple-step procedure to establish a baseline image and desired state image and interaction with multiple interfaces, VxRail’s implementation leverages the vLCM APIs to truly obfuscate those complexities into a streamlined experience all within VxRail Manager. Because VxRail Manager already stores the Continuously Validated State on its VM, the process of identification and exporting of the hardware firmware and drivers on the VxRail stack can easily be automated. The simplicity of VxRail’s support for vLCM cannot be understated.
Figure 6: VxRail’s vLCM implementation automates and simplifies the user’s cluster update experience
Similarly, performing cluster updates is a streamlined process once the LCM bundle is downloaded onto the VxRail Manager VM. From VxRail Manager, via the vLCM APIs, the bundle is loaded onto the vLCM framework as the desired state image. In short, vLCM compatibility is mostly transparent to the user as the LCM experience still runs through VxRail Manager.
The next likely question is why offer this enhancement? The explanation can be conveyed in two points both related to cutting down the time to update the cluster.
- Consolidate VMware software updates – for users that already run NSX-T or vSphere with Tanzu, vLCM allows for those VIBs to be included into the desired state image. Instead of updating each VMware software separately, they can be done together in a single boot cycle.
- Consolidate non-VxRail managed components – there are a few components such as the FC HBA that are not part of Continuously Validated State. Those components would then need to be updated separately which may require additional host reboots. The vendor addon feature in vLCM, as shown in the image above, provides the capability to include component firmware/drivers into the cluster image for a consolidated update cycle. Using vLCM APIs, VxRail has incorporated the vendor addon feature into its vLCM implementation in VxRail Manager.
By introducing vLCM compatibility into VxRail LCM, users can benefit from these cool capabilities. With VxRail 7.0.240, the use of vLCM is disabled by default. Users can choose to enable vLCM immediately or enable it later. Developing vLCM compatibility is also a strategic decision to put VxRail in a position to enhance more vLCM capabilities as they come.
VxRail 7.0.240 is a monumental software release that expands the breadth of the VxRail portfolio’s reach in addressing workload types with VxRail dynamic nodes and its depth by enhancing is differentiated LCM experience by providing more ways to ensure cluster integrity and to improve cluster maintenance times. Though the summer is drawing to a close, VxRail is providing you the boost to stay dynamic and finish 2021 strong. Keep an eye out for more content about the latest VxRail release.
For more information about VxRail dynamic nodes, you can check out the VxRail launch page: https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-us/events/vxrail-launch.htm.
If you want to learn more about how VxRail LCM differentiates itself from other HCI vendors using VMware vLCM, you can read these previously posted blogs:
Daniel Chiu, Senior Technical Marketing Manager at Dell Technologies