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Short articles related to Dell Unity XT.

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Kubernetes CSI Dell Unity XT SUSE Rancher

Dell PowerStore and Unity XT CSI Drivers Now Available in the Rancher Marketplace

Henry Wong

Tue, 31 Jan 2023 17:36:00 -0000

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I am excited to announce that the PowerStore CSI driver and the Unity XT CSI driver are now available in the Rancher Marketplace. Customers have always been able to deploy the CSI drivers on any compatible Kubernetes cluster through a series of manual steps and command lines. If you are using Rancher to manage your Kubernetes clusters, you can now seamlessly deploy the drivers to the managed Kubernetes clusters through the familiar Rancher UI.

Dell CSI drivers

PowerStore CSI driver and Unity XT CSI driver are storage providers for Kubernetes that provide persistent storage for containers. Many containerized workloads, such as databases, often require storing data for a long period of time. The data also needs to follow the containers whenever they move between the Kubernetes nodes. With Dell CSI drivers, database applications can easily request and mount the storage from Dell storage systems as part of the automated workflow. Customers also benefit from the advanced data protection and data reduction features of Dell storage systems.

SUSE Rancher

Rancher is a high-performing open-source Kubernetes management platform. For those who operate and manage multiple Kubernetes clusters across on-premises and in the cloud, Rancher is an attractive solution because of its powerful features that unify the management and security of multiple Kubernetes clusters. Rancher can deploy and manage clusters running on on-premises infrastructure, such as VMware vSphere and on cloud providers such as Azure AKS, Google GKS, and Amazon EKS. Rancher also enhances and simplifies security with centralized user authentication, access control, and observability. The integrated App Catalog provides easy access to third-party applications and simplifies the deployment of complex applications.

The benefits of deploying Dell CSI drivers through the Rancher App Catalog are:

  • The App Catalog is based on Helm, a Kubernetes package manager. Dell CSI drivers include the Helm charts in the App Catalog to facilitate the installation and deployment process.
  • You can be confident that both Dell and SUSE have validated the deployment process.
  • A single management UI to manage all aspects of your Kubernetes clusters.
  • Enhances and centralizes user authentication and access control.
  • Simplifies the deployment process with fewer command lines and an intuitive HTML5 UI.
  • Pre-defined configurations are supplied. You can take the default values or make any necessary adjustments based on your needs.
  • Makes it easy to monitor and troubleshoot issues. You can view the status and log files of the cluster components and applications directly in the UI.

How to deploy the CSI driver in Rancher

Let me show you a simple deployment of the CSI driver in Rancher here.

NOTE: Dell CSI drivers are regularly updated for compatibility with the latest Kubernetes version. Keep in mind that the information in this article might change in future releases. To get the latest updates, check the documentation on the Dell Github page (https://dell.github.io/csm-docs/docs).

1.  First, review the requirements of the CSI driver. On the Rancher home page, click on a managed cluster. Then, on the left side panel, go to Apps > Charts. In the filter field, enter dell csi to narrow down the results. Click on the CSI driver you want to install. The install page displays the driver’s readme file that describes the overall installation process and the prerequisites for the driver. Perform all necessary prerequisite steps before moving on to the next step.

These prerequisites include, but are not limited to, ensuring that the iSCSI software, NVMe software, and NFS software are available on the target Kubernetes nodes, and that FC zoning is in place.

2.  Create a new namespace for the CSI driver in which the driver software will be installed. On the left side panel, go to Cluster > Projects/Namespaces and create a new namespace. Create a csi-powerstore namespace for PowerStore or a unity namespace for Unity XT.

You can optionally define the Container Resource Limit if desired.

3.  The CSI driver requires the array connection and credential information. Create a secret to store this information for the storage systems. On the left side panel, go to Cluster > Storage > Secrets.

For PowerStore:

  • Create an Opaque (generic) secret using a key-value pair in the csi-powerstore namespace.
  • The secret name must be powerstore-config, with the single key name config. Copy the contents of the secret.yaml file to the value field. A sample secret.yaml file with parameter definitions is available here.
  • You can define multiple arrays in the same secret.

For Unity XT:

  • Create an Opaque (generic) secret using the key-value pair in the unity namespace.
  • The secret name must be unity-creds, with the single key name config. Copy the contents of the secret.yaml file to the value field. A sample secret.yaml file is available here.
  • You can define multiple arrays in the same secret.
  • The Unity XT CSI driver also requires a certificate secret for Unity XT certificate validation. The secrets are named unity-certs-0, unity-certs-1, and so on. Each secret contains the X509 certificate of the CA that signed the Unisphere SSL certificate, in PEM format. More information is available here.

4.  Now, we are ready to install the CSI driver. Go to Apps > Charts and select the CSI driver. Click Install to start the guided installation process.

Select the appropriate namespace (csi-powerstore or unity) for the corresponding driver.

The guided installation also pre-populates the driver configuration in key/value parameters. Review and modify the configuration to suit your requirements. You can find the detailed information about these parameters in the Helm Chart info page (Click the ViewChart Info button on the installation page). (A copy of the values.yaml file that the installation uses is available here for PowerStore and here for Unity XT.)

When the installation starts, you can monitor its progress in Rancher and observe the different resources being created and started. The UI also offers easy access to the resource log files to help troubleshooting issues during the installation.

5.  Before using the CSI driver to provision Dell storage, we need to create StorageClasses that define which storage array to use and their attributes. The StorageClasses are used in Persistent Volumes to dynamically provision persistent storage.

To create StorageClasses for Dell storage systems, we use the Import YAML function to create them. If you use the Create function under Storage > StorageClasses, the UI does not offer the Dell storage provisioners in the drop-down menu. Copy and paste the contents of the StorageClass yaml file to the Import Dialog window. (Sample PowerStore StorageClasses yaml files are available here; sample Unity XT StorageClasses yaml files are available here.)

Congratulations! You have now deployed the Dell CSI driver in a Kubernetes Cluster using Rancher and are ready to provision persistent storage for the cluster applications.

Conclusion

Deploying and managing Dell CSI drivers on multiple Kubernetes clusters is made simple with Rancher. Dell storage systems are ideal storage platforms for containers to satisfy the need for flexible, scalable, and highly efficient storage. The powerful features of Rancher streamline the deployment and operation of Kubernetes clusters with unified management and security.

Resources

Author: Henry Wong, Senior Principal Engineering Technologist

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replication Dell Unity XT Dell Unity OE LDAP

What’s New with Dell Unity OE Version 5.2?

Ryan Poulin

Tue, 10 May 2022 21:06:27 -0000

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Did you know that Dell Unity had a new software release on April 29, 2022? No? With all the hype of Dell Technologies World 2022, which included a number of new products, software, and company partnership announcements, Dell Unity may have flown under the radar with one of the most important software updates in its history. But fear not, I have you covered. This software release delivers several important storage technologies designed to simplify how users address capacity expansion and recover data faster, expand disaster recovery topologies, increase storage utilization, and cost-effectively upgrade Dell Unity XT systems while lowering capital and operating expenses. The following sections highlight the updates in this release.

Hardware

Unity XT data-in-place conversions

So, you purchased a Unity XT 480/F or 680/F system, but now it’s under-sized and handling more than you planned for. With storage architects and administrators trying to do more with less, it is not uncommon that new requirements come up and a storage system is pushed to its limits. Whether you are maxing out performance and capacity, or are looking for higher limits, a data-in-place (DIP) conversion may be just what is needed.

In OE version 5.2, Hybrid (HFA) or All Flash (AFA) Unity XT 480 and 680 systems can be upgraded to a higher Dell Unity model of the same type. This means that an HFA system can upgrade to a higher model HFA system, and an AFA system can be upgraded to a higher model AFA system. For the Unity XT 480, it can be directly upgraded to a Unity XT 680 or 880 model system. The Unity XT 680 can be upgraded to the Unity XT 880 model system. This upgrade not only increases the performance potential of the Storage Processors, but the higher models also include higher system limits. Data-in-place upgrades reuse the same I/O modules, SFPs, and power supplies from the replaced Storage Processors, and can either be completed online or offline.

During an online upgrade, one Storage Processor (SP) is replaced at a time. All hosts/servers that are configured with high availability can remain online and run I/O to the system. This procedure closely mimics a software non-disruptive upgrade where one SP is upgraded at a time. An offline DIP upgrade needs to occur during complete application downtime. Although the system is offline, this upgrade process does complete faster because both storage processors are replaced at the same time. After completing the upgrade, the model will be seen in Unisphere, Unisphere CLI, and REST API as the new model, as if it came from the factory.

 

Target Model

480

680

880

480F

680F

880F




Source
 Model

480

 

 

 

 

 

680

 

 


 

 

 

880

 

 

 

 

 

 

480F

 

 

 

 


680F

 

 

 

 

 

880F

 

 

 

 

 

 

I/O module conversions

Performance is always impacted by the slowest component in an environment, almost like the weakest link in a chain. For some, infrastructure within an environment may be upgraded, leaving the storage system limited due to its current configuration. Do you have your Unity XT 16Gb Fibre Channel front end ports connected to a 32Gb switch? If your answer is Yes, then why not upgrade the storage too? OE version 5.2 supports upgrading 16Gb Fibre Channel modules in existing Unity XT systems to the 32Gb Fibre Channel modules.

What used to be a non-data-in-place conversion can now be achieved through a new service script without impacting the data on the system. During the upgrade procedure, the Fibre Channel I/O modules are upgraded in an NDU manner. One Fibre Channel module is replaced in one storage processor, while any I/O to the system is serviced by the peer SP. After the upgrade is complete and the system is utilizing the new 32 Gb I/O modules and SFPs, the front end ports on the Unity XT system are no longer the weakest link.

For more information about Unity XT data-in-place upgrades or I/O module conversions, see the Dell Unity XT: Introduction to the Platform white paper. 

Hybrid flash system enhancements

Dell Unity hybrid systems continue to be a compelling storage solution for small to mid-size enterprises, supporting general purpose workloads that don’t need the speed and low latency of All Flash or NVMe architectures. The following are software enhancements for hybrid systems in OE version 5.2.

Dynamic pools

Dynamic pools were first introduced in OE version 4.2 for All Flash systems. This pool type drops the traditional pool RAID Group based configuration in favor of advanced RAID techniques and distributed sparing. Dynamic pools allow for better storage utilization than the previous pool type, and more simplified planning. Users no longer need to add multiples of drive sets to achieve a particular capacity. In most cases, a dynamic pool can be expanded with a single drive.

Just like my youngest child watching his older brother do things he can’t, hybrid systems have been left wondering when it will be their turn. With OE version 5.2, the time has come. In OE version 5.2, dynamic pools can be created on any hybrid flash system, not just Unity XT if that is what you are thinking. A dynamic pool can also be a single drive type or include multiple drive types just like their traditional pool counterparts. For each drive type within a dynamic pool, a minimum drive count is required, but expanding an existing tier with a single drive is possible in most situations. Dynamic pools also support FAST VP and FAST Cache on hybrid systems.

For more details see the Dell Unity: Dynamic Pools white paper.

Data reduction

Do you have a hybrid Unity XT system and could use some extra capacity? What if I told you, it’s free? While I can’t send you free drives through a blog, I can let you know that data reduction and advanced deduplication are now supported on hybrid pools within hybrid model Unity XT systems. 

To support Data Reduction, the pool must contain a flash tier whose total usable capacity meets or exceeds 10% of the total pool capacity. Once the system is running OE version 5.2, you can enable data reduction with and without advanced deduplication on existing resources or new resources. The pool type can also either be traditional or dynamic.

For more details see the Dell Unity: Data Reduction white paper.

File enhancements

Replication

Are you feeling limited by the replication topologies that are currently supported? The OE version 5.2 release may just have what you need to support the file replication topology of your dreams, or maybe just what your data protection requirements dictate. In this release, each file resource supports a maximum of four replication sessions, which includes the inbound replication sessions and the outbound replication sessions. What’s different in this release is that one of the four replication sessions can be synchronous, and you can also create a replication session outbound from a synchronous replication destination. The picture below shows a replication topology that is now possible using the OE version 5.2 release. Note: All systems within the topology must be running version OE version 5.2 or later to support these new topologies.

For more details see the Dell Unity: Replication Technologies white paper.

LDAP aliases

Have you ever had an IP address change in your environment, which required you to update each component within the environment that used it? I have, and even though I only use a test lab, it still caused me heartburn. Depending on the environment, the changes required can be a long and tedious process. 

In OE version 5.2, an update to LDAP can save you some time in the future. Now when configuring LDAP server addresses manually on a NAS Server, users can either enter the LDAP server IP or Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN). By entering the FQDN, an IP change on the LDAP server no longer requires changing the LDAP configuration on each NAS server. The NAS server automatically picks up the new IP using DNS. Taking the time to update an existing configuration can save a bunch of time in the future, especially when the change needs to occur late at night or on weekends.

For more details see the Dell Unity: NAS Capabilities white paper.

Conclusion

I’ve outlined just a few of the major features in the Dell Unity OE version 5.2 release. For more information about other features in this release, check out these resources:

Author: Ryan Poulin

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