Posts Tagged ‘VMFS’

Requirements for Unmounting a VMware Datastore

December 30, 2015

I have come across issues unmounting VMware datastores myself multiple times. In recent vSphere versions vCenter shows you a warning if some of the requirements are not fulfilled. It is not the case in the older vSphere versions, which makes it harder to identify the issue.

Interestingly, there are some pre-requisites which even vCenter does not prompt you about. I will discuss all of the requirements in this post.

General Requirements

In this category I combine all requirements which vCenter checks against, such as:

Requirement: No virtual machine resides on the datastore.

Action: You have to make sure that the host you are unmounting the datastore from has no virtual machines (running or stopped) registered on this datastore.  If you are unmounting just one datastore from just one host, you can simply vMotion all VMs residing on the datastore from this host to the remaining hosts. If you are unmounting the datastore from all hosts, you’ll have to either Storage vMotion all VMs to the remaining datastores or shutdown the VMs and unregister them from vCenter.

unmount_vmfs2

Requirement: The datastore is not part of a Datastore Cluster.

Requirement: The datastore is not managed by storage DRS.

Action: Drag and drop the datastore from the Datastore Cluster in vCenter to move it out of the Datastore Cluster. Second requirement is redundant, because SDRS is enabled on a datastore which is configured withing a Datastore Cluster. By removing a datastore from a Datastore Cluster you atomatically disable storage DRS on it.

Requirement: Storage I/O control is disabled for this datastore.

Action: Go to the datastore properties and uncheck Storage I/O Control option. On a SIOC-enabled datastore vSphere creates a folder named after the block device ID and keeps a file called “slotsfile” in it. Its size will change to 0.00 KB once SIOC is disabled.

Requirement: The datastore is not used for vSphere HA heartbeat.

Action: vSphere HA automatically selects two VMware datastores, creates .vSphere-HA folders and use them to keep HA heartbeats. If you have more than two datastores in your cluster, you can control which datastores are selected. Go to cluster properties > Datastore Heartbeating (under vSphere HA section) and select preferred datastores from the list. This will work if you are unmounting one datastore. If you need to unmount all datastores, you will have to disable HA on the cluster level altogether.

datastore_heartbeat

Additional Requirements

Requirements which fall in this category are not checked by vCenter, but are still have to be satisfied. Otherwise vCenter will not let you unmount the datastore.

Requirement: The datastore is not used for swap.

Action: When VM is powered on by default it creates a swap file in the VM directory with .vswp extension. You can change the default behavior and on a per host basis select a dedicated datastore where host will be creating swap files for virtual machines. This setting is enabled in cluster properties in Swapfile Location section. The datastore is then selected for each host in Virtual Machine Swapfile Location settings on the the host configuration tab.

What host also does when you enable this option is it creates a host local swap file, which is named something like this: sysSwap-hls-55de2f14-6c5d-4d50-5cdf-000c296fc6a7.swp

There are scenarios where you need to unmount the swap datastore, such as when you say need to reconnect all of your storage from FC to iSCSI. Even if you shutdown all of your VMs, datastore unmount will fail because the host swap files are still there and you will see an error such as this:

The resource ‘Datastore Name: iSCSI1 VMFS uuid: 55de473c-7f3ae2b5-f9f8-000c29ba113a’ is in use.

See the error stack for details on the cause of the problem.

Error Stack:

Call “HostStorageSystem.UnmountVmfsVolume” for object “storageSystem-29” on vCenter Server “VC.lab.local” failed.

Cannot unmount volume ‘Datastore Name: iSCSI1 VMFS uuid: 55de473c-7f3ae2b5-f9f8-000c29ba113a’ because file system is busy. Correct the problem to retry the operation.

The workaround is to change the setting on the cluster level to store VM swap file in VM directory and reboot all hosts. After a reboot the host .swp file will disappear.

If rebooting the hosts is not desirable, you can SSH to each host and type the following command:

# esxcli sched swap system set –hostlocalswap-enabled false

To confirm that the change has taken effect run:

# esxcli sched swap system get

Then check the datastore and the .swp files should no longer be there.

Conclusion

If you satisfy all of the above requirements you should have no problems when unmounting VMware datastores. vSphere creates a few additional system folders on each of the datastores, such as .sdd.sf and .dvsData, but I personally have never had issues with them.

Magic behind NetApp VSC Backup/Restore

June 12, 2013

netapp_dpNetApp Virtual Storage Console is a plug-in for VMware vCenter which provides capabilities to perform instant backup/restore using NetApp snapshots. It uses several underlying NetApp features to accomplish its tasks, which I want to describe here.

Backup Process

When you configure a backup job in VSC, what VSC does, is it simply creates a NetApp snapshot for a target volume on a NetApp filer. Interestingly, if you have two VMFS datastores inside one volume, then both LUNs will be snapshotted, since snapshots are done on the volume level. But during the datastore restore, the second volume will be left intact. You would think that if VSC reverts the volume to the previously made snapshot, then both datastores should be affected, but that’s not the case, because VSC uses Single File SnapRestore to restore the LUN (this will be explained below). Creating several VMFS LUNs inside one volume is not a best practice. But it’s good to know that VSC works correctly in this case.

Same thing for VMs. There is no sense of backing up one VM in a datastore, because VSC will make a volume snapshot anyway. Backup the whole datastore in that case.

Datastore Restore

After a backup is done, you have three restore options. The first and least useful kind is a datastore restore. The only use case for such restore that I can think of is disaster recovery. But usually disaster recovery procedures are separate from backups and are based on replication to a disaster recovery site.

VSC uses NetApp’s Single File SnapRestore (SFSR) feature to restore a datastore. In case of a SAN implementation, SFSR reverts only the required LUN from snapshot to its previous state instead of the whole volume. My guess is that SnapRestore uses LUN clone/split functionality in background, to create new LUN from the snapshot, then swap the old with the new and then delete the old. But I haven’t found a clear answer to that question.

For that functionality to work, you need a SnapRestore license. In fact, you can do the same trick manually by issuing a SnapRestore command:

> snap restore -t file -s nightly.0 /vol/vol_name/vmfs_lun_name

If you have only one LUN in the volume (and you have to), then you can simply restore the whole volume with the same effect:

> snap restore -t vol -s nightly.0 /vol/vol_name

VM Restore

VM restore is also a bit controversial way of restoring data. Because it completely removes the old VM. There is no way to keep the old .vmdks. You can use another datastore for particular virtual hard drives to restore, but it doesn’t keep the old .vmdks even in this case.

VSC uses another mechanism to perform VM restore. It creates a LUN clone (don’t confuse with FlexClone,which is a volume cloning feature) from a snapshot. LUN clone doesn’t use any additional space on the filer, because its data is mapped to the blocks which sit inside the snapshot. Then VSC maps the new LUN to the ESXi host, which you specify in the restore job wizard. When datastore is accessible to the ESXi host, VSC simply removes the old VMDKs and performs a storage vMotion from the clone to the active datastore (or the one you specify in the job). Then clone is removed as part of a clean up process.

The equivalent cli command for that is:

> lun clone create /vol/clone_vol_name -o noreserve -b /vol/vol_name nightly.0

Backup Mount

Probably the most useful way of recovery. VSC allows you to mount the backup to a particular ESXi host and do whatever you want with the .vmdks. After the mount you can connect a virtual disk to the same or another virtual machine and recover the data you need.

If you want to connect the disk to the original VM, make sure you changed the disk UUID, otherwise VM won’t boot. Connect to the ESXi console and run:

# vmkfstools -J setuuid /vmfs/volumes/datastore/VM/vm.vmdk

Backup mount uses the same LUN cloning feature. LUN is cloned from a snapshot and is connected as a datastore. After an unmount LUN clone is destroyed.

Some Notes

VSC doesn’t do a good cleanup after a restore. As part of the LUN mapping to the ESXi hosts, VSC creates new igroups on the NetApp filer, which it doesn’t delete after the restore is completed.

What’s more interesting, when you restore a VM, VSC deletes .vmdks of the old VM, but leaves all the other files: .vmx, .log, .nvram, etc. in place. Instead of completely substituting VM’s folder, it creates a new folder vmname_1 and copies everything into it. So if you use VSC now and then, you will have these old folders left behind.

Unexpected Deduplication Impact on VMware I/O Latency

May 28, 2013

NetApp deduplication is a postponed process. During normal operation Data ONTAP only calculates hashes for the data blocks. Actual deduplication is carried out off-hours as per configured schedule. Hash calculation doesn’t affect performance in most cases. I talked about that in my previous post. NetApp states in its documentation that deduplication is a low-priority process:

When one deduplication process is running, there is 0% to 15% performance degradation on other applications.

Once I faced a situation when deduplication was configured to be carried out during business hours on one of the volumes. No one noticed that at some point volume run out of space and Data ONTAP wasn’t able to perform deduplication from that time. Situation became worse when Data ONTAP was upgraded from version 7.3.2 to 8.1.0. Now during deduplication filer tried to upgrade the fingerprint metadata to a new version at 15:00 every day with the message: “Fingerprint is being upgraded” and failed. It seems that the metadata upgrade is a very resource-intensive process and heavily affects I/O latency.

This volume was not a VMware datastore, but it sit on the same aggregate together with the several VMFS LUNs. Here what happened to the VMware I/O latency every day at 15:00 (click to enlarge):

dedup_issue_ed

I deleted the host name and the datastores names from the graph. You can see the large latency spike, which won’t turn yourVMs into kernel panic, but it’s not the thing you would want your production environment to experience every day.

The solution was simple. After space was increased on this volume, deduplication metadata upgrade performed successfully and problem went away. Additionally, deduplication was shifted to off-hours.

The simple lesson to learn: don’t schedule deduplication during the day, you never know what could possibly go wrong.

NetApp Deduplication in a Nutshell

May 12, 2013

NetApp-Dedupe2NetApp uses Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL) filesystem which is a key for NetApp’s efficient snapshot technology. If you’re already familiar with how snapshots are implemented in Data ONTAP, then understanding underlying mechanisms of deduplication is simple. Filer calculates hash for each data block it receives and preserves this in the form of metadata on the volume level. Then according to deduplication schedule (usually on weekends), filer runs metadata processing and for each duplicate hash changes data pointer to the original block of data.

Since for each data block filer needs to calculate hash on the fly, it has its penalty. On systems with CPU loaded by less than 50% performance impact is negligible. For heavily loaded systems, where CPU is nearly 100% busy, performance impact can be around 15%. For high-end 6000 systems penalty can jump up to 35% for random writes. Heavy sequential read operations can also suffer from deduplication, because read operations can be rerouted in random way across physical storage, depending on where the original data block actually is. In general, deduplication has low impact on system performance. But you can’t use it blindly and should keep in mind that in particular cases it can slow down your storage system.

Deduplication configuration is pretty simple. First of all, you need to activate deduplication on particular volume:

> sis on “targetvol”

If you already have data on the volume, you need to scan it. Otherwise, it won’t be deduped. It’s a common mistake. Deduplication is a low priority task, but keep in mind, however, that it can slightly impact your storage performance when done during business hours, especially if you run deduplication for several volumes simultaneously.

> sis start -s “targetvol”

To show the status of deduplication for particular volume:

> sis status “targetvol”

To see the deduplication schedule:

> sis config “targetvol”

And the most pleasant command to find out how much data you’ve saved:

> df -s “targetvol”

If you want to undo deduplication, first switch it off and then undo it using the following commands:

> sis off “targetvol”
> priv set advanced
*> sis undo “targetvol”
*> priv set

I, personally, was able to achieve 40% deduplication rate for VMware VMFS datastores, which is rather impressive, considering these were mixed OS + application data LUNs.

As a final note, I would like to point out, that deduplication is suitable only for environments with high percentage of similar data. VMware is a good example of it. You won’t get any significant deduplication ratio for swap file volumes, Exchnage mailboxes or Symantec Enterprise Vault which is already deduped.

Further reading:

TR-3958: NetApp Data Compression and Deduplication Deployment and Implementation Guide: Data ONTAP 8.1 Operating in 7-Mode

Storwize V7000 with vSphere 5 storage configuration

December 1, 2012

storwizeInformation on how to configure Storwize for optimal performance is very scarce. I’ll try to build some understanding of it from bits an pieces gathered throughout the Internet and redbooks.

Barry Whyte gave many insights on Storwize internals in his blog. Particularly his “Configuring IBM Storwize V7000 and SVC for Optimal Performance” series of posts. I’ll quote him here. The main Storwize redbook “Implementing the IBM Storwize V7000 V6.3” is mostly an administration guide and gives no useful information on the topic. I find “SAN Volume Controller Best Practices and Performance Guidelines” way more helpful (Storwize firmware is built on SVC code).

Total Number of MDisks

That’s what Barry says:

… At the heart of each V7000 controller canister is an Intel Jasper Forrest (Sandy Bridge) based quad core CPU. … When we added the tried and trusted (SSA) DS8000 RAID functionality in 2010 (6.1.0) we therefore assigned RAID processing on a per mdisk basis to a single core. That means you need at least 4 arrays per V7000 to get maximal CPU core performance. …

Number of MDisks per Storage Pool

SVC Redbook:

The capability to stripe across disk arrays is the single most important performance advantage of the SVC; however, striping across more arrays is not necessarily better. The objective here is to only add as many arrays to a single Storage Pool as required to meet the performance objectives.

If the Storage Pool is already meeting its performance objectives, we recommend that, in most cases, you add the new MDisks to new Storage Pools rather than add the new MDisks to existing Storage Pools.

Table 5-1 shows the recommended number of arrays per Storage Pool that is appropriate for general cases.

Controller type       Arrays per Storage Pool
DS4000/DS5000         4 - 24
DS6000/DS8000         4 - 12
IBM Storwise V7000    4 - 12

The development recommendations for Storwize V7000 are summarized below:

  • One MDisk group per storage subsystem
  • One MDisk group per RAID array type (RAID 5 versus RAID 10)
  • One MDisk and MDisk group per disk type (10K versus 15K RPM, or 146 GB versus 300 GB)

There are situations where multiple MDisk groups are desirable:

  • Workload isolation
  • Short-stroking a production MDisk group
  • Managing different workloads in different groups

We recommend that you have at least two MDisk groups, one for key applications, another for everything else.

Number of LUNs per Storage Pool

SVC Redbook:

We generally recommend that you configure LUNs to use the entire array, which is especially true for midrange storage subsystems where multiple LUNs configured to an array have shown to result in a significant performance degradation. The performance degradation is attributed mainly to smaller cache sizes and the inefficient use of available cache, defeating the subsystem’s ability to perform “full stride writes” for Redundant Array of Independent Disks 5 (RAID 5) arrays. Additionally, I/O queues for multiple LUNs directed at the same array can have a tendency to overdrive the array.

Table 5-2 provides our recommended guidelines for array provisioning on IBM storage subsystems.

Controller type                     LUNs per array
IBM System Storage DS4000/DS5000    1
IBM System Storage DS6000/DS8000    1 - 2
IBM Storwize V7000                  1

General considerations

vsphere5-logoLets take a look at vSphere use case scenario on top of Storwize with 16 x 600GB SAS drives in control enclosure and 10 x 2TB NL-SAS in extension enclosure (our personal case).

First of all we need to decide how many arrays we need. Do we have different workloads? No. All storage will be assigned to virtual machines which have in general the same random read/write access pattern. Do we need to isolate workloads? Probably yes, it’s generally a good idea to separate highly critical production VMs from everything else. Do we have different drive types? Yes. Obviously we don’t want to mix drive types in one RAID. Are we going to make different RAID types? Again, yes. RAID 10 is appropriate on SAS and RAID 5 on NL-SAS. So two MDisks – one RAID 10 on SAS and one RAID 5 on NL-SAS would be enough. Storwize nodes have 4 cores each. It may seem that you would benefit from 4 MDisks, but in fact you won’t. Here what Barry says:

In the case where you only have 1 or 2 HDD arrays, then the core stuff doesn’t really come into play. Its only when you get to larger systems, where you are driving more I/O than a single RAID core can handle that you need to spread them.

This is also true if you are running all SSD arrays, so 24x SSD would be best split into 4 arrays to get maximum IOPs, whereas 24x HDD are not going to saturate a single core, so (if you could create a 23+P! [ you can’t 15+P is largest we support ] then it would perform as well as 2x 11+P etc

To storage pools. In our example we have two MDisks, so you simply make two storage pools. In future if you hit performance limit, you create additional MDisks and then you have two options. If each MDisk separately is able to sustain your performance requirements, you make additional storage pools and redistribute workload between them. If you have huge load on storage and even redistribution of VMs between two arrays doesn’t help, then you better combine two MDisks of each type in its own storage pool for striping between MDisks.

Same story for number of LUNs. IBM recommends one to one LUN to MDisk relationship. But read carefully. Recommendation comes from the fact that different workloads can clash and degrade array performance. But if we have generally the same I/O patterns coming to the array it’s safe to make several LUNs on it, until latency is in the acceptable range. Moreover, when it comes to vSphere and VMFS, it’s beneficial to have at least two volumes in terms of manageability. With several LUNs you will at least have an ability to move VMs between LUNs for reconfiguration purposes. Also keep in mind that ESXi 5 hypervisor limit each host to storage queue of depth 32 per LUN. It means that if you have one big LUN and many VMs running on the host, you can quickly reach queue limit. On the other hand do not create too many LUNs or you will oversubscribe storage processors (SPs).

Sample configuration

IBM recommends constructing both RAID 10 and RAID 5 arrays from 8 drives + 1 spare drive. But since we have 16 SAS and 10 NL-SAS I would launch CLI and create two arrays: one 14 drives + 2 spares RAID 10 and one 8 drives + 2 spares RAID 5 (or 9 drives + 1 spare, but it’s not a good idea to create RAID with uneven number of drives). Each RAID in its own pool. Several LUNs in each pool. I would go for 2TB LUNs.