vStorage APIs for Array Integration – NFS


If you’re an EMC customer for our mid-tier platforms and you are using an EMC VNX solution to server your vSphere environment, this blog post is for you! I will show you how you install the VAAI for NFS Host Extension and how you can leverage some of its features.

The feature set is as follows:

  • NFS File Cloning
  • NFS Extended Stats
  • NFS Reserve Space

Prepare your Environment

The best way to install the VAAI for NFS-plugin is to use VMware Update Manager (VUM) since you need an additional extension from EMC to make it work. You can get this extension from Powerlink. You need to have a valid Powerlink account. In Powerlink browse to HOME • SUPPORT • SOFTWARE DOWNLOADS AND LICENSING • DOWNLOADS A-B • ADAPTERS FOR THIRD-PARTY APPLICATIONS. Download the file called vSphere Storage APIs for Array Integration(VAAI) Plug-in.

After you’ve successfully downloaded the file please verify your VNX is meeting the requirements for the plugin to work. Open a terminal or putty session and log in to the Control Station of your VNX (ssh -l nasadmin IP address). Use the command nas_version to display the version that is running on VNX. If it returns a value of 7.0.40-1 or later you’re good to go. Otherwise, upgrade to the latest version, first. If you have a valid EMC Support contract, you can open a support ticket to get help.

Installing the Host Extension

Start VUM via VMware vCenter (HOME • UPDATE MANAGER). Go to the tab PATCH MANAGEMENT • IMPORT PATCHES. Browse for the file EMCNasPlugin-1.0-10.zip and click Next.

Vaiipatch

Verify that it is the correct patch, then click on Finish.

Vaaipatchverify

The next step is to create a new baseline. Navigate to BASELINES AND GROUPS • CREATE…. This will open a new wizard. Give your new baseline a name and declare it as Host Extension.

Vaaihostext

Search for the plugin named EMCNasPlugin-1.0-10.zip, select it, and add it to the field Extensions to Add. Verify your selection, once again and click on Finish.

Vaaipatchselect

In vCenter go to HOSTS AND CLUSTERS • your cluster • UPDATE MANAGER • ATTACH…. Select the baseline you just created (EMC VAAI for NFS) to add it to your cluster. Click on Scan… left to Attach… for scanning recently added patches and extensions. Repeat this step for every ESX cluster that leverages VNX File.

Vaaibaseline

Next you have to take each of your ESXi-hosts into maintenance mode according to the policies applied for VMware High Availability (if unsure go one by one). You can apply the patch to a host in maintenance mode by clicking on Remediate…. It is a good practice to accept the defaults of the wizard that pops up. The only change to the defaults I recommend to override the Admission Control policies for VMware High Availability to avoid unwanted behavior during the upgrade. The installation of the plugin needs a reboot of the ESXi host. If the installation was successful you will see a green status light on Host Compliance. You’re done. Congratulations!

Vaaiprimitiv

If you like to follow video instructions on how to install the plugin, please watch it here. Thank you, Itzik.

Checking out the Primitives

NFS File Cloning

Open a terminal or putty session and log in to one of your ESXi hosts, directly (ssh -l nasadmin IP address). If you are unsuccessful in logging in, you need to enable the ssh-service on your host, first. This can either be done from the console or in VMware vCenter. You can start the ssh-service in VMware vCenter via esxi-host • CONFIGURATION • SECURITY PROFILE • SERVICES • PROPERTIES • OPTIONS.
First, let’s check whether VAAI is support on your host. On the command prompt of your ESXi host type in esxcli storage nfs list. It will return a value in Hardware Acceleration that says supported.

Vaaicli

If that’s true, create your first clone of a Virtual Disk with the command vmkfstools -I yourVD.vmdk yourVD-clone.vmdk. Follow the commands outlined below to understand and learn the effect of NFS File Cloning:

/vmfs/volumes/c8ed541d-1f86d2d8/myvm # vmkfstools -I myvm.vmdk myvm-clone.vmdk
/vmfs/volumes/c8ed541d-1f86d2d8/vc4 # vmkfstools --extendedstat myvm.vmdk
Capacity bytes: 42949672960
Used bytes: 11625676800
Unshared bytes: 11625676800
/vmfs/volumes/c8ed541d-1f86d2d8/myvm # vmkfstools --extendedstat myvm-clone.vmdk
Capacity bytes: 42949672960
Used bytes: 11625676800
Unshared bytes: 0

The command vmkfstools --extendedstat myVD.vmdk returns the capacity of the Virtual Disk you chose for cloning. You can use the same command to show the statistics of your clone. The returned value on Unshared Bytes is the one you should draw your attention to. It shows how many bytes the clone really consumes. The value should be 0 after you created a clone.

NFS Reserve Space

Using the VAAI primitives you are allowed to create Thick Provisioned Virtual Disks, which is great if you want to reserve space on your file system that is mounted and exported via NFS. In order to see this effect you need to create a new Virtual Machine or add a new Virtual Disk for a Virtual Machine that resides on a NFS datastore. See the picture, below.

Vaaieffect

This is it! Enjoy the NFS VAAI primitives!

2 thoughts on “vStorage APIs for Array Integration – NFS

  1. Naresh

    Can somebody please let me know this software location for
    VAAI for NFS-plugin is to use VMware Update Manager (VUM

  2. Hi Naresh, you need to download them from support.emc.com. Browse for a file called EMCNasPlugin-1.0-11.zip . You need an EMC Powerlink-account to be able to get them, else ask your EMC Partner or Sales Rep. VNX needs to be on min version 7.0.35.x. You need to install them on every single ESXi host accessing your NFS Datastores by either using VUM or directly on the ESXi host (copy to /tmp and use the following command: esxcli software vib install -d file://$PWD/EMCNasPlugin-1.0-11.zip. Hope this helps!

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