Install the Dell Compellent VAAI plugin on your ESXi 4.1 hosts using the VMware vMA

Somewhere since version 5.5.x of the Dell Compellent Storage Center software, 2 VAAI primitives, ‘Zero Block’ and ‘UNMAP’, are supported in ESX(i). In ESXi 5, VAAI will be active out of the box and these 2 primitives will be working without any action needed. In ESXi 4.1, you’ll have to install a plugin to get the ‘Zero Block’ VAAI primitive working. The ‘UNMAP’ primitive will be available in ESXi 5 only. From Storage Center 6, the ‘Full Clone’ and ‘ATS’ primitives will also be supported for both ESXi versions.

Because I’m switching from thin provisioned to thick provisioned eager zeroed disks and therefor will be inflating a lot of VMDK’s, the ‘Zero Block’ VAAI primitive will potentially save me alot of waiting time. When creating new VMDKs there will also besignificant time savings.  The reason for switching to thick disks is because we have thin provisioning on the Dell Compellent SAN.

Using thick disks instead of thin disks will therefor cost no extra space but on the other hand, will improve performance because ESXi will not issue a SCSI lock when the disks has to be increased in size. Datastores can’t be over provisioned anymore, so there is also one less thing to monitor as a sysadmin.

Let’s get things going. First download the VAAI plugin from the Dell Compellent site (you’ll have to have an account). I recommend you read the included PDF file. This includes usefull install information. Now log into the vMA.

If you want to see the current VAAI status of your ESXi machine, execute the command:

esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root vaai device list

You’ll probably see nothing returned. If you execute the command

esxcli vaai device list

on the ESXi server, you’ll probably get similar results as the screenshot below

‘Unknown’ means ‘VAAI is supported on your storage array but not enabled in ESXi’.

Use the command

esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root corestorage claimrule list –claimrule-class=VAAI

on thevMA to show all VAAI plugins. DELL_VAAIP_COMPELLENT should not be present. If it is, first uninstall it! See the PDF for instructions.

Next, upload the Dell Compellent VAAI plugin dell-vaaip-compellent-1-offline_bundle-518180.zip to the vMA. I use WinSCP. Log into the vMA and issue this command to make sure the plugin is compatible and not yet installed:

vihostupdate –server <server FQDN> –username root –scan –bundle ./dell-vaaip-compellent-1-offline_bundle-518180.zip

The result should be something like this

Install the bundle using the command

vihostupdate –server <server FQDN> –username root –install –bundle ./dell-vaaip-compellent-1-offline_bundle-518180.zip

Reboot the server using the command

vicfg-hostops –server <server FQDN> –username root –operation reboot

After the reboot, execute the following commands to enable and load the VAAI plugin

esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root corestorage claimrule add –claimrule-class=Filter –plugin=VAAI_FILTER –type=vendor –vendor=COMPELNT –autoassign
esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root corestorage claimrule add –claimrule-class=VAAI –plugin=DELL_VAAIP_COMPELLENT –type=vendor –vendor=COMPELNT –autoassign
esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root corestorage claimrule load –claimrule-class=Filter
esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root corestorage claimrule load –claimrule-class=VAAI
esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root corestorage claimrule run –claimrule-class=Filter

You shouldn’t receive any errors

Now verify the plugin is working by using the command

esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root vaai device list

again. If everything went as it should, you’ll end up with something like this

Use the command

esxcli –server <server FQDN> –username root corestorage claimrule list –claimrule-class=VAAI

to show all VAAI plugins. DELL_VAAIP_COMPELLENT should now be present.

 

To be sure, reboot your ESXi server and check again. The plugin should still be in use.

This concludes our exercise =)

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About Yuri de Jager
Technology Addict

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