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This blog is intended to give you an overview of the new release Unisphere for PowerMax 9.0. This release has given us a great opportunity as we moved from the old Flex framework to the more modern and secure HTML5 design. With this green field canvas while writing a new code base we engaged pro-actively with our customers in order to have a release that is highly intuitive and offers enhanced troubleshooting capabilities while retaining its core functionality from prior releases.

 

This Agile process allowed us to receive feedback from customers while in development which allowed us to put this feedback directly into the product before we launched which allowed our customers a true sense of being listened to and having their input appear in the GA product. Significant application responsiveness has been observed in Beta customers environments already.  If you are interested in a overview video please follow this link.

 

In the upper right hand side we also have a “What’s New” section which describes some of the new features we have included in this release.

 

Upon login you are presented with the Datacentre view of Unisphere which allows you to see all of the arrays both local and remote that the Unisphere instance can see. This view comes from Unisphere360 that allows you a single pane of glass view of your environment. In the upper right hand side you have a sorter which allows you to filter by Compliance, Capacity, Health Score, IOPS, Throughput and Efficiency.

 

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On the left hand side Menu you will also see new options covering VMware and Databases. We have labelled these together as Application Awareness and we have endeavoured to give our customers more of an end to end view of their storage from their application down to the storage device. By entering read only vCenter details you can get more information on how your Esxi servers are configured with masking and mapping details down to the storage. To learn more please see here.

 

Databases encompasses Database Storage Analyser which in the previous release was a separate link and launch but has now been further integrated into the product and this feature allows customers to do advanced troubleshooting on potential Database issues. For additional details on both these topics please see this blog.

 

If we select an array we are taken to the array dashboard view which will allow you a more in-depth view of you array.

 

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With this sharp new design we are presented with an overall summary of your array across a number of categories. On the left hand side we have the various categories similar to previous versions. In the capacity section we display how much space has been subscribed and what usable capacity is left. Additionally we display efficiency scores which you can learn more about this topic here.

 

In the performance section here we present 3 KPI’s Host I/O’s, Latency and Throughput in a 4 hour window so that you can view any potential spikes in recent activity, this time window can be extended to 1 day and 2 weeks also.

 

Across the top of the screen we have 4 separate tiles System Health, SG Compliance, Capacity and Replication which I will go into more detail now.

 

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The health score gives you a % rating score for the health of your array based on a traffic light system with Green being good at 95-100%, Orange is fair at 74-94% and Poor being Red at 0-73%. This is based on 5 core factors: Configuration, Capacity, System Utilization, and Service Level Compliance and SH Response Time. The area with the highest risk to your system health will hurt your score until actions are taken towards remediation.

 

In this example we have a score of 90% as we have an SG out of compliance which has reduced it by 10%. If for example here I were to resolve this by placing this SG at a higher service level or placing a Data Exclusion window on it, my score would improve to 100%. Your score is based on taking the worst score from the issues list, -10 here and subtracting it from 100%.

 

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The next section is SG Compliance where Storage Groups listed by response times whereby you can see which SG’s are consuming the most resources on the array, you can sort alphabetically here but the feedback received from customers indicates that RT is preferred here. In the left hand column we can see which status of various SG’s are currently in. We can see we have 5 marginal SG’S and if we click here we are presented a list of the 5 SG’s in a marginal state.

 

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The next section is capacity which allows you to quickly see how much capacity your array is subscribed for, and how much of that subscribed capacity has been allocated (written). The view also shows you how efficient your array is in using Data Reduction Technologies. In this section you have the option of a toggle button where you can have a more detailed view of what’s being consumed or saved.  For more information on Data Reduction please see the following whitepaper.

 

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In the replication section we have new functionality in the Topology/Migration view where we have looked to represent a SRDF Topology view which shows a health status for your RA groups or SRDF links. Please note the ability to expand this view if needed in the upper right hand corner if you wish to view it in full size mode. If your links are down and no data is going across the link then you will go red as you will need to take corrective action. If a singular link is down or there is a problem with an RA group then the colour will go Orange and finally if all green your links are up and data is being copied across the link.

 

On the bottom of this view you will see a legend which enables you to see what mode of SRDF you are running between arrays. Finally on the left hand SG summary box you can select a SG if it is in error and drill down from here to take corrective action. If you are managing a NDM migration you can switch over in order to monitor that as it progresses.

 

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In the upper right hand side as represented by a cog icon we have the new settings section which groups together a set of systems wide preferences and configurations such as User Management, Performance Collection settings, Licensing and Alerts. Settings are available all of the time and easily accessible without navigating away from the current view or task.

 

The Role Based Access Control (RBAC) or User Authorization feature released in Unisphere for PowerMax 9.0 enables you to restrict the management operations that individual users or groups of users may perform on their Storage Arrays.

 

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Storage Administrators can have responsibility for managing a lot of backups for application owners and this work can be time consuming even with using scripts as they may get unique requests that fall outside defined windows. In order to reduce their workload and hand a certain degree of responsibility over to application owners we have created 2 new roles LocalReplication and RemoteReplication in order to provide them with the ability to perform their local and/or remote backups. These roles are strictly replication based and as always active management falls under the admin role.

 

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In the top right hand corner we have a global search facility which allows you to search across all of the arrays your Unisphere can see for a specific set of objects including Storage Groups, Initiators, Hosts, VM’s or ESXi Servers. Once selected it will open that object’s details view. In this example I am searching for SG’s called esx across my arrays.

 

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We have also provided the ability to save a provisioned Storage Group as a Provisioning Template. This will really help you when you want to provision multiple instances of similar workloads. The template takes into account the capacity and performance profile of the original saved workload, allowing you to check the system to see if another workload of this type will fit. Video example here.

 

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With this release we have given users the ability to search in columns to target what they want, here I am in the Storage Group list view and I’m looking for a SG called test and I now can just search any SG with the keyword “test”.

 

I mentioned earlier that we have retained all our core functionality that existed in previous releases but we have made significant improvements in the Performance Section.

 

On the left hand menu we have 7 categories Storage, Hosts, Data Protection, Performance, System, Events and Support. These have been improved on from the previous version but the core functionality has remained the same in these sections.

 

There are separate blogs on performance below as we have made significant changes to this section with superior usability and functionality for the customer.

 

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Performance Troubleshooting with Charts

Using the Heatmap, Reports and Plan Features

Performance troubleshooting with Dashboards

Performance Troubleshooting with Analyse

 

I hope this gave you a good introduction into the new release and for a full list of all of our content please visit our community page here.

Feature Overview


The Role Based Access Control (RBAC) or User Authorization feature released in Unisphere for PowerMax 9.0 enables you to restrict the management operations that individual users or groups of users may perform on their Storage Arrays.

In previous versions of Unisphere authentication was array wide. This set of enhancements will provide the following:

  • More granular support by giving the rights to operate on individual applications (Storage Groups) to application administrators, but not the entire array. 
  • Provides the administrator with the ability to further target user access to specific replication roles whether that is local or remote.
  • RESTAPI integration allowing associated scripts to take advantage of these RBAC controls to simplify the management stack and overall maintenance as well as eliminate the need to deploy Solutions Enabler gatekeeper devices.

 

RBAC Roles

 

It is managed using Unisphere for VMAX, Unisphere for PowerMax, or the Solutions Enabler CLI symauth command. Using symauth, a user or group of users, may be mapped to a specific access role, which defines the operations that these users are permitted to perform on the entire VMAX array.

There are currently 7 user defined roles that are available with RBAC: None, Monitor, PerfMonitor, StorageAdmin, SecurityAdmin, Admin, and Auditor. Listed below are the base capabilities of these current roles:

 

  • None No capabilities
  • Monitor Performs read-only operations on an array excluding the ability to read the audit log or Access Control definitions.
  • PerfMonitor Includes Monitor role permissions and grants additional privileges within the performance component of Unisphere for VMAX application to set up various alerts and update thresholds to monitor array performance.
  • StorageAdmin Perform all management and control functions. Please see specific section pertaining to this role below.
  • Auditor Grants the ability to view, but not modify, security settings for an array (including reading the audit log, symacl list and symauth) in addition to all monitor operations. This is the minimum role required to view the array audit log.


It’s important to clarify that your Storage_Admin role will remain your “Super user” and will remain sole control of provisioning storage on the array. To clarify this further here is a diagram which will outline the various roles and how they interact with one another:


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How to configure RBAC


In order to set RBAC you will need go to the settings section and then Users and Groups and then Local Users.

 

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To outline the feature I will now outline a number of the potential use cases it will be used for. 

 

Performance Monitor Role


In a situation whereby a new junior storage administrator joins the team you want them to learn more about the array but you are also conscious of giving them too much responsibility before they have a good understanding of the storage. By allowing them these privileges you enable them to do performance troubleshooting within Unisphere and also adjust various thresholds and alerts if required. This will allow them to get a good grounding of the architecture before they move on to active management of the array.

 

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Security Role


  Increasingly security plays an integral part of the management of the today’s data center. In order to allow the security team to do their job they need the ability to view certain logs and run certain query commands such as symaudit in order to check the system to see if there are any potential vulnerabilities or if some user has been doing something they should not have been performing due to the incorrect permissions being set. The 2 roles SecurityAdmin and Auditor should satisfy the security team’s needs in this respect. They will not have any active management or replications roles as they don’t require them to do their jobs. 


Application Owner Role


Storage Administrators can have responsibility for managing a lot of backups for application owners and this work can be time consuming even with using scripts as they may get unique requests that fall outside defined windows. In order to reduce their workload and hand a certain degree of responsibility over to application owners we have created 2 new roles LocalReplication and RemoteReplication in order to provide them with the ability to perform their local and/or remote backups. These roles are strictly replication based and as always active management falls under the admin role. 

 

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For these replication roles we allow you the granularity of selecting individual SG’s. Here I have selected App1_SG as that is the one the user is responsible for. Here you also have a wildcard option whereby if you had an application owner with multiple sg’s that were labelled oracle_trading you could assign privileges to all of these in 1 click.

 

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You also have the ability to manage RBAC through your RESTAPI or symcli as required. For a useful video on RBAC please check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V7KidifeA4

 

For a more detailed deep dive on RBAC please see this whitepaper: https://www.emc.com/collateral/technical-documentation/h17132-role-based-access-controls-rbac-technical-overview-and-enhancements.pdf

One of the most critical areas for any Storage Administrator is monitoring and planning the capacity growth of your system so that you can plan your needs accordingly. To make this easier you can create reports within Unisphere with the categories you wish to monitor. This allows you to automate the process and get a tailored report sent to you each week and also other colleagues as required.

 

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To begin we just give the report a name and description which makes it identifiable, here we have chosen Capacity Report 0156. For the time frame we have adjusted it to cover the time period of the last week. Also for generated time zone you need to adjust it the time zone the array is located so the numbers make sense.

 

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Next we need to add the metrics that we want to focus on around capacity such as Usable, Subscribed and snapshot Capacity. In Data Format we want to capture average and maximum values so we select both.

 

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In the set schedule screen we need to select it to be run evrey week and then specify when to run it. We have choosen 04:59 each Sunday night as this is outside our normal change control window and at a time where the system will not be heavily used.

 

 

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In order to specify who the report will be emailed to we just need to specify a valid email address and it will land in that person’s email inbox.

 

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Alerting on your Capacity growth in Unisphere 9.0


Another critical factor in monitoring your capacity growth is to enable alerts to allow you to get notifications on when you reach certain levels of utilization on your system. To do this you need to go to the settings icon in the upper right hand corner.

 

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We have a number of options here but for this particular use case we want to focus on Storage Resource Pool Utilization.


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Here we select the SRP we want to monitor and we have 3 separate watermarks Warning, Critical and Fatal. You can adjust your settings as you require in order to inform you as the capacity of your array grows.

 

Hopefully you found this useful and it will help you track and monitor your Array Capacity.