VPLEX has been an hugh success for EMC customers and I have to admit, when we started shipping XtremIO, I didn’t expect it to be such a popular solution for our XtremIO customers as well, I was wrong. It turned out that many of the customers who already took a leap of faith with us, took another one and decided to go Active / Active with their datacenters, come to think about it, it makes sense, you are already investing money in flash technologies, why won’t you ensure its actually being utilized across both of your datacenters…

Since day 1 we heard you our customers loud and clear, you loved the technology but you were asking to integrate it even further, you didn’t want to provision the luns and the extents manually, you wanted to do it all from the same place, so today I’m really happy to see this feedback manifest itself as a GA feature (across with many others) to the VPLEX 5.5 release!

VPLEX VIAS (Integrated Array Services Enhancements)

The VPLEX Integrated Array Services (VIAS) feature enables VPLEX to provision storage for EMC VMAX, VNX, and now also XtremIO storage arrays directly from the VPLEX CLI, UI, and REST API.
VPLEX uses Array Management Providers (AMPs) to streamline provisioning and allows you to provision a VPLEX virtual volume from a pool on the storage array.
The VIAS feature uses the Storage Management Initiative-Specification (SMI-S) provider to communicate with the arrays that support integrated services to enable provisioning. The SMI-S
provider is used for VMAX and VNX. After the SMI-S provider is configured, you can register the SMI-S provider with VPLEX as the
Array Management Provider (AMP). When the registration is complete, the managed arrays, pools and storage groups are visible in VPLEX, and you can provision virtual volumes from those pools
and assign storage groups. The pools used for provisioning must have been previously created on the storage array, as VIAS does not create the pools for provisioning.
VPLEX 5.5 also supports a REST AMP used with XtremIO arrays.

VIAS allows administrators to provision storage using a single management interface. The VPLEX 5.5 release continues to build on the VIAS momentum from the VPLEX 5.3 and 5.4 releases and
enables more VIAS usability enhancements along with support for VMAX3 Service Level objectives (SLO) and XtremIO provisioning.
Provisioning storage from VPLEX is made easier for the administrator when using VMAX, VNX and
XtremIO arrays. It is time-efficient and allows an end-to-end stack integration.
VPLEX must be zoned to the arrays. Administrators can provision volumes from existing pools directly from VPLEX. VPLEX communicates with arrays to create volumes from pools and masks
them to VPLEX. Volumes are imported into VPLEX. Once imported, VPLEX can present these volumes to host(s) as virtual volumes.

To use the VIAS feature, first register an array management provider with VPLEX. Second, register the initiators that access VPLEX storage. Third, create a storage view that includes virtual
volumes, initiators and VPLEX ports to control host access to the virtual volumes. Fourth, use the Provision-from-Pools wizard to select storage pools from which to create the virtual volumes and
storage groups for the virtual volumes. These steps can be performed in Unisphere for VPLEX or the VPLEX CLI.
Consult the VPLEX Administration Guide and supporting white papers for planning,
implementation and best practices. Make sure that you are familiar with the pools on the array before provisioning storage.

The VPLEX Integrated Array Service (VIAS) uses the REST AMP type for the XtremIO array support. The AMP is a VPLEX construct created for each XtremIO array. As a prerequisite, the
VPLEX and XtremIO array need to be zoned following best practices. The REST AMP supporting VIAS with XtremIO arrays does not require additional software. The
provider is on the XtremIO array itself. You need to register the AMP as type REST within VPLEX.
Each XtremIO array is registered for VIAS in a 1-to-1 relationship with a VPLEX cluster. Multiple XtremIO arrays need to be individually registered in VPLEX. This is different from SMI-S AMPs
where multiple storage arrays are managed by the SMI-S provider, then the SMI-S provider is registered with VPLEX.
Once successfully registered provisioning jobs can be created. VPLEX with VIAS can provision XtremIO volumes, import them, then create and provide virtual volumes to application hosts.
The Integrated Array Services of VPLEX 5.5 support the XtremIO 3.x and 4.x releases while new features of 4.x are not supported.

Use Unisphere for VPLEX and select Register under Array Management Providers in Provision
Storage. This opens the Register Array Management Provider window. When registering the REST AMP
for an XtremIO array, select the correct Provider Type from the drop down list. Select an array from the Array drop down menu.
Select the XtremIO array and fill in the other mandatory fields as well. Remember that each XtremIO AMP needs to be individually registered.

Next, during the REST AMP registration process, the user is required to accept the array certificate. The SSL certificate is mandatory for VIAS to work with the XtremIO array as HTTPS is
used to communicate.

After accepting the certificate, you should see the REST AMP provider in the list of registered
Array Management Providers. Continue with the following steps to set up VPLEX to provision storage. (click-2)Register Initiators
and Create Storage View might already have been done before the configuration of array management providers. Manual provisioning on the storage arrays is possible, but would need
several more steps. VIAS simplifies the storage provisioning. Step 2 in Step-by-Step: Using VPLEX to Provision Storage shows Register Initiators. The initiators (application hosts) that will access VPLEX storage need to be registered. Step 3 is used
to create storage views. Storage views include the initiators and VPLEX ports to control host
access to virtual volumes. Step 4 launches Provision Storage. This provisioning wizard guides you through provisioning
storage and exposing the storage to hosts.

In the Provision Storage Wizard you need to select an existing VPLEX consistency group or create a new one. If the provisioning is done in the CLI, the CG has to already exist when running the
command. The storage being provisioned through this wizard is added to the selected or newly created CG.
The selection of the CG determines where and how the Storage Provision wizard will create storage.

Depending on the consistency group selected, volumes are local or distributed. Additionally, local mirroring can be selected.
Other details entered in this step are capacity per volume, a volume base name and the job name.

Under Storage, the storage array and one corresponding storage pool is selected. XtremIO does not use the concept of pools. In order to provide consistency across all array types, a default pool
is created for each array named DefaultPool. Each XtremIO array will have this default pool. Storage Groups can be automatically assigned, or when the drop down is changed to Select from
list, then the XtremIO initiator groups are presented as storage groups in VPLEX. Only the initiator groups containing VPLEX ports are shown.

The next step lets you select a storage view. Through the Storage View the provisioned storage
is exposed to hosts. The provisioned storage does not have to be assigned to a storage view, in which case no host is
able to access the virtual volume.

The Review screen allows you to look at the job details before the job is started. The Provision Storage button starts the job.

The results can be viewed by using the provided link for the job status. This opens the Provision
Jobs Status window. Select the job from the jobs list and open the Provision Job Properties window. The job status indicates if the job is still running or is completed. Creating storage on XtremIO arrays through VIAS is extremely fast and might only take seconds.

Through the VIAS storage provisioning, multiple configuration changes on the XtremIO array occurred:
A VPLEX_VIAS volume folder was created, the folder name format is: VPLEX_VIAS_<TLAID>_<ID>. The VIAS created XtremIO volumes names begin with VPLEX and include the base name entered
in the wizard, making it easy to identify the volumes. Furthermore, the details of the XtremIO volumes show a tag for the VPLEX-VIAS created volumes. The volumes were then mapped to the VPLEX initiator group.

Details in Unisphere for VPLEX under the Array Management Providers show the AMP for the XtremIO array, details on the XtremIO array name, the default pool and the storage group used.

The Storage View in Unisphere for VPLEX shows the storage view that was selected for the job and the added virtual volumes that were created from the XtremIO volumes.

The VPLEX command line can also be used to register the REST AMP for the XtremIO array. All the information needed in the GUI is used here in the command. The password of the XtremIO array needs to be entered twice. The certificate is displayed and needs to be confirmed.

Once the AMP is registered, the command ll storage-groups/ lists the VPLEX storage group
(=initiator group) to be used for the provisioning command. Only initiator groups with VPLEX
initiators are displayed. The command ll storage-pools/ lists the storage pool to be used when provisioning storage
on the XtremIO array. It will always be the pool DefaultPool specifically created to stay consistent with other storage arrays.

Here’s a demo of VIAS and XtremIO

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