July 31, 2014

VMware PSP and SATP in Plain English

VMware's PSA is awash in abbreviations and options

I am often questioned during my Storage for Virtual Environments seminar presentations about VMware’s Pluggable Storage Architecture (PSA). This system is fairly straightforward and concept: VMware provides native multipathing support for a variety of storage arrays, and allows third parties to substitute their own plug-ins at various points in the stack. But the profusion of acronyms and third-party options makes it difficult for end-users to figure out what is going on.

VMware ESX SATA and PATA Compatibility Cheat Sheet

Would you run VMware ESX on SATA? You might in a lab environment! Here's what to look for.

The VMware ESX hardware compatibility list is awesome but it’s kind of hard to wade through. It’s super-detailed, but difficult to navigate if one is browsing for compatible hardware. Although SATA and especially PATA aren’t exactly mainstream in enterprise datacenters, they’re the most-likely storage attachment for labs and tinkerers like me.

VMware ESX FCoE CNA Compatibility in Plain English

Converged Networking Adapters like this QLogic 8242 are all the rage, but which are supported in VMware ESX and which have the broadest coverage of DCB features?

VMware has one awesome hardware compatibility list, but its thoroughness can be daunting. It’s fairly easy to search for a specific piece of hardware, but it’s difficult to tell what’s supported in a general sense. I’ve boiled down certain key hardware categories into a general plain-english list of what’s in and out of the ESX HCL. Let’s kick things off with FCoE CNAs.

VMware VAAI Storage Array Support in Plain English

The most exciting enhancements in VMware vSphere 4.1 is the addition of vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI). This new API allows VMware ESX to offload storage processing functions to capable storage arrays, reducing the workload on the server hardware in introducing new and exciting possibilities for performance and efficiency. VAAI in ESX 4.1 includes three separate capabilities: block zeroing, full copy, and hardware assisted locking.

A Complete List of VMware VAAI Primitives

Screen Shot 2011-11-10 at 11.12.29 AM

VMware’s introduced the “vStorage APIs for Array Integration” (VAAI) in vSphere 4.1, and block-heads like me went nuts. We’ve been trying to integrate storage and servers for decades, and VMware’s APIs finally allowed this to work in truly seamless fashion. But the world of VAAI is a thicket of bizarre naming and puzzling functionality. Some VAAI primitives are ignored or even hidden! Let’s take a look at the complete list.

What is VMware VASA? Not Much (Yet)

VASA allows a "provider" application to tag vSphere storage with a "capabilities" string

VMware is adding storage integration features to their flagship vSphere server virtualization product line at a rapid pace. From backup to enterprise array offload, VMware is staking their claim. But information about one new storage feature in vSphere 5 has been scarce: The true nature of the Storage API for Storage Awareness (VASA) is only just beginning to be revealed.

Storage Changes in VMware vSphere 5.1

VMware has packed vSphere 5.1 with features, but I'm here to talk storage!

As I have done since version 3.5, I’m charting the storage changes in VMware’s latest release of vSphere, 5.1. Unlike version 5, which included many new technical storage features, 5.1 mainly tweaks existing features and adds these new elements to the mix.