Come Novermber 27, 2015, IBM will release Spectrum controller code version 7.6. Spectrum is the name for their mid-range enterprise SAN’s. The main block controller, Spectrum Virtualize, will receive a new update adding a few new features. Also to note, the Spectrum Scale (originally called V7000 Unified) which is the Filers that can be paired
[UPDATE 1] VVols does not seem to be released just yet, there was an issue with the original release, as well as Unified Code version 1.6.0, the original was recalled, and 188.8.131.52 is currently released with a promise that VVols will be released in a future version.
VMWare VVol integration: Migration of space efficient volumes between storage containers will maintain the space efficiency of volumes and deliver resiliency for VMs in case the volumes start running out of space. Cloning a virtual machine will achieve a full independent set of virtual volumes.
Increase maximum quantity of iSCSI hosts: For more scalable iSCSI host support, version 7.6 will increase the maximum number of iSCSI host sessions from 256 to 1024 per node, offering more fanout for each SVC I/O group.
HyperSwap GUI support: Current local HyperSwap is functionally complete, but requires complex configuration through the existing command-line interface. This new release of HyperSwap offers a new command-line interface which greatly simplifies the set up process to a handful of commands, and also adds the ability to configure and manage local HyperSwap through the GUI.
Integrated Comprestimator: Real-time Compression is a key differentiator of the Storwize Family, and the Comprestimator is its key sizing tool to estimate how much capacity savings the customer can expect. The Comprestimator can analyze the patterns of the actual customer data, and estimate the compressibility of data per volume. [There was more here but it was lengthy and unnecessary]
Improvement in the worldwide support processes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week:Enhanced support includes the addition of 24-hour support response to severity 2 calls, seven days a week, for SVC, V7000, V7K Unified, and V9000 customers on November 27, 2015.
So lets cover why some of these are important updates and how you can implement VVOLs with IBM storage.
VMware Virtual Volumes:
As virtualization has continued, new advances in Network and Storage Virtualization have helped to push performance. Now we have NSX and VSAN but what about improvements for legacy SAN architectures? Virtual Volumes is that answer. Instead of individual LUNs, VVOLs will present as a single datastore and offload certain tasks like cloning to the SAN. Why does this improve anything? Think about cloning a VM. The Host starts the processes by connecting across to the SAN, reading from one volume and sending that data back down the network again to write back to the SAN. See? There are unnecessary connections back and forth to the SAN to copy the data, why not offload that task to the controller? VASA has been doing this already, and is one of the base parts of VVOLs.
Increase Maximum Number of iSCSI Hosts:
More hosts per system means improving on the density of your data center. This aligns well with VMwares increase in Hosts per cluster maximum in vSphere 6. Its a nice matching pair of updates if you ask me.
HyperSwap GUI Support:
HyperSwap was something that our Sales Engineer talked about during the last meeting with us. This is something introduced in 7.5, but the addition of GUI side management made easier helps customers take advantage of it, without having to delve into IBM’s CLI, which I think most can be grateful for.
Estimating the cost savings of storage that is compressed, this is helpful to make sure that customers and admins have the proper tools to estimate savings, usage and build an idea on what to expect on the systems they purchase.
Improvement in Worldwide support for Severity 2 Calls:
Honestly, this one is my second favorite update in the announcement. I’ve had not so great experiences with IBM support calls, and moving their Sev 2 calls to 24/7 means that although my system isn’t completely down, it will get treated with the same respect that it deserves, since it is the foundation of all our virtual infrastructure.
Last but not least, how do you deploy VVOLs with Spectrum Virtualize units?
VVOLs with IBM Spectrum Virtualize requires that you build one or more Spectrum Control servers. Spectrum Control is a proxy between the controller and vCenter. It passes VASA commands between them to allow for cloning and other operations. At this time, it requires the use of Spectrum Control and can be implemented in vCenter by configuring the IP or FQDN of Spectrum Control as a Storage Provider. This application is deployed in Linux hosts, so grab a copy of CentOS or Red Hat if you’re feeling spendy!
I’ll share a bit more after November 27 when we move to implement the new code and upgrade to VVOLs.