Wednesday Mar 10, 2010

Sun Storage 7000 Hardware Provider for Microsoft VSS

The release of 2010.Q1 for Sun Storage 7000 Appliances brings a wide variety of new features to the appliance family, including an increased number of ways appliances are integrated directly into storage ecosystems. In addition to the Sun Storage 7000 Management Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Controller 1.0, Q1 2010 brings integration with Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) through the Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS Software 1.0.

For those that have a Microsoft Windows operating environment and are not familiar with Microsoft VSS, it is basically a framework that facilitates creating fast and consistent snapshots of volumes through the coordination of the applications doing backup-type operations (readers, also known as a requestor) and the applications that are writing to volumes (writers). In layman's terms, this facility built into the Microsoft Windows Platforms gives the ability for an application like Symantec NetBackup Advanced Client to take a snapshot of a volume that is being actively used by an application like Oracle Database or Microsoft Exchange. The reader notifies the framework that it would like to take a snapshot. The framework notifies applications that they need to coalesce. The applications complete their coalescing and the framework tells the reader to go. When complete, the framework releases the application to continue writing. An abstract illustration of the environment is shown here:

The whole process of coalescing and taking a snapshot of a volume can take only a few seconds (more depending on how complex the coalesce and snapshot operations are).

For efficiency, storage appliances (like Sun Storage 7000 Appliances) create a "Hardware Provider", also known as a "VSS Block Target Provider". The Hardware Provider takes over the snapshot and clone operations based on the GUID of a SCSI LUN (in our case for Release 1.0, this is iSCSI only, Fibre Channel is not supported).

Installation of the Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS is through the InstallShield package downloaded from the Oracle Corp. Download Site (this site contains the Sun domain ID if you notice those types of things). The installation process should be straightforward and results in a new folder accessible from the "Start" menu (Start -> All Programs -> Sun Microsystems, Inc. -> Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS). In this folder are two entries: a README.txt (required reading ... seriously) and the Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS ConfigUtil. This latter entry (the ConfigUtil) is also placed on the desktop for quick access.

To verify the hardware provider is registered with the Microsoft VSS Framework, find a command prompt and type "vssadmin list providers". As shown in the following screen capture, this results in a printout of registered providers that will include entry for the Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS. The Version number you will see in an original installation is 1.0.10.

This means that backup application, such as Symantec NetBackup Advanced Client, can set up policies that leverage the hardware provider for fast snapshots. There is one more setup operation that must be completed before the policy will successfully complete. The Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS uses a combination of "Management Path" and "Data Path" operations to achieve snapshot and clones of iSCSI Volumes.

The "Management Path" credentials to any Sun Storage 7000 Appliances supplying iSCSI LUNs to the Microsoft Windows client must be entered through the "Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS ConfigUtil". From the Microsoft Windows platform that is consuming the iSCSI LUNs and has the Hardware Provider installed, open the ConfigUtil (form the Start Menu or the Desktop). Use the DNS names of Sun Storage 7000 Appliances or IP Addresses (I prefer IP Addresses), enter each Sun Storage 7000 Appliance Management Path along with User ID and Passwords given to you by the storage administrator for each appliance. Tap the shoulder of the Storage Administrator and remind them you could use a non-root User ID as guided by the README.txt in the download. Most access rights can be removed from the User ID though they do need to have a role that facilitates snapshot creation and clone creation for the shares that you access. Use the template in the README.txt for a starting point.

This screen capture shows the entry of credentials:

Once the credentials are entered properly, access from applications is seamless.

Look for specific documentation on using Hardware Providers with the specific applications that you use on the Microsoft Windows platform. Because VSS is a framework, you may have products that utilize the framework that we did not specifically test in our labs. The README.txt in the download contains a list of applications that we have run using the provider.

Conclusion


The Sun Storage 7000 Provider for VSS Software 1.0 is a Hardware Provider that plugs into the Microsoft VSS Framework on Microsoft Windows 2003 and 2008, 64-bit or 32-bit variations. Using the provider, backup applications and other requestors can make snapshots and clones directly on Sun Storage 7000 Appliances for iSCSI LUNs consumed by the Microsoft Windows Client on the system that the Hardware Provider is installed on. The installation of the provider is quick and you should verify that it was registered with the Microsoft VSS Framework. You must then enter User ID and Password information for each target Sun Storage 7000 Appliance. No further intervention with the Microsoft VSS Framework is necessary from that point forward and the primary work you'll do is configure your Backup Applications to make use of the Hardware Provider through Backup Policies.

For additional reading, use the following resources:

Monitoring the Sun Storage 7000 Appliance from Oracle Grid Control

Over the past few months I've blogged on various monitoring and alerting topics for Sun Storage 7000 Appliances. Besides my favorite of the blogs (Tweeting your Sun Storage 7000 Appliance Alerts), the culmination of this monitoring work is now available as the Sun Storage 7000 Management Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Controller 1.0, for use with the just shipped 2010.Q1 software release for the Sun Storage 7000 Appliance Family. Phew, that's a bit of a mouthful for a title but I'll just refer to it as the SS7000MPfOEMGC, does that help? Well, maybe not ;-)

Sun Storage 7000 Management Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Controller creates a coupling between the enterprise-wide monitoring provided by Oracle Grid Control and the monitoring and analytics provided by Sun Storage 7000 Appliances. If you are not familiar with Oracle Grid Control, there is a nice write-up within the Installation and Configuration Guide for Oracle Grid Control. In a nutshell, Oracle Grid Control aids in monitoring your vertical data center rather than simply being an aggregation of horizontal health information. The documentation describes it as software and the infrastructure it runs on but I would simply call it a "Vertical Data Center Monitoring Environment".

The goal of the plug-in to Oracle Grid Control is to facilitate a Database Administrator in their use of Sun Storage 7000 Appliances without attempting to reproduce the world-class analytics available within Sun Storage 7000 Appliances. In other words, the goal is to create a bridge between the world of Database Administration and the world of Storage Administration with just enough information so the two worlds can have dialog about the environment. Specifically, the Plug-in for Sun Storage 7000 Appliances is targeted at the following tasks:


  • Connecting Database deployments with Sun Storage 7000 resources that provide storage infrastructure to the database
  • Understanding the performance metrics of a Database from the perspective of the Appliance (what cache resources are being used for a database, what network resources and the performance being delivered, and how various storage abstractions are being used by the database)
  • Providing a Federated view of Sun Storage 7000 Appliances deployed in the environment (including storage profiles and capacities, network information and general accounting information about the appliances)
  • Providing detailed performance metrics for use in initial service delivery diagnostics (these metrics are used to have more detailed conversations with the Storage Administrator when additional diagnostics are required)

Let's take a look at one of the more interesting scenarios as a simple way of showing the plug-in at work rather than reproducing the entire Installation Guide in blog-form.

Download the Plug-in for Sun Storage 7000 Appliances, Unzip the downloaded file, and read the Installation Guide included with the plug-in.

Follow the instructions for installing, deploying the plug-in to agents and adding instances of Sun Storage 7000 Appliances to the environment for monitoring. Each instance added takes about 60 minutes to fully populate with information (this is simply the nature of this being a polling environment and the plug-in is set-up to monitor data sets that don't change often less frequently ... 60 minutes ... than data sets that do change frequently ... 10 minute intervals).

Once data is funneling in, all of the standard appliance-centric views of the information are available (including the individual metrics that the plug-in collects) as well as a view of some of the important high-level information presented on the home page for an instance (provided you are using Oracle Grid Control 10.2.0.5). Here is a view of a single appliance instance's home page:

Looking into the Metrics collected for an appliance brings you to a standard displays of single metrics (as shown below) or tables of related metrics (all standard navigation in Oracle Grid Controller for plug-in components).

Included in the plug-in for Sun Storage 7000 Appliances are 5 reports. Of these reports, 3 run against a single instance of a Sun Storage 7000 Appliance and are available from both the context of the single instance and the Oracle Grid Control Reports Tab while 2 run against all monitored instances of Sun Storage 7000 Appliances and are only available from the Reports Tab. Among the 5 Reports are 2 that combine information about Databases deployed against NFS mount points and Sun Storage 7000 Appliances that export those NFS mount points. The two reports are:


  • Database to Appliance Mapping Report - Viewable from a single target instance or the Reports Tab, this report shows databases deployed against NFS shares from a single Sun Storage 7000 Target Instance
  • Federated Database to Appliance Mapping Report - Viewable only from the Reports Tab, this report shows databases deployed against NFS shares from all monitored Sun Storage 7000 Appliances

Looking at the "Master" (top-level) Database to Appliance Mapping Report (shown below) you will see a "Filter" (allowing you to scope the information in the table to a single Database SID) and a table that correlates the filtered Database SID to Network File Systems shared by specific appliances along with the Storage IP Address that the share is accessed through, the appliance's Storage Network Interface and the name that the appliance is referred to as throughout this Grid Control instance.

From the Master report, 4 additional links are provided to more detailed information that is filtered to the appliance abstraction that is used by the Database SID. The links in the columns navigate in the following way:


  • Database Link - This link takes the viewer to a drill-down table that shows all of the files deployed on the shares identified in the first table. With this detail report, and administrator could see exactly what files are deployed where. The table also contains the three links identified next.
  • Network File System - Takes the viewer down to a detailed report showing metadata about the share created on the appliance, how the cache is used (ARC and L2ARC) for this share and general capacity information for the share.
  • Storage IP Address - Takes the viewer to the Metric Details that relate to the appliance configuration (serial number, model, etc...).
  • Storage Network Interface - Takes the viewer to metadata about the network interface as well as reports on the Network Interface KB/sec and NFS Operations Per Second (combined with the NFS Operations Per Second that are allocated to serving the share that the database resides on)

The detail reports for the Network File System and Storage Network Interface (both of which are not directly accessible from the Reports Tab) use a combination of current metrics and graphical time-axis data, as shown in the following report:

Wherever applicable, the Detail Reports drill further into Metric Details (that could also be accessed through an appliance instance target home page).

It is important to note that several of these reports combine a substantial amount of data into a single page. This approach can create rather lengthy report generation times (in worst case scenarios up to 5 minutes). It is always possible to view individual metrics through the monitoring home page. As metric navigation is much more focused and relates to a single metric, metric navigation always performs faster and is preferred unless the viewer is looking for a more complex assembly of information. With the reports, an administrator can view network performance and storage performance side by side which may be more helpful in diagnosing service delivery issues than navigating through single metric data points.

In addition to a substantial number of collected metrics there are several alerts that are generated on various appliance thresholds that can occur throughout the operation of target appliances.

Conclusion


Oracle Grid Control gives a fully integrated view of the "Vertical" data center, combining software infrastructure with hardware infrastructure (including storage appliances). Sun Storage 7000 Management Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Controller 1.0 presents Sun Storage 7000 Appliances within the vertical context and presents metrics and reports tailored specifically towards Sun Storage 7000 Appliances as viewed by a Database Administrator. For more information on the plug-in and software discussed in this entry:

About

pmonday

Search

Categories
Archives
« March 2010
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
   
       
Today