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If you don’t have the luxury of working in a team of administrators, each with his or her own specific role, managing the storage systems that underlie your virtualization platform may not be the easiest thing you do all day. In my case, I currently use mostly Dell EqualLogic arrays. One thing I will give Dell is that it provides a variety of management tools to make this function as easy as possible. Dell has recently upgraded its Virtual Storage Manager appliance, allowing for direct integration of most of the necessary tasks into the vSphere Web Client, which enables you to perform a whole host of functions across all of your storage groups without having to hop from one interface to another.
Dell Virtual Storage Manager 4.0
The Dell Virtual Storage Manager has a lot of features, but it may not do everything you are looking for. To understand why, you need to know about the other components of the EqualLogic management system. At the base level, you have Group Manager, the web-based, Java-riddled configurator for individual array groups. Here you can do all the configuration you need as long as the devices are within a single group. On the other end of the spectrum is EqualLogic SAN Headquarters, which gives you a metric boatload of data on the health and well-being of any and all EqualLogic devices you point it at, but it cannot configure anything; instead, it refers you back to Group Manager.
Dell VSM is designed to sit between the two, providing a pretty wide breadth of configuration capability for what you really need to know in terms of reporting for any and all groups you have connected to your vCenter server(s). On the storage side, this appliance allows you to manage multiple storage groups, define snapshot and replica schedules, and manage your datastores. At the VM level, you can do a storage (as opposed to vSphere) snapshot and later restore from it. This function is provided through its integration throughout the vSphere Web Client, by right-clicking a given VM and looking under the All Dell VSM Actions menu.
Finally, VSM allows you to leverage the role-based security model you’ve (hopefully) set up for your vSphere environment to manage your storage. You can create roles and only allow certain admins access to datastores, settings, and the right to manage the devices themselves.
Dell Virtual Storage Manager 4.0 - Configuration
The installation and configuration of the VSM appliance is ridiculously simple and is done much like for any other OVF template. You will need to obtain this virtual appliance from the EqualLogic support site, but once downloaded you can deploy it just as you would any appliance. Really the only hiccup I ran into was in the way Suse handles DNS servers. As you can see from the image, I chose to specify quite a few DNS servers within my environment. Something in the way the deployment script interacts with the under lying OS doesn’t like that, and it kept the integration with vSphere from happening once the appliance was started. After talking to support, my recommendation would be to keep the number of visible DNS servers to no more than two or three. Once I logged directly into the device as root (you’ll have to contact support yourself to learn how), I was able to modify the resolv.conf file and only leave two, and upon reboot all the functionality was there.