Installing the IBM XIV VASA Provider for VMware

If you have combined vSphere 5.0 with XIV, then you may want to try out the new IBM Storage Provider for VMware VASA (vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness).   You can download the installation instructions, the release notes and the current version of the IBM VASA provider from here.  Clearly because VASA is introduced in vSphere 5.0 your VMware vCenter also needs to be on version 5.0.

Now IBM have had a vCenter plugin for a very long time (which I have written about here, here and here) and while you still need that plugin if you want to do storage volume creation and mapping from within vCenter (as opposed to using the XIV GUI), the VASA provider makes storage awareness more native to vCenter.  This is a very important step.  It means instead of using vendor added icons and tabs (like the IBM Storage icon and the IBM Storage tab that are added by the IBM Storage Management Console for vCenter), you just use the default vCenter tabs.

Right now version 1.1.1 of the IBM VASA provider delivers information about storage topology, capabilities, and state, as well as events and alerts to VMware.   This means you will see new additional information in three tabs:  Storage Views, Alarms and Events.

After installing and setting up the VASA provider,  in vCenter select your VMware cluster, go to the Storage Views tab and select the view Show all SCSI Volumes (LUNs) there are four columns with more information.   The CommittedThin Provisioned informationStorage Array and Identifier on Array (indicated with red arrows) comes straight from the XIV (hit the Update button at upper right if you are not seeing anything yet).   This is really useful information as it lets you correlate the SCSI ID of a LUN to an actual volume on a source array.   Here is a cut-down view of that extra information:

If you want a larger screen capture you can find one here.

The Task & Events and Alarms tabs will also now contain events reported by the VASA provider such as thin provisioning threshold alerts (although if you have just installed the provider you may see nothing new, as nothing has occurred yet to provoke an alert or event).

As usual I have some handy tips on the steps you will need to take to get VASA going:

  1. First up you will need to identify a virtual machine to run the provider on (or just create a new one).   I chose to deploy a new instance of Windows 2008 from a template.  Because the VASA provider communicates to vCenter via an Apache Tomcat server listening on port 8443, that port needs to be free and unblocked.  This also means you should not run the VASA provider in the same instance of Windows as the vCenter server (see below for more information as to why).
  2. Download the  IBM Storage Provider for VMware VASA as per the link above (use version 1.1.1, see the user comments in this post for details about a bug in version 1.1.0).
  3. Install the provider in the Windows VM you created in step 1.   The tasks are detailed in the Installation Instructions, but it is a simple follow-your-nose application installation.  As per most XIV software packages, it will install a runtime environment (xPYV which is Python) as part of the install. 
  4. Now we need to define the credentials that VMware vCenter will use to authenticate to the IBM VASA Storage Provider.  These should be unique (and are not an XIV userid and password – this is only between vCenter and the provider software).  In my example I use xivvasa and pa55w0rd.  The truststore password is used to encrypt the username and password details (so that they are not stored in plain text).   Open a Windows command prompt (make sure to right select and open it as an Administrator) and enter the following commands:
     cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\IBM Storage Provider for VMware VASA\bin" 
    vasa_util register -u xivvasa -p pa55w0rd -t changeit

    Don’t close the command prompt, because we now need to define the XIV to the IBM VASA provider.

  5. You need the IP address of your XIV and a valid user and password on the XIV that can be used to logon to the XIV.   So in this example my XIV is using 10.1.60.100 and I am using the default admin username and password (which I know does not set a good  example).   This is the command you need to run:
    vasa_util add -i 10.1.60.100 -u admin -p adminadmin 

    If this command fails, reporting your firmware is invalid, you are probably using the original 1.1.0 version of the VASA provider.  Go back to the IBM Fix Central website and make sure you have the latest version (at least version 1.1.1).  If it reports the firmware cannot be read, make sure you are running the Command Prompt as an Administrator.

  6. Once you successfully added the XIV to the provider, you need to restart the Apache webserver.   Do this by starting the services.msc panel and looking for the Apache Tomcat IBMVASA service as pictured below.  Stop it and then start it.   Once you have done that you can logoff from the VASA VM.
  7. Now connect to your vSphere Client (which needs to be on at least version 5.0.0) and from the Home panel, open the Storage Providers panel.Then select the option to Add a new provider.   The URL needs to include the correct port number (by default 8443), so it will look something like this (where the provider is running on 10.1.60.193).   Note also that the VASA provider version number is in the URL, so if you upgrade the provider you will need to change the URL (currently v1.1.1):
    https://10.1.60.193:8443/ibm-vasa-provider-v1.1.1/services/vasaService

    The Login and password should match the user id and password you defined in step 4 (remember it is not logging into the XIV, it is logging into the VASA provider).

  8. If you get a message saying your user id and password are wrong, you probably forgot to stop and start Apache in step 6 above.  If you succeed you should see a new provider listed.   Highlight the provider and select sync to update the last sync time.

Your setup tasks are now all completed.  Now go and explore the panels I detailed above to see what new information you have available to your vCenter server.

Why a separate server for the VASA provider?

The IBM VASA provider uses Apache Tomcat, which by default listens on port 8443.  However since vCenter already has a service listening on port 8443, it means we have a clash.   I googled and found the Dell and Netapp VASA providers also listen on port 8443 and they also recommend separate servers.  I noted Fujitsu’s provider used a different port but still requires a separate server.   So it seems if you have multiple vendors you will either have to spin up a separate server for each vendors provider, or start playing with changing the port number.  The installation instructions for the IBM VASA Provider explain how to change the default port number if you are truly keen.

 

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