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Installing EMC® XtremSW Cache™ on ESXi 5.0 and 5.1 (Partner Verified and Support) (2059943)

Purpose

This article provides information about Partner Verified and Support for EMC XtremSW Cache software.

Note: The Partner Verified and Supported Products (PVSP) policy implies that the solution is not directly supported by VMware. For issues with this configuration, contact EMC directly. See the Support Workflow on how partners can engage with VMware. It is the partner's responsibility to verify that the configuration functions with future vSphere major and minor releases, as VMware does not guarantee that compatibility with future releases is maintained.

Disclaimer: The partner products referenced in this article are hardware devices or software that are developed and supported by stated partners. Use of these products is also governed by the end user license agreements of the partners. You must obtain the application, support, and licensing for using these products from the partners. For more information, see https://support.emc.com/.

Details

Overview of product

EMC XtremSW Cache is intelligent caching software that leverages server-based flash technology to reduce latency and accelerate throughput for dramatic application performance improvement. XtremSW Cache accelerates reads and protects data by using a write-through cache to the networked storage. XtremSW Cache, coupled with array-based EMC FAST software, creates the most efficient and intelligent I/O path from the application to the data store. EMC XtremSW Cache version 2.0 support for VMware environments (for ESXi 5.0 and 5.1) works seamlessly in the presence of vMotion operations, and provides full support for VMware features such as DRS and HA.

Installation Overview

Before Installing XtremSW Cache:
  • Ensure that your system meets the software and hardware requirements in the XtremSW Cache Installation Guide.
  • Ensure that you have installed XtremSF™, or other compatible flash cards.
There are 3 installation steps:
  • Step 1: Install the caching software on every machine that provides caching services
  • Step 2: Install the management utilities on those workstations to be used to manage XtremSW Cache and XtremSF cards
  • Step 3: Install the license

The XtremSW Cache installation files are included on the installation media, or you can download them from the EMC Online Support website. License files must be obtained from the EMC Online Support website.

Step 1: Install the caching software

To install the VIB file offline bundle:

  1. Use scp to copy EMC-XtremSW-ESXi5.0-2.0.0-xxx.x86_64.zip to a local directory on the ESXi host.
  2. Enter maintenance mode, as a root user, using the command:

    vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_enter

  3. Install the bundle using the command:

    esxcli software vib install -d full_offline_bundle_path

    Where full_offline_bundle_path is the full path to the offline bundle ZIP file.

  4. Restart the ESXi host.
  5. Exit maintenance mode using the command:

    vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_exit

  6. Verify the installation with the command:

    esxcli software vib list | grep -i emc

    You see messages similar to:

    EMC-XtremSW-Agent 2.0.0-xxx EMC PartnerSupported 2013-06-15
    EMC-XtremSW-Flashcard-Agent 2.0.0-xxx EMC PartnerSupported 2013-06-15
    EMC-XtremSW 2.0.0-xxx EMC PartnerSupported 2013-06-15
On a Windows virtual machine:
  1. Install the XtremSW Cache driver and remote agent.
    1. Run EMC-VFCache-2.0.0.XX.msi.
    2. Accept the default to Install the XtremSW Remote Agent, and click Next.

  2. In the Set credentials dialog box, enter these values:
    • Lockbox password: The password to assign to the password lockbox. Passwords must contain 8-16 digits including mixed case letters, one digit, and one special character. No white spaces are allowed.
    • VFCacheAdmin password: The password to assign to the XtremSW Cache administrative user, VFCacheAdmin. When using the VSI plug-in to manage all virtual machines from one management station, you must use the same VFCacheAdmin password for all virtual machines.

  3. Click Install. After installation is complete, restart the host. The XtremSW Cache software starts automatically after the restart.
  4. You can verify the installation of the XtremSW Cache driver using the command:

    vfcmt version

    This information displays:

    vfcmt for EMC Server Flash Cache © Version 2.0 (build XX)

  5. You can verify the installation and operation of the XtremSW Cache remote agent using the command:

    netstat -a | findstr 5989

    This output displays:

    TCP 0.0.0.0:5989 WIN2008R2SP1:0 LISTENING

    Note: For Windows 2008 servers, the output differs.

  6. Enable access to port 5989 in all existing firewalls.
On a Linux virtual machine:
  1. Install the XtremSW Cache driver, as a root user.
    • For RHEL 5.x, run the command:

      rpm -ivh EMC-VFCache-RHEL5-2.0.0-XX.x86_64.rpm

    • For RHEL 6.x, run the command:

      rpm -ivh EMC-VFCache-RHEL6-2.0.0-XX.x86_64.rpm

  2. Install the XtremSW Cache remote agent, as a root user:
    • For RHEL 5.x, run the command:

      rpm -ivh EMC-VFCache-Agent-RHEL5-2.0.0.XX-Release.x86_64.rpm

    • For RHEL 6.x, run the command:

      rpm -ivh EMC-VFCache-Agent-RHEL6-2.0.0.XX-Release.x86_64.rpm

  3. Run this script, as root, to create the lockbox password and the VFCacheAdmin user:

    Note: Enter all variables within single quotation marks.

    /opt/ECOM/util/set-credentials-emc-vfc.sh -lock_box ‘password
    -ecom_admin ‘password’ -vfcache_admin ‘password
    -vfcache_monitor ‘password

    Where:
    • lock_box ‘password is the password to assign to the password lockbox. See step 2 in the Windows section for password requirements.
    • vfcache_monitor ‘password is the password to assign to the XtremSW Cache administrative user, VFCacheAdmin. When using the VSI plug-in to manage all virtual machines from one management station, you must use the same VFCacheAdmin password for all virtual machines.
    • Verify that the XtremSW Cache remote agent listener is working using the command:

      netstat -nltp |grep -i ecom

      For port 5989, you see output similar to:

      tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:5989 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN 31151/ECOM

  4. Check the XtremSW Cache remote agent version against the installed version using the command:

    cat /etc/ecom_version

  5. Verify that the XtremSW Cache remote agent service is running using the command:

    service ecom status

  6. Enable access to port 5989 in all existing firewalls.
  7. Verify the installation of the XtremSW Cache driver using the command:

    vfcmt version

    This output displays:

    vfcmt for EMC Server Flash Cache © Version 2.0 (build XX)

Step 2: Install the VSI plug-in management utility

On the machine running the vCenter client, run EMC-XtremSW-VSI-Plugin-2.0.0.XXX.exe and follow installation wizard instructions. The XtremSW feature is automatically enabled upon installation.

Step 3: Install the license

You must install a license on physical host machines (not virtual machines) where XtremSW Cache software is installed. You obtain the license file from the EMC Online Support website, with the LAC number that you received by email. For more information, see the Licensing chapter of the XtremSW Cache Installation Guide.
  1. On Windows and Linux servers, install the XtremSW Cache license with the command:

    vfcmt set_license -license_file license_file_path

    Where license_file_path is the full path to the license file saved on your host machine.

  2. To verify the XtremSW Cache license on your host machine, use the command:

    vfcmt display –license

  3. On ESXi hosts, before installing the license, you must first create the shared datastore, via the Management Center, or with the VSI plug-in (as described in step 2 in the Configuring caching using VSI plug-in section of this article). To install the license on the ESXi host, the syntax of this command is:

    /opt/emcsfc/bin/vfcmt set_license -license_file license_file_path

  4. To verify the XtremSW Cache license on your ESXi machine, use the command:

    /opt/emcsfc/bin/vfcmt display -license

Configuring caching using the VSI plug-in

Configuring caching using the VSI plug-in has 7 main steps:
  • Step 1: Enable access to the virtual machine
  • Step 2: Create the XtremSW shared datastore
  • Step 3: Populate the ESXi cache pool
  • Step 4: Enable XtremSW Cache remote monitoring
  • Step 5: Enable UUID mapping
  • Step 6: Create an XtremSW Cache device

Step 1: Enable access to virtual machine

  1. Configure XtremSW ESX agent authentication credentials. On every ESXi host on which the XtremSW Cache software is installed, create a new user, a member of the root group, with administrator permissions, and no shell access.

    Note: When using the plug-in to manage all virtual machines from one management station, you must use the same user name and password for all ESXi hosts.

  2. Enable access to virtual machines from the XtremSW security window.
    1. From the vSphere Client, click Home > Solutions and Applications > EMC VSI.
    2. From the Features area, click XtremSW.

  3. In the XtremSW VM Agent Authentication section:
    1. Enter this information:
      • User: VFCacheAdmin (default user)
      • Password: The password defined for VFCacheAdmin during installation

    2. Click Update Credentials.

  4. In the XtremSW ESX Agent Authentication section:
    1. Enter this information:
      • User: root (default user), or the user name created in the first step of this process.
      • Password: The password defined for VFCacheAdmin during installation.

    2. Click Update Credentials.
Step 2: Create the XtremSW shared datastore
 
The datastore must be created on a LUN that is visible to all ESXi hosts in the datacenter that may host a virtual machine with XtremSW Cache on it. The LUN does not need to be larger than 1 GB.

To create the datastore:

  1. If the Welcome dialog box appears, click OK.
  2. Select a cluster, and click EMC VSI > XtremSW > Cluster details.
  3. From the Commands panel, click Create Shared Datastore, then follow the instructions in the wizard. The shared datastore is named XtremSW_Cache_DS. Do not change this name.

When the datastore is created, you can install the license file.

Step 3: Populate the ESXi cache pool

This procedure populates a single ESXi host with the cache capacity of devices that are installed on that host.

To add cache devices to the ESXi cache pool:

  1. Select an ESXi host.
  2. Click EMC VSI > XtremSW > Cache Pool.
  3. From the Cache pool panel, click Add device.
  4. You add devices from a specific vendor and model as one unit. If you have multiple flash devices of the same model, the add command adds all of them. Add devices.
Step 4: Enable XtremSW Cache remote monitoring
 
To enable XtremSW Cache remote monitoring:
  1. From the vSphere Client, select a virtual machine, then click EMC VSI.
  2. From the EMC VSI tab, click Enable XtremSW Cache Remote Management.
Step 5: Enable UUID mapping
 
To enable UUID mapping:
  1. In the VSI window, select a virtual machine and click the EMC VSI tab. From the Features section, click XtremSW Cache.
  2. In the Commands section, if Enable disk file mapping to guest appears, click it, then power off and power on the virtual machine.
Step 6: Create an XtremSW Cache device
 
To create an XtremSW Cache device:
  1. From the EMC VSI tab, click XtremSW > Cache.
  2. From the XtremSW Cache management window, click Add XtremSW Device.

    On RHEL 5.x machines, you may be prompted to reset the virtual machine. Do so, and then start this process again.

  3. Click Next.
  4. In the Add XtremSW Cache Device dialog box, enter the requested cache size, then click OK to accept the default settings.
  5. Attach a source device to be accelerated.
    1. Select an XtremSW Cache device, and click Add Source Device.
    2. In the Add Source Device dialog box, select a source device, and click OK. Acceleration is started, by default.

Additional Information

Verification details

Testing approach taken to validate the XtremSW Cache VMware platform

The testing goals verified that XtremSW Cache:
  • Improves I/O performance against backend storage
  • Supports DRS scenarios
  • Provides enterprise level stability and robustness for high load scenarios
  • Conforms to VMware requirements for product installation and management
The testing approach included:
  • Extensive performance testing for different workloads on Win2k8r2 and RHEL 5/6 OS hosts
  • Multiple execution of DRS scenarios under heavy load for Win2k8r2, RHEL 5/6 hosts for at least 72 hours
  • Long haul test runs under heavy load for at least 72 hours with single and multiple guests with supported operating systems
  • End to End testing with VSI Plugin for vSphere with multiple hosts running guests with supported operating systems
  • Providing the product to internal EMC partners such as Global Support, Education, and others to get feedback
  • Providing existing EMC/VMware customers an opportunity to install the product to get their feedback (Beta cycle)

Tested configurations

Testing was performed on ESX 5.0 and 5.1 clusters with supported caching cards and these hosts:
  • Win2k8r2sp1
  • RHEL5.x
  • RHEL 6.x

Support information

EMC’s Global Support team’s mission is to accelerate success by delivering a differentiated service experience through world class capabilities that help customers meet their business goals.

You can find product information at https://support.emc.com/products/25208_XtremSW-Cache.

Installation Strategy

XtremSW Cache has been designed to be completely customer installable, maintainable, and upgradable. EMC Technical Solutions (TS) offers basic remote Virtual Service Delivery implementation and assessment services.

EMC XtremSW Cache Implementation (PS-BAS-IMVFC)
 
This EMC XtremSW Cache Implementation remote service offering is available for purchase. This service provides design and configuration for up to two EMC XtremSF flash cards on up to two physical servers. For more than two cards, additional PS-BAS-IMVFC models must be ordered for every two cards.

Example: When ten cards are requested to be implemented, your order would include five PS-BAS-IMVFC kits. Prior to commencing this service, your server must have XtremSF flash cards installed. The XtremSF flash cards provides transparent application acceleration via server-side caching.

Support Strategy

  • The Enhanced Service offering is the standard for XtremSW Cache.
    • XtremSW Cache is supported via the EMC Enhanced Service option. XtremSF PCIe cards are completely customer replaceable. If an XtremSF PCIe card requires replacement, customers should contact EMC and follow the Customer Replaceable Unit (CRU) process. Before contacting EMC, customers must have the model number, part number, and serial number available. Customers can place orders online through Powerlink Service Requests.
    • Global Services offers worldwide remote technical support for XtremSW Cache 7x24x365 through the Enhanced Service support option. A XtremSW Cache self-help product web page for customers and partners will also be available on Support Zone.
    • A Flash Products call queue has been established for service requests. The queue is named: Flash VIC/Web.
      This queue will be monitored by the Worldwide Global Technical Support SSG team.

  • The Premium Service offering is available as a warranty or service upgrade. On-site service for break/fix is provided by EMC Global Services direct and Authorized Service Partners (ASPs).
Support Request Process

To file a Support Request, use this link: https://support.emc.com/servicecenter/createSR/

Support Escalation Process

For the support escalation process, see https://support.emc.com/.

Request a Product Feature

To request a new product feature or to provide feedback on a VMware product, please visit the Request a Product Feature page.

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