Changing the segment size of a virtual disk in DELL PowerVault MD Storage Series

It happens to the best of us, sometime we selected the wrong option during deployment and or configuration of our original virtual disks. Or, even with the best of planning, the realities and use cases of your storage changes so the original choice might not be the most optimal one. Luckily on a DELL MD PowerVault storage device you do not need to delete the virtual disk or disks and lose your data to reconfigure the segments size. Even better is that you can do this online as a background process., which is a must at it can take a very long time and it would cause prohibitively long down time if you had to take the data off line for that amount of time.

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You have a certain control over the speed at which this happens via the priority setting but do realize that this takes a (very) long time. Due to the fact it’s a background process you can keep working. I have noticed little to none impact on performance but you mileage may vary.

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How long does it take? Hard to predict. This is a screenshot of two 50TB virtual disks were the segment size is being adjusted on line …

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You cannot always go to the desired segment size in one step. Sometime you have only an intermediate size available. This is the case in the example below.

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The trick is to first move to that segment size and then repeat the process to reach the size you require.  In this case we’ll first move to 256 KB and than to 512 KB segment size. So this again take a long time. But again, it all happens on line.

In conclusion, it’s great to have this capability. When you need to change the size when there is already data on the PowerVault virtual disks you have the ability to do so online while the data remains available. That this can require multiple steps and take a long time is not a huge deal. You kick it off and let it run. No need to sit there and watch it.

Upgrading The DELL PowerVault MD3600 Disk Firmware

In this post I’ll walk you through an disk firmware upgrade of a PowerVault MD3600F with 7 MD1200 extension bays filled with disks. We have several of these attached to R710 that act as Disk2Disk backup media servers with 10Gpbs networking and running W2K12R2 of course. At the moment of writing we’re at PowerVault MD Series Storage HDD (SSD) Firmware A13 and in our case we’ll be updating to Seagate_ST2000MN0001_PS08.

First of all read the readme.txt and such to make sure you’re not missing any special instructions for particular cases that might exist such as being on to old controller firmware that you need to upgrade first. Do your home work & due diligence. Of course I’m not responsible for whatever it is you do to your environment. The standard disclaimer of my blog applies Smile

I always make sure my controller firmware is up to date before I don disk firmware updates unless I’m instructed to act otherwise. In general you should not be applying firmware updates and such constantly and  all over the place to keep busy. It is, however, a good practice to keep an eye on releases and see if they fix any risky bugs you might be vulnerable to.  You also don’t get to far behind on firmware updates as this can complicate thing later in the useful service life or you hardware. Fear, doubt and only doing do something when things have broken down are also not a good practice.

So first of all get the latest version of your PowerVault Modular Disk Storage Manager software if you haven’t already. Often you’ll need to have a least a certain version before you can even do newer firmware updates. So just get this in order before starting, especially if they tell you to, don’t try and outsmart the system. Then download the disk firmware form the DELL support website or via the DELL Storage Community Wiki http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/storage/w/wiki/4234.dell-powervault-md-downloads.aspx?dgc=SM&cid=257966&lid=4630585 and safe it to disk.

Fire up the PowerVault Modular Disk Storage Manager by clicking the icon …image

Enjoy the splash screen during the launch …image

Right click your storage array and select “Manage Storage Array”image

On the menu click Upgrade and select “Physical Disk Firmware…”image

A wizard pops up with some friendly advice and you are warned to stop all I/O. Which  is something you should really do. If you can un mount the file system(s) – off line it in Windows – you can do this to makes sure no I/On kick of during the upgrade. Depending on your workload this might require a maintenance window or not. For us just setting the backups to not run, stopping the agents/services of the backup product on these media servers and taking the storage LUNS off line is enough.image

When you have done so click Next. As you can see I have only one disk type in my MD3600F and its MD1200 extension disk bays and they are all on the same firmware.

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Click on Add and browse to the location where you unzipped the disk firmware package. There’s a bunch of them but it should be straight forward to select the correct one. If not perhaps you shouldn’t be doing this Smile

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In this example you see on disk type all being moved to one new firmware. If you have multiple disk types or brands you can select multiple firmware packages to be transferred. That’s quite handy.

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When done click Next to continue. Note: Don’t select more that one version of the firmware for the same type of disk. That will just throw an error message at you telling you that’s not you smartest move.image

You can select all hard disk to deploy the firmware. I use this but I tend to test a run on one disk (a hot spare) first before I do this. If that one is successful I choose “Select All” click finish.

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To make sure that you know what you’re doing and probably keep any lawyers at bay you must type in yes before you can continue. Yes making backups is always prudent. Always have at least one way out.

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You can follow the firmware update process in the right hand column which displays the progress (Not attempted, in progress,Successful).

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This process goes faster than you might think. When they are all done, close the wizard. Congratulations you have just installed the new disk firmware to 96 disks Smile.image

If, for 100% safety, you have brought your storage off line, you can it online and resume normal operations. I tend to give the hosts a reboot to see all still works as it should.

Upgrading The DELL MD3600F Controller Firmware Using the Modular Disk Storage Manager

As part of our hardware maintenance we’re deploying the updates of SUU 7.3.1 right now. As part of that effort we’re also making sure the PowerVault disk bays are getting their updates. We’ve got a couple of PowerVault MD3600F with 7 MD1200 extension bays filled with disks attached to R710  Power Edge servers that act as Disk2Disk backup media servers with 10Gpbs networking and running W2K12R2.

In general you should not be applying firmware updates and such constantly and all over the place just to keep busy. It is, however, a good practice to keep an eye on releases and see if they fix any risky bugs you might be vulnerable to. You see that sometimes these fix issues you don’t want to run into and those are often marked urgent. You also don’t get to far behind on firmware updates as this can complicate thing later in the useful service life or you hardware. First of all read the readme.txt and such to make sure you’re not missing any special instructions for particular cases that might exist. The standard disclaimer of my blog applies Smile, you’re responsible for your own actions.

First of all get the latest version of your PowerVault Modular Disk Storage Manager software if you haven’t already. Often you’ll need to have a least a certain version before you can even do newer firmware updates. So just get this in order before starting, especially if they tell you to, don’t try and outsmart the system. Download the disk firmware form the DELL support website or via the DELL Storage Community Wiki http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/storage/w/wiki/4234.dell-powervault-md-downloads.aspx?dgc=SM&cid=257966&lid=4630585 and safe it to disk.

Here’s an example of a read me file you’d better not ignore. If you do, the Modular Disk Storage Manager will not allow you to upgrade anyway.

*** ATTENTION ***
If your PowerVault MD32xx/MD36xx series storage array is currently running a firmware version lower than 07.75.28.60, you cannot directly install the RAID controller firmware version 07.84.47.60 included in this release.
Instead, you must first install the bridge firmware version 07.75.28.60. After the bridge firmware is successfully installed, you can then install RAID controller firmware 07.84.47.60.

Specifically, follow these steps:
1. *** IMPORTANT *** Install Dell PowerVault MD Storage Manager (MDSM) software from the Resource DVD version 4.1.2.29 or higher.
2. Extract the following files from the Bridge_Firmware_07_75_28_60.zip archive:
* Bridge_Firmware_07_75_28_60.dlp
3. Download and activate RAID controller bridge firmware version 07.75.28.60 (contained in the Bridge_Firmware_07_75_28_60.dlp file)
4. Once the bridge firmware installation is successfully completed, wait at least 30 minutes to allow the attached hosts to re-discover the storage array.
5. Download and activate the RAID controller firmware version 07.84.47.60 (contained in the MD3xxx_MD3xxx_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp file) together with the NVSRAM configuration file version N26X0-784890-X04 (contained in the MD3xxx_MD3xxx_NVSRAM_N26X0-784890-X04.dlp file) using the Dell PowerVault MD Storage Manager for your corresponding array type.
* MD3200_MD3220_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3200_MD3220_N26X0_784890_004.dlp (6G Non-Dense SAS)
* MD3200i_MD3220i_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3200i_MD3220i_N26X0_784890_004.dlp (1G Non-Dense iSCSI)

* MD3600i_MD3620i_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3600i_MD3620i_N26X0_784890_904.dlp (10G Non-Dense iSCSI)
* MD3600f_MD3620f_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3600f_MD3620f_N26X0_784890_904.dlp (8G Non-Dense FC)
* MD3260_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3260_N26X0_784890_004.dlp (6G Dense SAS)
* MD3260i_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3260i_N26X0_784890_004.dlp (1G Dense iSCSI)
* MD3660i_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3660i_N26X0_784890_904.dlp (10G Dense iSCSI)
* MD3660f_Firmware_07_84_47_60.dlp and MD3660f_N26X0_784890_904.dlp (8G Dense FC)

*** WARNING ***
If you have a single controller PowerVault MD32/MD36 series storage array you must stop all I/O operations before starting the RAID controller firmware upgrade.

Launch the PowerVault Modular Disk Storage Manager, right click your array and select Upgrade Raid Controller Module Firmware.image

Wait while the status is being refreshed.Image 017

You might run into a an issue if the event log contains to many entries. In that case you’ll be warned you can’t upgrade until you’ve cleared it as shown below. Here are some screenshots from another previous upgrade where I ran into this issue.Image 018

In that case open up the Manage Storage Array  for your array.image just

Navigate to the support tab on your and got to “View Event Log”. image

It’s always wise to have a look to see if you have any issues before upgrading anyway. If you need to save the log for some reason do so otherwise just clear it with the Clear All button.image

The lawyers need assurance you confirm that you know what you’re doing so type yes in the warning form and click OK.

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You get an entry telling you the log has been cleared and you can close the form.image

If you launch the Upgrade Raid Controller Module Firmware menu option again you’ll now see that you’re good to go with the upgradeImage 024

Click on Download, Firmware and browse to the  and the NVSRAM. I prefer to do both in one go but you don’t have to. Just make sure that when both need an upgrade you don’t forget to do it when upgrading them separately. You can opt to download the firmware and  NVSRAM but activate them later. I normally do it all in one go (the default option).image

They’ll warn you no to do silly things, meaning you have to make sure that the firmware and NVSRAM versions are compatible. Read the documentation to make sure your OK.

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If you’re good to go, click Yes and the update kicks of. First it’s the firmware update that runs.

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When that’s done you’ll see the new firmware version in the Pending Version column. After that the NVSRAM update kicks in automatically. This takes a bit longer.Image 013

Once it’s done you get the green check indicating your firmware has upgraded successfully. We chose to activate in the same run but it’s not visible yet.image

Now to see this reflected I the version columns you‘ll need to close and reopen the Upgrade Raid Controller Module Firmware wizard again.
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Close the wizard. You’re done upgrading the Raid Controller Firmware. Next things to do would be to upgrade disk firmware and perhaps the EMM (Enclosure Management Module) firmware of the extension disk bays if applicable. They

Multi Site SAN Storage & Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Efforts Under Way

First some stats: 36 pallets of hardware handled over a period of 10 days. 29 of those over a period of 3 days. Most of it didn’t even exist at the beginning of the month, it was just an order. But DELL is a logistical force to be reckoned with. “Easy as DELL” is a reality, the speed at which they respond to request and orders is amazing. For quality/price balance, service, logistics, speed and support, it’s hard to beat them

A lot of people are used to dealing with slower processes and think SANs take at least 2 to 3 months to de delivered after ordering. This means they are caught of guard by this. I’m happy to say I’m not otherwise the data center would have been blocked by a tsunami of packaging material and hardware.

We’ve been busy unloading, unpacking, racking and partially cabling the new hardware coming in for a multi site SAN project. And let’s not forget the labeling. While we are far from finished, this good news. We’re finally busy working on the installation after the long time consuming process of procuring the equipment. That’s never an easy process, let alone a fast one. But I digress.

What are we working with?

  • Dell Compellent SANs (intra and inter site data protection / redundancy)
  • PowerVault MD3600 & MD1200 storage units for disk to disk backup capacity

Now to go from this

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to this and beyond  …

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Takes quite a while as you can imagine and we still have a ton of stuff to do Smile. I’ll be sharing my experiences and findings via this blog when I can.

My high level design  focuses on scale out to achieve both performance, flexibility and resiliency. We’ll build a modular scale up and scale out solution using commodity hardware and not in a mega redundant, ultra scalable single and very expensive storage solution. You can read more on my views about this subject here Some Thoughts Buying State Of The Art Storage Solutions Anno 2012.For the backup we are following the same approach. We cannot afford to pay the amounts of money that seems to be needed to buy high end backup appliances. We have plans to leverage Windows 2012 to help us achieve this but these are subjects for some other blog posts later.