Have you tried the EMC Celerra VSA before? If so, then forget everything you experienced. If not, then welcome and let me introduce you to easiest way to test enterprise-level features with NAS and virtualization.
I am a greenhorn at the EMC vSpecialist team. I have just barely three notches on my belt (if notches represent months). So everything is new to me. I am constantly bothering my direct manager with questions like: “Why do we do that?” or “How did this come about?”. This is because I am looking at everything and trying to understand the why behind it all. And this is part of the reason I ended up diving under the hood of the Celerra VSA; to find out what made it tick and why it wouldn’t tick faster.
But first a quick background story: over the last month or so I have been doing my first tour of duty. I did my first customer presentation to a huge company (very near the top of the Fortune 500 list). I got involved in a proof of concept at another major client near Washington D.C. And I even got involved in helping design labs for VMware Tech Summit and major demos for EMCWorld (more on that after the big day). I have never been surrounded by such a quantity of talented (and cool) people or challenged like this before in my life. Needless to say I am loving every minute of it.
During this first tour I had the opportunity to install the Celerra VSA for the first time. And I will be honest: I was disappointed in it. I don’t like things that take so long. One of the reasons I write in so many scripting/development languages is because I hate repetition. So even before I started setting up my first VSA, I looked at the manual which, while VERY well-written, was way above my tolerance for length. Then and there I made it a personal goal to cut those steps down to as few as possible.
But, back to my first time to build…
An interesting thing happened the first time I did it. It was faster, way faster. In fact the Senior guy who I was assisting took a look to check my work and was sure they were broken. In his words: “It is too fast, it must not be actually doing anything.” But, after a little testing he confirmed that it was working perfectly and quickly. He asked me: “What did you do?”. I looked at him, blinked, and said: “I have no idea…”
I tend to venture off the beaten path in a lot of things. Evidently me skipping around trying to figure *why* each step needed to be done (for my future script) resulted in me fixing an issue. Problem was I had no earthly idea what I did or how.
So fast forward to now- I have spent the last good chunk of April figuring out the how and why of the Celerra VSA. I’ve not only figured out the speed tweak steps. But also I discovered memory improvements, boot speed improvements, and even finished a complete automation of the configuration process.
So in summary here are the new features of what I have dubbed the Celerra VSA –UBER Edition:
1. Completely automated install: On first boot a configuration wizard will ask a few questions and automatically reboot. On second boot everything is configured and ready to use. Also configuration takes care of ALL identity issues with generating MAC addresses. Average run through from first boot to complete is <2 minutes for me.
2. Much, much, much faster. You have to try it to see it. No, seriously it evens runs great on my Core Duo.
3. Low memory requirements: It will now run with 1024 MB of RAM (it is set this way by default). If you need to setup replication it may need more but will use much more efficiently.
4. You should not need to login to the console for anything. All configurations can be done through the Control Station web console (hint: Tools -> Wizards).
******* WARNING *******
Do NOT run a Celerra VSA on ESX on VMware Workstation. You will always get horrible performance this way. On a laptop or desktop use it directly on VMware Workstation 7 with the workstation version. On a server compatible with ESX(i) 4u1 use the OVA version.
The Celerra VSA – Uber comes in two versions:
1. Celerra VSA – UBER for ESX (OVA) (download link)
2. Celerra VSA – UBER for Workstation/Fusion (ZIP) (download link)
I am not going to lie; this was at least 40-50 hours of late night work trying to reverse engineer something I never used as a customer. It was difficult and damaging to my ego in many spots. So I ask one simple favor from you. Try it out…
Obviously I think I made something pretty darn cool. But, what do you think? If you see an issue or have a suggestion please post a comment letting me know. I am curious what others notice and if they see the same improvements I do.
I hope this helps someone out in their labs somewhere. Please drop a comment if it does.
****** Update ******
Here is a video on the installation process: