Who are the Dell EMC Elect of 2017 ?

A merger of the EMC Elect and Dell Tech Centre Rockstar Programs, The Dell EMC Elect becomes the new program for recognition of Dell EMC’s advocates.

We believe it continues to represent, in the spirit of its predecessors, an incredibly successful and highly coveted oppurtunity for its members. Those recognised receive exclusive access and can call themselves Dell EMC Elect in appreciation for their contribution to the Dell EMC Community.

Nominations came in from far and wide, and our Dell EMC Elect Founders had a laborious task to judge the nominees. It was hard to decide, such was the caliber of the nominations put forward. However in the end it was done, the nominations were counted and evaluated. And on the 29th of March, 2017, 2 days later than planned, Such were the intense deliberations, “internet white smoke” has been seen from the Founders virtual enclave and the Dell EMC Elect of 2017 have been declared.

There were 600 illustrious nominations, leading to 300 finalists. Of those finalists, under tough and at times contentious debate the Dell EMC Elect number 153 for 2017, listed in alphabetical order below.

I am proud to be a part of Dell EMC Elect community this year.



Dell EMC – Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) 7.1

The EMC Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) for VMware vSphere Web Client is a plug-in for VMware vCenter. It enables administrators to view, manage, and optimize storage for VMware ESX/ESXi servers and hosts, and then map that storage to the hosts.
VSI consists of a graphical user interface and the EMC Solutions Integration Service (SIS), which provides communication and access to the storage systems.
Depending on the platform, tasks that you can perform with VSI include:

  • Storage provisioning
  • Setting multipathing policies
  • Cloning
  • Block deduplication
  • Compression
  • Storage mapping
  • Capacity monitoring
  • Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) integration
  • Data protection using EMC AppSync or EMC RecoverPoint

The topology of VSI

The following is the high level deployment procedure of VSI 7.1.

Download the VSI OVA at http://support.emc.com, deploy this OVA into your VM farm.

Login into Solution Integration Service (SIS) by administrator, default login ID and password is “admin” and “ChangeMe

https://<IP Address>:8443/vsi_usm/

Register VSI Plug-in, go to VSI Setup and input VMware vCenter information and click “Register” button.

Login into vCenter by Web Client, when logging in, web client will download the registered VSI Plugin. You can see this plugin in the Client Plug-in of vCenter.

Go to vCenter Inventory Lists and register SIS.

Then register Storage System.

You can select the supported EMC storage on Storage system type menu.

NOTE: The following table lists the supported EMC storage for VSI 7.1

VxRail 4.0 – Scale Out

The above is the physical diagram of VxRail Cluster (3 nodes). In this post I will show how to add one VxRail Appliance into this VxRail Cluster (From 3 nodes to 4 nodes).

NOTE: The model of each VxRail Appliance is E460.

Before the node expansion, you need to verify each Appliance is running in health in dashboard of VxRail Manager.

The above is the final physical diagram of VxRail Cluster after scale out. Now we start the node expansion. You have just mounted a new VxRail Appliance (E460) and cabled it up to the top of each rack switch. When you power it on you can see a notification appear in the top left corner of VxRail dashboard. Click “Add Node“.

When you initially configured your VxRail Appliance, you specified an IP pool for ESXi, vMotion and vSAN. You can see that there available IP addresses in these pools, so the only additional action is to set an ESXi password. Click the scroll bar, then click the “ESXi Password“. Enter the ESXi and vCenter Server Password, click “Next“.

Click the checkbox confirm that your new VxRail Appliance has been provisioned with the appropriate IP addresses and hostnames. Then click “Next“.

VxRail Manager has validated the ESXi, vSAN and vMotion IP addresses, and you are now ready to build your new VxRail Appliance. Click “Build“.

You can monitor the expansion is in progress in the dashboard.

Now your new VxRail Appliance has been built and the cluster has been expanded. Click the “Health” tab to examine the cluster and verify the new node you just added.

You can see that your cluster has now been extended by a single node (from 3 nodes to 4 nodes). In this screen that provides metrics for the cluster and individual nodes including IOPs, CPU, memory usage and storage utilization. Click the new node “DW7LHB200000000” you can see “Logical” information specific to the new appliance you just added to the cluster.

You also can see “Phyiscal” information specific to the new appliance you just added to the cluster. There are now four Dell PowerEdge based nodes (E460) showing in this view, including the new node “DW7LHB200000000“. This ends the Scale Out of VxRail 4.0 Appliance.

Demo – Upgrade to VxRail 4.0

Upgrade VxRail’s software components is accessible through the configuration menu. Click the “Configuration” button to proceed. Before updating the software components installed on your VxRail Appliance, you must first update VxRail Manager. Click “Update“, then select “Upload local version” from the dropdown menu to start this process.

Since you have already download the VxRail Manager 4 Installation files from Dell EMC support site, you can now upload this file from your local drive. Select the file and then click “Open“.

Once the upload process is completed, click “Install“.

Before VxRail Manager is uploaded, the system perform a pre-check to ensure. Once the pre-check completes, click “Upgrade NOW“.

Congratulations! VxRail Manager has been successfully updated to 4.0. Click “Close“.

Then you need to login VxRail Manager again. Input the login credentials, then click “Authenticate“.

Now that VxRail Manager has been updated. the rest of the components of your VxRail cluster can be upgraded.

This demo assumes you have already downloaded the installation. Click “Internet Upgrade” then select “Local Upgrade” from the dropdown menu.

Select the installation file “VXRAIL_COMPOSITE-4.0.04631185” from you local drive, then click “Open“.

Before installing, VxRail will performn a readiness check to make sure the status is green across all the software components to be upgraded. Once the readiness check completes, click “Continue” to begin the installation.

The software upgrade is now completed. During upgrade, VxRail performs a series of automated post-checks and upgrade hooks.

Click “Details” for more information, or click “Refresh” to update your screen.

To view the installed version of numbers of the components that VxRail is comprised of, click the “Installed Versions” link.

Reference Demo

Upgrading the Operating Environment (OE) 4.1.0 to 4.1.1 on EMC UnityVSA

First, perform a system health check. A health check is a series of checks on the state
of your storage system. Performing a system health check helps ensure that no
underlying problems exist that may prevent a successful update. Then obtain and
install software updates.

The Unity storage system can have the following types of software updates:

  • Operating Environment (OE) software (also called, Unisphere)
  • Disk firmware
  • Language packs

Before the Operating Environment upgrade, you need to download Unity OE upgrade file UnityVSA- at https://support.emc.com. Then login into Unisphere by Administrator.

1. Select the Settings icon (in the top right of the page), and then select
Software and Licenses > Software Updates.

2. Select Perform Health Checks. Then Next.

3. After the health check is passed successfuly, select Start Upgrade. Then Browse the software file and click Next to start the upgrade.

4. Decide whether you want the storage processors to reboot automatically during
the upgrade. Then Next.

NOTE: The default option during a software upgrade is to automatically reboot both storage processors, one-at-a-time, as soon as the software upgrade image is staged and the
system is prepared for upgrade. If you like tighter control over when the reboots
happen, you can clear this option so that upgrade can be started and staged, but
neither storage processor will reboot until you are ready.

5. Review the planned upgrade and select Finish.

6. You can see the software upgrade progress.

7. As expected during the software upgrade, the management connection to the system has been temporaily lost. The connection will be restored automatically when the storage system becomes availabe. Do not reboot the storage processors.

8. After the OE upgrade is completed successfully, click “Reload Unisphere” to reload the Unisphere.

9. When you login Unisphere again, you can see software version is in Settings of Unisphere. This software upgrade is finished.

Unisphere Central v4.0 SP3 Upgrade

Unisphere Central is a virtual appliance that enables administrators to remotely
monitor the status, activity, and resources of the storage system available on your
network. The Unisphere Central server runs within a VMware virtual environment that
includes at least one ESX or ESXi host. The Unisphere Central server obtains
aggregated status, alert, capacity, and performance information from all the systems
Unisphere Central is monitoring.

The Unisphere Central environment consists of a Unisphere Central server running on an ESX/ESXi server (standalone or through vCenter), VNXe, VNX, CX4, vVNX, Unity and UnityVSA storage systems, and a remote system to access the Unisphere Central server.

Unisphere Central version 4.0.3 has been updated to support the following builds of
previously-supported products:

  • Support to monitor Unity and UnityVSA storage systems running version 4.1.0.
  • Support to monitor VNXe storage systems running VNXe3200 version 3.1.5 and VNXe1600 version 3.1.7.
  • Support to monitor VNX2 series storage systems running VNX OE for Block and VNX OE for File and VNX OE for Block and VNX OE for File
  • Support to monitor CX4 storage systems running OE version

Now we start to upgrade Unisphere Central v4 SP2 to SP3.

Firstly you download the upgrade patch “Unisphere_Central–upgrade-” at https://support.emc.com. Go to the Settings of Unisphere Central, click Upload Candidate to upload the that patch.

Click Start Upload.

After finish the uploading, then click Install Candidate to start the upgrade.

Before starting this upgrade. It is highly recommended that you create a snaphost of your Unisphere Central VM using VMware Snapshot. It starts to upgrade when you click Yes.

After it finishes the upgrade successfuly, it will start to reboot Unisphere Central automatically.

After the reboot is completed, you need to restart the browser and login Unisphere Central again. You can see the it displays 4.0.3 version in Unisphere Central.

EMC VxRAIL Overview

The hyper-converged VxRail Appliance features a clustered node architecture that consolidates compute, storage, and management into a single, resilient, network-ready HCI unit. The software-defined architectural structure converges server and storage resources, allowing a scale-out, building-block approach, and each appliance carries management as an integral component. From a hardware perspective, the VxRail node is a server with integrated direct-attached storage. No external network components are included with the appliance; VxRail leaves that up to the customer (although VCE can bundle switch hardware and NSX can function as an integrated option for SDN). This allows the VxRack to seamlessly integrate into the existing network infrastructure, preserving existing investment in network infrastructure, processes, and training. Organizations benefit from the simplicity of the appliance architecture that expedites application deployment while providing the same data services expected from high-end systems.

  • The Appliance architecture design center is “simple.” VxRail is simple to acquire, deploy, operate, scale, and maintain.
  • The Appliance system-level architecture uses SDS and multi-node servers with integrated storage and can leverage whatever network infrastructure is available. Appliance architecture provides low-cost and low-capacity entry points with simple configurations that can easily scale.
  • Appliance-architecture workload and business requirements focus on simplicity and the ability to start small and grow easily. VDI and productivity applications are examples of the initial workloads deployed in appliances.

When you combine these technologies you get hyper-converged infrastructure, which integrates compute, software defined storage, networking, and virtualization into a single build block for the data center. It enables compute, storage, and networking functions to be decoupled from the underlying infrastructure and run on a common set of physical resources that are based on industry-standard x86 components.


Hyperconverged storage solutions require the installation of a virtual storage appliance on each host. However, in the case of VSAN, because it is embedded in the ESXi kernel, all the Virtual SAN intelligence are already built in to the hypervisor and there are no additional components to install.

Because it is embedded in the hypervisor VSAN provides the shortest path for I/O, making storage operations optimally efficient and does not consume CPU resources unnecessarily. Even during maintenance operations and VM migrations, storage operations are seamlessly handled.

VxRail VSAN provides the software defined storage layer. There are several benefits to VSAN but the primary 2 main reasons VSAN is ideal for a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance are as follows:

1.Kernel Integration – The software controlling the storage is integrated into the hypervisor. Why is this so important? The alternative to kernel integration is using a Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) where the storage system must run separately as a guest virtual machine (VM) on top of the hypervisor as opposed to being a part of it. The issue with these types of implementations is that the VSA VMs content with resources against the workloads being supported. The VSA requires a lot of tuning and balancing to get it optimized to off-set I/O contention such that workloads can perform optimally which requires expertise and can be time consuming and a challenging exercise

2.Storage Based Policy Management (SBPM) – When making a decision to deploy a software defined data center (SDDC) approach it is very important that any platform you consider have the capability of enforcing top down policies between the various virtual layers (compute, storage, network) and provide control over the service objectives in all of these layers. VSAN enables the setting of storage policies at the kernel layer with seamless integration higher up in the management and orchestration layer such as with the vRealize Suite or those provided via 3rd party tools so that when services are rendered all of the associated services and their attributes cascade throughout the infrastructure. SBPB provides top to bottom control of how the workloads perform in the appliance.

  • Technical advantages: VSAN code is in the vSphere kernel
  • No need to install Virtual Storage Appliances (VSA)
  • CPU utilization <10%
  • No reserved memory required
  • Provides the shortest path for I/O
  • Seamlessly handles VM migrations
  • Operational advantages: VSAN is built with and for vSphere Storage Policy Based Management
  • No new management console
  • No planning out or carving up disk pools
  • Virtual SAN self-tunes to keep policy compliance

VSAN is integrated into Kernel of vSphere

  • More efficient and performant than a Virtual Storage Appliance

Storage Policy Based Management

  • Storage policies are directly embedded onto storage object
  • Data protection, Performance/QoS, Data Reduction
  • Policies follow your virtual machine
  • Seamlessly integrated with vRealize

VxRail Appliance software is customer upgradeable via a fully automated and validated process as of VxRail 4.0 software. The software upgrade is initiated via download from VxRail Manager, and it automatically downloads all software ready to be updated including VxRail Manager VM, vCenter Server and PSC, ESXi hosts, and ESRS. The automated process consists of four steps including download of the VxRail software, a readiness check, the actual update of the software, and finally, validation and upgrade post checks. The final validation step ensures the upgrade was successful, and the VxRail Appliance is fully functional at the new, upgraded version of software. Below diagram shows the four automated steps of a customer executed VxRail Appliance software upgrade. Step 3 is performed one node at a time, where the ESXi host is placed in maintenance mode, and using vMotion, the VMs are moved to other nodes making the upgrade process non-disruptive. To do this automatically vSphere Enterprise Edition Plus is required. If the VxRail appliance is not currently running VxRail 3.5 or using vSphere Standard Edition license, services are required to perform the upgrade. (It is best to verify with Dell EMC services that an environment meets the requirements prior to an upgrade.)

Each VxRail are included the following features,

  • VMware vSphere Replication
  • Dell EMC RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines
  • Integrated Backup and Recovery with vSphere Data Protection (VDP)
  • VMware Stretched Cluster

EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure appliances installation

VxRail Cluster Expansion – Scaling Out

EMC RecoverPoint for Virtual Machine Overview

EMC RecoverPoint For VMs 5.0 Deployment

EMC vRPVM Cluster configuration