Extending the Enterprise Storage Footprint with Dell EMC Storage and VxRail Dynamic Nodes

Updated: Jun 13

Overview

With VxRail release 7.0.240, fibre channel HBAs are now supported to connect VxRail dynamic nodes to external storage for use as their primary storage. This opens up the ability for VxRail customers, to leverage the best of both worlds. The Enterprise class features and functionality of Dell EMC SAN based storage ( e.g PowerMax, PowerStore, Unity) together with the best in class, feature rich life cycle management experience of the VxRail platform. The narrative is no longer 'either or' VSAN or VMFS, VxRail customers now have the ability to consume both together, to unlock the benefits of existing and emerging use cases.


Stay tuned for further posts in this series which will dig deeper into the overall DN LCM experience, integration with enterprise class storage availability features such as SRDF Metro and array based snapshots and a deep dive into integration with VMware Virtual Volumes (vVOLs) and how we can unlock the Storage Policy based Management (SPBM) capabilities of the underlying storage platform, together with vSphere and VxRail.


As an introduction, this post will cover the main features of the VxRail Dynamic Node and provide a quick video demo, from the perspective of the vSphere administrator (as mentioned earlier, don't worry!! We will cover the PowerMax configuration in an upcoming post)


Key features

Dynamic nodes are a compute-only VxRail node offering which don’t have any disks available for use with vSAN. These nodes are therefore used to configure a VxRail cluster by leveraging storage from external Dell EMC storage arrays through Fibre Channel, or with vSAN HCI Mesh datastores. ( We are concentrating on FC in this post)


The requirement for local disk drives and vSAN licenses are removed completely when leveraging the FC Dynamic Node. This is really key from a commercial perspective. Prior to the release of Dynamic Nodes, customers could consume FC storage via a Day 0/1 attachment of a HBA to an existing VxRail node. However given the fact that all nodes still needed to be configured and licensed for VSAN meant that this became a cost prohibitive architecture at scale. This limited the observed use-cases largely to workload migration from array based storage to VSAN and vice-versa.



Figure 1: Diskless Dynamic Nodes - No VSAN License consumed

Figure 2: Key Features of Dynamic Nodes

Figure 3: Supported Storage and HBA Matrix

Note: The lifecycle management of the Dell EMC storage arrays and fibre channel HBAs are outside of VxRail LCM process. The upgrade of the Dell EMC storage arrays should be completed by Dell’s professional services group.


This shouldn't be seen as a drawback, but makes sense when you think about it...... We have made the realistic assumption that the SAN and back-end storage may be co-consumed by other compute or backup devices/workloads that are non-VxRail orientated altogether. Therefore, it would make more sense to be able to life cycle the Connectrix SAN and your PowerMax/PowerStore array independently of the VxRail nodes. We believe that is the more manageable approach for the majority of customers.


To finish, as promised a video overview and a link to the relevant link on the Dell EMC VxRail Techbook. I hope you enjoy the video. Please feel free to reach out to myself or Una, if you have any questions, comments or queries with regards to this post.


Stay tuned for more Dynamic Node on Vxrail discussion and content over the coming weeks and months!


https://infohub.delltechnologies.com/l/techbook-dell-emc-vxrail-system-2/external-storage-20





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Opinions expressed in this article are entirely my/our own and may not be representative of the views of Dell Technologies.

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