Storage Manager 5.7 is in General Availability

It is my honor to announce the General Availability (GA) of Storage Manager 5.7.  This release is the culmination of all the great feedback that we received from the Beta and Release Candidate (RC) community!  If you participated in the Beta or RC program, give yourself a pat on the back.  In large part, this release is thanks to you!

There are many improvements and enhancements, but there are two that need a special call-out: the new User-Defined LUN Groupings and Storage Manager Health Status Overview.

User-defined LUN Grouping

Collecting and displaying metrics is great, but organizing them into something that makes more sense in your environment is even better.  It's been a longstanding request that Storage Manager Server be able to group information about your LUNs.  Customers have asked for this for a multitude of reasons.  If you are an MSP, you'd like to create a view broken down for each customer.  If you are geographically disbursed, you will want to see what's happening with a specific region in a single view.  If you concerned about a Tier 1 application (think Microsoft Exchange, SQL, CRM, etc.), you'll benefit from having all of those LUNs on a single view.  In 5.7, that's delivered using User-defined LUN Grouping!


There is a step-by-step for creating your own User-defined LUN Groups in the Beta 2 post.

Performance Charts

There are two charts and I'd like to bring to the forefront for everyone. They are the VM Disk Metrics per LUN and the LUN Metrics per VM. The names are similar, but they each give you a different insight into your storage and virtual infrastructure.


VM Disk Metrics per LUNLUN Metrics per VM
Select the LUN to display the Virtual Machine informationSelect the Virtual Machine to display the LUN information

Image Source: VMware Storage Infrastructure

These are great charts that can be used to identify problem virtual machines or problem LUNs within your environment. Storage I/O drops are some of the biggest culprits of performance drops in any Virtualized Environment (see Configuring Database Servers for Optimal Performance). These charts let you see if you are taxing a particular LUN and conversly, what VM's that might affect.  Each view provides insight into the other.


Ever wish that you could see Read IOPS and Write IOPS for a LUN in one view? We did too, so we added that as well.


Just pick the "LUN Performance Comparison" report from the Performance Tab, select your LUN, and select your additional metric, and presto-chango, you've got both statistics. This is just one of the new features added as part of the entire charting enhancements in 5.7. You'll get the full breakdown below.


Storage Manager Health Status Overview

Monitoring the health of your Storage Manager server is critical to making sure that you are collecting valid data consistently.  We've heard many of the same questions over the years regarding sizing the memory, processors and storage in the Storage Manager server, setting up memory allocation on services, determining which devices are failing on collection and why, and questions about scaling your environment with additional agents.  All of this information could be gathered by running from one page to another in previous versions of Storage Manager.


We knew that we could do better.  Storage Manager would be no good to anyone if the server on which it was running started having problems.  There are many parts to this page and I'll only cover a few in details, but if you'd like a full breakdown of all of the elements on the page, you can review the Beta 2 posting.

Everything critical - all at a glance...



Any monitoring system worth its salt is good at collecting metrics.  Storage Manager is no exception.  For quite some time we've polled metrics from the server itself, but there's never been a "single pane of glass" from which to review this information.  Since the Storage Manager Server is the brain of the solution, we want to make sure it stays healthy. Part of keeping Storage Manager in tip-top shape is sizing it correctly for your constantly evolving environment. There's an excellent resource on thwackCamp about how to size your infrastructure depending on your environmental needs.


The Storage Manager Server Performance Metrics displays the overall health of the Storage Manager Server.  In a quick visual, you see the CPU, RAM, and Disk consumption of the Storage Manager Server.  These are all linked to more detailed information so that you can dig in and view detailed graphs of the metric over time.  The graphing engine has also been drastically improved, but I'll talk about that a little further down.


If you breach a threshold on your disk consumption, there's also a cool warning that displays (cool that it's there, not that you have a disk in a warning state).  The warning will let you be proactive about the disk space on the Storage Manager Server itself.  Based on the metrics that it's calculated so far, it lets you know if your server is projected to run out of room and when.  Lack of disk space on a Storage Manager Server or an STM Proxy Agent are key reasons for collection failures, so this allows you to prevent any future issues.


The Storage Manager Services pane displays memory consumption and Java Heap memory allocation of the various services critical to Storage Manager. If any of these services are stopped, they will be classified as "offline."  When these values start pushing up against thresholds, we provide a convenient help link so you can learn how to allocate physical memory for services.


Within the Database Status pane, you are presented with critical stats revolving around the database as a whole; get the database size, the largest table, and the last maintenance date. With a quick click you get the processes within the database, the crashed database tables (if any exist), and can learn how to properly run maintenance on the database.


STM Proxy Agents are responsible for reporting back information from various parts of the infrastructure.  They are akin to an additional polling engine from Orion and used so that you can get data from devices in a different location or to simply split up the work in very large environments. From this single pane, you can see the status of all of the STM Proxy Agents within your environment. If any are overworked, I'd recommend taking a look at the thwackCamp resource for infrastructure sizing.


Getting information about such a complex system is very useful.  With that in mind, we've included links to the most helpful information we have available.  At the very bottom of the Storage Manager Health Status Overview is a few links to your best bet for assistance: the Storage Manager Video Resources, the Thwack Storage Community, and the Storage Manager Admin Guide.  Each of these is a wealth of information and you should avail yourself of them.


Did I forget to mention?

Storage Manager Health Status Overview and User-Defined LUN Grouping are great features, but there's even more in this release.  I'll touch on each of them in turn, but first up is…

Improved Chart Performance & Data Visibility

Yes, I'm finally going to talk about it.  The previous charting engine was dated.  There's no other nicer way to say it.  The graphs were created as a PNG file on the fly, which limited the interactivity of the metrics that could be shown.  Shifting the time scale (the x-axis) was not as intuitive as it should be.  Limiting your view (say to only two or three data series from a larger amount) was impossible.  Lastly, we didn't like the restrictive time selection.  It's your data and you should be able to view whatever area of time you choose.


In light of these limitations, we've adopted the same charting package being used by the SolarWinds Orion products.  The voodoo magic of this charting engine gives us many, many enhancements and addresses all of the charting concerns.


There is native "hover-over" support for looking at individual data points on any graph. This is especially useful when dealing with multiple data sets. You can easily zoom in by horizontally dragging on the chart area, and zoom out (or in) by moving the edges of the selector in the y-axis.  You can also dynamically select the data sets using the check boxes at the bottom.  It's all very quick and easy.


EMC's Fully Automated Storage Tiering for Virtual Pools (FAST VP) is a new technology which takes advantage of the high I/O capable with SSD Drives.  It's currently supported on the VMAX/Symmetric and VNX arrays.  And although the technological theory differs greatly between the product lines, it all falls under the umbrella of "FAST VP."  If you want to dig deeper into the details of the technology, I'd recommend Vijay Swami's post as an ideal reference.  That being said, we've adopted support for this technology within Storage Manager.


We can go on and on regarding the specifics of the data which is collected.  In summary, for VMAX gear, we collect the disk groups, the virtual pools, the tiers, the policies, and the storage groups.  For the VNX gear, we pull information on the physical drives, the storage pool, the LUN, and the tiering policy of those LUNs.


When you select an EMC SAN Array which supports FAST VP, you'll see this additional information in the sub-views in the Storage Tab.


Deprecation of Generic "Storage Array" Reports

The "Storage Array" report category is being deprecated.  In the announcement for Beta 1, we give the reason they are being deprecated.  If you want specifics, I'd recommend that you check out that post.


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