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QNAP Plugin for VMWare vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI)

Overview

What is VAAI

VMware vStorage APIs Integration (VAAI) is a set of APIs provides by vSphere that allows the ESXi hosts to offload data processing of certain storage-related services to storage systems. The QNAP ES NAS will process the data instead of the ESXi hosts.

Overall Benefits

The integration of QNAP NAS with VMware VAAI offers customers the chance to deploy a virtualized environment with optimized performance. Besides that, it will offload the data processing to the NAS and releases additional resource from ESXi hosts in certain tasks.

VAAI for iSCSI supports 4 features

  • Full copy (hardware-assisted copy)
  • Block zeroing (hardware-assisted zeroing)
  • Hardware-assisted locking
  • Thin provisioning and space reclaim

VAAI for NAS (NFS) supports 3 features

  • Full File Clone
  • Space Reserve
  • Extended Statistic

VAAI for iSCSI

VAAI iSCSI - Block Copy

Block Copy enables the QNAP storage to make full copies of data within the NAS without needing to have the ESXi host read and write the data.

  • Without VAAI:
    When an ESXi host copies data without VAAI, it will have to read the data from the NAS, and write back the data to the NAS to copy the data. This process consumes memory, network bandwidth, and CPU from the ESXi host, decreasing the resources available for the VMs.
  • With VAAI:
    When an ESXi host copies data with VAAI, it will send a command to the NAS, and wait for the result. This process offloads the loading to the Turbo NAS, and leaves the resources allocated to the VM unchanged. The copy process is done in the NAS directly by the NAS. CPU, memory, and network bandwidth are not used in the copy procedure.
  • Benefits:
    • Reduces the loading of ESXi hosts
    • Faster virtual machine cloning
    • Faster template deployment
    • Faster storage vMotion

VAAI iSCSI - Block Zeroing

Block Zeroing allows the QNAP NAS to zero out a large number of blocks to speed up the provisioning of VMs.

  • Without VAAI:
    When an ESXi host creates and initializes a virtual disk without VAAI, it has to write numerous zeroes to the NAS to create the initialized file. This process consumes memory, network bandwidth, and CPU from the ESXi host, decreasing the resources available for the VMs.
  • With VAAI:
    When an ESXi host creates and initializes a virtual disk with VAAI, it will send a command to the NAS, and waits for the result. This process offloads the loading to the Turbo NAS, and leaves the resources allocated to the VM unchanged. The block initialization process is done by the NAS directly. CPU, memory, and network bandwidth are not used for that operation.
  • Benefits of Block Zeroing
    • Reduces the loading of ESXi hosts.
    • Faster allocation of the capacity for virtual machines.
  • Effective usage
    • Create Thick Provision Eager Zeroed virtual disks.
    • Create VM with Thick Provision Eager Zeroed virtual disks.

VAAI iSCSI - Hardware assisted Locking

Hardware Assisted Locking improves efficiency on large clusters by locking only required blocks instead of the entire LUN. When read/write operations occur from one ESXi server, it will keep the rest of the LUN available to be accessed to increase efficiency.

  • Without Hardware Assisted Locking
    When an ESXi host is accessing a datastore on an iSCSI LUN, the iSCSI LUN will be locked and other ESXi hosts have to wait the LUN to be released. The more ESXi hosts that share the same datastore, the lower the performance will be.
  • With Hardware Assisted Locking
    When an ESXi host is accessing a datastore on an iSCSI LUN, the required blocks are locked, and the iSCSI LUN remains available for the other ESXi hosts. More concurrent operations can be achieved while maintaining a good performance level.
  • Benefits of Hardware assisted Locking
    • Permits the QNAP NAS to scale to more VMs
    • Permits more ESXi hosts without performance penalty.
  • Effective usage
    • Large VMware cluster with shared datastores.

VAAI iSCSI - Thin Provisioning and Space Reclaim

Thin Provisioning allows the allocation of capacity only when it’s needed. It is possible to pre-allocate capacity for iSCSI LUNs without effectively using it. This capacity will be used only when data, Virtual Machines or virtual disks, will be stored in the LUN.

Space Reclaim allows the space to be released when VM or virtual disks are deleted or migrated to other LUNs. It avoids wasting capacity after data has been removed.

  • Without Thin Provisioning and Space Reclaim:
    Without Thin Provisioning and Space Reclaim, the space allocation is done at LUN creation, and cannot be released until the LUN is deleted. In that case, if an administrator creates a 100 TB LUN, the 100 TB will be reserved for the LUN and cannot be used for any other applications. If some data are deleted from the LUN, the NAS will not have more free space, as the deleted data cannot be freed. The storage management is less flexible, requires more physical capacity (Hard Drives) and increases costs.
  • With Thin Provisioning and Space Reclaim:
    With Thin Provisioning and Space Reclaim, the space allocation is done only when data is effectively written, and it can be released when data is deleted. In that case, if an administrator creates a 100 TB LUN, but will be consumed only when VM are created, and will be released when VMs are deleted. The free space on the NAS will dynamically increase and decrease as the VMs are created and deleted. The storage management is much more flexible and requires less physical capacity (Hard Drives). It increases efficiency and reduces costs of storage.
  • Benefits of Thin Provisioning and Space Reclaim
    • More accurate reporting of real disk space usage.
    • Better and more efficient storage management
    • Reduce costs of storage.
    • Use capacity only when needed
    • Purchase Hard Drives only when needed
  • Effective usage
    • VM creation / deletion
    • Snapshot creation/deletion

VAAI for NAS (NFS)

VAAI NAS - Full file clone

Similar to the Full Copy in VAAI iSCSI, it enables the QNAP storage to make full copies of data within the NAS without needing to have the ESXi host read and write the data.

  • Without Full File Clone:
    When an ESXi host copies data without VAAI, it will have to read the data from the NAS, and write back the data to the NAS to copy the data. This process consumes memory, network bandwidth, and CPU from the ESXi host, decreasing the resources available for the VMs.
  • With Full File Clone:
    When an ESXi host copies data with VAAI, it will send a command to the NAS, and wait for the result. This process offloads the loading to the Turbo NAS, and leaves the resources allocated to the VM unchanged. The copy process is done in the NAS directly. CPU, memory, and network bandwidth are not used for the
  • Benefits of Full file clone
    • Reduces the loading of ESXi hosts
  • Effective usage
    • vCenter Cloning
    • Storage vMotion (cold clone)
    • Deploy VMs from templates

VAAI NAS - Space Reserve

Historically, vSphere only supported building thin provisioned virtual disks on NFS. By supporting the Reserve Space, a space pre-allocated virtual disk (thick provision eager zeroed disk) is possible in QNAP NFS datastores, by offloading the file creation onto the NAS.

  • Without Space Reserve
    Without Space Reserve, user cannot create Thick Provisioned virtual disks on NFS datastore and only Thin Provisioned is available.
  • With Space Reserve:
    With Space Reserve, user can create Thick Provisioned virtual disks on NFS datastores.
  • Benefits of Space Reserve
    • Better virtual disk read/write performance (thin provision disks vs thick provision disks)

VAAI NAS - Extended statistic

  • Extended Statistic enables vSphere to query space utilization details for virtual disks on QNAP NFS datastores. This includes the size of a virtual disk and the real space consumption of the virtual disk.
  • The extended statistics are used by VMware during some specific operations like Space Reserve and Clone.

Also, it can be retrieve by command line from the ESXi host:

Installation and Verification

VAAI for iSCSI

VAAI iSCSI does not require any installation. It is enabled in VMware by default.

  • Verified by GUI mode
    To Verify that the storage supports VAAI, simply open the storage configuration in vSphere Client, select the datastore. The column “Hardware Acceleration” (VAAI) will show supported.
  • Verified by CLI mode via SSH or ESXi shell

We can see the 4 VAAI features supported by the QNAP iSCSI LUN.
Enabling and disabling VAAI in VMware is possible. Please refer to VMware documentation for this operation:
Disabling the VAAI functionality in ESXi/ESX (1033665): http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1033665

VAAI for NAS (NFS)

VAAI NFS requires the installation of VAAI plugin on each ESXi hosts.

If the ESXi servers are not connected to internet:

  • Download the VAAI NAS plugin from: http://www.qnap.com/utility
  • Install the plugin by following the procedure of Installing patches on an ESXi 5.x/6.x host from the command line: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2008939
    • Upload the patch to a datastore on your ESXi 5.x/6.x host using the Datastore Browser from vCenter or a direct connection to the ESXi 5.x/6.x host using the vSphere client.
      Migrate or power off the virtual machines running on the host and put the host into maintenance mode. The host can be put into maintenance mode from the command line with:

      #  vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_enter

    • Navigate to the directory on the datastore where the patch file was uploaded to and verify that the file exists:

      #  cd /vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName
      # ls

      Where Datastore is the datastore name where the patch file was uploaded to, and DirectoryName is the directory you created on the datastore.
    • Install or update a patch on the host using these  esxcli commands:
      To Install by using local setup:

      # esxcli software vib install -v
      "/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName/PluginName.vib" 

      Where PatchName.zip is the name of the patch file you uploaded to the datastore.
      To Update by using local setup

      # esxcli software vib update -v
      "/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName/PluginName.vib" 

    • Verify that the VIBs are installed on your ESXi host:

      # esxcli software vib list 

      For example:
    • After the patch has been installed, reboot the ESX host:

      # reboot

    • After the host has finished booting, exit maintenance mode and power on the virtual machines:

      # vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_exit

  • Verify from vSphere client that “Hardware Acceleration” is supported as following snapshot

Note: During the installation, if a previous version of the plugin was installed, it will be listed as VIBs Removed:

Datum vydání: 2016-06-02
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