Best Practice #11: Configure NetApp (Storage) Integration
Disclaimer: I am a NetApp advocate, so I use NetApp as the example here, though certainly other storage vendors have their own plugins and APIs for VMware.
NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for VMware vSphere® is a vSphere client plug-in that fully integrates with vCenter and enables central administra- tion of VMware vSphere environments. . . . It combines several key technologies that deliver comprehensive, centralized management of NetApp storage operations in both SAN- and NAS-based VMware virtual server and desktop infrastructures. These operations include discovery, health monitoring, capacity manage- ment, provisioning, cloning, backup, recovery, and VM optimization.
— NetApp Datasheet 3057
- Better visibility into your vSphere storage. You can see deduplication savings along with other storage efficiency metrics, how utilized LUNs and mounts are, and so forth—but from a backend, NetApp perspective, and not just the vSphere datastore view.
- Configure ESXi hosts according to best practices. Using the VSC you can put hosts into maintenance mode, apply NFS, QueueDepth, TCP, and PSP settings automatically in order to align with NetApp/vSphere best practices. Nice!
- Quick backup and restore operations. You can backup individual VMs or entire datastores, and even perform single-item restores, all from the VSC console.
- Rapid provisioning and cloning. For larger environments, or moving things from production to test/dev, or even to simulate a failure and test your backups, you can rapidly provision and clone entire volumes and/or thousands of virtual machines, and do so very quickly by offloading all the work to the NetApp storage processors.
- Optimize your virtual machines. I have already explained how I/O misalignment still hurts VM performance today, and how the VSC can easily help to correct this, providing a 20% or more increase in performance!
Note: VSC 5.0 is compatible with the vSphere 5.5 Web Client only! Legacy client users must stay at 4.2.1 for now (and likely for the future, since all vSphere products will now be developed for the Web Client only).
VASA Provider acts as an information pipeline that provides information to the vCenter Server about NetApp® storage systems associated with VSC. Sharing this information with vCenter Server enables you to make more intelligent virtual machine provisioning decisions and be notified when certain storage conditions might affect your VMware environment.
— NetApp VASA Provider Overview (login required)