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VMware, IBM ServeRAID and SMART disk drives

Posted on 2009-02-16
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Hello, everyone.

Our VMware ESX server is installed od IBM System X 3500 server using DAS drives connected to ServeRAID 8k controller, and configured using ServeRAID Bootable CD (two RAID drives, 73 GB for VMware and 1TB for VMs).

However, I was wondering about disk health monitoring and diagnostics. Since I read few articles here and on VMware Communities, there are no ideas and solutions on how to install ServeRAID software on VMware server, although IBM offers ServeRAID 9 software for VMware.

The only thing I have discovered is that nobody really considers installing the software on ESX, and I would like to know why is that the fact? Are there any other ideas or propositions?

After all, ServeRAID is great if we are talking about drive's health monitoring and diagnostics. I guess all of you know about the SMART technology (Self Monitoring And Reporting Technology) which provides informations about disk drives health, and in the situation of soon-to-be-dead drives it generates the alerts in form of e-mail. Few times in the past, this functions saved my date (or my life).

So, my question would be this:

If there is a possibility to install ServeRAID, what is the procedure, since I'm not too big expert in Linux? And, if it is not possible, how can I monitor the health of physical drives in the server?

Thanks for the information and suggestions!
Damir.
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Question by:dpohl
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Expert Comment

by:Paul Solovyovsky
ID: 23655936
The reason you can't install software onto the service console is because ESX is a highly optimized and proprietery Operating System.  The Service Console (based on Linux is actually not the hypervisor but a specialized virtual machine that allows it to interface with the vmkernel - the hypervisor)

A lot of things you can do in linux are not available in the console and installing them may cause operational failures. In general with VMWAre most customer configure ESX clusters so that if hardware fails HA will start running the VMs on the other hosts until you resolve any issues.  

My $.02
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by:dpohl
ID: 23657454
Paulsolov,

thanks for the introduction to the architecture. I'm well aware of it, however, I am still concerned about hardware failures. Since this is a server which is supposed to be a test environment, there is no real need for VMware's HA services you are talking about. And I'm not too sure how VMware handles those events.
I don't think that VMware created the things that include that someone has to check the server in server room every hour or everyday just to see if all disks' LEDs are blinking green and not yellow.
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Expert Comment

by:Paul Solovyovsky
ID: 23658138
You may want to check if IBM offers a snmp package for the server.  For instance, HP offers insight manager for vmware which is installed on the esx box and provides snmp agents.  I configure a trap and use snmp monitoring software to monitor server health.  If a snmp agent for the raid controller is part of the install it may be a solution
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by:dpohl
ID: 23658327
Yes, IBM provides the IBM Director Agent for ESX for the management. Just as they offer ServeRAID agent, too.
Actually, my initial question, although pointing to the ServeRAID software was about the procedure to install it. IBM doesn't offer any documentation about it, but as I said in the question - I was hoping that someone will give me a hint on the procedure to install the software on ESX in general. The reason is simple - I would like to install not just ServeRAID, but also the UPS management for safe server shutdown in case of the power failure.

I have to apologize for the question, but honestly, I am coming from the Windows Server world, so you must understanda my very limited knowledge to the Linux in general. I am ready to learn, and, if neededm to reinstall ESX unlimited number of times... Only to learn how things work.
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Paul Solovyovsky earned 1500 total points
ID: 23660336
the installation should be the same as the linux instructions (if the have a linux version). You will need to get the software on the ESX host by using WinSCP or I preffer Veeam FastSCP. You'll need to connect afterwards using SSH and then unzip/untar and run the script to install.  Have't done IBM but have done this on HP and Dells in the past
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Author Comment

by:dpohl
ID: 23680927
Paul,

thanks for everything. Now I find that there is another problem. I tried to connect to the server using WinSCP, but it constantly rejects the connection reporting access denied error. When I logon to the server's console, the username and password are accepted. Also, using the web console of the server, everything is ok.

Any suggestions on this matter?
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Assisted Solution

by:Paul Solovyovsky
Paul Solovyovsky earned 1500 total points
ID: 23681752
Give Veaam FastSCP a try (free).  Normally ESX doesn't allow root access to the ESX adn FastSCP has the capability to provide a regular user and -su to root.  Afterwards you can browse freely.  I've had issues with WinSCP and others but FastSCP works great and allows you to open files from the ESX server, modify, and place back without going into the console (you'll have to go into the console either way to run the executable)
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Author Comment

by:dpohl
ID: 23681757
Ok, I'm really sorry for questions like this. So, forget about the last question, since I discovered that ESX by default doesn't allow SSH connections. After I resolved the issue, everything went well. Now, I'm in the phase of exploring the ways to install the mentioned software, and will get back to you about the progress.
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Author Comment

by:dpohl
ID: 23686885
Paul,

at the end of the day, I have to say BIG THANK YOU for the help.

Not that I only succeeded in SRM installation, but I learnt about ESX service console and configuring the firewall in one day more than I did in my entire career.

So, again - thank you, because it now really works. And it works great!
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