INFOBrief EMC® VisualSAN® Standard Edition Key Points The EMC® VisualSAN® Standard Edition software is designed for managing small- and medium- sized SANs. VisualSAN provides the required tools for managing a SAN with a simple, intuitive user interface. VisualSAN provides tools for performance management and configuration management, along with easy SAN installation and comprehensive troubleshooting support. Although designed for smaller SANs, VisualSAN is highly scalable, and can support enterprise class SANs. VisualSAN supports all Dell PowerVault and Dell | EMC devices in the SAN. (Note: Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 1 October 2002

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INFOBriefEMC® VisualSAN®

Standard Edition

Key Points

The EMC® VisualSAN® Standard Edition software is designed for managing small- and medium-sized SANs. VisualSAN provides the required tools for managing a SAN with a simple, intuitive user interface.

VisualSAN provides tools for performance management and configuration management, along with easy SAN installation and comprehensive troubleshooting support.

Although designed for smaller SANs, VisualSAN is highly scalable, and can support enterprise class SANs. VisualSAN supports all Dell PowerVault and Dell | EMC devices in the SAN. (Note: environments with heterogeneous storage from suppliers other than Dell should use EMC ControlCenter/Open Edition).

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 1 October 2002

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Storage area networks (SANs) offer IT departments a compelling option for centralizing and optimizing storage resources. Many organizations use SANs to support core applications, but continue to use direct-attached storage for distributed servers that run nonessential services, such as file and print management and Microsoft® Exchange. Moving the storage on these distributed servers to a SAN may help organizations to reduce management costs, gain better utilization of assets, and improve data security.

However, consolidating the storage of distributed servers is not without its challenges. Companies that develop SAN management tools tend to focus on enterprise-level SANs. They create tools that are often too large and complicated to manage a small- to medium-sized SAN. These tools are also quite costly, making this type of SAN financially impractical for many companies. Some organizations rely on multiple device management tools to manage smaller SANs, but those tools usually fail to supply all the necessary management information to support the SANs.

Product Description

VisualSAN is designed for managing small- and medium-sized SANs. It provides the required tools for managing a SAN with a simple, intuitive user interface. It also provides tools for performance management and configuration management, along with easy SAN installation and comprehensive troubleshooting support.

Although VisualSAN provides a user-friendly centralized console for management of small and medium sized SAN’s, it is highly scalable, and can support enterprise class SANs. VisualSAN supports all Dell PowerVault devices and Dell |EMC devices in the SAN.

Note: Environments with heterogeneous storage from suppliers other than Dell should use Dell’s high-end solution for SAN management: EMC ControlCenter/Open Edition.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 2 October 2002

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Features and Benefits

The following are the features and benefits of EMC VisualSAN.

Discover and Represent Devices within the SAN

VisualSAN uses in-band and out-of-band discovery techniques to identify the devices in the SAN. It distributes agents throughout the environment to gather information at a sublevel and then report back to the management station. By deploying these agents, VisualSAN® circumvents performance degradation and facilitates greater scalability.

Special Discovery Modules (DMs) have been designed to support Dell PowerVault and Dell | EMC devices to supply detailed information about the devices and their status. For non-Dell devices discovered in the SAN, VisualSAN allows users to manually specify information about the devices. VisualSAN uses industry-standard application programming interfaces (APIs) and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to deliver information during discovery.

The VisualSAN user interface displays SANs in both a tree structure and a topology map that represents physical and logical devices. Physical devices represented include not only those at the device and interconnect level, but also the host bus adapters (HBAs). Logical information includes zoning. Using these physical and logical device representations, administrators can isolate events and identify problems in the environment. The topology map provides a quick, visual reference for detailed device information, including event and performance statistics. The VisualSAN summary screen is shown in Figure 1.

Monitor Events within the SAN

The availability of a SAN depends on the health of the devices within the SAN. Continuous operation of the SAN requires monitoring the physical devices to identify those that may potentially fail or become critical. Monitoring the logical environment helps to identify capacity, availability, and performance issues. VisualSAN provides physical- and logical-level event management for all PowerVault and Dell | EMC devices and Dell PowerEdge servers. Administrators can choose to view system events in a consolidated table or by individual device.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 3 October 2002

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Figure 1VisualSAN Summary Screen

VisualSAN provides the choice of setting alerts for all events and devices or for only certain types of events or devices. It can send these alerts to a specific e-mail or IP address, and do so at a specific time. To provide a direct visual reference to problems, VisualSAN propagates warning and critical events to the topology map; see Figure 2.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 4 October 2002

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Figure 2 VisualSAN Tree Structure and Topology Map with Event Propagation

Report on Assets in the SAN

VisualSAN provides preset SAN-device reports for asset management and troubleshooting. The VisualSAN custom report generator enables users to create a specific report based on selected data.

Manage Devices from a Centralized Console

A SAN management console provides a central location for managing devices in a SAN. To effectively manage these devices, the administrator must perform several tasks:

Create logical unit number (LUNs) and volumes

Configure RAID

Set up LUN masking and mapping

Create zones

Expand capacity, virtual disks, and volumes online

Perform physical management of arrays, HBAs, switches, and disaster recovery solutions

Configure failover paths and load balancing

Manage tape devices, libraries, and tape backup

VisualSAN is fully integrated with the Dell | EMC Navisphere® management tools and Dell PowerVault management tools to handle these tasks. Administrators can launch these device management tools in context to the devices that are selected,

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 5 October 2002

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either through the topology map or the tree structure. VisualSAN is also integrated with Dell OpenManage™ Server Administrator to enable the management of Dell PowerEdge™ servers.

Create Zones within the SAN

A key element of SAN management is zoning devices to specific servers to maintain security. Like many other SAN management programs, VisualSAN offers this capability through fibre channel switches. Administrators can create a zone using a zoning wizard or the topology map, in which case they select the device to be zoned, right-click on the device, and assign a zone name. Either worldwide names or the specific port of the switch can define zones.

VisualSAN provides an additional level of zone management by visually representing the zone in the topology map. Administrators can see possible zone overlaps and no longer need to correlate worldwide name addresses or port addresses manually.

Figure 3 VisualSAN Zone Visualization

Simpler SAN Installation

Installing a SAN is a challenge. Since their inception, SANs have been plagued with interoperability problems. Many companies have invested significant resources in qualifying and verifying the interoperability of SAN devices. To verify that the correct levels of software, firmware, and drivers are installed, administrators must manually check these devices, which generally delays installation.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 6 October 2002

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VisualSAN will have a SAN validation function that compares tested configurations against the existing SAN configuration. Using information gathered in the discovery process at the beginning of the installation, VisualSAN compares the existing software, firmware, and driver levels to a known version that work. This comparison expedites the SAN installation process and facilitates future upgrades and additions to the SAN.

SAN Configuration Tool: EMC VisualSAN Configuration Manager

Problems that occur in a SAN can originate from one of two areas: a failed device or a change in the SAN. If a SAN device fails, events from the device identify the problem location, and the event management capabilities of VisualSAN can help administrators solve the problem quickly.

Every change made in a SAN can have an adverse effect. In fact, simple changes made in an effort to optimize a SAN configuration can backfire, initiating a cascading effect that brings down a significant portion of the SAN, if not the entire network. Aberrations within the SAN can even manifest days or weeks after a simple change has been made.

Dell offers a solution to change management in the SAN—the EMC VisualSAN Configuration Manager, an integrated, add-on component of VisualSAN. The VisualSAN Configuration Manager enables administrators to capture a visual image of the SAN at any point in time. The administrators define the objects or devices to be included in the image, as well as the device details to capture, such as device firmware and serial number, LUN information, zone configuration, worldwide node name, software and firmware levels, driver information, and any other information that directly affects SAN operation.

Administrators can also use the VisualSAN Configuration Manager images to keep change logs, manage assets, and replicate configurations.

Troubleshoot with Configuration Images

When a SAN is running at peak efficiency, VisualSAN can capture a “good,” or baseline, image of the SAN. This baseline configuration allows administrators to identify and analyze future changes made to the SAN configuration. When a problem that cannot be traced to device failure occurs within the SAN, then VisualSAN can capture a “bad” image. The VisualSAN Configuration Manager can provide a comparison of these two images to help administrators identify changes in the SAN that may have caused the problem. A SAN administrator using VisualSAN without the VisualSAN Configuration Manager add-on component can send both the “bad” and “good” images to Dell Technical Support for problem identification and analysis.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 7 October 2002

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The VisualSAN Configuration Manager graphically and textually flags any additions or deletions of SAN devices and any changes to existing SAN devices. With the graphical representation, visual cues immediately direct administrators to areas where changes have been made; in the textual report, administrators receive specific details on additions, deletions, or modifications.

The ability to compare two different configurations of the same SAN can be a powerful troubleshooting tool. Administrators can fix a problematic SAN by rolling back to the baseline configuration. This capability can help reduce SAN downtime and any associated service calls and technical support costs.

Figure 4VisualSAN Configuration Manager with Changes Represented in the Topology

Keep Track of Configuration Changes

Administrators continually update hardware, software, firmware, drivers, patches, and service packs. Many SAN administrators manually keep logs of revisions made to the infrastructure. When properly implemented, logging the change management process ensures tight control over all SAN updates. However, logging this process can also slow down and inhibit routine maintenance, and administrators may overlook seemingly insignificant changes.

Administrators can easily tailor the change process through the VisualSAN Configuration Manager scheduler, which automatically logs images of SAN configuration changes. Automated logging enhances routine maintenance and prompts

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 8 October 2002

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administrators to follow an established change process that can be audited and tracked. The VisualSAN Configuration Manager logs detailed information about each configuration change, including the date and time of the change. This process can result in a better-managed SAN with higher availability.

Figure 5VisualSAN Configuration Manager Detail Information

Manage Assets in the SAN

As the complexity of the SAN grows, so does the amount of time administrators must spend tracking inventory and assets, a task that distracts administrators from managing the performance and availability of the SAN. This redirection of efforts limits a company’s return on investment by underutilizing administrators’ talents. Administrators need a SAN management tool that quickly and transparently captures asset inventory, allowing them to concentrate on delivering performance and availability.

The configuration images captured by the VisualSAN Configuration Manager can become an automated method of asset management. The module can report detailed asset information, including serial numbers, asset tags, firmware levels, software levels, worldwide names, and TCP/IP addresses. Automating the collection of asset information frees administrators from the manual, time-consuming, and error-prone process of tracking assets so that they can focus on SAN performance and availability.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 9 October 2002

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Replicate Configurations in Multiple Locations

The VisualSAN Configuration Manager addresses another SAN configuration need—replication. When a large enterprise organization needs reliable SAN configurations in multiple locations, it often tests a standard configuration in a controlled lab environment before deployment. The organization then replicates the lab-tested configuration in several locations. Successful replication requires careful, disciplined control of the hardware and software configuration, even down to the firmware levels on hardware devices. Such control can significantly decrease support costs. It can also decrease spare-part inventory costs because organizations can stock fewer components.

The VisualSAN Configuration Manager enables organizations to replicate these desired, lab-controlled SAN configurations more easily. Its import and export utilities simplify SAN replication and enable administrators to compare configurations for accuracy. The module also provides device-specific information, such as firmware and software driver versions, for more precise control of replicated deployments.

Alternative to Direct-Attached Storage

Organizations seeking to replace direct-attached storage with small- to medium-sized SANs now have a suitable management tool. VisualSAN incorporates key SAN management capabilities: discovery, representation, event management, reporting, device management, zoning, and installation.

Armed with the VisualSAN Configuration Manager, VisualSAN also allows organizations to manage changes within the SAN configuration and achieve maximum return on investment from their SAN environments. With these tools, enterprise organizations can reduce costs, optimize asset use, and simplify their storage management.

SAN Performance Tool : EMC VisualSAN Performance Manager

Unclogging the Arteries

With all of the potential pitfalls awaiting a poorly configured SAN, it is imperative that the right tools are available to identify, isolate, and help resolve potential problems before they affect the SAN.

VisualSAN Performance Manager isn’t a nice add-on module to a SAN management application; it is an intricate piece to the management puzzle. Fully integrated into VisualSAN, the VisualSAN Performance Manager consists of a variety of features that enable the SAN administrator to be proactive in the management of the SAN. These features include: user defined alerts that allow the administrator to determine which performance variables are critical to the health of the SAN;

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 10 October 2002

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performance visualization so that hot and cold spots can be quickly located in even the most complex environments; and performance reports so that data can be analyzed to prevent potential problems before they occur.

Figure 6VisualSAN Performance Manager with Performance Propagation to the Topology Map and the Live SAN Meter

Red Alert!

Performance alerts are a SAN administrator’s best friend. Customizable alerts allow the administrator to choose from a variety of parameters on any link, set thresholds, and configure alert notifications. By actively monitoring the parameters of the SAN, the administrator can be notified when warning or critical thresholds are penetrated. Then the administrator can begin preventive measures to rectify the situation before saturation or bottlenecks occur, leading to lost revenue.

VisualSAN Performance Manager allows the administrator to define thresholds for a variety of parameters on each link. This allows the administrator to configure each link as a separate entity with its own unique characteristics. Some links may be hotter than others, so the administrator may wish to enforce stricter performance requirements to ensure optimal performance at all times.

As SANs move toward supporting multiple data rate links, the ability to monitor each link independently and choose which variables are important will become critical. VisualSAN and the VisualSAN Performance Manager enable the administrator to

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 11 October 2002

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configure alerts within the SAN quickly and easily, in a visually appealing package that is user-friendly and intuitive. Threshold and alert configuration screens allow the administrator to select multiple links and assign thresholds collectively. All of these capabilities provide administrators with the necessary tools to proactively monitor the state of the SAN.

Visualizing Performance

Once all of the thresholds are configured, the VisualSAN Performance Manager goes to the next level and provides enhanced visualization capabilities that represent threshold levels on the topology map. Often under utilized, the topology map provides a wealth of information about the SAN. Aside from providing detailed interconnect information, device status, and an overview of the entire SAN, using the VisualSAN Performance Manager, the topology map provides for an overlay of performance information on each link. At any given time, the topology map will represent the current threshold state as a color variation on the map. As an example, a blue color could indicate an under utilized link, while a red color signifies a critical link. This will allow the administrator to quickly identify hot and cold spots within the SAN. By combining the capability to visualize zone configuration and performance information, the administrator will have more control over backups and determine where the highest performing links are located.

In addition to the high level information on the topology map, VisualSAN Performance Manager provides a comprehensive set of live graphs. The graphs are able to plot multiple links on the same chart to compare data from any of the link variables. The administrator can adjust the time scale and update rate for complete control of the graphs. This advanced control capability allows the administrator to choose which data is most important. For example, two graphs may be created within the VisualSAN Performance Manager: one to monitor relatively cold links, and one to monitor two high performing links. The graph monitoring the cold links may only be updated every three to five seconds, but the graph monitoring the hot links is updated every second and scaled to show up to an hour’s worth of data on the graph. By increasing the time scale, the administrator can perform live trending analysis. This may be especially important during backup windows.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 12 October 2002

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Figure 7VisualSAN Performance Manager Historical Graph of Activity

Closing the Window on Backups

Even with redundant connections and duplicate volumes, it is imperative to schedule regular backups of the data on the SAN. Data is the most valuable resource a company has, so maintaining its integrity and availability are crucial to the company’s success. In order to optimize the SAN during backup periods and minimize the backup window, careful consideration must be taken when creating zone configurations and data paths. Removing a highly utilized link from operation during a backup could cause bottlenecks in other areas and potentially saturate links.

The VisualSAN Performance Manager provides the administrator with the detailed information necessary to determine how to decrease the backup window by optimizing the performance of the SAN. Optimization can come in many forms such as: enabling multiple links between the storage devices to increase bandwidth, removing links that are being utilized by normal operations, or reconfiguring the data path between the devices through zoning.

Having all of the necessary data will allow the administrator to make the best choices in configuring the SAN, and reduce the amount of troubleshooting necessary to optimize overall SAN performance.

Growing Pains

The VisualSAN Performance Manager incorporates a persistent database to monitor the performance metrics within the SAN.

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This database will provide the administrator with the ability to evaluate trends in the SAN over time. The ability to store a day or two of data is not sufficient for these purposes. Analysis of this caliber requires months, or even years, worth of data to accurately assess the future needs of the SAN.

The administrator can select the parameters that will be stored in the database for each link, and individually select the parameters that should be charted on historical graphs. This functionality gives the administrator complete control over the analysis of the SAN.

Administrators can utilize the VisualSAN Performance Manager to spot trends and be able to proactively manage the SAN before the performance problems even arise. The administrator can select ranges of data to be viewed and analyzed. Preset trending algorithms are available at the administrator’s fingertips to easily diagnose the SAN. All of this is available through an easy to use and understand graphical user interface.

There is a potential for hundreds, or even thousands, of parameters to be logged into the database. Over time, the database can reach an unmanageable size. In order to efficiently manage all of the data, database management tools are needed. The VisualSAN Performance Manager provides tools that allow the administrator to compress the data in a way that the important artifacts remain intact. These artifacts include: peak sustained, highest value, lowest value, and average value over a user-defined period of time. The administrator can configure the manner in which the compression events take place.

The compression techniques condense the data at user-defined intervals. These intervals can be one day, one week, one month, or one year. This means that all of the data within the interval will be compressed to a single data point (or collection of points, depending on the administrator’s criteria). More advanced database management functions include the ability to compress data differently depending on its correlation to the current date and time. Older data can be more aggressively compressed, while preserving the newest data. Alerts can be triggered when the database reaches a specified size to notify the administrator. The administrator can also script a policy that automatically performs a user-defined task, such as compressing data older than one month, or dropping the oldest data in the database to make room for the new data, while conforming to pre-defined size restrictions.

Service and SupportPlease note: Dell services vary by region. The services listed below are available in the United States; please contact your local representative for more information, or visit http://www.dell.com.

Professional Services

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Storage Solutions: Dell's integrated storage services portfolio offers a full range of lifecycle storage services from initial assessment to planning and design through our tools-based methodologies and best practices. Dell can assist with effective planning, rapid deployment and efficient operations of storage solutions.


Dell/EMC: Dell provides pre-sales design & site readiness assessment free of charge. On-site installation of Dell/EMC Storage systems, unpacking of Dell/EMC hardware, assembly of select rack components, rack mounting of systems and power-on of devices are available as part of the Dell/EMC package. And when purchasing a SAN, Dell offers system planning, design documentation, select software installation, configuration of switches, SAN cabling, host connectivity, creation of storage groups, product orientation session, and extensive custom options.

Training and Certification

Dell Certified Enterprise Engineer Program (DCEE): Dell offers an industry-standard certification program for customers who are technical support managers, systems engineers, enterprise administrators, and NOC managers. Content tracks are PowerEdge™ Server, Systems Management, Business Continuity, and Network Storage. Participants can progress through Foundation, Associate, Master and Master Instructor levels.

Gold Support (standard with a Dell/EMC system)

7x24 Problem Prevention and Account Management:

Technical Account Manager (TAM) Services

Change Notification Services

30 Day Getting Started Helpline1

7x24 Rapid Resolution:

TAM Services

Engineer-to-Engineer Phone Support with Dell’s Enterprise Expert Center Phone Queue

Customer-Defined Call Priority

Advanced Remote Software & Storage Support

Seamless Support

7x24 4-Hour Response On-Site2

Hardware Support

Premier Support dell.com

Optional Services:

Remote Monitoring

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On-Site Spares

On-Site Engineer

On-Site Troubleshooting

Customer Training on-site or at Dell facility

For details on all programs contact Dell. Service specifications are valid in the US only and subject to change without notification.

1 30-day telephone support program is at no additional charge to help customers with installation optimization and configuration questions during the critical 30-day period after shipment of PowerEdgeTM or PowerVault™systems. Support provided after the 30-day Getting Started Program will be for only the Dell hardware

2Service may be provided by third-party. Technician will be dispatched if necessary following phone-based troubleshooting. Subject to parts availability and geographical restrictions. Service timing dependent upon time of day call placed to Dell. Subject to terms of service contract. U.S. only.

Dell cannot be responsible for errors in typography and photography.

Dell, Dell OpenManage, PowerEdge, and PowerVault are trademarks of Dell Computer Corporation. EMC, Visual SAN, and Navisphere are registered trademarks of EMC Corporation. Other trademarks and trade names may be used in this document to refer to either the entities claiming the marks and names or their products. Dell disclaims proprietary interest in the marks and names of others.

©Copyright 2002 Dell Computer Corporation. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of Dell Computer Corporation is strictly forbidden. For more information contact Dell.

Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 16 October 2002