vriendelijke groeten with VAAI on SVC and Storwize V7000

I recently got a great email from an IBMer in the  Netherlands by the name of Jack Tedjai. He sent me two screen shots, taken with the new performance monitor panel (that comes with the SVC and Storwize V7000 6.2 code).    He wrote:

I am working on a project to migrate VMware/SRM/DS5100 to SVC Stretch Cluster and one of the goals is to prevent using ISL (4Gbps) and VMware Hypervisor/HBA load during the migration.  For the migration we are using VMware Storage vMotion. To minimize the impact of the migration on production, we tested VAAI for Storage vMotion and template deployment and it worked perfectly.

So whats this all about?  Well one of the improvements provided with VAAI support is the ability to dramatically offload the I/O processing generated by performing a storage vMotion.     Normally a storage vMotion requires an ESX server to issue lots of reads from the source datastore and lots of writes to the target datastore.   So there is a lot of I/O flowing from ESX to the SVC, and then from the SVC to its backend disk.  What you get is something that looks like the image below.  In the top right graph we have traffic from SVC to ESX (host to volume traffic).  In the bottom right graph we have traffic from the SVC to its backend disk controllers (DS5100 in this case).  This is SVC to MDisk traffic.

When we add VAAI support to the SVC, we suddenly change the picture.   Suddenly VMWare does not need to do any of the heavy lifting.  There is almost no I/O between VMWare and the SVC (no host to SVC volume traffic) related to the vMotion.   The SVC is still doing the work, but it is happening in the background without burning VMWare CPU cycles or HBA ports (in that there is still SVC to MDisk traffic).

This difference translates to:   Faster vMotion times, far less SAN I/O and far less VMware CPU being used on this process.

So do VMware support this?   They sure do!  Check this link here.  It currently shows something like this (taken on June 23, 2011):

So what are your next steps?

  1. Upgrade your Storwize V7000 or SVC to version 6.2 code.  Download details are here.
  2. Download and install the VAAI driver onto your ESX servers.  You can get it from here.  If your already using the XIV VAAI driver you need to upgrade from version to version 1.2.  There is an installation guide at the same link.

And the blog title?  It means friendly greetings in Dutch.   So to Jack (and to all of you),  vriendelijke groeten and please keep sending me those screen captures.


About Anthony Vandewerdt

I am an IT Professional who lives and works in Melbourne Australia. This blog is totally my own work. It does not represent the views of any corporation. Constructive and useful comments are very very welcome.
This entry was posted in Storwize V7000, SVC and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to vriendelijke groeten with VAAI on SVC and Storwize V7000

  1. Pingback: VAAI on SVC and Storwize V7000 | Storage CH Blog

  2. David says:

    Hi Anthony

    While I am glad there is VAAI support on the various arrays, any explanation why it is an additional install on each vSphere server, and not just leveraging the inbuilt drivers?

    Also, any idea if the drivers are going to be added to the IBM vSphere media located at http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/x/os/vmware/esxi/ ?

    Keep up the excellent articles


    • avandewerdt says:

      Great questions (and thanks for reading my blog!).

      The need to install an additional driver to ESX is fairly universal. If you check out Steve Fosketts excellent blog, you can see the list here:
      Every vendor has a different plugin, I suspect mainly to reflect variations in the way the hardware vendors implement VAAI.

      As for packaging it with IBM’s own release of ESXi, I have asked product management that very question. I am waiting for a timetable as to when we will slipstream the hardware support into it.

  3. David says:

    Hi Anthony

    Thanks for the reply and the links. I will be interested to know when it makes it into the IBM or vSphere releases.

    Thanks and keep up the excellent articles.


  4. avandewerdt says:

    Hi David.

    Sadly at this moment there is no plan to slipstream the IBM VAAI driver into IBMs customized version of ESXi. I am pushing for it to be done, but one inhibitor is that vSphere 5 will not need a vendor supplied driver anymore…

  5. David says:


    Hmm interesting re the the vSphere integration. Not all customers will move to vSphere 5 straight away or within 6 months of the release, so the integration would be useful.

    Thanks for the information.


  6. mstandau says:

    Hello Anthony,
    will this approach also work for data migrations into SVC? So lets assume you have a storage system connected to ESX and you want to implement SVC with new backend storage. Could we use the VAAI approach also for copying image mode disks to managed mode disks?

    I know we can use SVCs migration or vdisk mirror to achieve the same, but with this approach we could have the ESX admin manage/control the migration.

    • avandewerdt says:

      Yes this works.
      If you have an ESX Datastore behind SVC as Image Mode and you present new volumes to ESX to act as Datastores and these volumes are striped managed mode type volumes, then the client can use VMware Storage VMotion to move the VMDKs between Datastores and VAAI will offload that work to the SVC.

  7. Pingback: Updating the IBM VAAI driver in ESXi | Aussie Storage Blog

  8. Dorde Knezevic / SVA GmbH / says:

    I’m no VMware Expert, but nearly every of my customer is working with it. Today I received a mail with a Question about VASA. I found a link to a Blog of VMware and it was interessting but not satisfying.


    All of the competitors gave answers just Big Blue seams not to be interessted.

    Do you have any information about vSphere 5.0 integration to SVC/V7000 or the VASA thing?

    I know it’s brand new. but the other players seems to be ready.

    Thanx a lot!

    • avandewerdt says:

      VASA integration is coming, but there are so many outstandingly cool updates coming for the Storwize V7000/SVC code base, it may not be till next year. There is nothing to stop you manually setting up VASA in the meantime. Dont mistake an already very packed development plan with disinterest. There are only so many things that we want to change at one time.

  9. Vipin says:

    Thanks Anthony…
    Very Nicely explained..Especially those two charts makes the difference..

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