What’s new in EMC Clariion CX4 FLARE 30

20 10 2010

CLARiiON CX4 UltraFlex I/O module - Copyright: EMC Corporation.A little while back, EMC released a new version of it’s CLARiiON Fibre Logic Array Runtime Environment, or in short “FLARE” operating environment. This release brings us to version 04.30 and again has some enhancements that might interest you, so once more here’s a short overview of what this update packs:

Let’s start off with some basics. Along with this update you will find updated firmware versions for the following:

    Enclosure: DAE2		- FRUMon: 5.10
    Enclosure: DAE2-ATA	- FRUMon: 1.99
    Enclosure: DAE2P	- FRUMon: 6.71
    Enclosure: DAE3P	- FRUMon: 7.81

Major changes:

  • With version 04.30.000.5.507 you get support for FCoE. Prerequisite is using a 10 Gigabit Ethernet I/O module on CX4-120, CX4-240, CX4-480, and CX4-960 arrays.
  • SATA EFD support.
  • Following that point, you can now use Fibre Channel EFD and SATA EFD in the same DAE.
  • And, you can now also mix Fibre Channel and SATA EFDs in the same RAID group.
  • VMware vStorage API support in form of “vStorage full copy acceleration” (basically the array takes care of copying all the blocks, instead of sending everything to and from the application) and in form of “Compare and Swap” (an enhancement to the LUN locking mechanism).
  • Rebuild avoidance. This feature will change the routing of I/O to the service processor that still has access to all the drives in the RAID group. You do need write caching to be enabled if you want to be able to use this feature.
  • Virtual provisioning, basically EMC’s name for thin provisioning on the array.

There are some nice features in there, but for me personally the virtual provisioning, the FCoE support and the vStorage API support are the main ones.

One thing that caught my eye was in the section called limitations for FLARE version 04.30.000.5.507. In the release notes you will find the following statement:

Host attach support – Supported host attached systems are limited to the following operating systems: Windows, VMWare, and Linux

Which would mean that you have a problem when you are using something else like Solaris or HP-UX. I’m trying to get some confirmation, and I’ll update this post as soon as I have more info.

Update

The statement has changed in the meantime:

Host attach support – Supported hosts that can be attached over an FCoE connection are limited to the following operating systems: Windows, VMWare, and Linux

Which means that this is just related to FCoE connected hosts.


After some feedback on Twitter from among others Andrew Sharrock, I’d thought it might be wise to talk a few sentences about the Virtual Provisioning feature.

In short, Virtual Provisioning was already introduced with FLARE 28. Problem was that at the time, you could only use the feature with thin pools. Basically, with this update, you also get support for a newer version of the feature. Things that were added are:

  • Thick LUNs
  • LUN expand and shrink
  • Tiering preference (storage allocation from pools with mixed drives and different performance characteristics)
  • Per-tier tracking support of pool usage
  • RAID 1/0 support for pools
  • Increased limits for drive usage in pools




Shorts: How to check the FLARE version of your CLARiiON?

1 04 2010

I decided to introduce something new on my blog. It’s something I’ve decided to call “shorts”. In these shorts I will try to pick some fairly simple and common questions that come up from the searches to my blog and try to give a short descriptive answer to help you out.

So, in this short:

How to check the FLARE version of your CLARiiON?

There are two simple ways to check the release of your FLARE operating environment.

  1. Use the NaviSphere GUI and right click on the array icon inside NaviSphere. Select Properties from the menu and go to the “software” tab. This will give you an overview of all licensed software that is enabled on your array. Should you be in engineering mode, you will find all the software that was pre-loaded on the array, but only those items that have a dash/minus sign in front of them are enabled. In that list of items you should find something like this:
    FLARE-Operating-Environment 03.26.010.5.016
  2. You can also use the navicli or naviseccli to enter the command “navicli ndu -list -isactive” and get a list of all active software on your array. The entry for your FLARE version would look similar to this:
    Name of the software package:        FLARE-Operating-Environment
    Revision of the software package:    03.26.010.5.016
    Commit Required:                     NO
    Revert Possible:                     NO
    Active State:                        YES
    Required packages:                   FA_MIB 260, AnalyzerProvider 260, RPSplitterEngine 260, MVAEngine 260, OpenSANCopy 260, MirrorView 260, SnapView 260, EMCRemoteNG 260, SANCopyProvider 260, SnapViewProvider 260, SnapCloneProvider 260, MirrorProvider 260, CLIProvider 260, APMProvider 260, APMUI 260, AnalyzerUI 260, MirrorViewUI 260, SANCopyUI 260, SnapViewUI 260, ManagementUI 260, ManagementServer 260, Navisphere 260, Base 263
    Is installation completed:           YES
    Is this System Software:             NO

As you can see, finding out which version of FLARE you have is actually quite simple. Good luck, and let me know if this works for you.





Is it possible to downgrade the Clariion CX FLARE to a lower version?

29 12 2009

After checking the searches that lead to my blog, one came up that was interesting to me, so I decided to answer the question in fairly short post since it might be useful to some. The question was if it is possible to downgrade from one major version of the FLARE operating environment to a lower version.

The short answer is: Yes. It is possible to downgrade, but there are some situations that you need to consider, and here are some scenarios with the matching answer:

Major versions:

So, let’s say you want to downgrade from FLARE 29 to FLARE 28.

  • If you have upgraded, but not yet “committed” the new version you are all set. You can downgrade without any problems. However, it is most unlikely that this is a situation you will actually encounter. With newer versions that bring you features such as spinning down drives or shrinking of thin LUNs, you actually need to commit the newer version. If you don’t you won’t be able to use these new features, which is why it is most unlikely to find people running an uncommitted major FLARE version for longer times.
  • If you have upgraded and committed the new major version you can still downgrade. Drawback is that you can’t do it yourself. In such a case you need to consider how much the downgrade brings you, because you need to contact one of the engineering teams. They can install an older version but keep in mind that this is not something that is easily done.

Minor versions:

You want to downgrade from one of higher patch versions. For example from patch .018 to .010.

  • Again, If you have upgraded, but not yet “committed” the new patch you are all set. You can downgrade without any problems.
  • If you have committed the new patch you can still downgrade, but this involves the engineering mode and I would recommend to still contact one of EMC’s engineering teams so that they can help you. It’s not an option that is recommended or supported as a self-service scenario, but the procedure is not as intrusive as it is when downgrading a major release.

So, to sum it up you can always downgrade from both a major and a minor release. If you haven’t committed the changes yet you are always good to go. If you have committed, then just contact EMC and they can actually help you downgrade, but keep in mind that even if they help you there will be limits too how far you can downgrade.





What’s new in EMC Clariion CX4 FLARE 29

14 12 2009

CLARiiON CX4 UltraFlex I/O module - Copyright: EMC Corporation.Along with the release of FAST, EMC also released a new version of it’s CLARiiON Fibre Logic Array Runtime Environment, or in short “FLARE” operating environment. This release brings us to version 04.29 and offers some interesting enhancements, so I thought I’d give you an overview of what’s in there:

Let’s start off with some basics. Along with this update you will find updated firmware versions for the following:

    Enclosure: DAE2		- FRUMon: 5.10
    Enclosure: DAE2-ATA	- FRUMon: 1.99
    Enclosure: DAE2P	- FRUMon: 6.69
    Enclosure: DAE3P	- FRUMon: 7.79

Major changes:

  • VLAN tagging for 1Gb/s and 10Gb/s iSCSI interfaces.
  • Support for 10Gb/s dual port optical I/O modules.
  • Spin down support for storage system and/or RAID group. Once enabled drives spin down automatically if no user or system I/O has been recognized for 30 minutes. These SATA drives support spin down:
    • 00548797
    • 00548853
    • 00548829
  • Shrinking of a FLARE and meta LUNs. Note that this is only supported on Windows hosts that are capable of shrinking logical disks.
  • Upgrade of UltraFlex I/O modules with an increased performance, more specifically 8Gb FC and 10Gb iSCSI. Note that only an upgrade is supported, a downgrade from for example 8Gb FC to 4Gb FC will not work.
  • Rebuild logging is now supported on RAID6 LUNs, which means that a drive that may have been issuing timeouts will have it’s I/O logged and rebuild only the pending writes.
  • The maximum number of LUNs per storage group have been upgraded from 256 for all CX4 models with FLARE 28 to the following:
    • CX4-120 – 512
    • CX4-240 – 512
    • CX4-480 – 1024
    • CX4-960 – 1024

You can find an overview with the supported connectivity options and front-end and back-end ports right here.








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