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Introduction

SMI-S or ‘Storage Management Initiative – Specification’ is a standard of a storage management (surprise!) which gives you a chance to administrate the storage layer using ‘Common Information Model’ and Web-Based Enterprise Management technologies and logic. The main point of SMI-S is to provide a single standard to manage various storage systems from different vendors pretty much in the same way. In this article we will show you how to manage your storage using SCVMM 2016 (Server Center Virtual Machine Manager) through SMI-S, and how this whole thing works in general. We’ll use StarWind Virtual SAN as a reference distributed storage platform, but the primary scope of this document is to cover the subject in general, so any SMI-S compatible storage will work.

Environment

My lab environment is built on two nodes in total. One of them is Windows Server 2016 with Hyper-V role installed and StarWind VSAN as a storage provider. The second node has SCVMM 2016 on its board along with MS SQL 2016 which is required for SCVMM Server. SCVMM is a part of Microsoft System Centre which has been designed to simplify management of large numbers of virtual machines based on Hyper-V. Through SCVMM, we can create/manage VMs in several Hyper-V hosts. Starting from SCVMM 2012, Microsoft has added SMI-S support which allows you creating and configuring storage from different hardware vendors if they support such a standard. So my goal is to remotely setup the storage using SMI-S within a single console.

Configuring SMI-S agent in StarWind VSAN

First of all, we need to install the SMI-S and configure it on the node with StarWind VSAN. In StarWind VSAN installation wizard, we must check the “SMI-S Agent” option or choose “StarWind SMI-S Agent” in the dropdown menu.

Configuring SMI-S agent in StarWind VSAN - Select Components

After the installation, the wizard will ask you to configure the SMI-S Agent, and if you incidentally clicked “No”, you can always configure SMI-S through StarWind SMI-S Configurator.

Configuring SMI-S agent in StarWind VSAN - Select Components - Setup Configure the SMI-Agent

In the Configuration wizard, we need to specify the paths for StarWind devices, Sync and HB channels in case you are planning to setup the HA storage for Hyper-V Failover Cluster. That’s how my configuration looks like.

Configuring SMI-S agent in StarWind VSAN - StarWind SMI-S Agent Configurator

You can find more detailed guidance for configuring StarWind SMI-S agent as well as preconfiguring SCVMM 2016 in our technical paper: https://www.starwindsoftware.com/resource-library/starwind-virtual-san-automating-management-with-smi-s-in-system-center-virtual-machine-manager-2016

StarWind Virtual SAN eliminates any need for physical shared storage just by mirroring internal flash and storage resources between hypervisor servers. Furthermore, the solution can be run on the off-the-shelf hardware. Such design allows StarWind Virtual SAN to not only achieve high performance and efficient hardware utilization but also reduce operational and capital expenses.
Learn more about ➡ StarWind Virtual SAN.

How to manage StarWind VSAN storage from SCVMM using SMI-S

Let’s get started. I have preinstalled SCVMM 2016 on my server which will give me an option to create and manage StarWind storage through SMI-S which we have preconfigured on StarWind site earlier. First, we should connect to the SCVMM server. You can do it on the server where SCVMM is installed or from any PC with SCVMM management console. After connecting to the SCVMM console, we should navigate to the “Fabric” -> “Arrays” and click the “Add Resources” button. In the pop-up wizard, you need to choose the connection type (SAN, NAS via SMI-S) and specify the IP of the server where StarWind is installed and configured.

Manage StarWind VSAN storage from SCVMM using SMI-S

By clicking “Add Logical Unit” we can create a StarWind device. Specify the storage pool, name and size of future device.

Manage StarWind VSAN storage from SCVMM using SMI-S - Create Logical Unit

In the Classifications and pools tab, we can see our newly created Logical Unit.

Manage StarWind VSAN storage from SCVMM using SMI-S - newly created Logical Unit

The next step is to allocate Storage Pools and Logical Units in “Allocate Storage Capacity” properties.

wp-image-7560

After allocating the required Storage Capacity, we need to configure iSCSI Array in managed host properties.

Manage StarWind VSAN storage from SCVMM using SMI-S - Configuration iSCASI Array

Manage StarWind VSAN storage from SCVMM using SMI-S - new logical volume for our StarWind device

By clicking “Add” we can add iSCSI Array and new logical volume for our StarWind device. Creating new logical volume will connect StarWind device in iSCSI Initiator and initialize it in Disk Manager.

In total, we have an opportunity to fully setup and manage StarWind devices literally in 3 clicks, and you can deploy VMs on top of StarWind devices within a single console.

Conclusion

With SMI-S, you can avoid using many different GUI consoles such as iSCSI Initiator, Disk Manager, StarWind Management console, etc. because all the required operations can be done through SCVMM with the configured SMI-S layer as the storage manager.

 

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Ivan Ischenko
Ivan works as a Technical Support Engineer at StarWind. Has a deep knowledge of virtualization, storage technologies, and clustering.