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HPE Storage Controller Management (ssacli)

This time I decided to do a blog post about the HPE Smart Array RAID controllers with their wonderful ssacli tool. The tooling of HPE is very powerful because you can online manage a VMware ESXi host and migrate for example from a RAID 1 volume to a RAID 10 without downtime or change the read and write cache ratio.

So far as I know I haven’t seen an identical tool yet from the other server hardware vendors like Cisco, Dell EMC, IBM, and Supermicro. The main difference has always been that the HPE tool can perform the operation live without downtime. 

So far as I can remember it has been there for ages. It was already available for VMware ESX 4.0 and is still available in VMware ESXi 6.7. So thumbs-up for HPE :).

Let’s talk about controller support. The tool supports the most HPE SmartArray controllers over the last 10 to 15 years, for example, the Smart Array P400 was released in 2005 and is still working fine today.

Here is an overview of supported controllers:

  • HPE Smart Array P2XX
  • HPE Smart Array P4XX
  • HPE Smart Array P7XX
  • HPE Smart Array P8XX

HPE SSACLI – Location

In case you are using the HPE VMware ESXi custom images. The tool is already pre-installed when installing ESXi. The tool is installed as a VIB (vSphere Installable Bundle). This means it can also be updated with vSphere Update Manager.

Over the years the name of the HPE Storage Controller Tool has been changed and so has the location. Here is a list of locations that have been used for the last ten years for VMware ESXi:

# Location VMware ESXi 4.0/4.1/5.0
/opt/hp/hpacucli/bin/hpacucli

# Location VMware ESXi 5.1/5.5/6.0
/opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli

# Location VMware ESXi 6.5/6.7
/opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli


HPE SSACLI – Examples

I have collected some screenshots over the years. Screenshots were taken by doing maintenance on VMware ESXi servers. The give you an idea what valuable information can be shown.


HPE SSACLI – Abréviation

All commands have a short name to reduce the length of the total input provided to the ssacli tool:

### Shortnames:
- chassisname = ch
- controller = ctrl 
- logicaldrive = ld
- physicaldrive = pd 
- drivewritecache = dwc
- licensekey = lk

### Specify drives:
- A range of drives (one to three): 1E:1:1-1E:1:3
- Drives that are unassigned: allunassigned

HPE SSACLI – Status

To view the status of the controller, disks or volumes you can run all sorts of commands to get information about what is going on in your VMware ESXi server. The extensive detail is very useful for troubleshooting and gathering information about the system.

# Show - Controller Slot 1 Basic configuration
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config

# Show - Controller Slot 1 Detailed configuration
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config detail

# Show - Controller Slot 1 Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show status

# Show - All Controllers Configuration
./ssacli ctrl all show config

# Show - Controller slot 1 logical drive 1 status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 show status

# Show - Basic Physical Disks status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status

# Show - Detailed Physical Disk status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status

HPE SSACLI – Creating

Creating a new logical drive can be done online with the HPE Smart Array controllers. I have displayed some basic examples.

# Create - New single disk volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=2I:0:8 raid=0 forced

# Create - New spare disk (two defined)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array all add spares=2I:1:6,2I:1:7

# Create - New RAID 1 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2 raid=1 forced

# Create - New RAID 5 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2,1I:0:3 raid=5 forced

HPE SSACLI – Adding drives to logical drive

Adding drives to an already created logical drive is possible with the following commands. You need to perform two actions: adding the drive(s) and expanding the logical drive. Keep in mind: make a backup before performing the procedure.

# Add - All unassigned drives to logical drive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 add drives=allunassigned

# Modify - Extend logical drive 2 size to maximum (must be run with the "forced" flag)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify size=max forced

HPE SSACLI – Rescan controller

To issue a controller rescan, you can run the following command. This can be interesting for when you add new drives in hot swap bays.

### Rescan all controllers
./ssacli rescan

HPE SSACLI – Drive Led Status

The LED status of the drives can also be controlled by the ssacli utility. An example is displayed below how to enable and disable a LED.

# Led - Activate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=on

# Led - Deactivate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=off

# Led - Activate LED on physical drive
ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=on

# Led - Deactivate LED on physical drive
ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=off


HPE SSACLI – Modify Cache Ratio

Modify the cache ratio on a running system can be interesting for troubleshooting and performance beanchmarking.

# Show - Cache Ratio Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=?

# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 50% / write: 50%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=50/50

# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 0% / Write: 100%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=0/100


HPE SSACLI – Modify Write Cache

Changing the write cache settings on the storage controller can be done with the following commands:

# Show - Write Cache Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify dwc=?

# Modify - Enable Write Cache on controller
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify dwc=enable forced

# Modify - Disable Write Cache on controller
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify dwc=disable forced

# Show - Write Cache Logicaldrive Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 logicaldrive 1 modify aa=?

# Modify - Enable Write Cache on Logicaldrive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 logicaldrive 1 modify aa=enable

# Modify - Disable Write Cache on Logicaldrive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 logicaldrive 1 modify aa=disable

HPE SSACLI – Modify Rebuild Priority

Viewing or changing the rebuild priority can be done on the fly. Even when the rebuild is already active. Used it myself a couple of times to lower the impact on production.

# Show - Rebuild Priority Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rp=?

# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Low
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=low

# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Medium
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=medium

# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to High
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=high

HPE SSACLI – Modify SSD Smart Path

You can modify the HPE SDD Smart Path feature by disabling or enabling. To make clear what the HPE SDD Smart Path includes, here is a official statement by HPE: 

“HP SmartCache feature is a controller-based read and write caching solution that caches the most frequently accessed data (“hot” data) onto lower latency SSDs to dynamically accelerate application workloads. This can be implemented on direct-attached storage and SAN storage.”

For example, when running VMware vSAN SSD Smart Path must be disabled for better performance. In some cases worse the entire vSAN disk group fails.

# Modify - Enable SSD Smart Path
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array a modify ssdsmartpath=enable

# Modify - Disable SSD Smart Path
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array a modify ssdsmartpath=disable

HPE SSACLI – Delete Logical Drive

Deleting a logical drive on the HPE Smart Array controller can be done with the following commands.

# Delete - Logical Drive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 delete

# Delete - Logical Drive 2
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 delete

HPE SSACLI – Erasing Physical Drives

In some cases, you need to erase a physical drive. This can be performed with multiple erasing options. Also, you can stop the process.

Erase patterns available:

  • Default
  • Zero
  • Random_zero
  • Random_random_zero
# Erase physical drive with default erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 2I:1:1 modify erase

# Erase physical drive with zero erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 2I:1:1 modify erase erasepattern=zero

# Erase physical drive with random zero erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 1E:1:1-1E:1:3 modify erase erasepattern=random_zero

# Erase physical drive with random random zero erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 1E:1:1-1E:1:3 modify erase erasepattern=random_random_zero

# Stop the erasing process on phsyical drive 1E:1:1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 1E:1:1 modify stoperase

HPE SSACLI – License key

In some cases a licence key needs to be installed on the SmartArray storage controller to enable the advanced features. This can be done with the following command:

# License key installation
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 licensekey XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

# License key removal
./ssacli ctrl slot=5 lk XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX delete 

Related sources

A couple of interesting links related to the HPE Storage Controller tool for VMware ESXi:

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Lab Environment – New HP ProLiant DL360e G8

Today a blog about my Home Lab. At the end of 2017, it was time to replace the old Dell PowerEdge R710 servers with something new. Currently, I was running two R710 servers for my lab environment.
These servers are ‘powered-on for a couple of hours a week to test new products and learn for certifications. My other environment described on this page is running 24/7 is providing a full set of infrastructure services.

Because of the price and I’m very familiar with the DL360 G8 it was a no brainer. Over the last couple of years, all my virtualization projects were based for 75% on the DL360 Gen8… so we have a lot of history together ;).

Technical specifications – HP DL360e Gen8:

  • Chassis: Small Form Factor (8-bays)
  • CPU1: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430 v2
  • CPU2: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430 v2
  • Memory: 128 GB (8x 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz)
  • Disks HDD: 2x Seagate Constellation SAS 1TB
  • Disks SSD: 4x Samsung EVO 850 250 GB
  • Storage controller: HP SmartArray P420 with 1 GB FBWC
  • NIC: 4 port 1 Gbit
  • Rack mounting kit, cable arm, and security front bezel

The spinning drives provide “safe” storage because they are configured as a mirrored volume. The SSD drives are configured as JBOD drives for performance without data protection (if I want protection I just create a virtual machine back-up to one of my storage arrays).

HPE ProLiant DL360e G8 - SFF
HPE ProLiant DL360e G8 – SFF

HPE ProLiant DL360e G8 - SFF with Bezel
HPE ProLiant DL360e G8 – SFF with Bezel


Update 2018:

In 2018, I did a full write-up of this server on this page: link

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VMworld 2017 Barcelona (my personal review)

This week I travelled with my colleagues to VMworld 2017 in Barcelona Spain. This was my first VMworld but luckily my colleagues helped me out with putting a schedule together. The days were absolutely great and well-organized thanks to my employer ITQ (special thanks to Francisco Perez van der Oord and Paul Geerlings).

This blog post is about my first VMworld with my personal highlights.

 

VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive

VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive Signed

At the Rubrik stand, a thousand copies were given away of the best book in stores now (personal opinion) “VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive“. At a specific time, you had to wait in line to get a free copy of the book signed by Frank Denneman and Niels Hagoort. I was one of the lucky people who got a free copy with their signatures :).

VMworld 2017 Sessions

Delivering-Hybrid-Cloud-Architectures-for-Your-Customer-with-VMware-Cloud-on-AWS-Adam-Osterholt

At VMworld, I attended a lot of sessions but my personal top three were the following:

  • Delivering Hybrid Cloud Architectures for Your Customer with VMware Cloud on AWS – Adam Osterholt
  • Replicating VMware VVols: A technical deep dive into VVol array-based replication in vSphere 6.5 – Claudio Calisto, Nick Dyer
  • vCenter Performance Deep Dive – Ravi Soundararajan

I also attended a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) session with Tom Corn the Vice President of Security Products at VMware about AppDefense.

Server and Storage Hardware (Dell EMC / HPE)

HPE ProLiant DL360 Gen10On Tuesday I visited multiple hardware vendors about their new products.

  • At the HPE stand they showed the new HPE ProLiant gen 10 servers and their current storage portfolio 3PAR, Nimble. A beta version of the HPE ProLiant DL360 G10 was displayed and there was an iLO5 demo.
  • The Dell EMC stand was one of the largest on VMworld. They displayed all their main products and were displaying demos.

Final word

I could blog all day about the announcements and sessions but luckily all information is available for everyone. You can find the sessions on the vendor websites or on YouTube. The company I work for has created a dedicated page to display all the VMworld news items.

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Flashing a HPE MSA 1040 via FTP

In this article, we are going to flash an HPE MSA 1040 via FTP. At work, I faced a problem with a couple of HPE MSA 1040 storage arrays. Three out of ten were not displaying their web interface after about 200 days of uptime. This is not really a known problem for the HPE MSA 1040 :(. So it was time figure out a way to work around it. 

After some time, I noticed there is a built-in FTP flash option. About two hours later I finally got the latest firmware installed.

I have made a write-up to do it yourself. It is not really a difficult procedure but you need a couple of items ready and the correct command to get it all working.



Flashing the HPE MSA 1040

Note: I have tested this procedure on a Windows 10 client. The FTP tool for uploading the firmware is the built-in from Windows.

Prerequisites:

  • Download the firmware from the HPE website.
  • Store the firmware files in the following folder (C:\Temp).
  • Extract the bin file from the downloaded bundle.
  • Make sure no workloads are running on the HPE MSA.

Procedure:

  1. Start an SSH session with an available controller (no preferred choice between controller A & B)
  2. Enable the FTP service on the controller with the command: “set protocols ftp enabled”.
  3. Open a CMD shell (with administrator rights) on your workstation or management server.
  4. Run the following commands:
# Navigate to C:\Temp

# Start FTP session
ftp %IP-Address%

# Login
Username: ftp
Password: !ftp

# Navigate to directory
cd /

# Upload firmware and start flash
put TS252P001.bin flash

# Close FTP session
ftp close

# Go back to the SSH Session and disable the FTP service on the MSA
set protocols ftp disabled

Article update:

  • 2018-03-26 – Added feature image to page.
  • 2018-11-17 – Updated article to support the new standards of the website.

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