VMM Hates SAN Groups Or How To Kill Your Cluster

A really nice feature of VMM is that you can integrate it with any SAN with an SMIS interface and then perform storage tasks, such as adding disks or even deploying VMs based on SAN snapshots. In fact if you set up an SMIS SAN many standard tasks will be updated to include SAN activities. This is where things start to go off the rails.

You see most SANs will use groups to manage access to LUNs. This way as you add a LUN you only have to add it to a single group and then all servers can see it.

Well VMM doesn’t work this way. It thinks in terms of servers. You’ll see this if you add a new LUN from VMM. It will map each server to the LUN rather than adding any obvious group. That’s fine you might think but things get nasty when you try to remove a server’s access.

You see VMM may not add servers to groups but it absolutely knows enough to do some serious damage. If you remove a server from a cluster then part of the job is to remove the cluster disk access. This will not only remove any direct access published to the server but also remove any groups that the server is also a member of. This has the side effect of removing all disk access to any other server also a member of the same SAN group. Effectively removing all SAN disks from all cluster nodes.

I first saw this with a SAN that I had never used before and just thought that it might be a bug in this vendor’s SMIS implementation but have recently seen the same behaviour with a totally different vendor.

So in short, groups make a heap of sense from the SAN point of view, but if you are going to use SMIS with VMM then ONLY assign servers to the LUNs.

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