Storage Management and Reporting

Centralized cloud integration and storage orchestration using IBM Spectrum Connect for VMware vCloud Suite

By IBM Systems Lab Services posted Tue September 29, 2020 10:57 AM


Blog authored by Reo K B, storage consultant in IBM Systems Lab Services

Clients regularly ask about automating and orchestrating standard operational activities in their IT environments. It’s the “need of the hour” for many organizations because it can help IT operations teams reduce manual effort and execute infrastructure changes flawlessly. The good news is that there are great solutions that address this challenge. The IBM Spectrum® Connect cloud integration system consolidates a range of storage provisioning, virtualization, automation and monitoring solutions for VMware platforms into a unified solution — and it’s available at no cost for all IBM Storage clients.

What is Spectrum Connect, and what are its requirements?

The IBM Spectrum Connect integration system, which is part of the IBM Spectrum Storage Suite, consolidates the activities of storage administrators by provisioning volumes easily and enabling monitoring of IBM Storage with VMware solutions. The software can be installed on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.0–7.7 x64 Linux virtual machine with minimum hardware requirements: 64-bit dual-core CPU, 4 GB RAM and 16 GB of free disk space. The installation procedure is quick and straightforward.

Spectrum Connect provides a web-based user interface that makes administration easy and user friendly. Once you’re done with the initial installation, you can start discovering IBM Storage systems (IBM Spectrum Virtualize, IBM FlashSystem® and IBM DS8000®) from the console.

The IBM storage support matrix provides a list of supported systems, and the VMware compatibility matrix highlights the supported versions.

A single console that provides multiple use cases

I already mentioned that the various integration options available in Spectrum Connect can reduce the time spent by administrators on day-to-day operational tasks. The following VMware interfaces can be registered in the console for control access:

  • VMware vCenter Server
  • VMware vSphere Web Client (vWC)
  • VMware vRealize Operations Manager (vROps)
  • VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO)
  • VMware vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA)

Data access is still through the standard FC/iSCSI path to the storage systems. Spectrum Connect also provides an option to be configured in high availability mode for redundancy. The various integration options are illustrated in figure 1:

VMware integration options in IBM Spectrum Connect
Figure 1: VMware integration options in IBM Spectrum Connect

IBM Storage Enhancements for VMware vSphere Web Client

The IBM Storage Enhancements for VMware vSphere Web Client allows storage administrators to create a combination of storage space and services that can then be used by VMware administrators for volume provisioning instead of physical objects. IBM Storage Enhancements enables the following features on vSphere Web Client for registered vCenter servers:

  • Full control over storage volumes, including volume creation, resizing, renaming, mapping, unmapping, multipath policy enforcement and deletion
  • Easy and integrated allocation of volumes to VMware datastores, used by virtual machines that run on ESXi hosts, clusters and data centers

Once the vCenter servers are registered on IBM Spectrum Connect, the IBM Storage Enhancements are automatically deployed and made available in the vSphere console.

IBM Storage Management Pack for VMware vRealize Operations Manager

With Spectrum Connect, the capabilities of VMware Operations Manager can be extended to monitor storage. The registration procedure for this plugin is quite simple: the vROps package needs to be downloaded from Spectrum Connect and uploaded to the vROps console. Once registered, the Operations Manager will establish connectivity to Spectrum Connect through the monitoring panel, and we can select the storage system and start monitoring storage arrays. Storage arrays start collecting the following information about health and metrics:

  • Health and performance information for the IBM Storage objects in the dashboard view
  • Storage relationships of the datastore and storage volume along with storage metrics, alarms and events

IBM Storage Plugin for VMware vRealize Orchestrator

IBM Storage Plug-in for VMware vRealize Orchestrator allows VMware administrators to include IBM Storage discovery and provisioning in vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) automation workflows. The package can be downloaded from Spectrum Connect and then deployed on the vRealize Orchestrator server. The deployment includes matching a unique token key that’s set on both servers. Through the vRealize Orchestrator client, dedicated IBM Storage control elements become available, allowing it to create workflows. The Orchestrator workflows supported by the IBM storage objects are as follows:

  • Creation and deletion of volumes
  • Extending volumes

IBM Storage Provider for vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA)

IBM Spectrum Virtualize version 7.6.0 and above supports virtual volumes (VVol), but the VVol feature needs to be turned on and configured in the storage systems. IBM Spectrum Connect is registered as a storage provider on VMware vCenter Server to utilize the VASA function. IBM Storage systems become aware of individual VMs, allowing data operations. IBM FlashCopy® is utilized at the VVol level when performing snapshot and clone operations. The VASA function helps leverage following features:

  • VVols are created, deleted and mapped automatically
  • Snapshot and cloning are offloaded to the storage system
  • There’s more granular visibility of VM storage consumption and performance

Integration makes life easier

In my opinion, IBM Storage and VMware are an ideal combination of architecture and capabilities. The integration of the VMware suite of products with Spectrum Connect can help administrators take full advantage of IBM Storage functions so they can easily automate and orchestrate tasks. Making life easy for admins creates business value, freeing up their time for other tasks.

Reach out to us

Additional information about Spectrum Connect can be found in the IBM Knowledge Center. If you have questions or want support with your IBM Storage, reach out to the IBM Systems Lab Services Storage and Software Defined Infrastructure team. The Lab Services team has helped clients around the world efficiently capture, deliver, manage and protect data with superior performance.

Contact us today.


About the author
Reo K B
Reo is a storage consultant with 12 years of experience in designing fault-tolerant solutions who has extensive knowledge in IBM All-Flash and hybrid products. He is currently working in IBM Systems Lab Services, helping clients in their infrastructure transformation journey. 

1 comment



Wed October 07, 2020 03:37 AM

nice writeup providing insight into the Spectrum Connect integration and its features.