Installing PowerPath/VE using VMware Update Manager

PowerPathVEI am finishing up an installation of an EMC Clariion CX4 SAN. One of the final steps of the installation is to configure PowerPath/VE on the ESXi hosts. PowerPath/VE is EMC’s multipathing extension module for VMware (and Hyper-V), designed to replace the Native Multipathing Plugin (NMP) for increased I/O performance and failover management.  To simplify and automate the installation of PowerPath/VE, I decided to use VMware Update Manager (VUM) to push the extension to the ESXi 4.x hosts in the environment.

The process of setting up an additional VUM patch repository to host PowerPath/VE (and other 3rd party extensions such as the Cisco Nexus 1000v) is pretty straight forward.  3rd party extensions are supported in VUM beginning with vSphere 4.0 Update 1.  Chad Sakac has posted a great video guide on YouTube that covers the setup:

I opted to use the tomcat installation on the environment’s vCenter server to host the PowerPath/VE repository.  To accomplish this, I simply created a new directory in the tomcat root directory.  The default path for the root directory on a vSphere vCenter Server is “C:Program FilesVMwareInfrastructuretomcatwebapps” (or C:Program Files (x86)VMwareInfrastructuretomcatwebapps on a 64-bit installation).

I created a directory named ‘depot’ and within that directory created a PowerPathVE folder.  I extracted the contents of the VUM folder from the PowerPath .zip file that I downloaded from http://powerlink.emc.com.  A screenshot of the directory is below:

PowerPath/VE Depot Directory Tree

PowerPath/VE Depot Directory Tree

After creating the directory for the patch repository, I simply added an Extension Repository to VMware Update Manager as Chad shows in his video.  I would like to call out one caveat – Because vCenter may not listen on standard HTTP/HTTPS ports, I used as the path to the source.

VUM Patch Source

VUM Patch Source

Once PowerPath was added to an Extension Baseline in VUM, I simply had to scan my hosts for updates and remediate.  Installation of PowerPath/VE requires the host to be in Maintenance Mode and concludes with a reboot.  Pretty simple.

Then all you have to do is fight through an overly-complex licensing setup (seriously, a 112 page PDF on how to install licenses???), a bit of configuration, and you are multi-pathing with the best of them.  If you are interested in learning more about PowerPath/VE, start with this whitepaper: EMC PowerPath/VE for VMware vSphere Best Practices Planning.  For a bit of real-world insight into the performance increase you might see with PowerPath/VE, check out this blog post from Eric Sloof: Massive I/O power increase using EMC PowerPath/VE.

Update – 3/27/09: VMware published a Knowledge Base article on this procedure a few weeks after I wrote this post.  You can find it in  article 1018740.

Update – 4/15/11: You may have to set the NTFS permissions on the ‘depot’ folder to allow ‘anonymous’ read access when running on a 2008 or 2008 R2 server before you can validate and download from the new repository.

Comments

  1. Joshua,
    Am I correct in saying that this does not handle any of the additional configuration steps? eg, setting existing datastores and new datastore to use PowerPath rather the the default of Fixed or MRU.
    David

    • David – That is correct. This only installs the PowerPath/VE modules. The licensing, activation, and configuration is all done using the rpowermt CLI, and the vCLI or vMA to manage claim rules and the like. A bit of scripting could probably be used to automate changing settings on existing datastores or adding new datastores if needed.

      Josh

  2. Hello,

    I tried this exact same procedure for vsphere 4.1 and the EMC powerpath 5.4 SP1 software. I can validate the URL with no problem (https://localhost:8443/depot/PowerpathVE5.4_SP1/index.xml).

    When I go to download in vcenter, it gets to 20% then fails with the following error code:
    Web sites: https://www.vmware.com/PatchManagementSystem/patchmanagement hosting the patch definitions and patches cannot be accessed or have no patch data. Check the Internet connectivity.

    I have no idea why it’s going out to VMware for a local website repository. Any ideas!?!?

  3. Garrett Mattingly says:

    We’ve been using PP/VE 5.4 SP2 pushed to ESXi 4.1 using VUM for sometime now. Compatibility issues were addressed as can be seen in the updated goodbadugly page at the link above.

    Any thought on what would need to be done if you wanted to upgrade PP/VE 5.4 SP2 to the next version using VUM? Would that be a separate baseline or what? Can you uninstall PP/VE via VUM?

    For people that deployed PP/VE 5.4 SP1 using VUM. Have you tried upgrading to PP/VE 5.4 SP2 via VUM?

    • Thanks for the comment, Garrett. I paired my last PP/VE upgrade with an upgrade to vSphere 5, but an in-place PP/VE upgrade will work too. The newer versions of PowerPath/VE are packaged for easy import into vCenter Update Manager. Here’s the basic procedure:

      1.) Add new PP/VE to your VUM Update Repository (Update Manager –> Patch Repository –> Import Patches (top right).
      2.) Remove old PP/VE from update baseline, and then add new PP/VE to same baseline, – or – create a new baseline just for PP/VE. Works either way – just a matter of preference for your environment.
      3.) Manually remove old PP/VE from hosts. Syntax is like this:

      # vihostupdate –remove –bulletin EMC-PP5.4.0.00.00- –server

      4.) Reboot host.
      5.) Scan for updates in VUM, apply new baseline with PP/VE extension.
      6.) Reboot host again.
      7.) Re-apply license (re-host first on Powerlink if you did a host re-install and are using unserved licenses)

      Good luck and let us know how it goes. If you need additional help, I’ve got a great team in the DC area that can support you.

Trackbacks

  1. Most Tweeted Articles by Virtualization Experts says:

    […] Tripwire's Jim Johnson exec of the year | Silicon Forest – OregonLive.com 2 Tweets Installing PowerPath/VE using VMware Update Manager | VMtoday I am finishing up an installation of an EMC Clariion CX4 SAN. One of the final steps of the […]

Drop a comment below:

%d bloggers like this: