I 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 https://powerlink.emc.com. A screenshot of the directory is below:
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.
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.