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How to: Pure Storage integrates into Windows Admin Center - a plugin that Windows admins will love!

[ NOTE: machine translation with the help of DeepL translator without additional proofreading and spell checking ]

At Microsoft Ignite 2018, the preview of the Pure Storage integration for Microsoft Admin Center (announced as "Project Honolulu" in 2017) was shown. The integration has been tested and optimized. In the course of this year's Ignite (from November 4-8, 2019) in Orlando/Florida, we can definitely say the development effort was worth it. The tool is ingenious!

With Windows Admin Center, a Microsoft management tool was created to manage individual servers, clusters or computer resources. In the past, work had to be done via the MMC or RSAT tools. According to Microsoft, the number of new installations already performed is increasing exponentially.

Admin Center integration supports Pure Storage on-premise FlashArrays or CloudBlockStore systems.

Windows Admin Center

You can choose between 4 installation types when installing Windows Admin Center: In the course of the tests, I installed WAC (= Windows Admin Center) in the so-called "gateway server" type. Here, a dedicated VM is used to run WAC. A highly available design - a clustering - of WAC is also possible.

System requirements

WAC can be installed on Windows 10 (version 1709 >), Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. Only a supported web browser (MS Edge, Chrome) is required to use and manage the tool. One can then use WAC via a protected HTTPS connection.

The system resources required are minimal. I came here with 4GB. 2vCPUs and a provisioned vDisk of 90GB (scaled with the number of operators in WAC).

For more information about the Windows Admin Center, see the Windows Admin Center documentation.

The Pure Storage Integration

With the Windows Admin Center integration, Pure Storage takes up where the helpful Pure Storage VMware plugin has already proven itself many times over. Anyone who works with the VMware and Pure Storage + Plugin knows how simple storage operations can be. Now the added value of the VMware integration is also to be made available for Windows components.

Key features at a glance

The integration supports an administrator on a day-to-day basis with the following features already available:

  • Connectivity of multiple on-premise and cloud FlashArray systems.

  • Dashboard overview of metrics of the connected system (not individual volumes). Currently already possible on: IOPS, bandwidth and latency

  • Creation/management of Protection Groups

  • Creation/management of individual hosts and host groups - includes management of iSCSI IQNs and WWNs

  • Creation/management of volumes

  • Management of initiators of servers stored in the Admin Center

  • Review and application of best practice guidelines

Key-Benefits der WAC-Integration

With Pure WAC integration, it is now possible for Windows/server administrators to provision their own storage resources. There are also always physical server standalones/clusters to be attached in the largely virtual infrastructure. RAW devicemappings (RDMs) to virtual machines are also still required for some applications (e.g. databases/clusters, Exchange DAGs). To enable server administrators to do this themselves, it is now possible to work from the Windows Admin Center thanks to the integration. In the future, no storage administrator will be needed to create or connect volumes. With the integration it is also possible for server administrators to perform simple superficial monitoring of the storage.

Pure Storage Integration Setup

After preparing the WAC server, the first thing to do is to install the Pure Storage extension. This can be done with a few clicks directly from the web browser. The Windows Admin Center can be reached via https://*your-wac-server*/. In the upper part of the web console you will find the settings to install the integration:

The preparation of the plugin is now complete and the FlashArrays can be connected. The connection can be made via the dashboard or the integration. I have already created a corresponding local function user on the FlashArrays, which have "storage admin" rights. The assigned role "storage admin" is sufficient for WAC.

The FlashArray is connected via the VIP (virtual ip) and the previously created function user.

That's the configuration!

I have also created a test VM in the course of the test and integrated it into WAC. We work with this machine in all subsequent steps: PoC-VM01 with the IP address

How to use: Pure Storage integration

In the overview of the integrated FlashArrays you get relevant information about the memory usage and the performance data at a glance. In the available version it is not possible to set more granular information (filtering). However, the display is dynamic-live and updates itself. For a server administrator, however, this should be sufficient at this point.

Optimize your environment

As already mentioned, included servers are automatically displayed in WAC via background task with information about initiators (FC, iSCSi) in the "Initiators" tab. Here you have the possibility to check the servers for best-practice configurations and even have them adjusted. This feature is ingenious and makes setting up storage connectivity much easier in large environments! You may already know this from the Pure Storage VMware integration.

A "nice to have" at this point would be to be able to make the detected servers a Pure Storage host with linked initiator information by clicking here.

I have a best-practice compliant host with a few clicks and a server reboot (this is always necessary regardless of integration).

Creation of a host

The VM "PoC-VM01" created for test purposes was created via "New Host" and adding the iSCSi/IQN on the FlashArray.

A quick look at Purity's web interface and audit trail shows: corresponding API calls are made in the normal command syntax. The host was generated accordingly on the system.

Provisioning of an iSCSi volume

The prepared and connected host should now get a 10GB volume mapped via iSCSi. For this I created a volume with "PURE-X50-1-PoC-VM01-VOL01" and mapped this with a few clicks to the host PoC-VM01.

At this point, unfortunately, less optimal: it is not yet possible in WAC version 1901 to manage the iSCSi initiator of the machines via the web console. I had to establish an RDP session on the test machine and manually define and connect the iSCSi target.

After the connection, the test volume is also displayed "instantaneously" with 10GB.

The remaining doings are again done completely via WAC. We switch here within the web console to the connected test VM "PoC-VM01" and into the tab "Storage", where I first initialize the new volume.

The volume must now be created on the initialized disk. This is done as usual by assigning a drive letter and an optional volume name (here the same as the array volume name for unique identification).

One can also track and trace all performed/triggered operations in the WAC's sideboard at any time.

I hope above mentioned and missed features like the iSCSi management of the Windows servers will also be developed and will be available soon.

To wind up: an all around successful tool to make storage with Pure Storage even easier and to further simplify your daily admin operations.

More info - Links

All officially published setting options in the GUI but also CLI can be read via the "on-board" user guides of the Pure Storage systems.

Click on "Help" in the Purity main menu.

The User Guide is structured like the main menu and can be opened downwards. A search function is also integrated - within here you can also search for keywords.

WEB: Pure Storage (Pure1) support portal - Ticket system and support *(requires registered FlashSystems)

PHONE: Pure Storage phone support: GER - (+49) (0)800 7239467; INTERNATIONAL - (+1) 650 7294088

WEB: Pure Storage community

WEB: Pure Storage OFFICIAL blog

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