HP 3PAR Vision–Monitoring Solution

Today I deployed the 3PAR Vision monitoring software from http://www.3parvision.com/

A free trial is available and the company sent me a Tweet with details and I decided to give it a shot and provide some feedback to those of you reading this site and the company itself.

Installer Requirements

  • .NET Framework 4.5 is installed on the monitoring computer

3PAR Connectivity Requirements

  • InForm OS 3.1.1 and below – a stand alone instance of System Reporter is required – minimum version 2.8
  • InForm OS 3.1.2 and higher – direct connectivity via SSH (this is because everything we need is on the nodes version of System Reporter

Installation

As with many applications these days you don’t actually download the full installer from the website. Instead you get a ‘ClickOnce Application Deployment Manifest’ file which is essentially a bootstrap to pull down the full installation. This does of course mean you will require an active Internet connection on whatever client machine you install on. Something worth mentioning is that the 3PAR Vision software doesn’t support downloading it’s updates through an authenticated proxy.

I was disappointed to see that the publisher information was lacking from the installer and no digital signatures had been applied –

Publisher Cannot Be Verified Alert

My personal opinion is that the supplier really should update this so we can see publisher information and have a verifiable certificate/signature to check. I don’t foresee this as a huge piece of work for them to implement and in my environment I would probably stipulate it as a requirement.

Moving on – the install will only take a few moments and a new window will present itself –

3PAR Vision Main Menu

Everything is pretty self explanatory.

First click to ‘Add’ a new system and enter a hostname or IP. You will also need to select whether to use a ‘System Reporter’ or InServ (SSH)’ connection. Remember, this depends on your 3PAR InForm OS version.

DO NOT ADD BOTH OPTIONS FOR A SINGLE ARRAY– the application will not work properly. I’m actually surprised there isn’t some logic in place which checks that only a single instance of an array is listed – again I think this should be implemented but it’s not the end of the world.

image.png

If you select to use ‘System Reporter’ enter the URL as follows –

image.png

Alternatively if using ‘InServ (SSH)’ –

image.png

I chose to create a new user account on my 3PAR for the Vision software to authenticate with. The documentation did not indicate the access level required which is frustrating – this information helps us to ensure we deploy using a least privilege model. I created an account with the ‘Browse’ permission and so far this has worked OK.

 

Next we need to add our license key – you will have received this via e-mail. Copy and paste the array serial number and then the license key into this window –

image.png

If you want to alter any other settings or configure SMTP mail options then go ahead and do that now – I chose not to for the moment. When you click ‘OK’ you will be prompted to restart the application –

image.png

Do this now – the application will close itself and you’ll have to launch it again.

All being well we should be presented with a dashboard – you may have to give the application some time to populate these charts, if nothing shows you will probably see the message ‘Loading’ in small text – if this is the case go have a drink and come back in a few minutes.

image.png

My first impression is that the interface is pretty nice, all those black boxes are mine as this is a production system. Let us take a quick look at the other four menus –

3PAR Vision Performance Dashboard

3PAR Vision Capacity Dashboard

3PAR Vision Remote Copy Dashboard

3PAR Vision Adaptive Optimisation Dashboard

 

Impressions

OK let us get right down to it – what do I think of this software? Well my first impression is pretty good, it has a nice interface and when viewed on a big screen it does look better than my screenshots may indicate.

The data returned is useful and right-clicking on charts brings up an options menu as below –

3PAR Vision Dashboard Right Click Options

This is useful and I do like the ability to highlight certain data and move between performance ‘Resolutions’ – if you have used System Reporter you will be familiar with this terminology. We can choose between Daily, Hourly and High (hi-res on SR). As you can see there are also other options available but I don’t think it necessary to screenshot every last option…

I’m sure people will find benefit in the ability to schedule reports through the SMTP mail options which is always nice to have.

The big question I suppose is would I buy this product?

Personally, no I don’t think I would.

Let me explain my reasons – I am very familiar with the System Reporter software, 3PAR CLI commands and the StoreServ Management Consoles (web and traditional application) so I can get all this information and much more quite easily. I am also able to schedule things and execute scripts to get what I need. The one dashboard that I really liked was ‘Virtual Volume Tiers’ under the Adaptive Optimisation menu. This gives a really quick and easy view of how much data in a volume is on each tier. That being said, it doesn’t give easy options to expand this or filter it so it’s a nice feature but needs some work.

That being said I think I am probably the only person at my current employer who can do this so something like Vision would be far better suited to the rest of the department and I think this is what it is aimed at.  If you have been administering a 3PAR SAN for some time and are familiar with the various CLI and GUI options you probably won’t be interested however people who are not SAN administrators or management who may want quick and simple to use reporting tools will love this program and I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest this to them. I will run the program till the end of the trial license to see if my opinions change.

I would really like to see the following improvements straight away though –

  • Valid Publisher details and digital signatures to verify the installer
  • Validation to prevent adding a single array with a System Report and InServ SSH connection
  • Confirmation of the access requirements for the service account you connect with

I also found that the help menu was a nightmare as it caused all sorts of graphical ‘fun’. Typically it would either come up as per the screenshot below or it would only display a grey outline bar with pale grey text over the background that is near impossible to read –

3PAR Vision Help Screen

If anyone else has come across 3PAR monitoring solutions I’d love to hear about them so feel free to comment or send me a message.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.