Review: Troubleshooting vSphere Storage by @mwpreston

A must-have reference for vSphere Admins

In my 10+ years of managing and designing vSphere environments, I have come across a few books that should be on the desks of every vSphere Administrator. You should not be caught without a copy of Mastering VMware vSphere by Scott Lowe and Nick Marshall, VMware vSphere Design by Scott Lowe and Forbes Guthrie, and vSphere Clustering Deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman. Mike Preston’s Troubleshooting vSphere Storage could easily be added to the list.
While the book is only 5 chapters long, it is organized in a logical fashion that not only allows for easy reading, but quick bookmarking. The first chapter gives an overview of how storage is organized within virtual environments. It lays out the framework of storage organization within vSphere and how it relates to the physical world of servers, networks, and shared storage. Some basic information is introduced for the novice, followed by more detailed explanations of how the pieces interact. The usual ‘alphabet soup’ of acronyms doesn’t detract from the layout and keeps the reader on track. With this foundation in place, it allows for the other chapters to flow in an organized fashion.
The following chapters outline which tools to use to analyze your storage, where to look for problems and how to identify them. Common problems such as contention, capacity, and overcommitment are identified for the reader and several tips are given to show not only what these problems will look like in your environment but also how to identify and resolve them.
The three appendices are the ‘Crown Jewels’ of the book. Appendix A contains a list of your most common storage troubleshooting steps, followed by the commands and procedures you will need to take in order to eliminate each one. Knowing which questions to ask are good, but having the commands at your fingertips when you need them can be invaluable when problems arise. Preston has saved your bacon with this section. Appendix B lists out all of the ESXTOP commands and functions, which ones you will need for various issues, and how to use them. This will save time and frustration for those SysAdmins that don’t frequently use the tool. And finally, Appendix C lists out all of you iSCSI error codes. This is something that most of us will seldom need for day-to day administration. However, that one or two times when you are scratching your head trying to navigate out of a difficult situation, it can save critical time.

Troubleshooting vSphere Storage is a great reference for any vSphere SysAdmin. Not only does it outline an excellent troubleshooting methodology for your environment, but also lays down a strong background for readers to understand just why storage is important for a healthy vSphere design. I would recommend this book to anybody that manages vSphere as well as Storage admins that need to support vSphere.

About timantz

I am a Solutions Architect at SimpliVity, helping people around the country with their virtualization, storage, backup and recovery projects.
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