• The EMC® VisualSAN® Standard Edition software is designed for
managing small- and medium-sized SANs. VisualSAN provides the
required tools for managing a SAN with a simple, intuitive user
• VisualSAN provides tools for performance management and
configuration management, along with easy SAN installation and
comprehensive troubleshooting support.
• Although designed for smaller SANs, VisualSAN is highly scalable,
and can support enterprise class SANs. VisualSAN supports all Dell
PowerVault and Dell | EMC devices in the SAN. (Note: environments
with heterogeneous storage from suppliers other than Dell should use
EMC ControlCenter/Open Edition).
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 1 October 2002
Storage area networks (SANs) offer IT departments a compelling option
for centralizing and optimizing storage resources. Many organizations use
SANs to support core applications, but continue to use direct-attached
storage for distributed servers that run nonessential services, such as file
and print management and Microsoft® Exchange. Moving the storage on
these distributed servers to a SAN may help organizations to reduce
management costs, gain better utilization of assets, and improve data
However, consolidating the storage of distributed servers is not without its
challenges. Companies that develop SAN management tools tend to focus
on enterprise-level SANs. They create tools that are often too large and
complicated to manage a small- to medium-sized SAN. These tools are also
quite costly, making this type of SAN financially impractical for many
companies. Some organizations rely on multiple device management tools
to manage smaller SANs, but those tools usually fail to supply all the
necessary management information to support the SANs.
VisualSAN is designed for managing small- and medium-sized SANs. It
provides the required tools for managing a SAN with a simple, intuitive
user interface. It also provides tools for performance management and
configuration management, along with easy SAN installation and
comprehensive troubleshooting support.
Although VisualSAN provides a user-friendly centralized console for
management of small and medium sized SAN’s, it is highly scalable, and
can support enterprise class SANs. VisualSAN supports all Dell
PowerVault devices and Dell |EMC devices in the SAN.
Note: Environments with heterogeneous storage from suppliers other than
Dell should use Dell’s high-end solution for SAN management: EMC
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 2 October 2002
Features and Benefits
The following are the features and benefits of EMC VisualSAN.
Discover and Represent Devices within the SAN
VisualSAN uses in-band and out-of-band discovery techniques to identify
the devices in the SAN. It distributes agents throughout the environment
to gather information at a sublevel and then report back to the
management station. By deploying these agents, VisualSAN® circumvents
performance degradation and facilitates greater scalability.
Special Discovery Modules (DMs) have been designed to support Dell
PowerVault and Dell | EMC devices to supply detailed information about
the devices and their status. For non-Dell devices discovered in the SAN,
VisualSAN allows users to manually specify information about the
devices. VisualSAN uses industry-standard application programming
interfaces (APIs) and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to
deliver information during discovery.
The VisualSAN user interface displays SANs in both a tree structure and a
topology map that represents physical and logical devices. Physical
devices represented include not only those at the device and interconnect
level, but also the host bus adapters (HBAs). Logical information includes
zoning. Using these physical and logical device representations,
administrators can isolate events and identify problems in the
environment. The topology map provides a quick, visual reference for
detailed device information, including event and performance statistics.
The VisualSAN summary screen is shown in Figure 1.
Monitor Events within the SAN
The availability of a SAN depends on the health of the devices within the
SAN. Continuous operation of the SAN requires monitoring the physical
devices to identify those that may potentially fail or become critical.
Monitoring the logical environment helps to identify capacity, availability,
and performance issues. VisualSAN provides physical- and logical-level
event management for all PowerVault and Dell | EMC devices and Dell
PowerEdge servers. Administrators can choose to view system events in a
consolidated table or by individual device.
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 3 October 2002
VisualSAN Summary Screen
VisualSAN provides the choice of setting alerts for all events and devices
or for only certain types of events or devices. It can send these alerts to a
specific e-mail or IP address, and do so at a specific time. To provide a
direct visual reference to problems, VisualSAN propagates warning and
critical events to the topology map; see Figure 2.
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 4 October 2002
VisualSAN Tree Structure and Topology Map with Event
Report on Assets in the SAN
VisualSAN provides preset SAN-device reports for asset management and
troubleshooting. The VisualSAN custom report generator enables users to
create a specific report based on selected data.
Manage Devices from a Centralized Console
A SAN management console provides a central location for managing
devices in a SAN. To effectively manage these devices, the administrator
must perform several tasks:
• Create logical unit number (LUNs) and volumes
• Configure RAID
• Set up LUN masking and mapping
• Create zones
• Expand capacity, virtual disks, and volumes online
• Perform physical management of arrays, HBAs, switches, and disaster
• Configure failover paths and load balancing
• Manage tape devices, libraries, and tape backup
VisualSAN is fully integrated with the Dell | EMC Navisphere®
management tools and Dell PowerVault management tools to handle these
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 5 October 2002
tasks. Administrators can launch these device management tools in context
to the devices that are selected, either through the topology map or the tree
structure. VisualSAN is also integrated with Dell OpenManage™ Server
Administrator to enable the management of Dell PowerEdge™ servers.
Create Zones within the SAN
A key element of SAN management is zoning devices to specific servers to
maintain security. Like many other SAN management programs,
VisualSAN offers this capability through fibre channel switches.
Administrators can create a zone using a zoning wizard or the topology
map, in which case they select the device to be zoned, right-click on the
device, and assign a zone name. Either worldwide names or the specific
port of the switch can define zones.
VisualSAN provides an additional level of zone management by visually
representing the zone in the topology map. Administrators can see
possible zone overlaps and no longer need to correlate worldwide name
addresses or port addresses manually.
VisualSAN Zone Visualization
Simpler SAN Installation
Installing a SAN is a challenge. Since their inception, SANs have been
plagued with interoperability problems. Many companies have invested
significant resources in qualifying and verifying the interoperability of
SAN devices. To verify that the correct levels of software, firmware, and
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 6 October 2002
drivers are installed, administrators must manually check these devices,
which generally delays installation.
VisualSAN will have a SAN validation function that compares tested
configurations against the existing SAN configuration. Using information
gathered in the discovery process at the beginning of the installation,
VisualSAN compares the existing software, firmware, and driver levels to
a known version that work. This comparison expedites the SAN
installation process and facilitates future upgrades and additions to the
SAN Configuration Tool:
EMC VisualSAN Configuration Manager
Problems that occur in a SAN can originate from one of two areas: a failed
device or a change in the SAN. If a SAN device fails, events from the
device identify the problem location, and the event management
capabilities of VisualSAN can help administrators solve the problem
Every change made in a SAN can have an adverse effect. In fact, simple
changes made in an effort to optimize a SAN configuration can backfire,
initiating a cascading effect that brings down a significant portion of the
SAN, if not the entire network. Aberrations within the SAN can even
manifest days or weeks after a simple change has been made.
Dell offers a solution to change management in the SAN—the EMC
VisualSAN Configuration Manager, an integrated, add-on component of
VisualSAN. The VisualSAN Configuration Manager enables
administrators to capture a visual image of the SAN at any point in time.
The administrators define the objects or devices to be included in the
image, as well as the device details to capture, such as device firmware and
serial number, LUN information, zone configuration, worldwide node
name, software and firmware levels, driver information, and any other
information that directly affects SAN operation.
Administrators can also use the VisualSAN Configuration Manager images
to keep change logs, manage assets, and replicate configurations.
Troubleshoot with Configuration Images
When a SAN is running at peak efficiency, VisualSAN can capture a
“good,” or baseline, image of the SAN. This baseline configuration allows
administrators to identify and analyze future changes made to the SAN
configuration. When a problem that cannot be traced to device failure
occurs within the SAN, then VisualSAN can capture a “bad” image. The
VisualSAN Configuration Manager can provide a comparison of these two
images to help administrators identify changes in the SAN that may have
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 7 October 2002
caused the problem. A SAN administrator using VisualSAN without the
VisualSAN Configuration Manager add-on component can send both the
“bad” and “good” images to Dell Technical Support for problem
identification and analysis.
The VisualSAN Configuration Manager graphically and textually flags any
additions or deletions of SAN devices and any changes to existing SAN
devices. With the graphical representation, visual cues immediately direct
administrators to areas where changes have been made; in the textual
report, administrators receive specific details on additions, deletions, or
The ability to compare two different configurations of the same SAN can
be a powerful troubleshooting tool. Administrators can fix a problematic
SAN by rolling back to the baseline configuration. This capability can help
reduce SAN downtime and any associated service calls and technical
VisualSAN Configuration Manager with Changes Represented
in the Topology
Keep Track of Configuration Changes
Administrators continually update hardware, software, firmware, drivers,
patches, and service packs. Many SAN administrators manually keep logs
of revisions made to the infrastructure. When properly implemented,
logging the change management process ensures tight control over all SAN
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 8 October 2002
updates. However, logging this process can also slow down and inhibit
routine maintenance, and administrators may overlook seemingly
Administrators can easily tailor the change process through the VisualSAN
Configuration Manager scheduler, which automatically logs images of
SAN configuration changes. Automated logging enhances routine
maintenance and prompts administrators to follow an established change
process that can be audited and tracked. The VisualSAN Configuration
Manager logs detailed information about each configuration change,
including the date and time of the change. This process can result in a
better-managed SAN with higher availability.
VisualSAN Configuration Manager Detail Information
Manage Assets in the SAN
As the complexity of the SAN grows, so does the amount of time
administrators must spend tracking inventory and assets, a task that
distracts administrators from managing the performance and availability
of the SAN. This redirection of efforts limits a company’s return on
investment by underutilizing administrators’ talents. Administrators need
a SAN management tool that quickly and transparently captures asset
inventory, allowing them to concentrate on delivering performance and
The configuration images captured by the VisualSAN Configuration
Manager can become an automated method of asset management. The
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 9 October 2002
module can report detailed asset information, including serial numbers,
asset tags, firmware levels, software levels, worldwide names, and TCP/IP
addresses. Automating the collection of asset information frees
administrators from the manual, time-consuming, and error-prone process
of tracking assets so that they can focus on SAN performance and
Replicate Configurations in Multiple Locations
The VisualSAN Configuration Manager addresses another SAN
configuration need—replication. When a large enterprise organization
needs reliable SAN configurations in multiple locations, it often tests a
standard configuration in a controlled lab environment before deployment.
The organization then replicates the lab-tested configuration in several
locations. Successful replication requires careful, disciplined control of the
hardware and software configuration, even down to the firmware levels on
hardware devices. Such control can significantly decrease support costs. It
can also decrease spare-part inventory costs because organizations can
stock fewer components.
The VisualSAN Configuration Manager enables organizations to replicate
these desired, lab-controlled SAN configurations more easily. Its import
and export utilities simplify SAN replication and enable administrators to
compare configurations for accuracy. The module also provides device-
specific information, such as firmware and software driver versions, for
more precise control of replicated deployments.
Alternative to Direct-Attached Storage
Organizations seeking to replace direct-attached storage with small- to
medium-sized SANs now have a suitable management tool. VisualSAN
incorporates key SAN management capabilities: discovery, representation,
event management, reporting, device management, zoning, and
Armed with the VisualSAN Configuration Manager, VisualSAN also
allows organizations to manage changes within the SAN configuration and
achieve maximum return on investment from their SAN environments.
With these tools, enterprise organizations can reduce costs, optimize asset
use, and simplify their storage management.
SAN Performance Tool :
EMC VisualSAN Performance Manager
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 10 October 2002
Unclogging the Arteries
With all of the potential pitfalls awaiting a poorly configured SAN, it is
imperative that the right tools are available to identify, isolate, and help
resolve potential problems before they affect the SAN.
VisualSAN Performance Manager isn’t a nice add-on module to a SAN
management application; it is an intricate piece to the management puzzle.
Fully integrated into VisualSAN, the VisualSAN Performance Manager
consists of a variety of features that enable the SAN administrator to be
proactive in the management of the SAN. These features include: user
defined alerts that allow the administrator to determine which
performance variables are critical to the health of the SAN; performance
visualization so that hot and cold spots can be quickly located in even the
most complex environments; and performance reports so that data can be
analyzed to prevent potential problems before they occur.
VisualSAN Performance Manager with Performance
Propagation to the Topology Map and the Live SAN Meter
Performance alerts are a SAN administrator’s best friend. Customizable
alerts allow the administrator to choose from a variety of parameters on
any link, set thresholds, and configure alert notifications. By actively
monitoring the parameters of the SAN, the administrator can be notified
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 11 October 2002
when warning or critical thresholds are penetrated. Then the administrator
can begin preventive measures to rectify the situation before saturation or
bottlenecks occur, leading to lost revenue.
VisualSAN Performance Manager allows the administrator to define
thresholds for a variety of parameters on each link. This allows the
administrator to configure each link as a separate entity with its own
unique characteristics. Some links may be hotter than others, so the
administrator may wish to enforce stricter performance requirements to
ensure optimal performance at all times.
As SANs move toward supporting multiple data rate links, the ability to
monitor each link independently and choose which variables are important
will become critical. VisualSAN and the VisualSAN Performance Manager
enable the administrator to configure alerts within the SAN quickly and
easily, in a visually appealing package that is user-friendly and intuitive.
Threshold and alert configuration screens allow the administrator to select
multiple links and assign thresholds collectively. All of these capabilities
provide administrators with the necessary tools to proactively monitor the
state of the SAN.
Once all of the thresholds are configured, the VisualSAN Performance
Manager goes to the next level and provides enhanced visualization
capabilities that represent threshold levels on the topology map. Often
under utilized, the topology map provides a wealth of information about
the SAN. Aside from providing detailed interconnect information, device
status, and an overview of the entire SAN, using the VisualSAN
Performance Manager, the topology map provides for an overlay of
performance information on each link. At any given time, the topology
map will represent the current threshold state as a color variation on the
map. As an example, a blue color could indicate an under utilized link,
while a red color signifies a critical link. This will allow the administrator
to quickly identify hot and cold spots within the SAN. By combining the
capability to visualize zone configuration and performance information,
the administrator will have more control over backups and determine
where the highest performing links are located.
In addition to the high level information on the topology map, VisualSAN
Performance Manager provides a comprehensive set of live graphs. The
graphs are able to plot multiple links on the same chart to compare data
from any of the link variables. The administrator can adjust the time scale
and update rate for complete control of the graphs. This advanced control
capability allows the administrator to choose which data is most
important. For example, two graphs may be created within the VisualSAN
Performance Manager: one to monitor relatively cold links, and one to
monitor two high performing links. The graph monitoring the cold links
may only be updated every three to five seconds, but the graph monitoring
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 12 October 2002
the hot links is updated every second and scaled to show up to an hour’s
worth of data on the graph. By increasing the time scale, the administrator
can perform live trending analysis. This may be especially important
during backup windows.
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 13 October 2002
VisualSAN Performance Manager Historical Graph of Activity
Closing the Window on Backups
Even with redundant connections and duplicate volumes, it is imperative
to schedule regular backups of the data on the SAN. Data is the most
valuable resource a company has, so maintaining its integrity and
availability are crucial to the company’s success. In order to optimize the
SAN during backup periods and minimize the backup window, careful
consideration must be taken when creating zone configurations and data
paths. Removing a highly utilized link from operation during a backup
could cause bottlenecks in other areas and potentially saturate links.
The VisualSAN Performance Manager provides the administrator with the
detailed information necessary to determine how to decrease the backup
window by optimizing the performance of the SAN. Optimization can
come in many forms such as: enabling multiple links between the storage
devices to increase bandwidth, removing links that are being utilized by
normal operations, or reconfiguring the data path between the devices
Having all of the necessary data will allow the administrator to make the
best choices in configuring the SAN, and reduce the amount of
troubleshooting necessary to optimize overall SAN performance.
The VisualSAN Performance Manager incorporates a persistent database
to monitor the performance metrics within the SAN. This database will
provide the administrator with the ability to evaluate trends in the SAN
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 14 October 2002
over time. The ability to store a day or two of data is not sufficient for these
purposes. Analysis of this caliber requires months, or even years, worth of
data to accurately assess the future needs of the SAN.
The administrator can select the parameters that will be stored in the
database for each link, and individually select the parameters that should
be charted on historical graphs. This functionality gives the administrator
complete control over the analysis of the SAN.
Administrators can utilize the VisualSAN Performance Manager to spot
trends and be able to proactively manage the SAN before the performance
problems even arise. The administrator can select ranges of data to be
viewed and analyzed. Preset trending algorithms are available at the
administrator’s fingertips to easily diagnose the SAN. All of this is
available through an easy to use and understand graphical user interface.
There is a potential for hundreds, or even thousands, of parameters to be
logged into the database. Over time, the database can reach an
unmanageable size. In order to efficiently manage all of the data, database
management tools are needed. The VisualSAN Performance Manager
provides tools that allow the administrator to compress the data in a way
that the important artifacts remain intact. These artifacts include: peak
sustained, highest value, lowest value, and average value over a user-
defined period of time. The administrator can configure the manner in
which the compression events take place.
The compression techniques condense the data at user-defined intervals.
These intervals can be one day, one week, one month, or one year. This
means that all of the data within the interval will be compressed to a single
data point (or collection of points, depending on the administrator’s
criteria). More advanced database management functions include the
ability to compress data differently depending on its correlation to the
current date and time. Older data can be more aggressively compressed,
while preserving the newest data. Alerts can be triggered when the
database reaches a specified size to notify the administrator. The
administrator can also script a policy that automatically performs a user-
defined task, such as compressing data older than one month, or dropping
the oldest data in the database to make room for the new data, while
conforming to pre-defined size restrictions.
Service and Support
Please note: Dell services vary by region. The services listed below are available in
the United States; please contact your local representative for more information,
or visit http://www.dell.com.
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 15 October 2002
Storage Solutions: Dell's integrated storage services portfolio offers a full
range of lifecycle storage services from initial assessment to planning and
design through our tools-based methodologies and best practices. Dell can
assist with effective planning, rapid deployment and efficient operations of
Dell/EMC: Dell provides pre-sales design & site readiness assessment free
of charge. On-site installation of Dell/EMC Storage systems, unpacking of
Dell/EMC hardware, assembly of select rack components, rack mounting
of systems and power-on of devices are available as part of the Dell/EMC
package. And when purchasing a SAN, Dell offers system planning,
design documentation, select software installation, configuration of
switches, SAN cabling, host connectivity, creation of storage groups,
product orientation session, and extensive custom options.
Training and Certification
Dell Certified Enterprise Engineer Program (DCEE): Dell offers an
industry-standard certification program for customers who are technical
support managers, systems engineers, enterprise administrators, and NOC
managers. Content tracks are PowerEdge™ Server, Systems Management,
Business Continuity, and Network Storage. Participants can progress
through Foundation, Associate, Master and Master Instructor levels.
Gold Support (standard with a Dell/EMC system)
7x24 Problem Prevention and Account Management:
• Technical Account Manager (TAM) Services
• Change Notification Services
• 30 Day Getting Started Helpline1
7x24 Rapid Resolution:
• TAM Services
• Engineer-to-Engineer Phone Support with Dell’s Enterprise Expert
Center Phone Queue
• Customer-Defined Call Priority
• Advanced Remote Software & Storage Support
• Seamless Support
• 7x24 4-Hour Response On-Site2
• Hardware Support
• Premier Support dell.com
Dell Enterprise Systems Group Page 16 October 2002