Setting up vSphere Storage Views

ubercloud-iconWhen it comes to analyzing what storage (virtual or physical) is connected to what or how much storage is being used by what, the VMware vSphere Storage Views tab is where you need to go. The Storage Views tab is generated by a plug-in for the vSphere Client and you can view it on any object (VM, Host, Datacenter & cluster). In this article, I’ll show you where to access the vSphere Storage Views tab, what plug-in makes it work, and how it can help you.

While it should be enabled by default, the vCenter Storage Monitoring plug-in is what makes the Storage Views tab appear in the vSphere Client. You can check to ensure that it is enabled by going to Plug-ins, then Manage Plug-ins in the vSphere client. From there, check the vCenter Storage Monitoring Plug-in to ensure that it is Enabled, as you see in Figure 1, below.

So, if you ever open the vSphere Client, perhaps on a different computer, and there is no Storage Views tab, as expected, doublecheck the vCenter Storage Monitoring Plug-in to ensure it is enabled.

Using Storage Views is easy. Just open the vSphere Client, go into either the Hosts and Clusters inventory, VMs and Templates inventory, or the Datastores inventory. You can use Storage Views with any of these inventory views by clicking on an object like a virtual machine, datastore, host, datacenter, or cluster. Look for the Storage Views tab, which will very likely be all the way to the right, as you see in Figure 2, below.

Notice how, once you are on the Storage Views tab, you can access two different views: Reports or Maps. The default view is the Reports view, as you see in Figure 2.

Once you are inside the Reports view of Storage Views there are actually a ton of different ways to view information. There are three different ways to manipulate the information shown. They are:

Show all X
Modify visible columns

Let me show you how each one of these work. By default, you will be on the Show all Virtual Machines view of the Reports view. If you use the drop down on the Show All X menu, you’ll see that you can also show all hosts, datastores, resource pools, clusters, SCSI volumes, SCSI paths, SCSI adaptors, SCSI targets, and NAS Mounts. (WOW, that is a lot!)

As you can imagine, each one of these various sub-views of the reporting view have different column headings. For example, the virtual machines view is going to show information about snapshots where SCSI adaptors view is going to show information like the adaptor model, driver type, PCI ID, and WWN. However, the column headings that you see are all the default and you CAN manipulate these (make visible or invisible) however you desire. You do this just as you would manipulate the column headers of any other view in the vSphere client, by right-clicking on the column header and selecting to hide or show the various column headers, as you see in Figure 4, below.

So showing or hiding the column headers is the second way to manipulate your view of the Storage View output. The third way is to Search.

On the right-hand side of the Storage View tab, there is standard vSphere Client search/filter box with a dropdown just to the left of it. With this box, you can filter the output that you are shown in the current view. Here is what it looks like in Figure 5.

While there is a ton of useful info in here, one of the most important things to keep an eye on is snapshot usage in the Virtual Machines sub-view as it can tell you how much space each VM is using, how many virtual disks they have, and how much space is used by each snapshots from each of the different VMs.

Besides Reports, the other view that the Storage Views tab offers is the Maps view. While you have datastore maps already in the vSphere Client maps view, they don’t show you the same thing (at all). The Storage View Maps offer to map out the following storage-related components for you:

Virtual Machine
SCSI Volume (LUN)
NAS Mount
SCSI Adaptor
SCSI Target

While these maps can show you different things than regular maps, they work identically in terms of their zoom, control, and export options (you can export this map to a graphic file, like a JPG).

Take a look at my default Storage Views map in Figure 6, below.

As you can see, this map tells me how my ESX host is connected to 4 different HBAs and how those HBAs are connected to various SCSI destinations.

The vSphere Storage Views tab was a much needed feature added with vSphere 4 and, while it may not be talked about a lot, it is one of the most practical and requested features of vSphere 4. The information gained in the Storage Views tab was something that vSphere admins just had to have to manage and understand their snapshot status and storage infrastructure. In this article, you learned what controls the Storage View tab, what it contains, and how it will help you.