We came across with some VM provisioning issues in one of our newly built VMware environment and we were not able to do thin provisioning tasks. The Datastores of this environment were setup using the NetApp NFS arrays and Servers were Dell Power Edge servers, we had to enable VAAI (vStorage API for Array Integration) to provide thin Provisioning in the Storage Array.

The ESXi environment was based on vSphere 5.5 U3, VAAI and Hardware acceleration was enabled as an inbuilt feature of the ESXi. We had to download and install the VAAI Plugin to offload the thing provisioning tasks to the Storage.

So What is VAAI ? 

VAAI is an a Application Program Interface (API) framework from VMware that enables certain IO and Storage Tasks such as Thing Provisioning tasks to be offloaded to the Storage Array. First this VAAI came in to the scene with ESXI 4.1 and after 5.X it supports to the Hardware Acceleration with NAS Storage Devices.

What I’m going to show here is enable and install the NetApp Plugin in the Dell PowerEdge Servers to support to the VAAI functionality.

First of all we need to verify that VAAI enabled in the ESXi Hosts

  • SSH in to a Host and type “esxcfg-advcfg -g /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedMove” and “esxcfg-advcfg -g /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedInit” commands to check the VAAI availability. 
  • You can see a similar output as below if it is already enabled, as I mentioned before this is an inbuilt feature with vSphere 5.x  
  • if you need to enable the VAAI in command line type “esxcfg-advcfg -s 1 /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedInit” and “esxcfg-advcfg -s 1 /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedMove” commands and check the VAAI availability. 
  • Also , you can use the “Advanced Settings” in the vSphere Client to enable in the GUI by changing the “Advanced Settings” in the “Software Section”. Change the Values “1” to enable the VAAI and “0” to disable in the host 
  • You can download the NetApp VMware VAAI Plugin in the “NetApp Support Website“, here I’m using the offline bundle for this configuration. 
  • I have downloaded and uploaded the Plugin to one of my NFS Datastores 
  • You can check the version and the released date using this command “esxcli software sources vib list –d /vmfs/volumes/<datastore_name>/offline_bundle.zip”. You can see the similar output as below. 

  • Install the NetApp Plugin , type “esxcli software vib install -n plugin_name -d /vmfs/volumes/<datastore_name>/offline_bundle.zip”. You can see a similar output as below
  • Once you successfully install the VAAI Plugin , restart the host and type “vmkfstools -Ph /vmfs/volumes/<Datastore_Name>” you can see the availability of the VVAI function in the Output. Here I have checked this for 3 Datastores.

Note : This is the output for this “vmkfstools -Ph /vmfs/volumes/<Datastore_name>”  command before install and restart the Host, You can clearly see that VAAI was not enabled on the host. 

Possible Errors 

If you forgot to type the full path to the “Offline Bundle” when you are installing this you will get an error similar to this, make sure to type the full path (/vmfs/volumes/<path to the file>) when you are executing the vib installation command 
That’s all from the VMware end and you need to enable this in the Storage level as well. 
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