Fancy running your own EMC Isilon, VNX, VNXe or ViPR installation in your own lab environment, to try out, trial and/or educate yourself with? If so, you’ve come to the right post! Here I provide the links to virtual instance simulators that are free to download, install, configure and use – plus there are no time restrictions on any of them!
There is plenty of learning and fun to be had with trying out and running these EMC storage simulators in your own lab. I will be releasing a series of posts in the coming weeks (I will publish links from this post once completed) that will cover how to install and configure each of these simulators, though don’t let that stop you from jumping in straight away and trying them out. Download links for each of the storage simulators is at the bottom of each of the sections below.
What Do EMC Storage Simulators Offer?
First off, as mentioned above, these simulators are free to download and use! They allow you to spin up, configure, present and manage storage in your virtualized lab environment. Yes, that means you could, technically, run VMs off of them and use them (apart from the VNXe 3200 simulator – see below) as shared storage in your lab environment.
The only catch is that these downloadable instances of EMC’s Isilon, VNX and ViPR are purely intended to be used in a lab environment only (ie: non-production), and as such don’t come with any “official” EMC support – though check out the EMC Community Forums Network here as you can usually find decent community support on these non-production simulators on the forum.
Just to manage expectations, don’t expect full eye-watering performance from these virtualized storage instances and simulators, as this isn’t their intended use. Though for use in a standard lab environment they are definitely capable and a whole bunch of fun to use and try out – with no time limits attached.
EMC ViPR is EMCs Software-Defined Storage offering that provides storage management, automation and delivery. ViPR is an open, extensible architecture for that provides integration into the Software-Defined Data Center, which as you no doubt know, is one of the more recent hot-topics in IT.
One of the best words to describe ViPR is ‘extensible’. What this basically means is that it allows you to provide a single storage (albeit virtualized) platform that effectively sits in front of various storage types (eg: file, block, object and even commodity storage), all of which can be from various storage vendors (eg: HP, NetApp, HDS). By providing this convenient centralization of storage VIPR can then provide storage automation, management (ie: single point of management) and delivery (ie: storage-as-a-service) out to various hosts as required.
I know from personal experience as an ex-IT administrator that dealing with various storage types from various storage vendors can be a real headache, usually the result of business mergers and acquisitions, or changes of IT management or administration who had a preference to one particular storage vendor at the time.
By abstracting the underlying physical storage hardware, similar to what we have seen with server virtualization, there are a great many time and financial saving benefits to also be had with the storage infrastructure. This is the space in which EMC ViPR is positioned.
Along with the ViPR download there are also a number of useful installation, configuration and administration guides (and white papers) to get your lab installation of ViPR up and running. Click here for the link or on the image below.
I have yet to really get my hands dirty with installing and configuring EMC ViPR, though I will be spinning this up in my own lab shortly.
*** UPDATE ***
A few people have reported problems downloading the EMC Isilon simulator. There was a slight problem with the FTP site that the EMC Isilon team has now resolved, though I have created a quick video (see below) that shows you how to download the Isilon Simulator in a few easy steps, just to avoid any confusion – hope it helps.
EMC’s Isilon is a scale-out network attached storage (NAS) storage device which is capable of expanding to 20 petabytes (PB) in a single cluster! I’ve always been a fan of scale-out storage, as I like the idea of being to scale out both capacity and performance as you add more nodes to a cluster, rather than just capacity alone.
As with the VNX and VNXe, EMC Isilon comes with an intuitive and easy to use web based (OneFS) management interface. Also, as with the other EMC storage products mentioned here, Isilon offers tight integration with VMware vSphere, for example; VMware VAAI and VASA APIs.
From this management interface you can create a simulated environment and get a feel for both the interface and administration tasks available in the latest Isilon software release.
*Note: You will need to logon using an EMC support portal account to download the Isilon Simulator, this is straight forward to do – check out my post “How to create an EMC support portal account in 3 easy steps” to see how to do this. You don’t need to be an EMC customer or partner to create an account!
I have used this simulator quite a bit in my lab and can definitely recommend it!
*** IMPORTANT NOTE ***
The Isilon download is configured for use with VMware Workstation (ie: not ESXi), so if you want to run it with VMware ESXi then use VMware Convertor (free to download from VMware) to convert the Isilon VM once you have downloaded it.
The EMC VNX is EMC’s Unified mid-tier range of storage appliances. The VNX is often referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife” of EMC storage, a title that it has rightfully earned in my opinion. It offers plenty of different disk and connectivity combinations in a single storage appliance (hence it being termed “Unfied” storage). For example: NFS and Block storage, iSCSI and Fibre Channel (FC) connectivity, and Near-Line (NL) SAS, SAS, Enterprise Flash Disk (EFD).
*Note: this downloadable lab version of the VNX only offers NFS storage (ie: not block level iSCSI), this is due to licensing implications around this part of the VNX simulator – don’t hold your breath for this to change and become available in this virtualized version of the VNX anytime soon.
You will need to create an EMC Support Portal account, which is free and quick to do, and then from the EMC Support portal you’ll be able to locate and download the latest build of the VNX VSA. EMC Support account creation details can be found in my post here and VNX VSA download instructions can be found here.
EMC VNXe 3200
The VNXe is EMC’s entry level storage offering. Though don’t let the term “entry level” put you off as the VNXe is a highly capable piece of storage kit that offers the SMB or enterprise remote offices with plenty of excellent functionality and features quite often only seen in mid or enterprise tier storage. For example with the new VNXe 3200 you can now take full advantage of functionality previously only seen on it’s bigger brother the VNX, such as auto-tiering, Flash SSD caching (FAST Suite) and Fibre Channel (FC) host connectivity – this makes the VNXe 3200 one powerful little unit!
As the VNXe is generally targeted at the SMB and remote office use cases, where local IT resource is often limited, the management and configuration of the storage is made extra-easy via the use of the usual user-friendly EMC Unisphere web based management interface as well as through the use of wizard driven functionality.
This VNXe 3200 simulator provides you with easy access to the web based Unisphere management interface. As this is actually an Adobe Flash based simulator there is a basic installation process with no configuration necessary – apart from any configurations you want to create or change once in the simulation interface.
The best-use case for the VNXe 3200 simulator is for VNXe 3200 Unisphere management interface familiarization/education. As this is a Adobe Flash base simulator you are unable to create and present out storage to other machines/VMs. Don’t let this put you off though as this simulator still behaves like a fully working VNXe, so there is a whole bunch of fun to be had in playing and configuring up your own VNXe 3200.
Default EMC Unisphere Logon Credentials:
So there we have it folks, four different EMC storage products to download, install and play with for free in your own lab environment. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I will be writing some posts on each that will provide step by step information on how to install and configure each of the storage simulators.
Download each, have fun and be sure to leave a comment telling us how you get on! And finally don’t forget to visit the EMC Community Network to share and gain help and information from others who are also running these EMC simulators in their lab.