EMC IONIX UIMp 3.1.1.2 Review


EMC Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager/Provisioning or better known as UIMp is the vBlock provisioning tool.

I must say I have been a big UIMp sceptic. When I got my hands on a vBlock in December 2011 UIMp was around version 2 and it was crap!

UIMp was only fit for purpose during the vBlock deployment in Cork. It could provision multiple service offerings (ESXi Clusters) automatically, performing a number of manual tasks across UCS, VNX, Nexus and vSphere services, allowing VCE to meet their 30 day bare-metal to customer install lead times, but once the service offerings were provisioned that was pretty much it.

The only practical feature available to customers was to add datastores to your service offering. Woaw! Slow down tiger! And VCE had the cheek to charge you a fortune for the licenses… It was alot easier just to turn UIMp off and use the native management tools directly, which is what a lot of customers ended up doing.

Back in the day if you wanted to add a blade to an existing ESXi cluster… no problem, just decommission and recreate the service offering – that means blowing away the cluster, UCS profiles, storage LUNS, and ESXi hosts. No small feat and if you are a single company, you’re normally going to have one or two service offerings, say Production and Test&Dev. Not exactly usable.

Well things have improved dramatically since then. Flexible service offerings were introduced in v3.0, if I remember correctly, and they allowed customers to add blades to (expand) an existing service offering. It was a big improvement and a step in the right direction.

As more and more customers have bought vBlocks, the pressure on the IONIX team to deliver a robust, mature product has increased and they have risen to the challenge. UIMp keeps on getting better and better. Their stated aim is to negate the need to use the native management tools (i.e. UCS manager, MDS Fabric Manager, Unisphere) and automate the vBlock provisioning and management tasks…

No small feat and not easy to do without taking away some features found only in the native tools. So there has always been a big enough trade off to put me off UIMp…

But I must say having just installed UIMp 3.1.1.2, which is the latest version just released in the last few weeks with the newest vBlock Compatibility Matrix, I am slowly being converted.

One of the reasons I am slowly being converted is that while UIMp was out of action I tried to manually provision some blades and I could not get the zoning and masking configured correctly… I ended up putting it off until I had completed this install, which made me appreciate how simple UIMp makes even the most difficult provisioning tasks.

The GUI is very slick now, so much more responsive. It was painless to install and configure to.An hour’s webex was all it took and I had a new service offering configured. (That’s also due to VCE’s excellent support – reason enough to go ahead if you are thinking of getting a vBlock.)

As I deployed a fresh install, I ran the service adoption utility (more to come in another post), which is extremely slick and had our existing vBlock service offerings imported in a few minutes.

What’s missing? There are a couple of native features that are on the todo list I believe. I would really like to be able to choose the LUN ID when deploying datastores. It is extremely useful if you are replicating datastores between two different arrays, with for example, EMC RecoverPoint, to have the same LUN ID in both datacentres.

Other than that, if you have a vBlock and are thinking of upgrading, I highly recommend it.

My grade:

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