Fixing storage misalignment – Part 1

Fixing storage misalignment on IBM N-Series or NetApp.

IBM N-series heads CPU utilization before alignment what on average 80%, when deduplication process jumps in CPU utilization rise up 100%. As you can imagine, in this circumstances deduplication process takes forever (depends on amount of data to scan).  After quick chat with IBM support they come up with information that we have disk misalignment on virtual machines. I had to verify their information, somehow 🙂 . Fortunately NetApp has nice tool called Virtual Storage Console which integrates vCenter server with storage systems. It is licensed, your license must cover it, if so you can easily download from NetApp support page.

[box type=”info”] NOTE: IBM N-Series is in fact re-branded NetApp. [/box]

First step is to install or upgrade. At the time when I wrote article Virtual Storage Console is in version 4.1 or newer, I highly recommend to use the newest version of VCS before you start alignment.

Installing Virtual Storage Console


  • Connectivity between:
    • vCenter server and N-Series heads – TCP/UDP 443
    • N-series heads and ESX(i) servers – TCP/UDP 443
    • Spare space on N-Series for creation new optimizes datastores if needed.
    • vSphere 4.X or newer
    • OnTAP 7.1.X or newer
    • Administrator credentials on N-Series systems
Installing VSC

You can install VSC either on vCenter server or on separate system, my recommendation is: use separate system, do not install it on the same server where vCenter is installed. I’ve see few configuration where VSC was installed on the same system where vCS was installed and was casing performance and configuration problems.

[box type=”warning”] Make sure your N-series is licensed to use Virtual Storage Console[/box]

  • Download Virtual Storage Console from NetApp download page
  • Start installation wizard
  • Mark services which you want to have installed
VSC instalaltion wizzard

VSC installation wizard

  • Wait for installation to complete and register plugin into vCenter server system
  • Provide:
    • Virtual Storage Console communication interface
    • vCenter server IP
    • credentials
Register VSC plugin

Register VSC plugin

 Connect plugin to N-Series heads – appliances
  • From Home screen of vSphere client under Solution and  Application, click on N-Series icon


  • Under Monitor and host configuration –> Overview –> in right panel, right click Add storage system, repeat steps for second N-Series node from N-series metro cluster.
Add storage controller in N-Series

Add storage controller in N-Series

  • Storage controllers should appear in window, click update button to update storage and severs configuration.
Installing mbrallign tool command line utility for off-line VM disks alignment
  • Go to Monitoring and host configuration –> tools and download right tools version for installed hypervisor in environment.
Download mbralign offline utility

Download mbralign offline utility

  • Upload package to ESX(i) host
  • Open SSH to ESX(i) host
  • Unpack package

  • you can find mbrtools under: /opt/ontap/santools/

Artur Krzywdzinski

Artur is Consulting Architect at Nutanix. He has been using, designing and deploying VMware based solutions since 2005 and Microsoft since 2012. He specialize in designing and implementing private and hybrid cloud solution based on VMware and Microsoft software stacks, datacenter migrations and transformation, disaster avoidance. Artur holds VMware Certified Design Expert certification (VCDX #077).