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Quickly Create Filters for VirtualWisdom UDC Values

Filters, How to, UDC, xsltproc Add comments

The UDC capability in VirtualWisdom enables quite a powerful ability to group fabric entities based on a number of parameters, but creating the filters to use a large UDCs can be a bit cumbersome. UDC is VirtualWisdom’s User-Defined Context, allowing a virtual metric value to be defined within summaries, calculated based on powerful expressions.

Typically, UDCs are used to separate and group entities such as:

  • Physical Datacenter to filter physical-layer alerts (such as CRCs) to the correct ticket queue for inspection
  • Business Unit (BU) UDCs to filter performance alerts (such as response-time) against Business-Unit -specific thresholds (i.e. Oracle requires 12ms response time, but the NFS filer accepts 20ms)
  • Port/Blade/ASIC calculations
  • Grouping a SuperDome’s ports or an Array’s ports for filtered reports

As well, UDCs are used for “what-if” calculations: What if the SCSI traffic from a certain HBA was zoned to a different storage port, which it overload the Queue and link speed? What-if UDCs are an extremely powerful tool to prove capacity based on historical use, but somewhat out-of-scope for this article.

My content in Virtual Instruments’ SAN Best Practices tend to be of the how-to nature; in this article, I’d like to share a simple method of creating all the “X = Y” filters for a specific UDC programmatically, which can reduce the time-to-value in new installs or changing environments. When linked with other generation how-to articles (such as nickname collection, or generating UDC by transform), this can further reduce the effort of managing a very large SAN.

Process Overview

For this process, our workflow will look like the following:

As you can see, the starting file “UDCExport.udc” can be either exported from the VirtualWisdom Portal itself, or can be generated by other means. The file is converted using xsltproc using a “program” or “script” UDC2Filter.xsl, resulting in Filters.xml which can be imported manually to VirtualWisdom.

Overview

UDC Files in VirtualWisdom are a specific schema of XML file; as such, standard easily-available license-free tools such as xpathget, xmllint, or xsltproc can be used to interrogate, validate, or convert the starting XML to a different format, even generating CSV or simple text in the process.

XSLT is the XML Stylesheet Translations; XSL is a Stylesheet for XML, similar to CSS describing the stype of a free-form HTML page. In essence, XSL can be considered an CSS in XML, but rather than markup content — such as type facing and style for large printed content — XSL can also transform and convert content. XSLT is the act of using XSL markup in a standalone processor (xsltproc) to create content based on XML content. In many cases, this is XML generating XML, but can be used to write TSV, CSV, JSON, etc.

VirtualWisdom Filters are exported as another schema of XML file, and can be similarly manipulated by standard XML tools. Even though this XML is a text-based format, trying to edit it with a text editor can be prone to human-error. We can read XML for debugging (xmllint -format), but as the size of the content gets larger, to use it as thought XML is an opaque binary format, which again leads us to the free tool “XSLT”.

In our case, a specific XSLT file is used to manipulate a UDC definition into a list of Filter definitions: UDC2Filter.xsl guides the conversion of UDC Values to Filters which match them.

Running the Script

xsltproc is available on most non-Windows platforms as an installable RPM, SSO, .deb, .pkg, or similar pre-packaged open source project; on Windows, it can be installed per SageHill’s Instructions; a file xsltproc.zip is easily obtained from any VI FAE to accelerate your install process.

Running it is quite simple:

xsltproc.exe -o Filters.xml UDC2Filter.xsl UDCExport.udc

There’s no output: all generated content goes directly to the output filter file.

Complete Example

In order to show how the full process, in case I’ve left out some details or some details seem implied, this is a full example based on data in our demo databases (which we use for demos and training):

Given the following UDC:

UDC that we start with for our example UDC2Filter

We export this UDC to Application_SW.udc, run the XSL Transform as follows:

xsltproc.exe -o Application_SW_Filters.xml UDC2Filter.xsl Application_SW.udc

The result we get in Application_SW_Filters.xml looks like this:

Clearly this example is only a few filters, no big deal. The benefit comes in when there are more than a half-dozen to build (recently, a 212-value UDC was tested). As well, if the UDC is edited (perhaps based on automated processes) then the administrator must go through and check that every value has a filter.

Unfortunately, there is no schedule-action for Filter import.

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