Expanding a Thin LUN on Clariion CX4

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Do you have an EMC Clariion CX4 with Virtual Provisioning (thin provisioning)?  Have you tried to expand the host visible (ie: maximum) size of a thin-LUN and can’t figure out how?  Well you aren’t alone…  Despite extremely little information available from EMC to say one way or the other, I finally figured out that you actually can’t expand a thin lun yet.  This was a surprise to me, since I had just assumed that would be there.  Thin-LUNs are pretty much virtual LUNs, and as such, they don’t have any direct block mapping to a RAID group that has to be maintained.  And traditional LUNs can be expanded using MetaLUN striping or concatenation.  Due to this restriction the host visible size of a thin-LUN cannot be edited after the LUN has been created.

But there IS a workaround.  It’s not perfect but its all we have right now.  Using CLARiiON’s built-in LUN Migration technology you can expand a thin-LUN in two steps.

Step 1: Migrate the thin-LUN to a thick-LUN of the same maximum size.

Step 2: Migrate the thick-LUN to a new thin-LUN that was created with the new larger size you want.  After migration, the thin-LUN will consume disk space equivalent to the old thin-LUN’s maximum size, but will have a new, higher host maximum visible size.

Two Steps to expand a thin LUN

Two Steps to expand a thin LUN

This requires that you have a RAID group outside of your thin pools that has enough usable free space to fit the temporary thick-LUN, so it’s not a perfect solution.  You’d think that migrating the old thin-LUN directly into a new, larger thin-LUN would work, but to use the additional disk space after a LUN migration, you have to edit the LUN size which, again, can’t be done on thin-LUNs.  I haven’t actually tested this, but this is based on all of the documentation I could find from EMC on the topic.

I’m looking into other methods that might be better, but so far it seems that certain restrictions on SnapView Clones and SANCopy might preclude those from being used.  The ability to expand thin-LUNs will come in a later FLARE release for those that are willing to wait.

2 thoughts on “Expanding a Thin LUN on Clariion CX4

  1. Aman

    Hello, and , kudos to nice post . I landed on your post today ,, year 2014 . Can you apprise if the migration is possible now , by increasing the size of Virtual LUN ?

  2. storagesavvy

    Yes, as of FLARE 30, the CX4 platform allows expansion of pool/thin LUNs online. This also applies to VNX platforms running 31,32 and 33 code.

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