Part 5 – 2 Node VSAN Configuration

After verifying the network connectivity, we can now enable VSAN on the cluster. This is pretty simple, from the vSphere Client, select the cluster and click on Configure as shown below.

vsan 1

Select the options as needed. Enabling Deduplication and Compression is a good thing as this reduces the used space on the vsanDatastore and thus reducing the data that needs to be copied should there be a failure. To configure 2 Node Direct Connect VSAN, you need to select the ‘Configure two hostvSAN Cluster’ and click Next.

vsan 2

Now ensure the VMkernel validation is passed, this is absolutely necessary to proceed further. Click Next

vsan 3

The next screen allows you to select the disks that you want to contribute to Capacity and Cache. In All falsh configuration, the disks are automatically claimed and VSAN does the intelligent selection for you. Usually the small sized disks are used for cache and others for capacity. You can set the disks to Do not Claim if you want them to use as spare in case of failure but it would be good to use all of them as we will have redundancy on the second node.

vsan 4

Now select the witness host and click Next.

vsan 5

In case of physical witness host, depending on the size of your Witness Deployment, you would need to select the disks needed for Capacity and Cache. Since we are using the appliance, we get two disks with sizes 15GB and 10GB. Select the 10GB disk for cache and 15GB for the capacity. Click Next

vsan 6

Review the settings and click Finish.

vsan 7

In the Recent Tasks, you can see the disk groups created and disks being added to the disk groups.

vsan 9

Also depending on the version of VSAN you are on, you should see the vsanDatastore being formatted. Pre 6.6 will have a On Disk Format 3 and 6.6 and above will have a version 5. Version 5 of On-Disk Format enables many features like Encrytion and Per Site Policies for Stretched Clusters.

vsan 10

That should complete your basic VSAN configuration.


Part 4 – 2 Node VSAN Network Validation

Now that, we have completed the ESX and witness hosts installations, its time to test the network connectivity and also here is where we do the Witness Traffic Separation. To begin with, enable SSH on all the ESXi hosts and connect to them with putty.

Ensure the below ports are open bidirectional before proceeding further.

vsan ports

Use esxcli vsan network list to display the current vsan setup. As you can see below, we have one VMkernerl interface on each host configured to handle VSAN Traffic as we saw earlier.

network 1

Below is the vsan network config on the Witness host.

network 2

The next step would be to configure a VMkernel interface on each ESXi host to use for Witness Traffic. This can be only done using the command line. So on each host run the below command. Any VMkernel interface other than one configured with VSAN Traffic can be used for this purpose. You can use Management Network VMkernel interface as well.

esxcli vsan network ipv4 add -i vmkX -T=witness

In my case, i am using vmk1 on esx1 and vmk2 on esx2 host, both are also handling the vMotion Traffic. Now check the network configuration using esxcli vsan network list and see that we now see the witness traffic also in the list.

network 3

After all the hardwork, now its time to check the connectivity between data nodes and also the connectivity from data nodes to witness. Use vmkping to exclusively test the connectivity from VMkernel interfaces we configured.

vmkping -I vmkX <target IP>

Also test the connectivity to data nodes from Witness host. You can see that all the networking is fine in my case. Since i have all the hosts including Witness in the same subnet, i dint have to add static routes to the hosts to reach VSAN Traffic. To add static routes to the hosts use the below. In 2 Node Direct node, you would need to add static route to Witness host on data nodes and 2 routes on Witness host to reach data nodes.

esxcli network ip route ipv4 add –n <remote network> -g <gateway to use>

network 4

Once the network connectivity is verified, you are all set to enable VSAN on the cluster.

Hope this was informative. Thanks!

Part 3 – 2 Node VSAN Witness Installation

Download the Witness Appliance. Deploy the OVF like another machine and as per my lab setup i will be using the esx3.vrobo.lab as the host to deploy the Witness. Also esx3 is not part of the VSAN cluster as you can see from the earlier post.

Below is the summary page of my Witness VM deploy.

witness 1

Power on the Witness VM and Open Console and configure the management network using DCUI and ensure connectivity is fine.

Add the host to the vCenter; make sure it is not added to the VSAN cluster. If you are deploying Witness as a VM like i did, you should see the witness host in blue color, distinguishing it from the other hosts. Not sure if i mentioned it already, but Witness hosts cannot be used to run any other VMs on it and this is specially packaged OVF designed to handle only Witness Traffic in Stretched Clusters.

witness 2

Below is the view from my vSphere Client

lab 1.png

As you can see below, the Witness Appliance comes with a Portgroup names witnessPg configured with its VMkernel interface configured to handle VSAN Traffic by default. You may need to change the IP address of this interface depending on your network. By default it uses DHCP address but it is preferred to change to static.

witness 3

Also observe that the MAC addresses on the NICs of Witness VM and the MAC addresses of VMkernel interfaces are same, this is on purpose, to ensure the traffic is not dropped and removes the need to enable promiscous mode.

witness 4

witness 5

This finishes the Witness VM deployment. Hope this was informative. Thanks!

Part 2 – 2 Node VSAN 6.6.1 Lab

As with any other vSphere setup, i am using VMware Workstation to run my entire VSAN Lab. I have installed VCSA 6.5 on my workstation as an appliance and have three ESXi  6.5 hosts installed as workstation VMs. I have connected two ESXi hosts directly using the LAN Segment to mimic the setup of 2 Node VSAN cluster. Also i i have added additional NICS as needed to enable vMotion and configuring redundancy for Management Network. Any configuration works as long as there is proper connectivity and VMkernel interfaces are enabled with VSAN Traffic.

As discussed earlier, the Witness Host cannot be part of same VSAN cluster and canno tbe part of another Stretched or 2 Node VSAN cluster. Special configurations are supported by VMware with RPQ and you may need to get in touch with support for further details.

To make it simple, below is how i have setup my lab.


Add the ESXi hosts to vCenter and configure networking as below and ensure there are VMkernel interfaces enabled with VSAN Traffic on each host. Since we are doing a 2 Node Direct Connect setup, configure the vmkernel interfaces with different subnet. In my case i am using network.

lab 2

lab 3

Hope this was informative. Thanks!

Part 1 – 2 Node VSAN 6.6.1

Things have changed a lot with vSphere 6.5 Update 1 and especially with VSAN. You can quickly go through them in my What’s New with vCenter, VSAN 6.5 and VSAN 6.6.1 posts. Many organizations are now running their management clusters on VSAN and VMware has marked a 10K customer mark very recently. With all the useful features coming out of the box, customers planning VSAN clusters are increasing every day.

Many smaller organizations now have their plans to convert their remote branch offices to 2 Node ROBO clusters enabling them to run their infrastructure on the legacy x86 machines and also to be able to make the workloads highly available with the traditional vSphere features like HA, DRS and vMotion. I have already done a series of posts when VSAN 6.2 was new and now i wanted to write some blog posts on the 2 Node VSAN implementation. VMware has a very detailed documentation of the implementation and i would strongly recommend reading them for a better understanding of the technology as a whole.

2 Node

© JaseMcCarty


Hope you have gone through the What’s New sections just so that you are up to speed with the features in 6.6.1. Before jumping into the 2 Node setup, it’s a good idea to go through the Stretched Clusters. So here are few key points i want to mention with respect to the Stretch Cluster and 2 Node configuration.

  • Stretched Clusters are clusters with two active/active sites contributing equal number of hosts at each site and have a third witness host (physical or appliance) in a different site than the other to Sites.
  • Stretched Clusters require vSphere 6 Update 1 and higher
  • Each site can have a maximum of 15 hosts; so the stretched cluster in total has 30 hosts acting as data nodes. Witness host does not contribute any storage and does not have data IO
  • Minimum configuration in a Stretched Cluster is 1+1+1
  • A VM in a stretched cluster has its VM objects present at both sites and should there be a failure of host, it uses the data on the other site to run the VM and HA is responsible for this.
  • Stretched Clusters support both All Flash and Hybrid configuration
  • Each site acts as a Fault Domain in a Stretched Cluster and hence has 3 Fault Domains; Preferred, Secondary and Witness
  • Number of Failures to Tolerate in VSAN prior to 6.6. is 1 due to the 3 Fault Domains
  • In 6.6 the VSAN has a Site level Tolerance included as Secondary Failures to Tolerate; this can be achieved using the Per Site Policies.

Per Site Policies

  • 2-Node direct Connect is an implementation of Stretched Cluster with two nodes residing in a single site and witness in a third site. 2+1
  • A 2 Node deployment can be done with nodes connected to a 10G switch or you can also use a crossover cable to connect both nodes, this also reduces the cost of deploying a 10G switch.
  • Witness Traffic Seperation has been introduced in 6.5 enabling to separate Witness Traffic from the VMKernel interface configured for VSAN Traffic. This is very helpful for 2 Node configurations as the VSAN traffic is configured over cross over cabke and Witness can be configured over Management or other VMKernel interface. Witness Traffic separation can be done only using the commnad line now.
  • Witness Traffic Separation is not supported in Stretched Clusters
  • For Stretched Clusters, L2 is recommended for vSAN communication between data sites and L3 for communication between Witness and Data Sites.
  • VSAN Traffic between data sites is multicast and Witness Traffic is Unicast. In 6.6 everything is unicast, only thing is all the nodes in cluster are to be upgraded to VSAN 6.6
  • For every 1000 VM objects, there is a witness component and each VM has 9 VM objects minimum and need 2Gbps connection atleast. For vmdk larger than 255GB, each 255GB chunk has a vm object.
  • In a Stretched Cluster, Hosts in Preferred Site and Secondary Site have heartbeats exchanged every second and a 5 second delay is considered a host failure.

Hope this was informational. Thanks!




CLI install of PSC and VCSA 6.5 Update 1

With the release of vSphere 6, VMware has introduced CLI install of PSC and VCSA for all types of architecture designs like Embedded PSC, External PSC install and good thing is you can also migrate the existing Windows based instances of PSC and vCenter to Appliances. In this post i will first try a green field install of Appliances using CLI and next work on the migration, i believe its almost similar.

VCSA installer ISO has a set of predefined templates for everyone’s architecture to help with PSC install or migration to appliance. To be able to install a vCenter Appliance with an External PSC, like with any other topology, you first have to install PSC so choose the json file PSC_first_instance_on_ESXi.json from the templates folder in ISO.

Note: Ensure you have created the necessary DNS records for the name and IP resolution of the PSC and VSCA appliances

2017-08-15 20_25_03-install

Modify the json file with a IDE and fill in all the details needed. Below is a sample of the modified file for my lab environment.

2017-08-15 20_30_32-C__Users_CHIN2_Desktop_PSC_first_instance_on_ESXi.json - Notepad++

Once saved, use a Powershell or cmd to navigate to the mounted ISO, from there run the below commands by pointing the modified json file. In my case, i saved the json file on my Desktop.

Use the switch –verify-only to perform validation of the given parameters.

.\vcsa-deploy.exe install --accept-eula --verify-only --no-esx-ssl-verify <path to json file>

2017-08-02 21_56_19-AD - VMware Workstation

You should see the installer perform validations as below.

2017-08-02 21_58_15-AD - VMware Workstation

Once all the validations are successfull, remove the verify-only switch and run the command again to perform the actual deploy.

2017-08-02 21_58_55-AD - VMware Workstation

Similar to the GUI install, CLI also performs the install in two steps, deploys the OVF and then configures with the settings in json file. Ensure you receive a successfull deployed message.

2017-08-02 22_17_15-AD - VMware Workstation

Now its time to deploy the VCSA appliance. To do that we make use of the json file vCSA_on_ESXi.json, edit the json file as per the network requirements. Similar to the PSC deploy, run the below command to install the VCSA after doing a –verify-only

.\vcsa-deploy.exe install --accept-eula --no-esx-ssl-verify <path to json file>

2017-08-02 22_04_58-AD - VMware Workstation

Make sure you see the below message, indicating the successful install of vCSA

2017-08-02 22_38_30-AD - VMware Workstation

Once the Applianes are installed you should be able to verify the sae by logging into the web-client or the HTML 5 client, now called as vSphere Client



#cli-install, #external-psc, #json, #psc, #vcsa-6-5-update-1-cli, #vcsa-cli

Migrating from Windows vCenter 6.x to VCSA 6.5

Hey folks! As most of you know by now, VMware has now completely moved out of the Windows dependency for vCenter Server and with vSphere 6.5, there is no need to have a Windows Server for Update Manager and all you need is to deploy a VCSA 6.5. Migrating from a Windows based vCenter Server to VCSA 6.5 has been simplified greatly and here is the step by step process of doing it. To know more about the new features in vSphere 6.5, you can find them here, here, here and here. Continue reading

#migration-assistant, #update-manager-migration, #vcsa-6-5, #windows-to-vcsa-6-5