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Basic VSA questions

Steve Arriola
Occasional Contributor

Basic VSA questions

Hello,

I have a few questions.

Here is my setup:
2 x HP DL180 w/ 12 x 450GB. 1 RAID 10 of 2 disks and 2 RAID 10 of 5 disks. Each server is running ESXi 4u1 and a P4000 VSA 8.5 virtual machine.

1 x Dell R200 running vCenter and Lefthand CMC 8.5.

I have an identical setup to the video tutorial on HPs website (http://h30423.www3.hp.com/index.jsp?fr_story=9eea6c687837deee30ef7b002ef60f2dcc5dd85c&rf=bm) except I am running ESXi.

Here is where I want to be: I want to host virtual machines on my two HP DL180s so that if one DL180 fails all it's virtual machines can run on the other HP DL180. I plan to have 10 to 15 low-to-moderate use virtual machines with average storage usage of about 50GB each.

1) Can I put my two ESXi hosts into a VMWare cluster? If so, how does this affect the VSAs that are running on each? I assume that you only want one VSA running on one host so you don't want VMWare HA to kick in for the VSAs.

2) How do I ensure that if one of the two ESXi hosts fails that the VSA SAN will still be operational and my virtual machines will continue to run. I see in the documentation that I need to have a Failover Manager but I can't find documentation that talks about how to install or configure it.

3) After configuration I have 3TB of usable space. I decided to carve it into three LUNs of 1024GB each (so I can use 4MB blocks instead of 8MB blocks). I plan on having 10-15 virtual machines with an average of 50GB of storage space used. Is my plan to have 3 LUNs acceptable or should I have one LUN for each virtual machine?

Thank you for your help!
6 REPLIES
adolbec
Advisor

Re: Basic VSA questions

Hi Steve,

I am actually building a setup quite similar to yours and can provide some insight regarding what you are trying to do.

1. Yes can put your hosts into a cluster; you would not put the VSA themselves into the cluster.

2. You need a failover manager and the catch is that you require a 3rd host to run it; that is not well explained in the litterature. There is no workaround that I am aware of. If you are running your cluster in a active/passive configuration, you may be able to get around the 3rd host by hosting the failover manager on the passive host.

3. The amount of LUNs required depends on the management overhead of maintaining them and I/Os. There is no clear cut recommendations here; it all depends. If you are going to use snapshots, you may want to isolate some VMs into their own LUNs. Otherwise, it depends of the I/O load pattern of your VMs and the operation that you may perform on the VMFS datastore.

Additional points that I learned along the way:

a. If you are using the host iSCSI functionnality to connect to the VSAs, there is a problem when booting up the hosts where it tries to reach the iSCSI datastores which are not available yet until the VSAs are ready. They are scripts in this forum to help the boot sequence; I ended up modifying them extensively to make them more robust and work better. I may share if requested; however we are using ESX instead of ESXi because of this issue in order to have access to the console to run the scripts.

b. Look at the following link: http://datacore.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1155/~/best-practice%3A-installing-a-storage-server-within-a-virtual-machine. I have been instructed by VMware support to implement the workaround listed at the bottom of that page. Basically, a host VSA will crash under certain conditions if a VM on the same host would compete for the same resources. I wasted too many hours trying to figure out why our setup was not working because of this.

c. Depending on your vSphere licenses, if you do not have vMotion and DRS, you will not be able to set your VMs to have an affinity on where they should run. You may end up running your whole cluster into the same host. If you are planning to run your cluster as active/passive; then it is a per design. If you want to distribute the load, then unless you upgrade you licenses you will have to distribute the load manually or by scripting.

Hope this helps.

Alain
Steven Clementi
Honored Contributor

Re: Basic VSA questions

"1. Yes can put your hosts into a cluster; you would not put the VSA themselves into the cluster.
"

In actuality, the VSA's (being VM's on the physical hosts) will atuamotcially be part of the cluster.

Since the VSA's will be using local storage, there is no way they will ever be able to run on opposite boxes so you shouldn't need to worry about them "switching" if in fact you do have licenses for DRS and vMotion.


Steven
Steven Clementi
HP Master ASE, Storage and Clustering
MCSE (NT 4.0, W2K, W2K3)
VCP (ESX2, Vi3, vSphere4, vSphere5)
RHCE
NPP3 (Nutanix Platform Professional)
Uwe Zessin
Honored Contributor

Re: Basic VSA questions

If you want to create a HA/DRS cluster and/or want to use VMotion you need:
- a vCenter server with license
-- it can run on an external Windows server
-- or as a VM on one of the ESXi servers

- sufficent ESX licenses for ESXi servers
-- the 'free' ESXi license does
--- not provide a HA or DRS or VMotion license
--- not provide a vCenter agent license
---- so the servers cannot be added to vCenter


> (so I can use 4MB blocks instead of 8MB blocks)

?? you can use 8MB blocks on small disks.


...
> by hosting the failover manager on the passive host.

The failover manager (FOM) MUST run on an external node to offer automatic failover. It can be a VM on another VMware ESX(i) or VMware server. If you run it on the 'passive host' and it fails, the VSA on the other host stops due to a quorum loss (VSA and FOM are down).

Maybe you're confusing the FOM with the "Virtual Manager" which is used in a two-node configuration and is a special service running on a storage node. But this one must not be started on any node until the failure of one of the hosts happens. After a failure it will be started on the surviving one and gives it back the quorum.
It is not automatic, though.
.
Steve Arriola
Occasional Contributor

Re: Basic VSA questions

Thank you everyone for your help! I got some really good information out of this thread.

I have a few more questions:

1) How should I do my networking? I have the two boxes, and they both have CAT6 running to the same switch. It seems like for iSCSI or VMotion I could just run a CAT6 from the NIC of one box directly into the NIC of the other and cut out the switch. Is this possible or recommended?

2) Where on earth can I find the Failover Manager virtual appliance? I can't find any place to download anything in relation to the Failover Manager. I want to run it in VMPlayer on my VCenter server.

Again, thank you for all of your help. Everyone that has posted has been super helpful.
Steven Clementi
Honored Contributor

Re: Basic VSA questions

1) How should I do my networking? I have the two boxes, and they both have CAT6 running to the same switch. It seems like for iSCSI or VMotion I could just run a CAT6 from the NIC of one box directly into the NIC of the other and cut out the switch. Is this possible or recommended?

This would work, but when the time comes to add a 3rd node (if ever), yo'd have to re-arrange your directly connected nic's.

These boxes have 2 nics each? or did you add more?


2) Where on earth can I find the Failover Manager virtual appliance? I can't find any place to download anything in relation to the Failover Manager. I want to run it in VMPlayer on my VCenter server.

These are some older posts, not sure if the links/info is stil laccurate:

" http://forums11.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/questionanswer.do?threadId=1352783 "

" http://forums11.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/questionanswer.do?threadId=1368834 "


Steven
Steven Clementi
HP Master ASE, Storage and Clustering
MCSE (NT 4.0, W2K, W2K3)
VCP (ESX2, Vi3, vSphere4, vSphere5)
RHCE
NPP3 (Nutanix Platform Professional)
Mark...
Honored Contributor

Re: Basic VSA questions

Hi,
You can get the latest FOM, CMC, ESX VSA, etc from here:
https://h20392.www2.hp.com/portal/swdepot/displayProductsList.do?category=SWSDED
Just look at the two LHN links and download what you need.
Mark...
if you have nothing useful to say, say nothing...