LeftHand

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In the first two articles in this series I discussed the process of configuring the LeftHand VSA and preparing a volume for attachment to a VMWare server.  A few things should be noted here.
-I’m using ESXi 3.5 for this walk through
-The VSA is installed on the same ESXi server that I am attaching the server to
-Since I’m working in a test environment I am keeping the ISCSI traffic on the same subnet as the Virtual Machines.  The VMKernel is the interface in VMWare that needs to see the ISCSI traffic so to keep this simple I will leave everything on the same subnet.  Remember ESXi is different than ESX as far as the network configuration goes.  We really aren’t looking at performance right now, just trying to get the VSA up and running so we can play with it.

Alright let’s get right into it……

Since this is ESXi, I have already configured a VMKernel port for management of the ESXi host.  That being said my current network configuration looks like the image below.  Note the VSA is part of the VM Network already.  The hosts on the VM Network all have the same subnet of 10.20.30.X /24image

So basically all I need to do at this point is enable the ISCSI software initiator in ESXi and give it the information it needs to find the ISCSI LUN we created.  Under configuration in your VI Client click on “Storage Adapters” and then scroll down in the right pane until you see “ISCSI Software Adapter”.  Select it by left clicking on it and then choose properties in the lower pane.  image 

On the properties click the “Configure…” button and check the box under status that says “Enabled”.  Note you cant insert your own ISCSI name at this point.  Once you press OK the system will think for a brief moment and the populate the “ISCSI Properties” section at the top of the Properties page.  Additionally if you click on “Configure…” again you are now able to edit the ISCSI name, however I wouldn’t recommend doing so unless you know what you are doing.

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You can now continue configuring the ISCSI connection.  Select the “Dynamic Discovery” tab from the top of the Properties window.  Underneath “Dynamic Discovery” click the “Add…” button from the lower part of the screen.  On the “Add Send Targets Server” window enter the IP of your LeftHand cluster.  Please note here DON’T USE THE IP OF YOUR LEFTHAND NODE.  You have to use the cluster IP.  I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense since we are only working with one node but you have to think of situations where you would have more than one node in a cluster.  Leave the port value at its default setting of 3260.image

Now click on the “CHAP Authentication” tab of the properties window.  If you prefer to not use CHAP you could very easily go back to the “General” tab, copy the ISCSI name, go back to the LeftHand CMC and change the server definition to “CHAP not required” and paste the name you copied in the “Initiator Node Name” text box.  We simply configured CHAP in the previous step because we didn’t know what the ESXi Initiator Name would be at that point of the configuration.  If you choose to do not use CHAP and make the above listed change disregard the next step where we configure the CHAP authentication.

Click the “Configure…” button and enter in the credentials you specified when you configured the server in the LeftHand CMC.  Once done press “OK”, and then close the Properties window.image

After you press CLOSE, VMware will ask you if you want to “Rescan the Host”.  Choose “Yes”, this will rescan all the HBA (Host Bus Adapters) on the ESX server.image 

With any luck after the HBA scan completes you should see the volume you created in the LeftHand CMC appear as an available LUN.  If you don’t see it verify the CHAP username and password you used and make sure you are matching the correct password that you defined in the LeftHand CMC.  You had to define a Target and an Initiator Secret which had to be different.  Ensure you are matching the  correct Secret and then try hitting the “Rescan…” button at the top of the Storage Adapters pane.  The Windows ISCSI Initiator lets you do mutual authentication which would use both the Initiator and Target Secrets.

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Now if we select Storage from the “Hardware” area on the left hand side of the screen we can see our existing datastore.  To see the ISCSI datastore we are going to have to add it.  Select the “Add Storage…” link from the right side of the screen.image

This should bring up the “Add Storage Wizard”.  Ensure that Disk/Lun is selected and press NEXT.

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On the next screen you should see your ISCSI LUN, ensure its selected and press NEXTimage

The next screen warns you that the current Disk Layout will be destroyed.  Note in the below image that I had used this LUN for a quick test on a MS Server and formatted it as NTFS.  The wizard picks up on that and warns that the disk layout will be destroyed.  Press NEXT.image

On the next screen give the datastore a name and then Press NEXT.image

On the next screen choose how big you want to make the datastore. Most of the time I would just leave the option “Maximize Capacity” checked.  That will use all of the space on the LUN and is the default setting.  The other option on this screen is Maximum Block Size.  There are a couple different schools of thought on this and if you aren’t sure I would recommend the default settings.image

On the last screen just verify your settings and press FINISHimage

After it finishes creating your VFMS Datastore, the new datastore will show up under storage where you can start treating it just like any other datastore.   That’s it!  You’ve successfully implemented a completely virtualized SAN solution!

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This is the second post in the series.  In the first post I explained how to get the VSA, install it in VMware, and set its static IP.  In this post we are going to finish the actual configuration of the VSA using the LeftHand CMC.  So if you haven’t installed the CMC from the VSA download do so now.  Then double click the link on your desktop and let’s get started.

Step 1 – Find the storage Node
After the CMC finishes loading it should come up with a status window that says “Searching for Nodes”.  After a few seconds it should go away and you should be prompted with the “Find New Nodes Wizard” as shown below.

Press NEXTimage

On the next screen you are asked if you want to broadcast search or find an individual node.  We’ll select the second option since we hopefully remember what IP we set on the VSA.  Press NEXTimage

On the next screen select the add button and enter the IP that you set in the VMware console for the VSA.  Press FINISH

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After you press FINISH the CMC will run a quick search and after the status menu goes away you should notice the status changed to “Newly Found”.  Press close to exit the wizard.image

  You should now be back at the main CMC window.  On the far left your VSA should be displayed and you should be able to hit the plus sign next to it to expand its options.  As you can see on the screen below it found my 10 gig disk.  Now lets get it ready to attach to a ESX machine.
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Step 2 – Create Management Group, Cluster, and Volume
Click on the “Tools” menu at the top of the screen, select “Management Group”, and then select “New Management Group”.  The new Management Group Wizard should appear as shown below right.  Click NEXT.

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Ensure the “New Management Group” option is selected and press NEXT.

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On the next screen give the Management Group a name (I’m pretty generic: MG1) and ensure that your node is selected.image

On the next screen it forces you to create a new admin user to use when you login into the Management Group.  Enter in the required information and press NEXT.image

On the next screen you are requested to set the time.  I always use NTP servers and I set the NTP server as an IP address so that if DNS goes down we still have NTP.  Set a NTP server or do it manually, then press NEXT.image

Ensure “Standard Cluster” is selected on the next page and press NEXT.  We’ll get into Multi-Site configurations later on in a different post.image

Now comes the fun part.  We need to create a cluster.  Clusters are what ISCSI initiators communicate with and with LeftHand a cluster is 1 or more nodes.  For now it will be just one node but we still need to configure the cluster.  Give it a name, ensure your VSA is selected, and press NEXT.image

Now we add the VIP (Virtual IP) for the cluster.  Again this is what ISCSI initiators will use for their connection to the VSA.   Nodes can still be managed with their own IP address, however it’s best practice to use the cluster VIP for ISCSI traffic.  Add a VIP and then press NEXT.image 

The next screen gives you the option to create a volume in the cluster.  If you don’t want to create the volume right now check the box that says “Skip Volume Creation” and just press FINSIH.  I’m going to go ahead and create a 5 gig volume right now.  Give it a name, description, set the volume size, choose thin of full provisioning (I always use Thin), and then press FINISH.image

After you press finish you’ll get to watch the CMC do all the work.  Once the numerous status/progress windows go away you are presented with your summary of what just happened.  Press CLOSEimage

After you press CLOSE you’ll get the registration warning shown below.image  I’ll talk here a little about the VSA licensing.  If you noticed I haven’t had you do anything with a license key yet.  That being said without adding in a license key none of the advanced features are possible.  What you do get without an eval key is a fully functional ISCSI target that can do snapshots.  At first I thought you got 30 days total, but after reading the LeftHand documentation I found the following information…

From the VSA documentation included in the VSA download

When using the demo version, the full suite of features in the
SAN/iQ software is enabled for 30 days. After 30 days, volumes
become unavailable if any licensed features are in use. Licensed
features include:
• Multi-Node Virtualization and Clustering
• Managed Snapshots
• Remote Copy
• Multi-Site SAN
The VSA can be used for free indefinitely as a single node iSCSI
target with snapshots. “

So the bottom line here is that if you only need a single node that can do snapshots and acts as a enterprise level ISCSI target; this is a super good deal.  I need to be very clear here though that the VSA should ONLY be used for testing purposes unless you have purchased an actual VSA license.  If you are interested in the other features or in purchasing, contact your local HP reseller.

Step 3 – Add a Server and assign your volume to it
At this point the VSA is almost fully configured to allow an ISCSI initiator to attach to the volume we just created.  The last part is to assign the volume to a server.  To do this select “Servers” from the left hand side of the screen, on the right side under “Server Tasks” select “New Server…”image 

On the next screen enter your Server information.  This includes either selecting CHAP Authentication OR entering the initiator’s node name.  Since we haven’t setup ESX yet for ISCSI I’ll configure CHAP Authentication.  Enter your information and press OK.image

Now that you have the server created you can assign the volume to the server.  To do this select your newly defined server from the left hand side of the screen and then under “Tasks” select “Assign and Unassign Volumes and SnapShots”

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On the next screen the volume you created earlier should appear.  Simply check the “Assigned” box next to the volume name and then press OK.image

That’s it!  The rest needs to be done from the VMware side but at this point you have successfully installed a Enterprise level Virtual ISCSI target, provisioned it, created volumes, and assigned them to servers.  More to come in the next post where we attach to the volume to ESX.

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Part of the LeftHand SAN portfolio includes the LeftHand VSA (Virtual SAN Appliance).  The VSA can be loaded into a virtual environment and turns your local storage into SAN storage.  So now you get the benefits of a SAN without having to actually have a physical SAN.  Snapshots, thin provisioning, etc….  I like to talk about one situation in particular that makes the VSA pretty amazing.  Say you have a corporate office as well as several remote sales offices that have a small server on site.  You have the LeftHand SAN at your corporate office and are looking for a backup solution for the remote sites.  Enter the VSA….  Configure ESX on the server, install the VSA, convert the server into VMware on top of the VSA storage, and configure the site replication.  That’s it….  Your entire backup is done and all you had to do was make sure you had a big enough pipe (I believe a T1 or similar would work fine).   That particular remote sales office gets wiped out by a hurricane all you have to do is mount that VMware server on a different ESX box and you are up and running.  Pretty cool huh?  Lets take a look at how to actually configure the VSA.

Step 1 – Download the VSA and get to the VM
Go to HP’s website and download the 30 day trial of the VSA (http://www.hp.com/go/tryvsa).  You’ll have to enter some info about yourself but afterwards you are allowed to download the Virtual Machine.  The download doesn’t come in VM appliance form so you’ll need to import the VMX config file to get it to show up in ESX.  The ZIP file you download has three folders in it: Documents, Centralized Management Console (CMC), and Virtual SAN Appliance.  You can start off by installing the CMC right away since that’s the easy part.  For some reason you need to run HP’s installer to extract the VSA from the installer CAB files.  After you run the installer you should have the HP LeftHand Networks group under "All Programs".  Browse to the group and select "VSA Files" image

Within the VSA files directory you should see the VMware files as well as some PDF files that walk you through the configuration.  I found the PDFs not as straight forward as I had hoped but you can certainly give them a try if you like.

Step 2 – Copy the VMware files to the ESX machine.
I did it through the VSphere client Datastore browser (Side note the screen shots, and installation in this post were done on a ESXi 3.5 server).  Go under configuration, select storage under the Hardware tab, and on the right hand right click on the datastore you wish to use and select “Browse Datastore”image

Select the upload button on the tool bar (circled in red) and select the “Upload Folder” button.  Then browse to ‘C:Program FilesLeftHand NetworksVirtual SAN Appliance’ (Unless you changed the install path) and upload the entire folder.  I let the upload complete and then went through the folder and deleted the PDFs but you don’t need to do this.image

Step 3 – Add the VSA to inventory and configure its settings
After it’s uploaded, select the “Virtual SAN Appliance” on the left hand side to display the folder files on the right.  Right click on the .vmx file and select “Add to Inventory”.
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Now you will be presented with the Add to Inventory Wizard.
Enter a name, NEXTimage

Select a host from the Resource Pool, NEXTimage

FINISH image
Now you can close the Datastore Browser and return to the Virtual Machine tab of the VSphere client, where we should now see our VSA.
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Don’t fire it up yet.  We need to configure a few things first.  Right click on the VSA and go to “Edit Settings”.  The configuration should be pretty standard but you want to make sure that it has 1024 meg of RAM and that the network configuration is how you want it to be.  This is my test box so I’m going to leave it on my VM Network however if you are doing a separate VLAN for ISCSI this might need to be modified. image

The only thing left to do at this point is add in a disk for the SAN appliance to use.  The VSA will accept more than one disk but you really only want 1.  I made the mistake the first time I did this of giving the VSA three 10 gig disks.  For some reason the VSA sees multiple drives and automatically changes the configuration to RAID-5 so you lose a disk.   Not necessary since you hopefully already have your ESX datastore sitting on a RAID configuration.   So, just add one disk.  I’ll add a 10 gig disk for this example.  Keep in mind that you’ll want to fully allocate this, you can’t go back and add more disk or change the size; at least not that I am aware of.  It might be interesting to see if you could use the VMWare converter to increase the size.  Perhaps I’ll try that in a later post.

Select Add at the bottom left of the settings screen.  On the first screen select Hard Disk and click NEXTimage

  Ensure Create a new virtual disk is select and click NEXTimage
Set the size of the disk you want and click NEXTimage

This step is Key.  The VSA will only look for disks in the SCSI 1:X range.  That is any disk you attach needs to be SCSI 1:0.  If you don’t configure this right the VSA won’t show any disks.image
Click Finishimage

Step 4 – Launch the VM and configure the IP address
Once you have made these changes you can now safely fire up the VM.  Open the console and you should see the following screen.  It should sit on this screen for less than a minute, then you should get a login promptimage

Type “start” and press enterimage

At the next screen press ENTERimage

Now you are at the main menu.  The menu lists all of the console configuration options and as you can see there aren’t many things you can do from the console. image

We want to configure the network so select Network TCP/IP Settings and press ENTER.  You will be prompted with a interface selection screen.  Press ENTER again to select eth0.image
On the next screen enter a hostname and select the option to use a specific IP address.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, the console screen only accepts tab, ENTER, and space commands.  Arrows don’t work for moving from option to option.  On this screen I entered hostname, tabbed three times to get to the third option, pressed space to select it, and then tabbed through and entered the rest of the information for the IP address.   Tab to OK and ENTER to finalize the settings.  After you press enter you will receive a warning about the NIC needing to be rest, just press ENTER again.imageimage
After the changes are done processing you’ll get a message indicating that the new IP address has been set.  Press ENTER, and then back your way out to the main menu where you can select logout to get back to the main page.  Your VSA is configured and ready for the final configuration in the LeftHand CMC.  In the next few posts I’ll walk through configuring the VSA in the CMC and how to attach it to your VM network.

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