Part 1 – Configuring the LeftHand VSA

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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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