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VMware vSAN powers industry-leading Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions with a vSphere-native, high-performance architecture. vSAN is a core building block for the Software-Defined Data Center and the storage component for VMware cloud foundation. This click-through demonstration provides a high-level overview of some of the features and benefits of vSAN.

The demo begins with a storage policy creation. We apply the new policy to a VM, and we check the storage availability and capacity utilization. Next, we adjust some of the configuration settings within our cluster and we add a new host. We see how easy it is to add additional storage resources in an existing cluster. Additionally, we enable the vSAN File services feature and we create a file share that can be accessed by any traditional or cloud native workload within the cluster. We check the health, capacity and performance of the cluster. Our demo ends with deployment of VMware vRealize Operations, which includes dashboards for managing and monitoring vSAN.

Let’s create a new VM by cloning and existing one from our cluster.

  • Click Menu
  • Click Host and clusters 

Go to Monitor section and look at the Physical disk placement of the app 3 VM .

The vSAN Default Storage Policy is assigned to all of these objects. This policy contains the rules Failures to Tolerate (FTT) = 1 and Failure Tolerance Method (FTM) = RAID-1 mirroring. As a result, vSAN will create two copies of each object and distribute these copies so that the objects will remain accessible if one drive or host is offline.

An object consists of at least one or, more commonly, multiple components. Let’s look at the components that comprise the Hard Disk 1 object.

There are two mirrored copies (components) of Hard Disk 1 on hosts and vSAN also creates a small Witness component to achieve quorum when one of the other components goes offline and to serve as a tie-breaker in split-brain scenarios (network connectivity lost between nodes in the cluster). This Witness component is placed on a third hosts separate from the other two components that make up the Hard Disk 1 object. If any one of these components are offline, the other two components are used to achieve quorum so that the data remains accessible.

Now we will create a new storage policy that uses erasure coding instead of mirroring for resilience to drive and hosts failures. RAID-5/6 erasure coding in an all-flash vSAN cluster utilizes less raw storage capacity when compared to RAID-1 mirroring with the same number of failures to tolerate configured. We will then assign the new storage policy to “app 3” and view how components are distributed across hosts with erasure coding as the fault tolerance method.

  • Click Menu
  • Click Policies and Profiles

We’ll see how easy it is to create a new storage policy by cloning an existing one.

We will  use the vSAN Default Storage policy in order to crete a new cloned one.

  • Click Clone
  • Click Next
  • Click Next
  • Click and select failures to tolerate.
  • Click on “1 failure – RAID-5 (Erasure coding)”
  • Click Next

Review the storage compatibility.

The Review and Finish step of the Clone VM Storage Policy wizard shows all of the rules that are part of the new policy. Keep in mind we cloned an existing policy so rules such as Number of Disk Stripes Per Object and Object Space Reservation were carried over from the policy that was cloned.

  • Click Next
  • Click Finish

Let’s go back to Host and clusters and change the Default policy applied to VM “app 3” to “RAID 5 erasure coding”. vSAN enables precise management of availability, capacity consumption, and other characteristics using storage policies. A policy can be assigned to a VM, which means the VM Home and virtual disk objects are assigned the same policy. It is also possible to assign a policy to individual objects such as a single virtual disk.

  • Click Menu
  • Click Host and Clusters
  • Click VM “app 3”
  • Click VM policies/Edit VM storage policy
  • Click on the drop-down menu to pick a new policy to be applied.
  • Click on “RAID 5 erasure coding”
  • Click OK.

As you can see, we now have 4 object components striped across 4 hosts.

Next, we will go and check if vSphere HA is turned on for this cluster.

  • Click Configure.

Let's check if vSphere HA is turned on. Thanks to vSphere HA VMs will automatically be restarted in the event of a host failure. vSphere HA is tightly integrated with vSAN.

Now, let’s go and check the vSAN services for the given cluster.

  • Click Services

Here we see some of the features of vSAN. Deduplication and compression can be enabled in all-flash vSAN clusters to minimize capacity consumption. The space savings realized from deduplication and compression vary based on the types of data storage in the VMs running in a vSAN cluster. FIPS 140-2 validated data-at-rest encryption can also be enabled on a per-cluster basis to secure data on the vSAN datastore. The vSAN Performance Service provides performance information at the cluster, host, drive, VM, and virtual disk levels. It is enabled by default. vSAN also includes an iSCSI target service, if needed. vSAN File services can be enabled and allow you to create file shares that can accessed by any type of workloads within your  vSAN cluster.

Next, let’s take a closer look at how vSAN uses local storage devices to provide a resilient, shared datastore.

  • Click Disk Management

Local storage devices are configured as vSAN disk groups. A disk group contains exactly one flash device for cache and one to seven flash or magnetic devices for capacity. A host can have up to five disk groups. In this cluster, hosts have one disk group per host with three drives – one for cache and two for capacity.

  • Click to scroll right.

All of the drives in every disk group are flash devices.

  • Click to scroll left.

Now we will add a seventh host to the vSAN cluster. One disk group will be created on the seventh host to be consistent with the existing hosts in the cluster. A similar disk group configuration across all hosts in a cluster is not required, but it is recommended.

  • Click vSAN-DC in order to visualize the new host we want to add to our cluster.
  • Click on host
  • Click Move to
  • Click vSAN – Cluster
  • Click OK
  • Click OK to confirm the selection.
  • Click on host
  • Click Maintenance mode
  • Click Exit maintenance mode
  • Click Configure

There should be drives eligible for vSAN disk group configuration. This can be seen in the Disk management section. Drives that will be used for vSAN must be empty with no partitions configured. vSAN will create partitions and format the drives during the disk group configuration process. You can go ahead and claim the unused disks available.

  • Click Disk management
  • Click on host
  • Click Claim unused disks

Now we will select disks for our cache and capacity tier. We’ll also mark the HDD disks as flash in order to have an all-flash configuration.

  • Click on the drop-down menu.
  • Click Cache tier.
  • Click the second drive.
  • Click on the drop-down menu.
  • Click Capacity tier.
  • Click on the drop-down menu.
  • Click Capacity tier.

Now we have our disks clamed and configured within a disk group.

  • Click Create.
  • Click to scroll right and check the type of disk group configuration. It should be all-flash.
  • Click to scroll left.

Next, we’ll enable the vSAN File services feature which will allow us to create file shares that can be presented to multiple workloads within our cluster.

  • Click Services
  • Click File service
  • Click Next

All required domain information has been filled in.

  • Click Next

The Gateway IP has been filled in.

  • Click Next

The IP addresses and the respective DNS names has been filled in. 

  • Click Next
  • Click Finish

When you configure vSAN File service, vSAN creates a single VDFS distributed file system for the cluster which will be used internally for management purposes. A file service VM (FSVM) is placed on each host. The FSVMs manage file shares in the vSAN datastore. Each FSVM contains an NFS file server. You can find them in under the ESX Agents directory.

Once the process of configuration is ready you can go ahead and check the details.

  • Click File services
  • Click File services to collapse the view.

Next, once the file services are enabled, we can create a file share.

  • Click File services Shares
  • Click ADD
  • Click Next

“Allow access from any IP” hase been selected.

  • Click Next
  • Click Finish

Now we will look at some of the day-to-day monitoring aspects of this HCI cluster. VMware Skyline health was introduced to assist customers in a self-service manner, by discovering environmental issues and even best practices by analyzing telemetry data collected from the vSphere environment. Let’s look at some of these health checks.

  • Click Monitor
  • Click Skyline Health
  • Click Advisor to see how you can enable the service and receive proactive Findings and recommendations to avoid problems before they occur.
  • Click on "Already have an account? Log into Skyline Advisor" to open  the Skyline Advisor platform. 

On the main Dashboard page we can see some genaral information about the cluster and an overview information about the findings  and recommendations from Skyline health.

  • Click to scroll down to see the rest ofthe screen
  • Click on Findings and  Recommendations to review the more detailed information.

As we can see there's one critical finding about our environement. 

  • Click on the critical Finding

Here we can find a detailed description of the issue,  evaulation of the risk and some links with recommendations.

Let's check the docs link.

  • Click on the docs.vmware.com link

Review the suggested articles.

  • Click on the close icon to go back to vSphere

Next,will check the rest of the heath  checks under the Skyline section witin the vSpehere UI.

  • Click Network and see the status of each network component within your cluster.
  • Click Network to collapse the view.
  • Click Physical disk and see the status of each physical disk component within your cluster.
  • Click Physical disk to collapse the view.
  • Click Cluster to see the health of your cluster components.
  • Click Cluster to collapse the view.
  • Click Capacity utilization.
  • Click Capacity utilization to collapse the view.
  • Click Performance service.
  • Click Performance service to collapse the view.
  • Click to check the heath of your File services.
  • Click File services to collapse the view.

Let’s view vSAN Capacity indicators.

  • Click Capacity

We start with a capacity overview, which shows used and free space. Additional information would be shown if deduplication and compression were enabled.

We can also check the capacity analysis for a newly deployed workload with specific storage policy applied. Let’s check what will happen if we change the policy to “RAID 5 erasure coding”.

  • Click on the drop-down menu.
  • Click “RAID 5 erasure coding

The estimated effective free space changed from 2.56 TB to 3.83 TB.

  • Click to scroll down and check the usage breakdown buy categories.
  • Click VM.
  • Click User objects.
  • Click System usage.
  • Click to collapse the entire view.

A Used Capacity breakdown pie chart is also provided to get a better understanding of how much capacity each object type is currently consuming. Now let’s view some performance data.

  • Click Performance

Since ‘vSAN - cluster’ from the left site object menu, the UI shows us VM performance information at the cluster level. This includes metrics such as IOPS, throughput, and latency from the VMs’ perspective.

  • Click Backend

Backend data refers to similar metrics generated by vSAN itself such as synchronous writes across hosts, metadata updates, and resync/rebuild traffic. The time range of graphs can be adjusted.

  • Click File share

This view consists metrics for the enabled vSAN File services.

  • Click VM

Next, we take a quick look at software updates. vSAN is integrated with VMware Update Manager (VUM). VUM uses the VMware Compatibility List and the Release Catalog along with awareness of the hardware in use to make recommendations on patches and upgrades. This takes the uncertainty out of determining what patches to apply and the best version of vSphere and vSAN to run in a given environment. VUM also provides easy, non-disruptive firmware updates for some storage controllers.

  • Click Updates
  • Click Check compliance.

We can see that all of our 7 hosts are compliant with the baseline selected and don’t need any patches ort updates.

  • Click to scroll down and check the details.
  • Click to scroll up.
  • Click Image.

vSphere Lifecycle Manager, or vLCM is the next-generation replacement to vSphere Update Manager (VUM), and is built off of a desired-state, or declarative model, and will provide lifecycle management for the hypervisor and the full stack of drivers and firmware for the servers powering your data center. It can be enabled, and you have to insert the declarative model for your software and firmware depending on your storage vendor.

You can also check the VMware Tools status, the VM hardware status and the Cluster settings.

  • Click VMware Tools status
  • Click VM hardware.
  • Click Cluster settings.
  • Click Baselines.

Next, we will deploy vRealize Operations. This can easily be done in the vSphere Client.

  • Click on the top VM vSphere and go to the vRelaize Operations installment wizard.
  • Click Install

Note that Online Install requires vCenter Server to have Internet access. This option will download and deploy the vRealize Operations virtual appliance.

  • Click Next

A few vCenter Server details are needed to configure vRealize Operations.

The  following information has been  filled in:

  1. vCenter IP
  2. Username ‘administrator@vsphere.local’
  3. Password for the administrator account
  • Click Test Connection
  • Click Next

Now we must provide some additional details about the environment.

The  following information has been  filled in:

  1. VM name.
  2. datacenter vSAN - DC
  3. cluster vSAN-Cluster
  4. host
  5. Deployment Configuration set to Small.
  6. vsanDatastore
  7. VM Network
  • Click Next

In many cases, an administrator would enter static IP address information in this Network Details section. To keep things simple, we will use DHCP.

  • Click Next
  • Click to enable the monitoring the same vCenter Server in Step 2.
  • Click Next.

It is easy to deploy and configure vRealize Operations from the vSphere Client. Entering configuration details takes only a few minutes. The rest of the deployment is automated.

  • Click Install

It will take some time to download and configure vRealize Operations. For the purposes of the demo this part has been sped up.

  • Click vRealize Operations

Higher-level dashboards are available directly in the vSphere Client. Here we see environmental information such as the number hosts, virtual machines, datastores and so on. We also get a quick look at the number of issues in the environment, capacity information, and resources that can be reclaimed.

  • Click to scroll down
  • Click to scroll up
  • Click Quick links
  • Click Cluster view from the Quick links drop down.
  • Click to scroll down and see additional information about possible issues within the cluster.
  • Click to scroll up.

When there is a need for more comprehensive dashboards, the vRealize Operations UI can be access from the Quick Links menu.

  • Click Quick links.
  • Click Open vRealize Operations.
  • Click Dashboards.

This is the vSAN Operations Overview dashboard – one of the many views that are included ‘out of the box’ with vRealize Operations. These prebuilt dashboards provide more details and options to customize based on the business needs of the organization. Let’s look at the capacity dashboard.

  • Click to scroll up and check the rest of the Capacity overview dashboards.

Multiple clusters can be viewed with this dashboard. Historic and forecasted utilization are displayed after some time has passed to gather and calculate these numbers. That information is not yet available since we just deployed this vRealize Operations instance. Other data such as deduplication and compression space savings and disk usage balance are shown on this dashboard. Let’s look at the operations overview dashboard.

  • Click vSAN Operations Overview

This is the vSAN Operations Overview dashboard – one of the many views that are included ‘out of the box’ with vRealize Operations. These prebuilt dashboards provide more details and options to customize based on the business needs of the organization. Let’s look at the troubleshoot dashboard.

  • Click Trouble shoot vSAN
  • Click to scroll down and preview all the information displayed.
  • Click to scroll back up.
  • Click Home.
  • Click VM to go back to the vSphere UI.

This concludes our vSAN overview demonstration. We just saw how easy it is to deploy and use vRealize Operations for monitoring and alerting with built-in vSAN dashboards. Incrementally adding compute and storage capacity to a cluster is done simply by adding a host to a cluster. This capacity is added without disruption to the environment. Storage policies are used to manage items such as resilience to hardware failure and capacity consumption on a per-VM basis. These policies can be changed without disruption as application requirements demand. Data is distributed across hosts to avoid downtime caused by drive and host failure. VMware Skyline health was introduced to assist customers in a self-service manner, by discovering environmental issues and even best practices by analysing telemetry data collected from the vSphere environment. If an issue arises, vSAN Skyline Health alerts administrators.Performance and capacity information are provided directly in the vSphere Client. HCI powered by vSAN is the building block for today’s digital foundation.
























































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