Expanding on VSAN 2-node, 3-node and 4-node configuration considerations

I spent the last 10 days in the VMware HQ in Palo Alto, and had lots of really interesting conversations and meet-ups, as you might imagine. One of those conversations revolved around the minimum VSAN configurations. Let’s start with the basics.

  • 2-node: There are two physical hosts for data and a witness appliance hosted elsewhere. Data is placed on the physical hosts, and the witness appliance holds the witness components only, never any data.
  • 3-node: There are three physical hosts, and the data and witness components are distributed across all hosts. This configuration can support a number of failures to tolerate = 1 with RAID-1 configurations.
  • 4-nodes: There are four physical hosts, and the data and witness components are distributed across all hosts. This configuration can support a number of failures to tolerate (FTT) = 1 with RAID-1 and RAID-5 configurations. This configuration also allows VSAN to self-heal in the event of a failures, when RAID-1 is used.

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FlashSoft I/O Filter VAIO Setup Steps

sandiskLast week I had the opportunity to drop down to San Jose and catch up with our friends on the FlashSoft team at SanDisk. In case you were not aware, this team has been developing a cache acceleration I/O filter as part of the VAIO program (VAIO is short for vSphere APIs for I/O Filters). SanDisk were also one of the design partners chosen by VMware for VAIO. This program allows for our partners to plug directly into the VM I/O path, and add third-party data services, such as replication, encryption, quality of service and so on. An interesting observation made by the FlashSoft team is that implementing their acceleration data service via VAIO gives much greater performance than their previous product version which plugs into the Pluggable Storage Architecture (PSA) stack.

Manish, Rich, Serge and Tom gave us another update on the 4.0 version of the FlashSoft product. I had seen this before, as the guys tech previewed it at VMworld 2015 last year. However with the release of FlashSoft 4.0, the guys now have the first certified VAIO I/O Filter on the market. SanDisk are our first certified partner for VAIO. Rich Petersen has a good write-up on the capabilities here on the SanDisk blog.

The guys were also kind enough to give me access to the components and some evaluation licenses, so I could test it out in my own labs. The documentation is pretty good so I won’t go into too much detail. However these are the steps to get going:

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Recovering from a full VSAN datastore scenario

We had an interesting event happen on one of our lab servers this weekend. One of the hosts in our four node cluster hit an issue, which meant that the storage on that host was no longer available to the VSAN datastore. Since VSAN auto-heals, it attempted to re-protect as many VMs as possible. However, since we chose to ignore one of the health check warnings to do with limits, we ended up with a full VSAN datastore.

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Horizon View 7 on VSAN – Policies Revisited

It has been some time since I last looked at Horizon View on Virtual SAN. The last time was when we first released VSAN, back in the 5.5 days. This was with Horizon View 5.3.1, which was the first release that inter-operated with Virtual SAN. At the time, there was some funkiness with policies. View could only use the default policy at the time, and the default policy used to show up as “none” in the UI. The other issue is that you could not change the default policy via the UI, only through CLI commands. Thankfully, things have come a long way since then. In this post, I will look at how Horizon View 7 inter-operates with Virtual SAN 6.2, concentrating mostly on policies. However, Horizon View 7 also has new vmFork/Instant Clone technology and AppVolumes, and I hope to be able to do some posts on those features running on top of VSAN going forward.

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VSAN 6.2 Part 12 – VSAN 6.1 to 6.2 Upgrade Steps

I’ve already written a few articles around this, notably on stretched cluster upgrades and on-disk format issues. In this post, I just wanted to run through the 3 distinct upgrade steps in a little more detail, and show you some useful commands that you can use to monitor the progress. In a nutshell, the steps are:

  1. Upgrade vCenter Server to 6.0U2 (VSAN 6.2)
  2. Upgrade ESXi hosts to ESXi 6.0U2 (VSAN 6.2)
  3. Perform rolling upgrade of on-disk format from V2 to V3 across all hosts

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VSAN 6.2 Upgrade – Failed to realign objects

A number of customers have reported experiencing difficulty when attempting to upgrade the on-disk format on VSAN 6.2. The upgrade to vSphere 6.0u2 goes absolutely fine; it is only when they try to upgrade the on-disk format, to use new features such as Software Checksum, and Deduplication and Compression, that they encounter this error. Here is a sample screenshot of the sort of error that is thrown by VSAN:

locked or lack of vmdk descriptor fileOne thing I do wish to call out – administrators must use the VSAN UI to upgrade the on-disk format. Do not simply evacuate a disk group, remove it and recreate it. This will cause a mismatch between previous disk group versions (v2) and the new disk group versions that you just created (V3). Use the UI for the on-disk format upgrade.

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VSAN 6.2 Part 11 – Support for higher FTT with larger VMDKs

In the VSAN 6.0 Design & Sizing Guide, a caveat was placed around the size of a VMDK, and the Number of Failures to Tolerate (FTT) number. It reads like this:

“If the VMDK size is greater than 16TB, then the maximum value for NumberOfFailuresToTolerate is 1.”

I’m pleased to say that this restriction has been lifted in VSAN 6.2.

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