Tegile NFS Datastore Management in vCenter

As the primary VMware and storage admin, I try to minimize the number of tools I have to use to accomplish my tasks. When it comes to provisioning and managing volumes for VMware, I prefer to do it all from within the vSphere if possible. The VSC console for my NetApp filers has saved a lot of time over the years, but as we continue to explore our Tegile array we can see what their software has to offer.

My last post was about registering the Tegile plugin with vCenter to have this functionality available in the vSphere client. This post goes into the basic administration of NFS volumes from within the vSphere client.

Prerequisites:
1. Credentials to the Tegile web interface (default is admin/tegile)
2. Registered the Tegile plugin on your vCenter server. Click here for those steps.

Steps:
1. Login to the vSphere thick client then click on “Home” and choose “Tegile Management” under “Solutions and Applications”
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2. Proceed through any security warnings and login to the Tegile interface
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3. On the left you’ll see a list of all the datastores on the Tegile that have been mounted on the ESXi hosts in this vCenter. Towards the bottom, click on “Add Datastore”
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4. Enter the following information and click “Create”

a.Name: Name of the datastore
b. Type: Whether block or file based (SAN or NAS)
c. Protocol: NFS, iSCSI
d. Quota: Check this box to set a max size of the volume
e. ESX/ESXi Server (Version): Check the hosts that this datastore will be provisioned to
f. Pool: The disk pool for this datastore (if multiple are available)
g. Project: The project that this datastore will be associated with
h. Purpose: The type of workload hosted on this datastore (important for block size assignment)
i. Zebi Floating IP Address: The IP each ESXi host will connect to
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5. Once the operation is complete, click “OK”
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6. The new datastore has been created and mounted and appears in the list of Zebi datastores
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7. Click the “More Details” button for the newly created datastore to see all the details of this volume
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8. In order to resize this volume, click the “resize” button
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a. Check the box for “New Share Quota” and enter the new size and press “Submit”
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9. This view will refresh and the new size will be reflected
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10. I have moved a virtual machine into this datastore to test the snapshot function with quiesce enabled. Click the “Snapshot” button for the datastore
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11. Enter the name of the snapshot, change “Quiesce” to “on” and click “Create”
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12. You’ll receive a message that snapshot creation has been triggered. Click “OK”
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a. A new task will be created to snapshot all VMs that are in that datastore
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13. Once the task to remove the virtual machine snapshot completes, click the “Refresh” button on the snapshot screen to see the new snapshot
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14. To delete the snapshot, check the box to the snapshot and press the “Delete” button
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a. Click “Yes” to confirm deletion
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b. After this box disappears the snapshot is deleted
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i. *UPDATED 10/9/14* There was a bug in version 2.1.2.4.140802 of the Zebi software that stopped the confirmation box was going away after the snapshot deletion completed. Clicking “No” would allow you to return to the snapshot list without any errors. In version 2.1.2.5.140925 this has been fixed and now the confirmation box disappears after the snapshot deletion completes.

Those are the basic functions you can perform from within the plugin. In a future release I would like to see the ability to create full snapshot schedules from the plugin. Since I am the one who is responsible for VMware and storage in our environment it’s simple for me to create the schedule on the web interface of the Tegile array, but that is not always the case. Another function I would like to see is mounting existing datastores on new hosts without having to go through the “Add Storage” process in vCenter for each host.

I’m confident the functionality will get there and I’ll continue to build my list of feature requests for the Tegile team.

Register vCenter Server on Tegile

After 7 years of NetApp administration and implementation I have started looking for a new storage vendor that can “do it all” like NetApp has been able to do. Protocol support is a big deal in each of the environments I’ve worked in, but performance (IOPs and low-latency) are 2 things my existing NetApps haven’t been able to provide. The idea of adding capacity just to add performance is an antiquated way of thinking and NetApp just hasn’t been able to keep up with the evolving storage market.

I am starting a short series on Tegile setup and administration. Tegile came to us a couple of months ago and has impressed us from the very first conversation and all throughout our sizing and implementation. The box is simple to setup and administer and its performance is crushing our current NetApp.

This guide walks you through connecting the Tegile array to your vCenter server, installing the NFS VAAI Plugin, and setting the Tegile recommended values on the ESXi hosts. Once this is completed, you’ll be able to provision new volumes, resize existing volumes, create VM-aware storage snapshots as well as view storage performance of your VMs all from within the vSphere client.

Prerequisites:
1. Admin credentials to the Tegile and vCenter server
2. Dedicated service account in vCenter (I created an account called “ZebiAdmin”)
3. Root password for the ESXi hosts (required to set recommended values)

 

Steps:
1. Connect to the web interface of the storage array and login with Admin credentials

a. Default username: admin
b. Default password: tegile

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2. Click on “Settings” then choose “App-Aware”
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3. Click “Add vCenter/ESXi Host” towards the bottom
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4. Enter the following information:

a. Host Name/IP address: Host name or IP of the vCenter server
b. Username: User account with admin access to vCenter
c. Password: Password for user account
d. Enable Quiesce: This needs to be checked if quiescing will be used at all (a VMware snapshot is taken during thestorage snapshot process for OS consistency). Can be toggled per snapshot job

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5. Click “Test” to see if the connection is successful. If it is, the “Save” button will turn solid blue and can be clicked
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6. Click “OK” to confirm enabling of quiesce on VMware
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7. Once saved, click the green “Register” button to add the Tegile plugin to vCenter
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8. Once the registration is successful, click “OK”
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9. Login to the vSphere thick client (not the web client). Click the “Home” button then click on “Tegile Management” under “Solutions and Applications” (Click yes to proceed through any certificate warnings)
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10. Login to the Tegile web interface (Likely the same username and password as in step 1)
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11. In this interface you’ll see a list of Datastores on the Tegile that are mounted on your ESXi hosts as well as real-time stats of your array, datastores, and VMs.
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12. Click on “ESX Settings”
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13. Select all the ESXi hosts and then click the Green Arrow icon to install/upgrade the VAAI NFS plugin on these hosts
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14. After the install completes (may take 2-3 minutes), click the “Configuration” button for each host
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15. Login to the ESXi host (likely “root” credentials)
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a. Click “Yes” to enable SSH on this host if it isn’t already enabled
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16. NFS.MaxQueueDepth should be set to “32” and the rules for iSCSI and FC can be installed in this location. Click “Save” to enable these changes

17. After the NFS VAAI plugin has been installed and settings saved, reboot the host. Repeat for each host in vCenter.

a. The settings changes are immediate, but the NFS VAAI plugin requires a host reboot

 

The process is simple and straight forward. This same process on the NetApp requires the Virtual Storage Console plugin to be installed on a separate server and configured then registered on the vCenter side with much more configuration. Also, installing the NetApp NFS VAAI plugin on the hosts is done through vCenter Update Manager and has been downloaded separately from the NetApp support site. That being said, the Tegile solution is lacking some of the polish that NetApp provides. I would like to see recommended values of the ESXi hosts set all at once, as opposed to one host at a time. In addition, I’d like the Tegile to change NFS.MaxVolumes default value from 8 to something much higher like the NetApp (256).

vCenter Orchestrator Install and Config

I have wanted to get started with vCO for awhile now, but I have not had much of use for it. Justifying the time to deploy and learn a new tool when you don’t have a glaring need for it proves tricky, but recently I was able to carve out some time to learn. One of the biggest hurdles was finding step-by-step deployment guide that worked so I decided to document this process.

The following documentation is for installing the vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) Appliance v5.5.1 with an already deployed vCenter 5.5 server (vCSA in my case). The appliance allows you to run vCO without installing it on a dedicated Windows Server.

1. Search for VMware-vCO-Appliance and download the latest version (VMware-vCO-Appliance-5.5.1.0-1617225_OVF10.ova for this writing)
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2. Accept the license terms and save the file locally
3. Connect the vSphere client to your vCenter Server then choose File -> Deploy OVF Template
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4. Click the “Browse” button, locate the .OVF downloaded previously and click “Open” then click “Next”
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5. Review the template details and click “Next”
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6. Accept the license agreement and click “Next”
7. Choose a name and location for this appliance and click “Next”
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8. Choose a datastore for the appliance and click “Next”
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9. Choose the appropriate disk format (I prefer thin provisioned) and click “Next”
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10. Choose the appropriate Destination Network (VM Port Group) and click “Next”
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11. Enter passwords for both the root user of the appliance and the password for the configuration interface (‘vmware’ is the username)
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  • Enter the Hostname, gateway, DNS, IP and subnet mask for the appliance and click “Next”
    VCO080414-step11a

12. Review the details of the configuration and then click “Finish”
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13. Once the appliance has been deployed successfully, click “Close”

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14. Right click on the appliance and choose “Open Console”
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15. Click the Power button to turn on the VM
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16. Boot to “VMware vCenter Orchestrator Appliance”
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17. Note the URLs for each function
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18. Open a web browser and connect to the URL for Orchestrator Configuration (Port 8283)
19. Login with the username “vmware” and the password entered for the vCO configuration during appliance deployment
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20. Click on “Network”
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21. Change the “IP address” to the IP used to access vCO and click “Apply changes” in the bottom right corner
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22. Click the “SSL Trust Manager” tab, enter the IP or hostname of your vCenter server and click “Import”
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23. Once the cert information is displayed, click the “import” link
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24.Repeat this process again, this time importing the certificate for SSO. Enter the FQDN of the SSO server with port 7444 and click “Import” then “Import” again once the certificate details are displayed
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25. Click on “Authentication” to configure user access

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26. For this writing we will use the SSO Authentication method, so change Authentication mode to “SSO Authentication” and click “Advanced settings”
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27. Enter the Token and Admin service URLs, the SSO admin username and passwords. Click “Register Orchestrator”

  • Token service URL: https://vCenterIPaddress:7444/ims/STSService
  • Admin service URL: https://vCenterIPaddress:7444/sso-adminserver/sdk
  • Admin user name: administrator@vsphere.local
  • Admin password: Password for admin account
    VCO080414-step26d

28. Once registration completes, choose the vCO Admin – domain and group from the list (These are populated based on your SSO config). Click “Accept Orchestrator Configuration”
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29. Click on “Startup Options”
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30. Click “Restart the vCO configuration server”
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31. Log back in once the server has finished restarting and click “Licenses”
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32. Choose “Use vCenter Server license” and enter the host name of the vCenter server, port should be 443, path is /sdk, and for username and password I used the SSO admin. Click “Apply changes” towards the bottom right of the screen
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33. Click on “vCenter Server (5.5.1)”
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34. Click “New vCenter Server Host” and enter the hostname of the vCenter server, port is 443, path is /sdk, I chose “Session per user” and the username and password for the SSO admin account. Click “Apply changes”
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35. Click on “Mail (5.5.1)”
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36. Click the check box for “define default values” and enter in the following information and click “Apply changes”

  • SMTP host: The address for your mail server
  • SMTP Port: Usually 25
  • Username and password: If your mail server requires authentication
  • From name: Name that vCO emails will appear from
  • From address: Email address that vCO emails will appear from
    VCO080414-step35e

37. Open a new browser window/tab and navigate to https://vCOIPaddress:8281/vco/client/client.jnlp to access the Java web client for vCO. Login as user that is a member of whatever group was chosen in step 27 as a vCO Admin
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  • At first this did not work and kept reporting “No vCO license available” when I attempted to login. After restarting the service and configuration server through the web interface, I ended up restarting the vCO appliance within vCenter and then I was able to login without issue

38. At this point you’re all setup and ready to start creating workflows
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Veeam 7.0 Install on Windows 2012

Veeam Backup & Replication is one of my favorite piece of software I get to work with. I’ve been working with B&R since 2010 (v5) and it has always been easy to install, easy to configure, and quick to start taking backups and protecting my environment. And that is just the software, the company itself is even better. Their support forums are full of employees and users that are knowledgeable and quick to help. The best way to describe Veeam is a company that is on your side as an Administrator. They listen to their community, their users, their customers and are developing solutions that make our jobs easier.

The following guide walks you through installing SQL Express, Veeam, connecting to vCenter 5.5 and configuring deduplication for a secondary drive on Windows Server 2012 R2. I have a preference for installing all software to a secondary drive instead of the OS (C:\) drive so this documentation shows how to install each component to that secondary drive in the event you have the same preference as me.

Veeam’s site contains best practices regarding backup types, sizing of your Veeam server, deduplication recommendations, and everything else that goes into the planning of your Veeam Backup & Replication deployment. This guide is more just to show how to configure the components and an example of what I’m seeing for deduplication rates.

 

Prerequisites:
1. Windows Server 2012 R2 patched, joined to domain, with 2 additional drives (one for Veeam to be installed on and the other for backup data)
2. A user or group defined for Veeam administrators (required when doing a standalone SQL Express install in order to use Veeam, the service account used to run veeam must be a member of this group or added as a SQL Administrator in step 8)
3. A domain user account with admin rights to the vCenter server
4. Mount the Veeam B&R ISO
5. Turn off User Account Control (SQL Express install will fail without this)

Install:
1. Open “This PC”, located the Veeam disc, right click and choose “Open”
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2. Browse to “Redistr\x64”, locate and double-click on “SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe”
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3. Once the “SQL Server Installation Center” windows appears, click on “New installation or add features to an existing installation”
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4. Accept the license terms and click “Next”
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5. After Setup Support Files are loaded the SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup window will appear. Choose the features you’ll need (just Database Engine Services usually), change the Directories to the secondary drive (D:\ for this writing) and click “Next”
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6. Enter the name of the instance and change the root directory to the secondary drive and click “Next”
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7. You can run the SQL database engine as Network Service, but I prefer running as a named service account. Enter the domain\username, password, and click “Next”
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8. Choose “Mixed Mode” for authentication type. Enter the “sa” password and immediately save it somewhere.
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  • a. For “SQL Server administrators”, only users/groups added here will be able to open and run Veeam. Add all users that will need to access Veeam or create a group.
    veeam7061614-step8a
  • b. Click “Data Directories” tab and ensure all the directories are pointing to the secondary drive and click “Next” (For organization I prefer to create folders for each file, but it isn’t necessary)
    veeam7061614-step8b

9. Choose if you want to send error reports to Microsoft and click “Next”
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  • a. Install will now begin to run

10. Once Installation completes, click “Close”
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11. Navigate back to the root of the disc drive then locate and run “Setup.exe”
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12. Click on install for “Veeam Backup & Replication”
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13. Click “Next” through the initial setup screen
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14. Read and accept the license agreement and click “Next”
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15. If you have a license key add it now, otherwise click “Next”
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16. Choose the program features to install. Click “Browse” button to change the installation to the secondary drive (you will have to make a new Folder name “Veeam” followed by “Backup and Replication” inside of it). Click “OK” then click “Next”
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17. If any of the components that are required show a status of “Failed”, click the “Install” button
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  • a. Once the installation completes the status will change to “Passed” then click “Next”
    veeam7061614-step17a

18. Enter the domain\username and password of the account Veeam will use to access vCenter and click “Next”
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  • a. This user should be a local administrator on the server running Veeam or you’ll receive this message
    veeam7061614-step18a

19. Choose “Use existing instance of SQL Server”, select the Server\Instance and then enter a name for the Veeam database. Click “Next”
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  • a. If the domain\veeam account isn’t in the Veeam Admins group, you will receive the following error that the user account “lacks CREATE ANY DATABASE permission”
    veeam7061614-step19a

20. Note the ports for Backup service and Catalog service and click “Next”
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21. Change the “vPower NFS” directory to the secondary drive by clicking “Browse”, then navigate to the D:\Program Files\Veeam\Backup and Replication” then create a new folder inside named “NfsDatastore” and click “OK”.
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  • a. For Guest file system catalog, click Browse and create a new folder named “VBRCatalog” under the D:\ drive. Click OK then “Next”
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    veeam7061614-step21a2

22. Review the configuration and then click “Install”
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23. Once installation completes, click “Finish”
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24. Now that Veeam is installed, let’s upgrade it to the latest patch. On Veeam’s website, download the latest patch for the version you’re running (Patch 4 for this writing) and copy it out to the server running Veeam.
25. Run the executable for this patch
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26. Click “Next” through the first screen of the patch wizard
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27. Click “Install” to begin the installation
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28. Once the patch is installed, click “Finish”
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29. Now that Veeam is installed and fully patched, locate Veeam Backup & Replication and open
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30. You will receive a message about components that need to be updated (vPower NFS, Transports, Installer, etc). Click the check box next to the server and click “Next”
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31. Click “Finish” once the components have been updated
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32. Click the menu button and then click on “Options”
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33. Click the check box for “Enable e-mail notification” and then enter your SMTP server, from email and to email. Click “OK”
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34. Click on “Virtual Machines” towards the lower-left of the window and click “Add Server”
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35. Click on your Server type (VMware vSphere for this writing)
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36. Enter the name or IP of the vCenter server and click “Next”
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37. For credentials, click “Add” then enter the domain\username and password for the Veeam account used to connect to vCenter. Click “OK” then click “Next”
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38. Once the server has been added, click “Finish”
39. By default, the folder all VM backups are stored in is “C:\backup”. To change this before you create any backup jobs is to click on “Backup Infrastructure” towards the lower left of the window then click on “Backup Repositories”
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40. Click the “Add Repository” button towards the top-left
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41. Name your Backup Repository and click “Next”
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42. Choose the type of repository (Microsoft Windows server) and click “Next”
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43. Click the “Populate” button then select the backup drive and click “Next”
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44. Enter the folder name (I took the default of D:\Backups) and click the populate button to see the capacity and free space of the drive. Limit the max concurrent tasks and/or data ingestion rate and click “Next”
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45. Ensure vPower NFS is enabled and click “Next”
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46. Review the settings and click “Next”
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47. Once it completes, click “Finish”
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48. Once the new repository appears, click the Menu button in the top-left corner and then click “Configuration Backup”
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49. Change the Backup repository to the newly created repository and click “OK”
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50. Right click on the “Default Backup Repository” and click “Remove” and click “Yes” to confirm delete
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51. Now that a new repository is created, we need to enable deduplication on that folder. Open Server Manager, click on “Manage” then choose “Add Roles and Features”
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52. Click “Next” through the “Before you begin” screen
53. Choose “Role-based or feature-based installation” and click “Next”
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54. Choose “Select a server from the server pool” and select the current server then click “Next”
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55. Expand “File and Storage Services”, then “File and iSCSI Services” and then check the box next to “Data Deduplication” and click “Next”
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56. Click “Next” through “Features”
57. Click “Install”
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58. Once installation is complete, click “Close”
59. Back in “Server Manager”, click on “File and Storage Services”
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60. Click on “Volumes”, right-click the drive that we’ll be enabling dedupe for and choose “Configure Data Deduplication”
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61. Set data deduplication from “Disabled” to “General purpose file server”, change “Deduplicate files older than (in days)” to 0.
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  • a. To exclude folders from being deduped on that disk, click the “Add” button, expand the “Z:\” drive, and select each folder to prevent deduplication. In our setup, only backups are going to the Z:\ drive so we’ll skip this
  • b. Click “Set Deduplication Schedule” and then check the box for “Enable throughput optimization”. You will set the schedule for when dedupe runs. This should run when your backups are NOT running. My backups run OUTSIDE business hours, so dedupe should run DURING business hours. Click “OK” when finished and “OK” again
    veeam7061614-step61b

Now that Veeam is setup and connected to vCenter and we have a backup repository created with dedupe enabled, let’s take a look and see what kind of savings we get when we take our backups. One thing to note is that you won’t see much dedupe savings on a single backup file, but on a long backup chain and multiple backup jobs is where the real savings starts to come into play.

I have configured backups of 2 of my Exchange 2013 servers to run every 6 hours and keep 28 restore points (7 days). This backup job is set to “Reverse incremental” and Veeam is performing inline dedupe, compression set to “Optimal” and optimized for “Local target”. My first full backup was 36.3GB. Over the next 3 days, I have taken 12 more backups for a total of 75.1GB.
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After dedupe ran over the last 3 days, we see the size as 75.1GB, but Size on disk is only 10.5GB
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This is where it gets a little interesting though. In powershell, running the command “Get-DedupStatus” only shows a savings of 14GB. I’m not sure which one is accurate, but even a savings of just 14GB in one backup job is an improvement. Since Windows Server 2012 deduplication runs across all files on a volume, you will see increased savings for every new backup file that’s created for every job that writes to that backup repository.
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NetApp VSC 4.2.1 Install on vCenter 5.5

I’m open to change, usually. New technology, new releases, new features, new options; I just like new. Though I do like new there is some “new” I struggle to get behind and that “new” is the vSphere Web Client. Even though it has been around awhile, with vSphere 5.5 there are things you have to use the web client for in order to administer your VMs (assuming they’re Harware Version 10). As a man not quite ready to make the leap to full-blown Web Client administration (and how can you since you still need the thick client to run Update Manager), I decided to install NetApp’s Virtual Storage Console 4.2.1 so I can continue to perform NetApp administration in the vSphere thick client.

As the primary VMware and NetApp engineer, having one place to create, mount, and resize volumes is a time saver. Plus the ability to create volume-level snapshots that quiesce the guest operating systems of your VMs provides a quick, point-in-time recovery time for your infrastructure. The steps below show how to install and configure the VSC 4.2.1 plugin in vSphere 5.5 connecting to an HA-pair of NetApps running ONTAP 8.1.2 in 7-mode.

Prerequisites:

1. A server that will run the VSC service (I usually install it on the Windows Server that hosts the vCenter Service or Update Manager as there are no port conflicts)
2. A domain account with “Administrator” rights to vCenter and local administrator on the Windows Server (this account will run the VSC service)
3. Credentials for the NetApps (I use ‘root’ for this, but a new user can be created on the NetApps with appropriate permissions)

 

Steps:

1. Run VSC-4.2.1-win64.exe as administrator
2. Click “Next”
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3. Read through the “Shared Credentials” notes, click “I Understand” then click “Next”
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4. Check the box for “Backup and Recovery” (if licensed) and click “Next”
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5. Set the installation directory (I prefer to install to a non-OS drive) and click “Next”
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6. Note the URL and click the “Install” button
VSC4052814-step6
7. When the installation completes click “Finish” and you should have a browser pop-up to the URL above
VSC4052814-step7
8. On the browser page, continue through any security warnings
VSC4052814-step8
9. Choose the IP of the local service the plugin will use to communicate with vCenter (This is the IP of the server you are installing VSC to)

  • a. Enter the IP of the vCenter server
  • b. Enter a service account username and password (this should not be your own credentials)
  • c. Click “Register”
    VSC4052814-step9c
  • d. You should see this message below if successful
    VSC4052814-step9d

10. On the server, go to “Start”, “Administrative Tools”, and click on “Services”
VSC4052814-step10
11. Locate the “Virtual Storage Console for VMware vSphere Server” service, right click and choose “Properties”
VSC4052814-step11
12. Click the “Log On” tab then click “This account”

  • a. Enter the account username and password used to connect to vCenter then click “OK”
    VSC4052814-step12a
  • b. Click “OK” for the message about granting Log On As A Service rights
  • c. Click “OK” about not taking affect until the service is restarted

13. Right-click on the service and click “Restart”
VSC4052814-step13
14. Login to the vSphere thick client to the vCenter server

  • a. You should receive a Security Warning pop up, click the box to install the certificate and click “Ignore”
    VSC4052814-step14a

15. Click “Plug-ins” then “Manage Plug-ins” at the top
VSC4052814-step15
16. Locate the “Virtual Storage Console” plugin, right click it and click “Enable” then click “Close”
VSC4052814-step16

17. Click the “Home” button towards the top left then click “NetApp” under “Solutions and Applications”
VSC4052814-step21

  • a. If you receive a Security Alert click “Yes” to proceed

18. Right-click on one of the storage controllers listed at the top and click “Modify Credentials”
VSC4052814-step22
19. Enter the management IP address, username (likely root) and password (try with SSL, but if it doesn’t work try without SSL) and click “OK”
VSC4052814-step23

  • a. Click “OK” for the controller privileges summary
  • b. Repeat for any additional Storage Controllers
  • c. Once completed this is what you should see
    VSC4052814-step23c

20. Click on “Provisioning and Cloning” towards to the bottom left
VSC4052814-step24
21. Click the link for “Storage controllers” and click the “Refresh” link towards the top right
22. Right click on one of the controllers and click “Resources”
VSC4052814-step26
23. Move the NFS/iSCSI network interface(s) to the right column, move any volumes that VMware will manage to the right column and move any aggregates to the right column to be managed as well. Click “Save” (The 10.32.22.x network is for management of the NetApp while the 192.168.10.x network is a private, non-routable network for NFS traffic. All volumes should be mounted on that network.)
VSC4052814-step27

  • a. Repeat for any other controllers

 

*The original documentation I posted showed changing the role in vCenter for the “netappvsc” user to “VSC Administrator” instead of just “Administrator”. Turns out this breaks the Virtual Storage Console. When you attempt to mount or provision datastores, you receive the following error; “HTTP ERROR 403. Problem accessing /kamino/index.html. Reason: Forbidden”
VSC4052814-error

At this point you are ready to manage your NetApp filers from the vSphere thick client. By right-clicking on your cluster in vCenter you can provision volumes to all the hosts in a cluster saving so much time of provisioning a new volume and then mounting it one host at time. Too bad you can mount a volume that’s already been created at the cluster level; it can only be done one host at a time.

Create vCenter 5.5 Upgrade Baseline

I have a preference to do brand new installs of ESXi for each new release. With new releases there are new options, new features, and caveats with existing functionality. This means the migration process takes longer, but it helps ensure that I’m applying current best practices each and every time instead of applying upgrades to a flawed design.

In some instances this isn’t a concern and we can use vCenter with Update Manager to upgrade hosts to the latest version of ESXi and preserve our current configuration (name, IP, storage, etc). I use this process when remotely upgrading Hosts in my colo facility without having console access to the physical servers.

This is a step by step guide to creating an upgrade baseline to upgrade an existing ESXi Host (5.0 for this writing) to 5.5 and begin the upgrade process on a Host.

Prerequisites:

1. Existing host running 5.0 or 5.1 connected to vCenter Server 5.5
2. vCenter Server 5.5 with Update Manager installed
3. Downloaded .ISO of ESXi 5.5

Steps:

1. Using the vSphere thick client (not web client), connect to the vCenter server and click the “Home” button followed by “Update Manager” under “Solutions and Applications”
UPG052714-step1
2. Click on “ESXi Images” tab
UPG052714-step2
3. Click the link for “import ESXi Image” to wards the top right corner
UPG052714-step3
4. Click “Browse” and locate the .ISO of ESXi, click “Open” then click “Next”
UPG052714-step4

  • a. If you receive a security warning, click the check box to install the certificate and click “Ignore”
  • b. The ISO should upload. When completed click “Next”
    UPG052714-step4b

5. Enter the name of this upgrade baseline identifying the version in the name or description then click “Finish”
UPG052714-step5
6. Click the “Home” button followed by “Hosts and Clusters”
UPG052714-step6
7. Click on the Host to be upgraded and then click the “Update Manager” tab
UPG052714-step7
8. Click the “Attach” link towards the top right corner
UPG052714-step8
9. Place a check in just the upgrade baseline created and then click “Attach”
UPG052714-step9
10. Click the “Remediate” button towards the lower right corner

  • a. Confirm Upgrade baselines and the ESXi 5.5 baseline are selected then click “Next”
    UPG052714-step10a
  • b. Accept the license agreement and click “Next”
  • c. Leave “Remove installed third-party software” unchecked and click “Next”
  • d. Leave the schedule as “Immediate” and click “Next”
  • e. Since this host is not in a cluster, choose “Power off virtual machines” and click “Next” (THIS WILL POWER OFF ANY VMS THAT ARE ON THAT HOST)
    UPG052714-step10e
  • f. Click the “Finish” button

11. This process takes awhile and you’ll lose access to the server while it is remediating. If you have access to the console during this time, it is a good idea to have it open and watch the progress.

Once the upgrade is complete the Host will be available within vCenter and will be running ESXi 5.5. Once completed, make sure you double-check your settings (time, network, DNS) to ensure all your settings are still there. Also, take this time to attach your patches baseline and get the latest patches applied to this Host.

Unregister Plugin from vCenter

Sometimes the uninstallation of a plugin in vCenter will not remove it from the list of available plugins. Once you’ve confirmed the plugin can be removed, follow these steps to unregister it and remove it from the list.

1. Currently, the Virtual Storage Console for NetApp has been uninstalled, but it is still showing up as an available Plugin
rmplugin052114-step1
2. Open a web browser and navigate to https://vCenterAddress/mob

a. Ignore any security warnings

3. Login with your normal vCenter credentials
rmplugin052114-step3
4. After login, click on the “content” link under Properties
rmplugin052114-step4
5. Click on the link for “ExtensionManager”
rmplugin052114-step5
6. You’ll have a list of extensions to choose from under “extensionList” and “VALUE”

a. Click the link of the extension to be unregistered
rmplugin052114-step6a
i. If the name isn’t obvious, click each one until you see the correct one

7. Once you’ve clicked on the correct plugin, you’ll want to copy the Value (without the quotes) in the row labeled “key”
rmplugin052114-step7
8. Press the Back button in your browser and then click on “UnregisterExtension” under the Methods table
rmplugin052114-step8
9. Paste the string copied from step 6 into the “VALUE” text box and click “Invoke Method” at the bottom
rmplugin052114-step9
10. Restart the vsphere client and click on “Plug-ins” then “Manage Plug-ins” and the plugin should be gone
rmplugin052114-step10
11. Now we see that the Plugin has been removed
rmplugin052114-step11

vCenter Server 5.5 Custom Install

In order to install the 4 components of vCenter (SSO, Web Client, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server) onto a secondary drive on the same Server, you must perform a “Custom Install”. This guide will walk you through the process of installing each of these components as well as SQL 2008 Express to the secondary drive of a Server. This can also be used to install the individual components on separate servers. In total, this is just over 100 steps to walk through so it will take some time.

 

Prerequisites:

1. Create a new virtual machine and add it to the domain
2. Add a second hard disk to install vCenter on
3. Add the update manager and vCenter service domain users as a local admins (vudatemanager, vmwareservice for this writing)
4. Mount the ISO for vCenter 5.5
5. Ensure User Account Control is turned off and the server has been rebooted (SQL will fail without this)

 

Install:

1. Open computer, right click on the VMware VIM disk and choose “Open”
VC051814-step1
2. Navigate to \redist\SQLEXPR and double click “SQLEXPR_x64_ENU”
VC051814-step2
3. After files are extracted, choose “New installation or add features to an existing installation”
VC051814-step3
4. Check the box to accept the license terms and click “Next”
VC051814-step4
5. Uncheck “SQL Server Replication” and change the share feature directories to the “D:\” drive and click “Next”
VC051814-step5
6. Name the Instance and change the instance root directory to the D:\ drive. Click “Next”
VC051814-step6
7. SQL Database Engine can run as Network Service, but I prefer using a named account. Click “Next”
VC051814-step7
8. Click on the “Data Directories” tab to ensure all directories are pointed at the secondary drive
VC051814-step8
9. Click on the “Account Provisioning” tab and change the authentication to “Mixed Mode”. Enter an “sa” password (save it immediately), then add any SQL Admins that are required and click “Next”
VC051814-step9
10. Click “Next” through Error Reporting screen
11. Click “Close” once the installation finishes
12. Click Start, then type “cmd”, right-click on cmd.exe and choose “Run as administrator”
VC051814-step12
13. Ensure your current path is “C:\Windows\system32” and type “sqlcmd.exe -S DEN-vCenter01\VCENTERSQLEXPR” (This is to connect to the instance named “VCENTERSQLEXPR” on the server “DEN-vCenter01” which is the server I am currently connected to)
VC051814-step13
14. Run the following commands pressing “enter” after each line (this will create the vCenter Database, add domain\vmwareservice as a use and db_owner, then add as user and db_owner of the msdb database)
CREATE DATABASE [vCenterDB]
GO
ALTER DATABASE [vCenterDB] SET COMPATIBILITY_LEVEL = 100
GO
ALTER DATABASE [vCenterDB] SET RECOVERY SIMPLE
GO
USE [vCenterDB]
GO
CREATE USER [domain\vmwareservice] FOR LOGIN [domain\vmwareservice]
GO
EXEC sp_addrolemember 'db_owner', 'domain\vmwareservice'
GO
USE msdb
GO
CREATE USER [domain\vmwareservice] FOR LOGIN [domain\vmwareservice]
GO
EXEC sp_addrolemember 'db_owner', 'domain\vmwareservice'
GO

VC051814-step14
15. Type “exit” and then close CMD window
16. Login as the vCenter Service account which should be added as a local administrator
17. Go to start, administrative tools, and chooce “Data Source (ODBC)”
VC051814-step17
18. Click the “System DSN” tab and click “Add”
VC051814-step18
19. Choose “SQL Server Native Client 10.0” and click “Finish”
VC051814-step19
20. Enter a useful name, description and browse for the local Instance
VC051814-step20
21. Choose “With Integrated Windows authentication” and click “Next”
VC051814-step21
22. Change the default database to the newly created vCenterDB and click “Next”
VC051814-step22
23. Click “Finish”
VC051814-step23
24. Click “Test Data Source” to ensure connection then click “OK” and “OK”
VC051814-step24
(Running the vCenter Components install failed when logged in as the VMware Service account for me so the rest of these steps can be performed by another admin account for this server.)
25. Open computer and double-click on the VMware VIM disc
VC051814-step25
26. Click “vCenter Single Sign-On” under “Custom Install” and click “Install”
VC051814-step26
27. Click “Next” for vCenter Single Sign-On
VC051814-step27
28. Accept the license agreement and click “Next”
VC051814-step28
29. Review the SSO information and check the box for “Add [DOMAIN] as a Native Active Directory identity source” and click “Next”
VC051814-step29
30. Choose “vCenter Single Sign-On for your first vCenter Server” and click “Next”
VC051814-step30
31. Enter the password for the local account for SSO (this is not the domain admin or your own account, this is a local account to administer SSO in the event the domain is unavailable). Save the password immediately and click “Next”
VC051814-step31
32. Enter a site name (if needed) and click “Next”
VC051814-step32
33. Note the HTTPS port and click “Next”
VC051814-step33
34. Change the destination folder to the secondary drive (D: for this writing) and click “Next”
VC051814-step34
35. Review the options and click “Install”
VC051814-step35
36. Click “Finish” when it’s done installing
VC051814-step36
37. Now click on “vSphere Web Client” under “Custom Install” and click “Install”
VC051814-step37
38. Choose “English” and click “OK”
VC051814-step38
39. Click “Next”
VC051814-step39
40. Accept the license agreement and click “Next”
VC051814-step40
41. Change the install directory to the “D:\” drive and click “Next”
VC051814-step41
42. Note the web client ports and click “Next”
VC051814-step42
43. Enter the password for the administrator@vsphere.local account and click “Next”
VC051814-step43
44. Click “Yes” for the SSL fingerprint
45. Click “Install certificates” when you see the “Certificate Installation for Secure Connection”
VC051814-step45
46. Click “Install”
VC051814-step46
47. Click “Finish”
VC051814-step47
48. Click “OK” for this message about access time for the Web Client
VC051814-step48
49. Click on “vCenter Inventory Service” under “Custom Install” then click “Install”
VC051814-step49
50. Choose “English” and click “OK”
VC051814-step50
51. Click “Next” to begin the Inventory Service installation
VC051814-step51
52. Accept the license agreement and click “Next”
VC051814-step52
53. Change the install directory to the “D:\” drive and click “Next”
VC051814-step53
54. Ensure the FQDN is correct and click “Next”
VC051814-step54
55. Note the ports and click “Next”
VC051814-step55
56. Select the appropriate Inventory size and click “Next”
VC051814-step56
57. Enter the password for the administrator@vsphere.local account and click “Next”
VC051814-step57
58. Click “Yes” for the SSL fingerprint
59. Click “Install” to begin installation
VC051814-step59
60. Click “Finish” once the installation is complete
VC051814-step60
61. Click “vCenter Server” under “Custom Install” and then click “Install”
VC051814-step61
62. Choose “English” and click “OK”
VC051814-step62
63. Click “Next” to begin installation wizard
VC051814-step63
64. Accept the license agreement and click “Next”
VC051814-step64
65. Enter the license key (if available) and then click “Next”
VC051814-step65
66. Click “Use an existing supported database” and select the ODBC connection created earlier and click “Next”
VC051814-step66
67. Click “Next”
VC051814-step67
68. If the JDBC URL fails, restart the SQL Service (Administrative Tools -> Services and locate “SQL Server (InstanceName)”) on the local server and attempt the connection again
VC051814-step68
69. Enter your password to run the vCenter service (but we’ll change this after creation)
VC051814-step69
70. Select “Create a standalone VMware vCenter Server instance” and click “Next”
VC051814-step70
71. Note the provisioned ports and click “Next”
VC051814-step71
72. Select the appropriate inventory size and click “Next”
VC051814-step72
73. Enter the administrator@vsphere.local SSO password and click “Next”
VC051814-step73
74. Click “yes” for the SSL fingerprint
75. Click “Next” to register administrator@vsphere.local as an Administrator
VC051814-step75
76. Confirm the vCenter Inventory URL and click “Next”
VC051814-step76
77. Change the installation to the “D:\” drive and click “Next”
VC051814-step77
78. Click “Install”
VC051814-step78
79. Once installation completes, click “Finish”
VC051814-step79
80. Click Start, Administrative Tools, then choose “Services”
VC051814-step80
81. Locate “VMware VirtualCenter Server” service, right-click and choose “Properties”
VC051814-step81
82. Click on the “Log On” tab and then click on the “Browse” button
VC051814-step82
83. Change the “Location” to your domain then enter the name of the user account that will run the vCenter Service (vmwareservice for this writing) and click “OK”
VC051814-step83
84. Enter the password for this account and then click “OK”
VC051814-step84
85. Click “OK” to grant log on as a service rights then click “OK” about it not taking affect until a service restart
VC051814-step85
86. Locate the “VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices” service and change it’s logon account to same account we just used for the VirtualCenter Server service (vmwareservice for this writing)
VC051814-step86
87. Right-click on “VMware VirtualCenter Server” service and choose “Restart”. You will be prompted that the “Vmware VirtualCenter Management Webservices” needs to be restarted as well. Click “Yes” for that prompt
VC051814-step87a
VC051814-step87b
88. After the services restart, open your browser and connect to https:// IPofvCenter:9443/vsphere-client and login as administrator@vsphere.local with the password assigned earlier
89. Once logged in, click on “Administrator” on the left pane
VC051814-step89
90. Click on “Users and Groups” under “Single Sign-On”
VC051814-step90
91. Click the “Groups” tab then click on”Administrators” under “Group Name”
VC051814-step91
92. Click the “Add Member” button under “Group Members”
VC051814-step92
93. Change the Domain to your domain, then search for the Active Directory user or group to be added as an Administrator. Click the user/group then click the “Add” button followed by “OK”
VC051814-step93
94. Click the “Home” button towards the top left corner
VC051814-step94
95. Click on “vCenter”
VC051814-step95
96. Click on “vCenter Servers”
VC051814-step96
97. Click on your vCenter server
VC051814-step97
98. Click the “Manage” tab followed by “Permissions”
VC051814-step98
99. Click the “Add Permission” button
VC051814-step99
100. Click the “Add” button towards the lower left then search for the Active Directory user/group to be added as a vCenter Administrator (ensure the Domain is set to your domain). Click the user/group, then click “Add” followed by “OK”
VC051814-step100
101. Changed “Assigned Role” to “Administrator” from the drop-down and then click “OK”
VC051814-step101

 

At this point your vCenter server is installed and configured with an Administrator account added for SSO as well as vCenter itself. To install the Update Manager service, click here to view the steps to install and configure. Your steps will differ as those instructions are for connecting to a mirrored database for Update Manager, but the rest of the steps are similar. You will just need to provision a database and grant the update manager user account db_owner to msdb and the Update Manager database. This can be done the same way as in step 14, just change the database name and the user name.

To complete the vCenter configuration (create a datacenter, add hosts), click here to open the step-by-step guide and scroll to step 44.

Install & Configure vCSA and vCenter 5.5

The steps below are to install and configure the vCenter Server Appliance, configure SSO to lookup users in a specific OU in Active Directory, add an Administrator, add your first host, and configure email server settings.

Prerequisites:

  1. Download the latest version of the vCenter Server Appliance (5.5.0.5201 for this writing) and place it some where that is accessible by the client hosting the vSphere client
  2. Have the vSphere Thick client installed
  3. Have a datastore created for the appliance (VM_Appliances for this writing)
  4. Identify the Fully Qualified Domain name and IP address of the server ahead of time

Steps

      1. Login to the vSphere client, choose File then Deploy OVF Template
        step1
      1. Click “Browse”, locate the OVF/OVA, and click “Open”, then click “Next”
        step2
      1. Click “Next” after reviewing the template details
        step3
      1. Name the vCSA, choose the inventory location, and click “Next”
        step4
      1. Choose the datastore and click “Next”
        step5
      1. Verify the datastore name and size and click “Next” (Size is not adjustable)
        step6
      1. Select the appropriate “Destination Network” and click “Next”
        step7
      1. Enter the following information and click “Next”
        1. Hostname = Name of Appliance
        1. Default Gateway = IP of the gateway of  the Destination Network
        1. DNS = IP of the DNS Server (Separate each DNS server with commas, though it didn’t seem to apply these settings)
        1. Network 1 IP Address = IP address of the vCenter Server Appliance
        1. Network 1 Netmark = Subnet mask of the Destination Network
      1. Verify the settings and click “Finish” to begin deployment of the vCSA
      1. Once deployment is finished, click “Close”
      1. Right click on the vCSA in the vSphere client and choose “Upgrade Virtual Hardware” then click “Yes” to upgrade the configuration
        step11
      1. Right click on the vCSA and choose “Open Console”
      1. Click the “Power On” button in the console
        step13
      1. Once the appliance has finished booting, open a browser and connect to the web interface (https:// ipaddress:5480)
      1. Click “Continue” to the security warning on your web browser
      2. Enter the default username and password for the vCSA (username: root, password: vmware)
      1. After login, accept the licensing agreement and click “Next” (this part may take awhile)
        step17
      1. Once you get to “Configure Options” press the “Cancel” button (After a few unsuccessful attempts to configure through the wizard, it is easier setting it up manually)
        step18
      1. At the home page of the vCSA admin page, click on the “Database” tab
        step19
      •  Change the “Database type” to “embedded” and click “Save Settings” (may take a minute or 2)
        step19a
      1. Click on the “SSO” tab
        • Change the “SSO deployment type” to “embedded”
        • Set the admin password for the “administrator@vsphere.local” account (Save this information immediately!)
        • Click “Save Settings” (will take a few  minutes)
          step20c
        • Once you see the message “Operation was successful” you can move on to the next step
          step20d
      1. Click on the “Network” tab
        • Ensure the Hostname (must be a FQDN if adding to a domain), IPv4 gateway, preferred & alternate DNS servers, and IPv4 static IP addressing is set. If any entries is missing, add them now
        • Once saved, click on the “System” tab and click on “Reboot”
          step21b
      1. Log back in (if necessary and continue with the next step)
      1. Click on “Authentication” tab
        • Check the box for “Active Directory Enabled”
        • Enter the domain name
        • Enter a domain admin account for “Administrative user” (Domain admin)
        • Enter the password for this account and click “Save Settings” (This will add the appliance to the domain)
          step23d
      1. Click on the “Update” tab then click “Check Updates” to see if there are any available updates
        • Install any updates that are available
        • Click on “Settings” under “Update”
        • Choose “Automatic check for updates”
        • Set your frequency (usually once a week) and then click “Save Settings”
          step24d
      1. Click on the “Admin” tab
        • Enter the current administrator password (default is “vmware”)
        • Enter the new administrator password and immediately save it (I use keepass for my passwords)
        • Click “Yes” for administrator password expiration
        • Enter the password validity time in days
        • Enter a group account for email expiration warning
        • Click “Submit”
          step25f
      1. Once the settings are saved, click on “System” tab then choose “Reboot”
      1. Once the vCSA is back up, you should be able to login to the vSphere Web Client (https:// IPofvCSA:9443)
      2. Download and install the “Client Integration Plug-in”
        step28

        • You’ll need to close your current browser to complete installation. Reopen and enable the Plugins after revisiting the URL above
      1. Login using the username “administrator@vsphere.local” and the password setup in step 20
      1. Click on “Administration”
        step30
      1. Click on “Configuration”, then click the “Identity Sources” tab and press the “+” button
      1. Choose the following for setting up Active Directory Auth for a specific group using a service account
        • Choose “Active Directory as a LDAP Server”
        • Enter the name (Just a reference name)
        • Enter the Distinguished name of the OU where users will be located
        • Enter the Domain name
        • Enter the Domain alias
        • Enter the Distinguished name for groups (for us, it’s the same as for users)
        • Enter the primary server URL (Format: ldap:\\Dcname.domainname.com:389)
        • Enter the secondary server URL (same format as above)
        • Username: A domain account in the OU above (do not use a users account, make it a service account)
        • Password: Password for domain account
        • Press “Test Connection” to ensure it all works and then click “OK”
          step32k

 

      1. Under “Single Sign-On” on the left, click on “Users and Groups”
        step33
      1. Click the “Groups” tab, then click on “Administrators”
        step34
      1. Click the “Add Members” button
        step35
      1. Change the Domain to the Domain that was just added. Search for the Domain users/groups that need Administrator access, click on each one and click “Add” followed by “OK”
        step36
      1. Once the users have been added, click on the “Home” button towards the top left
        step37
      1. Click on “vCenter”
        step38
      1. Under “Inventory Lists”, click on “vCenter Servers”
        step39
      1. Click on the name of your vCenter Server
        step40
      1. Click the “Manage” tab, followed by the “Permissions” button
        step41
      1. Click the “+” button to add a new administrator.
        • When the “Add Permission” box appears, click the “Add” button at the bottom
        • Change the Domain to Domain added earlier
        • Search for the same users/groups added as vCSA admins, select each one and click “Add” followed by “OK” when completed
          step42c
        • Under “Assigned Role” change from “No access” to “Administrator”. Ensure “Propogate to children” is selected and click “OK”
          step42d
      1. Once Domain permissions have been assigned, sign out of the web interface as “administrator@vsphere.local” and login with domain credentials (domain\username)
      1. Once logged in as Domain account, click on “vCenter”
        step44
      1. If you see the number “1” next to “vCenter Servers” under “Inventory Lists” then permissions were assigned correctly.
      2. Click on vCenter Servers, then click on the vCenter server and click the “Manage” button in the middle pane
        step46
      1. Under the “Settings” tab click on “Advanced Settings”
        step47
      1. Locate the key “config.registry.key_managedIP” and if the Value is “–“,  click the “Edit” button towards the top right
        step48
      • Scroll down to that key and enter the IP address of the vCenter Server appliance and click “OK” (Without this entry, in the event of a DNS failure, the hosts will not be able to check in with the vCenter server and could become disconnected. Thanks to Virtual Barker for pointing this out)
      1. Click on on the “vCenter” link towards the top left
        step49
      1. Click on “Datacenters”
        step50
      1. Click the “Create a new datacenter” button
        step51
      1. Choose a name of the Datacenter (I usually use location), click on the vCenter server instance and click “OK”
        step52
      1. Click on “vCenter” towards the top left
        step53
      1. Click on “Hosts” under “Inventory Lists”
        step54
      1. Click the “Add a host” button
        step55
      1. Follow these steps to add a host to your newly created datacenter
        • Enter the fully qualified domain name of your host
        • Click on the destination datacenter and then click “Next”
          step56b
        • Enter the username and password for the “root” account then click “Next” (Click “Yes” for the security alert)
          step56c
        • Review the details of the Host then click “Next”
          step56d
        • Assign a license key (if available) and click “Next”
        • Make sure “Enable lockdown mode” is unchecked and click “Next”
        • Click “Next” through “VM location” as we haven’t created a new tag yet
          step56g
        • Click “Finish”
      1. Click on “vCenter” button towards the top left
        • Click on “vCenter Servers” under “Inventory Lists”
        • Click on the name of the vCenter server
        • Click the “Manage” tab
          step57c
        • Under “vCenter Server Settings” on the General page, click the “Edit” button
          step57d
        • Click the “Mail” link and enter your mail server address and the mail sender address and then click “OK”
          step57e

At this point you are ready to start adding more hosts, creating clusters and deploying virtual machines. Before you are ready for production, ensure that you create alerts for monitoring VM and Host health such as CPU and memory usage, CPU ready latency, storage latency and VM snapshot size. I’ll address the common alerts I create in each new build in a later post.