Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is the cool kid of the block at the moment, and proof of this is that big name companies like Cisco and EMC/VCE have recently announced their own solutions in this space to compete with market leader Nutanix.
This should not be a surprise for anyone because according to IDC, HCI systems are forecasted to be a $3.9B market but 2019, which is an incredible growth when compared to $0.8B in 2015. Not only the expected growth is exceptional, but this growth is also taking a big piece of the cake on the traditional enterprise storage market, so companies like EMC and Cisco need secure this revenue stream.
In this first blog post I will be describing my VCE VxRail first impressions on the hardware installation and configuration. The second part will be dedicated to management and different features that are available on web interface. The official release date of VxRail is 3/10/2016 but I had the opportunity to install an evaluation unit. Before I start, I want to thank my employer RoundTower Technologies for giving me sometime to play with the evaluation unit was sent to us.
Lets start describing what we received. Our eval unit is a four node VxRail 160, more information about the offerings can be found here. The system is based on Quanta servers as your can see on the pictures below.
Each node in this appliance has the following components:
- 256GB of RAM
- Two (2) x Intel Xeon Processor E5-2630, with 8 cores for a total of 16 cores per node, hence the name VxRail 160
- One (1) x 800GB SSD
- Five (5) x 1.2TB HDD – 10k rpm
- Two (2) x 10GE SFP+
- One (1) x 100Mbps for IPMI
Before you get out to your data center and start powering things up make sure you have the following things available:
- The first and one of the most important requirements is to have two (2) 10GE cables connected to each node, the installation process will not complete the verify process until both cables are connected and enabled. See error bellow.
- VxRail: hostname and IP address
- VxRail and vCenter password
- ESXi hostnames: you are going to need at least four names
- ESXi host IPs: four management IP addresses for the ESXi management
- ESXi password: password to be used to configure ESXi
- vMotion: four vMotion IPs
- vSAN: four IPs to create the vSAN cluster
- vCenter: name and IP for the vCenter virtual appliance
- vCenter Password
- vRealize Logging: One IP address for the login server
- VxRail Manager Expansion: One IP Address
- Two power outlets to connect the two power supplies
- Four 1GE cables and ports for IPMI
- Four IPMI IP addresses
After connecting the two power supplies and the 8 SFP+ / Twinax cables, turn on the servers in the following order Node1, Node2, Node3 and Node4. Wait about 10 minutes to have all components enabled.
Open a web browser an point it to the default IP 192.168.10.200, you might need to manually setup your machine’s IP Address to an IP address like 192.168.10.199. If you are using Mac, Safari will not completely work, this has been the case since the original EVO:Rail came out, so you will need to install Firefox or Chrome.
During the next steps you will fill out the different fields with the information collected during the Prerequisites phase.
The initial screen is the Welcome screen where you will click continue to start the installation and configuration.
The first real configuration screen will have you defining Hostnames, IP Address and passwords.
Configure the NTP server. You need to have a valid and reachable server otherwise the validation process will fail and you won’t be able to complete the installation.
Following screen is to configure the vMotion network
The it is the turn to configure vSAN
Add Virtual Networks
Configure Logging solutions
Finally, verify the parameters you added to the configurator
Once the validation is complete and completely free of errors you can commit the configuration. The process will update the host names, host IP addresses, update the management IP, deploy vCenter (appliance), configure VSAN, the virtual switches. At the end of the process you will receive a “Hooray” message, letting you know that you are ready to start creating VMs.
Please visit us again for part two of this series where we will show you the management interface and other features of VxRail.
I have also created a video that shows the installation process. Click on this link to watch the video
Thank you for reading.