HTML 5 – vSphere and ESXi Host Web Clients

H5The wait is over (almost). Since the introduction of vSphere Web Client, many admins have slowed down the adoption of the Web Client as well as updates to vSphere due to the performance of said client.

VMware has released a couple of flings in relation to this problem. One of them was the host web client, where you can manage your hosts directly without the need to install the vSphere client. This fling is now part of the latest update to vSphere 6.0 U2. A few days ago, VMware released a similar option for vCenter. Both of these options are based on HTML 5 and javascript.

Host Web Client

Like I mentioned before, starting with vSphere 6.0 U2, the host web client is already embedded into vSphere. If you do not have this update you can still download the OVA and access the host web client that way. Currently it only works if you have vSphere 6.0+ but once version 5.5 U3 is released, it will also work with that version. Here is a link to download the fling.

To access the web client, you will need to add “/ui” at the end of the name/ip address of your host. For example https://<host-name-or-IP>/ui

The client is very responsive and has a nice UI. Not all the features are currently supported, but more will be coming at some point in the near future.

host_ui

 

vCenter Web Client

This HTML web client is only available as a fling at the moment. You will need to deploy an OVA and register the appliance with the vCenter that you would like to manage. Being a fling, not all features are included. It basically focuses on VM management, but I am sure they are working to port all the features over at some point (I hope).

To deploy this ova, you will need to enable SSH and Bash Shell on your VCSA. You can do both from the VCSA web UI. If you are running Windows based vCenter refer to the Fling documentation here.

vcsa_uI-shell

Prior to going through the configuration you will need to

  1. Create an IP Pool (If deploying via C# Client)
    • Note: I deployed using Web Client and didn’t create the IP Pool for me automatically as it is supposed to, so double check you have an IP Pool before powering on the appliance
  2. Deploy the OVA

IP_Pool

After deploying the OVA, creating an IP Pool, and enabling both SSH and Bash Shell on VCSA, it is time to configure the appliance.

  • SSH to the IP address you gave to the appliance using root as the user and demova as the password
  • Type shell to access Bash Shell
  • run the following command in Bash Shell
    • /etc/init.d/vsphere-client configure –start yes –user root –vc <FQDN or IP of vCenter> –ntp <FQDN or IP of NTP server>
  • If you need to change the default password for your root account, you can run the following command from bash shell
    • /usr/bin/chsh -s “/bin/bash” root
  • answer the question by answering YES
  • and enter the credentials for your vCenter


H5_deploy1

H5_deploy2

 

The HTML Web Client is pretty awesome, I gotta say, even if not all the features are there yet. It is super clean, and responsive. I can’t wait for it to be embedded with a full feature set.

 

H5_1

H5_2

Golden Nuggets: #1 vSphere vFlash

ToolsWith so many tools and features from many different vendors, it is almost impossible to research them all and find useful tools to make your job easier. Some features also provide a faster/cheaper way to solve common problems without spending a fortune, unfortunately, these “Golden Nuggets” are often underutilized. I’ll post a few quick tools that may make a big difference in someone’s environment. As always, test before deploying to production.

One of the cool features introduced in vSphere 5.5 was vFlash, which replaced swap to SSD from previous versions, but I won’t get into that. Essentially, this is flash-based read cache on the host that functions at the vmdk level for a specific VM. This feature works by adding flash-based resources such as PCIe cards or SSD drives to create a vFlash pool of resources at the host level, and configuring the amount of storage to be used for host swap cache. Such cache is placed on the data path of the vmdk between the host and the storage array.

Once the host is configured, you can expand the virtual disk of a VM’s properties in the Web Client and assign the amount of cache for that particular vmdk, as well as having the option to select the block size (4KB – 1024KB). So, for each pool, chunks are carved out or reserved for a specific vmdk on the host where the VM is located.

vFlash_vmdk

As far as data locality goes and features like HA, DRS, vMotion; it is possible to migrate the cached data to another host while migrating a VM, as long as the other hosts have also been configured with vFlash. You may also specify not to migrate the cached data during migration.

Requirements:

  • Check HCL for compatible Flash devices
  • vCenter 5.5 or later (VCSA or Windows)
  • VM hardware version 10 or later
  • vSphere vMotion if using DRS
    • Requires vFlash on hosts within the cluster

 

Implementing vFlash can be beneficial for resolving or minimizing performance degradation for read intensive applications, or simply by utilizing local resources at the host level for read cache instead or in addition to storage read caching solutions. Having local cache eliminates the “extra hop” on the network to get to cached data at the storage array.

This is a high level view of vFlash but in my opinion, I think this is a nice feature that can get rid of some headaches and fire drills.

 

vFlash_highLevelImage source – VMware doc (Rawlinson)

 

Deploying NetApp NFS Plug-in for VMware VAAI

NetApp’s NFS plug-in for VMware VAAI (VMware vStorage API for Array Integration) is an API that allows for the offload of certain tasks from the physical hosts to the storage array. Tasks such as thin-provisioning and hardware acceleration can be done at the array level to reduce the workload on the ESXi hosts.

The steps necessary to deploy VAAI on ESXi hosts as well as the NetApp storage can be accomplished using VSC or ESXi CLI, as well as NetApp’s CLI/Shell. The nice thing about VSC is that it is capable of enabling VMware vStorage for NFS on the storage and also enables VAAI on the VMware hosts if not already done.

Prior to installing NetApp’s NFS plugin for VMware VAAI, NFS datastores cannot take advantage of offloading activities such as Hardware Acceleration.

VAAI_NFS_notSupported

In order to install and configure NetApp NFS Plug-in for VMware VAAI, the following steps are necessary:

  • Enable NFSv3 on the storage system. NFSv4 is necessary for C-Mode on the export policy for VAAI to work.
    • Different methods to enable vStorage between 7-Mode and C-Mode
  • Have vSphere 5.0 or later
  • Download VAAI plug-in from NetApp site
  • Copy/Install bundle on ESXi host

Enabling VMware vStorage for NFS

VMware vStorage needs to be enabled on the NetApp storage controller. Since NetApp ONTAP 7-Mode and C-Mode commands are different, you will need to use the one for your array version.

7-Mode

Log in to the CLI and run the following command on both nodes of the HA pair.

“options nfs.vstorage.enable on

7M_vStorage_ON

C-Mode

In 7-mode, the option is enabled “globally” at the controller level. In C-Mode, this option is enabled at the SVM (Storage Virtual Machine) aka vServer.

Log in to the cluster shell and enable vStorage on the desired vServer.

“vserver nfs modify –vserver <your SVM name> -vstorage enabled”

CM_vStorage_ON

 

Verify that VAAI is enabled on the VMware hosts

By default, VAAI is enabled on vSphere 5.0 or later, but you can verify using the following commands from the host CLI.

“esxcfg-advcfg -g /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedMove”
 “esxcfg-advcfg -g /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedInit”

 If VAAI is enabled, the commands will return a 1 instead of 0.

ESXi_vStorage_on

If for some reason VAAI is not enabled on the ESXi host, you can enable them by using these commands:

“esxcfg-advcfg -s 1 /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedInit’
“esxcfg-advcfg -s 1 /DataMover/HardwareAcceleratedMove”

You can also check these settings by using the Web GUI by selecting the host>Manage>Advanced System Settings.

WebUI_vStorage_on

 

Installing Plug-in via CLI

You can install the plug-in via VSC or CLI. When using CLI, you can choose to use the online bundle (.vib) or offline bundle (.zip). I will show the offline bundle installation.

After you have downloaded the offline bundle, copy the .zip file to a datastore available to your ESXi hosts.

You can verify the contents of the bundle by running “esxcli software sources vib list –d <path of your .zip file>”. In this example, the offline bundle is located in the root of a datastore available to this host.

VIB_List

From the ESXi CLI, run the following command to install the plug-in

“esxcli software vib install –n NetAppNasPlugin –d <path of your offline bundle>”

At this point, the NFS plug-in for VMware VAAI is installed. Remember that the host MUST be rebooted after installation, so either use vMotion to move you VMs, or schedule some down time after hours to complete the reboot.

VIB_Install

 

Installing Plug-in via VSC

VSC simplifies this installation. Before you can install the plugin on an ESXi host, you will need to copy the .vib file from the offline bundle to the install directory of the VSC server. The default location is C:\Program Files\NetApp\Virtual Storage Console\etc\vsc\web. Also make sure that the name of the .vib file is NetAppNasPlugin.vib, if not, rename it so you don’t have to restart VSC or NVPF service. Don’t forget to reboot the ESXi host after installing the plugin.

VSC>TOOLS>NFS VAAI Tools >Install on Host>Select host and reboot.

VAAI_Install_VSC

After installing the NFS VAAI plug-in, NFS is now supported for Hardware Acceleration as well as other enhancements.

VAAI_NFS_Supported

Deploying NetApp VASA Provider for VMware vSphere

As I mentioned in previous posts, NetApp’s VASA Provider for VMware vSphere allows for the management of storage through profiles, and gears towards the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) approach.

In order to deploy VASA provider, you will need to download the NetApp VASA provider for vSphere from NetApp’s support site. There is an ONTAP 7-Mode flavor and also an ONTAP C-Mode flavor, so choose the one that matches your environment. Deploy the virtual appliance (OVA) using VMware’s client and provide the necessary information for the virtual appliance. You will also need VSC already installed in order to register the VASA provider after installation and configuration.

VASA_Settings

During the first boot, VMware Tools installation prompt appears. Mount the VMware Tools and hit enter to install VMware tools and continue installation. Change the CD/DVD configuration on the virtual appliance to “Client Device”. Provide passwords for maintenance account (maint) and vpserver account when prompted. Use the vpserver account to register VASA with VSC from the VSC configuration page by providing the IP address of the VASA provider.

VASA_Tools   VASA_Tools2

Configuration settings will appear after installation. Use the Web UI for normal use and the maintenance console (CLI) when the Web UI is not accessible. Note that the Web Console utilizes port 9083, so make sure to enter the correct TCP/IP socket when using the WEB UI.

VASA_Config

At this point, VASA has been deployed and configured. All that is left to do is register the VASA Provider with vSphere via VSC, and enjoy the benefits of NetApp and VMware integration.

VASA_Registration

 

NetApp VSC, VASA, VAAI for VMware vSphere: Why do I need this?

In most software meetings, round tables, and customer reviews and councils I have been part of, the feedback has been about a common topic the majority of the time. Customers want to have a single location/interface to manage multiple products. Fortunately, some aspects of NetApp storage can be managed through VMware’s WEB UI by leveraging Virtual Storage Console (VSC), VASA provider, and VAAI for VMware.

VSC is a vCenter plug-in that delivers VM management for environments running NetApp storage. VSC allows for storage configuration and monitoring, datastore provisioning and VM cloning, online VM optimization as well as backup and recovery of VMs and datastores. VSC is a very useful and convenient tool that will give you a glance of your storage status and also allow you to optimize your VMs that have not been properly aligned by migrating them to another storage target and aligning the VMDKs properly.

VSC_Main

 VSC Main Page

 

VSC_Align

VMDK alignment using VSC

 

The VASA provider for NetApp ONTAP is a virtual appliance that supports VMware’s VASA (vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness). It leverages VSC as the console and provides information to the vCenter about NetApp Storage that has been associated with VSC. VASA allows for the management of storage profiles defined as Service Level Objectives (SLO) as well as alarms to monitor the NetApp environment when aggregates and volumes are nearing their storage capacity.

The last piece of the puzzle is VAAI. VMware VAAI (vSphere Storage APIs – Array Integration) allows for hardware acceleration and offload certain operations that originally occurs at the host level, to the storage system. This reduces the overhead and consumption of resources on the ESXi host and improves performance. VAAI is great for speeding up I/O operations on the VMware side.

You could pick and choose which of these components to install as you see fit, but ideally you would want to deploy all three to take advantage of these enhancements and integration. The VSC software is installed on a server and associated with a specific vCenter. The NFS plug-in for VMware VAAI is installed on each VMware host and the VASA provider is deployed as a virtual appliance. It is important to point out that VSC  can also be utilized to set NetApp’s recommended values on ESXi hosts for better performance.

 

VSC_Logo

VSC_HostOptions

 VSC ESXi Host Options

 

VSC_VM_Options

VSC VM Options