This post will walk through the steps required to prepare Nimble Storage arrays at primary and secondary sites for VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) using array based replication. The following posts in this Site Recovery Manager series detail the end to end installation and configuration process.
Before beginning ensure that time synchronization and DNS are in place across the Nimble arrays and vCenter / SRM servers. It is best practice to have Active Directory and DNS servers already running at the secondary site, and also recommended for virtual machine swap files to be stored in a dedicated datastore without replication. Make sure you review the Nimble Storage Best Practices for VMware Site Recovery Manager guide.
All Nimble Storage arrays are listed on the VMware Compatibility Guide, and Nimble have been providing a VMware specific Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) since version 5.1 of SRM. The SRA is the main integration point between SRM and Nimble; allowing storage interactive workflows to be initiated from SRM. In my environment I will only be using VMDK for the virtual storage and can utilise the Nimble built in vCenter synchronization to quiesce I/O during snapshots. This means the replica is in an application-consistent state and can be cleanly brought back online in the event of failover. Nimble arrays are supplied inclusive of all features, so there are no additional licensing costs for replication.
If you’re using Nimble to present LUNs to VMware then it’s likely you configured VMware integration during the initial configuration. However, to check log into the web UI of both the replication source and target Nimble arrays by browsing to the IP address or FQDN. From the drop-down Administration menu select VMware Integration.
If the correct vCenter Server is already registered confirm the settings using the Test Status button. Otherwise, enter the required vCenter information to register with the Nimble Storage array.
Furthermore, any ESXi hosts connected to Nimble volumes should have the Nimble Connection Manager installed, which includes the Nimble Path Selection Policy (PSP) for VMware. Installing the Nimble VIBs is not included in the scope of this article, however I have briefly outlined the process below.
- Log in to InfoSight and select Software Downloads from the Resources drop down.
- Click Connection Manager (NCM) for VMware and download the appropriate version.
- The downloaded zip file contains the Nimble VIBs, you can install these using one of the following methods:
Configure Replication Partners
Log into the Nimble web UI using the management IP address or FQDN of the desired replication source array. From the drop-down Manage menu, select Protection, and Replication Partners.
Existing replication partners will be listed, at this stage we don’t have any. Click New Replication Partner.
The replication partner wizard will load.
- Enter the group name of the replication target in the partner name field, the group name can be obtained by logging into the web UI of the target Nimble array and clicking the Group referenced in the top right hand corner, or by navigating to Manage, Arrays. Fill in the rest
- Enter a description if required. Enter the hostname or management IP address of the target Nimble array.
- Enter a shared secret, this will be configured the same on both arrays.
- Specify if replication traffic should use the existing management network, or specified data IPs.
- Specify any folder assignments if required.
If you want to configure bandwidth limits this is done on the QoS Policy page, click Finish once complete.
The replication partner will now be listed with a status of OK, the Test function should come back with a success message. Repeat the process on the replication target Nimble array, adding a replication partner for the replication source array.
Configure Volume Replication
Now we have an available replication target we can configure replication of important volumes. In the Nimble web UI for the replication source array, navigate to Manage, Volumes. Replication is configured in the Protection tab, either during the New Volume wizard, or for an existing volume by clicking the volume and Edit, then selecting Protection. Select Create new volume collection and enter a name.
Something to be aware of – later in the SRM configuration stage we will create protection groups which use consistency groups to group datastores for protection. These SRM consistency groups map to the volume collection groups in Nimble, so if you want to configure different protection settings for different virtual machines they will need to be in volumes using separate volume collection groups. See here for more information.
If application or hypervisor synchronization is required then enter the appropriate details. In this case since we are integrating with SRM we will select VMware vCenter and enter the vCenter details, ensuring application-consistent copies are replicated to the secondary site.
Configure the protection schedule and how many snapshots to keep locally and on the replication target array, make sure you select the replication partner we created earlier from the Replicate to drop-down menu. When you have entered the required details click Save.
Repeat this process for any other volumes requiring replication. Once a volume collection has been created you can use the same protection schedules by selecting the existing volume collection on the Protection tab of a volume.
To view or edit a volume collection navigate to Manage, Protection, Volume Collections in the Nimble web UI.
Existing replication snapshots are displayed on the Replication tab when selecting a volume, or in the volume collections page referenced above. On the replication target array replication volumes are displayed in the volumes page with a grey coupled LUN icon.
We can now move on to installing Site Recovery Manager in Part 2, the only other Nimble specific step is to install the Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) on the same Windows server as SRM, after SRM has been installed. The Nimble SRA can be downloaded here from InfoSight, and is a simple next and finish installer. After SRM is installed you can confirm the SRA status in the vSphere web client by browsing to Site Recovery Manager, Sites, select the site, open the Monitor tab, and click SRAs.