vRealize Operations 6.4 Install Guide

The vRealize product suite is a complete, enterprise, cloud management and automation platform for private, public, and hybrid clouds. Specifically vRealize Operations Manager provides intelligent operations management across heterogeneous physical, virtual, and cloud environments from a wide range of vendors. vRealize Operations Manager is able to deliver proactive and automated performance improvements  by implementing resource reclamation, configuration standardisations, workload placement, planning, and forecasting techniques. By leveraging vRealize Operations Manager users can protect their environment from outages with preventative and predictive analytics and monitoring across the estate; utilising management packs to  unify operations management. The image below is taken from the vRealize Operations Manager datasheet.

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vRealize Operations Manager can be deployed as a single node cluster, or a multiple node cluster. In single node cluster environments the master node is deployed with adapters installed which collect data and perform analysis. For larger environments additional data nodes can be added to scale out the solution, these are known as multiple node clusters. In a multiple node cluster the master node is responsible for the management of all other nodes. Data nodes handle data collection and analysis. High availability can be achieved by converting a data node into a replica of the master node. For distributed environments remote collector nodes are deployed to gather inventory objects and navigate firewalls in remote locations. These nodes do not store data or perform analytics; you can read more about remote collector nodes here. In this post we will deploy a single node cluster for small environments, proof of concept, test, or lab purposes, and link it to a vCenter Server instance. There will also be references to larger deployments and scaling out the application throughout the guide. If you have already deployed your vRealize cluster and want to add additional nodes or configure High Availability click here.

Licensing is split out into 3 editions; standard, advanced, and enterprise. To view the full feature list of the different editions see the vRealize Operations page. There are a number of VMware product suites bundling vRealize Operations, or it can be purchased standalone. Licensing is allocated in portable license units (vCloud suite and vRealize suite only), per processor with unlimited VMs, or in packs of 25 VMs (or OS instances).

Design Considerations

  • Additional data nodes can be added at any time using the Expand an Existing Installation option.
  • When scaling out the cluster by 25% or more the cluster should be restarted to optimise performance.
  • The master node must be online before any other nodes are brought online (except for when adding nodes at first setup of the cluster).
  • When adding additional data nodes keep in mind the following:
    • All nodes must be running the same version
    • All nodes must use the same deployment type, i.e. virtual appliance, Windows, or Linux.
    • All nodes must be sized the same in terms of CPU, memory, and disk.
    • Nodes can be in different vSphere clusters, but must be in the same physical location and subnet.
    • Time must be synchronised across all nodes.
  • These rules also apply to replica nodes. Click here to see a full list of multiple node cluster requirements.
  • Remote collector nodes can be deployed to remote locations to gather objects for monitoring. These nodes do not store data or perform any analytics but connect remote data sources to the analytics cluster whilst reducing bandwidth and providing firewall navigation. Read more about remote collector nodes here.
  • When designing a larger vROps environment check the Environment Complexity guide to determine if you should engage VMware Professional Services. You should also review the following documentation:

Requirements

  • The vRealize Operations Manager virtual appliance can be deployed to hosts running ESXi 5.1 U3 or later, and requires vCenter Server 5.1 U3 or later (it is recommended that vSphere 5.5 or later is used).
  • The virtual appliance is the preferred deployment method, a Windows and Linux installer is also available however the Windows installer will no longer be offered after v6.4, and end of life for the Linux installer is also imminent.
  • A static IP address must be used for each node (to change the IP after deployment see this kb).
  • Review the list of Network Ports used by vRealize Operations Manager.
  • The following table is from the vRealize Operations Manager Sizing Guide and lists the hardware requirements, latency, and configuration maximums.

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Installation

Download vRealize Operations Manager here, in virtual appliance, Windows, or Linux formats. Try for free with hands on labs or a 60 day trial here.

In this example we are going to deploy as an appliance. Navigate to the vSphere web client home page, click vRealize Operations Manager and select Deploy vRealize Operations Manager.

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The OVF template wizard will open. Browse to the location of the OVA file we downloaded earlier and click Next.

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Enter a name for the virtual appliance, and select a location. Click Next.

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Select the host or cluster compute resources for the virtual appliance and click Next.

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Review the details of the OVA, click Next.

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Accept the EULA and click Next.

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Select the configuration size based on the considerations listed above, then click Next.

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Select the storage for the virtual appliance, click Next.

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Select the network for the virtual appliance, click Next.

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Configure the virtual appliance network settings, click Next.

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Click Finish on the final screen to begin deploying the virtual appliance.

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Setup

Once the virtual appliance has been deployed and is powered on, open a web browser to the FQDN or IP address configured during deployment. Select New Installation.

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Click Next to begin the setup wizard.

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Configure a password for the admin account and click Next.

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On the certificate page select either the default certificates or custom. For assistance with adding custom certificates click here.

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Enter the host name for the master node and an NTP server, click Next.

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Click Finish.

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If required you can add additional data nodes before starting the cluster, or add them at a later date. See the Design Considerations section of this post before scaling out. To add additional data nodes or configure High Availability follow the steps at vRealize Operations High Availability before starting the cluster. Alternatively, you can start the cluster as a single node cluster and add data nodes or High Availability at a later date.

Since we are deploying a single node cluster we will now click Start vRealize Operations Manager. Depending on the size of the cluster it may take 10-30 minutes to fully start up.

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Confirm that the cluster has adequate nodes for the environment and click Yes to start up the application.

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After the cluster has started you will be diverted to the user interface. Log in with the admin details configured earlier.

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The configuration wizard will automatically start, click Next.

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Accept the EULA and click Next.

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Enter the license key or use the 60 day product evaluation. Click Next.

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Select whether or not to join the VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program and click Next.

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Click Finish.

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The vRealize Operations Manager dashboard will be loaded. The installation process is now complete. The admin console can be accessed by browsing to http:///admin where is the IP address of FQDN of your vRealize Operations Manager appliance or server.

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To add additional data nodes or configure High Availability see the vRealize Operations High Availability post.

Post Installation

After first setup we need to secure the console by creating a root account. Browse to the vROps appliance in vSphere and open the console. Press ALT + F1 and log in as root. You will be prompted to create a root password. All other work in this post is carried out using the vRealize Operations web interface.

The vRealize Operations web interface can be accessed by browsing to the IP address or FQDN of any node in the vRealize Operations management cluster (master node or replica node). During the installation process the admin interface is presented, after installation the IP address or FQDN resolves to the user interface. To access the admin interface browse to https:///admin where is the IP address or FQDN of either node in the management cluster. For supported browsers see the vRealize Operations Manager 6.4 Release Notes.

The next step is to configure the vCenter Adapter to collect and analyse data. Select Administration from the left hand navigation pane. From the Solutions menu select VMware vSphere and click the Configure icon.

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Enter the vCenter Server details and credentials with administrator access.

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Click Test Connection to validate connectivity to the vCenter Server.

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Expand Advanced Settings and review the default settings, these can be changed if required. Click Define Monitoring Goals and review the default policy, again this can be changed to suit your environment.

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When you’re ready click Save Settings and Close. The vCenter adapter will now begin collecting data. Collection cycles begin every 5 minutes, depending on the size of your environment the initial collection may take more than one cycle.

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Once data has been collected from the vCenter Server go back to the Home page and browse the different tabs and dashboards.

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Customise your vRealize Operations Manager instance to suit you environment using the VMware guides below.

Windows 2016 Storage Spaces Direct

Storage Spaces Direct for Windows Server 2016 is a software defined storage solution providing pooled storage resources across industry standard servers with attached local drives. Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) is able to provide scalability, built-in fault tolerance, resource efficiency, high performance, simplified management, and cost savings.

Storage Spaces Direct is a feature included at no extra cost with Datacentre editions of Windows Server 2016. S2D can be deployed across Windows clusters comprising of between 2 and 16 physical servers, with over 400 drives, using the Software Storage Bus to establishe a software-defined storage fabric spanning the cluster. Existing clusters can be scaled out by simply adding more drives, or more servers to the cluster. Storage Spaces Direct will automatically detect additional resources and absorb these drives into the pool; redistributing existing volumes. Resiliency is provided across not only drives, components, and servers; but can also be configured for chasis, rack, and site fault tolerance by creating fault domains to which the data spread will comply. The video below provided by Microsoft goes into more detail about fault domains and how they provide resiliency.

Furthermore volumes can be configured to use mirror resiliency or parity resiliency to protect data. Using mirror resiliency provides resiliency to drive and server failures by storing a default of 3 copies across different drives in different servers. This is a simple deployment with minimal CPU overhead but a relatively inefficient use of storage. Alternatively we can use parity resiliency, where parity symbols are spread across a larger set of data symbols to provide both drive and server resiliency, but also a more efficient use of storage resources (requires 4 physical servers). You can learn more about both these methods at the Volume Resiliency blog by Microsoft.

The main use case for Storage Spaces Direct is a private cloud (either on or off-premises) using one of two deployment models. Hyper-Converged where compute and storage reside on the same servers, in this use case virtual machines would sit directly on top of the volumes provided by S2D. Using a Private Cloud Storage or Converged deployment method S2D is disaggregated from the hypervisor, providing a separate storage cluster for larger-scale deployments such as Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service). A SoFS (Scale-out File Server) is built on S2D to provide network-attached storage over SMB3 file shares.

Storage Spaces Direct is configured using a number of PowerShell cmdlets, and utilises Failover Clustering and Cluster Shared Volumes. For instructions on enabling and configuring S2D see Configuring Storage Spaces Direct – Step by Step, Robert Keith, Argon Systems. The requirements are as follows:

  • Windows Server 2016 Datacentre Edition.
  • Minimum of 2 servers, maximum of 16, with local-attached SATA, SAS, or NVMe drives.
  • Each server must have at least 2 solid-state drives plus at least 4 additional drives, the read/write cache uses the fastest media present by default.
  • The SATA and SAS devices should be behind a HBA and SAS expander.
  • Storage Spaces Direct uses SMB3, including SMB Direct and SMB Multichannel, over Ethernet to communicate between servers. 10 GbE or above is recommended for optimum performance.
  • All hardware must support SMB (Server Message Block) and RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access).

s2ddeployments

VMware VSAN 6.2 Install Guide

A new version of Virtual SAN is now available: VMware vSAN 6.5 Install Guide.

VMware VSAN is an enterprise class, high performance, shared storage solution for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. VSAN utilises server attached flash devices and local hard disk drives to create a highly resilient shared datastore across hosts in a vSphere cluster. To achieve high availability VMware administrators previously needed to connect to a SAN, NAS or DAS device, VSAN removes the need for dedicated external shared storage by adding a software layer that can leverage local server hardware to provide the same resiliency and feature set.

Virtual SAN is uniquely embedded within the hypervisor kernel, directly in the I/O path allowing it to make rapid data placement decisions. This means that VSAN can produce the highest levels of performance without taking compute resources, as opposed to other storage virtual appliances that run separately on top of the hypervisor. VSAN provides the flexibility of hybrid storage all the way up to all-flash architectures; delivering over 6M IOPS.

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Key Features

  • Data protection and availability with built in failure tolerance, asynchronous long distance replication, and stretched clusters between geographically separate sites
  • Leverages distributed RAID and cache mirroring to protect data against loss of a disk, host network or rack
  • Minimises storage latency by accelerating read/write disk I/O traffic with built in caching on server attached flash devices
  • Software based duduplication and compression with minimal CPU and memory overhead
  • The ability to grow storage capacity and performance by adding new nodes or drives without disruption
  • VM-centric storage policies to automate balancing and provisioning of storage resources and QoS
  • Fully integrates with the VMware stack including vMotion, High Availability, Fault Tolerance, Site Recovery Manager, vRealize Automation, and vRealize Operations
  • No additional install, appliances, or management interfaces

Requirements

  • VMware vCenter Server 6.0 U1 or later
  • vSphere 6.0 U2 or above, vSphere with Operations Management 6.1 or above, or vCloud Suite 6.0 or above
  • A minimum of 3 hosts in a cluster (max 64), however you can work around this by having 2 onsite capacity contributing hosts and one offsite witness host that does not contribute capacity
  • Each capacity contributing host in the cluster must contain at least one flash drive for cache and one flash or HDD for persistent storage
  • SATA/SAS HBA or RAID controller
  • Minimum of 1 GB NICs but 10 GB is recommended (10 GB required for all-flash)
  • Layer 2 multicast must be enabled on the physical switch that handles VSAN traffic, IPv4 only
  • If you are deploying VSAN to your existing hardware or not using the VMware hyper-converged software stack then check the Hardware Compatibility Guide.

Licensing

VSAN is licensed per CPU or per VDI desktop and comes in three tiers; standard, advanced, and enterprise. For QoS and stretched clusters you need enterprise licensing, all-flash support, inline deduplication and compression requires advanced licensing. Standard covers all other features.

To provide further flexibility and reduced costs VMware have also introduced Virtual SAN for Desktop and Virtual SAN for ROBO. Virtual SAN for Desktop is licensed per concurrent user and sold in packs of 10 and 100, this limits the use of VSAN to VDI users only. Virtual SAN for ROBO (Remote Office Branch Office) is sold in packs of 25 VMs and is limited to 25 VMs per site.

VSAN Ports

We must first ensure each host in the cluster is configured with a VMkernel port for use with VSAN traffic.

In the vSphere web client browse to each of the hosts in the designated cluster for which you intend to use VSAN, open the Manage tab and click Networking. For production environments consider using a multiple physical NICs in a standard switch or uplinks in a distributed switch.

For the purposes of this lab environment click VMKernel Adapters and select the Management network, click the Edit Settings icon. Add Virtual SAN traffic to the list of available services and click Ok. The VSAN traffic will now share the management network, this is not recommended for production workloads.

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If you would prefer to setup separate networking for VSAN traffic click the Add Host Networking icon. Select the connection type as VMkernel Network Adapter and click Next.

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Configure the switch settings, network adapters, and IP settings then click Finish.

VSAN Configuration

There is no additional software installation required for VSAN, as the components are already embedded in the hypervisor we can simply enable the required features from the vSphere web client.

To enable VSAN browse to the appropriate cluster in the vSphere web client and click the Manage tab. Expand Virtual SAN and select General, you will see a message that Virtual SAN is not enabled, so click Configure

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Review the options on the VSAN capabilities page, select any appropriate features you wish to consider. Hover over the grey information circle for further information about the available options, when you’re ready click Next.

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The network validation page will confirm that each host in the cluster has a valid VSAN kernel port, click Next.

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On the claim disks page select the disks to add to the cache and capacity pools then click Next and Finish.

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The virtual SAN will now pool the selected resources into the VSAN datastore and you can start provisioning machines right away. VSAN creates and presents a single datastore, containing all disks, for each vSphere cluster.

If you are interested in learning more about VSAN Duncan Epping has compiled a list of all the VSAN resources you’ll need, and then some. VMware also have a hosted evaluation of VSAN you can try out with Hands On Labs.

Deploying EMC Unity VSA

The EMC Unity product line is a mid-range storage platform built completely from the group up as an eventual replacement for most VNX and VNXe use cases. The Unity virtual storage appliance is a software defined storage platform bringing the software intelligence of Unity arrays to your existing storage infrastructure.

The Unity VSA is ideal for remote office and branch offices (ROBO) as well as hardware consolidation and IT staging and testing. It comes in a 4 TB free community edition and a subscription based professional edition which seamlessly scales up from 10 TB to 20 or 50 TB. The virtual storage appliance includes all the features of the Unity range such as replication, data protection snapshots, FAST VP auto-tiering and more.

See also EMC Unity Setup Guide, which covers a walkthrough on the setup of a physical Unity array.

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Key features

  • Affordable software defined solution
  • Deploy to your existing storage infrastructure
  • Quick and easy setup of CIFS, NFS and iSCSI
  • Unified block, file and VMware VVOLs support
  • Allows VMware administrators to manage storage from vCenter
  • HTML5-enabled Unisphere management
  • Manage virtual storage and physical arrays together

Requirements

  • ESXi 5.5 or later (must be ESXi 6.0 or later for VVOLs)
  • The use of VMware vCenter Server to manage ESXi is optional but recommended
  • The Unity VSA requires 2 vCPU, 12 GB RAM and 6 NICs (4 ports for I/O, 1 for Unisphere, 1 for system use)

If you are deploying the Unity VSA in a production environment then you should consider how the data is stored across your existing hardware ensuring RAID and HA are configured appropriately. If you are presenting VMware datastores or virtual volumes then contact EMC support for best practises and the VMware vStorage APIs for Storage Integration (VAAI) and vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA).

Deploying Unity VSA

Download the OVA file from https://www.emc.com/products-solutions/trial-software-download/unity-vsa.htm and deploy the OVA to vSphere. Accept the extra configuration options, this is just to disable time synchronisation of the virtual machine as it is controlled from within the appliance.

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The only customisation settings required are the system name and network settings.

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Once the appliance has been deployed right click the virtual machine and select Edit Settings. Add the virtual hard disks required for the file systems on your virtual appliance, this can be done later but you will not be able to create any storage pools until additional disks are added. Note that virtual hard disks 1 – 3 are for system use and should not be modified.

Powered on the appliance, when it has fully booted browse to the IP address configured during the OVF deployment process. Log in with the default user of admin with password Password123#.

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The Unisphere configuration wizard will auto start, click Next.

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Accept the license agreement and click Next.

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Configure the admin and service passwords, click Next.

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Obtain a license key from https://www.emc.com/auth/elmeval.htm and click Install License to upload the .lic file, click Next.

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Configure the DNS servers and click Next.

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Configure the NTP servers and click Next.

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You can create a pool now or later. To create a storage pool now click Create Pools. Unisphere scans for virtual disks available to the VM that can be used for a storage pool. Once the storage pool has been created click Next.

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Configure the SMTP server and recipients for email alerts, click Next.

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Add the network interfaces to use for iSCSI and click Next.

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Add a NAS server to store metadata, click Next.

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This concludes the Unisphere configuration wizard.

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You will be returned to the Unisphere dashboard.

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The virtual storage appliance has now been deployed and uses the same software and Unisphere interface as its hardware counterpart. From here you can go ahead and setup CIFS and NFS shares or present iSCSI targets.