VSA Cluster ServiceRecently I’ve been writing and publishing a series of articles on the vSphere Storage Appliance on the VMware Storage blog. There is quite of bit of interest on this solution now that it supports centralize and de-centralized management of multiple VSA Clusters. One of the new features of the VSA 5.1 is that it allows you to centrally manage multiple two node or three node clusters from a single instance of vCenter Server. I’ve covered the VSA centralized management for ROBO topic in lengthy details in the VMware Storage blog so I recommend reading those articles to get up to speed on that.

One of the big topics around the use of VSA for ROBO is around the correct use and deployment of the VSA Cluster Service (VSACS). It’s important to know that all scenarios that will be based on two clusters require the deployment of the VSACS. The requirements for this solution demands for the VSACS to reside outside of the resources provided by the VSA Cluster in order to avoid  VSA Cluster service outages. The options available for the deployment of the VSACS range from using an virtual machine, an existing shared physical system or an inexpensive hardware appliance that meets the applications requirements.

So in an effort to simplify implementation and even possibly reduce the cost around the management and implementation of  two node VSA cluster scenarios the utilization of the vMA appliance can be considered. The vMA appliance i snow build on top of one of the Linux distribution (SLES) supported by the VSACS and it presents the following benefits to this solution:

  • Preconfigured and support Operating system
  • Free of charge
  • Small footprint
In order to install the VSA Cluster Service bits on to the vMA appliance there is a required tool called (gettext) that is not part of the default installation of the vMA which needs to be installed before installing the VSACS. Im going to provide the step-by-step procedure on how to get this done. All the stuff I’ve learned about modifying and customizing the vMA appliance have come from William Lam (@lamw) one of my colleagues at VMware. If you want to know more about working with the vMA appliance check out his blog and particularly an article called Tips and Tricks for vMA 5.
To successfully install the vSphere Storage Appliance Cluster Service execute the following steps:
Prepare vMA

In order to installed the vMA require tool called gettext you’ll need to use a package management tool found in SLES called zypper. The first that needs to be done is to add a repository where the bits for gettext can be downloaded from. Use the exact command illustrated in the screenshot below. yes, that is a space before the 11.1 so don’t get rid of it otherwise you will get an error when executed.
  • Add zypper repository and validate successful completion
Add zypper repository
  • Refresh the zypper repository as it is most likely outdated
Zypper Refresh
  •  Search for the gettext tool via zypper in order to install the correct bits
Download Gettext
  • Install the gettext-tools bits
Gettext installation
At this point all the require components for the vMA have been successfully installed. The next step are around the installation of the VSA Cluster Service (VSACS). I covered the deployment of the VSA Cluster Service in great detail on one of my vSphere Storage blog posts called vCloud Suite – VSA 5.1 Cluster Service Considerations for Successful Deployments Series – Part 2. The article contains step-by-step instructions and screen shots on how to successfully install the VSACS  on Linux. The image below illustrates the successful installation of the VSA Cluster Service on the vMA appliance.
Installation the VSA Cluster Service

  • Copy or transfer the VSA Cluster Service bits to the /tmp directory of the vMA Appliance
Unzip the VSACS Bits
  • unzip the VSA Cluster Service bits to the /tmp directory of the vMA Appliance
Unzip the VSACS Bits
  • Verify the install.sh file has the adequate permissions to execution on the installation
Install file Permission Verification
  • Run the install.sh script to launch the installation of the VSA Cluster Service. The results illustrated in the screen shot below are common and you can safely ignore the insserv: script exec is broken warnings as they don’t have any effect on the operations of the service. One of the requirements of VSA Cluster Service is to have 2GB of available storage capacity. The warning regarding the recommended space is display in the screen shot below. The vMA appliance I used for this post was not modify to meet the storage capacity requirement. I recommend to do so during or after the deployment of the vMA appliance.
Complete Installation
  • Create a password for the vmwarevcsadmin service account that was created as part of the installation. This password will be needed when creating the VSA Cluster from the VSA Manager.
Service Account Password Change
  • Restart the VSAClusterService service and if everything looks as illustrated below, you’re ready to move on to the VSA Manager and start the deployment and configuration of the VSA Clusters.
Shout outs! to my boy William Lam (@lamw) for helping out with all the goodies for the vMA Appliance and all that good stuff.  

Also another shout out to other boys Todd D’Amore (@tdamore) and Les Mayor (@CrazyStingyLes) The Chinese food was good thanks

 – Enjoy Folks

For future updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter at  @PunchingClouds