EqualLogic iSCSI setup script for VMware vSphere

Working for a Dell partner you can imagine that we sell and install a lot of EqualLogic Arrays. They have served their purpose very well in the small-medium size business arena very well in the last few years.  The “built in” model has become very popular for Dells EqualLogic line. Everything from Replication, Snapshots, Multipath Modules, etc comes with any EqualLogic array out of the box.  There are also technologies included for monitoring performance and capacity of your array(s), SAN HQ, as well as Application Consistent utilities for protection of SQL, Exchange, etc Autosnapshot Manager/Microsoft Edition and my favorite utility for vSphere, the Virtual Storage Manager Appliance.

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Today I want to focus on easy setup using the VMware vMA Appliance or vSphere CLI.   A little know secret is that Dell includes a setup.pl script that can be used to configure your iSCSI vSwitch, vmnics, iSCSI vmk’s, port bindings, the software iSCSI HBA, etc.  It doesn’t stop there, however. Dell has recommended advanced configurations when using EqualLogic and vSphere to include enabling Jumbo Frames, setting DelayedAck off, increasing iSCSI login timeout settings, and finally turning off TCP offload.

When done manually in an environment this can get tedious as these are all Host Specific settings.

No worries, however.  Dell includes a setup.pl script in the MEM download package.  You can download the EqualLogic Multipathing Extension Module here. The latest version at the time of writing this is 1.2.   Of course you will need an EqualLogic support login and password which you can setup if you are a Partner or EqualLogic customer.

You will need a few things to get started depending on the route you select to install and setup iSCSI for your environment.  In this article, we will focus on using vSphere Update Manager to install the Multipathing Extension Module Extension, and a combination of vSphere CLI and the Setup.pl script included with the Dell MEM package, to complete the configuration of iSCSI.

You can certainly use the vMA if you’d like, and i’m sure you can use PowerCLI.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to setup a PowerCLI script to do this as of yet.  You can also manually install the VIB for the Dell MEM as well if you wanted.  There are several ways of doing this, however, I have been using this method with great speed and efficiency so i’ll focus on how I do it. By all means, if you wanted to put the effort in to make this process more efficient, then I implore you to do so.

Things you’ll need to get started:

1. vSphere CLI (latest can be downloaded here – vSphere CLI 5.5.0U1)

2. Dell Multipathing Extension Module 1.2 (latest can be downloaded here – Dell MEM 1.2)

3. ESXi Host with available interfaces for iSCSI, should be preconfigured on the Switch side.  No other iSCSI configuration is required, the script will handle it on the host side.  (Remember, Dell validates and provides Tier 1 Support to only a certain set of Switches for EqualLogic Arrays.   There are also specific configurations which you can find on the Dell Rapid EqualLogic Configuration Portal)

After you have downloaded and extracted the .zip file you will see these files within:

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Let’s get to it.

– Install the vSphere CLI software that you downloaded above.  Very easy install, not going to screenshot it or go through the steps.  If you can’t install this software, I would say that you shouldn’t be doing this at all.

– After extracting the files from the Dell MEM .zip file, there will be another .zip file within the list of extracted files.  This is the VIB package containing the Multipathing Extension Module that will need to be installed on the host.  Upload this file via Update Manager.  Under the ADMIN view of Update Manager, go to PATCH REPOSITORY, and select IMPORT PATCHES.  Select the .zip file and import it into the repository:

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Now that you have the MEM Extension imported into the Patch Repository, you can now create an Extension Baseline and attach to the host(s):

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Now that the Extension Baseline is built we need to attach it to the hosts and run a SCAN operation against the Baseline.  This will allow us to REMEDIATE and install the Extension.  Now, I want to point out one thing here. There isn’t a reboot after installing this Extension and it IS needed which I will get to later.

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Now that the remediation is done, you should manually reboot your ESXi host. This will alleviate is issues later when we run the script and setup our iSCSI configuration per Dell EqualLogic best practice.

Let’s move on to the script. Earlier in this post, I showed you the files after the extraction of the Dell MEM download. In that folder is a file named setup.pl. You can copy this file anywhere you’d like on your PC that we will be running the script from. If you’re using the vMA, you can copy this to a directory in the vMA appliance.

After you have configured your iSCSI switch fabric, and determined what vmnic’s will be used for iSCSI as well as IP Addresses for the iSCSI vmk’s, we can run the script against your host(s).

Open up vSphere CLI. I like to go to the directory i’m running the script from because it’s less that you would need to type like putting the path for the script in first before you even get to the configuration.

There is a document within the extracted folder that outlines the script and the options if you want further detail.

To run the script:

setup.pl –sever=x.x.x.x –username=root –password=xxxx –configure –ips=x.x.x.x,x.x.x.x,x.x.x.x,x.x.x.x –nics=vmnicx,vmnicx,vmnicx,vmnicx –mtu=9000 –enableswiscsi –nohwiscsi –groupip=x.x.x.x

Let me explain all the x’s so you know what to input in those fields:

–server=IP OF HOST

–ips=IP’s of iSCSI vmk’s

–nics=iSCSI vmnics identified prior to this exercise

–groupip=IP of your EqualLogic Group (VIP for iSCSI connections)

After I run this on my test environment I get this output:

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Here, you can see exactly what is happening when the script is running. It’s not only configuring your hosts for iSCSI but also EqualLogic recommended settings when using EqualLogic with vSphere. This saves a ton of time going from host to host to configure all of this. Here are the settings via the vSphere Client UI: (Note that the script example may not reflect the actual screenshots for the exact host, I just wanted to show the end state of a host for iSCSI configuration after the script was ran)

Creation of the vSwitch and vmk’s:

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Here you can see the proper Network Teaming with the NO Failback option:

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Configuration of the Software iSCSI Adapater:

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Advanced option settings per EqualLogic recommendations with vSphere:

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Let’s run a query to validate the SATP and PSP for your Volumes:

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There ya have it! Setting up iSCSI with the EqualLogic script and vSphere CLI. Comments and questions welcome.

EqualLogic HIT/VE upgrade to VSM IS Possible

In November 2012, Dell introduced a refresh of their HIT/VE (Host Integration Tookit/Virtual Edition) that came with the EqualLogic Array.  The refresh would be called VSM (VIrtual Storage Manager).

During this time, I had several EqualLogic customers where we had implemented new arrays with the current Host Integration Appliance.

This appliance essentially manages the interaction with vSphere and your EqualLogic arrays via a vCenter Plugin or set of plugins pictured here (Please disregard the EMC and NetApp Plugins):

Screen-shot-2011-03-05-at-22.12.16

 

Within this plugin, users had the ability to deploy datastores across their vSphere hosts within vCenter or to create Smart Copy local and Smart Copy Replication schedules between multiple appliances/arrays at disparate sites for offsite recovery and protection.

Some of these schedules, depending on the size of the vSphere environment, could be very large and detailed, with different protection schemes setup for the types of applications.

When the new Virtual Storage Manager appliance came onto the scene in November 2012, there was some confusion both internally at Dell and the partner Community on an upgrade path to the VSM appliance.  I had several calls into EqualLogic support and asked for documentation and was not comfortable at the answers I was given.  Most said there wasn’t an upgrade path from HIT/VE to VSM as it was an entirely new database etc.  On top of that, the documentation is not clear.  To this day, it states that you can upgrade and then provides a note at the bottom of the VSM Installation guide that this does not apply going from HIT/VE to VSM?

I decided to escalate within EQL support, and finally spoke to a Support Engineer who was in the know, entirely.

The fact is, you CAN upgrade from HIT/VE to VSM AND retain the Smart Copy Snapshots and Smart Copy Replicas as well as the schedules.  Here is the upgrade process in order:

 

1.  Unregister the current HIT/VE from vCenter.

2. Backup the current Database from within the DCUI on the appliance itself and connect to the UNC path of the db within the directions in the DCUI.

3. Take a vSphere based snap of the appliance.

4. Download the latest VSM appliance from the EqualLogic support page.

5. Mount the .iso to the HIT Appliance.

6. From the main menu, choose to upgrade appliance.

7. After it reboots it will reregister with the new VSM appliance and you should now see this plugin:

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8. Validate that all the Schedules and Smart Copies are intact.

9. Delete the vSphere Snapshot.

10. Delete the db backup.

Here is a link to the VSM installation guide.  See page 13 for the upgrade details.  Of course you will need your EQL support login info to access this page:  https://eqlsupport.dell.com/support/download_file.aspx?id=1967&langtype=1033

There ya have it.   Very simple process and if something happens, you can call EqualLogic support and you’ll have the db backup at your disposal to recover from.