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vCloud Suite – VSA 5.1 Cluster Service Considerations & Successful Deployments Series – Part 1

The new vSphere Storage Appliance 5.1 (VSA) introduced a great deal of new enhancements and capabilities to address the needs and use cases of small business (SMB) and adjacent markets such as remote office/branch office (ROBO). One particular enhancement I will cover as the first part of this blog series is the new VSA Cluster Service and its consideration for successful deployments.

So let’s start with the topic of reference and identify what the VSA Cluster Service is and what does.

The VSA Cluster Service (VSACS) is a service that is normally installed on the vCenter Server during the VSA Manager installation. This particular service is installed by default for all VSA configurations but is predominantly used in scenarios where the VSA cluster is composed of two members. The VSACS enhances the availability of the VSA Cluster by acting as a third member in the event one of the VSA cluster members fails.

In such situation, the online status of two out of three members maintains the online status of the cluster. Now regardless of where the VSACS is installed it’s important to understand that the VSACS will not be provide any storage volume or capacity to the VSA datastores.

Now that we know what the VSA Cluster Service is and what it does let’s discuss the first deployment scenario of this series.

  • Successfully deploy the vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) in a two node cluster where vCenter Server and VSA Cluster Service reside outside of the VSA Cluster in a single site.
VSA Cluster Service Deployment Scenario Part 1

VSA Cluster Service Pt1 B
This scenario can be considered for many different situations such as the examples below as well as others:
  • Requirements for dedicated compute and storage resources for specific set of applications
  • Requirements for applications performance and high availability
  • Requirements to host the management services outside of the VSA Cluster
  • Requirements to implement management services on physical servers

The VSA Cluster Service is an important component for this type of scenario because its needs to be installed onto a separate system (VM or physical). The VSA Cluster service is a requirement for VSA Clusters with two nodes. The VSA Cluster Services software bits are available as a separate download in two different versions (Windows and Linux). They can be downloaded separately from the VMware download site.  It’s recommended to check the VMware Compatibility Guides to identify the latest supported version of Windows and Linux operating systems.

The installation of the VSA Cluster Service needs to be successfully completed prior to creation of a VSA Cluster. The VSA Cluster Service is a requirement for two node VSA Clusters deployments. When deploying the VSA Cluster Service on a separate system be aware of these service dependencies and requirements.and take into consideration.

  • Installation requires 2GB of local space
  • Installation of the VSA Cluster Service bits require elevated privileges (administrator)
  • The VSA Cluster Service has to be in the same network segment as the other members of the cluster. If this is not done correctly you won’t be able to configure the cluster from the VSA Manager. The VSA Manager will produce an error message similar to the one below:

VSA Manager Error

  • Maintain a single VSA Cluster Service instance per server
  • The server that will use to host the VSA Cluster Service should not be a multi-home system with multiple IP addresses
  • Make sure the range of network ports 4330 – 4339 are available for communication and not in used by any other process before starting the VSA Cluster Service.
  • If the VSA Cluster Service will be hosted on a virtual machine dedicate a the following compute resources in order to prevent the VSA Cluster service outages due to resource overcommitment:
    • 100% Memory Reservation
    • A minimum reservation of 500MHz of CPU
  • Disable IPv6 if its enabled on server where the VSA Cluster Service will be install

VSA Cluster Service VM Reservations

VSA CS VM Reservations

VSA Cluster Service Installation – Windows

  • Download the VSA Cluster Service bits from VMware Download site. The current build as of the time of this writing are listed below:
    • Windows – VMware-vsaclusterservice-all-5.1.0-859644.exe
  • Disable IPv6 if its enable on the system
  • Launch the executable package and follow the wizard. The wizard presents one screen that requires the input of the password to be used by the vmwarevcsadmin service account. This account is created automatically and will be use to run as a service. This password will be needed with the VSA Cluster is being created by the VSA Manager.

VSA Cluster Service – Service Account

VSA SC Service Account

  • Confirm the VSASC is installed successfully
  • Validate service Startup Type is set to Automatic
  • Validate the Log On As service account is the vmwarevcsadmin

VSA Cluster Service – Configuration Validation

VSA CS Service

By following these considerations and steps you will successfully configure the VSA Cluster Service for the VSA Manager when deploying two node VSA Clusters.

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Rawlinson Rivera

About Rawlinson Rivera

Rawlinson is a Senior Architect in the Cloud Infrastructure Technical Marketing Group at VMware focused on Software-Defined Storage technologies primarily responsible for Virtual SAN, Virtual Volumes, and OpenStack. As a previous Architect in VMware's Cloud Infrastructure & Management Professional Services Organization, Rawlinson specialized on vSphere and Cloud enterprise architectures for VMware's fortune 100, 500 customers. Rawlinson is amongst the few VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#86) in the world, and author of multiple books based on VMware and other technologies.

7 thoughts on “vCloud Suite – VSA 5.1 Cluster Service Considerations & Successful Deployments Series – Part 1

  1. Pingback: vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) – Useful Links [Updated] | VMware vSphere Blog - VMware Blogs

  2. Whreachelle Cordova

    Hi, I have created a VSA cluster, vMotion is working fine. I was able to migrate all vms to data store. But HA is not working.

    I have 2 nodes everything is configured. Everytime I put the node on maintenance mode to test the HA it is not working. It will not give me error. I see on the recent task that it will stack on 2% putting esxi into maitenance mode.

    1. Rawlinson

      Check and make sure that none of the VMs have anything that will keep them from being vMotioned. Check attached CD-ROM images, snapshots,etc.
      That error sounds like a typical migration problem when the VM’s are trying to be migrated or turned off.

  3. Ulix

    Is it possible to run a VSA Cluster with two ESXi Hosts and having two (Linux VMs) running the Cluster Services simultaneously on each host (on local storage)?

  4. Sven

    We have a customer with 400x ROBO´s and we will install a 2x node Cluster in every Shop.

    Monitoring and Management will be in one Datacenter with Vcenter.

    We need an Cluster Service for every Shop (VSACS) and now we don´t know what solution is better ?

    1. A single PC with VSACS on Linux in every of the 400x Stores ?

    or

    2. 400x Instances of Cluster Service in the Datacenter to connect the VSA with Cluster Service about a long distance MPLS-Connection ?

    We think the first solution with a PC works but it is expensive and the monitoring is bad and the second solution we ClusterService in the Datacenter is cheap but unreliable and is it certified from VMware ?

    What did you think ? what ist best practice ? wich solution is certified ?

    Thank you

    Sven

  5. Roland Gemmert

    Hello,

    I’d like to create a split-site configuration with two hosts in different fire sections of the same building.

    Section A: ESXi 1 (VSA1) + ESXi 3 (VM with VSA Cluster Service)
    Section B: ESXi 2 (VSA2)

    ESXi 2 has got a replica of the VM with VSA Cluster Service. If section A burns down my cluster goes down, sure, but i will be able to connect directly to ESXi 2 with vSphere Client, start the replicated VM and my VSA Cluster will go online in a degraded state.

    What do you recommend to do in case of my cluster is a three host cluster and section A consists of two VSA hosts?
    How can i bring back VSA online or in degraded state as fast as possible? I’d like to run vCenter with VSA manager on VSA too, so this won’t be reachable.
    My favorite option would be working with three fire sections, but this is unfortunately not possible.
    As far as I can see there is no good solution, isn’t it?

    Second question: is it possible to recover a two host cluser, if i lost the VSA Cluster Service, one VSA host and my vCenter?
    I know about recovering one VSA host, the VSA Cluster Service or the vCenter, but in my opinion I only can lost one component.

    thanks for any advice,
    roland

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