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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