Have you ever stumbled upon a VxRail deployment and you do not have a systematic approach on how to install a VxRail cluster? Do not worry we have got you covered!

VxRail deployments can be very daunting if pre-requisites are not met properly. VxRail cluster is a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure that can be built with at least 3 nodes and can expand up to 64 nodes.

We will try to be very comprehensive in explaining the pre-requisites and commands that you need to key in and the points which you need to take care of when installing a VxRail Cluster. We will be covering a fresh VxRail install in this post.

Pre-Requisites Before We Start

Here are a few considerations / pre-requisites that we need to keep in mind before we start building the cluster. So, let us get started.

  1. IP Addresses – You should have static IP addresses ready for your nodes. Each VxRail node requires 4 IP addresses namely ESXi host, vMotion, VSAN, and iDRAC. Ensure to keep VxRail Manager components like VxRail Manager, vCenter Server, vRealize Log Insight, and ESXi hosts in the same subnet.
  2. VLANs – We need to keep every component in different VLANs as per best practices. We need six different VLANs for the following: Private Management Network, External Management Network, vMotion, VSAN, iDRAC, and at least one guest VM network. VxRail Manager appliance uses VLAN 3939 for internal communication between the nodes by default. If you do not wish to segregate VxRail Private Management Network from the External Management Network, then you can change it.
  3. DNS Entries – Forward and reverse lookup entries should be configured on your DNS server for VxRail Manager, ESXi hosts, vCenter, PSC, Log Insight.

Let’s Get Started

After the pre-requisites are met then we can begin the installation, we need to access the iDRAC IP of the primary VxRail node. The VxRail Manager runs on the node with the lowest serial number by default.

After accessing the iDRAC of the primary node, launch the KVM console and follow the below-mentioned steps:

Step 1. ENABLE ESXi SHELL – Press F2 and enter the ESXi password. The default password is “Passw0rd!”. Scroll down to Troubleshooting Mode Options and Enable ESXi Shell. To access the ESXi shell press Alt+F1.

Step 2. ENSURE ALL VxRail NODE’S TIME IS SYNCHRONISED – We need to ensure if the hardware clock is synchronized among all the nodes otherwise the build will fail if nodes have more than 10 minutes of the time difference between them. We are going to set up UTC time on the nodes and to do so go to Shell and enter the command.

“esxcli system time set -H (hour) -m (minute)”

Step 3. VLAN CONFIGURATION – If you intend to use different VLANs for Private and External Management Network, then go to Shell and enter the following command:

“esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup set -p “Management Network” -v (VLAN ID)”
“esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup set -p “VM Network” -v (VLAN ID)”

Please note that you would need to set up the same VLAN ID for both the portgroups and if you wish to change the Private Management Network VLAN ID then use the below mentioned commands:

“esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup set -p “Private Management Network” -v (VLAN ID)”
“esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup set -p “Private VM Network” -v (VLAN ID)”

Once done with VLAN configuration, verify the VLAN configuration by using the following command:

“esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup list”

Step 4. INITIALISING VxRail MANAGER – The next step is to assign an IP to the VxRail Manager VM. Use the following command after setting up VLANs:

“vxrail-primary –setup –vxrail-address x.x.x.x –vxrail-netmask x.x.x.x –vxrail-gateway x.x.x.x –no-roll-back –verbose”

This commands triggers initialization, ESXi node powers on VxRail Manager VM assigns an IP address to it, initializes vSAN, services, etc. on it.

Once the IP address is assigned on the VxRail Manager VM, you can verify if VxRail Manager VM is running on the node by using this command.

“esxcli vm process list”

Step 5. INITIALIZING OTHER NODES FOR DISCOVERY – Set up time and VLAN on other nodes of the clusters as well so that VxRail Manager can discover them. After you have configured other nodes, run the following command on all of the nodes including the one where you have set up VxRail Manager VM.

“/etc/init.d/loudmouth restart”

VxRail nodes use VMware Loudmouth protocol to discover and to communicate with each other after discovery. This command will force the nodes and the manager to restart the nodes discovery.

It might take almost 15 minutes for VxRail Manager to discover the nodes.

Step 6. KEYING IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT DETAILS – After completing the above-mentioned steps, we are ready for the big move. Access the VxRail Manager IP in your browser. A form will open up. The form shall contain the following details which you have to fill:

  • System – NTP server IP and NIC configuration (4X1G, 2X10G, 2X25G)
    • Networks – Domain name, ESXi host names, Host name, and IP addresses for VxRail Manager and vCenter, subnet mask, etc.
    • vSphere vMotion – IP addresses, subnet mask, and VLAN ID for vMotion network
    • vSAN – IP addresses, subnet mask, and VLAN ID for vSAN network
    • VM Networks – Enter the VM Network name and VLAN ID on this page.
    • Solutions – This page is all about vRealize Log Insight, enter the IP address and host name for Log Insight.
    • Accounts – Enter the passwords for the vCenter management user, mystic user, ESXi management, and root user.
  • Review and proceed to build the cluster.

If you are looking for Planning / Designing / Implementation services for your Hyper-Converged Infrastructure or if you are looking for consulting services on migrating from a traditional environment to Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, reach out to Zindagi Professional Services where we have a team of certified SMEs with 20+ years of industry experience. For any further queries give us a call at +919773973971.

Sumit Yadav
Data Center Consulting Engineer.