VMware vSphere 6 Getting Started

Following are the steps on how to get started with vSphere 6 on the SoftLayer Cloud.

Environment Landscape and Configuration

To optimize your VMware solution it is recommended to trunk three Private Network’s VLANs and one Public Network Provisioned (Optional, Public Port can be disabled if not needed) into your VMware vSphere environment. This provisioning profile allows for the following Layer 2 segment traffic boundaries:

Example VLAN ID

Description Type Additional Detail
VLAN1 - 1101 Management, VxLAN Private BCR Native Untagged VLAN, Original Native VLAN that the VMWare Hosts are deployed in to at the time of ordering
VLAN2 - 1102 Storage, vSAN Private BCR Tagged VLAN
VLAN3 - 1103 vMotion Private BCR Tagged VLAN
VLAN4 - 2200 Public Internet Access DMZ Public FCR Native Untagged VLAN, Original Native VLAN that the VMWare Hosts are deployed in to at the time of ordering

 

Figure: Recommended vSphere architecture on SoftLayer

Place order for vSphere Servers

  1. Login to SoftLayer Control Portal (control.softlayer.com)
  2. Click Account > Place an Order.
  3. Under Bare Metal Server section click the Monthly link.
  4. Select appropriately sized servers. Refer to VMware Support publications for minimum requirements:

    The following servers were selected for our example. Note that having dual unbonded public and private uplinks is a requirement to provide redundancy; confirm that the data center where you created your VLANs has this capability. 


    • Capacity Cluster (Quantity: 2)
      • Server configuration: Select a Intel Xeon v3 server from the 'Dual Processor Multi-Core Servers' section
      • Software: OS = vSphere Enterprise Plus 6
      • OS Storage: 2 x 1TB SATA (configured as a RAID 1) 
      • Data Storage : Recommend to order 2TB SATA or 1.2TB SSD or Endurance / Performance NFS SAN Storage
      • Uplink Port Speeds: 1Gbps Dual Public and Private Networks (Unbonded)
        • 10 Gbps Uplinks are recommend for VMware vSAN solutions

     

  5. If this is a new deployment in to a new SoftLayer Data Center proceed to step 6 below, If this is a expansion or deployment in to a existing Data Center be sure to select the preferred Backend BCR VLAN + Frontend FCR VLAN. For our example, our Backend BCR VLAN is 1101 and the Frontend FCR VLAN is 2200. (If this is a brand new deployment or a new deployment in to a new DC the Backend BCR and Frontend FCR VLANs are created when you order the server)

    Figure: VLAN Selection, Backend VLAN drop-down menu

  6. Enter a Hostname and Domain.
  7. Review the order; then click Finalize Your Order to start the provisioning process.

 

Place order for vCenter Server

SoftLayer provides vCenter as an add-on to a Windows Server.  This configuration scales up to 20 vSphere hosts.  For larger implementations, deployment of the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) Deploy and Configure a vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) directly to a vSphere cluster is recommended.

Use the following steps to order a Virtual Server Instance with vCenter installed:

  1. Login to SoftLayer Control Portal (control.softlayer.com)
  2. Click Account > Place an Order.
  3. Order either a Monthly Bare Metal or Virtual Server public/private node Instance (VSI) under Virtual Servers.
    1. For a SoftLayer Virtual Server Instance (VSI) to qualify for vCenter 6.0 you must deploy on at least  4 x 2.0 GHz Cores and 4GB of RAM
    2. For a listing of vCenter  Deployment recommendations please see the VMware vCenter Server™ 6.0 Deployment Guide 
  4. Enter the following:
    • Based on the Recommended Minimum Server Configuration
      • vCPU Core Configuration: 4 x 2.0 GHz Cores
      • RAM Configuration: 12GB RAM
      • Software: OS = Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition (64 Bit)
      • OS-Specific Addon: vCenter 6
      • First Disk  : 1 x 100GB (SAN)
      • Second Disk : 1 x  50GB (SAN)
      • Uplink Port Speeds: 1Gbps Public and Private Network Uplinks
  5. If this is a new deployment in to a new SoftLayer Data Center proceed to step 6 below, If this is a expansion or deployment in to a existing Data Center be sure to select the preferred Backend BCR VLAN + Frontend FCR VLAN. For our example, our Backend BCR VLAN is 1101 and the Frontend FCR VLAN is 2200. (If this is a brand new deployment or a new deployment in to a new DC the Backend BCR and Frontend FCR VLANs are created when you order the server)

    Figure: VLAN Selection, Backend VLAN drop-down menu

  6. Enter a Hostname and Domain.
  7. Review the order; then click Finalize Your Order to start the provisioning process.

Order Additional VLANs

Additional VLANs are requested from SoftLayer support and are associated to the customer account, use the following steps to order the VLANs via a support ticket:

  1. Login to SoftLayer Control Portal (control.softlayer.com)
  2. Click Support > Add Ticket, and enter the following information:

    field value
    Subject Private network question
    Title Order VLANs
    Details

    Please provision 2 primary private networks:

    • Associate 2 x 27/ (32 address) Primary Private Subnet for each of the private VLAN’s.
    • Please create these in Data Center XXX##(e.g., wdc04) for initial use with # VMware vSphere hosts
    Why do you need these additional VLANs? To place hosts, storage, and VMs on a different networks for a VMware environment.
    Do you need public and or private VLANs? Private VLAN
    How many VLANs? Private – 2.
    How many IP addresses do you need? # to # IP addresses for each VLAN.
    What router/pod do you need these VLAN's behind? All VLANs need to be in the same pod as my VMware hosts (reference hostname.domain).
      Note: a Servers router/pod can be found under the devices Network > Private > VLAN section ref: http://knowledgelayer.softlayer.com/faq/what-vlan

    Table 1: Support ticket information

     

  3. Make a note of the VLAN numbers after the networks are provisioned in order to assign them to the vSphere network (see Table 2. Note that your network Data Center + POD and VLAN ID will likely vary).

    Network VLAN ID vSphere vlan usage primary subnet mask subnet reserved for SoftLayer?
    Primary Private – wdc04.bcr01a.1102 1102 Storage, vSAN /26 Yes
    Primary Private – wdc04.bcr01.1103 1103 vMotion /27 Yes

    Table 2: Primary private VLAN sample

Order Portable Public and Private Subnets / IP Addresses

Do not proceed if the VLANs have not been completely provisioned.

The subnets will be utilized for addressing VMware Guest Virtual Machine (VM) and VMware Host kernel-based traffic.

  1. From the SoftLayer Control Portal Click NetworkIP ManagementSubnets.
  2. Click Order IP Addresses on the upper right of the screen.
  3. Select Portable Private
  4. Select the appropriate VLAN (Ex. bcr01.wdc04: 1101, 1102 or 1103)
  5. Click Continue
  6. Complete the Order IP Address form
  7. Click Order IP Addresses on the upper right of the screen.
  8. Click the Place Order button

  9. Follow this process for each applicable VLAN (Ex. 1101, 1102, 1103)
    1. For more information on VLANs please see http://knowledgelayer.softlayer.com/topic/vlans
    Subnet Type subnet size Bound Vlan vSphere host usage
    Portable - Private /27 32 Address 1101 Management VMs
    Portable - Private /27 32 Address 1101 VM kernel ports for iSCSI and vMotion
    Portable - Private /27 32 Address 1101 Private IPs for Guest VM
    Portable - Public /27 32 Address 2200 Public IPs for Guest VMs

    Table 3: Subnets

Open SoftLayer Support Ticket to Trunk VLANs on BCS Switches

NOTE: Only proceed to this step if you ordered your server with unbonded uplinks, if your VMWare Hosts are configured with bonded/redundant uplinks please log a ticket to have the Public and Private uplinks unbonded.

Before opening the ticket to trunk the VLANs, you will need to determine which network interfaces are on the private network. To do this, navigate to the Device Details for each vSphere server and look at the Private column under the Network section. For our environment, eth0 and eth2 are the private network adapters.

In addition to trunking of the VLANs for the vSphere hosts, we must also ensure that the uplinks are unbonded.  This reference architecture will utilize vSphere Standard Switches for the management cluster to reduce scenarios where vCenter availability can affect distributed virtual switch availability. It will also leverage iSCSI multipath I/O (MPIO) across all hosts.

For these reasons, the port configuration on the BCS must be changed to Basic without LACP for the private uplinks on the management and capacity clusters to enable proper load balancing for your VMNIC teams (suggested IP Hash for non iSCSI MPIO traffic)

To trunk the VLANs to your VMware Hosts eth interfaces you will need to open a ticket.

  1. Open a browser window, go to control.softlayer.com, and log in.
  2. Select Support, Add Ticket.
  3. Enter the following information:
    • Subject: Private network question
    • Title: Trunk VLANs and unbond NICs
    • Details: Please trunk VLANs <Management VLAN + (VLAN ID)><Storage VLAN + (VLAN ID)>, and < vMotion (VM VLAN)> on eth0 and eth2 NIC pair for the following hosts [list each vSphere host]. Also, please ensure that the public and private uplinks are unbonded (i.e., remove LACP / Set to Basic Group) on the following servers: [list each vSphere host]

Optional – Disable the public interface on the vSphere host

You can disable the vSphere public interfaces for security purposes if you are not going to use them.

  1. From the SoftLayer Control Portal Click Devices > Device List
  2. Click the name of your vSphere Host
  3. Click the Configuration table and scroll down to the Network section.
  4. Select Disconnect for each applicable vSphere host eth1 and eth3 pairs for all hosts

This can also be performed via the SoftLayer REST API.

Create and Configure vSphere Data Center Cluster

We should be able to log in to the vCenter server at this point in the implementation to start configuring the vSphere Cluster.

  1. From the SoftLayer Control Portal Click DevicesDevice List

  2. Find your vCenter device and click its name.
  3. Scroll down the Device Details screen to the Network section of the server and make note of the Private IP Address.
  4. Scroll down the Device Details screen and note the Passwords for both the Windows OS and vCenter Software.
  5. Open a Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDP) session and connect to your vCenter Server via its Public IP address.
  6. Log in using the passwords that you obtained in step 4. Be aware that an active VPN connection to SoftLayer will need to be in place if the Private IP Address is used to access vCenter.
    1. Getting Started with SoftLayer VPN
  7. Download and install the traditional vSphere Client or use the vSphere Web Client via the link https://<vCenter-Sever-Public-IP-Address>/vsphere-client/
  8. Log in to vCenter with the IP Address and passwords you obtained in steps 3 and 4.
  9. Right-click on the vCenter server name in the left pane and select New Datacenter.
  10. Enter a name for the data center.
  11. Right-click on the data center and select New Cluster.
  12. Enter a cluster name; DO NOT turn on either Cluster Features, vSphere HA or vSphere DRS at this time.
  13. Click Next.
  14. Leave EVC disabled and click Next.
  15. Accept the default to store the swapfile in the same directory as the virtual machine and click Next.
  16. Click Finish to complete the cluster.
  17. Right-click on the new cluster you just created and select Add Host.
  18. Enter the IP address or Hostname of one of the vSphere hosts and enter Root in the Username field and the password for the host in the Password field.
  19. Click next though the Host Summary, Assign License, Lockdown Mode screen and then click Finish to complete adding your host to the Cluster
  20. Repeat steps 18 and 19 for each other vSphere hosts in your cluster. You will see each vSphere hosts under the new cluster once you are done.

Configure the basic network construct for the vSphere hosts

Use the following steps to configure the basic construct for the vSphere hosts in your cluster

  1. Select the first vSphere host and click the Configuration tab.
  2. Under Hardware section, select Networking. You should already have vSwitch0 with vmnic0; click on Properties next to vSwitch0.
  3. Select Network Adapters on the vSwitch Properties window and click the Add button.
  4. Select vmnic2 to add to vSwitch0 and click Next.
  5. Make sure both vmnics are Active Adapters and click Next.
  6. Click Finish.
  7. Click on the Ports tab and make sure vSwitch is highlighted; click on Edit.
  8. Click on the General Tab and change the MTU to 9000 (Jumbo Frame)
  9. Click on the NIC Teaming tab and change the load balancing to Route Based on IP hash and click OK.
  10. Use steps 1 to 8 to configure the vmnics for the other vSphere hosts in your cluster.

A port group now needs to be added for vMotion. The group can be created as a Virtual Standard Switch (VSS) or Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS). For purpose of our example, we will create a VSS switch.

  1. Select the Configuration tab and select Networking.
  2. Click Properties... for vSwitch0.
  3. Click the Add... button to create a Port Group.
  4. Click the radio button next toe VMkernel and click Next.
  5. Fill in Port Group Properties with the following information:
    • Network Label: A name for the port group, e.g., vMotion
    • VLAN ID (Optional): The VLAN ID for vMotion traffic (1103 for our example). The VLAN ID will allow VMware to tag the traffic for the specific VLAN.
    • Click the checkbox next to Use this port group for vMotion
  6. Click Next.
  7. Enter a Portable IP address for the VLAN. (You can get the port IP address from the SoftLayer portal, Network > IP Management > VLANs. Select the correct VLAN and under Subnets you will see a portable IP address range. If you have no available Portable IP Address or if you have exhausted your current pool please follow the steps in the section 'Order Private Subnets / IP Addresses ' to order additional Portable IP address
  8. Click Next and then Finish to complete.

Use the steps below to create a Port Group for the VM data traffic.

  1. Click on Properties... for vSwitch0, and select Add, Virtual Machine.
  2. Fill in the Port Group Properties with the following information:
    • Network Label: Enter the name of the Port Group, e.g., VM Data
    • VLAN ID (Optional): Enter a VLAN ID; we used 1102 for our example. The VLAN ID allows VMware to tag the traffic for the VLAN.

 

Optional - Install Add On VMware licenses (NSX, vRealize, vSAN, etc.)

Now that the VMware environment is up we are ready to continue with the deployment of additional configurations, Guest VMs or VMware Add Ons. Licenses for VMware Add Ons can also be purchased via the SoftLayer control portal and added via your vCenter Console. For instructions on how to order and manage SoftLayer VMware Add On licenses please see (VMware vSphere 6 Ordering and Managing Licenses)

Summary

You should now have a basic single-site VMware environment running in a SoftLayer data center. The basic configuration only has a local datastore, making it a simplified configuration that does not contain features such as VMware DRS, HA, Storage DRS, and a firewall.

Visit KnowledgeLayer for more information and FAQs related to VMware at SoftLayer.