Creating a vSAN Cluster without a vCenter Server

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I have been asked many times about creating a 3-node vSAN cluster without a vCenter server, the main reason for doing this is that you need to place your vCenter server onto the vSAN datastore but have no where to host the vCenter server until doing so.  The many customers I have spoken to are not aware that they can do this from the command line very easily.  In order to do this you must have installed ESXi 6.0 U2 and enabled SSH access to the host, there are a few steps in order to do this

  1. Configure the vSAN VMKernel Interface
  2. Create the vSAN Cluster
  3. Add the other nodes to the cluster
  4. Claim the disks

Step 1 – Create the VMKernel interface
In order for vSAN to function you need to create a VMKernel Interface on each host, this requires other dependencies such as a vSwitch and a Port Group, so performing this on all three hosts is a must so lets do it in this order, firstly lets create our vSwitch, since vSwitch0 exists for the management network we’ll create a vSwitch1

esxcli network vswitch standard add -v vSwitch1

Once our vSwitch1 is created we then need to add the physical uplinks to our switch, to help identify which uplinks to use we run the following command

esxcli network nic list

This should return details on all the physical network cards on the host for example:

Name    PCI          Driver      Link Speed      Duplex MAC Address       MTU    Description
vmnic0  0000:01:00.0 ntg3        Up   1000Mbps   Full   44:a8:42:29:fe:98 1500   Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5720 Gigabit Ethernet
vmnic1  0000:01:00.1 ntg3        Up   1000Mbps   Full   44:a8:42:29:fe:99 1500   Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5720 Gigabit Ethernet
vmnic2  0000:02:00.0 ntg3        Down 0Mbps      Half   44:a8:42:29:fe:9a 1500   Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5720 Gigabit Ethernet
vmnic3  0000:02:00.1 ntg3        Down 0Mbps      Half   44:a8:42:29:fe:9b 1500   Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5720 Gigabit Ethernet
vmnic4  0000:82:00.0 ixgbe       Up   10000Mbps  Full   a0:36:9f:78:94:cc 1500   Intel Corporation Ethernet Controller 10 Gigabit X540-AT2
vmnic5  0000:82:00.1 ixgbe       Up   10000Mbps  Full   a0:36:9f:78:94:ce 1500   Intel Corporation Ethernet Controller 10 Gigabit X540-AT2
vmnic6  0000:04:00.0 ixgbe       Up   10000Mbps  Full   a0:36:9f:78:94:c4 1500   Intel Corporation Ethernet Controller 10 Gigabit X540-AT2
vmnic7  0000:04:00.1 ixgbe       Up   10000Mbps  Full   a0:36:9f:78:94:c6 1500   Intel Corporation Ethernet Controller 10 Gigabit X540-AT2

For my cluster I am going to add vmnic5 to the vSwitch1 so for this I run the following command:

esxcli network vswitch standard uplink add -v vSwitch1 -u vmnic5

Now that we now have our uplink connected to vSwitch1 we need to configure a portGroup for vSAN, for this I am calling my portGroup name “vSAN”

esxcfg-vswitch -A vSAN vSwitch1

Now we need to create out VMKernel interface with an IP Address (192.168.100.1 for Host 1), Subnet Mask and assign it to the “vSAN” portGroup

esxcfg-vmknic -a -i 192.168.100.1 -n 255.255.255.0 -p vSAN

We validate our VMKernel Interface by running the following command:

[root@se-emea-vsan01:~] esxcfg-vmknic -l
Interface  Port Group/DVPort/Opaque Network        IP Family IP Address                              Netmask         Broadcast       MAC Address       MTU     TSO MSS   Enabled Type                NetStack
vmk0       Management Network                      IPv4      172.16.101.1                            255.255.252.0   172.16.103.255  44:a8:42:29:fe:98 1500    65535     true    STATIC              defaultTcpipStack
vmk1       vSAN                                    IPv4      192.168.100.1                           255.255.255.0   192.168.100.255 00:50:56:6a:5d:06 1500    65535     true    STATIC              defaultTcpipStack

In order to add the VMKernel interface to vSAN we need to run the following command:

esxcli vsan network ip add -i vmk1

Repeat the above steps on the two remaining hosts that you wish to participate in the cluster

Step 2 – Creating the cluster
Once we have all the VMKernel interfaces configured on all hosts, we now need to create a vSAN Cluster on the first host, to do this we run the following command

esxcli vsan cluster new

Once completed we can get our vSAN Cluster UUID by running the following command:

[root@se-emea-vsan01:~] esxcli vsan cluster get
Cluster Information
   Enabled: true
   Current Local Time: 2016-11-21T15:17:57Z
   Local Node UUID: 582a29ea-cbfc-195e-f794-a0369f7894c4
   Local Node Type: NORMAL
   Local Node State: MASTER
   Local Node Health State: HEALTHY
   Sub-Cluster Master UUID: 582a2bba-0fd8-b45a-7460-a0369f749a0c
   Sub-Cluster Backup UUID: 582a29ea-cbfc-195e-f794-a0369f7894c4
   Sub-Cluster UUID: 52bca225-0520-fd68-46c4-5e7edca5dfbd
   Sub-Cluster Membership Entry Revision: 6
   Sub-Cluster Member Count: 1
   Sub-Cluster Member UUIDs: 582a29ea-cbfc-195e-f794-a0369f7894c4
   Sub-Cluster Membership UUID: d2dd2c58-da70-bbb9-9e1a-a0369f749a0c

Step 3 – Adding the other nodes to the cluster
From the remaining hosts run the following command adding them to the newly created cluster

esxcli vsan cluster join -u 52bca225-0520-fd68-46c4-5e7edca5dfbd

You can verify that the nodes have successfully joined the cluster by running the same command we ran earlier noting that the Sub-Cluster Member Count has increased to 3 and it also shows the other sub cluster UUID Members:

[root@se-emea-vsan01:~] esxcli vsan cluster get
Cluster Information
   Enabled: true
   Current Local Time: 2016-11-21T15:17:57Z
   Local Node UUID: 582a29ea-cbfc-195e-f794-a0369f7894c4
   Local Node Type: NORMAL
   Local Node State: MASTER
   Local Node Health State: HEALTHY
   Sub-Cluster Master UUID: 582a2bba-0fd8-b45a-7460-a0369f749a0c
   Sub-Cluster Backup UUID: 582a29ea-cbfc-195e-f794-a0369f7894c4
   Sub-Cluster UUID: 52bca225-0520-fd68-46c4-5e7edca5dfbd
   Sub-Cluster Membership Entry Revision: 6
   Sub-Cluster Member Count: 3
   Sub-Cluster Member UUIDs: 582a29ea-cbfc-195e-f794-a0369f7894c4, 582a2bf8-4e36-abbf-5318-a0369f7894d4, 582a2c3b-d104-b96d-d089-a0369f78946c
   Sub-Cluster Membership UUID: d2dd2c58-da70-bbb9-9e1a-a0369f749a0c

Step 4 – Claim Disks
Our cluster is now created and we need to claim the disks in each node to be used by vSAN, in order to do this we first of all need to identify which disks are to be used by vSAN as a Cache Disk and as Capacity Disks, and obviously the number of disk groups, to show the disk information for the disks in the host run the following command:

esxcli storage core device list

This will produce an output similar to the following where we can identify the NAA ID for each device:

naa.500003965c8a48a4
   Display Name: TOSHIBA Serial Attached SCSI Disk (naa.500003965c8a48a4)
   Has Settable Display Name: true
   Size: 381554
   Device Type: Direct-Access
   Multipath Plugin: NMP
   Devfs Path: /vmfs/devices/disks/naa.500003965c8a48a4
   Vendor: TOSHIBA
   Model: PX02SMF040
   Revision: A3AF
   SCSI Level: 6
   Is Pseudo: false
   Status: on
   Is RDM Capable: true
   Is Local: true
   Is Removable: false
   Is SSD: true
   Is VVOL PE: false
   Is Offline: false
   Is Perennially Reserved: false
   Queue Full Sample Size: 0
   Queue Full Threshold: 0
   Thin Provisioning Status: yes
   Attached Filters:
   VAAI Status: unknown
   Other UIDs: vml.0200000000500003965c8a48a450583032534d
   Is Shared Clusterwide: false
   Is Local SAS Device: true
   Is SAS: true
   Is USB: false
   Is Boot USB Device: false
   Is Boot Device: false
   Device Max Queue Depth: 64
   No of outstanding IOs with competing worlds: 32
   Drive Type: physical
   RAID Level: NA
   Number of Physical Drives: 1
   Protection Enabled: false
   PI Activated: false
   PI Type: 0
   PI Protection Mask: NO PROTECTION
   Supported Guard Types: NO GUARD SUPPORT
   DIX Enabled: false
   DIX Guard Type: NO GUARD SUPPORT
   Emulated DIX/DIF Enabled: false

In my setup I want to create two disk groups per host consisting of 4 capacity devices plus my cache so to create one disk group I run the following command:

esxcli vsan storage add -s <naa for cache disk> -d <naa for capacity disk 1> -d <naa for capacity disk 2> -d <naa for capacity disk 3> -d <naa for capacity disk 4>

Once you have performed the above on each of your hosts, your vSAN cluster is deployed with storage and you can now deploy your vCenter appliance onto the vSAN datastore where then you can manage your vSAN License, Storage Policies, switch on vSAN Services such as iSCSI, health service and performance services as well as start to deploy virtual machines

2 Responses

  1. Hi MR vSAN

    Thanks for your great post. Unfortunately, you have a typo in the commands.
    esxcli network vswitch standard add -v vSwitch1 ->the -v is missing in the first command

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