VxRail Makes LCM Great (Again)

VxRail LCM updates are a huge differentiation to any other HCI competitor since it includes the entire stack in a single bundle file; Hardware, hyper-visor and software on top!

New LCM Changes for VxRail in 4.7.300.

There is now a new Updates Tab for VxRail LCM (Life Cycle Management). I gave this feedback way back when the first HTML5 plugin for VxRail came out. The link to check for updates was tiny and easily missed hidden away in the System tab. VxRail LCM updates are a huge differentiation to any other HCI competitor since it includes the entire stack in a single bundle file; Hardware, hyper-visor and software on top! I wrote previously about the VxRail LCM process and why it matters to HCI solutions here.

Aaron Buley was quicker than me in digging into the latest LCM improvements.

Updates Tab embedded in H5 client

The new Updates tab integrated in vSphere H5 client. So much nicer and easier to find!

The update tab gives you quick access to view the current version of ESX, vCenter and the VxRail Manager itself. The tab for Internet Upgrade is here, where you can automatically pull the latest bundle. VxRail Manager will check for VxRail LCM bundles and alert you when its available.

Applying a local bundle in offline mode.

Schedule updates and find out how long they will take.

You do not have to be online to update the cluster, you may be required to run the cluster as a dark site and manually apply updates in the Local Updates tab. This is also a great way to control which bundle you want to apply rather than take the most recent version. Some customers prefer to plan updates in a more controlled manner, and stay a version or two behind.

it is now possible to schedule an update to run in future right from the GUI interface. This means you have time to plan an update to happen out of hours and you dont have to be there to kick it off. Customers were also asking for a way to estimate how long a bundle update would take. This is built in now as well showing Minimum Estimated Time.

You can change a scheduled update or even cancel it from the GUI.

What else changed in the VxRail Plugin?

Convert vCenter Mode in GUI form…

The System Tab now has an option to “Convert vCenter mode”. There was a Script available to externalize an embedded vCenter running in VxRail already, but now its built in the GUI. This is super useful for example when customer wants to convert the VC and PSC and connect multiple VxRails to a mgmt cluster. This aligns the deployment with the VVD automatically allowing them to stay fully compliant.

easy button for externalizing the VC and PSC deployed in VxRail.

Simple SSL Certificate Management

There is a new SSL certificate tab in the VxRail plugin. This allows you to easily replace the VxRail Manager SSL Certificate.

Multi-Rack discovery using a proxy node.

There is a feature in VxRail hosts tab to expand an existing cluster to another rack with new unassigned VxRail nodes. The new rack will have its own TOR switches and may be seperated by a different VLAN to the existing cluster.

Its a simple task to declare one of the unassigned nodes to act as a proxy node using this CMD:

esxcli network ip interface ipv4 set -i vmk2 -I <Management IP Address> -N <subnet mask> -t static

Use the GUI as below to declare this new proxy at the cluster. The proxy node will transmit details of all unassigned nodes in the 2nd rack. Proceed to expand cluster by adding these new nodes as before.

ACE gets top billing now.

If you don’t know what ACE is all about yet, then pop over to this blog i wrote earlier explaining all about it. ACE is getting new updates every couple weeks now (its running on the Pivotal engine so you know its going to be adding new features fast! There is a link to the ACE FAQ in the Support Tab so that customers can quickly get connected and up and running. ACE is still free for customers.

Traffic throttle between VxRail and vCenter

Physical View of appliances now in H5!

No longer do we need to link and launch to access the Physical View of our VxRail appliance nodes. Everything is embedded in the HTML5 interface. My good buddy Jeremy Merrill wrote up an excellent blog already detailing this why not check it out.

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How to deploy the SmartFabric OMNI plugin in VMware vSphere Step 3

Step 1: Enable SmartFabric Services on the ToR Switch

Step 2: Deploy VxRail Cluster incl. ToR with VxRail Manager

Step 3: Deploy the SmartFabric OMNI plugin in VMware vSphere

Next Blog : Step 4: Virtualization engineer controls Day 2 Ops for the Full Stack

Installing the SmartFabric OMNI plugin

At this point we have already run the first two steps to get SmartFabric installed, our Switches have SmartFabric services enabled and the VxRail Manager Gui deployment has automatically configured the switch and disabled the CLI. Now we will add the Open Manage Network Integration or SmartFabric OMNI plugin to vSphere, giving the virtualization engineer full visibility and control of the dedicated HCI switch fabric.

Download the OMNI plugin VM

We begin by deploying the OMNI VM ova, which is available from VMware Solution Exchange here. It seems to bounce you now to the Dell Support site where you can get the latest version here. As of June 2019 the latest version is 1.1.18.

Deploy the OVA

These steps are straightforward. Isn’t great that we can do the OVA deployment thru the HTML5 interface? Be sure to match up the source and destination networks correctly at Step 7 in the process. Later on we will configure an ipv4 address on vCenter network and enable ipv6 on the MGMT network.

Power on the VM and connect to a console on the OMNI vm. You need to establish a password here for the admin user. The default username and default password is setup as admin / admin.

Configure the OMNI appliance

Since this is a first run deployment, we are going to select option “0. Full Setup” at the Menu. As you can see you can re-run and do other admin tasks later if required from this interface.

Before we active the first connection, we will setup the Profile name “vCenter Server Network” and assign a valid ipv4 address for the OMNI VM here.

The second connection is for ipv6 discovery on the VxRail Management network, no ipv4 address needed here.

Be sure to activate both networks on the last screen.

You will be prompted at the CLI again for NTP, SSL Cert, the appliance ip address, FQDN for VCSA, VC Username and Password, and finally the OMNI ip for REST and REST username and password.

Log in and out of vSphere and the OMNI plugin will appear.

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