vSphere 6.7 Cluster Quickstart

Cluster Quickstart was a new feature that came available back in October 2018 when vSphere 6.7 U1 was released. I really like this new feature because it is very simple to use and if used properly it can really speed up your cluster deployment and configuration.

This blog article is short and sweet and to the point but as with most of my ‘How to’ blog articles I have screenshots for every step I take below. Before we get started, let’s review which versions I have deployed in my nested lab. This is not a very advanced or complicated process and VCP-level knowledge will easily get you through this.

  • vCenter Server 6.7.0 U2 (Build 13639324) – single vCenter Server appliance
  • ESXi 6.7 U2 (Build 13006603) – four (4) nested ESXi hosts w/ the following virtual hardware configuration.
    • 8 vCPU
    • 16 GB memory
    • 20 GB vmdk for ESXi
    • 10 GB vmdk for my vSAN cache
    • 100 GB vmdk for my vSAN capacity
    • VMXNET3 network adapters (x4)

My ESXi hosts are installed and configured with their management static IP addresses and hostnames. I verified their networking connectivity by pinging using both their FQDN and IP addresses so I’m ready to go now with Cluster Quickstart.

Make you have your cluster defined in vCenter first. Below you will see I have ‘SDDC-01’ cluster defined. From there you select ‘Configure’ and then under ‘Configuration’ you will find Quickstart.

01 - Cluster Quickstart.jpg

There are three (3) steps in the process as you can see above…

  1. Cluster Basics – where you will predefined which cluster feature you plan on using such as DRS, vSphere HA and vSAN. Each will use their default settings initially and then changed later.
  2. Add Hosts – pretty self-explanatory here. This is where you are going to add the hosts to the cluster.
  3. Configure Cluster – pretty self-explanatory here too! This is where you are going to configure some of the network settings on your hosts including vMotion and vSAN, customize some service and lastly set up the vSAN datastore.

Let’s get started and deploy this four(4) node vSAN cluster!

  1. Start things off under Cluster Basics and select ‘Edit’.
    01 - Edit Cluster Svcs.jpg
  2. Select each of the services you plan on using for your cluster. I’m enabling all three (3) services here: DRS, vSphere HA and vSAN.
    02 - Enable Svcs.jpg
  3. Next under Add Hosts select the ‘Add’ button.
    03 - Add Hosts.jpg
  4. In the ‘Add new and existing hosts to your cluster’ window enter the IP address or FQDN of your hosts that you wish to connect to your new cluster and provide the credentials for each. If you have the same username and password on each of your deployed ESXi hosts you can tick the box at the top where it says ‘Use the same credentials for all hosts’. I’m using the same credentials on each of my hosts in this demonstration. Click Next.
    04 - Add Hosts.jpg
  5. Security Alert window will appear. Check off the box for each host and click OK.
    05 - Security Alert.jpg
  6. In the Host Summary window I expanded one of the hosts so you can see some of the information that can be provided to you. As you can see below if this host were in fact connected to another vCenter Server there would be information here next to ‘Current vCenter’. If there are VMs powered on, other networks created or other datastores available on this host the information would be displayed here as well. I’m working with freshly installed ESXi hosts with no other configuration aside from static IP and hostname. Click Next.
    06 - Host Summary.jpg
  7. Click Finish after review the brief summary of the hosts that will be connected to vCenter Server and the new cluster.
    07 - Review and Finish.jpg
  8. The task will complete rather quickly and in case you are wondering, YES the hosts will be in ‘Maintenance Mode’ once they are added to the cluster.
    08 - Hosts added to cluster.jpg
  9. Next under Configure Cluster, select the ‘Configure’ button.
    09 - Configure Cluster.jpg
  10. In the ‘Configure Cluster’ window you notice there are six (6) steps in this procedure starting with the ‘Distributed Switches’. You have the option to ‘Configure networking settings later’ but what fun would that be right now? None. Also, if your vSphere environment already has an existing Distributed Switch you can select the ‘Use Existing’ option and extend that already deployed vDS to your new cluster. I haven’t deployed a vDS in this nested lab environment yet so I’m starting new here. By default you will start with two (2) port groups…one for vMotion and one for vSAN. If you do not see vSAN here then chances are you did not select it back in Step 1 when we enabled Cluster Services. Scroll down to see additional settings for Port Groups and Physical Adapters.

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    Next for vMotion traffic you have several options to use assuming you carefully planned everything and everything is in place prior to deployed (i.e. VLANs, static IP procurement, etc.). I’m using a VLAN for my vMotion traffic and have my static IPs ready to go. If you have a large # of hosts to add and want to avoid fat fingering any IPs simply fill out your IP, mask and GW settings for your first host and then select ‘Autofill’ and everything below it will be set sequentially from that IP you applied for your first host listed. Click Next.
    11 - vMotion Traffic.jpg
  11. Next is my storage traffic, in this case my vSAN network. I am using a VLAN here and have a separate subnet as well. I’m using static IP’s just as I did for my vMotion network settings. Click Next.
    12 - Storage traffic.jpg
  12. ext there are several Advanced Options that we can use during deployment. Not the full entire set of advanced options that you’d normally find if you went into the properties of the vSphere cluster but there is some high-level options that you can enable here for vSphere HA, DRS, vSAN, Host Options and EVC mode. Scroll down to see the additional settings. Click Next.

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    Next we are going to claim the disks for vSAN. I double-check everything to make everything looks correct for my Capacity tier and Cache tier disks and click Next when ready.
    14 - Claim Disks.jpg
  13. Lastly I review everything on the Ready to complete section and click Finish.
    15 - Ready to complete.jpg
  14. The ‘Configure the cluster and member hosts’ task will begin and you will start seeing other multiple tasks appear in the Recent Tasks section of the vSphere Client. As everything proceeds and the cluster is finalized the hosts will come out of Maintenance Mode on at a time. At times you will see alarms going off and other possible alerts but don’t panic, let the procedure finish. I grabbed a few screenshots during this process. When it completed I had a couple alarms triggered and cleared them for the time being. Remember I’m running a nested environment so you may not see the same thing I see if you’re deploying your vSAN onto your ESXi hosts running on bare-metal.

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    Next I do a few spot checks on vSAN from the Hosts and Clusters and Storage perspectives.

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    Check out my Distributed Switch and see that everything is there per the settings in during the Quickstart deployment. First from the Distributed Switch point of view in Networking. I see my two networks for vMotion and vSAN, my physical uplinks and all four (4) of my hosts are associated with this new vDS.

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    I then check the networking from the ESXi host point of view. One thing I noticed that maybe VMware will include as a future Quickstart feature enhancement is have the ability to change the MTU size for the vMotion and vSAN traffic. I currently have Jumbo Frames (MTU 9000) enabled for that traffic and in some cases some of you might be using them as well for your new cluster. By default after Quickstart deploys my cluster the MTU size is set to the default value of 1500. MTU is set at the Distributed Switch level and not the Distributed Port Group level but since I selected the option to deploy the new vDS I would like to see that ability to set the MTU size.

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    I check where we started everything off with Quickstart and it says NICE WORK! I have a couple warnings under ‘Configure Hosts’ but as I said earlier, this is because my vSAN is running in a nested environment and not on bare-metal. Now let’s say I want to scale this cluster from 4-nodes to 8-nodes. Once those 4 new nodes are ready I simply click the ‘Add’ button under the Add Hosts section and simply proceed through the guided wizard to add my additional hosts to this cluster. That Add button below is pretty much your ‘Easy Button’ so to speak.
    Featured Image.jpg

Last but not least, setup VUM if you haven’t already and make sure your hosts are compliant with whatever patches are required per the baseline you want for your vSphere environment. If you have vRealize Operations Manager (vROps) deployed make sure it is collecting information for vSAN by configuring the Solution in vROps.

Someone out there might ask, why not use the deploy vSAN feature to deploy your vCenter Server along with vSAN then build out the rest of your vSAN cluster from there using Quickstart? Yeah sure I could’ve done that but I do a lot of things with my lab and so I don’t have to constantly deploy and redeploy vCenter; therefore I have a single vCenter Server appliance always deployed and ready for me to use all the time.

That is pretty much all there is to it for using the Quickstart feature available in vSphere 6.7 U1 and later releases. I just accomplished this using the latest and greatest version available for vSphere 6.7 U2 here in this blog. Read more about this feature and other new features available in vSphere 6.7 U2 using some of the useful links I’ve provided below for you.

What’s next for me in this environment? Deploy NSX-T 2.4 of course! 🙂

Useful Links

Cluster Quickstart Tech Note

Configure a vSAN Cluster with Quickstart – same high-level procedure without images

Cluster Quickstart vSAN 6.7 Update 1 Technical Overview

VMware vSphere Documentation Homepage

Administering VMware vSAN (PDF)

vSAN Planning and Deployment (PDF)

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