HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual System – Questions Answered

Background

HP released two offerings of the HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual System last year.  Essentially they have taken ESXi, HP StoreVirtual VSA, OneView for vCenter and automated the setup process using OneView Instant On.

HP Converged System 200-HC Diagrams v0.1

Two models are available which are:

  • HP CS 240-HC StoreVirtual System, this has 4 nodes each with:
    • 2 x Intel E5-2640v2 2.2GHz 8 Core Processor
    • 128GB RAM
    • 2GB Flash Backed HP Smart Array P430 Controller
    • 2 x 10GbE Network Connectivity
    • 1 x iLO4 Management
    • 6 x SAS 1.2TB 10K SFF Hard Drives
    • Around 11TB of usable capacity
  • HP CS 242-HC StoreVirtual System, this has 4 nodes each with:
    • 2 x Intel E5-2648v2 2.2GHz 10 Core Processor
    • 256GB RAM
    • 2GB Flash Backed HP Smart Array P430 Controller
    • 2 x 10GbE Network Connectivity
    • 1 x iLO4 Management
    • 4 x SAS 1.2TB 10K SFF Hard Drives
    • 2 x 400GB Mainstream Endurance SSD
    • Around 7.5TB of usable capacity

These are marketed with the ability to provision virtual machines within 30 minutes.

What Does Provision Virtual Machines Within 30 Minutes Really Mean?

To answer this question you need to understand what HP have saved you from doing, which is:

  • Installing ESXi across 4 x Hosts
  • Installing vCenter to a basic configuration
  • Installing HP StoreVitrual VSAE to a basic configuraiton across 4 x Hosts
  • Pre-installed Management VM running Windows Server 2012 Standard that has OneView for vCenter and CMC for StoreVirtual Management

So after completing the initial setup, you do have the ability to upload an ISO and start deploying an OS image.

What About The Stuff Which Marketing Don’t Mention? AKA Questions Answered?

Database

  • SQL Express is used as the database (local instance on Management VM).  I have real concerns around the database if logging levels are increased to troubleshoot issues and/or the customer doesn’t perform an kind of database maintenance
    • I’m waiting on confirmation from HP as whether you can migrate the SQL database instance to a full blown version

Host Profiles

  • Grey area, these can be used.  However HP rather you stay with the base configuration of the nodes (much like the networking see below).

Licences

  • The solution is only supported using Enterprise or Enterprise Plus VMware licenses, with the preference being HP OEM.
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard is supplied as the Management VM.  Initially, this runs from a local partition and is then Storage vMotioned onto the HP Converged Cluster.  Windows licensing dictates that when a OS is moved across hosts using Standard Edition you cannot move the OS back for 90 days or you need to license each node for the potential number of VM’s that could be ran.
    • HP have confirmed that you receive 2 x Windows Server 2012 Standard licenses and DRS Groups Manager rules are configured to only allow the Management VM to migrate between these two ESXi Hosts.

Management Server

  • You are able to upgrade the Management Server VM in terms of RAM, CPU and Disk Space and be supported.
  • You cannot add additional components to the Management Server VM and be supported e.g. VUM, vCenter SysLog Service
    • I’m waiting on confirmation from HP around what is and isn’t supported, I would air on caution and not install anything extra

Networking

  • The 1GbE connections are not used apart from the initial configuration of the Management Server.  My understanding is that these are not supported for any other use.
  • HP prefer you to stay with the standard network configuration, this causes me concern.  10GbE Network providing Management, iSCSI, Virtual Machine and vMotion traffic.  How do you control vMotion bandwidth usage on a Standard vSwitch? You can’t a Distributed vSwitch is a much better option, but if you need to reconfigure a node, you will need to perform a vSS to vDS migration

Updates

  • You can upgrade individual components separately, however you must stay within the HP Storage SPOCK for the Converged System 200-HC StoreVirtual (Note a HP Passport login is required)

Versions

At the time of this post, the latest supported versions are as follows:

  • vSphere 5.5 U2 , no vSphere 6
  • vCenter 5.5 U2
  • HP StoreVirtual VSA 11.5 or 12.0
  • HP OneView for vCenter Storage/Server Modules 7.4.2 or 7.4.4
  • HP OneView Instant On 1.0 or 1.0.1
  • PowerCLI 5.8 R1

Final Thoughts

HP have put together a slick product which automates the initial installation of ESXi and gives you a basic configuration of vCenter.  What it doesn’t give you is  design to say that your workloads are going to be suitable on the environment and or a solution that meets a client requirements.

How To: Rehost HP StoreVirtual Licenses

I’m not sure exactly when, but HP changed the licensing portal from ‘Poetic’ to a new portal named ‘My HP Licensing Portal’.  All of the information looked exactly the same, however you could not rehost HP StoreVirtual Licenses.

The purpose of this blog post is to assist anyone who was in the same situation as me, scratching their head trying to figure it out!

Problem

You have an existing HP StoreVirtual license which ties the feature set to the first NIC MAC address on your StoreVirtual VSA.  You have changed, upgraded or redeployed your VSA and you need to rehost the license onto the new MAC address.

Solution

Browse to myhplicensing.hp.com and login for your email address and password that you use for your portal account.

Note: If you are not sure what email address is tied to your account login to HP Licensing for Software and select Administration > My Profile which will show your email address.

Once logged into My HP Licensing select Rehost Licenses

StoreVirtual License 01

Next select Rehost Licenses and click on the MAC Address you want to update

StoreVirtual License 02

Select the tick box to confirm this is the license that you want rehosting and then click Rehost.

StoreVirtual License 03

Select ‘Enter New Locking ID’ and enter the MAC Address of the first network adapter on your StoreVirtual.  Then click Next

StoreVirtual License 04

This bit takes a while but once done you will receive the license file which can be saved or emailed

StoreVirtual License 05

Lessons Learnt: HP StoreVirtual P4500 10 GbE Upgrade & Virtual Connect

Purpose

The purpose of this blog post is to give you an insight into some of the quirky behaviour that I experienced during an upgrade of HP infrastructure, specifically in relation to HP StoreVitual 4500 and Virtual Connect.

Background

Existing HP infrastructure exists across a campus which has recently been upgraded to redundant 10Gbps links.

Site A contains:

  • 2 x HP Lefthand P4500 (before upgrade to LeftHand OS 11.5)
  • 1 x C7000 Blade Chassis with HP BL460c G7 blades

Site B contains:

  • 2 x HP Lefthand P4500 (before upgrade to LeftHand OS 11.5)
  • 1 x C3000 Blade Chassis with HP BL460c G6 blades
    • C3000 Blade Chassis to be disposed off

Site C contains:

  • HP FailoverManager for Lefthand

The underlying hypervisor is vSphere 4.1 which is to be upgraded once the hardware is in situ.

Design

The design was quite straight forward, to meet the customer requirements, we needed to:

  • Provide a 10 Gbps Core network using redundant HP5820 in am IRF stack
  • Introduce a vSphere Metro Storage Cluster on vSphere 5.5 U1
    • Ability to run workloads at either location
    • Provide operational simplicity
  • Introduce an additional C7000 Blade Chassis
  • Introduce HP BL460c Gen8 Blades for new
  • Introduce a performance tier for StoreVirtual using 4335
  • Introduce an archive tier for StoreVirtual using 4530
  • Upgrade existing P4500 to 10GbE

A logical overview of the solution is shown below.

Blog Post

Pre-Requisites

As part of the pre-requisite work the HP firmware had been upgraded as follows:

All new components had been upgraded to the same firmware and software levels.

Upgrade Purpose

The purpose of upgrade was to introduce/change the following items before vSphere was upgraded to 5.5 U1

  • HP 5820 Core
    • Change configuration to enable ESXi 4.1 Port Groups to be responsible for VLAN tagging
  • P4500 10GbE Cards
    • Existing 1GbE Cards to be used for iSCSi Management
    • New 10GbE Cards to be used for iSCSI Storage Traffic
  • Virtual Connect
    • Change configuration to enable ESXi 4.1 Port Groups to be responsible for VLAN tagging
  • vSphere
    • Update Port Groups so that ESXi is responsible for adding VLAN Headers

Lessons Learnt – Virtual Connect

On the new C7000 Chassis with HP BL460c Gen 8 Blades, Virtual Connect was used to logically separate bandwidth for four different networks with each containing traffic for a single subnet.  A VLAN tag was assigned to each subnet allowing ESXi 4.1 to be apply the VLAN headers.

From the ESXi DCUI we were unable to ping from VMkernel Management network to the HP5820 which was acting as the default gateway.  However placing a laptop into an ‘access port’ on the same VMkernel Management VLAN we could ping the default gateway on the  HP5820.

After some troubleshooting we found that the issue was with Virtual Connect, if you define a network as a ‘single network’ with a VLAN tag assigned to it, Virtual Connect very kindly removes the VLAN header.

Resolution: Select Multiple Networks rather than a Single Network

The next issue we came across was Virtual Connect on the existing C7000 with HP BL460c G7 Blades.  Virtual Connect would accept the changes to Shared Uplink Set and Server Profiles so that we were now using ‘Multiple Networks’ with VLAN tag’s however we couldn’t ping the default gateway on the HP5820 from the ESXi DCUI.

Again, after some troubleshooting we discovered that Virtual Connect allows you to make changes to existing networks from ‘Single’ to ‘Multiple Networks’ with the HP BL460c G7 Blades running, but these changes don’t take effect until after a reboot.

Resolution: After any Virtual Connect change reboot blade

 Lessons Learnt – HP P4500

When you upgrade the HP P4500 to 10GbE you add an additional 4GB RAM and the 10GbE card, fairly straight forward.  After the hardware installation we wanted to utilise the network cards as follows:

  • 2 x 10GbE in an Adaptive Load Balance bond for iSCSI Storage Traffic
  • 1 x 1GbE for iSCSI Management Traffic

To do this we need to break the existing Adaptive Load Balance bond on the 1GbE connections.  After breaking the bond we had no link lights on the HP5820 or P4500.  We started to scratch our heads and jumped on the KVM to see what had happened.  We soon discovered that when the bond is broken, the network interfaces are placed into ‘disabled’ state.

Resolution: Maintain KVM or iLO access when breaking an ALB bond

Next we placed an IP Address on the 1GbE interface so that we could continue to manage the array.  We enabled flow control on the 10GbE interfaces and also jumbo frames as this was part of the design and then finally created the ALB bond with the 10GbE interfaces having the default gateway applied to them.  We ran some simple ping tests to the Management IP Address which resulted in a ping response, however the 10GbE would not respond.  Not exactly where we wanted to be!

We broke the ALB bond on the 10GbE and we could ping the 1GbE interface and 10GbE interfaces.  This then lead to the discovery that you cannot use the 1GbE interfaces with 10GbE interfaces on the same subnet.  We didn’t have time to test the 1GbE interfaces on a different subnet to see if this configuration would work.

Resolution: Disable the 1GbE interfaces

Now we had 10GbE interfaces working using Adaptive Load Balacing, it was time to ensure that flow control was enabled.  We saw some very strange results either it was on some interfaces and off others!  A quick check of the HP5820 and flow control was enabled on the correct ports.  We carried out a number of test but still couldn’t get flow control to show as enabled:

  • Broke the ALB bod to manually enabled flow control
  • Shut down the HP5820 interfaces and enabled them
  • Restarted the HP P4500

We found the resolution by mistake.  On one of the nodes we performed a shutdown then power on rather than a restart, flow control was enabled.  It appears that it is only on the power on operation the P4500 negotiate flow control settings with the upstream switch.

Resolution: After enabling flow control, shutdown and power on P4500

Whats New? StoreVirtual VSA – LeftHand OS 11.0

T-smb-storevirtual-VSA__153x115--C-tcm245-1404104--CT-tcm245-1237012-32It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the StoreVirtual, which you can see by the number of blog posts I have made about the subject.

HP have announced the next iteration of LeftHand OS, which is version 11.0, this has a number of enhancements which are covered by Kate Davis (@KateAtHP).  These include:

  • Smarter updates with Online Upgrade enhancements to identify updates per management group, plus you can choose to only download newer versions, hooray!
  • Faster performance for command-line interface improves response times for provisioning and decommissioning of storage, and retrieving info about managements groups, volumes and clusters
  • Increased IO performance on VMware vSphere with support for ParaVirtualized SCSI Controller (PV SCSI) which provides more efficient CPU utilization on the host server
  • More control over application-managed snapshots for VMware and Microsoft administrators with quicker and simpler install and configuration process
  • Optimization of snapshot management to minimize the burden on the cluster when handling high-frequency snapshot schedules with long retention periods
  • Fibre Channel support for HP StoreVirtual Recovery Manager for servers with FC connectivity to StoreVirtual clusters can be used to recover files and folders from snapshots.
  • LeftHand OS 11.0 will be certified with at least one 10Gbe cards for use with StoreVirtual VSA on launch.

What I’m most excited about is the new Adaptive Optimization feature which is introduced in LeftHand OS 11.0 .  Last night Calvin Zito (@HPStorageGuy) hosted a live podcast covering AO in more depth.  So without further a due:

  • Adaptive Optimization will be completely automated, with a simple on or off.
  • Adaptive Optimization will work automatically e.g. no schedule
  • Adaptive Optimization will use a ‘heat tier’ map to work out the hot areas and check the IO and CPU levels, if these are high then AO will not move the blocks, it will wait until IO and CPU levels have dropped and then perform the region moves.
  • Adaptive Optimization will allow for support of two storage tiers and works at node level.
  • Adaptive Optimization will use a chunk size of 256K for region moves.
  • Adaptive Optimization will work on ‘thick’and ‘thin’ volumes
  • Adaptive Optimization will work on all snapshots of a given volume.
  • Adaptive Optimization will be included for free for anyone who has a StoreVirtual VSA 10TB license already.
  • Adaptive Optimization will not be included for the new 4TB StoreVirtual VSA license
  • Adaptive Optimization will work with PCIe Flash, SSD, SAS and SATA drives.

During the podcast I asked a number of questions, one of which is the potential to use HP StoreVirtual VSA with HP IO Accelerator cards, with C7000 blades and local storage for VDI deployments.  The StoreVirtual representative (who was at LeftHand networks before HP acquired them) mentioned this is the one of the primary use cases for AO and they are going to be performing some benchmarks.

The StoreVirtual representative was also able to field a number of other questions for the StoreVirtual road map which are:

  1. T10 UNMAP will be coming, just not in LeftHand OS 11.0
  2. Changes to LeftHand OS will be made to make manual adjustments to gateway connections for vSphere Metro Storage Clusters see this blogpost.
  3. Adaptive Optimization is likely to be coming to the physical StoreVirtual.

We also spoke about performance, the StoreVirtual representative explained about all the lab tests they had performaned and to get StoreVirtual working at it’s correct capacity you should try and keep the number of nodes per management group to 32 and have a maximum of 16 clusters.

Gotcha: vSphere Metro Storage Cluster (VMSC) & HP StoreVirtual

So you have put together an epic vSphere Metro Storage Cluster using your HP StoreVirtual SAN (formerly Lefthand) using the following rules:

  • Creating volumes for each site to access it’s datastore locally rather than going across the inter site link
  • Creating DRS ‘host should’ rules so that VM run on the ESXi Hosts local to the volumes and datastores they are accessing.

The gotcha occurs when you have a either a StoreVirtual Node failure or a StoreVirtual Node is rebooted for maintenance, let me explain why.

In this example we have a Management Group called SSDMG01 which contains:

  • SSDVSA01 which is in Site 1
  • SSDVSA02 which is in Site 2
  • SSDFOM which is in a Site 3

We have a single volume called SSDVOL01 which is located at Site 1

StoreVirtual uses a ‘Virtual IP’ Address to ensure fault tolerance for iSCSI access, you can view this under your Cluster then iSCSI within the Centralized Management Console.  In my case it’s 10.37.10.2

Even though iSCSI connections are made via the Virtual IP Address, each Volume goes via a ‘Gateway Connection’ which is essentially just one of the StoreVirtual Nodes.  To check which gateway your ESXi Hosts are using to access the volumes, select your volume and then choose iSCSI Sessions.

In my case the ESXi Hosts are using SSDVSA01 to access the volume SSDVOL01 which is correct as they are at Site 1.

Let’s quickly introduce a secondary a second Volume called SSDVOL02 and we want this to be in Site 1 as well.  Let’s take a look at the iSCSI sessions for SSDVOL02

Crap, they are going via SSDVSA02 which is at the other site, causing latency issues.  Can I do anything about this in the CMC? Not that I can find.

HP StoreVirtual is actually very clever, what it has done is load balance the iSCSI connections for the volumes across both nodes in case of a node failure.  In this case SSDVOL01 via SSDVSA01 and SSDVOL02 via SSDVSA02.  If you have ever experienced a StoreVirtual node failure you know that it takes around 5 seconds for the iSCSI sessions to be remapped, leaving your VM’s without access to there HDD for this time.

What can you do about this? Well when creating your volumes make sure you do them in the order for site affinity to the ESXi Hosts, we know that the HP StoreVirtual just round robins the Gateway Connection.

That’s all very well and good, what happens when I have a site failure, let’s go over this now.  I’m going to pull the power from SSDVSA01 which is the Gateway Connection for SSDVOL01.  It actually has a number of VM’s running on it.

Man down! As you can see we have a critical event against SSDVSA01 and the volume SSDVOL01 status is ‘data protection degraded.

Let’s take a quick look at the iSCSI sessions for SSDVOL01, they should be using the Gateway Connection SSDVSA02

Yep all good, it’s what we expected.  Now let’s power SSDVSA01 back up again and see what happens.  You will notice that the HP StoreVirtual re syncs the volume between the Nodes and then it’s shown as Status: Normal.

Here’s the gotcha, the iSCSI sessions will continue to use SSDVSA02 in Site 2 even though SSDVSA01 is back online at Site 1.

After around five minutes StoreVirtual will automatically rebalance the iSCSI Gateway Connections.  Great you say, ah but we have a gotcha.  As SSDVOL02 has now been online the longest, StoreVirtual will use SSDVSA01 as the gateway connection meaning we are going across the intersite link.  So to surmise our current situation:

  • SSDVOL01 using Site2 SSDVSA01 as it’s Gateway Connection
  • SSDVOL02 using Site1 SSDVSA02 as it’s Gateway Connection

Not really the position we want to be in!

Rebalance 2Rebalance

We can get down and dirty using the CLIQ to manually rebalance the SSDVOL01 onto SSDVSA01 perhaps? Let’s give it a whirl shall we.

Login to your VIP address using SSH but with the Port 16022 and enter your credentials.

Then we need to run the command ‘rebalanceVIP volumeName=SSDVOL01’

Rebalance 3

If your quick and flick over to the CMC you will see the Gateway Connection status as ‘failed’ this is correct don’t panic.

Rebalance 4

Do we have SSDVOL01 using SSDVSA01? Nah!

Rebalance 2

The only way to resolve this is to either Storage vMotion your VM’s onto a volume with enough capacity at the correct site or reboot your StoreVirtual Node in Site 2.

In summary, even though HP StoreVirtual uses a Virtual IP Address this is tied to a Gateway Connection via a StoreVirtual Node, you are unable to change the iSCSI connections manually without rebooting the StoreVirtual Nodes.

Hopefully, HP might fix this with the release of LeftHand OS10.1