No Multicast No Problem. VxRail cluster build and scaleout without Loudmouth.

One of the new features that were added to VxRail in the latest 7.0.130 release was the ability to build cluster and add nodes without using the zero-touch configuration. So what is the zero-touch configuration and why would I not want to use it? The Zero-touch configuration uses IPV6 Multicast on the top of rack switches and protocol called loudmouth on the VxRail appliances to auto-discover the appliances and has the hardware profile populated in VxRail manager DB. Once discovered the nodes are used to build a cluster or to expand an existing cluster. For security reasons, the Multicast Traffic is encapsulated in an isolated VLAN that only needs to reside on the TOR switches and does not need to extend into the core network. This method requires no administrative overhead and as suggested by the name it is pretty much plug and play. In certain networks due to internal policies, they cannot enable IPV6 Multicast in the Networking layer. So this manual method will allow VxRail clusters to run without leveraging loudmouth or IPV6 Multicast. A common misconception is that an IPV6 address is required to leverage the zero-touch configuration. This is NOT the case, only the IPv6 Multicast Protocol that is used. 

Host preparation is required to leverage this manual method. This requires the user to login into each appliance and

  • Set a static MGMT IP address on the VMK2 interface
  • Set the VLAN ID for the “Management Network” portgroup
esxcli network ip interface ipv4 set -i vmk2 -t static -g -I -N
esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup set -p "Management Network" -v 200

Once the IP addresses have been configured and the VLAN set on the Management port groups we start the deployment wizard. As anticipated none of the node are discovered. Choose the “Add” icon on the UI.

Input the Management IP address that was configured in the first step, then validate. PRO TIP the default VxRail appliance password is already populated in the ESXi Root Password Field. 

Once validation is complete the VxRail Manager DB will be updated with the hardware specification of each appliance. A maximum of 6 nodes can be added during the first run sequence. Additional nodes can be added once the cluster is built. Once all the nodes have been validated click add to continue the process.

Below the nodes have been successfully added as resources and we can continue to build out the cluster. The rest of the cluster build-out is the same as a cluster that has the zero-touch configuration method. To review those steps check out my previous blog post, VxRail 7.0.100 UI with new 4x25GBe Network Profile

Once all the fields have been filled in correctly we validate the inputs. Upon successful validation, we start the cluster build.

45 mins later our New vCenter and vSAN cluster is ready.

Now to expand the cluster with a new node using the manual method. The same host preparation is required as the initial setup. Obviously changing the VMK Interface address.

esxcli network ip interface ipv4 set -i vmk2 -t static -g -I -
esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup set -p "Management Network" -v 200

As we can see no hosts are automatically discovered. We will need to manually add any new hosts.

Add in the ESXI IP Address and validate. Once validation is complete click ADD

Enter the vCenter admin credentials.

Select the networking layout.

Customize the host settings by setting hostname and MGMT IP Address and passwords

For easier identification set the rack name and position of where the node is located.

Customize the vSAN and vMotion IP Addresses.

Validate all the information is correct.

Add Host

Add Host in Progress.

summarize both methods allow you to take advantage of VxRail’s automated deployment process and lifecycle management of the cluster. The zero-touch method streamlines much of the process but the manual process is an effective solution where network constraints in place. One advantage of the manual method is that one less VLAN is required for the cluster.

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