EMC VPLEX Virtual Edition – Part 1 – Prerequisites

In this series I will provide an insight into a recent deployment I performed of EMC VPLEX Virtual Edition 2.1 SP1 (VPLEX/VE).

For those who are not familiar with the product, VPLEX/VE is a virtual storage platform which provides storage capabilities for Active-Active datacentres for VMware vSphere stretched clusters. The vSphere stretched cluster is configured with compute, network and storage at two physical sites. EMC VPLEX/VE together with the vSphere stretched cluster resources provide the functional requirements to run virtual machines from either datacentre, as well as the ability to move VMs between sites using vMotion and Storage vMotion.

VPLEX Witness is an optional, but recommended, component which helps VPLEX Virtual Edition automate the response to site failures and inter-site link outages. VPLEX Witness component is deployed as a virtual machine on a standalone ESXi host at a third site to eliminate the possibility of a single fault that affects a site and VPLEX Witness simultaneously.

VPLEX Witness connects to both the VPLEX/VE sites over the management IP network through the vManagement Server.

VPLEX Witness observes the states of the vApps on both the sites, and distinguishes between an outage of the inter-site link and a site failure. VPLEX Witness guides the sites to resume or suspend I/O depending on the failure.

The diagram below illustrates the EMC VPLEX Virtual Edition components.

VPLEX Virtual Edition

The first step in planning a VPLEX/VE deployment is to ensure your environment fulfills the following prerequisites;

Please refer to the EMC VPLEX/VE Support Matrix and the VPLEX/VE Installation Guide for the most up-to-date information.

VMware vSphere Requirements

  • VMware vCenter 5.1 (Update 1a or later) & 5.5
    • VMware vCenter 6.0 is not supported
  • VMware ESXi 5.0/5.1/5.5
    • x64 Hardware
    • HyperThreading enabled
    • At least 6 virtual CPU cores per host
    • At least 16GB available memory per host
    • VMware ESXi 6.0 is not supported
  • vSphere Web Client
    • vSphere C# Client is not supported
  • A single vSphere stretched cluster with a minimum of four VMware ESXi hosts per site
    • vSphere vMotion enabled (maximum 10ms RTT)
    • vSphere DRS enabled
    • vSphere HA enabled
  • Four VMFS-5 datastores per site. These datastores are used for the placement of the VPLEX/VE vDirector and vManagement server virtual machines. The back-end IP SAN provides iSCSI storage connectivity to these datastores.
    • 1 x VMFS-5 datastore with at least 240GB free space. This datastore is used for the initial placement of the VPLEX/VE vApp. During deployment, a single vDirector and the vManagement Server virtual machines will remain on this datastore, the three other vDirector VMs will be relocated to their own individual datastore.
    • 3 x VMFS-5 datastores with at least 40GB free space. These datastores are used for the three remaining vDirector VMs.

Storage Requirements

  • A minimum of one EMC iSCSI storage array per site (two recommended)
    • EMC VNX2 5200/5400/5600/5800/7600/8000
    • EMC VNXe 3150/3300
    • EMC VNXe 1600/3200 is not supported
  • Four iSCSI connections per array (two per SP)
  • A minimum of six 21GB LUNs per site
    • Two 21GB meta-volumes per site
    • Two 21GB backup meta-volumes per site
    • Two 21GB logging volumes per site
  • Separate arrays/storage pools/disk spindles for meta, backup and logging volumes (Recommended)

Network Requirements

  • Two physically separate networks between sites (Recommended)
  • A minimum of six virtual switches (Standard or Distributed)
  • A minimum of 9 unique network subnets per site
    • 1 x IP Management
    • 2 x Front-End IP SAN
    • 2 x Back-End IP SAN
    • 2 x WAN COM (Inter-Site)
    • 2 x Local COM (Intra-Site)
  • IPv4 only
    • IPv6 is not supported

The diagram below shows the Distributed vSwitch configuration I used in my deployment. All eight ESXi hosts within the cluster were connected to Distributed Switches vDS0, vDS1, vDS2 & vDS5. Distributed Switches vDS3 & vDS4 were connected to their corresponding ESXi hosts at each site.

EMC VPLEX Virtual Edition vSwitch RequirementsVPLEX Witness (Optional)

  • VMware ESXi 5.0/5.1/5.5
    • VMware ESXi 6.0 is not supported
    • Must run on a standalone VMware ESXi host
      • VMware HA/DRS clusters are not supported
      • VMware Server, Player, Workstation & Fusion are not supported
    • x64 Hardware
    • HyperThreading enabled
    • Requires one vCPU, 512MB RAM & 2.5GB storage space
    • Requires 1GbE network connectivity to the VPLEX/VE vManagement servers at both sites

In my next post I will cover some of the planning and implementation steps required to deploy VPLEX/VE. Please stay tuned.

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