Home » ESXi

Tag: ESXi

HPE Storage Controller Management (ssacli)

This time I decided to do a blog post about the HPE Smart Array RAID controllers with their wonderful ssacli tool. The tooling of HPE is very powerful because you can online manage a VMware ESXi host and migrate for example from a RAID 1 volume to a RAID 10 without downtime or change the read and write cache ratio.

So far as I know I haven’t seen an identical tool yet from the other server hardware vendors like Cisco, Dell EMC, IBM, and Supermicro. The main difference has always been that the HPE tool can perform the operation live without downtime. 

So far as I can remember it has been there for ages. It was already available for VMware ESX 4.0 and is still available in VMware ESXi 6.7. So thumbs-up for HPE :).

Let’s talk about controller support. The tool supports the most HPE SmartArray controllers over the last 10 to 15 years, for example, the Smart Array P400 was released in 2005 and is still working fine today.

Here is an overview of supported controllers:

  • HPE Smart Array P2XX
  • HPE Smart Array P4XX
  • HPE Smart Array P7XX
  • HPE Smart Array P8XX

HPE SSACLI – Location

In case you are using the HPE VMware ESXi custom images. The tool is already pre-installed when installing ESXi. The tool is installed as a VIB (vSphere Installable Bundle). This means it can also be updated with vSphere Update Manager.

Over the years the name of the HPE Storage Controller Tool has been changed and so has the location. Here is a list of locations that have been used for the last ten years for VMware ESXi:

# Location VMware ESXi 4.0/4.1/5.0
/opt/hp/hpacucli/bin/hpacucli

# Location VMware ESXi 5.1/5.5/6.0
/opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli

# Location VMware ESXi 6.5/6.7
/opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli


HPE SSACLI – Examples

I have collected some screenshots over the years. Screenshots were taken by doing maintenance on VMware ESXi servers. The give you an idea what valuable information can be shown.


HPE SSACLI – Abréviation

All commands have a short name to reduce the length of the total input provided to the ssacli tool:

### Shortnames:
- chassisname = ch
- controller = ctrl 
- logicaldrive = ld
- physicaldrive = pd 
- drivewritecache = dwc
- licensekey = lk

### Specify drives:
- A range of drives (one to three): 1E:1:1-1E:1:3
- Drives that are unassigned: allunassigned

HPE SSACLI – Status

To view the status of the controller, disks or volumes you can run all sorts of commands to get information about what is going on in your VMware ESXi server. The extensive detail is very useful for troubleshooting and gathering information about the system.

# Show - Controller Slot 1 Basic configuration
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config

# Show - Controller Slot 1 Detailed configuration
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config detail

# Show - Controller Slot 1 Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show status

# Show - All Controllers Configuration
./ssacli ctrl all show config

# Show - Controller slot 1 logical drive 1 status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 show status

# Show - Basic Physical Disks status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status

# Show - Detailed Physical Disk status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status

HPE SSACLI – Creating

Creating a new logical drive can be done online with the HPE Smart Array controllers. I have displayed some basic examples.

# Create - New single disk volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=2I:0:8 raid=0 forced

# Create - New spare disk (two defined)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array all add spares=2I:1:6,2I:1:7

# Create - New RAID 1 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2 raid=1 forced

# Create - New RAID 5 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2,1I:0:3 raid=5 forced

HPE SSACLI – Adding drives to logical drive

Adding drives to an already created logical drive is possible with the following commands. You need to perform two actions: adding the drive(s) and expanding the logical drive. Keep in mind: make a backup before performing the procedure.

# Add - All unassigned drives to logical drive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 add drives=allunassigned

# Modify - Extend logical drive 2 size to maximum (must be run with the "forced" flag)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify size=max forced

HPE SSACLI – Rescan controller

To issue a controller rescan, you can run the following command. This can be interesting for when you add new drives in hot swap bays.

### Rescan all controllers
./ssacli rescan

HPE SSACLI – Drive Led Status

The LED status of the drives can also be controlled by the ssacli utility. An example is displayed below how to enable and disable a LED.

# Led - Activate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=on

# Led - Deactivate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=off

# Led - Activate LED on physical drive
ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=on

# Led - Deactivate LED on physical drive
ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=off


HPE SSACLI – Modify Cache Ratio

Modify the cache ratio on a running system can be interesting for troubleshooting and performance beanchmarking.

# Show - Cache Ratio Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=?

# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 50% / write: 50%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=50/50

# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 0% / Write: 100%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=0/100


HPE SSACLI – Modify Write Cache

Changing the write cache settings on the storage controller can be done with the following commands:

# Show - Write Cache Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify dwc=?

# Modify - Enable Write Cache on controller
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify dwc=enable forced

# Modify - Disable Write Cache on controller
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify dwc=disable forced

# Show - Write Cache Logicaldrive Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 logicaldrive 1 modify aa=?

# Modify - Enable Write Cache on Logicaldrive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 logicaldrive 1 modify aa=enable

# Modify - Disable Write Cache on Logicaldrive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 logicaldrive 1 modify aa=disable

HPE SSACLI – Modify Rebuild Priority

Viewing or changing the rebuild priority can be done on the fly. Even when the rebuild is already active. Used it myself a couple of times to lower the impact on production.

# Show - Rebuild Priority Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rp=?

# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Low
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=low

# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Medium
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=medium

# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to High
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=high

HPE SSACLI – Modify SSD Smart Path

You can modify the HPE SDD Smart Path feature by disabling or enabling. To make clear what the HPE SDD Smart Path includes, here is a official statement by HPE: 

“HP SmartCache feature is a controller-based read and write caching solution that caches the most frequently accessed data (“hot” data) onto lower latency SSDs to dynamically accelerate application workloads. This can be implemented on direct-attached storage and SAN storage.”

For example, when running VMware vSAN SSD Smart Path must be disabled for better performance. In some cases worse the entire vSAN disk group fails.

# Modify - Enable SSD Smart Path
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array a modify ssdsmartpath=enable

# Modify - Disable SSD Smart Path
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array a modify ssdsmartpath=disable

HPE SSACLI – Delete Logical Drive

Deleting a logical drive on the HPE Smart Array controller can be done with the following commands.

# Delete - Logical Drive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 delete

# Delete - Logical Drive 2
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 delete

HPE SSACLI – Erasing Physical Drives

In some cases, you need to erase a physical drive. This can be performed with multiple erasing options. Also, you can stop the process.

Erase patterns available:

  • Default
  • Zero
  • Random_zero
  • Random_random_zero
# Erase physical drive with default erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 2I:1:1 modify erase

# Erase physical drive with zero erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 2I:1:1 modify erase erasepattern=zero

# Erase physical drive with random zero erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 1E:1:1-1E:1:3 modify erase erasepattern=random_zero

# Erase physical drive with random random zero erasepattern
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 1E:1:1-1E:1:3 modify erase erasepattern=random_random_zero

# Stop the erasing process on phsyical drive 1E:1:1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd 1E:1:1 modify stoperase

HPE SSACLI – License key

In some cases a licence key needs to be installed on the SmartArray storage controller to enable the advanced features. This can be done with the following command:

# License key installation
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 licensekey XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

# License key removal
./ssacli ctrl slot=5 lk XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX delete 

Related sources

A couple of interesting links related to the HPE Storage Controller tool for VMware ESXi:

Share this:

Automated installation with VMware ESXi 5.5/6.0/6.5

In this blog post, we are going to automate the installation of VMware ESXi 5.5, 6.0 and 6.5. This can be done with a so-called “kickstart” configuration file which is officially supported by VMware. The file contains the configuration for a VMware ESXi Host to configure settings like IP address, subnet mask, hostname, license key, datastore, etc.

The kickstart configuration file can be made available in the following locations:

  • FTP
  • HTTP/HTTPS
  • NFS Share
  • USB flash drive
  • CD/DVD device

Personally, I prefer to use the HTTP protocol.



Use Case

You might ask yourself, why should I install an ESXi Host with a kickstart file? Some of the use cases I identified over the years are:

  • The very first ESXi Hosts for your SDDC environment (before VMware vCenter is deployed or vSphere Auto Deploy is configured).
  • A standalone ESXi Host for a small environment.
  • A Home Lab environment to install nested VMware ESXi Hosts.

Setup a web server

To make the kickstart configuration file available for the ESXi host we need a web server. Basically, every web server available on the market can serve this file. Here is a list of web server products that I have used: Apache, Microsoft IIS and NGINX.

In this environment/example I used a Microsoft IIS server on a Windows 10 Client. Do not forget to add the cfg extension to the MIME types.

Configuration file

Now it’s time to create a text file with your favourite text editor. The text file in this example is called (ks.cfg). I have added two configuration files as samples, one with the minimum settings and one I normally use for my Lab environment.

Configuration file – Simple (ks.cfg)

This is a default ks.cfg configuration file with just the minimum of settings required.

#
# Sample scripted installation file
#
 
# Accept the VMware End User License Agreement
vmaccepteula
 
# Set the root password for the DCUI and Tech Support Mode
rootpw mypassword
 
# The install media is in the CD-ROM drive
install --firstdisk --overwritevmfs
 
# Set the network to DHCP on the first network adapter
network --bootproto=dhcp --device=vmnic0
 
# A sample post-install script
%post --interpreter=python --ignorefailure=true
import time
stampFile = open('/finished.stamp', mode='w')
stampFile.write( time.asctime() )

Configuration file – Advanced (ks.cfg)

This is the more advanced version of the configuration file that also configures a lot of other settings like NTP servers, search domain, CEIP and a static IP address for the management interface.

### ESXi Installation Script
### Hostname: LAB-ESXi01A
### Author: M. Buijs
### Date: 2017-08-11
### Tested with: ESXi 6.0 and ESXi 6.5
 
##### Stage 01 - Pre installation:
 
    ### Accept the VMware End User License Agreement
    vmaccepteula
 
    ### Set the root password for the DCUI and Tech Support Mode
    rootpw VMware1!
 
    ### The install media (priority: local / remote / USB)
    install --firstdisk=local --overwritevmfs --novmfsondisk
 
    ### Set the network to DHCP on the first network adapter
    network --bootproto=static --device=vmnic0 --ip=192.168.151.101 --netmask=255.255.255.0 --gateway=192.168.151.254 --nameserver=192.168.126.21,192.168.151.254 --hostname=LAB-ESXi01A.lab.local --addvmportgroup=0
 
    ### Reboot ESXi Host
    reboot --noeject
 
##### Stage 02 - Post installation:
 
    ### Open busybox and launch commands
    %firstboot --interpreter=busybox
 
    ### Set Search Domain
    esxcli network ip dns search add --domain=lab.local
 
    ### Add second NIC to vSwitch0
    esxcli network vswitch standard uplink add --uplink-name=vmnic1 --vswitch-name=vSwitch0
 
    ###  Disable IPv6 support (reboot is required)
    esxcli network ip set --ipv6-enabled=false
 
    ### Add NTP Server addresses
    echo "server 192.168.126.21" >> /etc/ntp.conf;
    echo "server 192.168.151.254" >> /etc/ntp.conf;
 
    ### Allow NTP through firewall
    esxcfg-firewall -e ntpClient
 
    ### Enable NTP autostartup
    /sbin/chkconfig ntpd on;
 
    ### Rename local datastore (currently disabled because of --novmfsondisk)
    #vim-cmd hostsvc/datastore/rename datastore1 "DAS - $(hostname -s)"
 
    ### Disable CEIP
    esxcli system settings advanced set -o /UserVars/HostClientCEIPOptIn -i 2
 
    ### Enable maintaince mode
    esxcli system maintenanceMode set -e true
 
    ### Reboot
    esxcli system shutdown reboot -d 15 -r "rebooting after ESXi host configuration"


Installing an ESXi Host with Kickstart file

The following procedure needs to be performed to boot from a kickstart file:

  1. Boot the ESXi host with a VMware ESXi ISO (ISO file can be obtained from the VMware download page).
  2. Press the key combination “shift + o” at boot.
  3. Enter one of the following lines after runweasel:
    • For an HTTP share: ks=http://%IP_or_FQDN%/kg.cfg
    • For an HTTPs share: ks=https://%IP_or_FQDN%/kg.cfg
    • For a NFS share: ks=nfs://%IP_or_FQDN%/ks.cfg
  4. The installation will start and use the kickstart configuration file (ks.cfg).
  5. After the installation is complete the ESXi Host will reboot.

Screenshots

HTTP Path to ks.cfg file on webserver
HTTP Path to ks.cfg file on webserver
ESXi Host is downloading/reading file from HTTP mirror
ESXi Host is downloading/reading file from HTTP mirror

Article updates:

  • 2018-10-04 – This article has been updated.
  • 2018-11-16 – Code blocks were not displaying correctly.

Share this:

VMware vSphere 6.5 General Availability

vSphere 6.5 - Logo

VMware vSphere 6.5 is General Available (GA) so this means it is available for download on the VMware website!

For those who like to try out vSphere 6.5. The download mirrors are listed below.

It might be a good idea to wait a couple of months or even until vSphere 6.5 Update 1 is released to put into production.

For those who are interested. In vSphere 6.5 the following features are now available. Keep in mind there are a lot of more items new or changed in this release. I just listed the most interesting:

  • VMware vCenter Appliance Enhancements:
    • Migration Tool
    • Improved appliance management
    • Native high availability
    • Native backup and restore
    • New API Explorer
  • VMware vCenter Administrative Interfaces:
    • vSphere Web Client enhancements
    • vSphere Web Client integration with vSphere Update Manager
    • vSphere Web Client integration with Host Profiles
    • vSphere Web Client integration with Auto Deploy
    • vSphere Client is onboard (HTML5)
  • vSphere 6.5 – Availability Enhancements
    • Proactive HA
    • VMware vSphere High Availability Orchestrated Restart
    • vSphere HA Admission Control Improvements
    • vSphere HA Support for NVIDIA GRID vGPU Configured VMs
  • vSphere 6.5 – Fault Tolerance Enhancements
    • Improved integration with vSphere DRS
    • Reduced network latency
    • Support for multiple port groups
  • vSphere 6.5 – Storage Enhancements
    • Advanced Format Drives and 512e Mode
    • Automated UNMAP
    • LUN Scalability (maximum number of LUNs to 256 and paths to 1,024)
    • NFS 4.1 Support
    • Software iSCSI Static Routing Support
  • vSphere 6.5 – Network Enhancements
    • Dedicated Gateways for VMkernel Network Adapter
    • SR-IOV Provisioning
  • vSphere 6.5 – Security
    • Virtual Machine Encryption
    • Encrypted vMotion
    • Secure boot support
    • Enhanced logging

vSphere 6.5 Announcement

The official announcement can be found on the following page (Link: VMware Announces General Availability of vSphere 6.5). The complete overview can be found in the VMware White Paper – vSphere 6.5 – What’s New PDF file.

vSphere 6.5 Download

Here are the download locations on the VMware.com website.

Share this: