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How To: Using VCF with iSCSI as Supplemental Storage

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VMware Cloud Foundation provides wizard-driven workflows that enable users to deploy entire vCenter-based environments with a few clicks. This workflow automates many of the repetitive tasks normally associated with creation and maintenance. This document provides step-by-step instructions for bringing up a Workload Domain within VMware Cloud Foundation that you can then connect to Pure Storage FlashArray(s) for VMFS and/or vVols block storage datastores.

The following flowchart represents the VMware Cloud Foundation process. It is worth noting that you can use the vSAN Workload type with Pure Storage. However, because this often requires additional local disk hardware and licensing costs, the bulk of our customers use the NFS storage type to better utilize VSAN ready nodes elsewhere in the business.


You must complete the following prerequisite prior to the steps outlined in this article:

  • Management Cluster (4-8 hosts) with vSAN is deployed using VMware Cloud Builder.
  • VMware SDDC Manager is available and online.
  • ESXi is installed on all target Workload Servers and the following services have been enabled per this VMware KB.
  • Pure Storage FlashArray(s) has/have been cabled, setup, and properly zoned for connectivity to Workload Domain ESXi hosts with FC and/or iSCSI.
  • NFS share is available and the network is routed properly for Workload Domain setup. So, the NFS share is routable to the SDDC Manager management network VLAN. In this guide, we use a Pure Storage FlashBlade as an example, but a Linux VM with NFS configured is an acceptable alternative.
Workload Domain Deployment Process

Step 1: In VMware Cloud Foundation, select + Workload Domain from the top-right of the GUI.


Step 2:  Select a storage type. We use NFS in this example.


Step 3: Provide basic cluster identifying information.


Step 4: Provide Workload Domain vCenter specifications. 

You must set up forward and reverse DNS lookup entries prior to Workload Domain construction.


Step 5: There are two options for networking with VMware Cloud Foundation: NSX-V and NSX-T.  Starting with VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0 and up, NSX-T is the only networking option.

You must download the NSX-T installation package to the SDDC Manager repository prior to that option being functional. Similar to vCenter, all DNS forward and reverse lookup entries must be made prior to deployment. In this example deployment, we use NSX-V.


Step 6: Select a minimum of three ESXi hosts as members of the Workload Domain cluster. You can remove or create additional hosts later (provided there is a minimum of three hosts). This workflow enhances the ability to scale up and scale down workloads based on real-time business needs.


Step 7: Supply a Datastore name to the NFS folder and a data VIP to the FlashBlade. In this example, we set up an NFS file system on a Pure Storage FlashBlade. If on separate VLANs, ensure that the defined network for vCenter back in step 3 has access to the NFS Server IP Address.


Step 8: Provide license files.


Step 9: Confirm that the Object Names that are auto-generated via the earlier steps in the deployment do not conflict with any existing VMware Objects.


Step 10: Review the deployment settings and click Finish to build the environment.

Step 11: Once the Workload Domain finishes deploying, you have multiple options to connect and administer Pure Storage. 

The following are some options: 

Deploying Pure Storage HTML5 Plug-In to Workload Domain

As an example, this guide demonstrates how to integrate your new Workload vCenter instance with the Pure Storage vSphere HTML5 Plug-In, enable vVols support, and migrate your Workload Domain vCenter instance to it. The easiest method to enable the plug-in is via PowerShell. A KB article describing this process in more detail can be found here.

Step 1: Use PowerShell to enable the vSphere web client plugin for Pure Storage and install it to the Workload Domain vCenter generated in the previous section (this step can also be accomplished via the Pure Storage GUI).

>install-module PureStorage.FlashArray.VMware

>connect-viserver -Server <FQDN or IP Address of Workload Domain vCenter)

Step 2: In the spawned window, provide administrative vSphere credentials.


>Install-PfavSpherePlugin -version 4.1.0

Step 3: Navigate to the vCenter GUI and go to Menu > Pure Storage. Select +Add to add one or more FlashArrays. 



Step 4: In vCenter register the Storage Provider to enable vVols support for the array or arrays that you wish to use, and select the Workload Domain vCenter.



Step 5: You might need to configure ESXi hosts for iSCSI and/or add as hosts to the array if not already done so. You can set up a host group via the plugin by right-clicking on the cluster and navigating to the Pure Storage context menu as pictured below.  


Step 6: Create a vVols datastore using the Pure Storage vCenter menu via the following steps.



Step 7: By default Workload Domains are deployed in vCenter enhanced linked-mode, thereby putting both the Management Domain and Workload Domain(s) under a single pane of glass for management. You can also seamlessly migrate your virtual machines not only between vCenter instances and hosts but between VSAN and Pure Storage, which helps speed up the process. In this step, we move the newly deployed vCenter instance to the Workload Domain ESXi cluster and the newly created Pure Storage vVol.





Narrated Video Demo