Installing PernixData FVP v2.x in my lab!

Hello there,

This series will help you get FVP installed, configured and working. This is what PernixData says that FVP is:

PernixData FVP™ software puts storage intelligence into server flash and RAM to accelerate the performance of virtualized applications

There will be multiple articles in the series and they will all be listed below.

  • Installing PernixData FVP in my lab – part 1 – installing FVP Host Extension, Management server and checking out Monitor mode (this article)
  • Configuring FVP for acceleration – part 2

As well, any articles on my web site about PernixData can be found using this tag.

Background

PernixData FVP is the world’s first and only enterprise class, server-side storage intelligence platform that is embedded in the hypervisor to provide reliable, low cost, I/O performance enhancements to unmodified virtual machines (VMs) on existing primary storage.

PernixData virtualizes server-side flash and server RAM across all hypervisor nodes in a compute cluster and hooks the high-speed server-side resources into existing VM I/O paths to transparently reduce the IOPS burden on an existing storage system. Customers leverage PernixData’s FVP with their existing primary storage deployments and manage them within the context of their familiar hypervisor management tools. (Thanks for these words and sentences to the writer of the PernixData 2.0.1.1 release notes).

Prerequisites

  • Win2K12 host with 8 GB and either 2x vCPU or 4x depending on load. I am using 4x as I have 40ish VMs and that will grow. Not sure if I will cache all of them.
  • SSD should be clean, and directly accessible – no RAID if possible. Sometimes you have to use RAID – like me, due to the disk controller I am using and in that case do RAID-0.  I have Dell hardware, and so I used the Technical Reference 1003 – RAID Controller Configuration – Dell PERC as my guide (available from your Pernix portal).  Mostly that means to boot each host and configure a RAID-0 VD configured with stripe element of 64 KB, No Read Ahead, and Write-Back.
  • SSD has to be exclusive to FVP so boot from PXE / SAN or USB / SD. In my case I would say PXE or SD, and I am using SD.
  • Normally you want to use Write Back (WB) but if using array base snapshots then use Write Through just before snap occurs – and change back to WB afterwards. This can be scripted if you like with PowerCLI.  Important Note: Some of my virtual machines that I will enhance with FVP will in fact be protected with DataGravity DiscoveryPoint so that means, among other things, a snapshot of the VM.  Since there is no API for my storage (yet) to talk to PernixData and flush the cache before the snapshot, I am going to use Write-Through (WT) to avoid this issue.  When the API shows up, I will change to WB.
  • The host extension needs to be installed on each host connected to the cluster.
  • We need a service account that is a domain user, with admin rights local to the FVP management server, and with admin rights in vCenter. It needs DBO rights as well on the Pernix DB.  This account also needs sysadmin for the install process – it most certainly can be removed after install.
  • The FVP database should be set to simple recovery.
  • I suggest using SQL that is not on the PernixData management server.
  • Of note, the SSD in use does not have to be the same type or size across the cluster.
  • If there are firewalls in use on your management network or between hosts and vC you likely have issues before we start. To avoid them with FVP check out the ports required table on page 6 of the Install Guide.
  • vSphere should be ESXi 5.0, 5.1 or 5.5. I am using patched as of today 5.5 U2.
  • In this article we are implementing PernixData FVP 2.5.
  • Storage must support VMware Native Multipathing Plugin (NMP) and be on the VMware Compatibility Guide.
  • Make sure that all of your hosts have a persistent scratch location. See VMware KB 1033696 for more info. Also see my article on fixing this if you need to! If you are booting to SD – like I am – then you will need to deal with this.

Install – host extension

We need to install the host extension and that is most easily done via VUM. It can be done by hand and esxcli but better to automate.

Bits

So we start with having the host extension bits somewhere accessible.  No need to extract.

Extension1

Firewall

Each host needs a firewall change to support PernixData.  See below what needs to be in each host’s firewall.

Firewall

Important to note that you do not have to do this, but it is good to understand.  Once the PernixData host extension is done you will see the new firewall rules.

Baseline – Create

We need to create a baseline to apply the PernixData FVP software to the hosts.

  • For this we start in the C# client in the VUM area.

Baseline1

  • We create our baseline with the Create button.

NewBaseline

  • It is important to note that you must select Host Extension under Host Baselines otherwise you will never get your bits installed!
  • We need to make this a fixed baseline.

Baseline3

Notice in the next screen how I did a search on pern to find the host extension software?  I then used the downward arrow to add it to the window for Fixed Patches to Add.

Baseline4

Baseline5

  • After you hit Next you will see a summary and a Finish button.

Baseline6

Baseline – Attach to cluster

We will attach the new baseline to the cluster to make it easier to add to the current or new servers.

  • So still in the C# vSphere Client, change to the Cluster VUM tab.

AttachBaseLine1

  • If you right + click in the white space of Attached Baselines you get an Attach prompt as seen above.

AttachBaseLine2

  • We make sure our new baseline has a check-mark beside it as seen above.
  • Once you attach you see a screen like below, where the compliance is unknown due to that newly attached baseline.

AttachBaseLine3

  • Now you continue just like you have many times when updating ESXi hosts (hopefully).  Use the Remediate button in the bottom right of the screen.

Remediate1

  • You need to make sure that Extension Baselines is selected and then select the name of the PernixData baseline.  After that you should have all of the hosts selected.

Remediate2

  • You will see a summary of the patch and number of hosts.  Next. We generally use the Immediately on the next screen screen.

Remediate4

  • In the next screen, called Host Remediation Options, we generally we leave the options as is.

Remediate5

  • If you have users that often or even sometimes leave CD’s attached to their VM you may think of selecting the option above to disable them as part of this process.
  • The next screen is more important.

Remediate6

  • There are a number of options here you might think about using.  For certain the first two above you should think about enabling – Disable FT and Disable HA admission.  The third is good if you are not supporting a lot of virtual machines and want things to move faster.
  • Once you see the Ready to Complete window you can do Finish and the work will start.  It will not take long, and you will not have an outage your end users will see. This is just like applying host patches so it is pretty smooth.  Once it is done your status should look like mine.

RemediateSuccess

Now we are ready to continue on with the management server.

Test

Aside from checking the status of the baseline being installed to confirm things, if you are curious you can also check via the CLI.

On the ESXi console execute the following command:

~ # esxcli software vib list | grep per

And you will see:

pernixcore-vSphere5.5.0 2.5.0.2-36387 PernixData PartnerSupported 2015-05-28

Install – management server

We have a win2K12 VM ready to go. Some things that should be ready include:

  • We need a database and db connection created before install.
  • Make sure SQL Browser Server working too.
  • Our management server should have a static IP and a resolvable FQDN.
  • Bits should be available and ready to use.

Ready to start?

  • Lets log into our server via RDP using the account that is our service account and has vCenter and database privileges.
  • Create the ODBC connection to our database and server.
  • Now locate the bits and start the install!

bits

  •  Once you start the install, you may see a UAC message, and you will see an EULA, and then you are prompted for the path.

Install1

  • I like to pick Custom in the next screen so I see more of what is going on – so I will do that here too.

Install2

  • We see there is not much choice really in the next screen.

Install3

  • In the next screen you need to provide the vCenter connection info, as well as the service account password.  Check out my screen below.

Install4

  • In the screen above the Account name is my service account with access to vCenter, local admin and the database.  I have logged on as it to do the install which helps with the ODBC connection.  The install process will suggest an account name that is not correct so make sure it is before you proceed on – meaning browse to the account and select it.

Install5

  • On this next screen – Database Server – you select you database server and connect method.  You can see above my info.

Install6

  • On this next screen you need to identify the FVP management server.  I found the FQDN of mine in the drop-down list and selected it – as seen above.
  • On the next screen you get to select Install.
  • However, after that you may get a Java prompt.

Install7

  • I let Java install.
  • And then I had a problem.  And at 1604 on a Friday afternoon too!

Install8

  • Looks like a database permissions issue.  I thought the service account only needed DBO access but it looks like I missed something.  I did in fact.  I need to provide the sysadmin DB permissions to the FVP service for the install process. I will update the requirements above.  Now I have to start the install process again.
  • Second time through did not require the Java install again so it was left installed by the rollback I went through.
  • And in a very short time we are done.

Done

  • What I see here includes something that is new to me.  It mentions that the vSphere Web Client has been updated with PernixData.  Nice!
  • I log into the vSphere Web Client and don’t see Pernix.  So I check under Client Plug-ins in the Administration view.

web

  • I can see that the plug-in is installed so I try close and open my browser.  Still no luck.  The image above that says FVP is installed suggested I may need to restart vCenter to fix this.  It appears that may be true.
  • Wait, I need to look in a different place.  When I look into the vCenter view I see what I should see.

Seen

So we have FVP installed now and we can continue!

Configure – Monitor Mode

I have heard about monitor mode and it will me what my performance is before I do any caching.  Sort of lets me do the before and after that will help me understand how successful my investment is!  Some good info on monitor mode can be found here, and here.

  • So lets log into the vSphere Web Client.
  • Select vCenter from the Home screen and then look towards the bottom of the screen for PernixData FVP.

First1

  • Now select FVP Clusters.
  • Near the top you can select an icon to create a new FVP Cluster.

First2

  • You will be prompted to fill in some fields to create your first FVP cluster.

First3

  • Make sure to call it Monitor as it will not be doing any caching since it has no resources to cache and you don’t want any confusion later.  When you OK this you will see something a little familiar.  I sure like having the FVP admin UI inside the vSphere Web Client.

First4

  • Now change to the Manage tab, then change to the Datastores/VMs panel, and look for the Add VMs button.

First5

  •  I pick two VMs – one is my desktop and one is my vCenter.  Don’t worry about the Write Policy as we are not doing any caching.

First6

  • If you now change to the Monitor tab, and the Performance panel you can see some performance graphs.  I like the VM Latency (Avg) one.

First7

  • If you let time go by it becomes more interesting.

Long

I suggest that you get some data on the VM(s) that you are going to cache so you understand the before and after.  What I see here is an average that is showing occasional peaks around 30 ms with average around 10 – 14 ms.  I wonder how that will change when things are cached.

Summary

We have worked through installing the FVP host extension using VUM, as well as testing that it really worked!  We have got the FVP management software installed as well and we have confirmed everything using Monitor Mode.

Update:

  • 1/27/16 – added v2.x as I am about to do the 3.1x stuff.

In our next article we will enable caching and see how that improves things!

Michael

=== END ===

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Posted in How To
2 comments on “Installing PernixData FVP v2.x in my lab!
  1. Chip says:

    Michael, what model controller and SSD are you using here?

    • Hi Chip,

      Sorry for the wait on this. I am using Dell R720 hardware which I like a great deal, and I am using a Dell H710 PERC controller with Intel DC S3700 SSD. This all works great BUT, do not buy the H710 with Dell R720 hosts, you should buy the H710P instead. While it works, it was not designed for the 720 so that means OpenManage Integration with vCenter will not do firmware updates of it! Very frustrating!!
      Michael

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