Nutanix acropolis block services–part03

In this post (Part:03) I’m covering how to configure Nutanix Acropolis Block Services (ABS). Before I start I would like to recap what was covered in Part01 and Part02.

In Part01, I covered the basics of ABS, notably new terminology, and its benefits over the previously introduced iSCSI services. I also took the opportunity to discuss in detail the use cases, especially Oracle database support.

In Part02, I discussed various considerations illustrating design considerations, especially CVM Failure scenario.

“In summary Part01 & Part02 are great to read about, but how do I actually get started fiddling around with this for myself?”

It is the main goal of this “How to post”, it is a long post. I will first configure iSCSI initiator. For iSCSI initiator, I’m using Windows 2012 R2. In case you wish to know Linux part refer official guide from Nutanix.

In Windows, iSCSI service (MSiSCSI) is stopped by default and set to manual. We have to modify the startup type to “Automatic” and then start the service. In my case, I have disabled Windows firewall.

Below is small snippet which explains how to use Powershell to configure iSCSI services

Powershell command to configure MSiSCSI service
Powershell command to configure MSiSCSI service

As a next step, we need to know what is the iQN (iSCSI Qualified Name) configured on the iSCSI initiator. iQN is automatically set. I would recommend retaining default iQN.

To learn the default iQN, Open iSCSI from Administrative tools. Click on Configuration Tab. Copy iQN under Initiator Name. In my case iQN is iqn.1991-05.com.microsoft:fileserver.shsee.org

iSCSI initiator Properties page of Windows 2012 R2 Server
iSCSI Initiator Properties page of Windows 2012 R2 Server

Create a Volume Group (VG) for use with Acropolis Block Services

You can create VG using command line i.e. ncli or using Prism interface. Both these methods are simplest.

I have created basic 101 post on how to use ncli here

But in this post, I will use Prism interface to create VGs. Click down arrow from Home button(1) and press Storage Label(2)

Nutanix Prism portal
Nutanix Prism portal

In storage tab on right-hand side select + Volume Group (3)

Create Volume Group in Prism Portal
Create Volume Group in Prism Portal

In the “Create Volume Group” dialog box, Specify the name (4) for the VG. In the next tab i.e. iSCSI Target Name Prefix (5) you just allow it to auto-fill. In the description (6) field type suitable description

Create Volume Group and Provide required Details
Create Volume Group and Provide required Details

After filling above details, you need to add disks to VGs as described here. For the purpose of this blog post, I have added one disk by clicking “Add New Disk.” Another screen opens up where you have to pick the Storage container (7) and disk size (8). For the container, I have only one which is the reason I didn’t include in the screen capture.  For the disk, I have specified 10 Gb for lab purpose.

Add disk to volume group
Add disk to volume group

You can add additional drives. Remember you can add up to 32 Disks?

Add new disk to Volume group
Add new disk to Volume group

Now let’s talk about Access Settings. You can enable External Client Access (9) to allow Non-Nutanix VMs or server to access it. I have discussed use cases in detail in Part 01

Enable Volume group to be accessed from External Client
Enable Volume group to be accessed from External Client

Right now only one-way CHAP authentication is supported. CHAP password must be 12 characters which can go up to 16 characters. It is also referred as CHAP secret. I have not configured it in this post.

Now scroll down a bit where you will see under Client IQN/Address. Here you need to add iQN we obtain in the previous section. Again, I have skipped CHAP Authentication.

Add iSCSI client (Initiator)
Add iSCSI client (Initiator)

In AOS 5.0 a new feature was introduced to whitelist Initiators.

White list iSCSI Initiators
White list iSCSI Initiators

After you press Add, you are brought back to the main screen as shown below.

After Volume group is created
After Volume group is created

Now External Data services IP Address must be defined before you go to next steps. In typical cases, it will be identified as part of the cluster configuration. In my case, 192.168.1.151 is my data services IP Address.

External Data Services IP Address
External Data Services IP Address

This is all you have to do in Prism. Let’s go back to Windows server.

Discovering and Connecting the Acropolis Block Services Target from the Windows Client

Open iSCSI initiator control panel, go the discovery Tab and click Discovery Portal(1). New Window will open a Discovery Target Portal. After Filling in External Data Services IP Address (2) (keep the default port 3260), press Ok

Configure iSCSI initiator to discover iSCSI Target
Configure iSCSI initiator to discover iSCSI Target

Now I clicked on the Targets Tab if all goes well in your case you should be able to discover VG. In my lab it did go well, I could see VG name and target id. In cases, you are not able to view the VG, try pressing refresh.

iSCSI Target discovered by iSCSI initiator
iSCSI Target discovered by iSCSI initiator

At this stage, VG is in inactive status. To activate, click on the connect button. By default “Add… Favorite Targets” checkbox is select. Leave it as default. Do not select Enable Multi-Path. In ABS you are not required to enable it. Then click on the advanced tab

iSCSI Target as Favorite Target
iSCSI Target as Favorite Target

It will open up another window, in Advanced Settings Window under General tab, specify the options on how connection will be established

Advanced configuration of iSCSI initiator to establish connection with Target
Advanced configuration of iSCSI initiator to establish connection with Target

Local Adapter (1) will be connected using Microsoft iSCSI Initiator followed by Initiator IP(2). Initiator IP could be a Teamed IP and Finally, select External Data Services IP Address as Target Portal IP Address.

To check if ABS has presented the Disk to Windows server, open Disk Management console. Whoa ! Offline Disk of 10 GB in size is seen and waiting to be formatted.

Disk added in iSCSI initiator (Windows 2012 R2)

Disk added in iSCSI initiator (Windows 2012 R2)That is all for the post.