I am recently spending a lot of time with IBM Softlayer, in particular I am building vSphere running inside Softlayer. In this series of articles I want to show how you can build an environment with vSphere 6 and VSAN inside Softlayer.
One important note: although I work in IBM, my view is form customer perspective. The articles describe my personal experience. If you will have any questions related to pricing, the best will be to contact Softlayer sales representative.
Here is what I will demonstrate:
- Ordering bare-metal servers with VMware ESXi on them. (this article),
- Ordering vCenter servers instance,
- Ordering required networking components.(VLANs, subnets),
- Preparing bare-metal servers to work with VSAN(updating drivers and firmware).
Ordering bare-metal servers with VMware ESXi 6 using Softlayer Portal
As first step, we of course need to order some physical, or as Softlayer call them, bare-metal servers.
I will assume that you already have an account on Softlayer and you are ready to login to the control portal at https://control.softlayer.com/.
After logging in, simply click the Devices icon in the Order panel.
In the pop-up window, select ⊕ Monthly under Bare Metal Servers.
Note: You may ask why not ⊕ Hourly. The thing is that only 1U servers with maximum of 4 drives support are available for purchase when using hourly, which will limit you from using VSAN.
In the next pop-up windows select the server config you want to use, make sure it has at least 12 drives slots available, so that you can build a VSAN datastore. In my example I will go with Dual socket Intel Xeon E5-2620 v3 with Up to 12 drives. To select it, click the Price.
Yet another Pop-up windows will be opened, where you will configure Server details.
1. Select Quantity of Servers you want to order
In my example I will order 3.
In my example I will place my servers in AMS03 Data Center in Amsterdam.
3. Configure Server details
I do not want to go into details on each of the options available during purchase, as this article is not about how to order servers on Softlayer but about how to build vSphere on Softlayer. Important points in the next section are: RAM, Operating System and Hard Drives. Let’s go though each of those one by one.
Under RAM, select how much RAM you want your servers to have. In my example I will be using 64 GB.
Under Operating system, make sure you select vSphere Enterprise Plus 6.0. To do that, click Show Operating Systems, then VMware and tick the radio button next to vSphere Enterprise Plus 6.0.
- As you may know, Softlayer does not provide ESXi installed on an SD card or one on a USB drive. We will need to dedicate OS disks, and we will want those OS disks to be Protected. For that, in my example, I will order 2 x 1TB drives and will join them into RAID 1,
- For VSAN, we need an SSD and the size of that SSD should be (according to various sources) equal to 5%-10% of the total size of back-end spinning disks. In this example I will order a singe 800GB SSD disk. I will mark this disk as JBOD so that RAID controller will expose them to ESXi,
- Again, for VSAN we need some backed spinning disks. In my example I am going to create singe Disk group with 4 x 2TB SATA disks. Those disks should also be marked as JBOD.
The procedure of creating RAIDs and JBODs is quite simple. Select the disk slot, click Assign disks, select the disk which you want to be places in that slot. Then mark the disks you want to join in RAID and click Create RAID Storage group. In Type drop-down, select the RAID level you want to use and click Done.
The way Softlayer creates RAID groups, is not the best for VSAN, so we will be recreating those anyway in Part 4 of these series.
So, to summarize, we have first 2 disks in RAID1, and remaining disks marked as JBOD. Here is how it looks for me.
4. Configuring Network Options
There is one important point to consider when configuring network. By default, Softlayer provides network links configured to use LACP with active/passive configuration. Which does not necessarily mean it is bad if you are planning to use Distributed switch. But, from my experience, I would recommend to avoid this configuration. The reason is we can always configure fail-over on vSphere side and there is no much need for any magic on Physical network side.
Based on this, in my example, I will click on Show Uplink Speeds and select 10 Gbps Dual Public & Private Network Uplinks (Unbonded).
I will keep remaining Network parameters on their Default values.
NOTE: Based on comment from Jack Cherkas: Although NICs are requested as unbonded, to to truly disable LACP, Softlayer will need make a change on switches (which will require a brief 2-3 minute network downtime), once this is done, the ESX hosts will be truly unbonded. PSo, you may want to open a ticket to Softlayer to check the configuration for your case.
5. Configuring System Addons
In this section the only option I am going to change is Power Supply. By default servers in Softlayer come with only one power supply. We need redundancy so I will order an additional one.
I will keep Defaults on remaining options in Server Addons.
6. Storage Addons
Nothing to do here.
7. Service Addons
Here I will just change the monitoring response form Automated Reboot from Monitoring to Automated Notification. I do not want Monitoring to reboot my ESXi servers just because it thinks something is wrong.
Again, I will keep Defaults for remaining options in Service addons.
Once done with config, click the Continue Your Order button. Don’t worry, it will not take your money yet.
After order verification is done, you need to provide some final details, like hostname for your servers, or VLANs you want to use.
If these are your first servers in Softlayer, or in this particular datacenter of Softlayer, VLANs will be created automatically. If you already have an existing environment, like me, you will be presented with a selection to which VLANs these servers should be connected.
Review your order, scroll down to fill details as needed.
Once ready, scroll down, read and (if you agree) accept terms and conditions and click Finalize Your Order.
That’s it, you have your servers ordered, it will take some time before those will be provisioned.
So, in the meantime, let’s order a vCenter.
Latest posts by Aram Avetisyan (see all)
- Creating a Customizable Linux OVF Template - June 23, 2017
- Configure Proxy settings for VSAN Health-Check Plugin(CLI) - August 11, 2016
- Replacing driver for MegaRAID SAS 9361-8i on ESXi 6 - July 12, 2016