Several weeks back I came across a handy little tidbit on an enhancement that was added to the latest version of OVFTool (4.2) that greatly simplifies the bootstrapping of a vCenter Server or any other VM for that matter onto a vSAN Datastore. This is generally used when setting up a pure greenfield environment where your vCenter Server may not be setup yet and you want to run it on top of vSAN which is fully supported configuration. The process of "bootstrapping" a VCSA onto a single node vSAN datastore is documented on my blog here. The high level steps are as follows:

  1. Temporarily change default ESXi VM Storage Policy to allow forced provisioning and FTT=0 (e.g. no protection)
  2. Claim disks for creating vSAN Diskgroup(s)
  3. Create vSAN Cluster
  4. Deploy VCSA
  5. Apply the default vSAN VM Storage Policy to VCSA VM
  6. Revert the temporarily change of default ESXi VM Storage Policy

With this new OVFTool enhancement, Step 1 and 6 is no longer needed from the standpoint of needing to change the default VM Storage Policy on the ESXi host using the ESXi Shell or using the vSphere API. Instead, you can now pass in a "raw" VM Storage Policy (SPBM) to apply to the specific OVF/OVA that is being deployed rather having to make a global change on the ESXi host. This also helps reduce the post-deployment steps as you only need to re-apply the default vSAN VM Storage Policy to the vCenter Server VM and not have to touch ESXi host settings once the vCenter Server is up and running.

To use this new raw VM Storage Policy feature in OVFTool, there is a new command-line option called --defaultStorageRawProfile which accepts the "raw" VM Storage Policy as you would normally provide to SPBM APIs such as "((\"hostFailuresToTolerate\" i1) (\"forceProvisioning\" i1))" for example.

The really cool thing about this feature is that you can take advantage of this directly with the new OVFTool argument passthrough feature that was introduced in the VCSA 6.5 CLI deployment utility. Combining these solutions together, you can easily simplify the "bootstrapping" of a VCSA onto a vSAN Datastore. Below is the snippet that you would include in the VCSA JSON configuration file used for deployment.

"ovftool.arguments" : {
"defaultStorageRawProfile" : "((\"hostFailuresToTolerate\" i1) (\"forceProvisioning\" i1))"

Although a tiny enhancement, I think this is a pretty neat capability, especially being able to make use of it natively within the VCSA configuration file. It is definitely great to see us continue to simplify how VMware management infrastructure is deployed and definitely stay tuned on what else we have cooking in the future for this particular area 🙂

One thought on “New "raw" VM Storage Policy support in OVFTool 4.2 simplifies bootstrapping VMs onto VSAN

  1. I want to move a virtual machine from an isolated ESXi server into my vSAN cluster. I’m attempting to use ovftool, and it starts… creates the objects in the vSAN cluster, says it’s transferring, then errors at 1%. All I see is “Transfer Failed” and “Execution aborted”. What might be causing this error? You mentioned a JSON file, but this doesn’t have to do with moving a VCSA, just a regular VM.

Thanks for the comment!