Both the VSAN Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) and the VSAN Release Catalog database which provides VSAN build recommendations should be updated periodically to ensure that you have the latest VSAN recommendations from VMware. In addition to using the vSphere UI to perform these update, customers can also automate either of these tasks using the VSAN Management API which can be consumed using any of the supported VSAN Management SDKs including PowerCLI.
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Supermicro kits such as the E200-8D is a very popular platform amongst the VMware community and with powerful Xeon-based CPUs and support for up to 128GB of memory, it is perfect for running a killer vSphere/vSAN setup!
Earlier this Fall, Supermicro released a "big daddy" version to the E200-8D, dubbed E300-9D and specifically, I want to focus on the 8-Core model (SYS-E300-9D-8CNTP) as this system actually listed on the VMware HCL for ESXi! The E300-9D can support up to half a terabyte of memory and with the 8-Core model, you have access to 16 threads. The E200-8D is also a supported platform by VMware, you can find the VMware HCL listing here.
I was very fortunate to get my hands on a loaner E300-9D (8-Core) unit, thanks to Eric and his team at MITXPC, a local bay area shop specializing in embedded solutions. In fact, they even provided a nice vGhetto promo discount code for my readers awhile back, so definitely check it out if you are in the market for a new lab. As an aside, when doing a quick search online, they also seem to be the only ones actually selling the E300-9D (8-Core) system which you can find here and in general, they seem to be priced fairly competitively. This is not an endorsement for MITXPC, but recommend folks to compare all prices when shopping online, especially as today is Black Friday in the US and Cyber Monday is just a few days away.
I recently acquired a new toy for the home lab thanks to Timo Sugliani who shared an article on Twitter a few weeks back for a new USB-based enclosure that supports an NVMe SSD device using the M.2 form factor.
Trying to see if I can get this new toy working 😁 pic.twitter.com/0o4jLng72M
— William Lam (@lamw) September 27, 2018
I was excited to give the accessory a try, especially as the M.2 devices are used regularly for vSphere home labs running on either the Intel NUCs or Supermicro E200-8D. Most of these platforms only support a single M.2 slot and this is an easy way to add additional high performance storage capacity with a small footprint. The other benefit with an external enclosure is that you now have a portable and reliable storage solution that can easily be moved from system to system, especially for those that have asked about running VMFS on USB-based device.
If you have ever spent any time using the vSphere API, you probably have heard of or have used the vSphere Managed Objected Browser (MOB) which is an extremely useful learning and debugging tool when working with the vSphere API. The vSphere MOB is accessed through a web browser connecting to either vCenter Server or ESXi and provides a graphical interface, allowing you to discovery/explore the underlying vSphere API and its data in a very intuitive manner.
As an avid user of the VSAN Management API since its release, I have always wanted something similar, especially when I first got started. I was quite happy when I found out in vSphere 6.7 and VSAN 6.7, the VSAN team has added a VSAN MOB interface directly on ESXi, for the VSAN specific APIs that are available only on an ESXi host. Just like the vSphere MOB which is also available on ESXi host, it is disabled by default and must be enabled.
The following ESXCLI commands can be used to enable/disable the VSAN MOB on ESXi 6.7:
esxcli vsan debug mob start
esxcli vsan debug mob stop
However, when I tried to enable the VSAN MOB, I ran into the following error message:
hostname 'localhost.localdomain' doesn't match '192.168.30.10'
It turns out there is an issue where it fails to match the IP Address of the ESXi host to the default localhost.localdomain and hence it fails to start the VSAN MOB. This issue is fixed in the upcoming vSphere & VSAN 6.7 Update 1, but in the mean time, there is a workaround.
I was recently helping out my friend Paudie O'Riordan with a request from a customer who was looking for a way to collect detailed space utilization for their VMs (VM Home, VMDK & swap) running on VSAN. Today, this level of granularity is not available in the vSphere UI and the customer was interested in both the used and reserved capacity on a per-VM basis. Luckily, this information can be retrieved using the VSAN Management API.
To do so, we just need to use the VsanQueryObjectIdentities() API method, which I have used in the past to retrieve things like "thick" provisioned VM and translating VSAN Object IDs to their friendly VM display name. To retrieve space utilization information, we just need to set the includeSpaceSummary property to be true. While developing the PowerCLI sample script, I found that this specific property is currently not supported when querying vCenter Server and to retrieve this information, you must go directly to each ESXi host within the VSAN Cluster. I have already filed a feature request and it looks like this will be fixed in a future vSphere release.
While catching up on emails from being out on paternity leave, I came across a VSAN HCL feature request that I had filed in early December of last year. I was pleasantly surprise to see that it had been marked resolved. The VSAN Hardware Compatibility List is continuously being updated to include new hardware platforms and components that have been certified by our hardware vendors.
This of course is great news for our customers, but one challenge that I have heard on several occasion is how to keep up with the changes, especially the addition of new components? The VSAN HCL allows you to subscribe and get notification on individual components which is useful to get the latest recommendation. However, in the case of new components being add or even removed, there is no easy solution and most folks resort to manually checking the VSAN HCL by hand.
VSAN itself does include an HCL healthcheck, which you can have it directly pull the latest VSAN HCL JSON from VMware's website, although this may not always be possible for customers without direct or proxy access to the internet. This means for customers who may have dark sites, they must periodically download the latest VSAN HCL JSON and distribute that throughout their vCenter Server, where as a more ideal solution is to only push the update when a new JSON has been provided by VMware.
My feature request was quite simple, it asks for a method in which customers can easily subscribe and get notified of when the VSAN HCL database has been updated. This has been delivered as a tiny RSS feed service.