Dell VxRail at a Glance

Dell VxRail at a Glance

This article will show you how VxRail will help simplify your IT through standardisation and automation. Dell VxRail is a hyper-converged compute node which includes storage (powered by vSAN) and is easily scalable. Layering tools from VMware’s SDDC stack like the management and automation enables these nodes to be the ideal hybrid cloud option with full lifecycle management.

Jointly engineered by Dell and VMware, VxRail offers you a complete datacentre in a box using the fully integrated virtual hypervisor, vSAN storage, and option to add NSX networking layer, vRealize Automation and Operations.
You can scale up to 64 nodes in a cluster
Lets walk through the following
  • Brief overview of the plugin and VxRail panels
  • Brief overview of VxRail Manager services to monitor the health of the appliance
  • See where to monitor the hardware, for example add or replace a disk in a node, or add a node to an existing cluster
  • How to upgrade (LCM) the software and firmware used to power the VxRail cluster
The VxRail portfolio includes:
  • G Series – General-purpose appliances for broad hyper-converged use cases.  Up to four nodes fit in a single 2U chassis. Available in all-flash or hybrid configurations.
  • E Series – Everywhere from data center core to edge deployments, the combination of density, drive groups, and balance of resources in a low profile 1U form factor enables it to be deployed for a wide range of use cases.
  • V Series – VDI-optimised graphics ready appliances with support for up to three graphics accelerators for specialised use cases such as high-end 2D/3D visualization.  Each appliance has one node per 2U chassis.  Available in all-flash or hybrid configurations.
  • P Series – Performance intensive appliances optimised for heavy workloads such as databases.  Each appliance has one node per 2U chassis.  Available in all-flash or hybrid configurations.
  • S Series – Storage dense appliances for demanding applications such as virtualized Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, big data, and analytics.  Each appliance has one node per 2U chassis.  Available in hybrid configurations only.

    Viewing the plugin

 

As from VxRail version 4.7, it is now integrated into the vSphere client rather than the old VxRail Manager GUI.

 

The bulk of the functions can be found in the menu highlighted and provides these options:

  • System:
    • Version and installation date information
    • Links to the product documentation, privacy statement
    • Update button. This is a Link & Launch to the same LifeCycle Management (LCM) page as in previous VxRail Manager versions (Dashboard > Config > System).

 

  • Market: This is a Link & Launch to the same Market view page as in previous VxRail Manager versions (Dashboard > Config > Market).
  • Add VxRail Hosts: Shows any available new hosts that can be added to the cluster from this page.
  • Hosts: Overview of the hosts in the cluster, providing information such as: service tag, appliance id, model, operation status, ESXi host management IP, hostname. Changing the hostname or management IP of a host is now possible from this host overview.
  • Support: Shows information about (and allows setting of) the Dell EMC Support Account and the Dell EMC Secure Remote Services.
  • Networking: Allows setting of the Internet Connection Status and Proxy Settings.
  • Health Monitoring: Allows enabling/disabling of VxRail cluster’s health monitoring, which can be helpful while certain planned maintenance tasks are performed.
  • Troubleshooting: Allows creation and download of log bundles for the VxRail cluster. The following data can be collected into a log bundle:
    • VxRail Manager
    • vCenter
    • ESXi*
    • iDRAC*
    • PTAgent*

 Monitoring and maintenance

The Monitor tab within the vSphere client has the VxRail nodes integrated as showing in the following screenshot. Clicking on the appliances opens up a new tab with a graphical view of the physical appliances.
Here we can see all the nodes in the cluster with the health status, ID, connected state and model numbers.
Clicking on the node links at the top of this panel focuses on the node and gives us the service tag number. We can see from this image that he node is a Dell P570F. Other information like the disk, NICS ports and power supply components can be seen here. Clicking on the individual disks give a little more information about the status, model, serial numbers, capacity, drive types and health status.
In the P570 models there can be up to 4 Disk Groups per node with a maximum of 5 capacity disks per group.
The first 20 slots that we see in the front view image are reserved for capacity drives and the last 4 slots are reserved for cache drives.
Similar status reports can be seen whilst clicking on the back of the system.

Lifecycle management

One of the main strengths of VxRail is the Lifecycle Management functionality. VxRail is fully integrated and sustained as a single product so we are able to experience a singular upgrade for all components in the correct order. That means no more managing multiple layers of components of infrastructure and the complexity of ensuring the compatibility of upgrades with one another. Pre-tested scripts that have been validated by the VxRail engineering team so that the upgrades will run smoothly on a VxRail environment with minimal effort. Updates can include critical hypervisor fixes, bios updates, new firmware, support for new hardware platforms to be used in the same cluster, including synchronisation with VMware releases to deliver updates within 30 days from release.
Here we can easily update the system by going to the VxRail menu and clicking update
Once you have gone through the logon credentials after the update, you should be able to see if there are any updates available, whether online of offline packages
Now you have see the simplicity of the VxRail Lifecycle Management procedure. This procedure upgrades the complete VxRail cluster, from system software to firmware. It significantly reduces the effort to do this manually.