by Joel Piper, Citrix
In my previous article Hands-On With HyperFlex Part 1, we discussed the necessary steps to get ready for a fresh install of Cisco HyperFlex. This included creating the Fabric Interconnect (FI) Domain, ensuring the proper firmware bundles were downloaded and completing the Pre-Install Checklist. The heavy lifting has been done, so let’s get started with the install process.
First step is deploying the Cisco HyperFlex Data Platform Installer 1.8.1c, which can be downloaded from Cisco. Remember from Part 1 this needs to be on an existing ESX host, VMware Workstation or VMware Fusion – it cannot be deployed to an ESX host that will be part of the HyperFlex (HX) cluster. When deploying the HX Installer you simply provide a standard networking configuration – IP address, Default Gateway, Subnet Mask and DNS Server, as well as a hostname. You can also leverage DHCP to set the IP information if you prefer; however, if you use DHCP you’ll need to verify the HX Installer IP address via its console screen or from the VM Summary page in vCenter.
Fire up a recommended browser (Chrome or Firefox) and navigate to the HX Installer IP address. If you attempt to use Internet Explorer the page display will be less than ideal; in fact, with IE it was almost unusable in our basic tests so trust me on this one – use Chrome or Firefox.
Click through any self-signed certificate warnings, accept the terms and conditions and login with username “root” and password “Cisco123”. You’ll then be given the option to either create a cluster or expand a cluster. For this exercise we’re creating a new HX cluster so select the Cluster Creation workflow:
From this point forward you’ll be very thankful you took the time to complete the Pre-Install Checklist. The very next screen you’ll be prompted to enter credentials for UCS Manager, vCenter and Hypervisor. This is also where you would be able to import a JSON file (either a previously saved configuration or one created for you by your Cisco field team) to expedite the installation process:
At this point it will self-discover the HX Servers that will be part of the cluster and you don’t need to change any settings here. If, for some reason, you failed to configure the server ports prior to this step the HX Installer does give you the option to do so via a link in the upper-right of the screen:
Next you’ll need to input all the VLAN information for management, storage traffic, VM traffic and vMotion. You’ll also provide the HX Cluster name on this screen, and the Installer should auto-discover the proper UCS firmware version and display it in the bottom-left field. In this case, we’re running 3.1(2b) of UCS firmware:
Hypervisor settings are next and you’ll enter Subnet Mask, Default Gateway and DNS settings. A nice touch on this screen is the ability to select “Make IP Addresses and Hostnames Sequential.” You’ll then only need to complete the IP address and hostname for the first HX Server node and the remaining fields will populate automatically:
Similarly, the next screen asks for Hypervisor and Storage Controller IP addresses. And like before, you have the nice option to select “Make IP Addresses Sequential” to reduce the amount of input required:
Next we enter some information for the HX Cluster itself – cluster name, management and data IP addresses, HX Data Platform Controller VM password as well as the vCenter Datacenter name and vCenter Cluster name. Also, at the bottom of this page (not displayed in the screenshot below) is an option that is NOT selected by default and which you’ll want to enable: “Optimize for VDI Only Deployments”
This page is also the last of the configuration screens. You’ll notice the “Continue” button in the bottom-right is now a “Start” button. Once you click “Start” feel free to go chat with co-workers, maybe clean up your Inbox or go tell your boss, “…the HyperFlex install’s almost done. Early lunch…?” Or if you’re like me, put your feet up and enjoy your extra-strong coffee while the progress bar continues to move forward as the HX Installer does its thing. It will step through a Validation process and then UCS Configuration, Hypervisor Configuration and then additional validations prior to deploying. It will go through additional validations prior to the Cluster Creation process. All along, the checks and balances will alert you if there is an incorrect or misconfigured setting and give you the option to correct it prior to continuing. For example, I had mistyped a Default Gateway setting but was back in business two minutes later after correcting my mistake. Something else that’s really nice about this process – if you have to go back and change a setting or correct an input, you don’t lose any of your other work, as all other settings will be maintained.
There’s a nice visual representation of what’s happening, as well. As it moves through the validations and deployments, the HX Installer will provide details as to just what’s happening so you know what’s been completed and which tasks remain:
Once the configuration finishes you’ll be presented with the satisfying green checkmarks across the board:
Congratulations – you’ve just installed Cisco HyperFlex in less than an hour! In fact, even with the two-minute backtrack because I fat-fingered an IP address, it still completed in fifty minutes. But that can’t be all of it, can it? I mean compute, networking, storage all squared away? You’d be correct in that assumption because there’s still the post-install configuration work that has to happen. What about enabling HA/DRS? Configuring vMotion? NTP and Syslog settings? Your boss will want to head to lunch in ten minutes. Don’t worry, using Cisco’s HyperFlex Post-Install Script you’ll be ready before your boss is.
Part 3 will focus on the post-install tasks you’ll need to finalize before your HyperFlex environment is ready for production workloads. Until then, keep calm and return fire.