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Connecting to your Instance

To connect to your SoftNAS Cloud® Instance is simple, provided you are on the same network as your virtual machine, or have a public facing IP address. If your instance was created in a public facing VPC,  the steps to create the public IP address you will need to connect were covered in the Adding an Elastic IP section of AWS Getting Started - Creating a VPC

After you have completed the steps shown in Adding an Elastic IP, you will find the IP address of your instance in the EC2 dashboard, under Instances. Select your Instance, and look for the column labelled IPv4 public IP.



If you are connecting to an instance in a Private subnet, you will use the private IP assigned automatically during instance creation. This IP address can be found in the Description tab of the selected instance. 

Note: For simplicity's sake we are showing the private IPs of the public instance in the example above. If deploying in a private subnet, the public IP seen below would not be present.

Open your browser, and type https:// <ip_of_your_instance>. A certificate warning is likely to appear – this is to be expected. This warning will be eliminated when you configure security certificates for your SoftNAS instance. However, this can wait for a production instance. Simply bypass the warning for the moment.

  • If using Google Chrome, select Advanced,  then the Proceed to <IP address> link.
  • If using Internet Explorer or Edge, simply click Continue to Website anyway (Not Recommended).
  • If using Firefox, select I Understand the Risks.

Once the certificate error is bypassed, a login screen will appear. 


The default username is ‘softnas’, and the password is the Instance ID. The Instance ID can be found in the EC2 Dashboard, under Instances. 


Enter the Instance ID and click Login.

Upon login, an End User License Agreement (EULA) will appear. Click I Agree.

You are now ready to configure your SoftNAS Instance.

Configuring Your Instance

Once connected to your instance, there are several common configuration steps which may or may not be required, depending on your use case. While not all of these steps are required (many of them are covered by default by configuration in AWS), you should at least be familiar with them, should they be required later. The Getting Started Checklist provides a guide to these tasks.


  1. The first of these tasks is Network Settings. For your AWS instance, network settings are taken care of during creation of the instance. One network interface handles the everyday traffic connecting you to your SoftNAS Cloud® on AWS instance. The second interface is leveraged automatically when configuring high availability through SnapReplicate™ and Snap HA™. 

    However, if adding additional network interfaces, or changing IP addresses, routing and gateways, hostnames or host addresses, this can be done via Network Configuration, in the Storage Administration pane under Settings.

  2. The default password provided to your instance is, as mentioned earlier, the instance ID of your SoftNAS Cloud® on AWS instance. This should be changed in a production environment, particularly if your AWS account is shared with co-workers. The instance ID is visible to anyone logged into the AWS account under which the instance is created. For this reason, you are prompted to change your password on initial login. 

    1. Changing your password is simple. Either click the password change link from the prompt, or if you need to change the password at a later time, go to the Storage Administration pane, under Settings, and select Change Passwords.



    2. If you use the initial prompt, you will automatically be taken to change the default softnas account password. From Change Password under Settings, however, you will be prompted to select  the account\s you wish to change. SoftNAS recommends changing the default password for both the softnas and root users. 




    3. Once the account you wish to change is selected, provide the new password. If handing the instance to a new administrator, check the box to Force user to change password at next login. This will allow the new softnas admin to select his own password. Click Change



  3. The third step is to ensure your instance is up to date. To update your SoftNAS Cloud Instance, expand Settings in the Storage Administration pane, and select Software Updates. If an update is available, the latest version will be listed, and you will see an option to Apply Update Now. 



    Click Apply Update Now to begin the update. To ensure customers are aware that downtime may occur, a confirmation prompt will appear. Click Yes to begin the upgrade. Be sure not to shut down the Virtual Machine or interrupt the upgrade process. Click Finish when prompted. This will trigger a reboot, requiring you to log back into your instance.

    Note: SoftNAS recommends reading the linked Release Notes. The Release Notes may contain information not only about the features and fixes, but also about whether the update will require downtime, allowing you to plan accordingly. This is not particularly relevant for a POC deployment, but important in a production scenario. 

    Note: Updating your software to obtain the latest features, security improvements and bug fixes is always recommended. SoftNAS takes this recommendation a step further, and has tied the latest updates to their No Downtime Guarantee. This ensures our clients are receiving the best version of our product and support to match.  To be eligible for the No Downtime Guarantee, the following minimum requirements must be met:

    • Software version must be 4.2 or above.
    • Software updates must be applied within 30 days of availability.

  4. Next comes licensing your instance. In AWS, your SoftNAS Cloud instance on AWS will be automatically licensed, unless you select a BYOL (Bring Your Own License) AMI. If you do need to apply a license (you can obtain a free trial license by registering here) simply go to the Storage Administration pane, and select Licensing, under Settings. 

    Provide the license in the field provided, as well as organizational information. Your license will be sent to your registration email, and can also be found by logging into the SoftNAS portal.

  5. To ensure that SoftNAS support, and you as an administrator for your SoftNAS Cloud instance, have adequate information to troubleshoot your instance, it is important to provide a means of communication. For this reason, an email address must be supplied to which support reports and logs can be sent at scheduled intervals, or if there is a specific problem. 

    To establish a notification email, expand Settings in the Storage Administration pane, and select Administrator. Go to the Monitoring tab, and enter the email address you wish reports and logs to be sent to.


Note: Providing a notification email is a requirement. If you do not provide one during instance configuration, you will be required to provide one prior to configuring SnapReplicate™. 

Note: Support Reports and notifications will be sent to SoftNAS support automatically. The notification email is to ensure the administrator for the instance is kept apprised. 


 

Adding a CIFS Enabled Volume

As mentioned at the beginning of this document, we are guiding you towards the creation of a CIFS enabled volume on a highly available pairing of SoftNAS instances. At this point, it is time to consider the type of storage you wish to use. For this document, we will be selecting an EBS General Purpose SSD volume. This is a reliable and steady option for everyday workloads. However, for your POC, you may wish to test your production use case requirements, and select a different storage type.

For more information about storage types:


Project Planning: Storage

Log onto the first SoftNAS Cloud on AWS instance, and perform the following steps:

Adding an EBS Disk

To add a disk via the SoftNAS user interface:

  1. Select Disk Devices from under Storage Administration.
     
  2. Click Add Device.
     
  3.  Select Amazon EBS Disk.
     
  4. Click Next.
     


 

Next, complete the Add Amazon EBS Disk wizard, as seen in the image below.


 

  1. Enter the AWS account credentials (Access Key ID and Secret Key) used to access Amazon Web Services.

    Note: If AWS account credentials are unavailable (grayed out), an Amazon IAM Role was specified at SoftNAS Cloud® instance creation. Creating a SoftNAS Cloud® IAM user from the Amazon Web Services Dashboard is the recommended approach for a more secure connection to AWS.

  2. Choose the size of the EBS disk you wish to provision. Maximum size of a given EBS disk is 1000 GB (1 TB).
     
  3. If you wish your disk to be encrypted, check the box for Encrypted Disk.
     
    Note: Additional processing power (vCPU) is recommended for disk encryption.

  4. Select Volume Type.  The primary options are described below:

    General Purpose:

    General purpose SSD volume that balances price and performance for a wide variety of transactional workloads.

    Provisioned IOPS:

    Highest-performance SSD volume designed for mission-critical applications. Provisioned IOPS is configurable, allowing you to set an IOPS performance benchmark, allowing AWS to promise single-digit millisecond latencies and to deliver the provisioned performance 99.9% of the time. Configure the Provisioned IOPS threshold with the dropdown that appears below the option once selected.

    Magnetic:

    Low-cost HDD volume can be used for workloads with smaller datasets where data is accessed infrequently or when performance consistency isn't of primary importance.

    Throughput Optimized HDD:

    Low-cost HDD volume designed for frequently accessed, throughput-intensive workloads.

    Cold HDD:

    Lowest cost HDD volume designed for less frequently accessed workloads.

     
  5. If you do not need persistent data storage, you can select ‘delete disk on instance termination’.  This will ensure that storage is deleted immediately upon instance termination, preventing additional storage costs. Any data will be lost.

  6. Finally, you can choose how many disks you wish to create with the current configuration. Creating multiple disks with the same configuration is handy for RAID configuration.

For this document, we will create two General Purpose SSD EBS disks, 30GB apiece, without encryption. The EBS storage options outlined above are equally viable, as is S3 storage, but remember that each has its own performance characteristics you will need to consider when planning your instance.

Note: If planning on using RAID, the number of disks created must match the requirements of the RAID level. For example, RAID 0 or RAID 1 will require 2 disks. Raid 10 would require a minimum of 4 disks.

See AWS Getting Started with SoftNAS Cloud - Storage

For information on adding S3 storage, see Adding Cloud Disk Extenders.

Be sure to make note of the selections made when creating your disks, as you will repeat this process on the second instance.

Partitioning Disks

If creating disks from within SoftNAS’ user interface, partitioning the newly created disks will likely not be necessary. If provisioned at instance creation, however, partitioning disks is an important and necessary step. To be certain that disks have been partitioned, check the column labelled Device Usage in the Available Devices pane.


 

If the entry under Device Usage reads ‘Available to Assign’, partitioning is not required.  If it reads Device Needs Partition, click Partition All to quickly partition any unpartitioned disks. Alternatively, select the disk requiring a partition, and click Create Partition.
 

Creating the Storage Pool

The next step in creating our CIFS Shared volume is to create a storage pool. In the Storage Administration pane, select Storage Pools.
 


Click Create to set up your storage pool.


The Add Storage Pool dialog will be displayed. 

image2019-6-19_13-12-32.png


Here you can choose whether you wish to deploy a standard pool, using block or object storage, or whether you wish to create tiered storage pools via our SmartTiers™ feature. SoftNAS Cloud®’s SmartTiers™ is a multi-tiered storage environment providing automated data movement based on managed policies, ensuring that your organization can create for itself the best solution possible for managing the data explosion their organizations are currently experiencing. SoftNAS’ SmartTiers™ provides the ability to seamlessly move blocks of data from high performance, low latency storage to more economical, larger capacity storage based on the value of the data. 

  • Standard - If Standard is selected, our patented original SNAP HA™ methodology will be implemented, replicating your block storage across two nodes, with minute by minute updates to ensure parity. 
  • SmartTiers™ Pool - SmartTiers is a Platinum feature allowing the auto-tiering of aged data. If creating SmartTiers™ Pools, see SmartTiers™ Configuration.

Click Next to begin creating your pool via the Create a New Storage Pool dialog box.

Upon clicking Next, the Create a New Storage Pool wizard will open. Fill in the required information based on the directions to follow:



  1. Provide a unique alphanumeric name for the pool.
  2. Determine software RAID level. If not using software RAID for your POC (or if this were a VMware deployment in which hardware RAID was being used) you would select No Raid, JBOD. For this deployment we will be using RAID 1/10, striped mirrors.
  3. Select the number of disks required for your RAID selection. As we selected RAID 1/10 in the example above, this will require 2 disks.
  4. (Optional) Check the box for Forced Creation if you wish to overwrite any pre-existing pools.
  5. (Optional) SoftNAS supports LUKS encryption, allowing you to establish additional security for your storage. Check the box if you wish LUKS encryption to be applied, and supply a username and password.
  6. Sync Mode allows you to change synchronization settings for your data.  Altering this setting can improve performance byThis is an advanced setting and should not be altered without valid reason. See Working with Storage Pools for more information on Sync Mode.

Once settings have been chosen, click Create.  In a few short moments, the storage pool will generate. Be sure to make note of the selections made, as you will repeat this process on the second instance.

Creating A Volume

The next step is to create the CIFS enabled volume to be shared.

  1. To create a volume, open Volumes and LUNs from the Storage Administration pane.

  2. Click Create.




  3. The Create Volume wizard will open. Provide a name for the volume, and specify the pool you wish it placed in. Specifying the pool can be done by:



  4. Next, choose Volume Type – which in this case means how it will be shared, whether via NFS, CIFS, AFP, or iSCSI.  The same volume can be shared in multiple formats. We will be creating a CIFS Volume. Select the radio button for Filesystem (NFS,CIFS) and the checkbox labelled Share via CIFS.



  5. Next, select the desired storage provisioning option. SoftNAS recommends thin-provisioning for most standard use cases.



    Note: Thin-provisioning allows a volume to acquire storage from its Storage Pool on an as-needed basis, as new data is written to the volume.  Thin-provisioning enables many volumes to share a storage pool without an upper limit being placed on the volume itself (the only upper limit to the volume's size is available space in the pool). Thick-provisioned volumes reduce the amount of space available in the Storage Pool by reserving this space for use by a specific volume.  When a thick-provisioned volume reaches its maximum volume size, no more data can be written and a volume full error will be returned for writes to a full volume.
     

  6. Finally, check the box to select any storage optimization options you wish to apply, remembering of course that this will affect the volume’s performance characteristics. The storage optimization options available at the volume level are compression and deduplication.  Click Create, and your CIFS enabled volume is ready.

 

Note: You can also apply a snapshot schedule for the volume in question from Volumes and LUNs. Information on creating and managing snapshots, and snapshot scheduling can be found at the below links:

Managing Volumes and LUNs

Snapshots in StorageCenter

Managing Schedules

Adding data to the volume

In order to test out SoftNAS’ capabilities, you may wish to simulate transfer of and ensure the integrity of data transferred across two highly available nodes.  For this to be accurately tested, there should be data on the volume you wish to make highly available.

Having selected Share via CIFS during volume creation, your volume is already accessible via the same public IP address used to connect to your instance.  If using a Windows operating system (Windows 7 and above) type the following into the Start Menu search bar:

\\[ip_address_of_softnas_instance]\[pool_name]\[volume_name]



Alternatively, you can type the same in Network.

A login screen will appear, in order to access the pool and volume. Enter the same credentials used to log into your SoftNAS instance.

 

Upon login, the volume will open as a network location folder on your PC.  Drag any files you would like into the folder. 

You can test replication and high availability by testing access to these files after a failover. To set up your second instance for HA, go to AWS Getting Started - Preparing the Second Instance for HA.