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Deploying Your First SoftNAS Instance in VMware vSphere

Deploying your SoftNAS instance through VMware is a simple process. After obtaining the SoftNAS OVF file from our site (via purchase or trial, see Launching SoftNAS Cloud® Platforms), note the storage location, and make sure it is accessible from the machine hosting your vSphere Client.

  1. Log into your vSphere client with the appropriate credentials.
  2. Select the ESXi host upon which you will be placing the virtual machine (if there is more than one to choose from).
  3. Click File, and Deploy OVF Template.



  4. Click Browse to go to the location of your OVF file, and select it.




  5. Click Next, then Next again on OVF Template Details.

    Type a name, select a location, and click Next






  6. Select a Resource Pool. Click Next



  7. Select your destination storage. Click Next

  8. Select a Disk Format, depending on your requirements. For example if running your VM in an environment with space constraints, select thin provisioning. Look to VMware help for more information. Click Next.



  9.  Select a network for your VM. If creating an HA environment, be sure to select the same network as other instances.


    Note: If creating an HA environment, you will require at least three VMs, two to act as paired nodes, and one to act as HA Controller. Plan accordingly. 

  10. Click Finish

Your SoftNAS VirtualMachine will deploy after a short interval.


Customizing the System Using the SoftNAS Console

SoftNAS appliances provide a Console for managing key settings in  VMware vSphere.

  1. Log into vSphere Client.
  2. On the Home Page, double click the Host and Clusters option under the Inventory section.


    All Hosts and Clusters will be displayed. 

  3. Right click on the SoftNAS VM and select Open Console option. 


  4. The console of the selected VM will be displayed. 

    Note: Check the status of VM on the console. If it is off, power it on. Right click on the SoftNAS VM and select the Power On option. 



    The Console with the new configuration screen will be displayed. 


    The Console has 3 options: 

    • Customize System - To Customize the system, press the F2 function key on the keyboard. 
    • Run Desktop - To run the desktop, press the F8 function key on the keyboard.
    • Shutdown/Restart - To shutdown or restart the system, press the F12 key on the keyboard.
  5. To configure our SoftNAS Instance, we will select F2 to customize our system.

  6. Enter an authorized login name and password for the logged in VM. If the defaults have not been changed, use the login id as ‘root’ in the Login text entry box. Enter the root password as Pass4W0rd in the Password text entry box (change the root password using the console). Press the Enter key on the keyboard to log in. 

  7. The System Customization screen will be displayed.  The System Customization screen allows configuration of all the core components of the network (VMware vSphere platforms only).

    The screen has the following options:

    • Configure Password
    • Configure Management Network
    • Restart Management Network
    • Test Management Network
    • Network Restore Options
    • Configure Date and Time


  8. Use the Up/Down arrows on your keyboard to navigate between the options.


Changing the Password

  1. In the System Customization Console, navigate to the Configure Password option.

  2. Press Enter.
    The Configure Root and SoftNAS Password screen will be displayed.
    Setting the password for the “root” and “softnas” login names will prevent unauthorized access to this host.



  3. Enter the old (or default) password in the Old Password field.

  4. Enter the new password in the New Password field.

  5. Confirm the password by re-entering it in the Confirm Password field.

  6. Press Enter.

 
The password will be reset. 

Configuring the Management Network

  1. On the System Customization Console, navigate to the Configure Management Network option.

  2. Press Enter.
    The Configure Management Network screen will be displayed.


    From here, we can configure the following options:

    • Network Adapters
    • IP Configuration
    • DNS Configuration
    • Custom DNS Suffixes

    Note: To view or modify this host’s management network settings in detail, select the required option and press the Enter key on the keyboard. Configure the selected adapter’s IP Address and DNS settings.
     
  3. On the Network Adapters option, press the Enter key on the keyboard.
    The network adapter screen will be displayed with the available interfaces. 

  4. Check the Mac Address and Status of the device.
    Press the Esc key on the keyboard.
    The Configure Management Network screen will be displayed.

  5. Navigate to the IP Configuration option. Press Enter.
    The IP Configuration dialog will be displayed.

  6. Select the network adapter for configuration. Press Enter key on the keyboard.
    The configuration options for the selected adapter will be displayed.
    This adapter can obtain network settings automatically on a network including a DHCP server.  If it does not, configure the right options.

  7. Scroll down to static IP address and network configuration.
    To select it, press the Spacebar key on the keyboard.

  8. Set the static IP address. For simplicity’s sake you can lock in the DHCP assigned IP address.

  9. Configure the subnet mask address.

  10. Enter the default gateway.
    Press the Enter key on the keyboard to accept the changes.

  11. Back on the Configure Management Network screen, note the DNS Configuration option.
  12. Press Enter.

    Note: This host can only obtain DNS settings automatically if it also obtains its IP configuration automatically. As we set our instance to a static IP in the previous step(as per best practice), we will need to supply the appropriate DNS information.

  13. Configure the required settings.

  14. Back on the Configure Management Network screen, select the Custom DNS Suffixes.  Press Enter.

    When using short, unqualified names, DNS queries will attempt to locate the specified host by appending the suffixes listed here in the order shown until a match is found or the list is exhausted.

    If no suffixes are specified here, a default suffix list is derived from the local domain name.

    DNS queries will attempt to locate hosts by appending the suffixes specified here to short, unqualified names.

  15. Enter the proper suffix in the Suffixes field. Use spaces or commas to separate multiple entries. Press Enter.
     

Restarting the Management Network

After making changes to your Management Network, it is always best practice to restart the network. This step is often required to restore networking or renew a DHCP lease.

  1. To restart the management network, on the System Configuration screen, select the Restart Management Network option.
  2. Press Enter on your keyboard.

Note: Restarting the management network will result in a brief network outage that may temporarily affect running virtual machines.


Testing the Management Network

  1. On the System Configuration screen, select the Test Management Network option.
     
  2. To perform a brief network test, press the Enter key on the keyboard.


    By default, this test will attempt to ping the configured default gateway, ping the configured primary and alternate DNS servers, and resolve the configured hostname.

     

Updating VMware Tools

As with any VM, it is important to ensure VMware Tools are current and operating correctly.  SoftNAS ships with the latest version of VMware Tools already installed, but it is a recommended best practice to ensure the VMware Tools are installed and compatible.

SoftNAS makes use of the vmxnet 3 network driver to support 10 GbE virtual NICs, support which is provided by drivers that come with VMware Tools.  These drivers are compatible across all ESXI 5.x versions.

To update VMware Tools on Linux, follow VMware's instructions here.  Log in as root (use the default password "Pass4W0rd" if the administrator has not yet changed the root password). To log in, open up a console window on VMware and press F8 in the SoftNAS Console, log in with the root password, then log into the SoftNAS Desktop and launch a command shell, then follow the VMware Tools installation and update instructions.

As shown below, after pressing F8, enter the root password.

 

We recommend automatic kernel rebuilds (the last question during VMware Tools installs), so that VMware Tools remains compatible with future kernel updates.

Configuring Your Instance via SoftNAS StorageCenter™

Once connected to your instance, there are several common configuration steps which may or may not be required, depending on your use case.  Some of the below configurations should already be configured from the VMware console (notably password and network settings), however, you should at least be familiar with how to make changes in SoftNAS StorageCenter itself, should changes be required later. The Getting Started Checklist provides a guide to these tasks.


  1. The first of these tasks is Network Settings. For your VMware  instance, network settings are taken care of during setup in the System Customization Console.
    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. Your default password should have been changed via the VMware console as described in the previous section. However, any required password changes can also be performed from within the SoftNAS StorageCenter™  interface.

    1. Changing your password is simple. From the Storage Administration pane, under Settings, select Change Passwords.



    2. Select the account\s you wish to change. SoftNAS recommends changing the default password for both the softnas and root users at a minimum.  



    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 3.4.9.7 or above.
    • Software updates must be applied within 30 days of availability.
       
  4. Next comes licensing your instance. 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. 

     

Deploying Your 2nd SoftNAS Instance on VMware vSphere

  1. Log into your vSphere client with the appropriate credentials.

  2. Select the same ESXi host upon which you deployed the first virtual machine (if there is more than one to choose from).

  3. Click File, and Deploy OVF Template.

  4. Click Browse to go to the location of your OVF file, and select it. 

  5. Click Next, then Next again on OVF Template Details.

  6. Type a name, select the same location as your previous VM, and click Next.
     
  7. Select the Host or Cluster you deployed on previously, and click Next

  8. Select the same Resource Pool. Click Next

  9. Select your destination storage. Click Next.

  10. Select a Disk Format, mirroring the first VM. Click Next.

  11.  Select a network for your VM. If creating an HA environment, be sure to select the same network as other instances.
     
  12. Click Finish.

    Your 2nd SoftNAS instance will deploy after a short interval.

  13. Configure your instance with a static IP address and change your password via the SoftNAS console as described above.

  14. Upgrade your instance if necessary, license your instance, and make any other changes required to mirror the first SoftNAS VM within SoftNAS StorageCenter as described in Configuring Your Instance via SoftNAS StorageCenter™.



Deploying Your HA Controller VM


  1. Log into your vSphere client with the appropriate credentials.

  2. Select the same ESXi host upon which you deployed  the first two virtual machines (if there is more than one to choose from).

  3. Click File, and Deploy OVF Template.

  4. Click Browse to go to the location of your OVF file, and select it. 

  5. Click Next, then Next again on OVF Template Details.

  6. Type a name, select the same location as your previous VM, and click Next.
     
  7. Select the Host or Cluster you deployed on previously, and click Next

  8. Select the same Resource Pool. Click Next

  9. Select your destination storage. Click Next.

  10. Select a Disk Format, mirroring the first VM. Click Next.

  11.  Select a network for your VM. If creating an HA environment, be sure to select the same network as other instances.
     
  12. Click Finish.

    Your HA controller SoftNAS instance will deploy after a short interval.

  13. Configure your instance with a static IP address and change your password via the SoftNAS console as described above.
     

Be sure to record the IP address of the HA controller in order to have it handy when setting up SNAP HA™.