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Logging Into Your Virtual Machine


To log into your SoftNAS Cloud® on Azure instance, you will need to find the public IP address of the instance. The public IP will be found in the Essentials section of the VM Overview.

 



Enter the IP address of your instance into your browser to call upon the SoftNAS login screen. 

Note: Upon first login, you may see a certificate warning. This is because certificates have not yet been generated for your new SoftNAS instances. For the moment, this alert can be ignored. To add or change certificates, see the following KB article.

Enter your username and password, and click Login.

SoftNAS StorageCenter™ will open. If this is your first login, you will be greeted by the End User License Agreement. Click I Agree, and the Welcome tab and the Getting Started Checklist will open to greet you. 


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.  The Getting Started Checklist provides a guide to these tasks.

  1. The first of these tasks is Network Settings. For your Azure 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 Azure 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. Your password for the ‘softnas’ user account was created at instance setup. If a more secure password is required, or if you wish to hand off the virtual machine to another user, you may wish to change the password.
    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. In Azure, your SoftNAS Cloud instance on Azure will be automatically licensed, unless you select a BYOL (Bring Your Own License) Virtual Machine Image. 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.

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 Storage via the SoftNAS UI

Adding storage can be done in one of two ways, in Microsoft Azure. It can be added via the Azure Portal, or via the SoftNAS StorageCenter User Interface.  We will concentrate on the latter for this POC deployment, but you can review the following information if you wish to use the Azure Portal:

Adding Storage via the Azure Portal 

Note: For this POC, we will provide guidance on using block storage. There are several flavors of block storage to choose from, allowing you to explore performance options. For more information about the types of block storage available, see the Storage section of Project Planning. This section will include additional information about block storage, as well object storage (Azure Blob), including Hot and Cool Storage.

  1. Login to the source (primary) SoftNAS Cloud® Instance.
  2. After login, to add storage, select Add Storage Devices from the Getting Started Checklist, then click Configure Now, or select Disk Devices from the Storage Administration pane.




  3. The Disk Devices tab will open. Click Add Device.



    Important: You may notice a disk on your instance labelled ‘Azure Ephemeral Disk’. This is NOT a disk to be used as storage. This disk is used for caching to improve performance.




    4. From the Add Disk Device wizard, select the second option, Microsoft Cloud Disk Extender. Click Next.


  4. Provide the service administration account created earlier, to provide access to both the subscription and the storage accounts within the resource group.



    Note: If your storage account is a Premium storage account, your disk size selections will be limited to 128GB, 512GB, and 1023 GB. If standard, you will be able to type any size.

  5. Click Create Disk

    Note: SoftNAS displays "Creating..." in the Device Usage column until the Adding Disk process is complete. The process is complete when Device Usage reads 'Available to Assign'.

  6. It is very simple to add a new disk to your SoftNAS instance using the SoftNAS UI. You can now use your newly added disks to create pools and volumes.


Creating A 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. 


Here you will determine whether you wish to create a 'Standard' storage pool with block storage, such as EBS volumes or Azure Standard or Premium disks, or if you wish to create a single pool of shared storage by leveraging object storage from the platform of your choice (Azure Hot or Cool Blob or Amazon S3 object storage). If deploying a highly available configuration, the selection made here will determine how SNAP HA will be implemented.


  • 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. 
  • Shared Storage - If Shared Storage is selected, SNAP HA will initiate a Dual Controller HA™ configuration, which will instead propagate the configuration files of your storage pool to both nodes (each acting as a controller in this scenario) in the  HA pairing, allowing the shared storage pool to be nearly immediately imported in the event of primary node failure.


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

Note: Regardless of the option selected here, the process for configuring High Availability with SNAP HA™ remains unchanged. Dual Controller HA™ is a simple add-on to SNAP HA™. SNAP HA™ will recognize automatically which method to use based on the selection made above, and will configure high availability according to the storage pool settings. Each instance can support both standard SNAP HA™ and Dual Controller HA™ configurations in a mixed environment.


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 CIFS enabled 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:

    1. Typing the name of the pool.

    2. Clicking the Storage Pools button and selecting the desired pool from a list.

  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. 

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: 

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 configure the second instance for HA, go to Azure Getting Started - Preparing the Second Instance for HA.