StarWind SAN & NAS on VMware vSphere

Introduction

StarWind SAN & NAS is designed to allow you to repurpose your existing hardware running industry-standard hypervisor into high-performing storage. The solution is a fully certified shared storage for VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi.
StarWind SAN & NAS supports hardware and software-based storage redundancy configurations. The solution allows turning your server with internal storage into a redundant storage array presented as NAS or SAN, exposing standard protocols such as iSCSI, SMB, and NFS. It comes with Web-based UI, Text-based UI, vCenter Plugin, and Command-line interface for your cluster-wide operations.

StarWind SAN & NAS virtual machine requirements

Prior to installing StarWind SAN & NAS virtual storage appliance, please make sure that the system meets the requirements, which are available at the following link: https://www.starwindsoftware.com/system-requirements

Pre-Configuring the Servers

The diagrams below illustrate the common network and storage configurations of the solution:

  • Converged storage appliance for ESXi compute server:

  • Converged storage appliance for vSphere Cluster:

1. Install VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi on a single converged storage server, and the compute servers that are intended to connect and utilize the shared storage provisioned by the appliance.
2. The vCenter server is recommended to be deployed.
3. StarWind SAN & NAS virtual machine is deployed on a single VMware ESXi server with commodity direct-attached storage.
4. The network interfaces on each node for Management and iSCSI/StarWind Data interfaces should be connected to different subnets and connected directly according to the network diagram above. Here, the 172.16.10.x subnet is used for the iSCSI/StarWind Data traffic.

Setting up StarWind SAN & NAS

This part describes how to prepare the environment to deploy and install StarWind SAN & NAS using VMware ESXi and VMware vSphere web-clients.

Configuring single-server storage appliance with VMware ESXi

Configuring Networks on VMware ESXi Server(s)

Configure network interfaces on each node to ensure that Management and iSCSI/StarWind data interfaces are in different subnets and connected physically according to the network diagram above. All actions below should be applied to each ESXi server for running StarWind SAN & NAS.

NOTE: Virtual Machine Port Group should be created for iSCSI/StarWind Data vSwitch. VMKernel port should be created only for iSCSI traffic. Static IP addresses should be assigned to VMKernel ports.

NOTE: It is recommended to set jumbo frames to 9000 on vSwitches and VMKernel ports for iSCSI traffic. Additionally, vMotion can be enabled on VMKernel ports.

1. Using VMware ESXi web console, create an additional vSwitch for the iSCSI/StarWind Data channel.

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2. Create a VMKernel port for the iSCSI/StarWind Data channel.

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3. Add a Virtual Machine Port Group to the vSwitch for iSCSI/StarWind Data traffic.

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4. Repeat steps 1-3 for any other links intended for iSCSI/StarWind Data on ESXi hosts.

Deploying StarWind SAN & NAS on the ESXi server

1. Download zip archive that contains StarWind SAN & NAS: https://www.starwindsoftware.com/san-and-nas#download

2. Extract the virtual machine files.

3. Deploy the virtual machine on the ESXi server. Right-click on the Host or Virtual Machine menu and select “Create/Register VM” from a drop-down menu.

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4. In the first step of the wizard, select the “Deploy a virtual machine from OVF or OVA file” and click Next.

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5. In the second step of the wizard, specify the virtual machine name and point to the OVF template location. Select the VM files and click Next.

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6. Specify the direct-attached storage for the StarWind SAN & NAS VM system drive location.

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7. Select network and storage deployment options for the VM.

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8. Specify the hostname, static IPv4 address, gateway, DNS, and additional network settings for Management and iSCSI/Data network interfaces:

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NOTE: In order to manage the SAN & NAS appliance via StarWind vCenter plugin, the static IPv4 address must be assigned. As an example, all additional properties of the storage appliance specified:

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NOTE: If a DHCP server is available on the given network, you can skip setting the additional parameters for that interface.

9. Review the information about the VM.

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10. Click “Finish” to start the deployment process.

Configuring converged storage server with VMware vSphere

Creating Datacenter in VMware vSphere

1. Connect to the vSphere Client, right-click on the “vCenter Site” menu, and select the “Create Datacenter” option.

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2. Specify the Datacenter Name and click “OK“.

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3. Right-click on the Datacenter icon and select the “New Cluster…” action.

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4. Specify the cluster name and enable the required services.

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5. Right-clink on “Cluster” and select the “Add Hosts” action.

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6. On launched, in the “Add Hosts” wizard, specify the IPv4 or FQDN, login, and password of each ESXi server intended to add to the cluster

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7. Manually verify the ESXi servers’ certificates and accept the thumbprints. Click “OK” to proceed.

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8. Review settings and finish adding servers to the cluster.

Configuring Networks on vSphere Servers

Configure network interfaces on each node to ensure that Management and iSCSI/StarWind Data interfaces are in different subnets and connected physically according to the network diagram above. All actions below should be applied to each ESXi server for running StarWind SAN & NAS.

NOTE: Virtual Machine Port Group should be created for iSCSI/StarWind Data vSwitch. VMKernel port should be created only for iSCSI traffic. Static IP addresses should be assigned to VMKernel ports.

NOTE: It is recommended to set jumbo frames to 9000 on vSwitches and VMKernel ports for iSCSI traffic. Additionally, vMotion can be enabled on VMKernel ports.

1. Using VMware vSphere Client console, start the “Add Networking” wizard. Add a new VMKernel network adapter for the iSCSI/ StarWind Data channel.

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2. Create a new standard switch for the iSCSI/ StarWind Data channel. Set MTU accordingly.

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3. Assign the second network adapter to the virtual switch. Click Next.

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4. Specify port properties such as Network Label, MTU, and enable required services. Click Next.

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5. Assign static IPv4 address settings to the virtual switch. Click Next.

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6. Review the summary of your settings and click “Finish” to add networking.

7. Start the “Add Networking” wizard again to create a “Virtual Machine Port Group for a Standard Switch“.

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8. Specify the previously created vSwitch. Click Next.

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9. Set the Network label and click Next. Optionally, set VLAN ID if used.

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10. Review the port group setting and click Finish to apply.

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10. Repeat steps 1-9 for any other links intended for iSCSI/StarWind Data connection on each vSphere server.

Deploying StarWind SAN & NAS on vSphere server

1. Download the zip archive that contains StarWind SAN & NAS
https://www.starwindsoftware.com/san-and-nas#download

2. Extract the virtual machine files.

3. Deploy the virtual machine to the VMware vSphere. Right-click on the Datacenter, cluster, or node menu and select the “Deploy OVF Template…” option from a drop-down menu.

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4. In the first step of the wizard, point to the location of the OVF template. Select the VM files and click Next.

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5. Specify the VM name and target location.

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6. Select a compute resource intended to run the StarWind SAN & NAS VM

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7. Review the template details. Click Next.

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8. In the second step of the wizard, specify the virtual machine provisioning type, VM Storage Policy, and select the direct-attached storage for the appliance system drive. Click Next.

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9. Select the destination network for each network adapter assigned to the VM.

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10. Specify the hostname, static IPv4 address, gateway, DNS, and additional network settings for Management and iSCSI/Data network interfaces:

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NOTE: In order to manage the SAN & NAS appliance via StarWind vCenter plugin, the static IPv4 address must be assigned.

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NOTE: if a DHCP server is available on the given network, you can skip setting the additional parameters for that interface.

9. Review the deployment summary information and click to start the VM creation.

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Getting started with StarWind SAN & NAS

1. Start StarWind SAN & NAS VM.

2. Launch Console to see the VM boot process and get the IPv4 address of the Management network interface.

3. Using web-browser, open a new tab and enter VM IPv4 address to open StarWind SAN & NAS Web Interface. Click “Advanced” and then “Continue to…

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4. StarWind SAN & NAS  welcomes you, and First Run Wizard will guide you through the deployment process.

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5. On the following step, upload the license file.

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6. Read and accept the End User License Agreement to proceed.

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7. Set up the administrator account password.

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8. On the following step, click “Proceed” to configure the storage immediately. Optionally, you can skip the setup phase and continue it in the Web Management interface.

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9. Attach the available storage to the appliance by modifying the VM settings in your hypervisor panel. StarWind SAN & NAS supports the following storage setups:

  • Passthrough Hardware RAID Controller
  • Passthrough Host Bus Adapter (HBA)
  • Attach VMDK disks based on top of Datastore
  • Attach Physical disks via RDM 

Press the “Rescan Storage” button to identify the attached storage to your appliance and proceed with the configuration.

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10. Specify the storage pool name and click Next.

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11. Select the storage profile to create a storage pool layout. Available pool profiles are Capacity, based on ZFS RAIDZ\RAIDZ2, and Manual layout. Using a Manual layout profile, you can setup:

  • Hardware RAID – creates a pool on top of the Hardware RAID controller attached to the appliance.
  • ZFS-based layouts – creates a pool on top of drives connected to passthrough HBA card, VMDK, or RDM disks. Available options are Stripe, Mirror, RAIDZ, RAIDZ2, RAIDZ3, Stripped Mirror, Stripped RAIDZ, Stripped RAIDZ2, Stripped RAIDZ3.
  • MDADM-based layouts – creates a pool on top of drives connected to passthrough HBA card, VMDK, or RDM disks. Available options are RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50 and 60.

The Capacity profile creates RAIDZ or RAIDZ2 layout on top of 8 or less identical attached physical or virtual disks.

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12. Select the Manual profile to create Hardware RAID, ZFS, or MDADM pool layout. The Pool layout section shows all available configurations according to the attached storage.

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13. Select target disks to create a pool. Only disks in the “Ready” state are available. The estimated pool capacity for the selected layout will appear correspondingly.

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14. Validate the pool layout.

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NOTE: Set 80% limit is available and checked for ZFS-based pools to keep the pool capacity below 80% for best performance.

15. Select the disks to be used as hot spare disks. Only disks in the “Ready” state are available. Alternatively, create a pool without hot spare disk(s).

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16. Specify the StarWind virtual disk name and size.

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17. Review or edit the Network settings and click Next.

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18. Review your settings selection before setting up StarWind SAN & NAS.

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19. Please standby until the First Run Wizard configures StarWind SAN & NAS  for you.

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20. The appliance is set and ready. Click on the Done button to install StarWind vCenter Plugin right now or uncheck the checkbox to skip this step and proceed to the Login page.

 

 

Installing StarWind vCenter Plugin

1. To install the StarWind Plugin ensure that the version of your VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) is 6.7 update 3 or newer, then click Next.

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2. Specify the vCenter Server FQDN or IP Address and administrator credentials and click Next.

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3. Confirm the connection to your vCenter Server Appliance.

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4. Review Summary and click the Install button.

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5. Wait until the plugin is installed.

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6. Click the Open Plugin page to start using StarWind SAN & NAS via the vCenter Plugin interface.

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Connecting StarWind SAN & NAS to the hypervisor server

Connecting StarWind virtual disk to VMware ESXi server

1. Log in VMware ESXi server.

2. Navigate to the Storage sidebar-menu, then open the Adapters tab.

3. Click the “Software iSCSI” button to launch the “Configuring iSCSI” wizard.

4. Set the “iSCSI enabled” option as Enabled.

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5. Add the IPv4 address of StarWind SAN & NAS iSCSI/Data network interface to the Dynamic targets. Save the configuration.

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6. Switch to the Devices tab and click the “Rescan” button.

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7. Once scanned, the created StarWind virtual disks appear.

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8. Click the “New datastore” button.

9. The Datastore creation wizard appears. Specify the Datastore name.

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10. Select the StarWind virtual disk.

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11. Specify the partition options and create the VMFS 6 partition using the entire disk capacity.

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12. Review the configuration summary and click “Finish” to create the datastore.

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13. Confirm virtual disk erase if ESXi warning appears.

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14. Check the StarWind datastore in the Datastores tab.

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Connecting StarWind virtual disk to VMware vSphere servers

1. Log in to VMware vSphere Client.

2. Select the ESXi server in the sidebar-menu, then navigate to the “Configure” tab and open the “Storage Adapters” submenu page.

3. Click the “+Add Software Adapter” button to launch the corresponding wizard.

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4. Mark the “Add software iSCSI adapter” option and click OK.

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5. Add the IPv4 address of StarWind SAN & NAS iSCSI\Data network interface to the “Dynamic Discovery“. Save the configuration

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6. Click on the “Rescan” button to discover StarWind virtual disk.

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7. Once scanned, the created StarWind virtual disk appears on the “Storage Devices” submenu page.

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8. Right-click on the ESXi server to open the “Actions” menu, click on “Storage” and click the “New datastore” button.

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9. The Datastore creation wizard appears. Specify the Datastore type as VMFS.

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10. Specify the datastore name. Select the StarWind virtual disk.

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11. Specify the VMFS6 version for the datastore.

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12. Specify the datastore size using the entire disk capacity.

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13. Review the configuration summary and click “Finish” to create the datastore.

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14. Check the StarWind datastore in the Datastores tab.

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Main Menu Options

This part provides a detailed description of StarWind SAN & NAS monitoring and management capabilities

Login Page

Log in to the appliance using the username – user and password you have specified in the third step.

NOTE: The default password for the user account is “rds123RDS” without quotes.

DASHBOARD

The DASHBOARD item provides a set of widgets that allow monitoring a storage appliance.

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DASHBOARD consists of the following widgets:

  • Appliance Summary – delivers the general information about the SAN & NAS, such as hostname, StarWind Service version, appliance type, and system uptime.

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  • Virtual Disks(s) Availability – delivers the overall information on the state of StarWind virtual disks, including those that are of high availability (StarWind HA disks that are synchronized and available on both nodes), limited availability (StarWind HA disks that are synchronized and available currently only from one node) and ones that are not available (offline StarWind volumes) and simple (StarWind virtual disks that are not replicated).

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  • Resource usage – delivers information on the CPU, Memory, and Storage usage.

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  • Performance – delivers the information in the form of graphs about IOPSDisk Throughput, and Network Throughput. These metrics can be checked live, for last hour, last day, last week, last month, or last year.

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  • Tasks and events – delivers the information on tasks and events in StarWind SAN & NAS.

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STORAGE

The STORAGE item provides Manage Disks, Pools, and Virtual Disks tabs and allows performing the inventory of the attached storage to the appliance, listing, creating, and editing pools and virtual disks.

Manage Disks

Manage Disks tab delivers the ability to rescan the storage attached to the StarWind SAN & NAS and check the drive state.

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Rescan Storage button executes storage identification tasks, seeks physical controllers, virtual or physical disks. Devices appear in the table-list once identified.

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Maintenance button lists Check State maintenance operation. Check State button launches a disk state check task and fixes the disk state if the drive is not in use by any storage pool.

Manage Pools

Manage Pools tab delivers the ability to create, list, edit and delete storage pools. Hardware RAID, ZFS, and MDADM storage pools are supported and integrated into StarWind SAN & NAS web-interface.

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Create Storage Pool Wizard

1. To create a storage pool, click the “Add” button.

2. Specify the storage pool name and click the “Next” button.

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3. Select the redundancy layout for the new storage pool.

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4.  Validate the layout

5. Optionally, configure Hot spare disks for the new pool or check “Create pool without hot spare disk(s)” to proceed without host spare disks selected.

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6. Review “Summary” and click the “Create” button to create the pool.

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Edit Storage Pool Wizard

1. To edit a storage pool, select the pool and click the “Edit” button.

2. Modify the pool name or add notes.

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3. Extend the storage pool by adding more drives or group of drives at the Editing Pool Layout screen.

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4. Add hot spare drives to the pool.

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Delete Storage Pool Wizard

1. To delete a storage pool, select the pool and click the Delete button.

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Performing maintenance operations on a storage pool

2. To perform maintenance operations on a virtual volume, select the required storage pool and click the “Maintenance” button.

3. In the drop-down list, select the required option: Check Usable Capacity or Rebuild.

  • Check Usable Capacity button launches usable capacity check for the selected storage pool.
  • By using the Rebuild button, the selected pool with a failed drive(s) can be rebuilt.

Manage Virtual Disks

Manage Virtual Disks tab allows creating, listing, extending, and removing StarWind virtual disks using the corresponding controls.

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Add Virtual Disk Wizard

NOTE: The availability for StarWind SAN & NAS virtual disk is Simple – StarWind virtual volume which is not replicated

  • To create a virtual disk, click the Add button.
  • Specify the virtual disk name, placement, size and click Create.

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Edit Virtual Disk Wizard

1. To extend a virtual disk, select a virtual disk and click the Edit button.

2. Specify the new size of the selected disk and click Save.

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Delete Virtual Disk Wizard

1. To delete a virtual disk, select the virtual disk and click the Delete button.

2. Check “Ignore active sessions and force remove the selected virtual disks” if the selected disk has active connections.

3. Click the Confirm button to delete the virtual disk.

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NETWORK

The NETWORK item provides Network Adapters and allows performing the inventory of the attached network adapters to appliance, listing, and editing network settings

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Edit Network Adapter Wizard

1. To edit network settings, select a network adapter and click the Edit button.

2. Specify target network settings:

  • Set Management role to the network adapter connected to the management network switch. Set iSCSI role to the network adapter connected to the iSCSI network and used for iSCSI\Data traffic.
  • Select DHCP or Static mode. For Static mode selected, specify IPv4, Netmask, Gateway, and DNS server(s).
  • Set MTU according to your network configuration. For iSCSI\Data traffic, MTU set to 9000 is recommended.

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TASKS AND EVENTS

This item delivers information on the tasks and events running in StarWind SAN & NAS.

Tasks

The Tasks tab provides information on tasks performed in StarWind SAN & NAS. The Tasks tab displays the task name, the appliance entity type where this task has been performed, entity name, owner of the task, its status, and timestamp.

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Events

The Events tab contains information on the events that occurred in StarWind SAN & NAS. The Events tab displays the event severity level, event source, time of the event, description, entity type where the event has occurred, entity name, number of occurrences, and the current event status.

1. To check the events in the StarWind SAN & NAS, navigate to the Events tab.

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2. To mark the recent event as Acknowledged or Resolved, select the event and select the required option.

General Appliance Settings

To modify the appliance settings, click the gear icon in the top right corner of the StarWind SAN & NAS interface.

The General tab allows performing an inventory of the appliance, checking and modifying its state, license, and general settings.

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The Plugins tab lists the available plugins, shows their state, and allows to launch plugin wizards.

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Controls

Power

To perform shut down and restart operations with the appliance, click Power, then Power Off or Restart buttons in the appliance block.

License

To check the appliance license, included features, upgrade the appliance by activating the new license, click the License control.

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Support bundle.

To provide the StarWind Support Team with information on the appliance’s issues, click Support bundle to download the support bundle.

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Modifying General Settings

To modify the general StarWind SAN & NAS settings such as the appliance hostname, change password, time zone, click Edit in the General tab.

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StarWind vCenter Plugin

On this page, you can find information about installed vCenter plugins, their installation status, version, and IP address of the vCenter Server Appliance for installed plugins.

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Two control actions are available Open vCenter Plugin or Open Plugin Installer by pressing the corresponding controls.

Open vCenter Plugin

The control opens the vCenter Plugin page which connects to the corresponding SAN & NAS appliance.

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The StarWind Plugin also can be launched from the vSphere Client Menu:

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Open Plugin Installer

This control allows you to deploy, update, or uninstall the StarWind Plugin in your VMware environment.

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Deploy Wizard

This wizard installs the StarWind plugin to the VMware virtualization environment.

1. Read and accept the End User License Agreement to proceed.

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2. Specify the vCenter Server FQDN or IP Address and administrator credentials and click Next.

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3. Confirm the connection to your vCenter Server Appliance.

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4. Review Summary and click the Install button.

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5. Wait until the plugin is installed.

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6. Click the Open Plugin page to start using StarWind SAN & NAS via the vCenter Plugin interface.

Upgrade Wizard

This wizard allows upgrading the StarWind Plugin to the newer version.

1. Specify the vCenter Server FQDN or IP Address and administrator credentials and click Next.

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2. Confirm the connection to your vCenter Server Appliance.

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3. Review the release notes of the newer version of the StarWind Plugin. Click

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4. Read and accept the End User License Agreement to proceed.

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5. Wait until the Upgrade Wizard finishes.

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6. The upgraded version of the StarWind vCenter Plugin is available by clicking the Open Plugin Page button or navigating from the VMware vSphere Client Menu.

Uninstall Wizard

This wizard uninstalls the StarWind Plugin from your vCenter Server Appliance.

1. Specify the vCenter Server FQDN or IP Address and administrator credentials and click Next.

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2. Confirm the connection to your vCenter Server Appliance.

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3. Review Summary and click Uninstall button.

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4. Close the wizard upon finish or go back to the installer homepage.

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