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StarWind Virtual SAN® for vSphere
Linux Software RAID
Configuration Guide

Published: November 5, 2018

INTRODUCTION

StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere comes as a prepackaged Linux Virtual Machine to be installed as a VM on vSphere. It creates a VM-centric and high-performing storage pool for a VMware cluster.

This guide is intended for experienced system administrators and IT professionals who would like to configure Software RAID on top of the StarWind Virtual SAN Virtual Machine. It describes storage configuration process of the StarWind Virtual SAN with VMware vSphere.

A full set of up-to-date technical documentation can always be found here, or by pressing the Help button in StarWind Management Console.

For any technical inquiries please visit our online community, Frequently Asked Questions page, or use the support form to contact our technical support department.

Prerequisites

Make sure that the prerequisites for deploying Software RAID with StarWind Virtual SAN are met:

  • The ESXi hosts have all the drives connected through HBA or RAID controller in HBA mode.
  • StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere is installed on the ESXi server (Installation and configuration guide).
  • StarWind Virtual SAN must be installed on a separate storage device available to the ESXi host (e.g. SSD, HDD etc.).
  • HBA or RAID controller will be added via a DirectPath I/O passthrough device to a StarWind VM.
  • vCenter is installed in the environment to manage ESXi hosts.

Virtual Machine requirements

StarWind Virtual SAN VM requires to have at least 4 virtual processors with 2 GHz reserved, at least 4 GB of RAM, 3 NIC ports dedicated as separate vSwitches for management, StarWind synchronization and iSCSI traffic to ensure the proper functioning of Virtual SAN.

PCI device configuration

1. StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere must be installed on the ESXi host. Installation guide can be found here:

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/resource-library/starwind-virtual-san-for-vsphere-installation-and-configuration-guide

2. Login to the vCenter via vSphere Client. Select the host where StarWind Virtual SAN VM is installed.

3. Go to the Configure tab. In the Hardware section, select PCI Devices.
Click Edit.

4. Locate the HBA/RAID Controller of the ESXi host. Check the box on the appropriate PCI device. Click OK.

5. Device will appear in the Direct I/O PCI Devices Available to VMs table in the Available (pending) status. Reboot ESXi host.

After the reboot, the status changes to Available.

6. Right-click on a StarWind Virtual SAN VM. Select Edit Settings.

7. Click ADD NEW DEVICE. Select PCI Device.

8. Add HBA/RAID Controller to the VM. Reserve the memory for the StarWind Virtual Machine. Click OK.

9. Boot StarWind Virtual SAN VM.

10. Repeat steps 2-8 for all hosts where StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere is deployed.

Storage Configuration

StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere can work on top of Hardware RAID or Software RAID inside of the Virtual Machine.

This part describes deployment of StarWind Virtual SAN HA devices on top of Linux Software RAID (MDADM).

11. Login to StarWind Virtual SAN VM via IP. Default credentials:

Login: root

Password: root

12. Go to the Storage page. The Drives section shows the drives connected to HBA/RAID Controller (if available).

13. Click “+” in the RAID Devices section to create Software RAID. (In the current example, RAID 10 will be created with 4 HDD drives). StarWind recommendations of RAID configurations depending on the number of disks and array level are as shown below.

RAID level and chunk size should be selected as well. StarWind RAID recommendations:

RAID Level Chunk size for HDD Arrays Chunk size for SSD Arrays

0

Disk quantity * 4Kb

Disk quantity * 8Kb

5

(Disk quantity – 1) * 4Kb

(Disk quantity – 1) * 8Kb

6

(Disk quantity – 2) * 4Kb

(Disk quantity – 2) * 8Kb

10 (Disk quantity * 4Kb)/2 (Disk quantity * 8Kb)/2

StarWind Software RAID recommended settings can be found here:

https://knowledgebase.starwindsoftware.com/guidance/recommended-raid-settings-for-hdd-and-ssd-disks/

14.
Select the drives to add to the array.

15. After the array synchronization is finished. Find the RAID array created.

Hint: The disk created will not have any partitions and file system.  Click Format.

16. Create XFS partition. Mount point should be as follows: /mnt/%yourdiskname% . Add custom mounting option noatime. Click Format.

17. On the storage page of the disk, navigate to the Filesystem tab. Click Mount.

18. Connect to StarWind Virtual SAN from StarWind Management Console or from Web Console. Click Yes.

19. Select the disk recently mounted.

Additional information on how to work with StarWind devices can be found here:

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/resource-library?type=tp

In order to configure Starwind Virtual SAN hyperconverged 2-node scenario with VMware vSphere 6.5, check the Preparing Hypervisor for StarWind Deployment, Provisioning Storage with StarWind VSAN and Preparing Datastores parts of the following guide:

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/resource-library/starwind-virtual-san-hyperconverged-2-node-scenario-with-vmware-vsphere-6-5

CONCLUSION

Software RAID was successfully configured on the StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere VM. Now, StarWind HA devices can be created and connected to ESXi hosts.