Free Webinar
November 15 | 11am PT / 2pm ET
VMware & StarWind: Guarantee data safety and constant applications availability
Speaker: Alexey Khorolets, Pre-Sales Engineer, StarWind

StarWind Virtual SAN®
Providing HA storage repositories for XenServer 6.5

Introduction

Traditionally XenServer Pool requires shared storage to guarantee data safety, allow virtual machines migration, enable continuous application availability and eliminate any single point of failure within an IT environment.
NOTE: Hyperconverged scenario is not officially supported with Citrix XenServer.

The network diagram below illustrates the system configuration.
XenServer diagram

StarWind VSAN for Hyper-V System Requirements

Prior to installing StarWind Virtual SAN for Hyper-V, please make sure that the system meets the following requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

CPU:
Minimum one physical 1.7 GHz processor
RAM
The minimum RAM amount is 4GB. In case of implementing StarWind High Speed caching, an appropriate RAM amount should be installed additionally. The cache-dedicated RAM amount should be equal to/or higher than the one reserved for iSCSI targets caching;
In-line deduplication with LSFS requires 7.6 GB of RAM per 1 TB of deduplicated storage.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Always reserve at least 4 GB RAM for Windows internal processes and the StarWind Virtual SAN engine.
Storage:
3 GB disk space reserved for installation and logging;
Hardware RAID controller is highly recommended;
StarWind Virtual SAN supports Microsoft Storage Spaces.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Software RAID implementations are NOT supported.
HDD
For HHD-based RAID arrays, it is recommended to configure RAID 10 with the following settings:
Disk cache policy: Default (disabled by default);
Write policy: Write Back;
Read policy: Read ahead;
Stripe Size: 64K.
SSD
For SSD-based RAID arrays, it recommended to configure RAID1 for 2x SSDs; RAID5 for 3x and more SSDs, or RAID10 for 4x and more pair SSD with the following settings:
Disk cache policy: Default (enabled by default);
Write policy: Write Through;
Read policy: No read ahead;
Stripe Size: 64K.

Network Requirements:

Minimum of 2 x 1GbE physical NICs;
The minimum supported bandwidth is 1 GbE. In case of an intensive workload, the scaling to the 10 GbE or 40 GbE infrastructure should be considered. In order to maximize the SAN environment performance, it is highly recommended to use 9K Jumbo frame capable network equipment.

Software Requirements:

Please make sure, that one of the supported Windows Server editions is installed.

Supported Microsoft Windows Server editions with GUI
Windows Server 2008 R2 (partial support)
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows Server 2016

Supported Microsoft Windows Server GUI-less editions
Windows Server Core 2008 R2 (partial support);
Windows Server Core 2012;
Windows Server Core 2012 R2;
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (partial support);
Hyper-V Server 2012;
Hyper-V Server 2012 R2;
Hyper-V Server 2016.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The use of Windows Server Core or Microsoft Hyper-V Server as a base OS is incompatible with StarWind Management Console local installation. In this case, the StarWind Management console should be installed on any other computer. Please note that for remote management, port 3261 has to be open in both machines’ firewalls.

Microsoft Windows Desktop editions compatible with StarWind Management Console
Windows 7;
Windows 8;
Windows 8.1;
Windows 10.

Installing StarWind VSAN for Hyper-V

1. Download the StarWind setup executable file from the StarWind website:
https://www.starwind.com/registration-starwind-virtual-san
NOTE: The setup file is the same for x86 and x64 systems, as well as for all Virtual SAN deployment scenarios.
2. Launch the downloaded setup file on the server to install StarWind Virtual SAN or one of its components. The Setup wizard will appear. Read and accept the License Agreement.
StarWind License agreement
3. Carefully read the information about the new features and improvements. Red text indicates warnings for users that are updating the existing software installations.
4. Select Browse to modify the installation path if necessary. Click Next to continue.
select destination location
5. Select the following components for the minimum setup:

  • StarWind Virtual SAN Service. StarWind service is the “core” of the software. It can create iSCSI targets as well as share virtual and physical devices. The service can be managed from StarWind Management Console on any Windows computer that is on the same network. Alternatively, the service can be managed from StarWind Web Console deployed separately.
  • StarWind Management Console. Management Console is the Graphic User Interface (GUI) part of the software that controls and monitors all storage-related operations (e.g., allows users to create targets and devices on StarWind Virtual SAN servers connected to the network).

NOTE: To manage StarWind Virtual SAN installed on a Windows Server Core edition with no GUI, StarWind Management Console should be installed on a different computer running the GUI-enabled Windows edition.
Select components
6. Specify Start Menu Folder.
Select start menu folder
7. Enable the checkbox if a desktop icon needs to be created. Click Next to continue.
8. When the license key prompt appears, choose the appropriate option:

  • Request time-limited fully functional evaluation key.
  • Request FREE version key.
  • Select the previously purchased commercial license key.

9. Click the Browse button to locate the license file.
10. Review the licensing information.
11. Verify the installation settings. Click Back to make any changes or Install to proceed with the installation.
12. Enable the appropriate checkbox to launch StarWind Management Console right after the setup wizard is closed and click Finish.
13. Repeat the installation steps on the partner node.

Creating StarWind HA Devices

1. Open Add Device (advanced) Wizard.
2. Select Hard Disk Device as the type of device to be created.
3. Select Virtual Disk.
4. Specify a virtual disk Name, Location, and Size.
5. Select the Thick provisioned disk type.
6. Define a caching policy and specify a cache size (in MB). Also, the maximum available cache size can be specified by selecting the appropriate checkbox. Optionally, define the L2 caching policy and cache size.
7. Specify Target Parameters. Select the Target Name checkbox to enter a custom target name. Otherwise, the name is generated automatically in accordance with the specified target alias.
8. Click Create to add a new device and attach it to the target.
9. Click Close to finish the device creation.
10. Right-click the recently created device and select Replication Manager from the shortcut menu.
11. Select the Add Replica button in the top menu.

Select the Required Replication Mode

The replication can be configured in one of two modes:

Synchronous “Two-Way” Replication
Synchronous or active-active replication ensures real-time synchronization and load balancing of data between two or three cluster nodes. Such a configuration tolerates the failure of two out of three storage nodes and enables the creation of an effective business continuity plan. With synchronous mirroring, each write operation requires control confirmation from both storage nodes. It guarantees the reliability of data transfers but is demanding in bandwidth since mirroring will not work on high-latency networks.

Asynchronous “One-Way” Replication
Asynchronous Replication is used to copy data over a WAN to a separate location from the main storage system. With asynchronous replication, confirmation from each storage node is not required during the data transfer. Asynchronous replication does not guarantee data integrity in case of storage or network failure; hence, some data loss may occur, which makes asynchronous replication a better fit for backup and disaster recovery purposes where some data loss is acceptable. The Replication process can be scheduled in order to prevent the main storage system and network channels overloads.
Please select the required option:

Synchronous “Two-Way” replication

1. Select Synchronous “Two-Way” replication as a replication mode.

2. Specify a partner Host name or IP address and Port Number.

Asynchronous "One-Way" Replication

NOTE: Asynchronous replication requires minimum 100 MbE network bandwidth or higher. The Asynchronous node uses the LSFS device by design. Please, make sure that the Asynchronous node meets the LSFS device requirements:
https://knowledgebase.starwindsoftware.com/explanation/lsfs-container-technical-description/
1. Select Asynchronous “One-Way” Replication.
wp-image-12410
2. Enter Host name or IP address of the Asynchronous node.
3. Choose the Create New Partner Device option.
4. Specify the partner device Location . Optionally, modify the target name by clicking the appropriate button.
5. Click Change Network Settings.
6. Specify the network for asynchronous replication between the nodes. Click OK and then click Next.
7. In Select Partner Device Initialization Mode, select Synchronize from existing Device and click Next.
8. Specify Scheduler Settings and click Next.
NOTE: The size of journal files and number of snapshots depends on the settings specified in this step.
9. Specify the path for journal files and click Next.
NOTE: By default, the journal files will be located on the node with the original device. However, it is highly recommended not to store journal files on the same drive where the original device is located. Additionally, the C:\ drive should not be used as the path for journal files to avoid any issues with Windows OS.
If the same drive where the StarWind device is located is selected, the warning message about possible performance issues will pop up. If there is no additional volume available for storing the journals, click I understand the potential problem. Use the selected path.
wp-image-12419
10. Press the Create Replica button.
11. Wait until StarWind service creates a device and click Close to complete the device creation.

Selecting the Failover Strategy

StarWind provides 2 options for configuring a failover strategy:

Heartbeat
The Heartbeat failover strategy allows avoiding the “split-brain” scenario when the HA cluster nodes are unable to synchronize but continue to accept write commands from the initiators independently. It can occur when all synchronization and heartbeat channels disconnect simultaneously, and the partner nodes do not respond to the node’s requests. As a result, StarWind service assumes the partner nodes to be offline and continues operations on a single-node mode using data written to it.
If at least one heartbeat link is online, StarWind services can communicate with each other via this link. The device with the lowest priority will be marked as not synchronized and get subsequently blocked for the further read and write operations until the synchronization channel resumption. At the same time, the partner device on the synchronized node flushes data from the cache to the disk to preserve data integrity in case the node goes down unexpectedly. It is recommended to assign more independent heartbeat channels during the replica creation to improve system stability and avoid the “split-brain” issue.
With the heartbeat failover strategy, the storage cluster will continue working with only one StarWind node available.

Node Majority
The Node Majority failover strategy ensures the synchronization connection without any additional heartbeat links. The failure-handling process occurs when the node has detected the absence of the connection with the partner.
The main requirement for keeping the node operational is an active connection with more than half of the HA device’s nodes. Calculation of the available partners is based on their “votes”.
In case of a two-node HA storage, all nodes will be disconnected if there is a problem on the node itself, or in communication between them. Therefore, the Node Majority failover strategy requires the addition of the third Witness node which participates in the nodes count for the majority, but neither contains data on it nor is involved in processing clients’ requests. In case an HA device is replicated between 3 nodes, no Witness node is required.
With Node Majority failover strategy, failure of only one node can be tolerated. If two nodes fail, the third node will also become unavailable to clients’ requests.
Please select the required option:

Heartbeat

1. Select Failover Strategy.

2. Select Create new Partner Device and click Next.
3. Select a partner device Location.
4. Click Change Network Settings.

5. Specify the interfaces for Synchronization and Heartbeat Channels. Click OK and then click Next.
Sync options
6. In Select Partner Device Initialization Mode, select Synchronize from existing Device and click Next.
7. Click Create Replica. Click Finish to close the wizard.
The successfully added device appears in StarWind Management Console.
8. Follow the similar procedure for the creation of other virtual disks that will be used as storage repositories.

Node Majority

1. Select the Node Majority failover strategy and click Next.
Node Majority Failover Strategy
2. Choose Create new Partner Device and click Next.
3. Specify the partner device Location and modify the target name if necessary. Click Next.
4. In Network Options for Replication, press the Change network settings button and select the synchronization channel for the HA device.
5. In Specify Interfaces for Synchronization Channels, select the checkboxes with the appropriate networks and click OK. Then click Next.
6. Select Synchronize from existing Device as the partner device initialization mode.
7. Press the Create Replica button and close the wizard.
8. The added devices will appear in StarWind Management Console.
Repeat the steps above to create other virtual disks if necessary.

Adding Witness Node
Witness node can be configured on a separate host or as a virtual machine in a cloud. It requires StarWind Virtual SAN service installed on it.
NOTE: Since the device created in this guide is replicated between 2 active nodes with the Node Majority failover strategy, a Witness node must be added to it.
1. Open StarWind Management Console, right-click on the Servers field and press the Add Server button. Add a new StarWind Server which will be used as the Witness node and click OK.
wp-image-13999
2. Right-click on the HA device with the configured Node Majority failover policy and select Replication Manager and press the Add Replica button.
3. Select Witness Node.
witness node
4. Specify the Witness node Host Name or IP address. The default Port Number is 3261.
Ad partner node
5. In Partner Device Setup, specify the Witness device Location. Optionally, modify the target name by clicking the appropriate button.
6. In Network Options for Replication, select the synchronization channel with the Witness node by clicking the Change Network Settings button.
7. Specify the interface for Synchronization and Heartbeat and click OK.
8. Click Create Replica and then close the wizard.
9. Repeat the steps above to create other virtual disks if necessary.

Configuring Hosts with XenServer 6.5

1. Launch XenCenter.
2. Click New Pool.
3. Specify the name and description of the pool and click Add New Server.
4. In the Add New Server window, specify the first XenServer host to be added to the pool as well as User name and Password.
Add new server
5.  To add the second XenServer host to the pool, repeat the previous steps.
Create new pool XEN
6. Specify the Master host.
7. Click Create Pool.
8. After creating the pool, the XenCenter window should look as shown in the screenshot below.
XENCenter General Properties

Configuring Network Settings
NOTE: To switch the XenServer host to Maintenance Mode for network configuration, right-click the XenServer and select Enter Maintenance Mode… from the shortcut menu.
XEN Enter maintenance mode
1. Select the first XenServer host, switch to the Networking tab, and click Configure.
2. In the appeared window, click Add IP address to add networks.
3. Configure the required IP address and click OK.

Storage Nerworks XEN
4. The window should look as shown below.
XEN Server Networks
5. Exit the Maintenance mode.
6. Repeat the same steps on all XenServer hosts.

Configuring iSCSI Initiator
NOTE: The following actions should be performed on each XenServer host in the pool.
1. Switch XenServer host to the Maintenance mode for iSCSI configuration.
2. Edit /etc/iscsi/initiatorname.iscsi and set the appropriate iqn for XenServer iSCSI initiator.
3. Edit the /etc/iscsi/iscsid.conf file.
Set the following values:

4. Restart the software iSCSI service:

5. Set the iSCSI services to start automatically when launching XenServer:

Applying Multipathing
NOTE: The following actions should be performed on each XenServer host in the pool.
1. Switch XenServer host to maintenance mode for multipath configuration
2. Switch to console tab, edit the multipath configuration file by running “vi /etc/multipath.conf” command.
3. Insert the following block into the “devices” section:

4. Restart the multipath service:

5. Set the multipath service to start automatically when launching XenServer:

6. Right-click the XenServer and select Properties from the shortcut menu.
XEN host properties
7. Click Multipathing Active in the left pane. Select the Enable multipathing on this server checkbox and click OK.

XEN Server multhipathing
8. Turn off the Maintenance mode: right-click the XenServer and select Exit Maintenance Mode from the shortcut menu.
9. Reboot the XenServer host.

Adding Shared Storage manually
1. Select the XenServer host. Switch to the Console tab in XenCenter.
2. Run discovery:

3. Connect the targets using their IQNs found by discovery:

4. Perform the steps 1-3 for all XenServer hosts in the Pool.
5. On Pool Master, run the following commands to add SR:

6. In the Console tab, check if the multipath works properly on both hosts.