September 25, 2018. Technical NextGen Data Centre Author: Ruairi McBride

Expanding NetApp HCI

NetApp recently updated the version of their HCI deployment software to v1.31.

This version contained several new features to help in deploying a NetApp HCI environment.

It’s been several months since I initially deployed our demo kit, and I felt it was time to revisit this process and see what has changed.

One welcomed new feature is the removal of the reliance on having a DHCP server that covers both your 1Gbe management and 10/25Gbe data networks.

Whilst this is a nice idea to help you get up and running and is something easy to configure in the lab, having DHCP running within a production SAN is not exactly common practice.

You could either set one up or spend time configuring static addresses, which could be time-consuming, especially if you had half a dozen or so blades.

The other new feature that caught my eye was the ability to use the NetApp Deployment Engine (NDE) to expand a NetApp HCI environment.

As previously mentioned in an earlier post and video, adding a SolidFire storage node to an existing cluster is quite easy (in fact, it was a design methodology when they created Element OS), but adding an ESXi node is quite a labour-intensive task.

It is great to see that you can now add these quickly through a wizard.

To start the expand process, simply point your browser to the following:

https://storage_node_management_ip:442/scale/welcome where you are greeted by the following landing page:


HCI Welcome Page


As you can see, it wants you to login to your environment.

You may notice NetApp have updated the text box to show the password once typed, as you can see from the eye icon at the end of the line.


HCI Login


To test this new methodology instead of buying more nodes, (which would have been nice) I removed both a single storage and compute node from their respective clusters and factory reset them.

This allows me to test not only the addition of new nodes into existing clusters but also the removal of the DHCP or static IP addressing requirements before deployment.

Once logged in the NDE scale process discovers any and all nodes available and is where you can select which of these you would like to add to your environment.


NetApp Available Inventory


After agreeing to the VMware EULA, you are asked to provide the VC’s details and then to select the data centre and cluster you wish to add the node to.

These steps are only present if you are adding compute nodes.


vCenter Login


vCenter Login NetApp


After giving the compute node a root password, you are taken to the “Enter the IP and naming details” page.


Network Settings


Finally, NDE scale takes you onto a review screen as these three screenshots (headings fully expanded for visibility) show.


Finalise vCenter Setup


Network Settings


Storage Node Networking


Once reviewed, click the blue “Add Nodes” button. This initialises the now familiar NDE process of setting up NetApp HCI that can be tracked via a progress screen.


Node Success


The scaling process for the addition of one compute and one storage node took just under half an hour to complete.

But the real benefit is the fact that this scaling wizard can set up the ESXi host plus networking and vSwitches as per NetApp HCI’s best practices, whilst at the same time adding a storage node into the cluster.

That isn’t the quickest thing to do manually, so having a process that does this for you speedily is a huge plus in NetApp’s favour, especially if you have multiple hosts.

It’s clear to see the influence that the SolidFire team had in this update, with the ease and speed in allowing customers the ability to expand their NetApp HCI environments with NDE scale.

I look forward to the features that will be included in upcoming releases of NetApp HCI and if hyperconverged infrastructure is all about speed and scale then this update gives me both in spades.


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