Monthly Archives: January 2021

VCF Lab Constructor (VLC), used differently.

It has been a long time since I posted anything new, I will be looking to get back on top of posting things consistently for 2021. I have been using VLC for almost a year now and it has come a long way since its humble beginnings. I have deployed many different Virtual Cloud Foundation (VCF) environments using this tool, but I also use it to quickly deploy virtual hosts for other testing. For my example today I will be deploying 3 hosts, adding them to a cluster, and then I will turn on HCI Mesh (Datastore Sharing) to use the storage of my physical vSAN cluster.

First, you will need to sign up and download VLC from http://tiny.cc/getVLCBits, the build I am using is for VCF 4.1. After signing up you will also get information about joining the #VLC-Support slack channel. If you have any issues with VLC, this is a great place to get quick answers. You will also need to download whatever ESXi version you will be using from myvmware.com. In my example I will be using 7.0.1 (16850804). After downloading VLC, unzip it to your C:\ drive. Follow the install guide in the zip file to create the vDS and portgroup used for VLC.

Using your favorite editor, edit the “add_3_hosts.json” file. Change the name as you see fit for each host. You can increase or decrease CPU, Memory, and the disks being added to these VMs. Set the management IP information as well. I have included the code for my installation. Once complete, save this file.

{
    "genVM": [
      {
        "name": "esxi-1",
        "cpus": 4,
        "mem": 16,
        "disks": "10,10,50,50,50",
		"mgmtip": "192.168.1.60",
		"subnetmask":"255.255.255.0",
		"ipgw":"192.168.1.1"
      },
      {
        "name": "esxi-2",
        "cpus": 4,
        "mem": 16,
        "disks": "10,10,50,50,50",
		"mgmtip": "192.168.1.61",
		"subnetmask":"255.255.255.0",
		"ipgw":"192.168.1.1"
      },
      {
        "name": "esxi-3",
        "cpus": 4,
        "mem": 16,
        "disks": "10,10,50,50,50",
		"mgmtip": "192.168.1.62",
		"subnetmask":"255.255.255.0",
		"ipgw":"192.168.1.1"
      }
    ]
}

Next, right click on the Powershell Script “VLCGui” and then select “Run with Powershell”.

The Lab Constructor GUI will appear. Choose the “Expansion Pack!” option.

Input your main VLAN ID, then click on the “Addtl Hosts JSON” box and select the “add_3_hosts.json” we edited earlier. Click on the ESXi ISO location and choose the ISO that you should have downloaded earlier…you didn’t skip ahead did you? Input your password as well as NTP, DNS, and domain information. On the right side of the window input your vCenter credentials and hit Connect. Once connected it will show you what clusters, networks, and datastores are supported. The cluster I wanted to use (lab-cl1) is not showing up, this was because I had vSphere HA enabled.

Once I turned off HA on the cluster it appeared for me to select. I chose my VLC network as well and my physical vSAN datastore “vsanDatastore”. My VLC network is configured for trunking and has Promiscuous mode, MAC address changes, and Forged transmits all set to “Accept”. Click “Validate” and then click “Construct”.

You will see Powershell start to deploy the ESXi hosts. You can monitor vCenter until complete, total time to build 3 hosts was just under 10 minutes.

Now create a new cluster and add these three hosts to the cluster. When completed you will have 3 hosts in a new cluster that are all in maintenance mode.

We now enable vSAN on the cluster by right clicking on the cluster, choosing Settings–>vSAN–>Services–>Configure. I went with the default options and did not choose any disks to be consumed for vSAN so my vSAN datastore shows 0 capacity and 0 free space. We will use Quickstart to configure the hosts further. If I enable vSAN and then try to use Datastore Sharing, it won’t let me configure it because the required vSAN networking is not configured yet.

Click on your cluster–>Configure–>Quickstart. In the Quickstart configuration view you should see 3 boxes, in the box on the right click the “Configure” button. We first configure our distributed switch. I already had one created that I wanted to use so I selected that to use for my vSAN network, added a new portgroup name, and then chose the two adapters I wanted to use.

Next we configure the information for the VMkernel adapters. I have a VLAN that I use for all of my vSAN traffic (30), then I add the information for the static IPs I want to use from that subnet. Use the Autofill option…it will save you time.

I did not make any changes on the Advanced Options, I did not claim any disks for vSAN, and I did not configure a proxy. Click “Next” until you get to the review screen. If satisfied with your choices, click “Finish.

Once the changes are complete from Quickstart, click on your cluster, then “Configure”, and then Datastore Sharing. Notice I still show a vsanDatastore (3) but it has not space. Click “MOUNT REMOTE DATASTORE”.

I chose “vsanDatastore” which is my physical storage for this cluster, all of the other datastores you see here are virtual.. Click “Next” and notice that this time our compatibility check is all green now because the vSAN networking is configured. Click “Finish”.

Now that we mounted our datastore, lets create a new VM on it. I just selected all of the defaults, but you could use a template to test with if you already had one deployed.

Let’s power up the VM. We now have a VM deployed in our HCIMesh cluster using the vSAN datastore from my lab-cl1 cluster.

This is just one example of some quick testing I did because VLC helped me to deploy my ESXi hosts quickly. I hope you found it helpful.