Configure vSAN Stretched Cluster

vSAN Stretched cluster introduced in vSAN 6.1 and it brings high availability in an active-active fashion. In this architecture, ESXi hosts would be placed in two different physical locations and join together with high bandwidth low latency networking. But from a management perspective despite hosts being in two different sites they belong to one single vSAN Cluster and share their resources. So this solution can be used in environments where disaster avoidance is a critical matter. Because it gives you the ability to avoid disaster, or recover from a disaster by having two different physical sites that host your applications. So you need to group the hosts based on their physical locations and put them in two different fault domains.

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vSAN Deployment without existing vCenter Server

VMware vSAN is Software-Defined Storage(SDS) solution from VMware that is fully integrated into vSphere. To enable vSAN, we need to have a minimum of three ESXi hosts, and each host needs at least one cache disk and one capacity disk. The local disks of ESXi hosts should be formatted by VMFS. Since vSAN is a vSphere clustering feature, we should also have Center Server in place before start implementing it.

If you are a System Administrator or even a Solutions Architect, you might a face a challenge to build a vSAN Cluster with minimum ESXi servers without having a vCenter in place. In many green field environments, vCenter has not been installed and you want to keep ESXi’s disks intact and unformatted. In addition, there are some customers that want to build and manage vSAN Cluster in a separate vCenter and they do not have any additional ESXi host for vCenter deployment.

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VxRail 2-Node Implementation Considerations (VxRail 7.0.100)

Starting with version 4.7.100, VxRail supports vSAN 2-Node for small and Remote-Office Branch-Office (ROBO) deployments. This solution works best for environments that needs hyperconverged compute and storage with a minimal configuration. VxRail 2-Node consists of two VxRail E560 nodes and a vSAN Witness Appliance. It is recommended to deploy the Witness appliance in another site but in case of lacking another site it can be deployed in the same site as vSAN 2-Node.

There are some considerations and requirements that you need to have it in place before starting the VxRAIL 2-Node implementation.

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VMware vSAN 7.0 Witness Appliance Deployment

As part of vSAN Stretched or 2-Node cluster configuration, a witness appliance should be deployed and configured. This witness appliance will host witness components that are being used in split-brain failure scenarios. The witness component will act as a tie-breaker and help vSAN cluster to satisfy the quorum requirements. The witness server could be installed as a dedicated physical ESXi host or a specialized virtual witness appliance can be used instead. The main reason for having witness as a virtual appliance is it does not require an extra vSphere license to consume and eventually save some cost especially for smaller implementation like ROBO. The other reason behind using a virtual appliance is for multi-cluster environments like VCF stretched cluster implementation. Due to the reason of each vSAN cluster needs its own witness, then you can consolidate all of them on one physical host on a third site.

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