Nested Nutanix Community Edition Home Lab Cluster

 

I wanted to setup a Nutanix cluster in my home lab to play with but didn’t want to get some Nutanix Bricks as they are quite expensive.  I soon found out about Nutanix Community Edition which I found I can run nested with ESXi.  Thankfully through a previous job I still had a healthy home lab with enough server hardware with some SSD and HDD drives, perfect for setting up Nutanix Community Edition.

My goal was to use ESXi 6.0 to virtualize a three node cluster with a stand-alone additional fourth node so I could play with some DR functionality that was built into Nutanix.  

To give credit where credit is due I used the help of two other blogs to help me get my home lab up and running – 

Step by step how to install Nutanix CE nested on VMware ESXi

How to create a nested virtual NutanixCE Cluster

ESXi Host Configuration

When setting up the ESXi host you have to set the vSwitch Promiscuous Mode to ‘Accept’ under the ‘Security’ settings of the vSwitch to be able to access your Nutanix CVMs and Virtual Machines running on your nested cluster.

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One of the things I did was to create a directory on my HDD storage for each VM’s boot disk and uploaded the ce.vmdk files to.  I made the ce.vmdk files by following Kalle’s instructions –

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Building the VMs

I built out each node with 8 cores, 32GB of Ram, a virtual disk for the CE boot image, a 200GB SSD virtual disk and a 500GB HDD virtual disk.  It is important to have a SSD disk as the install process runs a test to make sure the disks have the appropriate IOPS.

When creating the VM under ‘Guest OS’ I said I wanted an ‘Other Guest OS Family’ with a ‘Other (64-bit)’

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When building each VM it is important to turn on ‘Hardware Virtualization’ by clicking the check box ‘Expose hardware assisted virtualization to the guest OS.’  If you don’t do this the Nutanix install process will yell at you and exit out.

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I set my boot disk as an ‘Existing Virtual Disk’, selecting the appropriate VMs ce.vmdk that I had uploaded to HDD datastore and setting it to ‘SCSI(0:0)’

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I then emulated the SSD disk by creating a 200GB virtual disk on one of my SSD datastores and setting it to ‘SCSI(0:1)’

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For my last disk I then emulated the HDD disk by creating a 500GB virtual disk on my HDD datastore and setting it to ‘SCSI(0:2)’

Running the Install Process

To start the install process power on the VM and it will boot the ce.vmdk mapped to SCSI(0:0)

On the VM console you will be prompted to login at which point you will enter ‘install’ as the username.

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First you will be prompted to choose your keyboard layout.

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At the next step the installer will run IO tests on your hard drives to make sure they support the required IOPS.

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Once the IO tests are complete you will be asked to configure each hosts IP address and the associated IP address for the Controller VMs for each host.  If setting up a must-node cluster leave the box ‘Create single-node cluster?’ un-checked.  If you are creating a single node cluster check the checkbox.  You will also have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the EULA before the installer will let you proceed.

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Creating the Cluster

Once the installer is complete you will create the cluster by running the ‘cluster -s x.x.x.x,x.x.x.x,x.x.x.x create’ command where x.x.x.x are the IP addresses of your controller VMs you created during the install process.

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Once the cluster is created it is a good idea to check the cluster status by running the ‘cluster status’ command and making sure that the services are ‘UP’ on each controller VM.

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Initially logging into the cluster

Once you have verified the status of the cluster you can login the cluster by opening a browser and going to ‘http://x.x.x.x’ where x.x.x.x is the IP address of any of your controller VMs.  At the initial login you will be asked for your Nutanix.com username and password to verify you are entitled to run the Nutanix Community Edition.

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At the next screen you will be prompted to login to Prism.  Here you will initially login with the username ‘admin’ and password ‘admin’ which will then prompt you to change the admin password.

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After logging in you will now be presented with your cluster dashboard screen.   Here you can change the name of your cluster by clicking ‘Unnamed’ in the upper left hand corner.

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Cluster is now yours to play with

Now that your cluster is up and running you can play around with the various pages and start to create VMs on your Nutanix Community Edition Cluster.

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