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Dell EMC Unity VSA deployment on VMware vSphere

This new article series covers the steps on how to easily and quickly deploy Dell EMC Unity VSA. In particular this deployment will use a VMware vSphere platform running on Intel NUC homelab. The purpose is to learn about this solution and see this one in action and in particular with Veeam Backup & Replication. The aim is to leverage the software defined storage options to create several types of storage targeting different scenarios like VMware Datastores, LUNs, File Servers and NDMP.

This article series will go for the usual format with a list of separate articles growing as new configurations are committed. Initially the series will cover:

  • Deploy Dell EMC Unity VSA on VMware
  • Configure Dell EMC Unity VSA
  • Create a Dell EMC Unity NAS Server
  • Create a File System and Share on Dell EMC Unity VSA
  • Enable Dell EMC Unity for NDMP backup

The list will grow along with new articles coming covering connectivity, network and storage protocols, integration with Veeam Backup & Replication, benefits of storage snapshots and more.

What are the benefits of using Dell EMC Unity?

Dell EMC Unity is a software defined storage appliance which allows users greater flexibility by using different storage types from a single system, “Unity”. Dell EMC Unity exists in two flavors. Professional and Community Edition. This article series refers to the Community Edition (CE) which allows up to 4TB of usable storage. Unity is shipping in a format of Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) making its deployment convenient also for homelabs. Dell EMC Unity provides access to the common storage types and protocols by means of a simple web interface. It also integrates with VMware vSphere. It can provide the storage for the VMware Datastores with volume snapshots capabilities. This is a great feature to use when protecting virtual machines using backup from storage snapshots as it will be detailed in dedicated articles. Storage snapshots are also increasingly becoming a line of defense against threats like ransomware and are also proving useful for large environments with tight RPOs and RTOs.


How to deploy Dell EMC Unity VSA on VMware vSphere

The first step is to create a VM to host the Dell EMC Unity VSA. In terms of specs these are not massive and especially for homelabs it is possible to lower some RAM Memory after the initial install. This is considering no many resources are expected to be consumed for such environments. The Unity VSA comes with the standard ova file to be imported in the VMware vCenter and commence the first part for the deployment.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA ova template

In the next step the desired name for the VSA and the location in the current infrastructure.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA deploy ovf template

From the wizard now the option to choose which VMware vSphere Host is associated with the VSA appliance.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA name

The wizard now reads the ova package metadata. An opportunity to review the main details like certificate, downloaded size and size on disk with thin and thick provisioned. At the time of writing there is already an updated version of Dell EMC Unity VSA to release 4.4.0. The procedure will be follow pretty much same steps.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA review details

In the storage section the option to specify one of the existing VMware Datastores where to deploy the Unity VSA.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA select storage

In the network section the wizard reads from the VSA configuration the option to create 5 different networks. One is used for the Management of the Unity VSA. The others will be used to provide network connectivity to and from the Unity VSA storage.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA select network

As a last step before going into the main summary there is the option to customize the Unity VSA settings like Management IP address and System Name. The recommendation is to use a static IP Address and create the required DNS (A) and (PTR) records serving the FQDN name resolution both ways.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA customize template

At this point the wizard has collected all the info to customize the ova template and deploy the Dell EMC Unity VSA appliance.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA wizard summary

As an extra step before powering on the Unity VSA appliance the idea is to add a couple of new virtual hard drives which will act as Unity VSA storage. These virtual hard drives will be used to configure Storage Pools as covered in the next articles.

domalab.com Dell EMC Unity VSA add storage

As a final note it is not recommend lowering the allocated RAM Memory from the default 12 GB. This will slow down the installation and configuration phases. Eventually this could be changed at a later stage should this extra memory not be required.

The next article will proceed with the install and configuration of the Dell EMC Unity VSA.


About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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