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HOL-1828-01: Troubleshooting HDD Failure

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This part of the lab is presented as a Hands-on Labs Interactive Simulation. This will allow you to experience steps which are too time-consuming or resource intensive to do live in the lab environment. In this simulation, you can use the software interface as if you are interacting with a live environment.

It is important to note that VxRail is powered by vSAN and has built-in data protection. Depending on the specific configuration of vSAN different drive failure conditions are handled differently. Monitoring the health of a disk drive is key to ensure data protection. VxRail and vSAN both have methods to detect and report disk drive health.

VxRail Manager is also used to replace failed disk drives without disrupting availability, to generate and download diagnostic log bundles, and to apply VMware updates or software patches non-disruptively across VxRail nodes.

The vSphere Web client is available to manage the VxRail appliance, However, VxRail also provides VxRail Manager to assist with the lifecycle management of VxRail. An administrator would need to replace a device currently in use for a VxRail Applliance if a device error has been detected.

For this lab the we are using the following VxRail archtecture:

  • 4 node G Series VxRail Appliance running 4.0 code
  • Deduplicaton and Compression is turned off
  • Storage Based Policy Managment (SPBM) set as
  • FTT = 1
  • FTM Mirroring
  • Hard drive failure is simulated for this exercise.

Storage capacity for the VxRail Appliance is provided by disk drives that have been integrated, tested, and validated by Dell EMC. 2.5” form-factor Solid State Disks (SSD) and mechanical Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are used. A configuration the uses 3.5” form-factor drives is also available for dense storage requirements. Disks drives are logically organized into disk groups.

Disk groups are configured in two ways:

  • Hybrid configurations, which contain a single SDD flash-based disk for caching (the caching-tier) and multiple HDD disks for capacity (the capacity-tier)
  • All-flash configurations, which contain all SDD flash drives for both cache and capacity.  The flash drives used for caching and capacity have different endurance levels. Endurance level refers to the number of times that an entire flash disk can be written every day for a five-year period before it has to be replaced.

A higher-endurance SSD is used for write caching and capacity optimized SSDs are used for the capacity tier. Currently, the caching tier uses 200GB, 400GB, 800GB, and 1600GB flash disks, and the capacity tier uses either 1.92 or 3.84TB flash SSDs, 1.2TB HDDs, 2TB HDDs, and 4TB (3.5” form-factor). All VxRail disk configurations use a carefully designed cache-to-capacity ratio to ensure consistent performance.

The orange boxes show where to click, and the left and right arrow keys can also be used to move through the simulation in either direction.

vSAN Health State

In the vSphere Web client you can see the health of the vSAN cluster devices. It shows the system is operation in a Healty state.  This currently shows no errors are detected. 

  1. Select the VxRail Manager tab. The URL and Permissions are pre-configured in this simulation to login.  You can view in this dashboard the Health of the VxRail states healthy. Each ESXi Nodes has 3 capacity devices which are shown as three green squares.
  2. Click the vSphere Web Client to view the Disk Management and Disk Groups to identify a VxRail Hard Drive Failure.
  3. Scroll down the window that provides more detail to the error detected in the Disk Group. It shows you there is a HDD device that is Absent.
  4. Click the VxRail Manager tab to view the Logical Disk Management and ESXi Nodes to identify a VxRail Hard Drive Failure. The Logical Health Status of VxRail node is visible here.  You can see the Absent capacity drive. Normally there are three square icons to represent each device. This node is has one device absent. A Capacity disk device is no longer available.
  5. Click the Capacity devices for the node with the absent capacity device. More details are revealed. The healthy devices UUID are shown.
  6. Click Back.
  7. Click back on the vSphere Web Client to view the actual VxRail Disk Group failure details. There is a red exclaimination icon on the Disk Group failure. Notice the disk device that was previously a part of the Disk Group now shows as Absent. (For the purpose of this lab, a Disk Error has been injected to simulate drive becoming not available.)
  8. Close the vSphere Web Client.

Detecting a Disk Error and Replacing an SSD Drive

If any device is displaying an error, work with your Dell EMC support staff to confirm error any necessary logistics required to have the hardware on hand replaced.

The following demonstrates how to use the VxRail Manager UI to prepare the node for the removal of a SSD Device.  You can view the Disk Groups under Disk Management in the vSphere Web Client and  in the Health Dashboard under Capacity for the ESXi Nodes.

Within the VxRail Manager application, the right pane is focused on the "Health" of the VxRail appliance. Click the word Physical to change the view of the VxRail to show physical health details.  

  1. Click the VxRail Appliance and Select the Disks (Node 1).  This will select the appliance and show the fault status. A display of the front and back view of the appliance is visible. A VxRail cluster can be physically 1 or more appliances. In this lab there is 1 physical VxRail Appliance. It has 4 nodes.
  2. Click to view the Hardware Replacement option.
  3. Click Continue. This starts the Pre-check condtions to safely remove a device.
  4. Click Continue again.

The physical disk is now ready to be replaced. The physical details of the appliance are shown on screen. You can confirm the physical details on screen: which VxRail Appliance, which ESXi node, which slot and disk serial number.

When the work has been completed, you can Click Continue to finish the disk replacement procedure.  

This completes the whole process to Troubleshoot and replace a VxRail Hard Disk failure.  We demonstrated the ease of replacement within the UI with just a few navigational clicks.

You have completed the Interactive Simulation for VxRail Hard Drive Failure

Please proceed to the conclusion of Module 3.

To return to the lab, click the link in the top right corner or close this browser tab.