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vSAN ReadyNodes Additional Feature: vLCM Support

When picking out some new nodes for a VMware Cloud Foundation build-out, I noticed a new feature I could search for.

Here’s a quick explanation of what this new capability is, as well as some existing features:

vLCM Capable ReadyNode: This node is supported by the server OEM as being able to be patched by VMware LifeCycle Manager. This capability allows you to patch NICs, HBAs, Drives with new firmware and driver as well as update the BIOS. Currently, this includes servers from HPE Gen10 as well as select Dell 13 and 14 generation servers. For a quick demo of how vLCM can patch a host check out this video

SAS Expander: A typical SAS physical connection has 4 SAS channels. Most internal HBA and controllers only have 2 SAS physical connections and in a directly connected configuration only support 8 drives. SAS expanders switch the connection, allowing up to 254 per connection. The SAS expander must work tightly with the raid controller (both are often made by the same manufacturer) and firmware and driver versions for both must be kept in “sync” to prevent issues. SAS expanders also support SATA tunneling protocol that allows a SATA drive to emulate a SCSI device. For additional information on SAS expanders, see the vSAN design and sizing guide.

SSD/HDD Hotplug: Hotplug is the ability to add a device to a system while it is running. Useful for replacing failed devices, as well as expanding a ReadyNode without having to power off the host.

Intel VMD: VMD incorporated NVMe drives to have several modes for the drive’s amber LED such as on, off and flash to identify the NVMe drive. This allows device location for serviceability. VMD also enables hot-swap replacement without shutting down the system.  The VMD device can intercept PCIe events due to hot plug and allow for safe, clean drive removal and re-insertion. With Intel VMD, servicing drives can be done online, minimizing service interruptions.