The Nimble Storage SmartStack for Windows Server with Cisco and Microsoft provides a excellent solution for implementing Microsoft Private Cloud. The solution consists of compute, networking, storage and management layers provided by Nimble Storage, Cisco and Microsoft. The solution is sized based on the customer production environment to provide a pre-validated configuration that can be quickly deployed and easily managed. The support process is also easier because the solution leverages best practices from all vendors and integrated by trained VARs that provide local hands-on assistance with the global support infrastructure of Nimble Storage, Cisco and Microsoft backing them up.
Small Business Hardware Architecture
Compute and Network Layer
The compute layer uses Cisco UCS servers. The small business architecture uses C-Series rack servers while the medium business and enterprise reference architecture uses B-Series blade servers. Cisco UCS Fabric Extenders and Fabric Interconnect and optionally Cisco Nexus switches are used to provide network services between the compute and the iSCSI storage layer.
Nimble Storage provides the hybrid storage solution that intelligently merges Flash SSDs and Hard Disk drives to deliver high-performance and high-capacity in a 3U that delivers unrivaled efficiency.
Small Business Parts List
Reference Architecture for Small Business
The small business Nimble Storage SmartStack for Microsoft Windows Server uses at least two Cisco UCS C-Series rack servers for the base configuration and as many as four C-Series rack servers—depending on the compute workload. The following is a sample parts list that can be used to order a validated configuration. Note that some quantities are ranges based on the number of compute nodes with 2 being the minimum number of compute nodes and the ability to scale the small business solution to 3 or 4 compute nodes.
Mfg Part Number
Windows Server 2012 Data Center Edition
UCS C220 M3 SFF W/O CPU, MEM, HDD, PCIE,
HALF HEIGHT PCIE FILLER FOR UCS
CISCO VIC 1225 DUAL PORT 10GB SFP+ CNA
16GB DDR3-1600-MHZ RDIMM/PC3-12800/DUAL
UCS 2.5 INCH HDD BLANKING PANEL
RAIL KIT FOR C220, C22, C24 RACK SERVERS
HEAT SINK FOR UCS C220 M3 RACK SERVER
650W POWER SUPPLY FOR C-SERIES RACK SERV
POWER CORD JUMPER, C13-C14 CONNECTORS, 2
ONSITE 24X7X4 UCS C220 M3 SFF W/O
Cisco UCS 6248UP Fabric Interconnect
N2K 10GE, 2 AC PS, 1 FAN (STD AIR), 32X1
POWER CORD JUMPER, C13-C14 CONNECTORS, 2
SMARTNET 24X7X4 N2K 10GE, 2PS, 1 FAN MOD
NEXUS 5010 10GBASE-CU SFP+ 1M CA
Nimble Storage CS200 Series
1 Meter SFP+ 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) Twinax Cable
Small Business Hardware Cabling
The following diagram illustrates the cabling design that provides complete redundancy. Each UCS C-Series server has two 10 Gigabit ports that are each connected to a different Cisco Fabric Extender using a special Cisco cable that is described as “NEXUS 5010 10GBASE-CU SFP+ 1M CA” in the Small Business Parts List. These special Cisco cables are only required to connect the C-Series servers to the fabric extender, standard SFP+ cables are used for all other 10 Gig Ethernet connections.
Each Fabric Extender is then connected to a different Fabric Interconnect. The Nimble Storage array provides redundant controllers, each with two 10 Gigabit ports that are connected to different Fabric Interconnect switches. Notice that the Nimble’s “left” 10 Gbps port on Controller A is connected to the same switch as the “left” 10 Gbps port on Controller B. This is important to facilitate proper fail-over of IP addresses. Both network paths are color-coded in the diagram below with Green and Orange cabling.
Another important consideration is to use redundant power connections and uninterruptable power supplies with the solution to further eliminate single points of failure.
Cisco UCS C-Series Server Profile
Host Server vNIC Configuration
Cisco UCS servers permit the creation of virtual network interface cards that eliminate the network path limitations imposed by physical NIC ports. When configuring the server profile for a Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V cluster, use the following guidelines. You should also note that any network fail-over functionality should be configured at the UCS level rather than using Microsoft Windows network bridging. Each port represents a separate subnet that is not routed to the other port networks.
Host-only, externally routable
Hyper-V Live Migration
Host and Guest, externally routable
Host and Guest
Host and Guest
Nimble Storage Configuration
The Nimble Storage array network configuration in this reference architecture leverages the 10 GbE data path connectivity of the arrays connected to the Cisco Fabric Interconnect using standard SFP+ network cables. Use the following table:
The Nimble Storage reference architecture currently uses Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) for holding operating system virtual hard drives (Nimble Storage Operating System 22.214.171.124 and up is required for CSV support with Windows Server 2012) . Data volumes should be created separately on the array and attached directly to the Guest operating system using its’ iSCSI Initiator to ensure proper quiesce during snapshot backup operations. Use Nimble Storage best practices when creating the data volume for best results such as specifying the type of application data that will be stored on the data volume by using performance policies.
The Nimble Storage reference architecture leverages active-standby controllers for high availability. This includes allowing for non-disruptive software upgrades. This is transparently handled if the best practices for network connectivity are followed.
Small Business Server Software Configuration
Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition Installation and Configuration
The Nimble Storage SmartStack for Microsoft Windows Server leverages boot from iSCSI to reduce management complexity and improve protection of the host server. You will need to use the Cisco drivers during Windows Server 2012 setup to permit installation on the iSCSI boot volume.
Roles and Features
Install the following roles and features on each node of the Hyper-V cluster:
- - Failover Clustering
- - Hyper-V
- - MPIO
Virtual Network Switch
If the existing production network does not have a domain already configured, then you will need to create domain controllers as required when configuring Microsoft Failover Clustering. We recommend creating a virtual machine on each local physical host server to configuring it to always start automatically. You should configure each domain controller to attach to the virtual machine network along with the host servers to provide authentication services to the hosts and Microsoft Failover Clustering purposes.