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NetApp ONTAP 9.3 Simulator Deployment - Part 1

I am going to be doing a few of these simulator/lab posts in an effort to set up an environment that will pave the way for future guides and blog posts. Hopefully it'll also be a good resource for folks that want to set up their own labs to test out new features and software versions. Today I'm going to show the steps required to deploy Netapp's ONTAP Simulator 9.3 on vSphere 6.5.  I'll also be doing a follow-up article that will detail the process of clustering a second node with this first one.

Note: My lab has vCenter 6.5 deployed along with a Distributed vSwitch, so the steps will be specific to that deployment. I will also assume that you already have basic networking and storage for your virtual machines in place.

Step 1: Deploying the Simulator

1. Browse out to, click on "Sign In" in the upper right-hand corner and log in using your NetApp account credentials.

2. Click on the Downloads drop-down at the top of the screen and click on Software.

3. Click on the Data ONTAP Simulator link under the ToolChest heading.

4. Download the Simulate ONTAP 9.3 for VMWare ESX OVA image. Also download the VSIM Licenses file, which we'll need during the cluster setup.

5. Before we actually deploy the simulator, we will need to first create a dedicated cluster network (separate from data traffic), so let's create a new DPG for that purpose. In the vSphere Web Client, click on the Networking icon, drill down to your dvSwitch, right-click and select Distributed Port Group -> New Distributed Port Group.

6. Select a name (I've used Lab_ClusterNet_dvSwitch for mine) and keep the default settings for the next screen. When complete, the settings should look like the below image.

Quick side note: when I attempted to import the OVA into my environment, I received an error message that "OVF Package with compressed disks is currently not supported for OVF import". A quick Google search yielded many useful results on how to fix this (for example, this one from @anthonyspiteri:

7. Log into the vSphere Web Client and select the target cluster or host for the OVA deployment, right-click on it and select Deploy OVF Template.

8. Select the OVA that we just downloaded and click Next.

9. Choose a name and location for the sim that makes sense for your environment (I would recommend appending it with a -01 or something since we'll be deploying a second one next).

10. Choose a compute resource, select storage, and then select networks, mapping the VM network to the appropriate port group and the cluster network to the DPG we created earlier.

11. Review the settings and then click Finish when everything looks correct. The OVA will start to import - it'll take a little while, so just be patient.

Step 2: Initial Cluster Setup

1. Boot the newly deployed VM
2. Open the console and watch the boot process - there will be an opportunity to interrupt the boot process by pressing Ctrl-C - do that and the boot menu will be displayed

3. Select option 4 and hit Enter

4. When prompted to zero disks, reset config and install a new file system, type y and hit Enter. Hit y again at the confirmation prompt. The virtual machine will reboot at this point to complete the request.

5. Once the VM reboots, the node setup wizard is displayed. This will take several minutes.

6. Type yes to enable AutoSupport and hit Enter.

7. Hit Enter to accept e0c as the node management interface, and fill in the IP/netmask/gateway details for your environment.

Note: this guide will show the CLI method for configuring the cluster, but you can also browse to the node management IP you just set and configure it using the Guided Setup method if you prefer the GUI.

8. Hit Enter to complete the setup via the CLI, and then type create when asked if you want to create a new cluster or join an existing one.

9. Hit Enter or type no to specify that we intend this to (eventually) be a two-node cluster.

10. Accept the system defaults for the next prompt.

11. Enter the cluster admin password and put it into a secure password manager for safekeeping.

12. Enter the cluster name and hit Enter (I used labcluster1 for my cluster name).

13. After the cluster has been created, you have the option to add Feature Licenses. I recommend waiting since it'll be easier to copy and paste them into Systems Manager than to type them manually into a vSphere console window.

14. Select the e0c interface for the cluster management interface port, and input an IP adress scheme that is appropriate for your environment. Here are the settings I used for mine:

15. Enter a DNS domain name if you wish; otherwise, hit Enter.

16. When prompted for the location of the controller, type lab and hit Enter.

17. A login prompt is displayed - log in with the admin credentials you created during setup.

18. Run the cluster show command to verify that the cluster/node is healthy.

19. Assign all of the disks to the node by running storage disk assign -all true -node <your node name>.

20. Log into Systems Manager using the cluster management IP and browse to Configuration -> Licenses.

21. Click on Add and paste the Feature License keys from the text file you downloaded earlier.

And just like that, initial cluster setup is complete - stay tuned for a future post to learn how to add a second node to the cluster and other neat storage things!

Thank you for reading!

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