Creating Identity and Resource Pools

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by Farhan Ahmed Nadeem Prasenjit Sarkar | December 2013 | Architecture & Analysis Enterprise Articles Networking & Telephony

This article, created by Farhan Ahmed Nadeem and Prasenjit Sarkar, the authors of Implementing Cisco UCS Solutions, introduces identity and resource pools which include UUID, MAC addresses, WWN, and server pools.

The list of topics that will be covered in the article is as follows:

  • Understanding identity and resource pools
  • Learning to create a UUID pool
  • Learning to create a MAC pool
  • Learning to create a WWNN pool
  • Learning to create a WWPN pool
  • Understanding the server pool
  • Learning to create server pool membership and qualification policies

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Computers and their various peripherals have some unique identities such as Universally Unique Identifiers (UUIDs), Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of Network Interface Cards (NICs), World Wide Node Numbers (WWNNs) for Host Bus Adapters (HBAs), and others. These identities are used to uniquely identify a computer system in a network. For traditional computers and peripherals, these identities were burned into the hardware and, hence, couldn't be altered easily. Operating systems and some applications rely on these identities and may fail if these identities are changed. In case of a full computer system failure or failure of a computer peripheral with unique identity, administrators have to follow cumbersome firmware upgrade procedures to replicate the identities of the failed components on the replacement components.

The Unified Computing System (UCS) platform introduced the idea of creating identity and resource pools to abstract the compute node identities from the UCS Manager (UCSM) instead of using the hardware burned-in identities. In this article, we'll discuss the different pools you can create during UCS deployments and server provisioning. We'll start by looking at what pools are and then discuss the different types of pools and show how to configure each of them.

Understanding identity and resource pools

The salient feature of the Cisco UCS platform is stateless computing . In the Cisco UCS platform, none of the computer peripherals consume the hardware burned-in identities. Rather, all the unique characteristics are extracted from identity and resource pools, which reside on the Fabric Interconnects (FIs) and are managed using UCSM. These resource and identity pools are defined in an XML format, which makes them extremely portable and easily modifiable. UCS computers and peripherals extract these identities from UCSM in the form of a service profile. A service profile has all the server identities including UUIDs, MACs, WWNNs, firmware versions, BIOS settings, and other server settings. A service profile is associated with the physical server using customized Linux OS that assigns all the settings in a service profile to the physical server. In case of server failure, the failed server needs to be removed and the replacement server has to be associated with the existing service profile of the failed server. In this service profile association process, the new server will automatically pick up all the identities of the failed server, and the operating system or applications dependent upon these identities will not observe any change in the hardware. In case of peripheral failure, the replacement peripheral will automatically acquire the identities of the failed component. This greatly improves the time required to recover a system in case of a failure.

Using service profiles with the identity and resource pools also greatly improves the server provisioning effort. A service profile with all the settings can be prepared in advance while an administrator is waiting for the delivery of the physical server. The administrator can create service profile templates that can be used to create hundreds of service profiles; these profiles can be associated with the physical servers with the same hardware specifications. Creating a server template is highly recommended as this greatly reduces the time for server provisioning. This is because a template can be created once and used for any number of physical servers with the same hardware.

Server identity and resource pools are created using the UCSM. In order to better organize, it is possible to define as many pools as are needed in each category. Keep in mind that each defined resource will consume space in the UCSM database. It is, therefore, a best practice to create identity and resource pool ranges based on the current and near-future assessments.

For larger deployments, it is best practice to define a hierarchy of resources in the UCSM based on geographical, departmental, or other criteria; for example, a hierarchy can be defined based on different departments. This hierarchy is defined as an organization, and the resource pools can be created for each organizational unit. In the UCSM, the main organization unit is root, and further suborganizations can be defined under this organization. The only consideration to be kept in mind is that pools defined under one organizational unit can't be migrated to other organizational units unless they are deleted first and then created again where required.

The following diagram shows how identity and resource pools provide unique features to a stateless blade server and components such as the mezzanine card:

Learning to create a UUID pool

UUID is a 128-bit number assigned to every compute node on a network to identify the compute node globally. UUID is denoted as 32 hexadecimal numbers. In the Cisco UCSM, a server UUID can be generated using the UUID suffix pool. The UCSM software generates a unique prefix to ensure that the generated compute node UUID is unique.

Operating systems including hypervisors and some applications may leverage UUID number binding. The UUIDs generated with a resource pool are portable. In case of a catastrophic failure of the compute node, the pooled UUID assigned through a service profile can be easily transferred to a replacement compute node without going through complex firmware upgrades.

Following are the steps to create UUIDs for the blade servers:

  1. Log in to the UCSM screen.
  2. Click on the Servers tab in the navigation pane.
  3. Click on the Pools tab and expand root.
  4. Right-click on UUID Suffix Pools and click on Create UUID Suffix Pool as shown in the following screenshot:

  5. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to the UUID pool.
  6. Leave the Prefix value as Derived to make sure that UCSM makes the prefix unique.
  7. The selection of Assignment Order as Default is random. Select Sequential to assign the UUID sequentially.
  8. Click on Next as shown in the following screenshot:

  9. Click on Add in the next screen.
  10. In the pop-up window, change the value for Size to create a desired number of UUIDs.
  11. Click on OK and then on Finish in the previous screen as shown in the following screenshot:

  12. In order to verify the UUID suffix pool, click on the UUID Suffix Pools tab in the navigation pane and then on the UUID Suffixes tab in the work pane as shown in the following screenshot:

Learning to create a MAC pool

MAC is a 48-bit address assigned to the network interface for communication in the physical network. MAC address pools make server provisioning easier by providing scalable NIC configurations before the actual deployment.

Following are the steps to create MAC pools:

  1. Log in to the UCSM screen.
  2. Click on the LAN tab in the navigation pane.
  3. Click on the Pools tab and expand root.
  4. Right-click on MAC Pools and click on Create MAC Pool as shown in the following screenshot:

  5. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to the MAC pool.
  6. The selection of Default as the Assignment Order value is random. Select Sequential to assign the MAC addresses sequentially.
  7. Click on Next as shown in the following screenshot:

  8. Click on Add in the next screen.
  9. In the pop-up window, change Size to create the desired number of MAC addresses.
  10. Click on OK and then on Finish in the previous screen as shown in the following screenshot:

  11. In order to verify the MAC pool, click on the MAC Pools tab in the navigation pane and then on the MAC Addresses tab in the work pane as shown in the following screenshot:

Implementing Cisco UCS Solutions A hands-on guide to implementing solutions in Cisco UCS, as well as deploying servers and application stacks with this book and ebook
Published: December 2013
eBook Price: £18.99
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Learning to create a WWNN pool

WWNN is a 64-bit address assigned to Fiber Channel (FC) devices. In UCS, WWNN is assigned to the mezzanine card installed in a blade server because a mezzanine card can have more than one port (vHBA). Each port (vHBA) created from the mezzanine card acquires a unique World Wide Port Number (WWPN). (WWPN has been described in the next section.)

Following are the steps to create WWNN address pools:

  1. Log in to the UCSM screen.
  2. Click on the SAN tab in the navigation pane.
  3. Click on the Pools tab and expand root.
  4. Right-click on WWNN Pools and click on Create WWNN Pool as shown in the following screenshot:

  5. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to the WWNN pool.
  6. The selection of Default as the Assignment Order value is random. Select Sequential to assign the WWNNs sequentially.
  7. Click on Next as shown in the following screenshot:

  8. Click on Add in the next screen.
  9. In the pop-up window, change Size to create the desired number of WWNN addresses.
  10. Click on OK and then on Finish in the previous screen as shown in the following screenshot:

  11. In order to verify the WWNN pool, click on the WWNN Pools tab in the navigation pane and then on the General tab in the work pane as shown in the following screenshot:

Learning to create a WWPN pool

Similar in format to WWNN, WWPN is a 64-bit address assigned to individual vHBAs in servers. The WWNN for the vHBAs in a blade server is always the same, whereas WWPN is always unique.

Following are the steps to create WWNN address pools:

  1. Log in to the UCSM screen.
  2. Click on the SAN tab in the navigation pane.
  3. Click on the Pools tab and expand root.
  4. Right-click on WWPN Pools and click on Create WWPN Pool as shown in the following screenshot:

  5. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to the WWPN pool.
  6. Selection of Default as the Assignment Order value is random. Select Sequential to assign WWPNs sequentially.
  7. Click on Next as shown in the following screenshot:

  8. Click on Add in the next screen.
  9. In the pop-up window, change Size to create the desired number of WWPN addresses.
  10. Click on OK and then on Finish in the previous screen as shown in the following screenshot:

  11. In order to verify the WWPN pool, click on the WWPN Pools tab in the navigation pane and click on the General tab in the work pane as shown in the following screenshot:

To ensure the uniqueness of WWNN and WWPN pools, only use WWN numbers from 20:00:00:00:00:00:00:00 to 20:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF or from 50:00:00:00:00:00:00:00 to 5F:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF. To ensure the uniqueness of the Cisco UCS WWNNs and WWPNs in the SAN fabric, it is recommended to use the prefix in a pool as 20:00:00:25:B5:XX:XX:XX.

Making your identity pools meaningful

Although not a requirement, it is beneficial to implement some naming hierarchy when creating MAC, WWNN, and WWPN identity pool addresses. This naming hierarchy could be very helpful in troubleshooting scenarios such as network traces and SAN zoning. We will take an example of a MAC pool to implement a simple naming hierarchy. Using these guidelines, you can create the naming hierarchy for any pool.

Cisco MAC pools have the 00:25:B5:XX:XX:XX format, where 00:25:B5 is the Cisco organizational identifier. Now, we have the other six hexadecimal numbers in which we can implement the naming convention.

In our example, we will use the following convention. You can always come up with other suitable guidelines according to your environment:

  • Use one hexadecimal number to represent your site or location
  • Use one hexadecimal number to represent the cabinet where the chassis is located
  • Use one hexadecimal number to represent the primary FI
  • Use one hexadecimal number to represent the server operating system

In the following diagram of an example, we can easily identify the server, which is located at the primary site in cabinet one, the chassis number as 3, and the operating system running on the server as Windows:

Understanding server pools

Server pools are used to organize servers based on specific criteria such as CPU family, amount of RAM, type of mezzanine card, power, and others. Each server is associated with a unique service profile to receive all the settings. A server pool can be associated with a service profile. UCSM automatically selects an available server in the server pool and associates it with a service profile.

Server pools can be manually populated or they can be autopopulated using server pool policies. Server pools make the servers available for association with service profiles. It is possible to have a server in more than one server pool at the same time.

In order to create and manually populate the server pool, carry out the following steps:

  1. Log in to the UCSM screen.
  2. Click on the Servers tab in the navigation pane.
  3. Click on the Pools tab and expand root.
  4. Right-click on Server Pools and click on Create Server Pool as shown in the following screenshot:

  5. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to the server pool.
  6. Click on Next as shown in the following screenshot:

  7. Add servers to the pool by selecting the servers provided on the left side and adding them to the list of Pooled Servers on the right side.
  8. Click on Finish after adding servers to the pool as shown in the following screenshot:

Implementing Cisco UCS Solutions A hands-on guide to implementing solutions in Cisco UCS, as well as deploying servers and application stacks with this book and ebook
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Learning to create server pool membership and qualification policies

Server pools can be automatically populated with servers that match the specifications based on the defined policy settings using Server Pool Policy Qualifications and by applying these qualification policies using Server Pool Policies under the Servers tab in the navigation pane.

First, we will discuss how to create server qualification policies using the options available in the Server Pool Policy Qualifications policy.

The steps to create this policy are as follows:

  1. Log in to the UCSM screen.
  2. Click on the Servers tab in the navigation pane.
  3. Click on the Policies tab and expand root.
  4. Right-click on Server Pool Policy Qualification sand click on Create Server Pool Policy Qualification as shown in the following screenshot:

  5. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to the server pool policy qualifications.
  6. In the left pane, click on the options to define the new server pool policy qualifications as shown in the following screenshot:

  7. The first option in the left pane is Create Adapter Qualifications. This setting defines the type of adapters a qualifying server must have. Select the Type of the adapter from the drop-down list. It is also possible to select a unique adapter based on the Process Identifier (PID) and capacity, which could be from 1 to 65535 as shown in the following screenshot:

  8. The second option is Create Chassis/Server Qualifications. This setting defines the First Chassis ID and Number of Chassis values for the total number of chassis to be included in the pool, starting with the First chassis ID value as shown in the following screenshot:

  9. Click on the plus sign to select the server slots in each qualified chassis.
  10. Select the values for First Slot ID and Number of Slots, which is the total number of server slots to be included, starting with First Slot ID.
  11. Click on Finish Stage as shown in the following screenshot:

  12. The minimum and maximum slot ID will be automatically populated in the previous screen.
  13. Click on Finish to complete the policy creation as shown in the following screenshot:

  14. The third option is Create Memory Qualifications. This option defines the memory characteristics of the servers for qualification. The options include clock speed Clock (MHz), Latency (ns), minimum and maximum memory size Min Cap (MB)and Max Cap (MB), data bus Width, and data bus width measurement Units as shown in the following screenshot:

  15. The fourth option is Create CPU/Cores Qualifications. This option defines the CPU characteristics of the servers for qualification. The options include Processor Architecture, PID (RegEx), Min Number of Cores, Max Number of Cores, Min Number of Threads, Max Number of Threads, CPU speed (MHz), and CPU Stepping as shown in the following screenshot:

  16. The fifth option is Create Storage Qualifications. This option defines the storage features of the qualifying servers. The options include the Diskless disk status, the Number of Blocks value in the disk, Block Size (Bytes), minimum/maximum storage capacity across all disks Min Cap (MB)and Max Cap (MB), minimum storage capacity per disk Per Disk Cap (MB), and number of Units as shown in the following screenshot:

  17. The sixth option is Create Server PID Qualifications. This is a regular expression string that the server PID must match in order to qualify as shown in the following screenshot:

  18. The seventh option is Create Power Group Qualifications. This policy could match a server based on the server Power Group value as shown in the following screenshot:

  19. The last option is Create Rack Qualifications. This option is only applicable if there are some rack-mount servers managed by the UCSM. The First Slot ID value is the first server to be included, and the Number of Slots value defines the total number of servers to be included starting from the first slot ID as shown in the following screenshot:

Once we have defined the desired Server Pool Policy Qualification policies, we can use the Server Pool Policies tab to associate qualifying servers to be automatically added to an already created empty server pool.

In the following example, we will create a CPU qualification policy and assign it to a server pool:

  1. Log in to the UCSM screen.
  2. Click on the Servers tab in the navigation pane.
  3. Click on the Policies tab and expand root.
  4. Right-click on Server Pool Policy Qualifications and then click on the Server Pool Policy Qualifications option.
  5. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to the Server Pool Policy Qualifications policy.
  6. In the left pane, click on the Create CPU/Core Qualifications policy to define the CPU features for the qualifying servers. We created a CPU qualification policy as shown in the following screenshot:

  7. Click on OK to finish the creation of server pool policy qualifications.
  8. Right-click on Server Pool Policies in the navigation pane and click on Create Server Pool Policy.
  9. In the pop-up window, assign the Name and Description values to it. Select the Target Pool value from the drop-down menu, which is already defined, and the Qualification policy already created in step 6 (in this case, CPU) as shown in the following screenshot:

Summary

In this article, we learned about creating different identity and resource pool options available with the UCS platform. We learned that by leveraging identity and resource pools, the UCS platform makes server deployments highly scalable, flexible, and portable. Well-organized resource and identity pools in different organizations in UCS not only provide security and role-based access for larger organizations based on geographical, departmental, or any other criteria, but are also the basic building blocks for contemporary multitenancy cloud service environments.

So far, we have learned about LAN configuration, SAN configuration, server policies, and identity and resource pools, which are the building blocks for creating service profiles.

Resources for Article:


Further resources on this subject:


About the Author :


Farhan Ahmed Nadeem

Farhan Ahmed Nadeem has been in the IT field for over 17 years. He has a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering and holds a number of certifications including CCNP/CCNA DC, VCP, CISSP, CCA, and MCSE-EA. Starting with Microsoft certification MCSE-NT in 1997, he always stayed abreast with the latest technologies and server hardware through proactive learning and successful real-world deployments. He has extensive work experience in complex heterogeneous environments comprising various hardware platforms, operating systems, and applications. This exposure gave him broad knowledge in investigating, designing, implementing, and managing infrastructure solutions. He progressively started focusing on virtualization technologies and the Cisco UCS platform and has completed a number of successful UCS deployments with both VMware ESXi and Citrix XenServer hypervisors. When not working with computers, he enjoys spending time with his family.

Prasenjit Sarkar

Prasenjit Sarkar (@stretchcloud) is a senior member of technical staff at VMware Service Provider Cloud R&D, where he provides architectural oversight and technical guidance for designing, implementing, and testing VMware's Cloud datacenters. He is an author, R&D guy, and a blogger focusing on virtualization, Cloud computing, storage, networking, and other enterprise technologies. He has more than 10 years of expert knowledge in R&D, professional services, alliances, solution engineering, consulting, and technical sales with expertise in architecting and deploying virtualization solutions and rolling out new technologies and solution initiatives. His primary focus is on VMware vSphere Infrastructure and Public Cloud using VMware vCloud Suite. His aim is to own the entire life cycle of a VMware based IaaS (SDDC), especially vSphere, vCloud Director, vShield Manager, and vCenter Operations. He was one of the VMware vExperts of 2012 and is well known for his acclaimed virtualization blog http://stretch-cloud.info. He holds certifications from VMware, Cisco, Citrix, Red Hat, Microsoft, IBM, HP, and Exin. Prior to joining VMware, he served other fine organizations (such as Capgemini, HP, and GE) as a solution architect and infrastructure architect.

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