Configuring VMware for Pexip Infinity

This section describes the basic VMware configuration required before you install the Management Node or automatically deploy / manually install a Conferencing Node. For more advanced deployments, see also Advanced VMware ESXi administration.

Supported ESXi versions

Version 21 of the Pexip Infinity platform supports VMware vSphere ESXi 5.x and 6.x, although we recommend ESXi 6.x. Support for ESXi 4.1 is being deprecated — if you have upgraded from a version prior to v12, you can still deploy Conferencing Nodes to servers running ESXi 4.1; however if you have a new deployment using v12 or later and attempt to deploy a Conferencing Node to a server running ESXi 4.1, that node will go straight into maintenance mode.

Supported VMware editions

The Pexip Infinity platform will run on the free edition of vSphere Hypervisor. However, this edition has a number of limitations (limited support from VMware, no access to vCenter or vMotion, no access to VMware API). In particular, the lack of access to the VMware API means that all Conferencing Nodes will have to be deployed manually (see Deployment environments). For this reason we do not recommend its use except in smaller deployments, or test or demo environments.

The minimum edition of VMware that we recommend is the vSphere Standard edition. This does not have the limitations of the free edition. If you do not already use VMware in your enterprise, the vSphere Essentials Kit is a simple way to get started and will provide you with Standard edition licenses for 3 servers (with 2 CPUs each) plus a vCenter license.

The Enterprise Plus edition includes further additional features relevant to the Pexip Infinity platform that could be of benefit to larger deployments. These include Storage DRS and Distributed Switch.

For a comparison of the VMware editions, see http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere.html#compare.

Prerequisites

You must have a suitable VMware environment already installed.

For more details on VMware and information on advanced VMware ESXi administration, see Advanced VMware ESXi administration.

If an ESXi host is being managed by vCenter Server, all administration must be performed via vCenter Server. Do not log in directly to the ESXi host; configuration changes made in this way may be lost. To ensure that ESXi hosts being managed by vCenter Server are accessible via vCenter Server only and are not directly accessible, you should put them in Lockdown mode. Lockdown mode forces all operations to be performed through vCenter Server.

Synchronizing time

Pexip Infinity uses NTP servers to obtain accurate system time. This is necessary to ensure correct operation, including configuration replication and log timestamps.

All host servers must be synchronized with accurate time before you install the Pexip Infinity Management Node or Conferencing Nodes on them.

NTP must be enabled on the Management Node VM before you deploy any Conferencing Nodes (this is done during installation of the Management Node).

We strongly recommend that you configure at least three distinct NTP servers or NTP server pools on all your host servers and the Management Node itself. This will ensure that log entries from all nodes are properly synchronized.

Pexip Infinity Management Node and Conferencing Node VMs use the UTC timezone, and all logs are in UTC. Do not attempt to change the timezone on these systems. Note however that the administrator web interface uses your local time. For more information, see Timezones.

To synchronize time on the host server using the vSphere web client:

  1. Log in to the VM manager (vCenter Server).
  2. From the vSphere client's navigation panel, select the host server on which the software image is to be installed.
  3. From the main panel, select the Configure tab.
  4. From the left-hand panel, select System > Time Configuration.
  5. From the top right of the page, select Edit. The Edit Time Configuration dialog box appears.
  6. Select Use Network Time Protocol (Enable NTP client).
  7. In the NTP Servers field, we strongly recommend that you enter at least 3 distinct NTP servers or NTP server pools to ensure that log entries from all nodes are properly synchronized.
  8. From the NTP Service Startup Policy drop-down menu, select Start and stop with host.
  9. Select OK.

To verify that NTP has been enabled correctly:

  1. Select the Configuration tab and then System > Time Configuration.
  2. From the Time Configuration page, ensure that value in the Date & Time field is correct.

Using a static MAC address for the Management Node

We recommend using a static MAC address for the virtual machine hosting your Management Node. This will ensure that the licenses on your Management Node do not become invalid if, for example, the node reboots and comes up on a different physical blade.

Enabling automatic startup

After deploying a new Management Node or Conferencing Node from VMware, you must enable automatic startup of that virtual machine (VM). In VMware, automatic startup is disabled by default for every new VM — which means that if the host server is powered down for any reason, when it restarts the VM will not restart and must be started manually.

You can only enable automatic startup after the Management Node or Conferencing Node has been deployed.

To enable automatic startup using the vSphere web client:

  1. Log in to the VM manager (vCenter Server).
  2. From the navigation panel, select the Hosts and Clusters tab and navigate to the host server on which the node's VM is installed.
  3. From the main panel, select the Configure tab.
  4. From the left-hand panel, select Virtual Machines > VM Startup/Shutdown.
  5. At the top right of the page, select Edit.
  6. In the System influence section, select Automatically start and stop the virtual machines with the system.
  7. Select OK.

Note that if you need to manually shut down the VM you should select it from the left panel and then select Actions > Power > Shut Down Guest OS (rather than Power > Power Off).

Disabling EVC

We strongly recommend that you disable EVC (Enhanced vMotion Compatibility) for any ESXi clusters hosting Conferencing Nodes that include a mix of old and new CPUs. If EVC is enabled on such clusters, the Pexip Infinity platform will run more slowly because the Conferencing Nodes will assume they are running on older hardware.

For more information, see Enhanced vMotion Compatibility (EVC).

To disable EVC:

  1. From the vSphere client's navigation panel, select the cluster.
  2. From the main panel, select the Configure tab.
  3. From the left-hand panel, select Configuration > VMware EVC.

    The current EVC settings will be shown.

  4. At the top right of the page, select Edit .
  5. Select Disable EVC.