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ESXi 4 and Dell MD3000 - getting them to work together

Posted on 2010-08-19
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I have a Dell r905 with embedded ESXi 4.0. I put a host of Windows 2008 R2 and connected up and MD3000 (note, NOT an MD3000i). I first tried to add the storage as an RDM, but that is greyed out. Then I tried to add just as a simple datastore: it sees 2TB but says only 45gigs are available. This inability to even add as a datastore is confusing to me. All of this equipment includng HBA SAS 5/E card is on the HCL for VMWare.

The first confusing issue: when you configure host access to a virtual disk on the SAN, what host do you use, the ESXi proper or the Windows 2008? It only sees the Windows 2008 I assume because of drivers.

The LUN is visible to the ESXi under "devices" when you go to storage. The RDM is greyed out, and it's not because there is a datastore taking it (I tried the RDM first, then when playing with the datastore,  created it, deleted it, rescanned storage devices several times and  even rebooted). Still greyed out.

Any ideas on this will be greatly appreciated.

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Question by:rzup
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by:Dangle79
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your LUN is too large. need to step it back one increment at a time as your storage subsystem allows until you get it to recognize the whole thing. 2TB is the limit for ESXi but depending on what type of SAN you're using and your block size it may not be exactly that.

I recently had this same issue with an IBM XIV and ESXi 4
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by:rzup
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So you are saying delete the virtual disk and re-create with something like 1TB?
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by:guydemarco
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We had to drop to 500G LUNS to get it to work right. Delete and re-create with 500 and you should be fine. 1TB LUNS ended up being unstable.
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by:Dangle79
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No, it's actually the datastore that's the wrong size. If you watch when you're going through the add-datastore wizard and select the LUN you want to use, it gets to the screen and shows you that the size is xxxx GB but only 45GB available. it will let you create the datastore no problem, but you're just limited to that size. you likely didn't notice until you got to the point of adding the virtual disk.
blow away your virtual disk, blow away the datastore, shrink lun by one increment (whatever your subsystem uses) then try re-adding the datastore. when you've got the size right the available size will match the reported LUN size
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by:Dangle79
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that may be due to your SAN and or HBA's. I'm running 2TB LUNs with no issue.
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by:rzup
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Thanks all, 500Gigs would not be too useful, but just for experiment I will reduce it and see the effects. Nothing to lose at this point.

Dangle79, are you using a datastore or an RDM?
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Both actually
i use 3 like-sized LUNs in my environment. when i found the maximum it would take i just sized them all that way. specifically the RDM i use for my user file server. performance boost for sure
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by:rzup
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Also, I had no problem creating a 1TB datastore using the internal disks on the ESXi host itself. The MD3000 seems more problematic.
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by:rzup
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Thanks, I assume you are using completely non-Dell hardware. There is some verbiage on groups about the 5/E being a block device and not supporting RDM, but it's not very clear or definitive. I have that question into Dell, not sure what the odds are of them knowing.
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by:Dangle79
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it's all about the limitation in ESXi, it's just got that ceiling at roughly 2 TB.
mine actually get recognized in vSphere client as 1.98 TB
we got slightly larger than that on our old DS4500, but the block size was different. the XIV uses something odd like 13GB
it seems like a pain to keep tapping your LUN size back a bit at a time, but it seems to be the only way to squeeze out as large a storage area as you can
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by:Dangle79
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Nope, at least where my ESX environment is concerned. It's all HP and IBM
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by:rzup
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Knocking the size down to 1.64TB seems to fix the ability to use the VMFS datastore--I can see all the capacity now.

It does not fix the RDM--still greyed out.

Thanks to all for that suggestion--had not occurred to me.
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by:Dangle79
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here's a dumb question. are you creating a datastore and then trying to do an RDM to that same LUN? I think we may have glossed over that as given that you can't do that earlier.
may need to go to VMware support if you've got it.
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by:rzup
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No, I tried the RDM first--I didn't make the mistake of trying to create an RDM over a datastore.  As I experimented, I would delete the datastore and rescan/reboot/verfiy datastore gone before even looking for the RDM. And, as said, my initial attempts with the virtual disks were with RDMs not datastores.
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by:rzup
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As is implied with the later ability to create a datastore: the LUN shows up. Either I have a card that somehow doesnt' support RDMs or there is some very subtle configuration that I need to make. Hoping Dell will know--I much prefer the raw mapping for this particular server.
Thanks,
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by:rzup
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The primary question was: why is the option for RDM greyed out. For anyone grappling with this issue, here is the link to read: http://communities.vmware.com/message/1594566#1594566
The document referenced there give some explanation of why and how to use the command line. My comments might be helpful as far as reconciling the ESX to ESXi command line usage.
The Dell guys that do tech support for storage won't be able to help much, but they supposedly have a vmware team you can ask for that should know. I talked to the Dell remote install team, and they knew of this issue and that the command line could be used, but they say very few people request such a mapping and it comes up rarely. I would have thought that dba demand such things routinely.
Thanks to all, and especially for pointing out the 2TB issue.
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by:Dangle79
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actually, i don't know if the 2TB limit applies to an RDM or not. i never tried it that way, only when creating a datastore. i'd be interested to know if that works with a larger LUN if anyone is able to try it.
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by:rzup
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I wondered about that myself--I don't see why it would apply, but once I created the smaller virtual disk I didn't bother to go back and retry--especially since creating an RDM is not all that convenient on the command line.
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