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IP Storage Connections on LAN for ESXi

Posted on 2010-09-15
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Last Modified: 2013-11-14
I am currently in the process of expanding our Virtual Environment that has grown substancially over the past twelve months. We have just taken delivery of an Overland SAN S2000 with high speed disks and is now configured but I am struggling how to setup the network side and am looking for ideas.

Outline of environment:

- 3 x ESXi 4.0 hosts each with 4 NICS
- 1 SAN with 6 NICS
- 1 subnet

All iSCSI traffic and Management traffic in the past have gone down the same NIC's / Switches on the LAN and due to the size of the virtual environment network performance issues were not a problem but they certainly are now ...

So we need to seperate the iSCSI traffic with dedicated NICS that directly attach to the SAN off the LAN to improve performance.

I have a spare procurve to use if needed. (mostly likely)

How would you configure using the above information and why?

500 points for this as I've been tieing my head in knots trying to come to a conclusion!
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Question by:Mr_OCD
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BloodRed earned 250 total points
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What speed is the extra Procurve switch?  Assuming it is a GB switch, I would create a second vSwitch on each ESXi host and assign it two uplinks.  Connect those uplinks to your Procurve switch, then connect the iSCSI interfaces on your SAN to that switch as well to create a separate storage network.  You could direct connect as you mention, but this setup will at least give you redundant links.  

Depending on how many iSCSI targets the SAN will allow you to configure (I'm not familiar with that model), you may still be restricted to a single GB link for your iSCSI traffic on each ESXi host due to the way ESXi handles iSCSI connections, but at least it will be on a dedicated network.  
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by:bgoering
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I would create seperate isolated networks (VLANs) for your iSCSI storage. Assuming two storage processors in your SAN, I would put each SP onto a seperate network (configure VLANs on your procurve to isolate them from one another) - then use two NICs on each of your ESXi boxes - one into each VLAN.

This will allow you take advantage of multi-pathing for performance, as well as fault tolerance.

Good Luck
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by:bgoering
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Note that you will need to present your datastore volumes to both storage processors...
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by:Mr_OCD
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Procurve is a 1GB switch... I like the idea of a seperate vswitch on each host specifically for IP Storage.. will be obviously to any Staff looking at the configuration what the vswitch is for as well.

I presume would just set static IP addresses on the san and ESXi NIC's which connect to the switch then ensure the switch is routing properly? Is that it?!
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by:bgoering
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Yes, and routing is not even necessary as it is a requirement (for software iSCSI on ESX(i) anyway) that the VMkernel port and the storage be on the same IP subnet.

You will create:
vSwitch and bind to a vmnic (or two)
VMkernel port with IP on same subnet as storage
Leave gateway alone - only one gateway is allowed and it is more likely to be used on service console port.

If you follow my recommendation above you will repeat this and create yet another vSwitch and VMkernel port on different IP subnet and attach to 2nd storage processor on SAN for multipathing
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by:BloodRed
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If you go with the seperate vSwitch and use the Procurve to create a storage network, you can just use non-routable IPs that are within the same subnet.  Ideal, you don't want to route storage traffic, so it's a general best practice to keep the iSCSI traffic within the same layer 2 subnet (which is what you get with a single non-routing switch).

Once that is configured, you'll have to make sure your iSCSI LUNs are presented to the ESXi initiators like bgoering said above, then you should be able to see your storage and access it.  
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by:Mr_OCD
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SAN only has one storage processor (although a second can be installed in the future) ...

Existing LAN is on 192.168.20.0/24 ... to keep it simple planned to keep all on same subnet with binded NIC's to the new vswitch / s on the hosts which connect directly to the SAN ports through the Procurve.

Make sense?

Looks like I was making it much harder than I needed ... always good to look at another persons approach!

You have both been very helpful so will split the points equally between you.
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by:bgoering
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You would need to go with a different IP subnet for your isolated storage network. Otherwise you would need to link the procurve to your existing switch because ESX will not be able to tell which network to use in order to access the storage. You already have a VMkernel port for the service console on your 192.168.20.0/24 network.

Besides most of the benefit occurs because you are isolating your storage traffic from your other traffic. Use something like 192.168.21.0/24 (anything so long as it is different) for your storage.

Good Luck
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by:Mr_OCD
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Ok Update time ...

Have setup the SAN's iSCSI NIC's on the 192.168.21.0/24 subnet ... have created new vSwitches on the ESX hosts with NIC also set to 192.168.21.0/24 subnet and everything is connected to the new switch installed...

I have created a test target on the SAN to see if it discovers under the iSCSI ESX initiator using the IP addresses setup for the iSCSI ESX traffic ... it is not discovering ...

Actually for the ESX initiator (dynamic list) should I be listing the SAN NIC's of the new ESX iSCSI traffic NICS?

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by:bgoering
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Yes, enter the IP address(es) of the SAN for dynamic or static discovery
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by:bgoering
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Guess I should add that on the SAN be sure to present to the iqns for each esx server that will share the storage and allow the ESX IP addresses. Are you using any security? chap?
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by:Mr_OCD
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Ok thanks. It seems I can see the SAN now but have network issues which I'm resolving now so should be fine once that is sorted. ESX isnt complaining anyway.

No CHAP setup.
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