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ESXi 5 and SAS Expansion Cards

Posted on 2012-09-03
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-09-07
Hi All,

I recently bought an HP DL385 to run ESXi 5.

I would like to buy an SAS expansion card so a Virtual Machine can access the HP 1/8 G2 LTO-5 Ultrium 3000 SAS Tape Autoloader we have.

I've never done this before, so need help finding out;

What card to buy
Where to get the drivers; and
How to get a virtual machine to detect the autoloader
Question by:detox1978
  • 4
  • 4
LVL 33

Assisted Solution

Busbar earned 600 total points
ID: 38360662
LVL 125

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1400 total points
ID: 38360675
Adaptec SCSI Cards are supported.

Ensure you purchase a SCSI card, not a RAID card. As you machine is HP, purchase a SCSI card from HP. The virtual machine drivers are already likely to be available from within the VM OS, or available from HP.

But please note Connecting Tape Drives and Tape Libraries to ESXi 5.0 ARE NOT Supported.

Note: VMware does not support Tape Drives connected directly to ESXi 5.0 which is documented under Release Notes for vSphere 5.0.

It's possible the solution may not function correctly.

SCSI Passthrough is not reliable.

See here


Vendors, Symantec and Overland will recommend that you use VM Direct Path I/O to connect tape drives and libraries direct to the VM.

See here for details and check your server supports VM Direct Path I/O, a USB controller is used in this example to add to the VM.


To give you an example of the issues at hand, here is a Question I answered on EE, on the very same topic, which we spent ALL day trying to solve, successfully. Please read


hanccocka worked with me all day on this and we were able to get Windows to see the SCSI card and Tape Drive.  It was stressful for a minute but we got over it and were successful getting things going again.  Thanks for your hard work.  Certainly couldn't have done it without his help!

Author Comment

ID: 38361817
Thanks for the info.

When you say they are not reliable?  What happens / can I expect?

I have the budget to buy a new backup server, but I'd rather use a VM and buy a SAN.  But I can only do this if the pass-though/direct-path works once setup.

The autoloader has a SAS out card, am I correct in thinking I can buy an HP PCI SAS card for the ESX server and enable VM Direct Path I/O, so it is picked up in a VM?
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LVL 125
ID: 38361834
Backups crash, tapes do not load, backups do not finish, VM crashes, tape drive or loader not found.

Hence why VMware Support through it out of support, to Partners, eg Symantec to solve!

I would not make any guarantees.

You assumption is correct, and that is the theory.

Author Comment

ID: 38361843
You say they through it to vendors, does HP have an approved setup?
LVL 125
ID: 38361860
The difficulty here, is the finger pointing between

VMware, HP, IBM, Dell, Overland, Symantec Backup

HP can sell you an approved SCSI Card to work with the Tape Drive or Library, or any vendor, but the issue becomes with the software you use. (and VMware do not support it, and will not entertain Support calls, and refer you to Software Backup Vendor and Tape Drive Vendor).

When clients ask us to resolve this matter, we have a success rate of 40%! (60% failure).

The majority of our clients now use Physical Machine or Disk Based backup/SAN Snapshot Backup, instead of tape!

Author Comment

ID: 38361881
40% seems extremely poor, do you have any more info on this, as i'd need to back it up to my manager...
LVL 125
ID: 38362460
I would refer you to my opening post http:#a38360675 and refer to the VMware Documentation about VMware Support.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38377660
Thanks for the info.  Not what I wanted to hear, but it looks like backup servers can go on to virtual machines, but the vendors wont support the solution.

We're going to buy a very cheap server and an entry level SAN.

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