ESXi 5.5 and iSCSI

I am redoing our lab and our replacement lab servers use a Broadcom NetXtreem II BCM5709 Network cards. From what I have read only they support iSCSI and should be about to set the IP in the NIC's BIOS.

I have read Hancock's article on how to setup software iSCSI but I have a couple of questions on hardware iSCSI since I use much more.

Once I add the target IP in the NIC's BIOS and ESXi boots do I just need to rescan for the lun to show? I have nothing nlisted under storage adapters for iSCSI though..

I know basic question .... ;-)
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compdigit44Asked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, this is correct Hardware iSCSI HBA, or ToE cards, are very similar to FC HBAs, very little configuration is required, other than configuration at the iSCSI HBA BIOS level.

and yes, just issues a re-scan on the HBA, and the LUNs should appear!

Just make sure, once again, you add the IQN (equivalent of the Fibre Channel HBA WWNN) to the iSCSI LUN Access Control List, or Mapping on the iSCSI SAN, otherwise no LUN will be accessed.

Many iSCSI HBA BIOS allow you to detect the LUNs, at the BIOS screen "outside" of ESXi, but of course when your initially BOOT the server.

You may want to do so tests, because in our experience, Hardware HBAs, could never support Jumbo Frames, e.g. MTU approx 9,000.

and we found, that the ESXi iSCSI Software Adaptor, and Jumbo Frames (MTU 9000) out performed Hardware iSCSI HBA (without jumbo frames, because not supported).

In our experience.... this was blogged about somewhere on the net in the passed and confirmed!

here is the reference...

https://www.vmadmin.co.uk/resources/35-esxserver/252-esxihwswiscsijumbo

So, for many years, since approx 2004, we advised clients to stop purchasing/using hardware iSCSI HBAs, as iSCSI networking is supposed to be cheaper than FC, otherwise you might as well purchase two FC HBA per server!

there was always a through that iSCSI, had a huge CPU overhead in the host, converting SCSI to network packets, and decoding, but as CPU have become faster, and faster in the hosts, this issue does not seem to an issue.

Unless you have seen otherwise.....(or been advised otherwise!)
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compdigit44Author Commented:
Great response!!!

Now I notice we I set the IP in the BIOS with the proper subnet I am not able to ping it from another workstation. Also for my storage server I am using an Windows 2012 r2 server with an attached MSA70 as an iscsi target
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Windows 2012 R2 Server with a MSA70 - okay, so not exactly lightening fast storage!

I thought maybe you had purchased a new  Tegile Systems 500TB All Flash Array!
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compdigit44Author Commented:
LOL... I wish I had a flash array but lab enviroments are what is ever left over before it goes out the door.

Anyway. On the broadcom NIC I set their IP's in the NIC BIOS, configured the WINDOW 2012 storage server with the IP for the initators and when I do a storage rescan it is not seeing anything.

When I goes under Strorage Adapters I see 8 iSCSI adapter listed under the broadcom. I can right click each adapter and and set thing like static or dynamic discovery. Do I still need to do this.

Also even though I set the IP in the BIOS should I be able to ping it becuase right now I cannot and confirmed I do have link
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
EDIT:- Just re-read question... Broadcom NetXtreem II BCM5709 Network cards - these required special attention! and it's painful! (not as simple as it should be!)

Yes, you still need to configure in ESXi, with an IP Address.

You should be able to view the LUNs at the BIOS level, to confirm you have access to the SAN.

Ah, now you mention you have Broadcom NICs, now these could be slightly different, do you know if these are dedicated iSCSI HBAs or do they share iSCSI and Network interfaces ?

e.g. what is the server...e.g. our Dell Servers have Broadcom iSCSI Adaptors, and also Network Interfaces, which are shared.....and these require a different procedure to be set up, as they are a hybrid HBA/NIC, not a dedicated iSCSI HBA, like a Qlogic QA4060, which is just a HBA, not a nIc!

Any reason why you are not using Software iSCSI Adaptor ?
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compdigit44Author Commented:
Thanks for the reply....

my manage NIC and ISCSI NIC are separate. I am not using software iscsi since the NIC support this. The older servers are IBM x3850 M3's
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compdigit44Author Commented:
I also noticed under static and dynamic discovery I do not have the option to add my target IP. Also under network configuration it looks like it want to bind to a nic but have not nic's listed to choose from
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, the nics support it with much configuration!

let me find a reference...
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compdigit44Author Commented:
thanks....
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
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compdigit44Author Commented:
Thanks I am going to give it a try... If I cannot get it to work I will try software iscsi...

I will keep you posted.
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compdigit44Author Commented:
OK so I am a bit confused reading this article and mind you the host are running ESXi 5.5. Do I still need to setup a software iscsi adapter even thought I am trying to use the iscsi function of the NIC card?

http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_iscsi_san_cfg.pdf
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compdigit44Author Commented:
Also after I configure the IP in the NIC BIOS, should I be able to ping it on the network? If so I cannot..
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Ah! with these hybrid HBA/NICs not necessarily.

with a full iSCSI HBA - yes, but these are not that!
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compdigit44Author Commented:
Good to know... Wow I am learning a lot about ISCSI here .. I am so use to using FC...

I am still a bit confused on the article... http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_iscsi_san_cfg.pdf

 Do I still need to setup Software iscsi or not? I am using 5.5
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Unless you want to use iSCSI Software Adaptor, no requirement to set it up.

Use the 5.0 reference, not the 4.1, 4.1 and 5.x are very different.

should be using this guide...(but I could not find the reference.....it refers to, let me look further!)

http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-50-storage-guide.pdf
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compdigit44Author Commented:
I will try it tomorrow and keep you posted...
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
the adaptor, needs to be bound to iSCSI.

here is a URL with guidance

http://www.gabesvirtualworld.com/dependent-hardware-iscsi-adapter-on-esxi5/
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compdigit44Author Commented:
This was an amazing article and learned so much from it!!!! I though setting up a hardware iscsi card would be easier but it is not
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I did tell you!

Proper Hardware iSCSI adaptors are easy, but these cheapo hybrid ones, are long winded!
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compdigit44Author Commented:
thank you so much...  you are a great help as always.... :-)
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