VMware Storage : How to configure Datastore's using FC SAN?

Hi Friends,

Thanks a lot for supporting my Blog. Today i want to show you how to configure a Datastore on an ESX server using Fibre Channel SAN. First of all lets talk a little bit about the storage needs in VMware environment. If you take a basic HP Server / Dell Server it comes with a limited size of Harddisk unless and until you order a very high storage capacity server. For example, if you have an ESX server with 320GB HDD installed on it, what you will get is like, you can install 10 virtual machines with 25GB each allocated. But in enterprise environments a server (vm) with 25GB is not sufficient to fulfill the organizational application needs. At this moment we need to add more storage to the server in terms of adding more hdd's to the server individually or providing storage from external source like SAN. Even though there is a chance to add more storage to the server locally, why we are opting for SAN? Because SAN provides data availability in case of Server Failures also, as it is a separated entity from the server.

Please read the article : Fibre Channel SAN to know more how SAN works.

What is a Datastore in ESX Server?

Datastore is a space for storing virtual machine files. It can be local or shared storage (SAN). What ever the storage is, it should be formatted with VMFS first to create virtual machines on it.

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The 2 types of storage explained above are visible in the image beside.

1. Local DELL Disk  (Local storage)

2. DGC Fibre Channel (FC SAN Storage)

OK, local storage can be accessible very easily. It was configured with Operating system itself. But in case of SAN storage, we need to configure the Fibre Channel cards first. What I mean to say is, there is a limited support for HBA cards for VMware. Some vendors like Qlogic and Emulex were supported by VMware. If you are trying to install HBA cards to your ESX server from these vendors, the drivers will be automatically installed with the installation of ESX OS itself. But you need to install the drivers manually for other vendors. Better to go with HCL before installing any hardware on the ESX.

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After you are able to see the HBA cards as above, you need to check the LUN's availability for this ESX Server by clicking "Rescan" button upper right corner. So that you will able to see the LUN's which are allocated for this specific ESX Server.

How to mount the allocated LUN's as Datastores?

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1. To mount allocated LUN's click on Add Storage from the Storage Options pane.

2. In the next screen you will get the detected LUN's.

3. Select the appropriate LUN for your server and click next.

4. Format it with VMFS and Click Finish. Then the LUN's will be appeared in the Datastores list.

5. If you want to check it, you can browse the Datastore and create some files. That's it. The same can be used when you create .vmdk / allocate the disk space for your virtual machines.

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