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January 4, 2011

Installing ESXi 4.1 with Boot from SAN

We’ve been running ESX since the days of v2.5, but with the news that v4.1 will be the last “fat” version with a RedHat service console, we decided it was time to transition to ESXi. The 30+ step guide below describes our process using an EMC CLARiiON CX3 SAN and Dell hosts with redundant Qlogic HBAs (fiber environment).

  1. Document network/port mappings in vSphere Client on existing ESX server
  2. Put host into maintenance mode
  3. Shutdown host
  4. Remove host from Storage Group in EMC Navisphere
  5. Create dedicated Storage Group per host for the boot LUN in Navisphere
  6. Create the 5GB boot LUN for the host
  7. Add the boot LUN to the host’s Storage Group
  8. Connect to the host console via the Dell Remote Access Card (DRAC)
  9. Attach ESXi media via DRAC virtual media
  10. Power on host (physically or via the DRAC)
  11. Press CTRL+Q to enter Qlogic FastUtil
  12. Select Configuration Settings
  13. Select Adapter Settings
  14. Change “HBA BIOS” to Enabled [ESC]
  15. Select “Selectable Boot”
  16. Change to “Enabled”
  17. Change primary from zeroes to the disk with the address of the owning SP
    • Compare the address with the EMC Storage Processor (SP) Front-End Port addresses in Navisphere
    • If the disk shows as “LUNZ”, do not enable Selectable Boot or configure a disk (skip to 21)
  18. Escape and Save settings, but don’t leave the utility
  19. At the main menu, select “Select Host Adapter”
  20. Change to the next adapter
  21. Repeat steps 12 through 20
  22. Exit the utility, reboot, and press F2 to enter Setup
  23. Change Boot Hard Disk Sequence to put the SAN disk first
  24. Exit BIOS and reboot
  25. Press F11 for boot menu
  26. Select Virtual CD
  27. In Setup on the “Select a Disk” screen, select the remote 5GB LUN
  28. Press F11 to begin install
  29. Press Enter to reboot the host
  30. After setup completes, configure password, time, and network
  31. Add host to vCenter and configure networking (per step 1)
  32. Add LUNs to the host’s Storage Group in Navisphere
  33. Rescan for storage on host in vCenter
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