Migrating External SAS storage to VMware

The Mission: Virtualize a very SMB customers file and document imaging server off of their aging hardware while leaving intact an MSA50 drive shelf.

The idea is that because the MSA50 and its drives were added much later, the client was not ready to replace it yet because of budget constraints. Instead, we would move the array controller and the shelf from a non-virtualized server into an ESXi server and then present the entire array controller to the virtual machine so it had no idea that anything has changed.

But would it work?

The new server that the client purchased was an HP DL380 G7. The array controller we needed to reuse was an HP P600 PCI-X card (full-length PCI-X too). So the first problem that arose was the PCI-X slot… new DL380 G7 servers do not have PCI-X slots…. unless you order a special riser card. HP Part number of that card is 494322-B21, and it gives me the PCI-X slot as well as two more PCI-E slots. My other concern was … will ESXi let me pass through a PCI-X device?

Only one way to find out…

So I shut down the old file server and removed the array controller, which reminded me of the huge circuit boards I seen when I was younger, and immediately thought …. this is never going to fit, no way! But it did apparently HP was planning for full-length cards because it fit right in and took up the ENTIRE area lol.

I then attached the MSA50 shelf back to the card and booted up the VMware server, VMware saw the controller and the 1.07TB attached to it, so I went into the advanced tab and enabled PCI device pass through and rebooted the box for it to take effect.

In the meantime, I booted up the source machine into Active Directory Restore Mode, because it is a domain controller, and proceeded to start up the VMware Standalone Converter (5.0 beta). After the ESXi host was back up I started the P2V process on the source machine, after it completed I added in the PCI-X HP P600 RAID controller as a passed through the device.

When I booted up the VM it came up without any errors and I checked the Device Manager and sure enough… there was an HP P600 Array Controller and the 1.07TB LUN even retained its original drive letter.

I was really impressed with how smooth the process went and how easy VMware made it pass through a legacy PCI-X device to a virtual machine.


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3 Responses to "Migrating External SAS storage to VMware"

  1. That’s an interesting article.

    I have a P600 and an old MSA20 hanging around with no use for them.

    Means I could rig up an ESXi test box and utilise all 4.4TB of disk space.

  2. Just to clarify you attached the external storage to a single esxi server and not to multiple esxi server or a cluster?

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