It’s not only possible to connect a SAN device to VMware, but also preferable. VMware offers a comprehensive private cloud solution for businesses that want to take their IT infrastructure to the next level.
It comes with features such as High Availability (HA), Distributed Resource Scheduler (DR), vMotion, Storage vMotion, and others. These features work within a shared hosting environment, but the issue with shared hosting is to plan beforehand. Therefore, virtualization experts recommend connecting nimble SAN with VMware.
Before we explain the steps to add nimble volume to any VMware ESXi host, let’s learn more about nimble SAN.
What is Nimble SAN?
Nimble is a storage company that develops hardware and storage products for IT infrastructures. More specifically, these products utilize a software ISCSI adapter.
Back in 2016, the company was purchased by HPE. Since then, HPE Nimble is a leader in the field of hybrid storage systems and products. Some of their most popular products include all-flash, adaptive flash, and hybrid arrays, along with cloud storage systems.
Nimble is a SAN-only storage solution for your IT infrastructure (virtual or physical). More specifically, it is a block storage SAN solution that has no NSAA integration. This means all information on their storage devices is saved in blocks. Thus, you need a special program to access the information on these blocks.
The benefits of integrating SANs drastically outweigh the setup complexity. NSA is truly superior in terms of integration and operation. But the benefits of SAN are that you can move larger chunks of data, heightened security, greater storage device speed, and more ways to control and segregate data.
An especially important benefit of SANs is the ability to connect multiple servers to access a pool of shared storage resources. Simply put, SAN is an all-around storage solution for enterprise-level organizations. As such, it’s important to know how to connect Nimble SAN solutions to VMware.
This guide will explain the steps necessary to do that. So with all that said, let’s start.
Steps to Connect Nimble SAN with VMware vCenter Server
Before we explain the steps to add nimble volumes to VMware ESXi hosts, you need a working environment with networked nimble arrays. Then, you will need to connect the nimble array to VMware through a series of steps.
If you already have a networked nimble array, here are the steps necessary to establish a working connection:
Step 1: Create An Infiltrator Group
The first step is essential to the process. An infiltrator group will connect to ISCSI storage adapters and then be added to your ESXi hosts. Perform the following steps to do that:
- Log in to the Nimble Management Console and navigate to “Manage Initiator Group,” “New Infiltrator Group,” and give the group a name;
- Then, click on the “Add initiator” button. You will need to find the IQN storage adapters of each ESXi host. We can do that through VMware vCenter Server. Highlight the EXSi host and go to the “Configuration” tab. Then, click on “Storage Adapters” and highlight the ISCSI software apdater. A new screen will appear under the “Details” section. Simply copy the IQN under the “ISCSI Name” field;
- Add the IQN under the initiator name and click OK. There is no need to add an IP address;
Step 2: Create Volume
With the initiator group created, it’s now time to create a new volume. Here are the steps to do that:
- In the Nimble Management Console, go to “Manage,” “Volumes,” “New Volume;”
- Give the volume a name, add a description, and go to the next step;
- In the Access Control section, check the “Limit Access” setting and “Limit access to iSCSI infiltrator group.” Also, check the “Allow multiple initiator access” setting;
- In the Volume Size section, add the size of the volume and adjust any other settings.
Step 3: Configure Networking
This step will be a shorter one as VMware and Nimble recommend against using NIC teaming. Also, make sure to use 1 to 1 VMkernel to Physical ports connection and 1 to 1 to 1 with vSwitch.
Step 4: Binding VMkernel to ISCSI Software Adapter
You will need to bind the VMkernel to the ISCSI software adapter. Here is how to do that in Vmware vCenter Server 5:
- Log in to VMware vSphere Client and select your host;
- In the Configuration tab, select “Storage Adapters” under the Hardware panel;
- Select “dependent ISCSI adapter” and click on properties;
- Tick the Network Configuration tab and click add;
- Select your VMkernel adapter and bind it with the ISCSI adapter;
- Click OK to confirm and close the tab.
Step 5: Add the Discovery IP
You will need to add the Nimble discovery IP to VMware. The discovery IP can be found in the ISCSI network addresses section in your Nimble Management Console.
To add the IP address to VMware, select each host and go to “Configuration.” Then, navigate once again to “Storage Adapters,” “Details,” “Properties,” “Dynamic Discovery Tab,” and click add. Add the OP address and leave the port default at 3260.
Step 6: Add Storage
With the Nimble storage volume created, you will now need to discover and add the volume. Here is how to do that:
- Select your host and go to “Configuration,” “Storage,” “Rescan All;”
- Let the program scan and then click on “Add storage;”
- Select “Disk\LUN,” choose the volume, and then add the storage.
Step 7: Setting Round Robin
The final step is to set a Round Robin. Until this point, your storage is ready to go and is successfully connected to the ISCSI server. Here is how to set a Round Robin:
- Select a host and go to “Configuration,” “Storage;”
- Highlight the volume and go to “Properties,” “Manage Paths,” and choose “Round Robin;”
That concludes this guide on how to add Nimble volume to VMware. With these steps, you can now manage all VMDKs in your VMFS datastore. These steps aren’t difficult to go over but the whole process can be time-consuming. Regardless, we hope this guide will help you with connecting VMware to Nimble SAN.