3ware 9650se and ESXi 4.0

Of course the first thing that I did tonight after receiving my 3ware 9650se was to install it in my ESXi 4.0 server and get it going. There are a few caveats that I expected and a few that I didn’t. Hopefully this post will help a few of you out there.

Here are the steps that I performed:
1. Physically installed card and drives.
2. Built the logical unit / volume on the card.
3. Booted ESXi and noticed the card / array not showing up.

I expected #3 from my pre-sales madness research, yeah I’m that bad about pre-sales. There is a driver for ESX 4 that enables the hypervisor to be installed onto the array. For the rest of us with ESXi 4.0 however, the array can only be used as a datastore. This isn’t an issue anyways since the critical files are on the array not the single disk or USB device that we install the ESXi OS onto.

This led me to 3ware’s support site to find the exact article regarding this. You can find the article titled “I need support for VMware ESX/ESXi 4.0 and ESX/ESXi 4.0 update 1 for 9650SE and 9690SA. Is a certified driver available?” here. Basically, the top half of the document applies to ESX while the lower portion is dedicated to ESXi.

First off, the fact that 3ware has this and other great articles is excellent, they seem like the “get it”. On the other hand I found something difficult to do, and not for technical reasons. They instruct you to find the file “offline-bundle.zip” on the included driver CD. I searched all over the provided driver CD and had no luck locating it; I couldn’t help but think that there ought to have been a download link as well***. After locating the file I proceeded down the list of the well written how-to. Unfortunately for me, after running the perl vihostupdate.pl -server x.x.x.x -username root -password "" -b c:\offline-bundle.zip -i command I received zero feedback from the CLI. I restarted the ESXi server per the documents recommendations and upon reboot, no RAID array. Hrmm, I didn’t get any errors or feedback. After shorting the name of the original file to offline-bundle.zip and re-running the command, I did get positive feedback in the form of this message: The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for the changes to be effective. Delicious! Now were are working the way we ought to. Restart the ESXi server and enjoy.

*** – Clarification and special note: At the bottom of the page you will see a download link for a file named: vmware-esx-drivers-scsi-3w-9xxx_400. This ISO image contains the offline-bundle folder. The file that you need for the upgrade/upload is named: AMCC_2.26.08.035vm40-offline_bundle-179560.zip. The process would not succeed until I renamed AMCC_2.26.08.035vm40-offline_bundle-179560.zip to offline-bundle.zip.

Happy virtualizing!