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[HOWTO] ESXi with JBOD


Tuurbo
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After purchasing my Gen8, I've discovered that ESXi in combination with AHCI is not a option. You can place every harddisk in it's own RAID0 array, but for me this has it disadvantage of not able to hot swap harddisk.
 
After reading about Rearranging SATA ports to boot SSD in ODD void and HOWTO Get JBOD access to drive not in array when using B120i in RAID mode in Windows it got me thinking; Could I combine this knowledge with ESXi? The answer is YES:) 
 
*** WARNING ***
The following tutorial is at your own risk. I can't be hold responsible for any loss of data and please make backups before proceeding with this tutorial.
 
Removing a disk from the current RAID array could also delete the drives contents, so be aware! In my case all harddisks had it's own RAID0 array, deleting the whole array kept the existing data on the disk.
 
*** PROs and CONs ***
Running in JBOD mode has it benefits, but isn't alway the best option in every case. It really depends on how you want to use your Gen8 and what you value. I'll try to sum op the pro's and con's of running in JBOD mode.
 
+ Disks are hot swappable
+ Add disk with existing data (without reformatting)
+ [MAYBE] Read S.M.A.R.T. status
+ [MAYBE] Spindown harddisk
 
- Less queue depth 31 (instead of 242 with RAID)
iLO doesn't receive a '04-HD Max' value, which will result in a higher system FAN speed (from 6% to 11-12%)
- Possibility that this solution breaks with a future update from HP
 
In my case I really wanted to have an option to hot swap the harddisk, without having to bring down the whole system.
 
*** Tutorial ***
For accessing the drives in JBOD mode simply we need to remove the HP Driver for the B120i controller.
  
1. Stop all VMs and enable ssh-connection
 
2. Login in (example putty)

3. Start maintenanceMode

esxcli system maintenanceMode set --enable true

 
4. Deinstall the running scsi-hpvsa driver

esxcli software vib remove -n scsi-hpvsa -f

 
5. Restart the system
 
6. [OPTIONAL] Remove disks from RAID array.
Again, please make sure you have a backup before removing arrays!
 
7. After booting ESXI again, stop maintenanceMode, disable ssh and start your VMs again.
 
 
ESXi will now recognize the B120i as a Intel Corporation Cougar Point 6 port SATA AHCI Controller and also show every disk that isn't in a RAID array.
 
Schermafbeelding 2016-05-15 om 16.13.19.png
 
Schermafbeelding 2016-05-15 om 16.13.46.png
 
 
*** Some notes ***

 

- Maybe it's possible to boot off the ODD port if you leave this disk in a single RAID(0) array. For me I prefer to boot ESXi from a SD-card.

 

- I've left the other drivers within ESXi (scsi-hpsa, scsi-hpdsa) in it's place. Not sure if these also can be deleted.

 

- In my XPEnology setup of two 3TB WD RED (WD30EFRX) I've haven't managed yet to get SMART or the HDD spin down option to work.

 

 

Special thanks to demomanca and Viper for their research! 

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