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vVols User Guide: Configuring Host Connectivity

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Configuring Host Connectivity

For an ESXi host to access FlashArray storage, an array administrator must create a host object. A FlashArray host object (usually called host) is a list of the ESXi host’s initiator iSCSI Qualified Names (IQNs) or Fibre Channel Worldwide Names (WWNs). Arrays represent each ESXi host as one host object.

Similarly, arrays represent a VMware cluster as a host group, a collection of hosts with similar storage-related attributes. For example, an array would represent a cluster of four ESXi hosts as a host group containing four host objects, each representing an ESXi host. The FlashArray User Guide contains instructions for creating hosts and host groups.

Pure Storage recommends using the Pure vSphere Plugin to create FlashArray hosts and host groups that are mapped to ESXi Hosts and ESXi Clusters.

Using the Pure Storage vSphere Plugin to Create and Configure FlashArray Host Groups

The Pure Storage Plugin for the vSphere Client provides the ability to VMware users to have insight into and control of their Pure Storage FlashArray environment while directly logged into the vSphere Client. The Pure Storage plugin extends the vSphere Client interface to include environmental statistics and objects that underpin the VMware objects in use and to provision new resources as needed.

Creating Host Groups

Without the Pure Storage plugin the process of creating hosts and host groups on the FlashArray can be a slow and tedious process.

The steps required to complete this task would be to:

  1. Navigate to each ESXi host you wish to connect to the FlashArray and locate the initiator port identifiers (WWPNs, IQN(s), or NQN).
  2. Login to the FlashArray and create a new host object for each ESXi host followed by setting the applicable port identifiers for each of the hosts.
  3. Once the host objects have been created a new host group is created and each host object is manually moved to the applicable host group.

Not only is the process above slow but it also leaves room for human error during the configuration process. In many instances we have found that port identifiers have been applied to the wrong host objects, misspelled, or missing entirely if the end-user was not paying close attention. Additionally, this process often requires coordination between vSphere and Storage administrators which leaves room for additional errors and delays in completing this critical task.

By utilizing the Pure Storage plugin this process becomes entirely automated and allows for the creation of dozens of hosts in a matter of seconds or minutes.It can also be completed by the vSphere administrator directly from the vSphere Client which frees up the storage administrator to focus on other more pressing issues within the environment.

Due to the reasons outlined above Pure Storage recommends using the plugin for the creation of new host and host group objects.

Starting with the 4.4.0 version of the Pure Storage Plugin, the new hosts created during host group creation will also be configured with the ESXi host personality.

Due to a slight difference between creating a Fibre Channel (FC) and iSCSI host group from the plugin each process is outlined separately below.

Also: all hosts must be in a VMware cluster--the plugin does not support creating host groups for ESXi hosts that are not in a cluster. If for some reason the host cannot be put in a VMware cluster, manual creation of the FlashArray host is required. For the host-side configuration in the case of iSCSI, this can be done via the plugin. Skip the the last section of this pages for information.

Creating a Fibre Channel (FC) Host Group

Step 1: Right click on the ESXi cluster you wish to create a host group for.

Step 2: Navigate to Pure Storage > Add Host Group.


Step 3: Fill out the applicable details and select Create.


It is important to note that the name of the Host Group and individual Hosts can be modified. Due to each host object on the FlashArray requiring a unique name there are several instances in which a change may even be required:

  • The Pure Storage plugin uses the network name of the ESXi host by default to create the host object. Thus if it was never changed from "localhost" there could be attempts to create multiple host objects with the same name.
  • If invalid characters are used for the Host Group name we may require the changes to the host group name.

Whenever possible we do recommend the names remain consistent between the vSphere and FlashArray environment

Once the creation of each host and host group has been completed you can then start the process of creating new VMFS or vVol datastores for use within the environment.

Creating an iSCSI Host Group

The process for configuring an iSCSI host group is as simple and quick as it is for Fibre Channel, but has an important difference during the last configuration step.

Step 1: Right click on the ESXi cluster you wish to create a host group for.

Step 2: Navigate to Pure Storage > Add Host Group.


Step 3: Fill out the applicable details and select Create.


iSCSI Configuration Workflow

When the Configure iSCSI initiators on hosts workflow is selected then the following actions are taken by the plugin:

  • Creates an iSCSI Software Adapter on each selected ESXi host (if one is not already created).
  • Adds the FlashArray iSCSI IP addresses to the "Dynamic Discovery" section of the iSCSI Software Adapter.
  • Applies Pure Storage Best Practices for iSCSI Configurations on the newly established iSCSI sessions.

These actions are completely non-disruptive for existing iSCSI connections to other Pure Storage FlashArrays and 3rd party storage vendors. This is due to the configuration changes only being applied at the individual iSCSI sessions level rather than being set at a global level. 

Configuring iSCSI

The task of configuring iSCSI can be challenging as there are a lot of steps to remember throughout this process. The plugin aims to eliminate some of the complexity by automating some of the configuration around this process.

If you review the Creating an iSCSI Host Group section in this document you will note there is an option to Configure iSCSI initiators on hosts when creating a new host group. If you created the new host / host group objects on the FlashArray with this option  then you do not need to execute the Configure iSCSI workflow separately.

This workflow is for configuring iSCSI after the host / host group objects have already been created on the FlashArray but have not yet completed the iSCSI configuration.

Step 1: Right click the on the ESXi cluster or individual ESXi host you wish to configure iSCSI on.

Step 2: Navigate to Pure Storage > Configure iSCSI.


Step 3: Select the FlashArray you wish to connect to via iSCSI and select Configure.


Once the iSCSI configuration has been completed you can then start the process of creating new VMFS or vVol datastores for use within the environment