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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.

Viewing Host Configuration

Viewing Host Configuration

To examine how a host is configured on a FlashArray, click on the host object in the vCenter inventory. To see a summary view, click on the Summary tab and identify the Pure Storage panel.

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This shows all available FlashArrays and their connectivity status. For more information click on the Manage link or click directly on the FlashArray you would like more information on. Alternatively, click on the Configure tab, then Pure Storage > Host Connections.

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This table, introduced in plugin version 4.5.0, shows the host object(s) that represent a given ESXi host on the FlashArray.

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To view the host configuration on a specific FlashArray, select the FlashArray in the drop-down. If the desired FlashArray does not appear, ensure that it is added in the home screen of the Pure Storage plugin. clipboard_ed0de212a2ae22e37aa678286dea158d0.png

This table has the following columns:

  • Host: This is the network address of the ESXi host
  • Status: This indicates the configuration status of the host. The following are valid options:
    • Connected: This means that the ESXi host has a corresponding host object for that protocol on the array and the FlashArray sees it as online.
    • Not Connected: This means that the ESXi host has a corresponding host object for that protocol on the array but the FlashArray DOES NOT see it as online. This means the initiators are on the FlashArray, but connectivity is down. So for Fibre Channel this could be a zoning issue, and for iSCSI this could mean the hosts are not configured correctly or that there is a networking issue.
    • Not Configured: This means that the ESXi host does not have a corresponding host on the FlashArray at all.
  • Array Host Group: The name of the host group on the FlashArray that the corresponding host is in. For clustered hosts it is recommended to always put a host in a host group.
  • Array Host: The name of the host object on the FlashArray for the corresponding host.
  • Protocol: FC, iSCSI, or NVMe-oF

When a FlashArray is selected, the plugin will inquire the FlashArray for host configuration.

If there is no host for the ESXi host, it will show as Not Configured. clipboard_e30291ea198b740a5e2cdc09cf8cb8b7d.png
If there is a correctly configured host, it wil show as Connected. This will also show the host group it is in, and the protocol in use. clipboard_e000081cf2a5dcdbd12413a3213b5c89a.png
If a host is created but is not seen as online by the FlashArray (fabric FC or iSCSI login) that host will appear as Not Connected. clipboard_e12aba469e00c033f28a7f09ef78f3bb1.png
If the host is configured properly, but not in a host group, it will report a warning on the host. clipboard_e1dad2dbbe4706d6d98c0a06019b5d923.png
If the host is configured for multiple protocols, more than one listing will appear. clipboard_e4fb95f17f928ae4b128bf98f2eb21117.png
Other hosts in this cluster are configured and in a host group but this specific host is not configured. clipboard_ed88e5b3419565313ea5daafdc4e23ac7.png
Viewing Host Group Configuration

Viewing Host Group Configuration

To view the host connection information at a cluster level, you can click on the cluster object in a vCenter followed by the Configure tab, then Pure Storage > Host Connections.

There are three workflows available on this page, see the following links for information on those options:

The overall screen shows any configured hosts or host groups for that cluster on the specified array. To choose an array, select it from the dropdown at the top:

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This table has the following columns:

  • Host: This is the network address of the ESXi host
  • Status: This indicates the configuration status of the host. The following are valid options:
    • Connected: This means that the ESXi host has a corresponding host object for that protocol on the array and the FlashArray sees it as online.
    • Not Connected: This means that the ESXi host has a corresponding host object for that protocol on the array but the FlashArray DOES NOT see it as online. This means the initiators are on the FlashArray, but connectivity is down. So for Fibre Channel this could be a zoning issue, and for iSCSI this could mean the hosts are not configured correctly or that there is a networking issue.
    • Not Configured: This means that the ESXi host does not have a corresponding host on the FlashArray at all.
  • Array Host Group: The name of the host group on the FlashArray that the corresponding host is in. For clustered hosts it is recommended to always put a host in a host group.
  • Array Host: The name of the host object on the FlashArray for the corresponding host.
  • Protocol: FC, iSCSI, or NVMe-oF

The following is an example of a cluster configured with one host group for Fibre Channel:

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A host group with one host group for iSCSI and one for Fibre Channel:

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One with no hosts or host groups:

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One with one or more configured, but not connected hosts. This means they have been configured on the FlashArray and the ESXi host, but a network (or possibly host) issue is preventing connectivity.

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One with a missing host:

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Creating Host Groups

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 Host Group
  1. Right-click on the ESXi cluster you wish to create a host group for.
  2. Navigate to Pure Storage > Add/Update Host Group.
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  1. Select the FlashArray on which to configure the host connectivity.
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  1. Select Fibre Channel or iSCSI. The plugin will then auto-generate the name of the hosts and host group. They can be changed if needed at a later time.
If the host/host group does not yet exist on the array, it will be marked as Will be created. If it does exist, it will be marked as Already configured.
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If the host name already exists on the array, the plugin will append the protocol name to the host name to make it unique. clipboard_e2d3de88ee5cf06ef4334d800f196bd84.png
A protocol will be grayed out if the target FlashArray does not currently offer that particular protocol. clipboard_e7a771a86269ad03ada4d698b1f3b6f95.png
  1. If you have selected Configure iSCSI initiators on the hosts, the plugin will also configure the iSCSI target information and best practices on that particular host or hosts. See the section entitled, iSCSI Configuration Workflow for details.
  2. Click Create to complete the creation.
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Creating a Host and adding it to a Host Group

Creating a Host and adding it to a Host Group

If a new host has been added to a vSphere cluster and you would like to add it to the pre-existing cluster, you can re-run the Add/Update Host Group wizard. This will scan the existing environment, and figure out which, if any hosts need to be configured. Take the following situation:

A fourth host has been added to a cluster, in this case esxi-04. clipboard_e123327c091665d5ac54c0888c8a0b620.png
The host has not yet been configured on the FlashArray and the corresponding host group only has host esxi-01, esxi-02, esxi-03. clipboard_e93288dcf72a95fb6c5c80bf01ee2f37a.png
  1. Right-click on the ESXi cluster you wish to create a host group for.
  2. Navigate to Pure Storage > Add/Update Host Group.
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The new host will be shown as Will be created, indicating that it was not found on the FlashArray and the plugin will proceed with configuring it and adding it to the existing host group.

Clicking Create will initiate the process.

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Renaming a Host

Renaming a Host

To rename a host, click on the host or a cluster object that owns the desired host, in the vCenter inventory, followed by the Configure tab, then Pure Storage > Host Connections.

The host creation process uses a default naming scheme, if you would like to rename a host, you can select the host and choose the rename button.

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This will popup a window asking for a new name. Any new name must be unique and follow FlashArray object naming conventions. An invalid name will be rejected.

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The host is now renamed:

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Disconnecting a Host

Disconnecting a Host

To move a host to a new host group/cluster or to decommission a host, the plugin also offers a feature to deconfigure a host on the FlashArray.

To deconfigure a host, click on the host or a cluster object that owns the desired host, in the vCenter inventory, followed by the Configure tab, then Pure Storage > Host Connections.

Select the FlashArray and the host object you want to remove and click Disconnect Host.

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This will surface a screen asking for confirmation of the removal.

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The plugin will execute the following steps:

  1. Remove from host group if it is in one.
  2. Disconnect any volumes directly connected to the host
  3. Destroy the host object on the FlashArray

Note that this process will remove all storage on that array from that host. If the host is using that array to boot from, sudden removal will crash the host. Please use caution when disconnecting hosts via the plugin.

In order for the removal of a host, the plugin requires the host to be in maintenance mode. This requirement is a precaution to prevent accidental removal of storage for running virtual machines. This requirement may be adjusted or lifted in the future as more specific workflows are developed.

If the host is not in maintenance mode, the plugin will not allow the procedure to go forward.

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At this time, deconfiguring a host does not remove the iSCSI targets from the ESXi host itself for the specified FlashArray. Only the array-side configuration is removed. The removal of iSCSI target information will be included in a future release.

Configuring iSCSI

Configuring iSCSI

The task of configuring iSCSI was traditionally fraught with antipathy 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.

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. Including:
    • DelayedAck to disabled
    • LoginTimeout to 30 seconds.

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. 

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.

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

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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