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Booting ESXi with Software FCoE (2032363)

Purpose

This article provides an overview of Booting ESXi with Software FCoE.
 
Note: For more information, see the vSphere Storage Guide. This guide contains definitive information. If there is a discrepancy between the guide and the article, assume the guide is correct.

Resolution

ESXi supports boot from FCoE capable network adapters.

When you install and boot ESXi from an FCoE LUN, the host can use a VMware software FCoE adapter and a network adapter with FCoE capabilities. The host does not require a dedicated FCoE HBA.

You perform most configurations through the option ROM of your network adapter. The network adapters must support one of the following formats, which communicate parameters about an FCoE boot device to VMkernel.
  • FCoE Boot Firmware Table (FBFT). FBFT is Intel propriety.
  • FCoE Boot Parameter Table (FBPT). FBPT is defined by VMware for third-party vendors to implement software FCoE boot.
The configuration parameters are set in the option ROM of your adapter. During an ESXi installation or a subsequent boot, these parameters are exported in to system memory in either FBFT format or FBPT format. The VMkernel can read the configuration settings and use them to access the boot LUN.

This article contains these sections:

Requirements and considerations for Software FCoE Boot

When you boot the ESXi host from SAN using software FCoE, certain requirements and considerations apply.


Requirements

  • ESXi 5.1
  • The network adapter must:
    • Be FCoE capable
    • Support ESXi 5.x open FCoE stack
    • Contain FCoE boot firmware that can export boot information in FBFT format or FBPT format

Considerations

  • You cannot change software FCoE boot configuration from within ESXi.
  • Coredump is not supported on any software FCoE LUNs, including the boot LUN.
  • Multipathing is not supported at pre-boot.
  • Boot LUN cannot be shared with other hosts even on shared storage.

Best practices for Software FCoE Boot

VMware recommends several best practices when you boot your system from a software FCoE LUN:

  • Make sure that the host has access to the entire boot LUN. The boot LUN cannot be shared with other hosts even on shared storage.
  • If you use Intel 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (Niantec) with a Cisco switch, configure the switch port in this way:
    • Enable the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)
    • Turn off switchport trunk native vlan for the VLAN used for FCoE
Set Up Software FCoE Boot

Your ESXi host can boot from a FCoE LUN using the software FCoE adapter a network adapter.

When you configure your host for a software FCoE boot, you perform a number of tasks.

Prerequisites

The network adapter has these capabilities:
  • Support partial FCoE offload (software FCoE)
  • Contain either a FCoE Boot Firmware Table (FBFT) or a FCoE Boot Parameter Table (FBPT)

For information about network adapters that support software FCoE boot, see the vSphere Compatibility Guide.


Configure Software FCoE Boot Parameters

To support a software FCoE boot process, a network adapter on your host must have a specially configured FCoE boot firmware. When you configure the firmware, you enable the adapter for the software FCoE boot and specify the boot LUN parameters.

In the option ROM of the network adapter, specify software FCoE boot parameters. These parameters include boot target, boot LUN, VLAN ID, and so on. Because configuring the network adapter is vendor specific, review your vendor documentation for instructions.

Installing and Booting ESXi from Software FCoE LUN

When you set up your system to boot from a software FCoE LUN, you install the ESXi image to the target LUN. You can then boot your host from that LUN.

Prerequisites

  • Configure the option ROM of the network adapter to point to a target LUN that you want to use as the boot LUN. Make sure that you have information about the bootable LUN.
  • Change the boot order in the system BIOS to this sequence:
    1. The network adapter that you use for the software FCoE boot.
    2. The ESXi installation media.

    Note: See the vendor documentation for your system.

Procedure

  1. Start an interactive installation from the ESXi installation CD/DVD.

    The ESXi installer verifies that FCoE boot is enabled in the BIOS and, if needed, creates a standard virtual switch for the FCoE capable network adapter. The name of the vSwitch is VMware_FCoE_vSwitch. The installer then uses preconfigured FCoE boot parameters to discover and display all available FCoE LUNs.

  2. On the Select a Disk screen, select the software FCoE LUN that you specified in the boot parameter setting.

    If the boot LUN does not appear in this menu, make sure that you correctly configured boot parameters in the option ROM of the network adapter.

  3. Follow the prompts to complete the installation.
  4. Reboot the host.
  5. Change the boot order in the system BIOS so that the FCoE boot LUN is the first bootable device.ESXi continues booting from the software FCoE LUN until it is ready to be used.

Note: If needed, you can rename and modify the VMware_FCoE_vSwitch that the installer automatically created. Make sure that the Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) mode is set to Listen or Both.

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