Understand Fibre Channel storage arrays and the Fibre Channel switch fabric. Also learn about host bus adapters (HBAs) and how they are used to connect hosts.
- [Instructor] In this video, I'll explain the basics of fibre channel storage. Fibre channel is one of the possible storage array options that we can choose from. Now think of the fibre channel network as a way to connect to a disk that we can format. We can boot from this disk, and we can access it directly using a raw device mapping. And on it, we're going to create a file system called VMFS. Now before we get into a whole lot of detail, let's talk about the pieces that make up a fibre channel storage array.
And for the moment, we're just going to focus on the storage array components and the network. So what we see here in our diagram are two fibre channel switch fabrics. These are like special switches that are used to terminate these fibre optic connections and they allow our EXSi host to establish a connection to the storage processors of the fibre channel array. They're shown here as SP1 and SP2. And the storage processors are sort of like the brains of the operation.
They provide connectivity for the fibre channel array, and they also provide processing power. Now within this fibre channel array, we've got a disk aggregate. That's all the physical storage that we have available within this array, and you can see that it's been broken up into smaller chunks of space called LUNs, or logical unit numbers. Now our ESXi host needs a way to connect to this fibre channel switch fabric, and the storage adapter options that you have with fibre channel are actually pretty simple.
You're going to need a hardware fibre channel host bus adapter, or HBA. That's the only choice that's going to work here. So in our diagram here, the ESXi host is equipped with a single fibre channel HBA with two fibre channel ports. Now in real life, you may want to install two completely separate HBAs for redundancy purposes. And installing a fibre channel HBA is a pretty straightforward process. What you do is you'll shut down your ESXi host, physically install the host bus adapter, physically connect it to the fibre channel switch fabric, then boot up your ESXi host, and the HBA will appear as a storage adapter, and you'll be able to see the LUNs that exist on the fibre channel storage array.
At that point, you can actually go through the process of creating VMFS data stores on those LUNs. Now as I mentioned a little bit earlier, redundancy is really important when it comes to storage. And multi-pathing with fibre channel is actually quite simple. All you need to do is install the appropriate hardware, and make the required connections. So in this case, we have a fibre channel HBA with two ports. And this means that if a single port fails, we still have a valid connection.
If a fibre channel switch fails, we still have a valid path to storage. And even if a storage processor fails, we're still fine. The only flaw in this design is that we've only installed a single HBA, so an HBA failure would break our storage connectivity. And in this case, we might want to consider buying two single-port HBAs instead. Now in chapter 5 of this course, we'll take a much deeper look at how storage multi-pathing works and what path selection plugins are available.
Note: This course maps to the Configure and Administer Advanced vSphere 6.x Storage domain from the VCP6-DCV exam blueprint. Learn more about the exam objectives at VMware's site.
- Comparing VMFS (Virtual Machine File System) and NFS (Network File System)
- Working with Fibre Channel and FCoE
- Configuring iSCSI storage and authentication
- Working with block storage and VMFS
- Managing storage filters
- Using vSphere storage APIs
- Sharing virtual disks
- Configuring NFS storage
- Using vSphere Virtual Volumes
- Configuring VSAN data stores
- Configuring SIOC data stores