Deploying #VMware #vSphere on #HP BladeSystem best practices

Hey everyone,

I had a really nice read on this page about implementing VMware vSphere on a HP BladeSystem solution.

The article describes the various information systems supplied by HP to ensure you are running a supported configuration. Whether you are deploying a greenfield environment or upgrading your existing environment, make sure you follow the guidelines mentioned by HP.

To summarize:

Use the HP ESXi Custom ISO, instead of the vanilla ESXi ISO
All the drivers you need to monitor the state of your hardware from the vSphere layers are included in the HP ISO. Next, optimized drivers are included for the best experience between HP hardware and vSphere. I even stumbled upon a situation where ESXi could not be installed when using the vanilla ISO because of missing FlexNIC (VirtualConnect) drivers. Popping in the HP ISO did the trick.

You can use this link to download the HP ESXi ISO (click on HP customized VMware image downloads). See the image below.

Verify the compatibility between the hardware and software you are planning to use
It’s always great to play around with new software, or upgrade your hardware to the latest firmware levels. But, when managing an environment where downtime is not an option, you should be more careful before staying on top of innovation.

HP does their best to make sure new releases of hard- and software will be tested in all combinations your can think of (ProLiant G6, G7, Gen8 with different SPP (Service Pack for ProLiant) versions and using VMware vSphere 4/4.1/5.0/5.1 or 5.5). You can compatibility (and supportability) between components using this link and clicking HP ProLiant server and option firmware and driver support recipe (Current). See the image above.

Cookbooks for VirtualConnect
Follow VirtualConnect best practices to ensure availability and performance using HP ‘Cookbooks’. Quoted from the HP website:

HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric Cookbook

Note:  Scenario 5 is best for Active-Passive Flex-Fabric uplinks using vSphere and works well with HP OneView 1.0, which supports Active-Passive only.  HP OneView 1.1 will support Active-Active uplinks, which is detailed in Scenario 9.

HP Virtual Connect Fibre Channel Networking Cookbook

Stretch your clusters!
When you have more than one HP BladeSystem enclosure, make sure you spread your vSphere clusters across your enclosures. Not only will you reduce impact if one enclosure would die ( explodes, gets stolen or catches fire) but you also increase your manageability. When performing upgrades to one of your enclosures, you can safely move your workloads to a different enclosure to make sure no impact will occur on your so important virtual machines.

When you have the luxury or are planning a super high-available environment based on vSphere technologies, you could stretch your clusters (Metro Cluster) using multiple datacenters. Besides moving workloads between enclosures in your datacenter, you are able to put your whole datacenter in ‘maintenance mode’ and perform some maintenance. Designing and implementing a Metro Cluster requires a different approach and additional configuration.

Keep your network as flat as possible to keep things simple and to avoid complex configurations which can cause issues in the future.

Use HP Insight Control for vCenter Integration
It’s free, powerful and easy to install. It provides you with an extra tab in your vSphere Client and WebClient to give you in-depth insight in your hardware status, VirtualConnect wiring (virtual and physical) and gives you the ability to manage your HP storage arrays using the vSphere (Web) Client. A great tool which I’ve implemented in all the environments I’ve come across.

Hopefully this article will help you prepare for your deployment or give you the right information to improve your existing environment. Thanks for reading!

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