Monthly Archives: June 2013

All paths lost on HBA port

HP, a great company, I like the hardware design of HP ProLiant server, it’s pretty easy for datacenter maintenance and operation, do you like it? Today, I’ll introduce a storage issue on HP ProLiant BL460, BL480 blades. This issue happened on Qlogic HBA with VC-FC module. I have two dual port Qlogic HBAs on each ESXi5.x host, one port of each HBA was zoned together on SAN switch.

For example, vmhba1 and vmhba3 are zoned for LUN allocation, each LUN have two paths on each HBA port.

I observed all LUNs disappeared on random HBA port sometimes, it’s not happening very frequently, but it can lead to ALL VM DEAD if you get storage outage when LUNs disappeared!!! This problem becomes more frequently more your virtual infrastructure grows bigger.

This is the symptoms when the issue happening:

And if you login SSH console and check HBA card status by:

less /proc/scsi/qla2xxx/[Device ID]

You will find following differences of two HBA ports:

See? All targets show Offline status on problem HBA.


You have two options to fix it:

  1. Reseat blade. Downtime and local resource is required.
  2. Reset HBA by following step:

Record the Device ID, and force HBA do rescan:

echo “scsi-qlascan” > /proc/scsi/qla2xxx/adapter_id

Wait few seconds, force LIP login:

echo “scsi-qlalip” > /proc/scsi/qla2xxx/adapter_id

Wait few minutes, LUNs come back online… JYou could refer to KB 1031199 for more detail.

This is a temporary remediation, the problem will repeat. I’ll show you some permanent solution in next blog.


vCenter Server Heartbeat 5.6 – Architecture

I start to use VMware workstation since 2002 or earlier, my bad memory can’t recall it. That’s 1st generation of virtualization. If you look at today’s virtual world, we are on the way to “Matrix”! J Enterprise is virtualizing more and more server lead to vCenter Server becomes to a critical role. We have to prepare for any contingency. vCenter Server Heartbeat (vCHB) is a nice candidate for protecting vCenter Server. It provides your infrastructure ability to prevent downtime/outage of vCenter Server. To gearing up for implementation in production environment, I did some testing on my LAB, the product is nice, but the document is not ideal. I’d like to share my experience, this blog also referred to my project document, please let me know if you have any idea can help me make my document ideally. Thanks in advance.

vCHB is a cluster service like Microsoft Cluster Service or any other 3rd part cluster software. The benefit of this product is you don’t have to create the cluster on RDM and your ESXi maintenance operation would become much easier. You could deploy vCHB in HA or DR mode, I’ll focus on HA mode at this moment since I haven’t tested DR mode yet.


My original LAB infrastructure contains one vCenter Server with remote SQL database server, data transmits over LAN. So my vCHB topology is one SQL database (I already have MSCS to protects SQL database server), two vCenter servers (Primary Server and Secondary Server).

vCHB uses Active-Passive for HA mode, Active Role runs protected applications, Passive Role receives changed data.

Primary Server – Original vCenter Server which I want to protect, it runs all vCenter components except outage happening.

Secondary Server – Another server of the pair, it’s Passive Role. Generally it receives change of Primary Server and takes over Active Role when outage happens.

In my LAB Active Role is Primary Server, and Passive Role is Secondary Server in most of time.


vCHB have two networks: Public Network and VMware Channel Network. You could use single NIC to run all networks or multiple NICs to separate them.

VMware Channel Network – vCHB monitors alive of each via VMware Channel Network and syncs changed data, it’s very important network.

Public Network – It contains two sub-networks: Principle Network and Management Network. Principle Network for vCHB cluster, Management Network for day-to-day operation.

Confuse? To simple it, I understand the networks like that:

VMware Channel Network – Can be private IP address or any IP address outside of the subnet of Public Network. It used for heartbeat and data transmitting.

Public Network Principle Network is IP address of Cluster DNS name, Management Network is IP address for RDP, they are in same routable subnet, but better in different prefix of IP address, please refer to KB 2004926.


No special storage requirement, but 2GB free space should be there where you want to install vCHB to. We also need a reliable share folder to store cluster data, I prefer to create share folder on a server other than vCHB servers since vCHB networks usually interrupt for few seconds during vCenter failover.

Okay, I’ll share how to install vCHB in next blog, this architecture for your reference:

A disk read error occurred after upgrade HW version from 3 to 9

This was a lesson and learns for me after I recovered the data back. My data was lost and no backup…

I had a virtual machine was moved from ESX 3.0 to ESXi 5.1 host long time ago. The virtual disk size show 0 and I cannot do storage migration and snapshot on the VM due to the hardware version was 3, it’s too low.

Generally I take snapshot before upgrade VM HW version, but that’s impossible on a VM of HW version 3 that running on vCenter Server 5.1. So I upgraded the VMware Tools and then VM hardware version by Update Manager. VMware Tools was successfully upgraded, but VM hardware version upgrading got error.

Then I right clicked the VM and used “Upgrade Hardware Version” option directly, it’s successfully without any prompt…finally I got “A disk read error occurred” when boot up. L

You may think it’s caused by SCSI controller since VM hardware version 3 supports IDE virtual disk and version 9 supports only SCSI virtual disk for best performance. That’s not my case. I tried several way to recover the disk, like convert the VM by convertor, mount the disk to other virtual machine, change SCSI parameter…etc.

I don’t think hardware version upgrading changes real virtual disk too much, it must be something changed on the head section of virtual disk, or description file. After consulted with Microsoft we got it fixed finally.

When I mounted the corrupted disk on other virtual machine, partition and size was recognized correctly. And disk manager also can recognize the NTFS file system. I can saw new drive appear in My Computer as well, but it show me “File or directory corrupted…” when I tried to open the drive. It more like a file system issue… it’s easy, just run following command to check any logical errors:

Chkdsk [drive letter]

Wow….a lot of error and files was listed, then I tried command:

Chkdsk /f [drive letter]

That’s real fix logical issue of disk. I could open the drive after used this command.

I mounted the drive back to the broken VM and powered on. New issue came up…Windows show me “Windows NT could not start because the below file is missing or corrupt: C:\Windows\System32\Ntoskrnl.exe”. I replaced the file but no help. The file was existed in the location, and file size was same like other VM, it’s perhaps not file issue?

Then I open VMDK file, aha….ddb.adapterType = “LegacyESX”, changed it to ddb.adapterType = “lsilogic” according to my SCSI controller set, my lovely Windows Server startup screen came back again. J

Okay, I talked too much. To summarize the fixing steps:

  • Mount the broken disk to a good virtual machine with same operating system. ( I’m not sure is it ok to mount on higher version of OS )
  • Run chkdsk [drive letter] to check if logical error existing.
  • Run chkdsk /f [drive] letter] to fix the logical error.
  • Unmounts the disk from good VM.
  • Edit the VMDK file in ESXi console.
  • Change the value of ddb.adapterType to proper SCSI controller type according to your SCSI controller setting.
  • Mount the disk back to broken VM.
  • Power on.

Here is my learning from that contingence:

  1. vCenter Server does not verify compatibility of VM hardware version during upgrading. Actually it’s not allowed to upgrade VM version from 3 to 9 directly.
  2. vCenter Server does not allowed you choose which VM hardware version you want to upgrade to, always latest.
  3. If you upgrade VM version from 3 to 9 directly, a SCSI controller will be added to the VM, value of ddb.adapterType will be changed to LegacyESX. You will not able to boot up the VM due to Windows Server 2003 does not contain proper SCSI driver.
  4. VM version upgrading looks like changes parameters of VMDK file but don’t change too much of real virtual disk, such as NTFS mapping and MBR table…etc.

Last, you may still face BSOD after use above solution since item 3 above, you have to inject the SCSI driver, please refer to KB 1005208 and KB 1006858.

Last of last…. :-) please take a backup of your virtual disk before you do any change!!!!!