Installing ESXi 4.1 with Boot from SAN

We’ve been running ESX since the days of v2.5, but with the news that v4.1 will be the last “fat” version with a RedHat service console, we decided it was time to transition to ESXi. The 30+ step guide below describes our process using an EMC CLARiiON CX3 SAN and Dell hosts with redundant Qlogic HBAs (fiber environment).

Document network/port mappings in vSphere Client on existing ESX server
Put host into maintenance mode
Shutdown host
Remove host from Storage Group in EMC Navisphere
Create dedicated Storage Group per host for the boot LUN in Navisphere
Create the 5GB boot LUN for the host
Add the boot LUN to the host’s Storage Group
Connect to the host console via the Dell Remote Access Card (DRAC)
Attach ESXi media via DRAC virtual media
Power on host (physically or via the DRAC)
Press CTRL+Q to enter Qlogic FastUtil
Select Configuration Settings
Select Adapter Settings
Change “HBA BIOS” to Enabled [ESC]
Select “Selectable Boot”
Change to “Enabled”
Change primary from zeroes to the disk with the address of the owning SP
Compare the address with the EMC Storage Processor (SP) Front-End Port addresses in Navisphere
If the disk shows as “LUNZ”, do not enable Selectable Boot or configure a disk (skip to 21)
Escape and Save settings, but don’t leave the utility
At the main menu, select “Select Host Adapter”
Change to the next adapter
Repeat steps 12 through 20
Exit the utility, reboot, and press F2 to enter Setup
Change Boot Hard Disk Sequence to put the SAN disk first
Exit BIOS and reboot
Press F11 for boot menu
Select Virtual CD
In Setup on the “Select a Disk” screen, select the remote 5GB LUN
Press F11 to begin install
Press Enter to reboot the host
After setup completes, configure password, time, and network
Add host to vCenter and configure networking (per step 1)
Add LUNs to the host’s Storage Group in Navisphere
Rescan for storage on host in vCenter

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