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Dell Storage: Preparing VMware ESXi Hosts To Attach to SCv20x0, SCv30x0, SC4020, SC5020 SAS Arrays

Summary: Follow these instructions to prepare your WMware ESXi to attach to SAS arrays

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Article Content

This article provides information on:   
  • Preparing VMware ESXi Host to attach to SCv20x0, Scv30X0, SC4020 and SC5020 Arrays
  • Driver Compatibility with Front End SAS Connectivity

  1. Preparing VMware ESXi Host to attach to SCv20x0, Scv30X0, SC4020 and SC5020 Arrays

Review KB article 000147092 DELL Storage Compatibility Matrix for the supported driver and firmware

  • ESXi 5.5 and 6.0 require the "mpt3sas" driver and must be downloaded from the VMware website.
    • The Dell customized ESX 5.5 & 6.0 ISOs will NOT automatically load the proper SAS HBA driver. The driver must be updated.
    • Using the native inbox driver will result in the HBA(s) being unable to see any volumes in ESX.
  • ESXi 6.5 requires the "lsi_msgpt3" driver and the inbox driver can be used. However, different ISO image will use different drivers by default.
    • Dell EMC recommends using the Dell customized ISO for VMware on Dell EMC PowerEdge servers. The ISO can be located under the Enterprise Solutions section for the Drivers and Download page on Dell's website .
    • The Dell customized ESX 6.5 ISO will automatically load the proper SAS HBA driver.
    • If using the standard VMware ESX 6.5 ISO, the correct in box SAS HBA driver will need to be enabled.
These procedures align with steps outlined in step 4 of the SCv20x0 installation poster that shipped with the system or chapter 3 in the Deployment Guide.
To attach an ESX host with SAS HBAs to the Storage Center array, the DSM Data Collector must be used.  Connecting the DSM Client directly to the array is currently not supported.

Determine what driver is enabled:  
  1. Enable SSH on the ESXi Host:
    1. Login to the ESXi host with vSphere Client
    2. Select "Configuration" tab, then select "Security Profile" in Software menu.
    3. In the Services area, select "Properties".
    4. Select "SSH" then click on the button "Options".
    5. Click "Start" and confirm with "OK".
  2. Connect to ESXi Host using SSH Client (such as Putty).
  3. Determine what driver is running. This can be done by typing the following command: "esxcfg-scsidevs -a"                                                       
  1. If you are using a standard ESX 6.5 ISO image, you can disable the  "mpt3sas" driver and enable the "lsi_msgpt3" driver with these commands:  
  • esxcfg-module -d mpt3sas
  • esxcfg-module -e lsi_msgpt3
  1. For ESX 5.5 & 6.0; If you have the incorrect driver go to step 5a. If you have the correct driver listed, go to step 5b.
    1. Disable the incorrect driver by typing one of the following command
  • esxcli system module set --enabled=false --module=lsi_msgpt3. Go to step 6
  1. Verify that the driver version matches the one in KB article 000147092 DELL Storage Compatibility Matrix: by typing the following command:
  • For the mpt3sas driver type "vmkload_mod -s mpt3sas |grep Version
  Updating Driver:  
  1. Move all VM’s off of host, enter maintenance mode.
  2. Download the correct driver version as stated in KB article 000147092 DELL Storage Compatibility Matrix: (As of this writing, the driver version is for ESX 5.5 U2). The driver can be found on VMware website.
  3. Extract ".VIB" file from download "ZIP" driver package.
  4. Upload ".VIB" file to the ESXi host.
    1. On ESXi host interface, select "Configuration" tab.
    2. Select "Storage" in Configuration menu, then a datastore for uploading ".VIB" file. 
      (If no datastore is available, you  can use any FTP client and upload to the /tmp folder)
    3. Browse your datastore (by right-clicking on it), "Browse Datastore".
    4. Upload the ".VIB" file by selecting the "upload a file" icon.
  5. Install new driver (adjust your path and file name accordingly) by typing the following command: "esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/ESXi01-Local/scsi-mpt3sas-"
  1. Reboot the VMware ESXi host.
  2. The HBA(s) should now have the correct driver loaded and should be able to work properly with Storage Center. You can verify this by repeating step 5b above.
The HBA firmware should also be updated using the iDRAC.
  1. Driver Compatibility with Front End SAS Connectivity2

In the Dell EMC Storage Compatibility Matrix, the 6.5 VMWare ESXi version is tested / supported with SAS front end connectivity. SAS driver "lsi-msgpt3" Version 12 and Storage Center OS (SCOS) Versions 7.2.x and 7.3.x were included in this tested and supported solution. However, upgrades to VMWare ESXi 6.5 U1, 6.5 U2, and 6.7 automatically install updated lsi-msgpt3 SAS drivers, such as Version 16.  Without manual intervention of configuring a module parameter on the driver, lsi-msgpt3 versions greater than 12 do not work properly (e.g., rebooting host sees LUN capacity of 0 bytes, lose access to SAS Front End volumes upon controller failover, PSOD kernel dumps) with ESXi versions using this updated driver and SCOS. This most notably impacts ESXi 6.5 and 6.7, however if this newer driver is used on ESXi 6.0 (which is not default driver) this would also apply.


If you are utilizing SAS connectivity between Storage Center and ESXi hosts utilizing the lsi-msgpt3 driver (ESXi 6.5+ typically), then the best practice setting is to modify the module parameter as described below for all versions of the lsi-msgpt3 SAS driver.  It is a requirement for any version greater than 12.  This updated Best Practice Settings can be found in Dell EMC SC Series Best Practices with VMware vSphere 5.x–6.x. Please keep in mind this change requires a reboot of the host to take effect.

Steps to configuring the module parameter on the SAS driver 

  1. List out the module parameter values
esxcli system module parameters list -m lsi_msgpt3
  1. Modify the issue_scsi_cmd_to_bringup_drive module parameter
esxcli system module parameters set -p issue_scsi_cmd_to_bringup_drive=0 -m lsi_msgpt3
  1. Validate that the module parameter value has been modified with the list command in Step 1.
  1. Reboot the ESXi host for the changed value to take effect. 

Article Properties



Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021



Article Type

How To