I currently have a cluster of two ESX 3.5U2 servers connected directly via FiberChannel to a NetApp 3020 cluster. These hosts mount four VMFS LUNs for virtual machine storage. Currently these LUNs are only made available via our FiberChannel initator in the Netapp configuration

If I were to add an ESXi host to the cluster for internal IT use can I:

  • Make the same VMFS LUNs available via the iSCSI target on the Netapp
  • Connect this ESXi host to those LUNs via iSCSI
  • Do all of this while the existing two ESX hosts are connected to those LUNs via FiberChannel

Does anyone have experience with this type of mixed protocol environment, specifically with Netapp?


As long as the Netapp can present a LUN to both the fibre channel and iSCSI interfaces at the same time it shouldn't be a problem. However to do this the ESXi host would need to be a member of the cluster that the other two machines are members of, otherwise the volume will become corrupt.


First you should note that ESXi cannot be part of a Cluster, in fact it can't be managed from VirtucalCenter/vSphere without paying for the licensing.

That being said. Once you have it part of the cluster, You will need to make sure that your SAN is presenting the LUN with the same ID (most do but some don't). If it isn't you need to resignature your LUN. See VMWare Documentation for help

If you cannot get the licensing, you will need to give it it's own storage.

Edit: Clarified what i was saying as to ESXi not being able to be managed by VC/vSphere

  • 4
    I know you are actually saying this but let's be clear - ESXi absolutely can be part of a cluster you just have to pay exactly the same for the license that you would pay for ESX. It remains ESXi though and is different to ESX (for example there is no Service Console, no separate vmKernel and Service console ports just a Management ports). – Helvick Jun 26 '09 at 21:10
  • Yes thank you i have updated my answer to be more clear. However, my comment about LUN ID/signaturing is still very important, and should be taken into account. – Zypher Jun 27 '09 at 1:04

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