Within this article I will try to give you a clear vision on the HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric Mappings that HP uses to facilitate their blades with NIC’s and HBA’s. If you are looking for the Flex-10 mappings click here.
In our example we use the HP BL460 Gen8 blade with a FlexibleLOM (LAN on Motherboard) Adapter and no additional mezzanine cards. HP’s quote about the FlexibleLOM:
In past server generations, the adapter is embedded on the system motherboard as a LOM (LAN on motherboard). If a customer desired a different kind of networking adapter, they would need to purchase a standup adapter and install it in a slot in the server.
Now with many ProLiant Gen8 servers, our customers can now choose the type of network adapter they want. This new Flexible LOM provides our customer the ability to customize their server’s networking of today and the ability to change to meet future needs without overhauling server infrastructure.
NIC to Interconnect
First we start of looking at the “NIC to Interconnect“-mappings. These are pretty straight forward and should be known to all HP c-Class Administrators. Please note that the connections that are drawn below are hardwired connections on the Backplane of the HP c7000 Enclosure.
FlexNics / FlexHBA
Our ESXi Host is physically equipped with one FlexibleLOM Adapter which consists of two 10 Gb ports. Each 10 Gb port is connected to a dedicated HP VirtualConnect FlexFabric 10 Gb/24 module and can be divided into FlexNics and a FlexHBA. A FlexNic will present itself to ESXi as a vmnic while a FlexHBA will present itself as a vmhba.
The possible FlexNics and FlexHBA scenarios are listed below.
Scenario 1: Ethernet and FC over Ethernet
- 10 Gb port 1: Up to 3x Ethernet (FlexNics) + 1x Fibre Channel (over Ethernet) (FlexHBA)
- 10 Gb port 2: Up to 3x Ethernet (FlexNics) + 1x Fibre Channel (over Ethernet) (FlexHBA)
Scenario 2: Ethernet and Accelerated iSCSI
- 10 Gb port 1: Up to 3x Ethernet (FlexNics) + 1x Accelerated iSCSI (FlexHBA)
- 10 Gb port 2: Up to 3x Ethernet (FlexNics) + 1x Accelerated iSCSI (FlexHBA)
Scenario 3: Ethernet Only
- 10 Gb port 1: Up to 4x Ethernet (FlexNics)
- 10 Gb port 2: Up to 4x Ethernet (FlexNics)
vmnic / vmhba mappings
Now we know which FlexNic and FlexHBA scenarios we can facilitate it’s time to see how this looks like from an ESXi Host perspective. Please note that Scenario 1 “Ethernet and FC over Ethernet” is shown in the diagram below:
Also note that the second physical location (indicated in green) can be a FlexNic or FlexHBA. The other locations (indicated in blue) can only be FlexNics. This is a “hard limit” and applicable to every scenario!
Both the FlexNic and the FlexHBA have an adjustable speed in 100Mb increments starting from either 100Mb or 1Gb up to 10Gb depending on the type of hardware that is specifically used. If you for instance want to use a 10Gb vmnic within ESXi it makes sense that no other functions can be added since we only got 10Gb in total to divide. In this case the ESXi Host will end up with only two usable vmnics as shown in the example below:
While you could also design the connectivity as shown in the diagram below:
Key message here is ensure that you have got a good ESXi design and hopefully this article helps you in getting some more insights in the Virtual Connect FlexFabric mappings. Also be sure to check out the HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric Cookbook which is full of technical details and scenario’s that could be of use to you.