My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together
Category Archives: Flex 10
HP have a very clever 10Gb Ethernet technology called Flex10, which is an evolution of the previous Virtual Connect modules, it allows you to carve a single 10Gb NIC into multiple FlexNICs of varying capacities; this is especially useful if you are looking to deploy vSphere on HP blades.
it can be tricky to visualise Flex10 without some pictures and simple explanations of how it’s put into practice, and I know I struggled with this when I first implemented it as well as various firmware/driver update issues - luckily Julian Wood (also in the UK) has an excellent set of posts on just this very subject – check out his blog here
Julian has some specific posts around Flex10 as below;
my HP, EVA, c-series blade resources can be found here and my original How does Virtual Connect Work? guide (now very out of date) is here
As an aside just before the Christmas break I did some work with a customer implementing the next-generation of Flex10 blade hardware which is called FlexFabric, essentially using the on-board 10Gb NICs in G7 HP blades as a converged network adapter (CNA) to do FCoE and Ethernet in a single device, it’s clever but I’ve seen a significant number of driver and firmware issues so some of the kinks are still being worked out in ESX/HP integration but it looks like they are getting there now.
When you are setting up an HP blade with ESXi you’ll want to ensure the administration interface is setup on the correct FlexNICs so you can add it to vCenter and continue the configuration – this can be confusing as there can be a large number of NICs presented. Up to 4 per Flex10 module, and in this case we have 2 Flex10 modules in the chassis, giving a maximum of 8 FlexNICs per blade.
At this stage I found that the Easiest way to match up which FlexNICs you have mapped on the Virtual Connect administrator to how they show up in the ESXi (as vmnicX) is as follows;
iLo to the ESXi installation, Hit F2/Configure Management Network/Network Adapters
Compare this with the Port mapping feature via the OA (shown below) and you can map the MAC addresses for each vmnic against the FlexNIC LOM:x-y entry so it quickly becomes obvious which is which.
You can also look in the server profile assigned to the blade if you need more information about which VLAN a FlexNIC maps to.
I am currently working on a design for a vSphere 4 platform on HP’s EVA SAN and c-class blade chassis. In order to provide flexible network connectivity we are leveraging the new Flex 10 Virtual Connect Modules as well as VC Fibre Channel modules to simplify administration
Because finding things on the HP site can sometimes be a bit hit & miss, this post serves as a bookmark to the more useful resources I found.
Hardware Configurator – Generate Bill of Materials (BoM)
HP eConfigurator online tool to configure and cost blades and chassis options and produce a validated bill of materials – be sure to select your country to ensure you get the correct power options and list prices
HP Virtual Connect cookbook – updated for Flex 10 (Feb 2010)
How does a Virtual Connect FC Module work? (warning – old and outdated with current firmware)
Virtualised Reality (Barry Coombs)
HP-Specific ESXi Installable Download (HP Passport Account Required)
HP Power Calculator Spreadsheets (BL, DL, PL, EVA) in .xls format (Office 2010 users need to “Enable Editing” to take it out of protected mode in order for the links to work
Firmware Maintenance CD Download
Links Updated & Section reorganised 23rd Feb 2011