Cisco UCS iSCSI Boot Through Appliance Ports Setup Video
Appliance Ports and an iSCSI target is very similar to Boot from SAN. Using Appliance Ports the traffic can move separate from NFS and SMB shares if extra interfaces exist. This can also be accomplished with a separate VLAN outside of Appliance Ports. I prefer segregating the iSCSI boot network. Boot storms can create a lot of traffic and a loss of connectivity will crash all the servers using iSCSI. Really depends on your current architecture how you set it up, but I like it separate.
Have iSCSI boot working on a 6120 UCS, Code level 2.0(w), Appliance Ports, and an Isilon NAS system. The video and screen shots are created using the Cisco UCS Emulator application downloadable from Cisco. Many iSCSI device’s with 1 or 2 ports will work for iSCSI boot. MS Storage Server and FreeNAS have worked in my testing. Cisco only supports NetApp and EMC officially, but an iSCSI target is an iSCSI target. Whether using Appliance Ports or binding to a global VLAN on UCS you get the same result. I like Appliance ports to separate the traffic and create a “Closed Redundant Loop” and authentication iSCSI Initiator based. Authentication Profiles are not hard to use if desired.
An iSCSI device that supports a virtual IP or a load balancer can be used for redundancy. In my testing Isilon Smart Connect IP didn’t work, it is expecting a DNS request. That is fine, just use an IP on two different chassis. This same model will work with most NAS devices with multiple interfaces.
Have not had the greatest luck setting up dual vHBA’s for iSCSI and mimicking a SAN architecture but a single virtual iSCSI NIC overlaying a vNIC that has “Enable Failover” set works well.
Be sure to create two paths (“iSCSI Static Target” in Boot Profile under “Set iSCSI Boot Parameters”) for redundancy. When UCS boots it will try the targets in order as seen in “Completed iSCSI Boot Parameters” below. Have not experimented with MPIO on these targets yet.
iSCSI Boot Steps using Appliance Ports (This was done on Cisco UCS Emulator)
Cisco UCS iSCSI Boot Setup Video
Another setup video from around same older code level
- Create a Block of IP Addresses
- Create MAC Pool
- Create Appliance VLAN
- Create Appliance Ports
- Bind Appliance Ports and Appliance VLAN
- Create iSCSI vNIC Template and bind to Appliance VLAN
- Create iSCSI Authentication Profile (if needed)
- Create iSCSI Adapter Policy
- Create iSCSI Boot Policy
- Create vNIC for Service Profile (use iSCSI vNIC Template)
- Modify Boot Policy (add iSCSI Boot Policy to Service Profile)
- After Boot Policy is applied “Modify iSCSI vNIC”
- After Boot Policy is applied “Set iSCSI Boot Parameters” for NAS controller 1
- After Boot Policy is applied “Set iSCSI Boot Parameters” for NAS controller 2
- Completed iSCSI Boot Parameters
- While blade powers up should see this if iSCSI boot LUN is found
- Hitting F6 to bring up boot menu should show iSCSI Boot LUN as option
Create a Block of IP Addresses
Bind Appliance Ports and Appliance VLAN
Create iSCSI vNIC Template and bind to Appliance VLAN
Create iSCSI Authentication Profile (if needed)
Create vNIC for Service Profile (use iSCSI vNIC Template)
Modify Boot Policy (add iSCSI Boot Policy to Service Profile)
After Boot Policy is applied “Modify iSCSI vNIC”
After Boot Policy is applied “Set iSCSI Boot Parameters” for NAS controller 1
After Boot Policy is applied “Set iSCSI Boot Parameters” for NAS controller 2
Completed iSCSI Boot Parameters
While blade powers up should see this if iSCSI boot LUN is found
(B200M1 Blade with M81KR Palo Card)
Hitting F6 to bring up boot menu should show iSCSI Boot LUN as option
(B200M1 Blade with M81KR Palo Card)
You mentioned about Cisco support for iSCSI, being only Netapp, the Cisco engineering doc on iSCSI boot states Netapp and EMC. With Isilon being EMC owned, wouldn’t that cover your setup? Or is it a VNX/FAS only support?
The authoritative answer is “Not yet”. A formal process has not been created between Cisco and Isilon yet. It is in the works.
Doing some more lab work on this Friday and will be updating this post with an architecture that has been tested and works.
Any NAS device that supports iSCSI should work, but redundancy during an FI or path failure can become an issue with only one interface on a NAS device. A VIP over multiple NAS interfaces is a big plus. The Isilon supports that.
thanks for the update Craig. I used to work with Isilon for file shares, never used them for block storage yet.
– and the videos are great.
Brilliant blog craig. Does the iscsi boot via appliance port rely on the uplink ports in any way? I would be interested to find out whether this would work without the existance of an uplink port/connection to a LAN? In the instance that a FI is only configured with appliance=netapp and server ports
Don’t need an uplink port for this to work. Of course you could use an uplink port/vlan for iSCSI boot also.
Thanks for the posting. I tried all of the steps in this post but ended up having a configuration failure. I am also using the UCS Manager simulator.
The description of error that I get is provided in faults tab as:
“Service profile 11 configuration failed due to connection-placement,insufficient-resources,vnic-capacity”
I have tried to do this using the following NICs:
1. Cisco UCS NIC M51KR-B Broadcom BCM57711 Network Adapter
2. Ciscco UCS M81KR Virtual Interface Card (VIC)
Would you have any clue on what could have gone wrong?
It will always fail on the simulator. But the M81 card should work in a real UCS blade. What code level are you running? Did you create a vNIC just for iSCSI overlay?
If its going to fail on the simulator anyway then does these things matter?
I am not sure what you mean by code level? If its the version then I am running Cisco UCS Manager – 2.0(0.92739). I have tried to create separate (even multiple) vNIC for iSCSI overlay.
Reading your post gave an impression as if you also did it on simulator. In your video when you boot the server using the new configuration does the UCS show any faults or doest it applies the profile to the server? In my case I get the faults and service profile is not applied. Also if I remove all vNICs and then apply the service profile then my profile gets populated with 2 vNICs per adapter – all by itself.
Code level is just the UCS Code level you are running. Should be something like 2.0(w) or something. Long as you are in the 2.x level, this should work.
I should use a real UCS for the video’s but don’t have my own and cannot show my work ones. so I use the simulator. Everything in the video worked on a real system. Think I was in a hurry and should have cleaned up the errors. The steps all do work.
I create a single vNIC bound to an FI with “Enable Failover” checked. Than overlay the iSCSI vNIC created in the boot profile.
Let me know what errors you are getting and will help if I can.
Also the Cisco UCS support forum is great https://supportforums.cisco.com/community/netpro/data-center/unified-computing