ESXi Storage Device Naming Convention for a LUN : Part-1

This blog post came as a result of my VMware community interaction, so the questions are simple !!

1- What is the need for such a Storage Device Naming Convention for a LUN and the theory behind this.

2- Who is responsible for assigning an Unique Storage Device Name for the LUN in an ESX/ESXi host.

3- For a LUN why you need an unique and same LUN ID across the ESX/ESXi hosts in a cluster.

4- How an ESX/ESXi host can uniquely identify a LUN in a Storage Area Network.

5- What are the different types of naming standards or convention for a LUN in an ESX/ESXi host.

As we all know, for the ESX/ESXi hosts & clusters we have to create/present LUN’s from the Storage Array, to get the features like VMotion,HA,DRS etc. Now let’s see the answers for the above:

1- What is the need for such a naming convention and the theory behind this.

The need for a standard

But here comes a basic problem. If I can expose the same LUN to one or more machines, then how could I address it? In other words, how can safely I distinguish between one LUN and another? This seems to be a really trivial problem. Just stick a a unique GUID to each LUN and you are done! Or, stick a unique number. Or… a string… but hold on, things are not that easy. What if storage array maker ABC assigns GUIDs to each LUN and another vendor assigns 32-bit numbers? We have a complete mess.

To add to the confusion, we have this other concept – the serial number attached to a SCSI disk. But this doesn’t work all the time. For example, some vendors assign a serial number for each LUN, but this serial number is not guaranteed to be unique. Why, some SCSI controllers are even returning the same serial number for all exposed LUNs!

Every hardware vendor had a more-or-less proprietary method to identify LUNs exposed to a system. But if you wanted to write an application that tried to discover all the LUNs you had a hard time since your code was tied to the specific model of each array.  What if two vendors had a conflicting way to assign IDs to LUNs? You could end up with two LUNs having the same ID !!

We all know the Storage devices, I/O interfaces, SAS disks are basically used to send and receive Data by using SCSI commands and they all has to follow the SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) standards.

T10 develops standards and technical reports on I/O interfaces, particularly the series of SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) standards. T10 is a Technical Committee of the InterNational Committee on Information Technology Standards (INCITS, pronounced “insights”). INCITS is accredited by, and operates under rules that are approved by, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

T10 operates under INCITS and is responsible for setting standards on SCSI Storage Interfaces, SCSI architecture standards (SAM), SCSI command set standards.  As per T10, SCSI Primary Commands – 3 (SPC-3) contains the third-generation definition of the basic commands for all SCSI devices. As of now all the major Storage array vendors like EMC, Netapp, HP, DELL, IBM, Hitachi and many others follows these T10 standards, all these arrays follow the SPC-3 standards during the LUN creation, presentation, and communication to the hosts etc. Similarly the ESXi storage stack and other latest Operating systems also uses these standards to communicate to the Storage array, Access the luns etc.

So in short these are industry standards and vendor neutral so that ISV, OEM and other software/hardware vendors can develop solutions and products inside single frame work.

2- Who is responsible for assigning an Unique Storage Device Name for the LUN to an ESX/ESXi host.

There are 2 people assigns and maintain an unique name for a LUN one is the Storage Array and other is the Host, both assigns and maintains at their own level.  But what ever luns created and given from a Storage it will be unique, and it is the responsibility of the Storage to maintain the Uniqueness the array uses the T10/SPC-3 standards to maintain the Uniqueness.

That is from the SAN when we create a LUN with a LUN ID the SAN itself make sure it is unique, and we will give LUN name to understand easily. Once that LUN is presented the ESX/ESXi host will make this volume unique with UUID, and in particularly with ESX/ESXi it has different types of multiple naming conventions and representations.

So the Storage array is responsible for this and the ESX/ESXi just uses the LUN, but they follow the guidelines of T10/SPC-3 standards to maintain the Uniqueness.

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About GK_RAJ

An enthusiastic IT person, with an intense passion towards Datacenter technologies. I am a VMware vExpert Title holder and working as a Technical Consultant, in Qatar. I am exposed to VMware vSphere, Storage, Bladecenters, Datacenter operations, Symantec Backup, Deduplication technologies and carry rich and diversified experience in these domains. I specialize in Designing & Consulting on VMware VSphere, the integration of Storage and Network Stacks to VSphere. With my experience, I help Organizations/Enterprises to achieve their CAPEX & OPEX savings, develop DR and BCP strategies, Consolidation services with Virtualization using VSphere, and prepare them to move to Cloud. In the meantime, I would like to share my knowledge and do a good contribution to the community. I am an Indian citizen, and have a Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication. I have certified in VCAP5-DCD, VCP-Cloud, VCP 4 & 5, MCITP, MCSE.

Posted on November 16, 2013, in ESX, ESXi, VCenter, Virtualization, VMFS, VMware. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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