Brocade HBA Driver Install on VMWare ESXi Host

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We recently were asked to design a storage solution for (3) VMWare ESXi 5.1 hosts (with the intention of adding 3 more hosts later this year.) While DAS (direct attached) storage may have worked for the 3 hosts for now, we wanted to future proof the storage by creating a basis for a storage area network. For storage, we selected an EMC VNX5100 which can be configured with (8) 8Gb Fibre Ports. With four ports per EMC Service Processor (SP), the array could accommodate up to (4) servers directly attached via redundant paths. And, of course, as the customer wants to add servers, we can install a pair of switches when needed.


The client requested Brocade HBAs, so we selected the dual port 8Gbps Brocade 825. While I am a huge advocate of Brocade FC switches, I have not worked too much with their Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters. Long story short, the HBAs work just fine with the SAN but we encountered two minor issues.


1) ESXi 5.1 does not include Brocade CNA or HBA Drivers (out of the box)

2) Brocade does not seem to be a big fan of direct attachment via FC-AL, which must be enabled.



Part I: Installing Brocade HBA / CNA Drivers on ESXi Hosts

Part II: Enabling FC-AL for direct attachment to storage



Part I: Installing Brocade / CNA Drivers on ESXi Hosts



Brocade 415 / 425 / 815 / 825 Driver Download

Like Emulex, all Brocade CNA and HBAs appear to share the same driver base under Windows and VMWare. You can get the latest VMWare Offline Driver bundle here:


Set VMWare Firewall

Using the VMWare vSphere client, be sure to activate the SSH / SCP service and open their respective firewall ports. (Under the configuration tab, select the 'Security Profile.')




Transfer Driver Bundle from PC to ESXi Host

I use WinSCP to upload files to each ESXi host and PuTTY to control the console.



Connect to VMWare ESXi via WinSCP
SCP Transfer to VMWare ESXi




Use PuTTY or ESXi Console to Install Brocade Offline Bundle

I use WinSCP to upload files to each ESXi host and PuTTY to control the console.


PuTTY Connection to ESXi Host
PuTTY Login to ESXi Host





Install the Brocade VIB

At the console, enter the following command (note I installed the zip in the root directory):


esxcli software vib install --no-sig-check --maintenance-mode -d / (substituting the zip file with the current driver pack.)




Install Brocade Drivers ESXi
Brocade 825 Driver Install Sucess





Part II: Enabling FC-AL for direct attachment to storage