HBA compatibility

200 pts.
Tags:
Backup and Recovery
Storage
if an hba is compatible with a fiber switch, does it matter that it's compatible with a disk array on that switch? OR just being able to communicate with the switch allows it to work with the disk array? Thanks..

Answer Wiki

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Yes, it definitely still needs to be tested with the disk array. If the HBA works with the switch, then that just means that they both support the same low level protocals and voltage levels – that’s about it. You’d expect it to “just work”. But when it comes to actually transferring commands and data, that’s where the problems start. For example, the HBA may support a transfer length greater than supported by the array. Or the array may support a fail-over methodology not supported by the HBA. Or the LUN mapping method on the array may not be supported by the OS. Or the OS command queue depth may not be supported by the HBA or array.

There’s just a ton of stuff that can go wrong. Of course, none of it should really ever happen if everyone attends plugfests and has good interoperability labs. And in general, this stuff really does work most of the time.

So this is where I could say that most people using FC and SANs really don’t need them or know how to manage them, and direct attached SAS or SATA is good enough, easier to manage, and cheaper, but then I’ll just get a bunch of flame mail, so I won’t say that. ;-) BTW, my company sells both FC and SAS, and there are benefits to both.

Good luck.

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  • Klewis
    The simplest answer is to look at the vendor compatability list for the array in question. They will list the combinations of tested HBA firmware, OS driver, switch firmware/microcode level that they will support. Without this, anything is largely a shot in the dark.
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  • Dcsys99
    Great points by both...MAke sure, also, that the disk array is compatible with the fabric switch and the firmware level of the switch.
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  • Dcsys99
    Great points by both...MAke sure, also, that the disk array is compatible with the fabric switch and the firmware level of the switch.
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  • StorageEngineer
    Almost everything works, but just because something works doesn't mean it's supported by the vendor. There's a difference between a working config and a supported config. Vendors publish a list of supported HBA firmware, driver version, OS patches, OS service pack, FC switch firmware, and storage array microcode combination thats been fully qualified and is supported by the vendor. That means it's a tested configuration which includes error recovery from common SAN problems. This is a "known good" config that the vendor has tested internally. It's not that a newer version of a driver won't work, it's just an unknown when it comes to troubleshooting problems. If you use a supported configuration, the vendor knows that you don't have a firmware, driver, patch, or OS issue and can focus on othere areas. If you're using an unsupported config, now they need to look at OS issues, driver issues, and so on. You should always use a supported configuration because when things go wrong, the vendor will be able to help troubleshoot problems faster. If you use an unsupported configuration, be prepared for the vendor to come back and ask you to downgrade/upgrade to a supported configuration. If you have to use an unsupported configuration, submit the config to the vendor to have it become a supportec configuration. They'll typically either support it (may take weeks to go through testing) or identify problems with it.
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