How to properly configure a VMWare ESX virtual machine to use tape devices which are connected to the host server via SCSI Passthrough.

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How to properly configure a VMWare ESX virtual machine to use tape devices which are connected to the host server via SCSI Passthrough.


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Backup devices that are connected to the host can be connected to the virtual machine using SCSI Pass Through, however there are certain limitations that need to be considered:

·               The tape hardware must be connected to a VMWare-supported Adaptec SCSI controller.
·               The tape hardware must be SCSI ID addressed and cannot be LUN addressed.
·               The virtual and physical SCSI Id's must match each other.
·               Fiber connected tape devices are not supported.
·               Tape devices cannot be connected to RAID controllers.
·               Tape devices should not share a BUS with any other non-tape device, and should be given their own dedicated SCSI controller.
·               The SCSI controller for the guest VM should be configured as a LSI Logic SCSI card and not the BUS logic card.
·               BUS sharing must be disabled.

For more detailed information on the above limitations, please consult the following VMWare knowledge base articles:
Backup Software Compatibility For ESX Server 3.5 and ESX Server 3i
Note: VMware does not support this process in vSphere 5.0
Step 1. Determine the SCSI ID for the tape drive.

Log onto to a shell prompt on the ESX host and run the following command:

cat /proc/scsi/scsi

Find the host output from the tape device you are wanting to share and note the SCSI ID. Figure 1 is an example output from an ESX host with a Quantum SDLT 320 tape drive that is on SCSI ID 5:

Figure 1:


Step 2. Adding the device to the virtual machine.

When creating a virtual machine using the New Virtual Machine Wizard, select the 'Edit the virtual machine settings before submitting' option (Figure 2) or for an existing virtual machine edit the virtual machine settings and choose to add new hardware (Figure 3).


Figure 2:



Figure 3:


Choose to add a new SCSI device (Figure 4).


Figure 4:


From the connection drop down, select the tape drive or medium changer you are wishing to add. For the Virtual Device Node, select an unused SCSI Port and the SCSI ID that matches the SCSI ID from Step 1 (Figure 5):


Figure 5:


NOTE: The SCSI ID must match the physical SCSI ID from the host. It is also important that no other virtual hardware be connected to the same virtual SCSI controller. In the example from Figure 4, the OS volumes were on Port 0, so when the tape drive was configured to use Port 1:SCSI ID 5, ESX automatically created a new virtual SCSI controller for port 1 (Figure 6):


Figure 6:


The SCSI port for the tape drive must be a LSI Logic port, and the SCSI Bus Sharing needs to be set to NONE (Figure 7):


Finish the wizard, and the tape devices will now be available to virtual server.



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