Highly Reliable Systems endeavors to support as many systems as possible within our resources. VMWare ESX 3.5 is a well known platform among the computing virtual server crowd. Presently, a working solution for High-Rely with this platform is offered here but is not considered ideal for the reasons listed below:

  1. Cabling from the controller is not ideal – the controller has an internal connector so the cabling must be brought out from inside of the chassis through either a hole or an empty slot. Also, the cable has isata to esata adpters on each end of the fan out.
  2. The solution has not been tested by High-Rely engineering, only overseen by HR engineering and confirmed working at a customer’s site by the customer. The customer’s configuration is single channel, thus, although Adaptec indicates the controller is multi-drive capable, that feature has not been tested by HR engineering or confirmed by the customer.

Full functionality with High-Rely eSATA products and VMWare ESX 3.5 was performed by using the following items from Adaptec:

This controller card:


This cable:

2236600-R (mSASx4 (SFF-8087) to SATA (4)x1, product name: ACK-I-mSASx4-4SATAx1 0.5m R)

And this adapter or another SATA to eSATA:


Although the JBOD setting is what should be used for the CMOS setting in the controller, the customer reported that “as volume” was what worked. Be sure to load the driver for VMWare that comes with the controller. VMWare console may report an error when drives are swapped (which can be ignored). Umounting the volume is recommended before swapping to avoid this error.

Condensed implementation notes of a discussion between customers:

A:Can you assign a H-R drive to a VM?

B:I did try to connect to the drive directly from a VM image but I do not see any way to do it. It will let you connect to a SAN device directly but that is about it. I had to install it so VMware could see it then just created it as a data store under VM.

A:So, does this mean the H-R drive can not be hot-swapped under ESX?

B:Not necessarily. With the way VMware works from what I can tell you cant really hook up anything that would be hot swappable because you have to create a data store to make it available to the VM image. The way VMware is designed is to be used is what they call a proxy server to do backups. This is how they describe it:

” VMware Consolidated Backup provides a centralized backup facility that leverages a centralized proxy server and reduces the load on production VMware ESX hosts. ”

So what I have found is you can’t really connect anything directly to a VMware server that you want to be hot swappable. You can hook it up and see it but when it is removed, it doesn’t like that to much. I have connected the High-Rely to my Proxy server and then map the drive to the VMware image I want to backup. So now I run my backups and can swap out the drives with no problems.

06-15-2009 – Customer called stating that ESX 4.0 supports PCI bus expression of the actual hardware to the virtual machine. Customer was going to try to see if a PCI 3124 Silicon Image controller would pass through to a VM. However, customer changed the game and never tried this test.