VMware ESXi 4 and HP Servers

I’m proud to say that HP has full support for ESXi 4 installed on SD or USB Flash memory.  They even offer the installable ISO pre-built with their CIM providers, available here. There is a catch though, they only support their approved SD or USB Flash memory….sorry, but you cannot BYOF (Bring Your Own Flash).  This is reflected on their download page:

HP VMware ESXi 4.0 solution requires the following:

  • VMware ESXi 4.0 free downloadable product. To upgrade your license to Enterprise Plus, purchase HP VMware ESXi 4 product 571979-B21.
  • HP ESXi 4 CIM Providers.
  • Registration on VMware ESXi hypervisor web page to obtain permanent license serial number.
  • Acquire your choice of HP supported and qualified media – any HP supported hard drive, USB or SD Flash devices listed below.
  • Please note that all devices will need to be imaged for ESXi 4.0.

    Information about HP supported SD card and USB Flash drive:

    • Supported SD card**:
      HP 4GB SD Flash Media
      HP Part Number 580387-B21
      [spare kit part number 583306-001]
    • Supported USB Flash Drive**:
      HP 4GB USB Flash Media Drive Key
      HP Part Number 580385-B21
      [Spare kit part number 583307-001]
      *Must be purchased separately.
      **HP VMware ESXi 4.0 does not support any other USB or SD flash devices

    Seems simple, doesn’t it?   Actually it works great and I have put a few dozen servers into production with this method, the best part is no more local HDD which saves even more power!

    One question I often get is,  why do you need a 4GB drive, I though ESXi was only 32MB?  Well, even though it is true that ESXi is only 32MB you still need adequate space for the VI Client, VMware Tools (all Operating systems) and upgrade space (for future ESXi patches and releases).  Using a 4GB drive ensures that you’ll have enough space for everything.

    There is one problem currently that I am facing, HP has both the SD Card and USB Flash Drive on back-order and there is no expected ETA for either of them!  This has delayed a major project I’m working on and I’ve had to resort to using temporary “junk” USB drives to get the customer by in the mean time.

    If someone from HP is reading this, PLEASE get your OEM to produce some new ones ASAP!

    Created on October 27, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under Storage, vSphere.

    This blog has 13,644 views.

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    8 Comments so far

    1. Mike
      6:01 pm on October 27th, 2009

      I’ve done some research on the drives that HP uses and if I remember correctly they’re PNY chips/thumbdrives. I’m currently using 2GB (non OEM) drives for my servers and they appear to be working fine.

      I’ve also seen that IBM is now selling a USB key with ESXi installed for $75 (link below). I think it’s rather ridiculous that they’re charging that much for OEM’ed USB drives.

      Now if they’d just build in 4GB of flash on to the motherboards we’d be in business…


    2. matbac
      6:00 am on October 28th, 2009

      Just got my USB Media this morning.

      It seems like the 580385-B21 Media is a Lexar JumpDrive Lightning (www.lexar.com) 4 GB Device. It has some kind of part number JDP4GB-431

      I don’t know if it is possible or would be ok to purchase this device by your self not from a HP reseller. Maybe then it is easier to get your hands on the device. I also faced some back-orders before I got it.


    3. Rick Scherer
      12:30 pm on October 28th, 2009

      You’re right Mike, the 2GB device(s) they use to support were made by PNY. However, it looks like (from Mattias) that Lexar has won the contract for the new 4GB devices.

      I think its crazy that these companies (ie: IBM) are selling a $30 flash device with a free downloadable product pre-installed on it for a > 100% profit. Save your money and just do it yourself, it is not that hard!

    4. sixtth
      1:26 pm on October 28th, 2009

      There is no reason why you cant use regular flash drives instead of buying the OEM drives other then getting support from HP when you call them on a an issue. I use SanDisk Cruzer USB drives on all of my installs. Never had a problem and running solid.

    5. Tom
      8:47 am on November 27th, 2009

      Hi, now that we are up to U1, any indication of when this will be updated??

      Or must we run the Host Update utility??

      Are the CIM items considered a 3rd-party monitoring solution whose presence would cause the U1 host upgrade to fail?? (well-documented ESX U1 BUG that VMware allowed to slip out due to once again poor quality testing)

      Also, where/how would one *monitor* the HP servers via the CIM items after installing this??

      Thank you, Tom

    6. Tom
      8:49 am on November 27th, 2009

      Forgot to ask: HP site says ‘all supported HP hard drives,’ can one safely assume that if one’s HP host server contains hard drives, this could be installed to the hard drive??

      What’s faster, USB drives or 15k SAS drives??

    7. Rick Scherer
      1:34 pm on December 6th, 2009

      I’d recommend using VMware Update Manager to upgrade, this will keep all of the HP CIM providers and instructions intact.

      SAS is faster than USB, however throughput isn’t necessarily important for booting ESXi.

    8. Dave
      11:02 am on February 24th, 2010

      Would it make sense to have the Media Flash cards dual for redundancy? I’m not sure if the HP DL-380 G6 offers this or even if the media flash card would support a dual setup. I am just thinking that if something were to happen to the main card it would be nice to have a redundant secondary


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