I’ve just spent 3 hours troubleshooting an ESXi 5 host that had the problem with VERY slow boot when using software iSCSI connections to the SAN.  VMware has released a patch that supposedly fixed the problem.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it has made ZERO difference to the machine in question; in fact, it may have actually made things worse but that is still being determined.

I have read some other blog posts that indicate the patch has helped on or two other users but in all cases the patch was applied via the vCenter Update Manager and not via the manual process.  In my case, it’s all manual as the customer does not have a vCenter.  Whatever the case may be, the patch has not resolved the issue of slow boot when software iSCSI is used.  I have also seen the oft-mentioned problem of connections to datastores over software iSCSI being “forgotten” or lost after reboot and/or after the application of the patch.  I have definitely seen it in this instance and it was before the patch was applied.  I will post an update if I find a solution to the problem but, at this point, I’m really beginning to rue the day I installed ESXi 5.

VMware has made updated installation ISO’s available to eliminate the problem on new installs but be aware that there are actually 2 ISO’s on offer – the original “dumb” install and the install that supposedly fixes the iSCSI problem.  I’d be interested in knowing if anyone has actually tried a re-installation with the “fixed” ISO and, if so, did it fix the problem?

UPDATE 1: I’m trying the reinstall myself.  One nice thing:  the installer recognizes a pre-exisitng ESXi installation and gives you options to upgrade, install fresh AND maintain the current datastore(s) on the machine.  This is a welcome change from previous ESXi installers so we’ll see how it goes.  I have a relatively large locally hoated VM that I had copied off using Veeam SCP, I’ll be happy if I don;t have to copy back on.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE 2: Re-installing ESXi 5 using the patched ISO (ESXi500-201111001, build 504890) has, indeed, solved the problem.  As mentioned in the Update 1 note, the installer recognized the existing installation and offered to upgrade or install over the original AND keep the datastore intact.  I elected to install over top of the original install and kept the datastore.  After the installation completed I rebooted the system and then installed the follow-on patch (ESXi500-201112001, build 515841) and rebooted once more.  I then reconnected all of the iSCSI datastores and brought up the VM’s without a problem.  A final shutdown and reboot of the system confirmed a return to normal boot times with iSCSI connections left intact.  All of this, BTW, was from a Dell R510 connecting to an HP MSA2000i via software iSCSI from Broadcom NIC’s on the R510.

Followup on ESXi 5 SLOW boot when using software iSCSI
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