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Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

Occasional Contributor

Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

Hi All,

A customer of ours has a small business environment with a single Proliant DL380-G6 server running VMWare ESXi v4.0. To date they have been doing their backups with Backup Exec using a SCSI attached HP LTO2 standalone tape drive. This uses the SCSI Pass-thru feature in ESX to map the tape drive through to the VM. The SCSI Controller currently used is a HP SC11Xe (412911-B21). This setup has been working perfectly.

Recently the LTO2 drive has failed and we want to replace it with a newer LTO5 drive. The drive we are proposing is EH958A, which has a SAS Interface. From what we have read, ESX/ESXi only support Pass Through SCSI with Parallel SCSI devices, not SAS. So we are not sure that this is going to work.

Here is the statement on the VMWare Website:

There has been anecdotal evidence on the VMWare Communities sites were some people have been able to make it work, but others have failed. See this link for details of that:

This is quite an expensive investment for this client, so we want to be certain before we go for it and find out it doesn't work. The environment is as follows:

Tape Drive: HP Ultrium LTO5-3000 SAS External (EH958A)
Controller: HP P212/ZM (462828-B21)
Hypervisor: VMWare ESXi v 4.0
Guest OS: Windows SBS 2008
Backup SW: Symantec Backup Exec v12.5

What I'm after is anyone's prior experience using these newer SAS Attached Tape drives under ESX. Look forward to any information that you have.


Curtis Ballard
Honored Contributor

Re: Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

As you have seen VMWare doesn't claim support for SAS and as such testing the SAS devices with VMWare is not in HP's test matrix.

I asked around to see if maybe somebody had played with it and knew how to get it working but didn't find anybody that would admit to having done that.
Occasional Visitor

Re: Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

Hi Jeff,

I think we are running the same setup as yourself with ESXi and not the fully blown ESX - with one of the VMs backing up to a tape drive, as if it was a standard machine, and not virtual inside another box.

We are using an SC44Ge controller instead of the SC11Xe (which we have in another VM) and they work exactly the same.

Hope that helps

New Member

Re: Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

A bit after the original posting, but in case anyone else comes this way....


I use an internal LTO3 in an ML370 G5 and an external LTO3  in an DL370 G6 connected via an SC44Ge host bus adapter. Both work OK (ESXi 4.1 Update 2) with the notable exception of asking for the drive status (mt status command from a linux guest) when there is no tape. In this case the host repeatedly loops, generating  NMP error messages. The only way I've found to stop the errors is to put a tape in the drive. Obviously, this is OK so long as you're vigilant about changing the tapes but it's far from ideal.


As an aside, I tried the external tape drive in the external port of an HP SAS Expander connected to a P410i. At boot time the BIOS sees the tape drive but ESXi then seems to see the tape drive and not the disks. In effect, you can use the internal 8 ports of the SAS expander or the single external port, not both. That was why I ended up with using the SC44Ge.

Honored Contributor

Re: Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

Please check this one...

Please assign a KUDO to this post, if you find it useful.
Occasional Visitor

Re: Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

Just an update itothis old thread.


Since the HP SC44e is a very old adapter and realy not support above G5. Also can be hard to get, i have tested a couple of the newer HP sas adapters.


The one i have found to work the best is the HP H222 Host Bus Adapter.


I have tested it in a DL380 G7 on ESXi 4.1 and 5.1 latest patches as this date.

Olaf Pelzer
Occasional Contributor

Re: Standalone LTO5 SAS Tape Drive in VMWare ESX/ESXi

Hello alk abello,


we ran into the same situation.

Can you positivly confirm that the H222 is running with SAS/SCSI passthru with esxi 5.0/5.1?


We are trying to get it running - and it ran for several months withou any problem - but actually we have 2 customer which are getting a stalled windows server (Sbs 2011 with no availybility / black screen of death).

This happens after a few hours to max. 3 days after we reactivate the h222 with pass-thru.