3PAR StoreServ Zoning Best Practice Guide

This is an excellent guide which has been written by Gareth Hogarth who has recently implemented a 3PAR StoreServ and was concerned about the lack of information from HP in relation to zoning.  Being a ‘stand up guy’ Gareth decided to perform a lot of research and has put together the ‘3PAR StoreServ Zoning Best Practice Guide’ below.

This article focuses on zoning best practices for the StoreServ 7400 (4 node array), but can also be applied to all StoreServ models including the StoreServ 10800 8-node monster.

3PAR StoreServ Zoning Best Practice Guide

Having worked on a few of these, I found that a single document on StoreServ zoning BP doesn’t really exist. There also appears to be conflicting arguments on whether to use Single Initiator – Multiple Target zoning or Single Initiator – Single Target zoning. The information herein can be used as a guideline for all 3PAR supported host presentation types (VMware, Windows, HPUX, Oracle Linux, Solaris etc…).

Disclaimer:  Please note that this is based on my investigation, engaging with HP Storage Architects and Implementation Engineers. Several support cases were opened in order to gain a better understanding of what is & isn’t supported. HP recommendations change all the time, therefore it’s always best to speak with HP or your fabric vendor to ensure you are following latest guidelines or if you need further clarification.

Right, let’s start off with Fabric Connectivity

In terms of host connectivity options the StoreServ 7000 (specifically the 7400) provides us with the following:

  • 4x built-in 8 Gb/s Fibre Channel ports per node pair.
  • Optional 8 Gb/s Quad Port Fibre Channel HBA (Host Bus Adapter) per node (we will be focusing on this configuration option).
  • Optional 10 Gb/s Dual Port FCOE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) converged network adapter per node.

StoreServ target ports are identified in the following manner Node:Slot:Port.

StoreServ target ports located on the on-board HBA’s will always assume the slot identity of 1, respectively StoreServ targets ports located on the optional expansion slot will always assume the identity of slot 2.

StoreServ nodes are grouped in pairs, it’s important to pay particular attention to this when zoning host initiators (server HBA ports) to the StoreServ Target ports.



  • Each HP 3PAR StoreServ node should be connected to two fabric switches.
  • Ports of the same pair of nodes with the same ID (value) should be connected to the same fabric.
  • General rule – odd ports should be connect to fabric 1 and even ports should be connected to fabric 2.

Figure 1a below identifies physical cabling techniques, mitigating against single points of failure using a minimum of two fabric switches, which are separated from each other.

The example below illustrates StoreServ nodes with supplementary quad port HBA’s:

figure 1a_StoreServ_nPcabling

Moving on to Port Persistence

As already covered by Craig in this blog post, a host port would be connected and zoned on the fabric switch via one initiator (host HBA port) to one HP 3PAR StoreServ target port (one-to-one zoning). The pre-designated HP 3PAR StoreServ backup port must be connected to the same fabric as its partner node port.

It is best practice that a given host port sees a single I/O path to HP 3PAR StoreServ. As an option, a backup port can be zoned to the same host port as the primary port, which would result in the host port seeing two I/O paths to the HP 3PAR StoreServ system. This would also result in the configuration where a HP 3PAR StoreServ port can serve as the primary port for a given host port(s) and backup port for host port(s) connected to its partner node port.

Persistent ports leverage SAN fabric NPIV functionality (N_Port ID Virtualization) for transparent migration of a host’s connection, to a predefined partner port on the HP 3PAR StoreServ array during software upgrades or node failure.

One of the ways this is accomplished is by having a predefined host facing port on the 3PAR StoreServ array, so that in the event of upgrade (node shutdown) or node down status the partner port will assume the identity of its partner port. The whole process is transparent to the host. When the node returns to normal I/O is failed back to the original target port.

Although unconfirmed I have heard that in in future releases of Inform OS we will get this level of protection at the port level.

Essentially for this to work Port Persistence requires that corresponding ‘native’ and ‘guest’ StoreServ ports on a node pair, be connected to the same fibre channel fabric.

Requirements for 3PAR Port Persistence:

  • The same host ports on the host facing HBA’s in the nodes in a node pair must be connected to the same fabric switch.
  • The host facing ports must be set to target mode.
  • The host facing ports must be configured for point-to-point connections.
  • The Fibre Channel fabric must support NPIV and have NPIV enabled on the switch ports.

Checking and enabling NPIV

Brocade Fabric OS (ensure you have the appropriate license which enables NPIV)

admin> portcfgshow ‘port#’

If the NPIV capability is enabled, the results of the portcfgshow command will identify this, i.e NPIV capability ON.

If the NPIV capability is not enabled, you can turn it on with the following command:

admin> portCfgNPIVPort ‘port#’ 1   (1 = on, 0 = off)

 Cisco MDS Series Switches

fabSwitch # conf t

fabSwitch(config) # feature npiv (Enables NPIV for all VSANs on the switch)

QLogic SANbox 3800, 5000 and 9000 Switches

Don’t require a license, it’s enabled by default (just ensure you are using firmware version or above).

Now let’s cover Switch Zoning (Fibre Channel)

SAN zoning is used to logically group hosts and storage devices together in a physical SAN, so that authorised devices can only communicate with each other if they are in the same SAN zone.

The function of zoning is to:

  • Restrict access so that hosts can only see the data they are authorised to see.
  • Prevent RSCN (Registered State Change Notification) broadcasts.

What are ‘RSCNs’ ? RSCNs are a feature of fabric switches.  It’s a service of the fabric that notifies devices of changes on the state of other attached devices. For example if a device is reset, removed or otherwise undergoes a significant change in status.

These broadcasts are made to all members in the configured SAN zone. As hosts and storage targets can be grouped in a zone its best practice to reduce the impact of these types of broadcasts (Note: an argument against RSCN’s causing issues in zoning tables is that newer HBA’s do a good job limiting the impact of these types of broadcasts).  Nevertheless, I prefer limiting the number of initiators and targets in a fabric zone to a minimum.

Zoning Types

  • Domain, Port zoning uses switch domain id’s and port numbers to define zones.
  • Port World Wide Name or pWWN zoning uses port World Wide Names to define zones. Every port on a HBA has a unique pWWN. (A host HBA comprises of a – nWWN & a pWWN, the nWWN refers to the whole device whereas the pWWN refers to the individual port.

The preferred zoning unit for the 3PAR StoreServ is pWWN. If you are currently using Domain, Port migrating to pWWN is very easy. Simply create new zones based on the pWWN of the host and the pWWN of the storage target, add these new zones to your fabric switches, zoning-out the references to Domain, Port for that respective HBA port. Some fabric vendor’s support mixing both Domain, Port and pWWN in the same zone. I prefer using one or the other explicitly.

The following command outputs the StoreServ ports and partner ports, which can be used to identify the node pWWN’s for zoning.

3PAR01 cli% showport 

HP 3PAR StoreServ supports the following zoning configurations:

  • Single initiator – Single Target per zone (recommended)
  • Single initiator – Multiple Targets per zone

Use Single Initiator – Single Target per zone over Single Initiator Multiple Targets per zone to reduce RSCN’s as previously discussed.

At the time of writing, HP 3PAR OS implementation documentation references Single Initiator Multiple Targets as the recommended zoning type. However, when I queried this I was directed to use Single Initiator – Single Target Zoning.  HP support pointed me in the direction of this document which identifies Single Initiator – Single Target zoning as best practice: http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetDocument.aspx?docname=4AA4-4545ENW

HP will support Single Initiator – Multiple Target, but you should not have a single host initiator attached to more than two StoreServ target ports!

Host port WWN’s should be zoned in partner pairs. For example if a host is zoned to node port 0:2:1, then it should be zoned to node port 1:2:1 (I’m speculating here, but I guess this is because controller nodes mirror cache I/O, so that in the event of node failure write operations in cache are not lost – hence we zone in node pairs and not across nodes from different pairs).

After you have zoned the host pWWN to the StoreServ node pWWN, you can use the 3PAR CLI showhost command to ensure that each host initiator is zoned to the correct StoreServ target ports (ensuring initiators go to different targets over different fabrics).

Figure 1b represents a staggered approach where you would have odd numbered VMware hosts connecting to nodes 0 & 1, and even numbered hosts connecting to nodes 2 & 3 (Note: currently the StoreServ is designed to tolerate a single node failure only, this includes the 8-node StoreServ 10800 array).

The example depicts Single Initiator – Single Target zoning, so a host with two HBA ports connecting over two fabrics will have a total of four zones (two per fabric). In case you were wondering the maximum allowed is eight (also known as fan-in limitation which is four per fabric).

figure 1b_host_zoning

Here are some additional points to be aware of

 Fan-in/Fan-out ratios:

  • Fan-in refers to a host server port connected to several HP 3PAR storage ports via Fibre Channel switch.
  • Fan-out refers to the HP 3PAR StoreServ storage port that is connected to more than one host HBA port via Fibre Channel switch.

Note: Fan-in over subscription represents the flow of data in terms of client initiator to StoreServ target ports. HP/3PAR documentation states that a maximum of four HP 3PAR storage system ports can fan-in to a single host server port (if you are thinking great, I’ll connect my VMware host to 8 ports [four per fabric] think again.  Using this approach when you have hundreds of hosts can quickly reach the maximum StoreServ port connection limitation which is 64!) it’s just not necessary.

StoreServ Target Port Maximums (As per 3PAR InForm OS 3.1.1 please observe the following):

  • Maximum of 16 hosts initiators per 2Gb HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage Port
  • Maximum of 32 hosts initiators per 4Gb HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage Port
  • Maximum of 32 hosts initiators per 8Gb HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage Port
  • Maximum total of 1,024 host initiators per HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage System

HP documentation states that these recommendations are guidelines, adding more than the recommended hosts should only be attempted, when the total expected workload is calculated and shown not to overrun either the queue depth or throughput of the StoreServ node port.

Note: StoreServ storage ports irrespective of speed, will negotiate at the lowest speed of the supporting fabric switch (keep this in mind when calculating the number of host connections).

The following focuses on changing the target port queue depth on a VMware ESX environment.

The default setting for target port queue depth on the ESX host can be modified to ensure that the total workload of all servers will not overrun the total queue depth of the target HP StoreServ system port. The method endorsed by HP is to limit the queue depth on a per-target basis. This recommendation comes from limiting the number of outstanding commands on a target (HP 3PAR StoreServ system port), per ESX host.

The following values can be set on the HBA running VMware vSphere. These values limit the total number of outstanding commands the operating system routes to one target port:

  • For Emulex HBA target throttle = tgt_queue_depth
  • For Qlogic HBA target throttle = ql2xmaxqdepth
  • For Brocade HBA target throttle = bfa_lun_queue_depth

(Note: for instructions on how to change these values follow VMware KB1267‎, these values are also adjustable on Linux Redhat & Solaris).

The Formula used to calculate these values is as follows:

(3PAR port queue depth [see below]) / (total number of ESX severs attached) = recommended value

The I/O queue depth for each HP 3PAR StoreServ storage system HBA mode is shown below:

Note: The I/O queues are shared among the connected host server HBA ports on a first come first serve basis.

HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage HBA I/O queue depth values
Qlogic 2Gb 497
LSI 2Gb 510
Emulex 4Gb 959
HP 3PAR HBA 4Gb 1638
HP 3PAR HBA 8Gb 3276

Well, hopefully you found the above information useful. Here is a high level summary of what we have discussed:

  • Identify and enable NPIV on your fabric switches (Fibre Channel only feature – NPIV-Port Persistence is not present in iSCSI environments)
  • Use Single Initiator -> Single Target zoning (HP will support Single Initiator – Multiple Target, but you should not have a single host initiator attached to more than two StoreServ target ports).
  • A maximum of four HP 3PAR Storage System ports can fan-in to a single host server port.
  • Zoning should be done using pWWN. You should not use switch port/Domain ID or nWWN.
  • A host (non-hypervisors) should be zoned with a minimum of two ports from the two nodes of the same pair. In addition, the ports from a host zoning should be mirrored across nodes.
  • Hosts need to be zoned to node pairs. For example, zoned to nodes 0 and 1 or to nodes 2 and 3. Hosts should NOT be zoned to non-mirrored nodes such as 0 and 3.
  • When using hypervisors, avoid connecting more than 16 initiators per 4 Gb/s port or more than 32 initiators per 8 Gb/s port.
  • Each HP 3PAR StoreServ system has a maximum number of initiators supported, that depends on the model and configuration.
  • A single HBA zoned with two FC ports will be counted as two initiators. A host with two HBA’s, each zoned with two ports, will count as four initiators.
  • In order to keep the number of initiators below the maximum supported value, use the following recommendations:
    • Hypervisors: four paths maximum.
    • Other hosts (non-hypervisors): two paths to two different nodes of the same port pairs.
  • Hypervisors can be zoned to four different nodes but the hypervisor HBAs must be zoned to the same Host Port on HBAs in the nodes for each Node Pair.

Reference Documents

HP SAN Design Reference Zoning Recommendations

HP 3PAR InForm® OS 3.1.1 Concepts Guide

The HP 3PAR Architecture

HP UX 3PAR Implementation Guide

HP 3PAR Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Oracle Linux Implementation Guide

HP 3PAR VMware ESX Implementation Guide

HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage and VMware vSphere 5 best practices

HP 3PAR Windows Server 2012, Server 2008 Implementation Guide

HP Brocade Secure Zoning Best Practises

HP 3PAR Peer Persistence Whitepaper

An introduction to HP 3PAR StoreServ for the EVA Administrator

Building SANs with Brocade Fabric Switches by Syngress

19 thoughts on “3PAR StoreServ Zoning Best Practice Guide

  1. I’m in the process of installing a 7200 unit. This unit connects to Brocade SAN switch. And a Hyper-V host Server (Win2012 datacenter -physical) is connected to this Brocade SAN Switch with 4FC HBA. I will be installing Hyper-V guest inside this Physical Hyper-V host. My questions are? I understand that I need to create one or several virtual SAN inside Hyper-V manager in Physical Hyper-V host and associate one or more HBA (physical – connected to the physical hyper-v host) with it. And I understand that I need to create one or more Virtual FC HBA when I create Hyper-V guests to be able to direct my traffice through one or more physical HBA of the physical Hyper-V host server. I have several questions;

    1. Which HBA ports (either physical or virtual of the Hyper-V host server or Hyper-v guests) added for zoning in which SAN fabric (either in the physical Brocade SAN switch or in virtual SAN switch)?.

    I know that without Hyper-V, we can do zoning using the physically connected HBA’s WWN inside the Brocade SAN switch. But when Hyper-V is involved I didn’t find any article or lesson saying that we need to add physical HBA’s WWNs in Brocade SAN switch, instead everybody saying that add virtual HBAs’s WWNs to the Brocade SAN switch for the purpose of zoning.

    which is which? really appreciate your help

    1. Hi Buddhika, my experience is with vSphere not with Hyper V. However I would have thought the same principles apply across both hypervisors.

  2. I can see that the blog is really useful. Can you please help to describe a situation where 3PAR 7400 with 4 nodes. 0:1:1,0:2:1,1:1:1,1:2:1,2:1:1,2:2:1,3:1:1,3:2:1 connected to one fabric and 0:1:2,0:2:2,1:1:2,1:2:2,2:1:2,2:2:2,3:1:2,3:2:2 connected to Fabric 2… In this scenario- What is the best way to do the zoning in this type of fabric connectivity. My enviroment includes most of the VMware enviroment.

  3. Hey, Need suggestion.We have to assign newly created Virtual volumes from HP 3Par storage to VMs(Oracle Linux) created on Oracle Linux hypervisor directly instead of hypervisor.Is it the recommended best practice? Also, the steps to do so if possible since we are planning to use NPIV feature of HBA.

  4. Hi Craig,

    I see that this post is a little old but the BP’s have not changed. Thank you for taking the time to provide a good intro to SAN Design 101. I agree with you that there is a distinct lack of clear instruction on how to zone for persistent ports and the way I am reading your conclusions it muddy the waters further still. You stated:

    “Host port WWN’s should be zoned in partner pairs. For example if a host is zoned to node port 0:2:1, then it should be zoned to node port 1:2:1”

    I believe what you meant was that if you zone to port 0:2:1 on node0 then you would NOT zone to the partner port on 1:2:1 on node1 as it IS THE persistent port. The requirement for NPIV to function is that in the event that the primary ports goes dark (0:2:1) the partner port (1:2:1) will function as the WWPN of 0:2:1. This is why they need to be connected to the same physical switch.

    Example: You are upgrading InForm and the node 0 reboots:
    -0:2:1 goes dark
    -1:2:1 performs a FLOGI registering the WWPN of 0:2:1 with the name server
    -RCSN is issued
    -Buffer Credit’s and frames start flowing again
    In this case (and by design) MPIO is never engaged on the server. The second reason for doing this is you can increase the number of servers attaching to the 3PAR.

    To keep it simple we will use a 2Node 7200 each having two FC ports on each node. The host port number that you are using is designated to the expansion slot not the two onboard FC Ports, the naming scheme is N:S:P (Node|Slot|Port) with the onboard ports always being 1.
    Node0 Host Ports
    0:1:1 – Attach to Odd Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:0:1:1)
    0:1:2 – Attach to Even Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:0:1:2)
    Node1 Host Ports
    1:1:1 – Attach to Odd Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:1:1:1)
    1:1:2 – Attach to Even Fabric Switch. (Alias name is 3PAR:1:1:2)

    Sample Zone Config connecting 2 servers to a 3PAR7200:
    Server1: (Primary is Node0)
    Odd Zone: -Server1_3PAR0:1:1
    Even Zone -Server1_3PAR0:1:2
    Server2: (Primary is Node1)
    Odd Zone: -Server1_3PAR1:1:1
    Even Zone -Server1_3PAR1:1:2

    Here is how it would look on a 3PAR 7400
    Sample Zone Config connecting 2 servers to a 3PAR7400:
    -Partner Pair 1: Node0 and Node1
    -Partner Pair 2: Node2 and Node3
    Node0 Host Ports
    0:1:1 – Attach to Odd Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:0:1:1)
    0:1:2 – Attach to Even Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:0:1:2)
    Node1 Host Ports
    1:1:1 – Attach to Odd Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:1:1:1)
    1:1:2 – Attach to Even Fabric Switch. (Alias name is 3PAR:1:1:2)
    Node2 Host Ports
    0:1:1 – Attach to Odd Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:2:1:1)
    0:1:2 – Attach to Even Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:2:1:2)
    Node3 Host Ports
    1:1:1 – Attach to Odd Fabric Switch (Alias name is 3PAR:3:1:1)
    1:1:2 – Attach to Even Fabric Switch. (Alias name is 3PAR:3:1:2)

    Server1: (Primary is Node0 and Node 2)
    Odd Zone: -Server1_3PAR0:1:1
    Odd Zone: -Server1_3PAR2:1:1
    Even Zone -Server1_3PAR0:1:2
    Even Zone: -Server1_3PAR2:1:2
    Server2: (Primary is Node1 and Node3)
    Odd Zone: -Server1_3PAR1:1:1
    Odd Zone: -Server1_3PAR3:1:1
    Even Zone -Server1_3PAR1:1:2
    Even Zone: -Server1_3PAR3:1:2

    (Server3 would go to Node0/2 and Server4 would go to Node1/3)
    The key here is to alternate your servers between the node pairs so that you can decrease the number of servers attached to each node port and to increase and promote uniform port utilization. Remember that a port is not designated as primary or standby you can zone to any of the ports but you must zone to node pairs for persistent ports to work.

    For you old HP EVA guys out there this is akin to alternating the LUN ownership between the controllers to balance CPU, memory and cache utilization and decrease non-optimal path use.

    Hopefully this helps and you find it useful.

    1. Yes thanks for the information, appreciate you taking the time out.

      I was performing some testing with Persistent Ports recently and the ESXi Host in this case (initiator) did not see any difference when we unplugged Virtual Connect module 1 FC uplinks. Great to see it in action, as it reduces the convergence time after a failure. Well done HP!

  5. Hi,

    Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question, but I can’t figure out the n:s:p stuff.

    From the zoning diagram above I can see that, for example, node 0 will have four ports numbered 1 to 4. So I get the node and port part, but what about the slot? How to enumerate that?

    1. StoreServ target ports located on the on-board HBA’s will always assume the slot identity of 1, respectively StoreServ targets ports located on the optional expansion slot will always assume the identity of slot 2.

      1. Hi Craig,

        Wish you a very happy new year. Thank you for the reply. Could you kindly let me know where I can get my hands on a guide that will have a clear pictorial representation of how the slots go and such? The Architecture document does not seem to discuss this at length.

        Thank you once again.

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