Installing a HBA (Host Bus Adapter) to attach a server to a SAN Storage doesn't always go smoothly and you can waste a lot of time to getting the thing done. Here is the 6 steps to identifying where in the start-up sequence the HBA is failing you can narrow down the possibilities and resolve the problem.

1.     Identify where is the connection failing, Do a BIOS scan to list out from BIOS, if the server is recognizing the HBA card, the HBA card should show up on the BIOS. The most common issues usually are the HBA card isn’t properly inserts and the problem can be resolved by just re-insert the HBA card. If the above action still could not resolve the problem, try to swap the HBA card to another slot.


2.     The second common issues of HBA card are the Drivers. Drivers are the most common causes the strange problem on SAN Storage. The driver are playing important role between the HBA card and server’s Operating System (OS) and it’s doing all the communication between the SAN switches via the FC-SW Fibre Channel protocol and SAN storage arrays.


3.     Firmware version is one of the most common issues cause the SAN failure. Most of the HBA card use flash memory to store firmware, it is important to keep the firmware up to date and upgrade to the latest version of firmware from the vendor support matrix site. Of course, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instruction before you plan for HBA’s firmware upgrade. As most of the HBA firmware upgrade is required system downtime, unless the system are working with dual path or redundancy available (multiple HBA cards).


4.     If the HBA card can be seen in BIOS list but in the Operating System (OS) still can’t find the HBA card even you have install the necessary driver. This problem is usually due to HBA driver. Always make sure the driver that installed on the operating system is up to date or supported version by the Operating System vendor. To make sure the driver is installed correctly, get the appropriate versions from your vendor.  Another thing to take note, if the server is available with multiple HBA card, make sure they are all in same driver and firmware version.  


5.     If your system is hang or freeze during startup, it may caused by the device conflict (new device that recently installed). Remove the HBA card and reboot the system, if the problem is resolved, check the HBA card that you newly installed as it could be a faulty HBA card. If the problem still persists, try the HBA card in another machine. If the HBA card is work there, this is usually a conflict between the system and the HBA card. Contact the vendor to do the appropriate check on the HBA card by using card utility tool before you re-install the HBA card.


6.     A problem HBA card may cause the link up and down. The healthy HBA card should never disconnect its light from the SAN switch for any reason unless the server is in the process of rebooting.  For the server with new HBA card, the most common problem often either SAN switch port related or Fibre Channel cable related. To resolve the cable problem is easy, just replace another cable. If it is happen on the SAN switch level, check the GBIC / port, replace the GBIC if is it detected as faulty. Normally if the GBIC is unhealthy, the lights will go up and down or there is no signal from the GBIC at all.