Server HBA Replacement Steps



This article outlines the steps required to replace Host Bus Adapter (HBA) cards on servers. In this example, technologies involved are brocade fabric switch, Windows server/ VMware ESXi server and HP 3PAR storage but same steps can be applied to other vendor technologies like Cisco MDS switch, EMC storage, Hyper-V host, IBM SAN etc…

Step 1: Stop all production workloads on server if it’s windows or enter host into maintenance node if its hypervisor host like ESXi, Hyper-V and XenServer.
Step 2: Note down existing (old) HBA’s WWNs and Shutdown the host
Step 3: Physically replace the HBA cards on server
Step 4: Power on Server
Step 5: Note down HBA’s WWN number which you will use to for SAN fabric switch zoning in next steps
Step 6: Update HBA firmware if required as per vendor compatibility matrix
Step 6: Login to SAN Fabric switch and replace old WWPNs with new WWPN throughout the switch. If its brocade fibre channel switch (FC) switch, there is an option to replace WWNs in zoning.
Ø  In Zone Admin, navigate to Edit – Replace WWN. It will replace WWN across the switch with new WWN. – This step replaces a WWN in all zones and aliases on FC switch.
Brocade FC Switch WWN Replace

Ø  Enter old WWN in Replace field and new one in “By” field then click OK

WWN Replace


Ø  Select Yes to save config.

Ø  Then on top of the Zone Admin window, select “Enable Config” to save the change.

Ø  In next screen, select Active Configuration to enable and confirm he action in next section.


Ø  After Performing steps on Fibre Channel (FC) switch, login to your storage admin console (It can be HP 3PAR, EMC and other storage technologies) and navigate to “Hosts”. Following screenshots are from HP 3PAR array.

Ø  Select the Windows/ ESXi/ XenServer host on which we are changing the HBA and right click to select “properties”.
HP 3PAR- ESXi HBA Replace steps

Ø  Click next to continue.

Ø  This steps is important as we need to move old WWNs (HBAs) from “Assigned WWNs” section to “Available WWNs” and new WWNs from “available WWNs” to “Assigned WWNs”
If you have properly zoned on brocade/ Cisco MDS switch, new WWNs should be visible at “Available WWNs section”
Ø  Then click “Next” and finish to complete the storage Array configuration after replacing HBA cards.

EMC- DELL-IBM - Server HBA Replacement

Step 7: To verify the HBA replacement activity, make sure that LUNs are visible on Hyper-V/ ESXi/ XenServer host.
Step 8: If it’s all good, exit ESXi host from Maintenance mode so that hypervisor (VMware and others) can start moving VMs to host on which we replaced HBAs. On Windows host, start application services/ workloads.

After replacing HBA, make sure that hosts Multi-Pathing Algorithms are updated accordingly.Please refer "Multi-pathing policy best practices"  for best practices.

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