Tip

Step-by-step instructions for deploying an iSCSI SAN

Rather than purchase more servers, many companies whose storage needs are growing are deploying iSCSI SANs. However, the process for deploying an iSCSI SAN can be a complex one. To deploy an iSCSI SAN successfully, you'll want to follow this series of steps.

iSCSI target setup

Install the iSCSI target storage array per the vendor instructions.
1. Connect the array to a network and a console terminal.
2. From the console terminal, use the setup utility to configure the array on the network according to the instructions in the array manual.

Configure the array on the network.
3. Assign a member name to the array, for example, iSCarray.
4. Choose the network adapter used on the array.
5 Assign the IP address for the network adapter.
6. Assign the netmask.
7. Assign a default gateway on the same subnet as the array, so the servers can access the storage volumes.

Configure the group.
8. Assign the group name (say iSCSI).
9. Assign the group address (10.10.0.10).
10. Determine whether the application requires disk formatting optimized for performance (RAID-1 + 0) or for capacity (RAID-5 + 0).
11. Once setup is complete, the storage array is ready to be configured.

Install the switch, which completes the final step of iSCSI target setup. It is not necessary to have an IP address with this switch.

iSCSI host setup

Make sure that the server software is already installed on each host before proceeding.

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A. Install a second network adapter card on each server (assuming it is not already present).
1. Connect one adapter to the public LAN. If there is a Domain Name Server (DNS) on the LAN, an IP address is automatically assigned.
2. Connect the second adapter to a private network to the storage array:

  • Assign an IP address for the adapter
  • Assign the subnet address
  • Assign a default gateway to enable servers to access volumes on the storage array.

B. Download and install the Microsoft iSCSI software initiator on each server.
1. Microsoft's iSCSI initiator is available from the Microsoft Download Center .
2. Download and install the Microsoft iSCSI initiator on both nodes. The iSCSI initiator service enables the host server to connect to the iSCSI volumes on the storage array.
3. Host configuration can be done using a GUI or a command line interface (CLI).

C. Install the Microsoft iSNS server on one server.
1. Download the Microsoft iSNS server software from the Microsoft Download Center.
2. The iSNS server automatically discovers available targets on the network, so there is no need to manually enter the target addresses. Note: The iSNS server can be installed on a production server or a dedicated server.

Configure storage

A. Ensure that the most recent firmware is installed on the storage array. If the firmware versions are incompatible, the host may fail to detect volumes with certain security settings enabled.

B. Use either the CLI from the console, or launch the Web browser on a server to use the GUI.

C. Create volumes for the group member "iscsiarray."
1. Open the Storage Group Manager window.
2. In the Activities pane, click 'Create volume' and then follow the instructions in the Create Volume Wizard.
3. Assign a volume name (for example, FS1) and size for the volumes on each server.

D. Set the access restrictions and authentication method:
1. Click on Restricted access.
2. Select 'Authenticate using CHAP; user name.'
3. Type in the authorized user name.

E. Configure security for each created volume:
1. Click on 'Group Configuration' from the navigation bar, which is on the left hand side of the window.
2. Go to the 'CHAP' tab.
3. In the 'Local CHAP' dialog box, select 'Enable local CHAP server', and then click on the Add link.
4. Type a user name and password and click OK.

If you want to enable the automated discovery of targets using iSNS server, select 'Group Configuration,' click the 'Network' tab and then check 'iSNS' in the 'Network Services' box.

Assign host access rights

A. On the file and print server, click the Start button, click Control Panel, and then click iSCSI Initiator to open the Microsoft iSCSI initiator service. The Microsoft iSNS server automatically discovers available targets.

B. Log on to the target volume to make it available to the server:
1. Click a target to select it, then click 'Log On.' The target is identified with an iSCSI qualified name (IQN). The final extension on the name (in this case FS1) identifies the specific target volume.
2. Check 'Automatically restore this connection' when the system boots. This ensures that the target volumes are made persistent to each server.
3. Click Advanced.
4. Do the following settings in the 'Advanced Settings' property sheet:

  • Leave 'Default' in the Local adapter and Physical port text boxes.
  • Select 'CHAP logon information' as the authentication method.
  • Type the same user name and target secret that you previously entered on the storage array. The volumes should be listed in the iSCSI Initiator Properties property sheet as connected.
5. Click the 'Persistent Targets' tab to verify that the volumes are listed as persistent.

Note: Do not log onto the remaining volumes from the file server. These remaining volumes are allocated to the Small Business Server and must be logged onto from that server only.

C. To make the ExDB and Exlog volumes accessible to the Small Business Server, repeat steps A and B above.

Format disks

A. Perform these steps to format the disk for each server:
1. From the All Programs menu, click Administrative Tools. Then click Computer Management.
2. In the left navigation bar, click Storage to expand it. Then click Disk Management.
3. Right-click each disk to initialize it.
4. To format each disk with the NTFS file system, right-click each partition and select Format. Note: All disks must be formatted as basic and not dynamic.

B. Start the storage array Web UI.

C. In the left navigation bar, click Volumes. You will notice that all volumes are listed as online.

Deployment

Finally, before putting the servers in production, you'll need to perform tests to verify the backup and restore capabilities of each server.

About the author: Rahul Shah currently works at a software firm in India, where he is a systems administrator maintaining Windows servers. He has also worked for various software firms in testing and analytics, and also has experiences deploying client/server applications in different Windows configurations.

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This was first published in October 2006

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