iSCSI Initiator Configuration on Windows 2008 R2 Server Core

This blog will guide you through the necessary steps of connecting the iSCSI initiator on Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core to an iSCSI target or volume on a Storage Area Network. I prefer server core for the host operating system on my Hyper-V virtualization servers, but some things such as the iSCSI Initiator settings are easier to configure through a GUI. Luckily Microsoft has included the iSCSI Initiator control panel applet as part of R2. Log into your server and launch iscsicpl.exe.

The first time this command is run, you will receive the message shown below. Click “Yes” to start the iSCSI service and set it to start automatically each time the server restarts:

It will take a few seconds for the service to start and then the interface shown below will load. Click the “Discovery” tab at the top and then the “Discover Portal” button:

Enter the IP Address or DNS Name of your SAN and click “OK”:

Select the “Targets” tab, click the “Refresh” button, select the iSCSI target, and click the “Connect” button:

Only check the “Enable multi-path” check mark if the Multipath IO feature has been previously installed on the server. This option allows multiple iSCSI network paths from your server to your SAN to be active simultaneously. Click “OK”:

The iSCSI target should now show that it is connected:

Select the “Favorite Targets” tab and verify the iSCSI target shows up:

Select the “Volumes and Devices” tab, click the “Auto Configure” button, and click “OK”:

The iSCSI initiator portion of the configuration is now complete.

Enable “Allow MMC Remote Management” as shown in my “Remote Management of Hyper-V Server or Server Core” blog.

From a machine that is running a full GUI version of an operating system (Vista or higher), launch the “Computer Management” MMC and remotely manage your core server. In “Disk Management”, locate the “Unknown” disk:

Right click the Disk that shows up as “Unknown” and select “Online”:

Right click the same Disk again and select “Initialize Disk”:

Leave the defaults selected unless the disk is over 2Tb (Terabytes) or expected to grow over 2Tb in the future. I chose a “GPT” type disk since the iSCSI target I am mounting is 2Tb and may grow larger in the future:

Right click the “Unallocated” space and select “New Simple Volume”. From this point forward, any server admin should be able to handle it since it’s just like an internal disk.

Next week I’ll be writing a blog on Multipath IO for Windows Server 2008 Server Core which will be available on Thursday (August 26, 2010).

January 27, 2011
The  “Volumes and Devices” tab in the iSCSI control panel applet should actually show drive letters (unless you’re mapping the volume as a folder) and must be configured after completing the drive setup inside the operating system. From what I’ve found, this helps the OS keep the correct drive letter mapped to the SAN volume during restarts, etc.

April 16, 2011
If you’re using an EqualLogic SAN, I recommend installing the EqualLogic Host Integration Tool (HIT) Kit before doing any of the iSCSI configuration. See my “MultiPath I/O on Server Core with the EqualLogic HIT Kit” blog for more information.

µ

17 Comments

  1. Andrew

    good article… any idea what the process is to indicate to the windows volume that the target is now bigger? i.e. after expanding it on the SAN?

    Reply
    • µ

      If you do a “Rescan” in disk management, windows should see unpartitioned space on the disk. The actual expansion depends on what operating system your running and how the partitions are setup on the disk. Use diskpart for 2003 unless it’s the ‘C’ drive and then you’ll need a third party utility. The GUI can be used in 2008, but you’ll need unpartitioned space on the disk to the immediate right of the partition you want to expand.

      µ

      Reply
  2. Jesusita Henretta

    I love this page theme One of the greatest I’ve seen.

    Reply
  3. ian johnstone

    I scanned technet, google, etc for hours to no avail. So much marketing BS, and hype.

    This blog on iSCSi was very useful, and to the point

    I appreciate you taking the time to post

    ian

    Reply
  4. Lucio Rotenberg

    I like this website and it has given me a bit of inspiration to succeed, so thanks. =)

    Reply
  5. jack

    I have problem when i use iscsi initiator on windows server 2008.
    I add 256 iscsi targets to the initiator of the server.Then ,I see all the targets in iscsi initiator properties GUI,with the initial status inactive,so I connect them one by one,
    but I can only connected 63 targets,when I connect the 64th target,error occurs,with tip like:The target resources is not enough for the given request.
    Is there anyone konw what is it about?

    Reply
  6. house

    man i love these technology how-to wordpress blogs! (ty)

    One question: can i use this to point other devices to my machine as an iSCSI target?

    thanks!

    Reply
  7. Yahya

    Hi
    This is without a doubt very informative. Please ignore my ignorance. Can you tell me if you have to create volumes on SAN before carrying out this activity and I think there is no involvement of WWPN etc in ISCSI confoguration correct ??
    Thanks

    Reply
  8. Mark Cary

    AutoConfig button yields nothing.

    Reply
    • Mike F Robbins

      It won’t yield anything until after you assign the volume a drive letter in disk management from within the actual operating system on the server that the volume is assigned to (See the January 27, 2011 update towards the end of the article.
      µ

      Reply
  9. Thomas

    I followed your direstions and everything went fine, but when I check the new disk, there is no data…? EMC shows almost 1.4TB of data on their side but the WIN2008R2 server where I have the iscsi connection shows the drive to be empty. I reset the drive letters and started from scratch numerous times but with no luck. Any ideas?

    Reply
  10. Gulab

    Good job Mike….
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  11. kmathoun

    For some reason Volume list is not showing my iscsi volumes though i can connect to my target.
    Not sure if i’m missing anything on the Netapp side.

    Reply
  12. Prince

    Any command to auto configure Volumes and devices instead of clicking on Autoconfigure..

    Thanks……….

    Reply

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