Thursday, 5 January 2012

Microsoft Windows ISCSI SAN & Clusters - 1

SAN - short for Storage Area Networks are costly and complex and there are not many software that is free that can be used by developers and architects who can use it to test and configure clusters.

Starwind is one company that makes available a free version of its SAN product with some limitations, but these are in no way restrictive to create a shared iSCSI SAN for clustering purpose and can be fairly used within a DEV, TEST, SOHO or for internal non-production use with ease.

Here I am going to talk to you about creating a viable SAN for such use. This can be installed over a Windows 2003 or a Windows 2008 server.

  • Windows 2008 or 2003 (if it is 2003 then the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator needs to be installed which can be downloaded from Microsoft Download Center)
  • 100G of free HDD space or a Second HDD is much better
  • Two network Interfaces
    NetworkCard1 :
    NetworkCard2 :

    These IP's can be of your choice as per your requirements.

    Starwind software free can be downloaded from and you will need to regester so that the license file is sent to you. This license file needs to be copied to the above server.

    Software file       - starwind.exe
    License key file  - licensekey.swk
  • If using a Windows 2003 server then download Initiator-2.08-build3825-x86fre.exe from Microsoft's download center.

    First install the iSCSI Initiator if Windows 2003 and make sure that the service is started and set to automatic for both Windows 2003/8 servers.

    Double click the starwind.exe file and follow the screen prints.

If the iSCSI Initiator service is not started and set to Automatic then this error comes up and Installation does not proceed till the service is started and set to Automatic start.

A desktop icon will be created. Double click it to Initialise your SAN.

The SAN Console minimises and sit's in the system tray as seen here. Double click it to bring up the management interface.
Click Add Host

Keep defaults is OK
Before the server can be registered with the obtained license connect the management interface to the server host

Username is 'root' password is 'starwind'
Click Host -> Registrations -> Install License and then browse to the license file and load it.

Now to create a virtual disk that can be presented to clients on the Storage Network. Click 'Add Target'
 A name alias that is easy for identification, do not change the target name until and unless you understand iSCSI naming.

 The complete path and filename, in this instance sqldisk1.ibv

 Tick the Allow multiple concurrent connections so that this can be used for clustering

 Clicking on the configuration tab shows the network ip's that this disk will be advertised over the network.

To connect to this disk from a client system click here.

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