Data Centers

Configure the iSCSI initiator in Windows Server Core or Hyper-V Server

Provisioning storage to the Windows Server Core can be a challenge. Rick Vanover describes how to configure iSCSI storage on Windows Server Core or Hyper-V Server.

In the course of provisioning Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 in my home virtualization lab, I decided to leverage the Hyper-V Server standalone installation, which closely resembles Windows Server Core.

If you need to provision iSCSI storage to Windows Server Core or Hyper-V Server, it may not be immediately obvious how to do it. The solution is to create a GPO that makes the Microsoft iSCSI initiator service start automatically; you'll configure this in the Computer Configuration | Policies | Windows Settings | Security Settings | System Services within Group Policy. You should also define the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator Service to be automatic on startup (this service is a manual startup by default). Figure A shows this configuration. Figure A

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Once the servers have booted back up with the GPO having taken effect, log on to the console and run the iscsicpl utility; this is the iSCSI Initiator configuration that is used in the full installation of Windows, and it's rather straightforward to configure. Figure B shows the iSCSI configuration made on a Hyper-V Server. Figure B

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The final step in provisioning storage to the server is remotely performed using Server Manager. For Windows Server Core installations, the recommended approach is to enable remote administration, so the rich tools on another system can be used to administer the Windows Server Core. For the Hyper-V Server shown above, the storage configuration panel is used to add the new storage remotely (Figure C). Figure C

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Now the iSCSI resource can be accessed via the Windows Server Core without much difficulty.

There are other tricks out there on configuring iSCSI, including this PowerShell mechanism. I'm a little bit old-school, and I still feel most comfortable provisioning storage directly on the server from the SAN resource.

How have you provisioned iSCSI storage to Windows Server Core? Share your comments on the process in the discussion.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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