Using Storage Explorer in Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 offers a tool to view configuration and resources for systems connected to a storage area network (SAN). Here is what you need to know about this new feature.

Getting a server connected to an iSCSI or fibre channel SAN is generally straightforward. Across platforms and products, there are many tools to go about doing this. Windows Server 2008 offers a way to browse the SAN natively. This tool, Storage Explorer, is an Explorer-style console to view a local configuration and remote resources.

Storage Explorer puts all of the components of the SAN into one console for administrators. This can include providing the host bus adapter (HBA) information and quantity of interfaces. For each HBA, the worldwide port name (WWPN) is displayed in relationship to what server holds the WWPN and HBAs.

Storage Explorer will also show what switches and fabric are available to the HBA on the local system; or like with many other Windows tools, remote systems can be managed through Storage Explorer. Figure A shows a connection being made to a remote server using Storage Explorer. Figure A

Figure A

While this native operating system tool is convenient and easy to use for most installations, the purist side of the storage administrator will not prefer this type of tool. The standing preference among storage administrators is to use an end-to-end configured and supported solution from the storage vendors. In this configuration where there would be an Emulex HBA in the server, the configuration around the product would match various support levels on the storage side. This would include using the Emulex driver and the HBAnywhere local tool on Windows Server. For QLogic HBAs, the same may apply and use of the QLogic driver and the SANSurfer tool would perform the same function on the server side.

Storage Explorer fits nicely into connecting a system to a SAN quickly, especially if the HBA vendors do not have Windows Server 2008 support for the driver and management tools.

For more information about Storage Explorer, visit the Windows Storage and Print Solutions Web site.

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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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