Windows Server 2008 has a built-in iSCSI Software Initiator; this functionality is also available on prior versions of Windows Server. Systems expert Rick Vanover tells how you can roll the installation into mixed environments.


For many environments, iSCSI storage is a great solution. One of the foremost benefits is its lower cost on the server side. Unlike expensive fibre channel interfaces, iSCSI storage can be provisioned on standard Ethernet interfaces, which are readily available and affordable. Windows Server 2008 has an iSCSI Software Initiator to connect to iSCSI storage that is built into the operating system. This functionality is not native to prior versions of Windows Server.

Microsoft recently released the 2.08 version of the iSCSI Software Initiator to download for both Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server. (Windows XP is also supported for this installation.) This is very helpful, as iSCSI has become quite popular. And while many admins are implementing Windows Server 2008, plenty of IT pros may want to assign this storage type to their Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server systems.

Installing this add-on is straightforward, but there is one relevant option about multi-pathing that depends on your storage system. If your storage system has a software driver, you may not want to select that option. These systems would be any software virtualization or management layer for the storage to make the actual disk access “obscure” from the target. You should check with your storage administrator or product support if you are not sure about this question. Figure A shows this installation option.
Figure A

Figure A

Click the image to enlarge.

After a quick reboot, the system is ready to connect to storage over the newly installed iSCSI Software Initiator. The beauty is that the configuration at this point is the same for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 2000 Server (and Windows Vista and Windows XP if used); they all have the same configuration engine with this update. Configuration is accessible via the iSCSI Software Initiator applet in the Windows Control panel.

You can get more information about Microsoft’s iSCSI Software Initiator in this online document.

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