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In this, the last part in my series about the EqualLogic
PS200E iSCSI storage array, I’ll go over the steps necessary to create volumes
and attach them for use by your servers. While the instructions here are aimed
at the PS200E, some of the concepts apply to any iSCSI array connected to
Windows servers. For this article, my server operating system is Windows Server
If you missed the beginning of the series, check out the
first four parts:
iSCSI over fibre channel: Deciding factors”
vendor selection process”
vendor selection: The final contenders”
the iSCSI EqualLogic PS200E storage array”
Creating a volume: SAN side
As you might expect, in order to attach a volume to a
server, you need to create that volume on the SAN first. With the PS200E array,
creating a volume and allocating adequate space isn’t very hard. First, log in
to the array group manager and, under the Getting Started column, click the
Create Volume option, as shown in Figure
|Click Create Volume to begin the volume creation wizard.|
The volume creation wizard has three steps. In the first
step, name your volume and indicate how much space you wish to allocate for
data on the new volume. You can also indicate how much disk space to reserve for
snapshots of the new volume. In my group, we generally allocate 100 percent
reserve (or more, if needed) for snapshots and schedule snapshots every two
hours. One hundred percent reserve means that, if we allocate 50 GB for a new
volume, which I have done for this example, another 50 GB is reserved for
snapshots. Since this was a primary reason for getting the array, I don’t
consider the space “wasted”. See Figure
B for a look at this process.
|Allocate disk reserve space.|
We also have a policy of limiting access to volumes only to
those servers that need it. Even though we run our operations on a storage
network completely separate from the main network, this protects other volumes
in the event that a server happens to be compromised. You can see in Figure C that I’ve limited access to
this new volume to a single IP address.
|Limit access to new volumes.|
Finally, you will see a summary page that provides a quick
look at the options you’ve selected for a new volume (Figure D).
Believe it or not, that’s all that’s required to create a new volume on the PS200E. When
you’re done, the new volume shows up in the main volume list. If you want to
perform advanced operations such as establishing a snapshot schedule, you can. I’m
going to move on to the server side.
Attaching to a volume: Server side
With the volume created, you need to attach to it from a
server. First, with Windows and an iSCSI target in place (the
“target” is your new array and volume), you need to download the
Microsoft iSCSI initiator. While the latest version is 1.06
(as of this writing), we had problems with this version, and EqualLogic
recommended version 1.05a
as a replacement. Install the initiator before going any further.
Once the initiator is installed, go to Start | Control Panel
| iSCSI Initiator. On the Target Portals properties page, add the IP address
for your array. In EqualLogic’s case, I need to add the array cluster IP address,
as shown in Figure E.
|Add the iSCSI array to the portals page.|
After adding the portal, click the Available Targets tab. Assuming
you’ve properly set up permissions on your new volume, you’ll see it on the
list of targets at the bottom of the window, designated as Inactive. It’s
inactive since nothing is yet attached to it. To connect to the target, click
the Log On button at the bottom of the window. This results in a logon window that
asks a couple of questions (see Figure F).
First, do you want to reconnect to this target at boot time? Second, do you
want to enable multi-path? I won’t be going over multi-path in this article,
except to say that it provides a measure of redundancy.
|Log on to your new volume.|
Finally, on the Available Targets tab, click the Bind
Volumes button (Figure G). This
results in the operating system waiting at boot until iSCSI targets have
|Click the Bind Volumes button any time you make changes to a volume
With your new volume bound, now you need to format it and
make it ready for use. Do this in the normal way—through Disk Management at
Start | All Programs | Administrative Tools | Computer Management. Since
Windows sees the iSCSI target as a new volume, it automatically starts the
Initialize And Convert Disk Wizard. During this wizard, you’re asked to
indicate which new disks you want to initialize and convert. As a note, you do
have to initialize your new disk volume, but you should leave it configured as
a Basic disk. Don’t convert it to Dynamic. When the wizard is done, the disk
management tool shows your new volume as unallocated (Figure H).
|Disk manager shows the new volume as unallocated.|
To get the volume ready for use, right-click it and select
New Partition from the shortcut menu. When you’re done, your new volume will display in My
Computer just like any other volume (Figure I) and, on this array, performs extremely
|My Computer displays the new volume.|
In the case of the PS200E’s manager, some statistics are
also kept about your volume, including the length of time it’s been up and how
much data has been transferred between the server and the volume on the array. Figure J below shows a sample of this
|The manager shows some interesting stats about each volume.|
Overall, you can probably tell I’m very pleased with this
array and the ease of use afforded by it. Creating volumes and attaching them
couldn’t be easier and the unit has performed well beyond my expectations.