The famous Microsoft iSCSI target

Update: Don’t miss http://www.nullsession.com/2009/06/17/a-guide-to-iscsi-target-software-for-windows/ where I’m listing different iSCSI target software. Or the video which shows the installation of them and how to add one basic target. (I’m not testing advanced features or listing them though since we all have different needs and budgets)

Jose Barreto has posted an article on how to install the iSCSI software target on Windows Server 2008 over on Technet blogs: http://blogs.technet.com/josebda/archive/2008/05/21/installing-the-vds-hardware-provider-for-the-microsoft-iscsi-software-target-on-windows-server-2008.aspx. What’s kind of annoying is that the software is only released to OEM’s and not available from Microsoft otherwise. Today when the hype of virtualization is upon us again it’d be nice with that piece of complement in the setup. If you want to run Windows Server 2008 as an iSCSI target today there’s still software available.

I’ve found the following:

Windows:
Starwind from Rocket Division
MySan from Nimbus (not tested on 2008)

Linux:
iSCSI Enterprise Target Project

Have you found any other iSCSI target software? Let me know!

0 thoughts on “The famous Microsoft iSCSI target”

  1. Yes there are a few others for Microsoft Windows servers/desktop in fact.

    iSCSI Cake (Free)
    WinTarget
    sanFLy
    MetSan
    InetDISK

    Why do i even know this much? Because you’re absolutely right. Articles that describe setting up iSCSI for windows only focus on the OEM version or the what’s in Win 2008. Without any concern for someone that has neither access to both. Not even a quick mention to simply say – “and by the way if you don’t have access to either try looking into these alternatives for windows”.

    Anyway I hope those listed about will help someone out.

    -Shamu

  2. Actually, that article is about the Windows Server 2008 version of the VDS Hardware Provider for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target, not about the iSCSI Software Target itself.

    I did post another article on the blog on how to get an evaluation version of the iSCSI Software Target, which works for 90 days. It is true that the full version of the target is only available via OEMs.

    I don’t mention the alternatives you included here because my blog focuses on the Microsoft-provided tools.

    I avoid as much as possible mentioning third party tools. As a Microsoft employee, doing so would put me in a tough spot since it can be considered as an endorsement and there’s always the risk of being considered unfair for forgetting to list someone.

    Good job on listing them…

  3. The problem with IET is that it doesn’t support SPC3 commands, specifically the persistant reservation commands. This makes it impossible to have Windows 2008 cluster with an IETD iscsi target. I have been searching all over and it looks like there is no way to do this without paying up front for the SPC3 support.

  4. I believe the Starwind product supports the persistent scsi3 reserveration which you rightly state is mandatory for W2008 iscsi clustering. It’s only a demo though, so you don’t get long to play with it for free.

    I was able to setup a test cluster using this having previously failed using Datacore.

  5. I think the whole notion of iSCSI Target being some sort of “enterprise” feature is nothing but pure BS – this is simply Microsoft stonewalling iSCSI from retail product; a CLEARLY ILLEGAL MOVE to prevent you from buying one server lic and use iSCSI Target with unlimited clients without ever buying any CAL* for your clients.

    These kind of fuckin’ tricks causes that I laugh all the way on any article that describes how the EU penetrating MS from behind every year… they deserve it!
    I hope sooner or later someone explains them what MS did to manipulate the entire iSCSI target market…

    *: CAL is, BTW, a completely ridiculous idea, a leftover from the rip-off-based business plans of the 80s and 90s and will hopefully wreck MS once and forever.

    1. I can to some extent agree, but I think you’re a little bit more rabid than me on the issue. But you know there are other makers of iSCSI target software, and even some open source-ones if you’re into that… We each choose a technology / license model / whatever based on our needs / budget / preferences so if you don’t like Microsofts way of doing business there are others.

  6. With the exception of iSCSICake I tried everything that’s available – and so far nothing really works, most of them either haven’t been updated for long-long time or simply isnt’ even working…

    The really retarded part of this? When I bought two Storage Server 2003 x64 R2 back in 2007 I was told it WILL get the target later – turned out it NEVER GOT IT and all I got was fingerpointing between Dell (did I mwention I WAS FORCED TO BUY $8k worth of hardware?)anjd no iSCSI whatsoever. Ever.
    And I mean EVER.

    So how did I solve my problem (shared storage for XenServer 5 hosts)? It’s easy: I moved my iSCSI target to a FREE CentOS-based server – there you, retarded Microsoft and your rotten, crooked policies: no more money from us. EVER. AGAIN.

    They alienated sooo many IT people and not just decision-makers like me but even simple operators that it would take another 10 years of SPOTLESS community service to fix their utterly broken image.
    They won’t and as their latest results show – fist ever drop in their profits and it is substantial, over 15% IIRC – I am right, more and mroe people switch to alternatives (no, not to Apple :D).

    1. Well, the storage server is OEM only so it’s Dell that has to deliver. It’s included in the image deployed to the servers as far as I know.

      I use the beta of Storage Server 2008 (Thor3), it’s available through connect.microsoft.com if they approve any more applicants if you wanna try it.

      Other than that I’ve been using Starwind (http://www.rocketdivision.com/wind.html) which I must say (can I get paid for this?) is a great product.

      I don’t really share your view over Microsoft’s business model or customer experience, but I don’t agree to everything they do either 🙂

  7. I am having good luck with OpenFiler which is free and seems fairly polished. It will run in a virtual machine on a Windows server, and you can form its storage pool from virtual disk files which you put where ever you have room on your Windows volumes. Or you can run it bare metal.

    http://www.openfiler.com/

    I do have to say that I am using Openfiler because of Microsoft product stupidity. I want to use Windows Server 2008 Image Backup for several servers, but will it do incremental backups to anything but a local disk? Nope. Well, how about iSCSI–yup works great but the target can’t be installed except in Storage Server. Ok, got SS from MSDN. Backs up to VHD files used as targets nifty…can I mount a VHD file to check it out (for recovery in case my SS is also down)? Nope, iSCSI target only works on Storage server, VHD files can only be mounted in 2008 R2. What will it take to mount VHD files? Probably an OS upgrade and new license fees. What kind of genius at MS won’t allow the OS to mount virtual disk files that it creates, but put that feature in a different OS instead?

    I recall my first iSCSI target which I setup on a Netware server about 7 years ago. MS still does have this basic feature where it should be. I mean, the whole download for the target is around 5 MB. You know that that is just too much code for MS to get implemented in their mainstream OSes.

    As an MCSE I am moving away from Microsoft and not even because their software is overpriced. It’s just too full of limitations, gotchas, and every tiny new feature requires an OS upgrade. The only product they offer that is truly best in class is Exchange. Everything else is just used because of inertia amongst users and IT departments.

  8. My setup has a domain controller(acts as storage server, as well) with two nodes(acts as Application servers) linked to it. All running Windows server 2008 R2…
    I tried installing iSCSI target on domain controller. During the installation process, an error message pops up saying “There is a problem with this windows installer package” and rollsback the installation.
    But, if I happen to install using same package in each of the nodes the iSCSI target gets installed. Why so…???
    Is it because the storage server is also my domain controller…???
    Can I run iSCSI target in my application nodes and Initiator in the Storage server(domain controller) for Clustering feature…???

    Please help.
    Thankyou in Advance.

    1. Hi!

      At http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2535811 you can find the support organisations quick list over what’s supported and not. At first glance I couldn’t find anything about DC’s but that might be the case. I’d recommend you setup Hyper-V on your DC machine and install a virtual non-clustered DC. Then you can install the iSCSI target on that machine when it’s demoted, and after that you can setup your cluster.

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