Installing the VDS Hardware Provider for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on Windows Server 2008

Installing the VDS Hardware Provider for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on Windows Server 2008

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Overview

In this article, we’ll describe the process to install the VDS Hardware Provider (and, incidentally, the VSS Hardware Provider) for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target, which is part of Windows Unified Data Storage Server 2003 (WUDSS 2003).

This package, referred to as “Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Client” supports both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. We’ll show the Windows Server 2008 screenshots.

We’ll use two servers in this scenario. Server0 is the iSCSI Software Target, running WUDSS 2003. Server1 is the application server (a SQL Server, for instance) running Windows Server 2008 and the built-in iSCSI initiator. We’ll install the VDS hardware provider in Server1.

iVDS0

Before the installation

Below you see a screenshot of the DISKRAID command-line tool running on Server0 before the installation.

iVDS1

Because there is no VDS hardware provider installed, DISKRAID cannot do anything and just shows a message and quits.

Installing the client

To install the VDS hardware provider, we’ll run the “Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Client” setup on Server1.

Keep in mind that this software was updated this year to include support for Windows Server 2008, so you need to get an updated version from your WUDSS vendor.

Please note that Microsoft provides this client software to the OEMs that sell WUDSS, not directly to end users.

This is generally referred to by the Partner Knowledge Base article number that documents it.

If your OEM support person has any trouble finding it, ask them to look up Partner KB 949499. This is not a public KB, but all WUDSS OEM partners have access to it.

There are two versions of the Client, one for 32 bits and one for 64 bits. Choose the right file and run it.

The setup is delivered as an MSI file that leverages the Microsoft Installer technology. Here’s the welcome screen:

iVDS2

After you click next and accept the license agreement, you are taken to the screen that offers a choice of “Typical” or “Custom” install. See that below:

iVDS3

The “Typical” option will install both hardware providers (VDS and VSS). The “Custom” option will ask if you want to install VDS, VSS or both. See the screen below:

iVDS4

You then need to specify the user credentials to be used by the providers. Those will be used to authenticate with the iSCSI Software Target.

The account must have administrator privileges in both servers involved. Here’s that screen:

iVDS5

In the last screen you confirm the operation and start the actual installation. It’s a very quick install and it does not require a reboot.

Specifying iSCSI Targets

WARNING: This section include information about modifying the registry. As you probably know, this may damage your system. Proceed with care, validate any changes in a test environment first and always perform a back up before making changes to the registry.

If both the storage and application servers are in the same domain, share the same subnet and have the ability to talk via UDP, the provider will discover the target automatically via mailslots.

However, there is a chance that the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target VDS Hardware Provider service may not detect all iSCSI Software Target servers on the network if one or more of the conditions above are not met.

To work around the issue, you need to manually add the iSCSI Software Target to be managed by the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target VDS Hardware Provider by following these steps:

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\WTVDSProv\WTServers
  3. Create a REG_SZ value where the value name is the iSCSI Software Target server name and the value is blank (one for each iSCSI Software Target)

See the screen below, showing the registry in Server1 after adding the entry for Server0:

iVDS6

Restart the VDS service

If VDS is running, you need to restart VDS service so it can use the newly installed hardware provider (you do not need reboot the server, just stop and start the VDS service).

You can do this using the Services MMC or using the SC command line, as shown below:

iVDS7

Checking with DISKRAID

After that, you should be all set. You can verify this by running DISKRAID again.

This time, since the hardware provider is loaded, it should load and give you a command prompt.

Check the screenshot below, which shows the “list subsystems” and “list providers” commands being used to verify everything is in place:

iVDS8

Checking with Storage Manager for SANs

You can also use Storage Manager for SANs (SMfS) to verify that the VDS hardware provider is working.

Check the screen below to see Server0 details in the SMfS subsystems list:

iVDS9

Conclusion

I hope these steps helped you install your VDS hardware provider for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target.

At this point, you can start provisioning iSCSI LUNs from Server1 using either DISKRAID and SMfS.

I will follow up with a couple of post on exactly how to do that…

Notes

For more details on VDS, check http://blogs.technet.com/josebda/archive/2007/10/25/the-basics-of-the-virtual-disk-services-vds.aspx

For more information about WUDSS 2003, check http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/storage/wudss.mspx. Please note that WUDSS is only sold via OEMs like HP and Dell. It is not available via any other Microsoft sales channels like software retailers or volume licensing. WUDSS is also not available from MSDN or TechNet subscriber downloads.

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