Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

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iSCSI Update

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As you'll recall, back in March I did a fairly detailed post about storage management.  In that post I demoed via a screencast the String Bean Software WinTarget software we acquired.  Lots of questions are starting to surface about this technology.  This is probably due to the fact that we are in the timeframe we said to expect a release.  So here's an update on what's going on.

First, if you head over to the Microsoft Download Center, you'll notice in May we released Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator Version 2.02 build 1895.  This is the client side implementation of iSCSI and you'll see the list of supported operating systems.  Pretty much every OS we still support is in the list with a notable exception.  My favorite, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 isn't listed.  I think it's probably an oversight.  Or at least I hope so.  Later this year I'll try it out and see.  By then I'll be running Windows Vista Ultimate anyway and the initiator comes with it.

Second, please take the time to re-read our announcement on the acquisition of WinTarget.  As you can see in the fourth paragraph, we will not be selling the iSCSI target technology per se.  This technology is being integrated in the Windows Storage Server product line.  After we get done with our part, we'll hand the operating system and technologies over to the storage partners we have.  They'll need some time for final testing, integration and certification of their solutions.  I fully expect to see those solutions early this fall, long before Santa Claus comes to my house.  Hopefully he'll bring me a nice little SAN.

For more information, stay tuned to http://www.microsoft.com/storage.

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  • It seems to me iSCSI would be good if you could guarantee an adequate amount of bandwidth. The only way I can see this happening with the large amount of data flowing around the average network would to do something like using a second NIC (1Gb) and dedicating it to the iSCSI box. Then you could have your own data network isolated on your LAN. Can you dedicate flow like this in Windows?

  • I/O is king for some applications.  Access is key to other scenarios.  You have to assess the goals of your storage plan.  How will the data get accessed, from where, at what timeframes, etc.?

    Those discoveries will help answer what to buy, build or lease.  

  • iSCSI actually requires a dedicated IO network.  The iSCSI card provides either a fiber or copper ethernet jack and you run them all to a standard switch and then to your storage device (or devices).  Think about it... would you want all that disk IO running thru your regular network?
    You can dedicate traffic in Windows easily, btw.  In fact, I found out (the hard way) that it's a really bad idea to run more than one NIC card on a Domain Controller.  I had 2, 1 for DNS and DHCP and things like that and 1 for file sharing.  Easy to setup and easy to route traffic, but take my word for it, don't do that on a DC!  Look in network setting and click (once) on a network connection.  Then hit the Advanced menu and look in advanced settings.  There you can bind traffic to a NIC easily.