Posts Tagged ‘initiator’

Dell Compellent iSCSI Configuration

November 20, 2015

I haven’t seen too many blog posts on how to configure Compellent for iSCSI. And there seem to be some confusion on what the best practices for iSCSI are. I hope I can shed some light on it by sharing my experience.

In this post I want to talk specifically about the Windows scenario, such as when you want to use it for Hyper-V. I used Windows Server 2012 R2, but the process is similar for other Windows Server versions.

Design Considerations

All iSCSI design considerations revolve around networking configuration. And two questions you need to ask yourself are, what your switch topology is going to look like and how you are going to configure your subnets. And it all typically boils down to two most common scenarios: two stacked switches and one subnet or two standalone switches and two subnets. I could not find a specific recommendation from Dell on whether it should be one or two subnets, so I assume that both scenarios are supported.

Worth mentioning that Compellent uses a concept of Fault Domains to group front-end ports that are connected to the same Ethernet network. Which means that you will have one fault domain in the one subnet scenario and two fault domains in the two subnets scenario.

For iSCSI target ports discovery from the hosts, you need to configure a Control Port on the Compellent. Control Port has its own IP address and one Control Port is configured per Fault Domain. When server targets iSCSI port IP address, it automatically discovers all ports in the fault domain. In other words, instead of using IPs configured on the Compellent iSCSI ports, you’ll need to use Control Port IP for iSCSI target discovery.

Compellent iSCSI Configuration

In my case I had two stacked switches, so I chose to use one iSCSI subnet. This translates into one Fault Domain and one Control Port on the Compellent.

IP settings for iSCSI ports can be configured at Storage Management > System > Setup > Configure iSCSI IO Cards.


To create and assign Fault Domains go to Storage Management > System > Setup > Configure Local Ports > Edit Fault Domains. From there select your fault domain and click Edit Fault Domain. On IP Settings tab you will find iSCSI Control Port IP address settings.



Host MPIO Configuration

On the Windows Server start by installing Multipath I/O feature. Then go to MPIO Control Panel and add support for iSCSI devices. After a reboot you will see MSFT2005iSCSIBusType_0x9 in the list of supported devices. This step is important. If you don’t do that, then when you map a Compellent disk to the hosts, instead of one disk you will see multiple copies of the same disk device in Device Manager (one per path).



Host iSCSI Configuration

To connect hosts to the storage array, open iSCSI Initiator Properties and add your Control Port to iSCSI targets. On the list of discovered targets you should see four Compellent iSCSI ports.

Next step is to connect initiators to the targets. This is where it is easy to make a mistake. In my scenario I have one iSCSI subnet, which means that each of the two host NICs can talk to all four array iSCSI ports. As a result I should have 2 host ports x 4 array ports = 8 paths. To accomplish that, on the Targets tab I have to connect each initiator IP to each target port, by clicking Connect button twice for each target and selecting one initiator IP and then the other.




Compellent Volume Mapping

Once all hosts are logged in to the array, go back to Storage Manager and add servers to the inventory by clicking on Servers > Create Server. You should see hosts iSCSI adapters in the list already. Make sure to assign correct host type. I chose Windows 2012 Hyper-V.



It is also a best practice to create a Server Cluster container and add all hosts into it if you are deploying a Hyper-V or a vSphere cluster. This guarantees consistent LUN IDs across all hosts when LUN is mapped to a Server Cluster object.

From here you can create your volumes and map them to the Server Cluster.

Check iSCSI Paths

To make sure that multipathing is configured correctly, use “mpclaim” to show I/O paths. As you can see, even though we have 8 paths to the storage array, we can see only 4 paths to each LUN.


Arrays such as EMC VNX and NetApp FAS use Asymmetric Logical Unit Access (ALUA), where LUN is owned by only one controller, but presented through both. Then paths to the owning controller are marked as Active/Optimized and paths to the non-owning controller are marked as Active/Non-Optimized and are used only if owning controller fails.

Compellent is different. Instead of ALUA it uses iSCSI Redirection to move traffic to a surviving controller in a failover situation and does not need to present the LUN through both controllers. This is why you see 4 paths instead of 8, which would be the case if we used an ALUA array.


Zoning vs. LUN masking explained

September 28, 2012

Zoning and masking terms are often confused by those who just started working with SAN. But it takes 5 minutes googling to understand that the main difference is that zoning is configured on a SAN switch on a port basis (or WWN) and masking is a storage feature with LUN granularity. All modern hardware supports zoning and masking. Given that, the much more interesting question here is what’s the point of zoning if there is masking with finer granularity.

Both security features do the same thing, restrict access to particular storage targets. And it seems that there is no point in configuring both of them. But that’s not true. One, not that convincing argument, is that in case one of the features is accidentally misconfigured, you still maintain security. But the much bigger issue in no-zoning configuration are RSCNs. RSCNs are Registered State Change Notification messages which are issued by SAN Name Server service when fabric changes it’s configuration (new device has been added to the fabric, a zone has changed, a switch name or IP address has changed, etc). RSCNs can be disruptive to fabric operation. And if you don’t have zones RSCNs are flooded to everyone each time something changes in a fabric, even if it has nothing to do with majority of devices. So zoning is a SAN best practice and its configuration is highly recommended.

In fact, Brocade recommends to adopt a so called Single Initiator Zoning (SIZ) practice, when one host pWWN (initiator) is zoned to one or more storage pWWNs. It reduces RSCN issue to a minimum.

As a best reference read Brocade’s: Secure SAN Zoning – Best Practices.

Present NetApp iSCSI LUN to Linux host

March 7, 2012

Consider the following scenario (which is in fact a real case). You have a High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster where users usually generate hellova research data. Local hard drives on a frontend node are almost always insufficient. There are two options. First is presenting a NFS share both to frontend and all compute nodes. Since usually compute nodes  connect only to private network for communication with the frontend and don’t have public ip addresses it means a lot of reconfiguration. Not to mention possible security implications.

The simpler solution here is to use iSCSI.  Unlike NFS, which requires direct communication, with iSCSI you can mount a LUN to the frontend and then compute nodes will work with it as ordinary NFS share through the private network. This implies configuration of iSCSI LUN on a NetApp filer and bringing up iSCSI initiator in Linux.

iSCSI configuration consists of several steps. First of all you need to create FlexVol volume where you LUN will reside and then create a LUN inside of it. Second step is creation of initiator group which will enable connectivity between NetApp and a particular host.  And as a last step you will need to map the LUN to the initiator group. It will let the Linux host to see this LUN. In case you disabled iSCSI, don’t forget to enable it on a required interface.

vol create scratch aggrname 1024g
lun create -s 1024g -t linux /vol/scratch/lun0
igroup create -i -t linux hpc
igroup add hpc linux_host_iqn
lun map /vol/scratch/lun0 hpc
iscsi interface enable if_name

Linux host configuration is simple. Install iscsi-initiator-utils packet and add it to init on startup. iSCSI IQN which OS uses for connection to iSCSI targets is read from /etc/iscsi/initiatorname.iscsi upon startup. After iSCSI initiator is up and running you need to initiate discovery process, and if everything goes fine you will see a new hard drive in the system (I had to reboot). Then you just create a partition, make a file system and mount it.

iscsiadm -m discovery -t sendtargets -p nas_ip
fdisk /dev/sdc
mke2fs -j /dev/sdc1
mount /dev/sdc1 /state/partition1/home

I use it for the home directories in ROCKS cluster suite. ROCKS automatically export /home through NFS to compute nodes, which in their turn mount it via autofs. If you intend to use this volume for other purposes, then you will need to configure you custom NFS export.