Setting Up Failover Clustering for Hyper-V (Part 3)

by [Published on 19 May 2011 / Last Updated on 19 May 2011]

This article continues the series on failover clustering for Hyper-V by showing you how to create an iSCSI connection to a shared storage pool.

If you would like to read the other parts of this article series please go to:


In the previous part of this article series, I showed you where you can get a copy of Windows Storage Server 2008 and the iSCSI Target software. In this article, I want to continue the discussion by showing you how to go about establishing an iSCSI connection between your cluster nodes and your Windows Storage Server.

Before I Begin

Before I get started, there are a few assumptions that I am making in regard to the procedures that I am about to show you. First, I am assuming that you have two servers running Windows Server 2008 R2, and that those two servers will eventually serve as nodes within the Hyper-V failover cluster.

I am also assuming that you have created a dedicated network segment for iSCSI traffic. Both cluster nodes and the Windows Storage Server should have a NIC that is connected to this dedicated segment. You will need to assign the Windows Storage Server’s NIC a static IP address.

Finally, your storage server should have a physical disk or disk array that can be used as a storage pool.

Setting up the iSCSI Initiator

The first step in the configuration process is to configure the iSCSI initiator on both of your cluster nodes. The iSCSI initiator is included with Windows Server 2008 R2 and can be found on the Administrative Tools menu.

When you launch the iSCSI initiator for the first time, it will ask you two questions. The first question is whether or not you want Windows to start the Microsoft iSCSI Service automatically each time you start your computer, as shown in Figure A. Since the service is required for iSCSI communications, you should click Yes.

Figure A: The iSCSI Initiator asks you if you want to start the service automatically.

The next question that you must answer is whether or not you want to allow iSCSI traffic to pass through the Windows Firewall. Obviously, you will have to answer Yes to this question.

After you have answered these two questions, Windows will display the iSCSI Initiator Properties sheet. There are a few different things that you will have to do with this properties sheet.

First, go to the properties sheet’s Configuration tab, shown in Figure B, and make note of the Initiator Name. This name will be different for each of your cluster nodes, and is used to identify the server when it attempts to make a connection to the iSCSI target later on.

Figure B: Make note of the Initiator Name.

The next step in the process is to make our iSCSI initiator aware of our iSCSI Target (which we have not yet configured). To do so, go to the properties sheet’s Discovery tab and click on the Discover Portal button. When you do, you will be prompted to enter the iSCSI target’s IP address or DNS name, as shown in Figure C. Enter the IP address that’s associated with your storage server’s NIC. Verify that the iSCSI initiator is configured to communicate over Port 3260 and click OK.

Figure C: Enter your storage server’s IP address.

Click OK and you should see the storage server’s IP address listed among the Target Portals shown on the Discovery tab, as shown in Figure D. Don’t worry if you receive a message telling you that the connection has failed. This is expected because we have not yet configured the target.

Figure D: The Discovery tab should list the target’s IP address.

You must now repeat the process on your other cluster node.

Create an iSCSI Target

Now that we have configured the iSCSI initiators, we have to configure the iSCSI target. To do so, go ahead and install the iSCSI target software on your storage server if you haven’t already. After installing the iSCSI Target software open it and Windows will display the iSCSI Target console.

Navigate through the console tree to Microsoft iSCSI Software Target | iSCSI Targets. Now, right click on the iSCSI Targets container and select the Create iSCSI Target command from the resulting shortcut menu, as shown in Figure E. This will cause Windows to launch the Create iSCSI Target Wizard.

Figure E: You must create a new iSCSI Target.

Click Next to bypass the wizard’s Welcome screen. You will now be prompted to provide a name and a description for the iSCSI target. For the purposes of this article I am going to call the target MyTarget. In the real world I recommend being as descriptive as possible because it is common to have to create multiple iSCSI targets.

The next screen asks you to provide an iSCSI Qualified Name (IQN). As you will recall, IQN names were automatically created when we set up out iSCSI initiators. We will be using these same iSCSI initiators.

Click the Browse button and then select the IQN that corresponds to your first cluster node from the list. If your iSCSI initiator isn’t listed then you can type the IQN manually, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F: You must provide the IQN for your iSCSI initiator.

Next, click the Advanced button and provide the IQN for any remaining cluster nodes that will be connecting to the storage pool. When you have finished, click OK.

Click Next, followed by Finish to complete the wizard. Your new target should be displayed within the console tree as shown in Figure G.

Figure G: A new target should be listed.

Assigning Storage to the Target

Now that you have created your iSCSI target, you will have to allocate some storage resources to that target. To do so, navigate through the console tree to Microsoft iSCSI Software Target \ iSCSI Targets \ MyTarget (or whatever you have called the target that you created). Next, right click on the MyTarget container and select the Create Virtual Disk for iSCSI Target, as shown in Figure H. When you do, Windows will launch the Create Virtual Disk Wizard.

Figure H: You must create a virtual disk for the iSCSI target.

Before I walk you through the wizard, I need to explain how the storage pool will be allocated. The wizard works by creating a virtual hard disk file and linking it to the target that you created earlier. The tricky part is that this virtual hard disk won’t be used directly by your virtual machines. Instead, the virtual servers that you create through Hyper-V will use virtual hard drives that are stored within the virtual hard drive that you are about to create. Therefore, you must make the virtual hard drive file large enough to accommodate any virtual machine virtual hard drives that you plan to store within it.

With that said, provide the wizard with the path to the virtual hard drive that you want to create, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I: Provide a path and filename for the virtual hard drive that you want to create.

Click Next and the wizard will ask you how large you want to make the virtual hard drive. Enter the size (in megabytes) and click Next. Finally, provide a name for the virtual hard drive and then click Next, followed by Finish. When you are done, the console will display the virtual hard disk, as shown in Figure J.

Figure J: The console displays the virtual hard disk that you have created.


Now that we have set up the virtual storage pool, we must link our cluster nodes to it. I will show you how in Part 4.

If you would like to read the other parts of this article series please go to:

See Also

The Author — Brien M. Posey

Brien M. Posey avatar

Brien Posey is an MCSE and has won the Microsoft MVP award for the last few years. Brien has written well over 4,000 technical articles and written or contributed material to 27 books.


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