hypervWith the current version of Hyper-v in Server 2008 R2 a SAN (Storage Area Network) is required for creating a farm. This is where you have more than one physical machine and move your Virtual Machines around from one physical host to the next with only milliseconds of downtime. That is awesome technology but a SAN is required. What, you say it costs tens of thousands of dollars and you can’t afford to put a SAN in your test, home, or demo networks? What about iSCSI?

Thanks to iSCSI there are multiple ways to get an inexpensive SAN up and running. I am going to show you two ways that I have gotten an iSCSI SAN working with my two laptops that I use for demos.

The first way I created an inexpensive iSCSI SAN was with the “FREE” Microsoft iSCSI Target 3.3 software. (well not quite free – it is downloadable at no additional charge – you need a Windows Server;)) You can download it from here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=19867. There are already some great resources on how to set it up so I will have you refer to them for details on how to configure the Microsoft iSCSI target. (trying to keep the internet clean)


qnap119pQNAP iSCSI Target
The second way that I have setup an iSCSI SAN is with a low cost appliance. I chose the QNAP TS-119P+. I picked one up for about $230 and added a spare 500 Gig drive to it.

  • Warning: You do need to be careful when choosing one of these devices. They may say they support Windows but they need to support Windows Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2008. The main issue is it needs to support iSCSI persistent reservations. If it doesn’t you won’t be able to build your cluster. The cluster validation wizard will fail and the report will tell you about the issue. The exact text is “Validate that storage supports the SCSI-3 Persistent Reservation commands” (yes, I know from experience – I had this issue with an Iomega StorCenter ix2 it was only $150 for a 2 drive system and included the drives. Unfortunately it didn’t work. I hacked at it until I bricked it)

The QNAP device works perfect for my needs. It delivers speeds of upto 100 Megabytes per second when coping a 30 Gig file to the drive and my Gigabit network was at about 9% utilization. This is better performance than I was able to get from a laptop running iSCSI target software but not near as good as running the iSCSI target software on a server a nice enterprise SAN.

I have put together a screencasts video of configuring the QNAP for an iSCSI SAN. This is the same process as with any iSCSI system.

Configuring a QNAP iSCSI Target


Connecting to an iSCSI Target:
After you have an iSCSI target configured you need to connect your servers to it. The way you do that is with the iSCSI initiator. It is already installed in the latest versions of Windows. I have a video that will walk you through the process of connecting to an iSCSI Target from a Windows Machine. You need to connect up to the same target from all physical host machines that are going to be in the Hyper-v farm. (up to 16 physical hosts)

Configuring the Windows iSCSI initiator

To Sum It Up:
There you go – you can build a SAN for your test and demo environments without breaking the bank. Once you have your Hyper-v 2008R2 farm built out you can add the automation found in the System Center Virtual Machine Manager tool and then you are on your way to your very own “private cloud”! If you want to add SCVMM 2012 to this environment you can download the latest Release Candidate code from here: http://aka.ms/downloads


Don’t forget to check out the whole 30 part series of “The Cloud on your Terms”: