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How To: Enable iSNS Server in Windows 2008

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If you weren’t already aware, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 includes an iSNS (Internet Storage Name Service) as a standard feature.  You can install it by starting up Server Manager and clicking on the “Features” item in the Server Manager tree.  From there you can locate “Internet Storage Name Server” and install.  See the first screenshot highlighting the feature selection panel and the iSNS option.

Installation isn’t particularly quick (for what should be a small piece of software),  but once complete, you can find iSNS Server in the Administrative Tools folder.  From this point, you can register iSCSI devices and group them into Discovery Domains and Discovery Domain Sets.

I’ve grouped my production servers and storage into “Brookend Production” and all the test devices I use in “Brookend Test”, rolling these up into a single “Brookend” set.

So why bother using iSNS?  Well, it creates a central location for the discovery of new devices, providing a similar function to SNS servers in Fibre Channel.  However, based on the devices in my lab, I’m not sure how useful iSNS is:

  • DroboElite – no option to specify an iSNS server in the GUI.
  • Iomega ix4-200d – allows specification of an iSNS server but doesn’t register, even after reboot or LUN creation.
  • Starwind iSCSI Target – seems to have compatibility issues with iSNS Server – registers one target but not all, then drops out
  • MS iSCSI Target – no option to register with an iSNS server

The only device I have that so far has correctly registered is my Promise NS4600, which appeared in iSNS as soon as I configured the setting.

I’d be interested to know who out there uses Microsoft iSNS and what your experiences are.  At some stage I’ll be adding iSNS discovery to my Windows Storage Viewer.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • http://jrudd.org/ James Rudd

    I’ve just been setting up a iSCSI network using MS Target and Initiator and both have an option for iSNS.

    On Target in console right click on the root node, choose Properties then click the iSNS tab.

    In Initiator click Discovery Tab and add under iSNS servers

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans

      James. Well spotted. I agree it can be done. I found the option for the target myself recently.


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