26 June 2013

How to Configure Windows Server 2012 MPIO iSCSI storage with Dell PowerVault MD3200i

The Dell PowerVault MD3200i is an iSCSI storage device containing 8 x 1GB Ethernet interfaces over two RAID controllers. The aim is to have a configuration that provides increased performance and also fault tolerance.

Design Goals:

  • Best possible performance at disk layer
  • Best protection form enclosure layer
  • Active /Active redundant iSCSI paths

Configure the PowerVault
To make sure everything works on Server 2012 make sure you have at least the updated software:
Dell PowerVault MD Series Storage Array Resource DVD version 

I struggled a bit to get it downloaded, and needed to use "Free Download manager" to finally get it down.
Completing the full install on the server will install the management too but also importantly the updates MPIO drivers for Server 2012

PowerVault iSCSI Targets
The PowerVault is configured with a iSCSI data NIC connected directly to a NIC on the windows server.  One per RAID controller.   The layout is as follows:

Windows Server   --->   PowerVault
DATA NIC0   --->   RAID 0 Port 0   --->

DATA NIC1   --->   RAID 1 Port 0   --->

Logical disks
I created two logical disk groups.  Each containing 3 drives per enclosure.  Each logical disk is manually configured to prefer an alternate RAID controller

Configuring the Windows Server 2012

Add MPIO Support
Add the MPIO by following the add roles and feature wizard

After the install launch the MPIO from the Server Manager Tools menu

Select the Discover Multi-Paths tab
Check Add support for iSCSI devices
Ok and reboot the server

When you open the MPIO again you should now see that the MPIO Devices lists the Powervault as well as the Microsoft iSCSI Bus

iSCSI initiator
The iSCSi initiator is the tool that will be used to identify the server to the PowerVault.  It is also the tool that will be used to define the additional IO path(s).

Step 1 
Launch the iSCSI initiator
In the target specify the PowerVault RAID0 Port0 IP address click Quick connect

At this stage you should get a connection to the PowerVault.  
**The connection would now have notified the PV of the servers iSCSI initiator name. You can now complete the storage mapping.**

Step 2
Check that all the required LUNS are visible to the server.

Step 3
Define additional IO path

  • Open the iSCSI initiator
  • Select the discovered name
  • Disconnect
  • Connect
  • Check Enable multipath
  • Click advanced
  • Specify the adapter as Microsoft iSCSI initiator
  • Initiator IP is Server data NIC0
  • Target Portal is  PowerVault RAID0 Port0 / 3260
  • The status should now be connected
  • Click Properties
  • There should be a single identifier
  • Click add session
  • Check Enable multipath
  • Click advanced
  • Specify the adapter as Microsoft iSCSI initiator
  • Initiator IP is Server data NIC1
  • Target Portal is  PowerVault RAID1 Port0 / 3260
  • There should now be two identifiers listed, each one representing a separate physical path

On the iSCSI initiator properties select the active target - click devices - It should list all the device one line per path, so if there are two LUNS you will see the same two LUNS twice.

Select a LUN the click MPIO
Here you can see the load balance policy as well as the link status.  one would be active and the other standby.  Clicking on the details will reveal the IP pair the path relates to.

Step 4 
Initialize the disk and bring them online and create volumes.
If everything is working properly here you are all set.  (I got to this point with the older Dell drivers but could not get past here because of errors bringing the disks online)

Step 5 
Start transferring data and randomly disconnect the network to the storage and watch as performance degrades but keeps going.


Anonymous said...

You say you are setting up Active-Active but then show graphics with Active-Passive. In the example you show this is only failover, there won't be any increase in performance AFAIK.

Anonymous said...

Also, this is all great, but I would like to see the exact same instructions for NON-iSCSCI, i.e., just regular old MD3000 connected to dual SAS. Dell & Micrsoft, AFAIK, and from what I've read, do not plan fully-tested/supported MD3000-series units on Server 2012. It's really about selling new hardware; because, the MD3000 units are good, solid performers; and there's no reason they shouldn't still be used, as long as they are viable. That said, you can't always find perfect hard drives for the units, so it makes sense to move to higher/newer/supported hardware & software. Still, there are a *LOT* of MD3000 series units still in service, which says something for their robustness, reliability and overall quality. The least Dell & Microsoft could do is give 2012 backward-compatibility, until IT shops can afford to move up the 3200/3600 series - otherwise, this pushes us to go and buy non-Dell units, since they are less expensive, for the same performance and equivalent quality as the 3200/3600 series.

Eric said...

So, hang your MD3000 off of a 2008 box and connect to it remotely. Then it's still supported, right? Besides, if it's out of warranty, which it probably will be before long, it won't matter anyway. There's really not a lot to go wrong. I can't see a reason it wouldn't be fine.

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