Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3: Getting Started Guide

Applies To: Microsoft iSCSI Software Target

Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) is a protocol that supports access to storage devices over a TCP/IP network, which facilitates storage consolidation and sharing of storage resources across an organization.

You can use Microsoft® iSCSI Software Target 3.3 to create iSCSI targets and iSCSI virtual disks. You can then use the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target console to manage all iSCSI targets and virtual disks that were created. Additional functionality provided in iSCSI Software Target includes support for taking snapshots of virtual disks. It also includes wizards for setting up and maintaining iSCSI Software Target.

This guide provides basic conceptual and installation information about iSCSI Software Target 3.3. It supplements the detailed procedural information that is available from the iSCSI Target Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in.

Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is an optional package for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2. If it is not installed or provided with your storage appliance, contact your storage appliance manufacturer for information about acquiring iSCSI Software Target. iSCSI Software Target 3.3 is supported on the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter

  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Workgroup

  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Standard

  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

iSCSI overview

Several protocols, such as Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and Serial ATA (SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment), are available so that a disk controller can communicate with the disk drives. These protocols are predefined standards that determine how commands, such as read and write requests, are packaged and sent between the controller and disk drive. The iSCSI protocol extends the SCSI standards by encapsulating SCSI commands in TCP/IP packets. These commands are sent over a TCP/IP network, so that servers can access storage on a storage area network (SAN). This facilitates implementing and centrally managing the consolidated storage, including centralized backup and remote system recovery.

iSCSI network components

In an iSCSI network, there are three components:

  • iSCSI target

    The iSCSI target provides storage, similar to the hard disk drives of locally attached storage, but this storage is accessed over a network instead of locally. This functionality is provided in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 by iSCSI Software Target.

  • iSCSI initiator

    The iSCSI initiator is sometimes referred to as the client. The iSCSI target provides the storage to the iSCSI initiator, which acts as a disk controller for the disks that are hosted by the target. All versions of Windows Server® include the iSCSI initiator so that the client computer can connect to an iSCSI target. The iSCSI Initiator is also included in the Windows Vista® and Windows 7 operating systems.

  • Storage fabric

    This is an IP-based network that connects the iSCSI target to the iSCSI initiator. The storage fabric is typically a gigabit local area network (LAN).

iSCSI Software Target components

The iSCSI Software Target package includes the following components:

  • Microsoft iSCSI Software Target   Lets you create and manage virtual disks, create and manage iSCSI targets, and provide backup and recovery of iSCSI targets through snapshots.

  • Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) hardware provider   Installs on the initiator computer and works with the VSS to provide consistent snapshots of iSCSI virtual disks on the computer that runs iSCSI Software Target.

  • Virtual Disk Service (VDS) hardware provider   Installs on an initiator computer and lets VDS-aware applications manage virtual disks on a storage appliance that is running iSCSI Software Target.

  • High Performance Computing (HPC) provider    On 64-bit Windows Server platforms, enables provisioning of iSCSI startup disks for Microsoft High Performance Computing (HPC) servers.

  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets   Assist you with task automation.For more information, see iSCSI Cmdlets ( on Microsoft TechNet.

    To access in-product Windows PowerShell™ Help, type get-help from a Windows PowerShell Command Prompt window.

In this guide