Adding an ISCSI SAN to your Home test Lab using Starwind ISCSI Target Software & VMWARE ESX server

Hi folks. Yes i know , I have been missing for many years. As i saw the last post was somewhere 2 years back … Humm. Well , i decided to dig up this old blog of mine and start documenting all that I am now learning in my quest to build my personal IT Home LAB. Today i will show you how i have set up ISCSI SAN in my personal home lab.

I spin up a VM [ windows 7] and installed Starwind ISCSI target sofware. I have the ISO for Openfiler but i decided to play with Starwind first.After i installed the software and created a target making it quite open . Yes , you guessed it right , I did not use any authentication or rules , it was all bare open. Now first i checked the connectivity from within the host OS using the Microsoft ISCSI initiator software. It worked clean and i was happy. Then i spin up an ESXI VM and set it up the way it should be. I connected to the ESXI box using vsphere client software and added s Software ISCSI adapter to the box. Still no issues , all cool. But then the problem happened which frankly kept me guessing and trying almost everything i possibly could. My ISCSI initiator/adapter was not discovering the target disk. Surprisingly it did not give me any viable error while trying to discover the target using the HOST IP address of the Starwind Server. Check out the screenshot below.


Also when i was checking the adapter properties > static discovery , it was a whitewash!! Come On … why is it like that


I tried to scan and scan and scan the adapter for million times but still nothing changed. Feeling quite frustrated i decided to remove Starwind but then suddenly something struck my mind. Wait a second , if i can connect to the target locally but not from a remote server then it could be possible that the firewalls must be playing up. Now since both my starwind and my ESXI are on the same network , the virtual router firewall can not be accused of this crime …. Then … Well ofcourse the grand daddy Windows Firewall !!!
And so it was , i saw that Windows Firewall was service was not running on my Windows 7 VM. I had disabled the service thinking it might disrupt the connection but i was so wrong.  I enabled the Windows firewall service on the starwind server. Then attempted to connect again. And hey it still did not work ….

After 1 whole day was gone , I decided to watch my every step closely while configuring the adapter. So let’s explore it step by step. One you open the properties for the adapter you click on Dynamic Discovery tab :

a) Put the iSCSI server IP address (Starwind server)
b) Leave the port number to 3260 [ the standard port number for iSCSI communication ]

Now wait !!!, before you decide to hit that OK button , for heaven’s sake take a look at CHAP!@@#@#@#@#@

Yes my friend , it’s the CHAP button that can keep you guessing and feeling frustrated. CHAP is basically a type of encryption algorithm to secure the communication between the iSCSI initiator and the target. Remember i did not configure CHAP on the target so obviously I never cared to configure it at inititator [esxi] end. Now let’s click on the CHAP button :


See , that’s the default view of Mr. CHAP which will not allow me to see the target.
After i made the below changes (see screenshot below) i scanned the adapter again.


Now i could see the target disc.

Hope you enjoyed the post. Until we meet again take care and keep on exploring….