iSCSI, Windows 2003, SANSurfer, and VDS

April 07, 2009

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So I have a site with two servers having identical problems, a iSCSI volume will not initialize in Window's Disk Management utility (or create a partition in DiskPart).

In the GUI Disk Management, I get the error "Logical Disk Manager: The operation did not complete. Check the System Event Log for more information on the error." In DiskPart, I get the error "The disk management services could not complete the operation." The event log doesn't have an error directly explaining these errors, but sometimes I'll get an Application Error 1004, mentioning vds.exe (Virtual Disk Service) faulted. Google and multiple forum searches don't yield much result.

A little about the setup. I have an IBM DS3300 iSCSI SAN attaching LUNs to two Dell PowerEdge 1950s via a Qlogic QLE4062c cards, using SANSurfer software. (They're not sharing a LUN, each server gets a different one).

So I won't bore you too much, I'll leave out the majority of my troubleshooting and homicidal hatred towards these two systems and just give you the answer (or at least the answer that worked for me).

Turns out that the issue lies in the Virtual Disk Service, which Microsoft has a hotfix for here: Article ID: 948699. Once I installed the fix and rebooted I was able to initialize the disk, format, label, and use.

iSCSI File Shares Disappear

April 02, 2009

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A quick tip for those new to iSCSI, the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator, and using the two for file sharing.

Setting up the LUN, mapping it as a disk, and putting your file shares on it is great, but there are a few configuration steps you need to take if you experience your share settings disappear every time you reboot (even thought the files remain).

First, ensure that the Server service is dependent on the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator Service. To do this, go into the Services MMC, open the Server service properties, and check under the Dependencies tab. No Microsoft iSCSI Initiator? Open Regedit (Run - regedit.exe) and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\lanmanserver. Find the key "DependOnService" and set it's value to MSiSCSI. The Server service is responsible for creating the shares; if this service starts up before the iSCSI LUNs are ready on the server, then the shares will not appear.

Second, make sure you set up the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator to automatically restore the connection and drive letters. Under the Targets tab, when you highlighted the target and clicked "Log On", did you check "Automatically restore this connection when the system boots"? If not, remove the connection and log it back on, this time selecting the correct option.

Third, after the drive has been set up and you assigned it a drive letter, go back into the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator software and click on the Bound Volumes/Devices tab. You'll see some funky volume path that looks like gibberish. Highlight it and click Add. Put in the drive letter you assigned and click Ok. This will cause the iSCSI Initiator service to not completely start until the volume has been mapped to the drive letter. Since the Server service now depends on the iSCSI service starting up, it'll have to wait until the volume is available before it can assign share settings.