Deploy StorSimple Virtual Array – Set up as an iSCSI server via Azure portal

iscsi setup process flow

Overview

Important

StorSimple Virtual Array (1200 series) will reach its end-of-life in December 2020. If you are considering new deployments of StorSimple Virtual Array, we recommend that you explore other alternatives such as Azure File Sync or Azure Data Box Online devices for your workloads.

This deployment tutorial applies to the Microsoft Azure StorSimple Virtual Array. This tutorial describes how to perform the initial setup, register your StorSimple iSCSI server, complete the device setup, and then create, mount, initialize, and format volumes on your StorSimple Virtual Array configured as an iSCSI server.

The procedures described here take approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete. The information published in this article applies to StorSimple Virtual Arrays only.

Setup prerequisites

Before you configure and set up your StorSimple Virtual Array, make sure that:

Step-by-step setup

Use the following step-by-step instructions to set up and configure your StorSimple Virtual Array:

Step 1: Complete the local web UI setup and register your device

To complete the setup and register the device

  1. Open a browser window. To connect to the web UI type:

    https://<ip-address of network interface>

    Use the connection URL noted in the previous step. You will see an error notifying you that there is a problem with the website’s security certificate. Click Continue to this web page.

    security certificate error

  2. Sign in to the web UI of your virtual device as StorSimpleAdmin. Enter the device administrator password that you changed in Step 3: Start the virtual device in Deploy StorSimple Virtual Array - Provision a virtual device in Hyper-V or Deploy StorSimple Virtual Array - Provision a virtual device in VMware.

    Sign-in page

  3. You will be taken to the Home page. This page describes the various settings required to configure and register the virtual device with the StorSimple Device Manager service. Note that the Network settings, Web proxy settings, and Time settings are optional. The only required settings are Device settings and Cloud settings.

    Home page

  4. On the Network settings page under Network interfaces, DATA 0 will be automatically configured for you. Each network interface is set by default to get an IP address automatically (DHCP). Therefore, an IP address, subnet, and gateway will be automatically assigned (for both IPv4 and IPv6).

    As you plan to deploy your device as an iSCSI server (to provision block storage), we recommend that you disable the Get IP address automatically option and configure static IP addresses.

    Network settings page

    If you added more than one network interface during the provisioning of the device, you can configure them here. Note you can configure your network interface as IPv4 only or as both IPv4 and IPv6. IPv6 only configurations are not supported.

  5. DNS servers are required because they are used when your device attempts to communicate with your cloud storage service providers or to resolve your device by name if it is configured as a file server. On the Network settings page under the DNS servers:

    1. A primary and secondary DNS server will be automatically configured. If you choose to configure static IP addresses, you can specify DNS servers. For high availability, we recommend that you configure a primary and a secondary DNS server.
    2. Click Apply. This will apply and validate the network settings.
  6. On the Device settings page:

    1. Assign a unique Name to your device. This name can be 1-15 characters and can contain letter, numbers and hyphens.

    2. Click the iSCSI server icon iSCSI server icon for the Type of device that you are creating. An iSCSI server will allow you to provision block storage.

    3. Specify if you want this device to be domain-joined. If your device is an iSCSI server, then joining the domain is optional. If you decide to not join your iSCSI server to a domain, click Apply, wait for the settings to be applied and then skip to the next step.

      If you want to join the device to a domain. Enter a Domain name, and then click Apply.

      Note

      If joining your iSCSI server to a domain, ensure that your virtual array is in its own organizational unit (OU) for Microsoft Azure Active Directory and no group policy objects (GPO) are applied to it.

    4. A dialog box will appear. Enter your domain credentials in the specified format. Click the check icon check icon. The domain credentials will be verified. You will see an error message if the credentials are incorrect.

      credentials

    5. Click Apply. This will apply and validate the device settings.

  7. (Optionally) configure your web proxy server. Although web proxy configuration is optional, be aware that if you use a web proxy, you can only configure it here.

    configure web proxy

    On the Web proxy page:

    1. Supply the Web proxy URL in this format: http://host-IP address or FQDN:Port number. Note that HTTPS URLs are not supported.
    2. Specify Authentication as Basic or None.
    3. If you are using authentication, you will also need to provide a Username and Password.
    4. Click Apply. This will validate and apply the configured web proxy settings.
  8. (Optionally) configure the time settings for your device, such as time zone and the primary and secondary NTP servers. NTP servers are required because your device must synchronize time so that it can authenticate with your cloud service providers.

    Time settings

    On the Time settings page:

    1. From the drop-down list, select the Time zone based on the geographic location in which the device is being deployed. The default time zone for your device is PST. Your device will use this time zone for all scheduled operations.
    2. Specify a Primary NTP server for your device or accept the default value of time.windows.com. Ensure that your network allows NTP traffic to pass from your datacenter to the Internet.
    3. Optionally specify a Secondary NTP server for your device.
    4. Click Apply. This will validate and apply the configured time settings.
  9. Configure the cloud settings for your device. In this step, you will complete the local device configuration and then register the device with your StorSimple Device Manager service.

    1. Enter the Service registration key that you got in Step 2: Get the service registration key in Deploy StorSimple Virtual Array - Prepare the Portal.

    2. If this is not the first device that you are registering with this service, you will need to provide the Service data encryption key. This key is required with the service registration key to register additional devices with the StorSimple Device Manager service. For more information, refer to Get the service data encryption key on your local web UI.

    3. Click Register. This will restart the device. You may need to wait for 2-3 minutes before the device is successfully registered. After the device has restarted, you will be taken to the sign in page.

      Register device

  10. Return to the Azure portal.

  11. Navigate to the Devices blade of your service. If you have a lot of resources, click All resources, click your service name (search for it if necessary), and then click Devices.

  12. On the Devices blade, verify that the device has successfully connected to the service by looking up the status. The device status should be Ready to set up.

    Register device

Step 2: Configure the device as iSCSI server

Perform the following steps in the Azure portal to complete the required device setup.

To configure the device as iSCSI server

  1. Go to your StorSimple Device Manager service and then go to Management > Devices. In the Devices blade, select the device you just created. This device would show up as Ready to set up.

    Configure device as iSCSI server

  2. Click the device and you will see a banner message indicating that the device is ready to setup.

    Configure device as iSCSI server

  3. Click Configure on the device command bar. This opens up the Configure blade. In the Configure blade, do the following:

    • The iSCSI server name is automatically populated.

    • Make sure the cloud storage encryption is set to Enabled. This ensures that the data sent from the device to the cloud is encrypted.

    • Specify a 32-character encryption key and record it in a key management app for future reference.

    • Select a storage account to be used with your device. In this subscription, you can select an existing storage account, or you can click Add to choose an account from a different subscription.

      Configure device as iSCSI server

  4. Click Configure to complete setting up the iSCSI server.

    Configure device as iSCSI server

  5. You will be notified that the iSCSI server creation is in progress. After the iSCSI server is successfully created, the Devices blade is updated and the corresponding device status is Online.

    Configure device as iSCSI server

Step 3: Add a volume

  1. In the Devices blade, select the device you just configured as an iSCSI server. Click ... (alternatively right-click in this row) and from the context menu, select Add volume. You can also click + Add volume from the command bar. This opens up the Add volume blade.

    Add a volume

  2. In the Add volume blade, do the following:

    • In the Volume name field, enter a unique name for your volume. The name must be a string that contains 3 to 127 characters.

    • In the Type dropdown list, specify whether to create a Tiered or Locally pinned volume. For workloads that require local guarantees, low latencies, and higher performance, select Locally pinned volume. For all other data, select Tiered volume.

    • In the Capacity field, specify the size of the volume. A tiered volume must be between 500 GB and 5 TB and a locally pinned volume must be between 50 GB and 500 GB.

      A locally pinned volume is thickly provisioned and ensures that the primary data in the volume stays on the device and does not spill to the cloud.

      A tiered volume on the other hand is thinly provisioned. When you create a tiered volume, approximately 10% of the space is provisioned on the local tier and 90% of the space is provisioned in the cloud. For example, if you provisioned a 1 TB volume, 100 GB would reside in the local space and 900 GB would be used in the cloud when the data tiers. This in turn implies is that if you run out of all the local space on the device, you cannot provision a tiered share (because the 10% will not be available).

      Add a volume

    • Click Connected hosts, select an access control record (ACR) corresponding to the iSCSI initiator that you want to connect to this volume, and then click Select.

  3. To add a new connected host, click Add new, enter a name for the host and its iSCSI Qualified Name (IQN), and then click Add. If you don't have the IQN, go to Appendix A: Get the IQN of a Windows Server host.

    Add a volume

  4. When you're finished configuring your volume, click OK. A volume will be created with the specified settings and you will see a notification. By default, monitoring and backup will be enabled for the volume.

    Add a volume

  5. To confirm that the volume was successfully created, go to the Volumes blade. You should see the volume listed.

    Add a volume

Step 4: Mount, initialize, and format a volume

Perform the following steps to mount, initialize, and format your StorSimple volumes on a Windows Server host.

To mount, initialize, and format a volume

  1. Open the iSCSI initiator app on the appropriate server.

  2. In the iSCSI Initiator Properties window, on the Discovery tab, click Discover Portal.

    discover portal

  3. In the Discover Target Portal dialog box, supply the IP address of your iSCSI-enabled network interface, and then click OK.

    IP address

  4. In the iSCSI Initiator Properties window, on the Targets tab, locate the Discovered targets. (Each volume will be a discovered target.) The device status should appear as Inactive.

    discovered targets

  5. Select a target device and then click Connect. After the device is connected, the status should change to Connected. (For more information about using the Microsoft iSCSI initiator, see Installing and Configuring Microsoft iSCSI Initiator.

    select target device

  6. On your Windows host, press the Windows Logo key + X, and then click Run.

  7. In the Run dialog box, type Diskmgmt.msc. Click OK, and the Disk Management dialog box will appear. The right pane will show the volumes on your host.

  8. In the Disk Management window, the mounted volumes will appear as shown in the following illustration. Right-click the discovered volume (click the disk name), and then click Online.

    disk management

  9. Right-click and select Initialize Disk.

    initialize disk 1

  10. In the dialog box, select the disk(s) to initialize, and then click OK.

    initialize disk 2

  11. The New Simple Volume wizard starts. Select a disk size, and then click Next.

    new volume wizard 1

  12. Assign a drive letter to the volume, and then click Next.

    new volume wizard 2

  13. Enter the parameters to format the volume. On Windows Server, only NTFS is supported. Set the allocation unit size to 64K. Provide a label for your volume. It is a recommended best practice for this name to be identical to the volume name you provided on your StorSimple Virtual Array. Click Next.

    new volume wizard 3

  14. Check the values for your volume, and then click Finish.

    new volume wizard 4

    The volumes will appear as Online on the Disk Management page.

    volumes online

Next steps

Learn how to use the local web UI to administer your StorSimple Virtual Array.

Appendix A: Get the IQN of a Windows Server host

Perform the following steps to get the iSCSI Qualified Name (IQN) of a Windows host that is running Windows Server 2012.

To get the IQN of a Windows host

  1. Start the Microsoft iSCSI initiator on your Windows host.

  2. In the iSCSI Initiator Properties window, on the Configuration tab, select and copy the string from the Initiator Name field.

    iSCSI initiator properties

  3. Save this string.