What's New in Microsoft iSCSI Initiator

Updated: June 1, 2009

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2

Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator enables you to connect a Windows® host computer to an external iSCSI-based storage array via an Ethernet network adapter. You can use Microsoft iSCSI Initiator in your existing network infrastructure to enable block-based Storage Area Networks (SANs), which provide iSCSI target functionality without having to invest in additional hardware, as well as to enable the use of iSCSI storage devices in the home and small office.

What are the major changes?

The following changes are available in Windows Server® 2008 R2:

  • User interface enhancement and redesign

    The iSCSI Initiator user interface has been redesigned to allow easier access to the most commonly used settings. Additionally, the iSCSI control panel is included in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 R2, which enables administrators to configure iSCSI connections through the more familiar user interface in addition to the command-line interface.

    New to the iSCSI Initiator user interface is the Quick Connect feature, which allows one-click connections to storage devices that do not require advanced settings, such as the use of Internet Protocol security (IPsec) and Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) authentication. You can use Quick Connect as a one-step method to perform discovery, logon, and to make the target location a favorite target.

    Also new to the iSCSI Initiator user interface is the Configuration tab, which allows you to configure iSCSI Initiator for use with CHAP or IPsec, and to generate a configuration report of all connected targets and devices on the system.

  • iSCSI digest offload support

    iSCSI Initiator CRC (header and data digests) are offloaded by using a new, industry-standard CPU instruction set. This provides transparent interoperability for all NICs without requiring changes to networking drivers. This helps to decrease CPU utilization, which is important for routed networks. The digest offload support is auto-detected and does not require configuration.

  • iSCSI boot support for up to 32 paths at boot time

    Supporting redundant boot paths is an important consideration for IT managers when planning server implementations. Administrators who implement Windows Server 2008 R2 in 24/7 environments require end-to-end redundancy of all components within the system. This includes components within the physical server chassis as well as resiliency from failures in paths to external storage boot and data volumes. In the case of servers booting from external storage devices, just having one additional redundant path does not offer the level of redundancy needed to protect against network component failures or outages.

    Centralizing storage within an external storage chassis enables resilience to hard drive failures and reduces maintenance associated with hard drive replacement. This is especially important for blade server form factors to reduce power and cooling requirements and enable higher density.

Who will be interested in these features?

The following groups might be interested in these changes:

  • End users

  • IT administrators

Which editions include these features?

All versions of Windows Server 2008 R2 include these features.