Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Getting Started Guide

Applies To: Microsoft iSCSI Software Target

With the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target in Windows Storage Server 2008, you can create and manage iSCSI targets, create and manage virtual disks for storage, and implement backup and recovery support by using snapshots.


The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is an optional package for Windows Storage Server 2008. If it is not installed or provided together with your storage appliance, contact your storage appliance manufacturer for information about acquiring the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target.

iSCSI Overview

Several protocols, such as ATA (SATA) and SCSI (SAS), are available for enabling a disk controller to communicate with 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, which enables servers to access storage on a storage area network (SAN). This facilitates implementation and centralized management of 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 disk drives of locally attached storage, but accessed over a network instead of locally. This functionality is provided in Windows Storage Server 2008 by the Microsoft 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 2008, including Windows Storage Server 2008, include the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator to enable them to connect as a client to an iSCSI target.

  • Storage fabric

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

Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Components

The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target package comprises three components:

  • Microsoft iSCSI Software Target – This component 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 – The VSS Hardware Provider is installed on the initiator computer and works with the VSS service to provide application consistent snapshots of iSCSI virtual disks on the computer that runs the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target.

  • Virtual Disk Service (VDS) Hardware Provider – The VDS Hardware Provider is installed on an initiator computer and lets VDS-aware applications manage virtual disks on a storage appliance running the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target.


The iSCSI Initiator cannot connect to a Microsoft iSCSI Software Target that runs on the same computer.

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