Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Who’s got bigger balls? Testing NFS vs iSCSI performance. Part 2: configuring iSCSI 

Cheers friends, not so long ago we ran through the process of configuring and connecting an NFS disk to the VMware host. Now, what we’re going to do is measure and compare the performance of NFS and iSCSI network protocols to see which one is more suitable for building a virtualized infrastructure. So, in this part, we’ll create an iSCSI device and connect it to the VMware ESXi host. Just to remind you, our configuration environment looks like this:

Environment configuration:

Server 1 (Windows)

  • Intel Xeon E5-2670 v4
  • 128Gb RAM Kingston
  • 1x HDD Seagate 1tb
  • 4xIntel DC S3610 Series 480gb
  • Mellanox ConnectX-3 network adapter 10G

Server 2 (ESXi)

  • Intel Xeon E5-2670 v4
  • 128Gb RAM Kingston
  • 1x HDD Seagate 1tb
  • Mellanox ConnectX-3 network adapter 10G

Server 1 and Server 2

We’ve all heard about iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface), a protocol based on TCP/IP and designed for linking and managing storage systems, servers, and clients. iSCSI is based on two most widely used protocols: SCSI – the protocol for transferring data blocks between computers and storage, and IP – a network transport protocol which is now commonly used in Ethernet corporate networks.

Configuring iSCSI target 

To create the iSCSI device and target, we’ve decided to choose StarWind Virtual SAN since it has its free version and it’s quite easy to work with. So, run StarWind VSAN and add the server where you’ll be creating a virtual disk.

StarWind Management Console

Click the ADD Device (advanced) button and in the «Select Device Type you want to create or export as iSCSI Target» tab, select Hard Disk Device.

Hard Disk Device

In the «Select Disk Device Type» tab, choose the device type (Virtual Disk).

Choose the device type

Further on, in the «Virtual Disk Location» tab, specify the name, location, and size of the device that is to be created.

Virtual Disk Location

Next, specify the «Block size». Generally, it’s 512 bytes for VMware environments and 4096 bytes for Windows Server.

Specify the Block size

In «Specify Device RAM Cache Parameters» tab, use a default option with disabled RAM Cache (N/A).

Specify Device RAM Cache Parameters

In «Specify Flash Cache Parameters» tab, use «No Flash Cache» option.

Specify Flash Cache Parameters

In the «Target Parameters» tab, click «Next ».

Target Parameters

In the «Creation Page» tab, click «Create».

Creation Page

The result of the device creation can be seen in StarWind Management Console.

The result of the device creation can be seen in StarWind Management Console

Configuring VMware iSCSI

Now, in vSphere console select the host and go to Storage. After that, navigate to Adapters tab and enable Software iSCSI adapter including adding Dynamic targets IP address on which StarWind is installed. You can see the result in the screenshot below.

Configuring VMware iSCSI
Rescan adapters

Rescan adapters

After the successful scanning, the StarWind device connected to iSCSI will appear in the Storage Devices section.

StarWind device connected to iSCSI

In the VM properties section, connect the StarWind device as RDM Disk.

In the VM’s Disk Management, you can see the added disk as unallocated.

VM’s Disk Management


In this chapter, we ran through the configuration and connection process of the iSCSI device to the VMware host. Now, we have everything ready for testing our network protocols performance. And, that will be in the topic of the third part: https://www.starwindsoftware.com/blog/hyper-v/whos-got-bigger-balls-testing-nfs-vs-iscsi-performance-part-3-test-results/

This material has been prepared in collaboration with Vitalii Feshchenko, Solutions Engineer at StarWind.

Related materials:

from StarWind Blog https://bit.ly/3PzZsQe

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