Boot from iSCSI? It’s coming.

Wonder of wonders. One of the interesting features of SANs in general, and iSCSI in particular, is the ability to boot directly from the exposed logical units (i.e. disks in SAN terminology). You don't need local storage. Why would that be useful? It's good because you don't need local harddisks anymore. You can keep and manae the data in the SAN cloud; backup, for one thing, becomes easier this way.

Boot from SAN was working for a while in Fibre Channel environments, but it was largely absent in the iSCSI territory in the past. Well, not anymore: 

 Microsoft enables 'boot from SAN'
Microsoft announced today that it has worked with IBM to develop support for software-based remote SAN boot of Windows using the Microsoft iSCSI software initiator and standard network interface cards (NICs). Microsoft plans to publish the technical details of the implementation to help its partners develop iSCSI software-enabled boot.

However, note that this is not something that would would be able to try at home. It still requires special hardware changes.

"This is not a solution that can be put together by end users themselves, but by server vendors or independent software vendors," explains Dr. Claude Lorenson, group product manager for Microsoft's Storage Division.

Comments (5)

  1. Ecio says:

    "Boot from SAN was working for a while in Fibre Channel environments, but it was largely absent in the iSCSI territory in the past."

    That’s not true, iSCSI boot from a SAN is already available by using iSCSI HBAs (like Qlogic cards).

    This new approach is for using it with "standard" NIC and Microsoft SW Initiator, but let me say that if, as stated in the article, a modification is required in the server or in the nic, i dont think we can consider it a "standard" NIC anymore…

  2. tony says:

    no no, a liitle "modification" means boot-rom specification need support microsoft boot from SAN, most about it can apply in PXE, you still use standard NIC.

  3. Let me clarify – no modification whatsoever is needed to the PXE ROM to boot from iSCSI. The software needed to do this – the Microsoft iSCSI-boot capable initiator, for example, or any other tools, will not be available direct to to end users, but only from ISVs or OEMs. The NIC remains a ‘standard’ NIC, the PXE ROM requires no changes.

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