No iSCSI Love From Apple

I'm not ready to drop $200 for a Leopard-friendly iSCSI initiator for the test lab. Aside from writing our own it looks like Atto Technology's Xtend SAN is the only game in town.

Joe Hernick

January 24, 2008

3 Min Read
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I'm not ready to drop $200 for a Leopard-friendly iSCSI initiator for the test lab. Aside from writing our own (which won't happen), it looks like ATTO Technology's Xtend SAN is the only game in town. If any Windows or Linux admins are still reading, they're most likely shaking their heads and muttering something along the lines of "Silly Apple." They're right. Anyone in the MS world that wants to get their W2K3 boxes rolling with an iSCSI SAN just needs to make one stop.

Simple install followed by easy setup, config and connect. Thank you, Microsoft.

Heck, the Linux community can just hit SourceForge to find the right distro flavor and how-tos.

Not so much with Apple.

Granted, Apple provides native support for Fibre Channel in client and server versions of 10.4 and 10.5 (Tiger and Leopard, respectively.) I've been happy with I/O running Apple's 2Gb FC HBAs into an Xserve RAID. The xRaid (my nickname, not theirs) does a decent job at a surprisingly good price-point. That is, it does a decent job in a 1x1 world; I run two full arrays on the production side of my shop.We don't have an xRaid to play with in the lab, so I haven't been able to tinker with Leopard Server FC-based NFS Mounts + ESX VMs ... which brings me back to iSCSI SANs, virtualization, and Apple in general.

I'd be really happy if I could get iSCSI working on the guested instance of Leopard Server we have running on our beta Parallels Server host. For free, that is. Or, here's a crazy thought --perhaps as bundled functionality in Apple's server OS?

The good news:I've found a free initiator from Studio Network Solutions.

The bad news:The Tiger-only globalSAN iSCSI initiator runs as universal code on Power PC and Intel Macs. No Leopard support. Actually, no support is provided at all. The SNS folks have released it as freeware, so caveat emptor. A number of posts on the Apple support forums give mixed results for globalSAN under 10.5, and the globalSAN support page states that a Leopard version "will be released very soon." I'm staying tuned in the meantime.

So we're stuck with Mac Server VMs that can't take advantage of our lab SAN. I wouldn't be the first to question Apple Inc.'s game plan in non-consumer markets. (I'm not going to use the phrase "Enterprise" as any MS folks still reading might fall over laughing.)I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that some Apple customer sites might just have an iSCSI SAN or two. With the revised licensing for 10.5 server permitting virtualization, Parallels Server edging towards production and VMware demoing proof of concept at Macworld, I think it's safe to say folks might want to connect those soon-to-be VMs to a SAN via IP.

If anyone has found hidden iSCSI happiness somewhere in the Leopard Server build, please let me know.

I wonder how many $195 licenses ATTO is going to sell?

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