What is iSCSI and what should I be aware of when setting up my Drobo?


Article Id: AA-01201 Last updated date: 10-04-2017

Article Id: AA-01201Last updated date: 02-21-2017

iSCSI is a TCP-IP based protocol that allows for fast data access over the network. A data storage device such as the Drobo B800i, B810i & B1200i presents its data to hosts/servers as targets. In order for a host/server to access these targets on the Drobo via iSCSI, the host must have what is known as an iSCSI initiator. For most current Microsoft Windows based hosts (Microsoft Windows 7/8-8.1, Windows Server 2008R2/2012R2), this should not be a problem since the Microsoft iSCSI initiator is usually pre-installed with the operating system. More information on iSCSI can be found on Wikipedia's article "iSCSI".

Mac OS operating systems do not support iSCSI out of the box, hence the need for a third party iSCSI initiator. Please note that:

  • Drobo Dashboard versions 2.6.2 and earlier included ATTOs iSCSI initiator as part of the Drobo Dashboard install package.
  • Drobo Dashboard versions 2.6.4 and later will no longer be including ATTOs iSCSI initiator.
  • Users with an existing Drobo Dashboard installation (e.g 2.5.4 or 2.6.2), should not be affected by a Dashboard upgrade to version 2.6.4.
  • New users that wish to access a Drobo via iSCSI from a Mac OS based host, are encouraged to purchase the ATTO iSCSI initiator from ATTOs website (www.attotech.com)

Tasks such as volume creation, formatting and mounting of volumes must be performed via the Drobo Dashboard. It is therefore recommended that Drobo Dashboard is installed on every single host that is mounting a Drobo iSCSI volume.

Drobo Products that support iSCSI are as follows:

  • Drobo Pro
  • Drobo Elite
  • Drobo B800i
  • B810i
  • Drobo B1200i

Information on how to setup you Drobo via iSCSI is documented under the Online User Guides.

Important Notes:

  • Drobo Dashboard is required for iSCSI setup. You can install Drobo Dashboard from http://www.drobo.com/docs/
  • Note that the DroboPro is optimized for single-host (computer) usage
  • One must use of Dashboard 2.5.2 or newer (except Windows XP) and the latest firmware release
  • Drobo Dashboard 2.3.x (and newer) is not supported for use with Windows XP.
  • iSCSI Host Bus Adapters, also known as hardware iSCSI adapters, are not compatible with Drobo products.
  • Mac users must use Dashboard version 2.5.2 or newer
  • CAT 6 Ethernet cables provide the best iSCSI performance with your device.
  • Users of VMware (vSphere), please refer to this How-To Guide
  • Ensure your firewall is configured to allow inbound and outbound network connections for the Drobo Dashboard and DDService applications (iSCSI uses port 3260).
  • Windows XP 64-bit and Windows Server 2003 64-bit computers should have .NET 2.0 (or later) framework installed in order to connect to DroboElite/B800i or DroboPro.
  • On a Windows XP laptop in a docking station, you may not be able to undock the laptop unless you manually disable the iSCSI Initiator service on your computer. To disable, go to Control Panel -> iSCSI Initiator, and disable the service.
  • While installing Drobo Dashboard on a Windows computer, if you get the following error message while installing the iSCSI initiator portion of the Drobo Dashboard installation:

    "The installation of MS iSCSI initiator 2.08 appears to have failed. Do you want to continue with the installation?"

     Proceed to the URL below in order to manually download and install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator Version 2.08:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=12cb3c1a-15d6-4585-b385-befd1319f825&DisplayLang=en

    Then, proceed with the Drobo Dashboard installation.
  • You can connect multiple DroboElites/B800i's and/or DroboPros to a switch, provided the Drobo devices and your computer(s) each have unique static IP addresses.