StarWind Resource Library

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Published: April 10, 2018

INTRODUCTION

This technical paper covers the Highly Available Shared Storage configuration for File Servers “for General use” in Windows Server 2016. It describes how to configure StarWind Virtual SAN, create Shared storage, and build a File Server for “General use” which allows keeping server application data on file shares over SMB protocol and makes files continuously accessible for end users. Providing VSAN reliability, this architecture is designed to ensure file share availability and accessibility for clustered nodes and VMs in the cluster.

StarWind Virtual SAN is a hardware-less storage solution that creates a fault-tolerant and high-performing storage pool built for virtualization workloads by mirroring the existing server’s storage and RAM between the participating storage cluster nodes. The mirrored storage resource, in this case, is treated just like a local storage. StarWind Virtual SAN ensures the simple configuration of a highly available shared storage for File Server and delivers the excellent performance and advanced data protection features.

This guide is intended for experienced Windows Server users, or system administrators. It provides detailed instructions on how to configure HA Shared Storage for File Server in Windows Server 2016 with StarWind Virtual SAN as a storage provider.

A full set of up-to-date technical documentation can always be found here, or by pressing the Help button in the StarWind Management Console.

For any technical inquiries, please, visit our online community, Frequently Asked Questions page, or use the support form to contact our technical support department.

Pre-Configuring the Servers

The reference network diagram of the configuration described further in this guide is provided below.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

NOTE: Additional network connections may be necessary, depending on the cluster setup
and applications requirements. For any technical help with configuring the additional networks, please do not hesitate to contact StarWind support department via online community forum or support form (depends on your support plan).

1. Make sure that you have a domain controller and the servers we are configuring are joined to the domain.

2. Install Failover Clustering, Multipath I/O features, and the Hyper-V role on both servers. That can be done through Server Manager (Add Roles and Features menu item).

3. Configure network interfaces on each node making sure that Synchronization and iSCSI/StarWind heartbeat interfaces are in different subnets and connected according to the network diagram above.

4. In this document, 10.128.1.x subnet is used for iSCSI/StarWind heartbeat traffic, while 10.128.2.x subnet is used for the Synchronization traffic.

In order to allow iSCSI Initiators to discover all StarWind Virtual SAN interfaces, StarWind configuration file (StarWind.cfg) should be changed after stopping StarWind Service on the node where it will be edited.

Locate StarWind Virtual SAN configuration file (the default path is: C:\Program Files\StarWind Software\StarWind\StarWind.cfg ) and open it with Wordpad as Administrator.

Find the <iScsiDiscoveryListInterfaces value=”0”/> string and change the value from 0 to 1 (should look as follows: <iScsiDiscoveryListInterfaces value=”1”/>). Save the changes and exit Wordpad. Once StarWind.cfg is changed and saved, StarWind service can be started.

Installing File Server Role

5. Open Server Manager: Start -> Server Manager.

6. Select: Manage -> Add Roles and Features

7. Follow the Wizard’s steps to install the selected role.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

NOTE: Restart the server after installation is completed.

Enabling Multipath Support

8. On cluster nodes, open the MPIO manager: Start->Administrative Tools->MPIO;

9. Go to the Discover Multi-Paths tab;

10. Tick the Add support for iSCSI devices checkbox and click Add

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

11. When prompted to restart the server, click Yes to proceed.

NOTE: Repeat the procedure on the second server.

Downloading, Installing, and Registering the Software

12. Download the StarWind setup executable file from our website by following this link: https://www.starwind.com/registration-starwind-virtual-san

NOTE: The setup file is the same for x86 and x64 systems, as well as for all Virtual SAN deployment scenarios.

13. Launch the downloaded setup file on the server where you want to install StarWind Virtual SAN or one of its components. The setup wizard will appear.

14. Read and accept the License Agreement.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

15. Carefully read the information about new features and improvements. Read text that indicates warnings for users who update existing software installations.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

16. Click Browse to modify the installation path if necessary.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

17. Select the following components for the minimum setup:

  • StarWind Virtual SAN Service
    StarWind Service is the “core” of the software. It can create iSCSI targets as well as share virtual and physical devices. The service can be managed from StarWind Management Console on any Windows computer or VSA that is on the same network. Alternatively, the service can be managed from StarWind Web Console, which is deployed separately.
  • StarWind Management Console
    Management Console is the Graphic User Interface (GUI) part of the software that controls and monitors all storage-related operations (e.g., allows users to create targets and devices on StarWind Virtual SAN servers connected to the network).

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

18. Specify the Start Menu folder.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

19. Tick the checkbox if you want to create a desktop icon and click Next to continue.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

20. You will be asked to either request a time-limited fully functional evaluation key, a FREE version key, or a fully-commercial license key sent to you with the purchase of StarWind Virtual SAN. Select the appropriate option.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

21. Click Browse to locate the license file. Click Next to continue.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

22. Verify the installation settings. Click Back to make any changes or Install to continue.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

23. Select the corresponding checkbox to launch the StarWind Management Console immediately after the setup wizard is closed.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Finish to close the wizard.

24. Repeat the installation steps on the partner node.

NOTE: To manage StarWind Virtual SAN installed on a machine with Server Core OS edition, StarWind Management console must be installed on a different computer running the GUI-enabled Windows edition.

Configuring Shared Storage

25. Launch StarWind Management Console by double-clicking the StarWind tray icon.

NOTE: StarWind Management Console cannot be installed on an operating system without a GUI. You can install it on Windows Desktop 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016 editions.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

If StarWind Service and Management Console are installed on the same server, the Management Console will automatically add the local StarWind node to the Console after the first launch. Then, Management Console automatically connects to it using the default credentials. To add remote StarWind servers to the console, use the Add Server button on the control panel.

26. StarWind Management console will ask you to specify the default storage pool on the server you’re connecting to for the first time. Please configure the default storage pool to use one of the volumes you have prepared earlier. All the devices created through the Add Device wizard will be stored on it. Should you decide to use an alternative storage pool for your StarWind virtual disks, please use the Add Device (advanced) menu item.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Press the Yes button to configure the storage pool. Should you require to change the storage pool destination, press Choose path… and point the browser to the necessary disk.

NOTE: Each array used by StarWind Virtual SAN to store virtual disk images should meet the following requirements:

  • initialized as GPT;
  • have a single NTFS-formatted partition;
  • have a drive letter assigned.

The steps below, describe how to prepare an HA device for Witness drive. Other devices should be created the same way.

27. Select one of two StarWind servers to start the device creation and configuration.

28. Press the Add Device (advanced) button on the toolbar.

29. Add Device Wizard will appear. Select Hard Disk Device and click Next.

30. Select the Virtual disk and click Next.

31. Specify the virtual disk name, location, and size and click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

32. Choose the type of the StarWind device (Thick-provisioned, or LSFS), specify virtual block size, and click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

33. Define the caching policy, specify the cache size, and click Next.

NOTE: It is recommended to assign 1 GB of L1 cache in Write-Back or Write-Through mode per 1 TB storage capacity if necessary.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

34. Define the Flash Cache Parameters policy and size if necessary. Choose the SSD location in the wizard. Click Next to continue.

NOTE: The recommended size of the L2 cache is 10% of the initial StarWind device capacity.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

35. Specify the target parameters.

Select the Target Name checkbox to enter a custom name of the target. Otherwise, the name will be generated automatically based on the target alias. Click Next to continue.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

36. Click Create to add a new device and assign it to the target. Then, click Close.

37. Right-click the servers field and click the Add Server button. Add a new StarWind Server which will be used as the partner HA node.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Press OK and Connect buttons to continue.

38. Right-click on the device you have just created and select Replication Manager.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Press the Add Replica button in that .

39. Select Synchronous two-way replication and click Next to proceed.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

40. Specify the partner server IP address.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

41. The Default StarWind management port is 3261. If you have configured a different port, make sure to change the Port Number value parameter accordingly. Click Next.

Select Heartbeat Failover Strategy and click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

42. Choose Create new Partner Device and click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

43. Specify the partner device location or the target name of the device if necessary.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next.

44. Select Synchronization and Heartbeat channels for the HA device by clicking the Change network settings button.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

45. Specify the interfaces for Synchronization and Heartbeat. Click OK. Then click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

NOTE: It is recommended to configure Heartbeat and iSCSI channels on the same interfaces to avoid the split-brain issue. If Synchronization and Heartbeat interfaces are located on the same network adapter, it is recommended to assign one more Heartbeat interface to a separate adapter.

46. Select Synchronize from existing Device as a partner device initialization mode and click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

47. Press the Create Replica button. Then click Close.

48. The added devices will appear in the StarWind Management Console.

49. Repeat the steps above to create other virtual disks if necessary.

Once all devices are created, the Management console should look as follows:

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Discovering Target Portals

This section discusses how to discover Target Portals on each StarWind node.

50. Launch Microsoft iSCSI Initiator on the first StarWind node: Start > Administrative Tools > iSCSI Initiator or iscsicpl from the command line interface. The iSCSI Initiator Properties window will appear.

51. Navigate to the Discovery tab. Click the Discover Portal button. In Discover Target Portal dialog box, enter the local IP address – 127.0.0.1.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

52. Click the Advanced button, select Microsoft iSCSI Initiator as your Local adapter and keep Initiator IP as it is set by default. Press OK twice to complete the Target Portal discovery.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

53. Click the Discover Portal button once again.

54. In the Discover Target Portal dialog box, enter the iSCSI IP address of the partner node and click the Advanced button.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

55. Select Microsoft iSCSI Initiator as a Local adapter and select the initiator IP address from the same subnet. Click OK twice to add the Target Portal.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

56. Target portals are added on the local node.
Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

57. Go through the same steps on the partner node.

58. All target portals are added to the partner node.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Connecting Targets

59. Launch Microsoft iSCSI Initiator on the first StarWind node and click on the Targets tab. The previously created targets should be listed in the Discovered Targets section.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

NOTE: If the created targets are not listed, check the firewall settings of the StarWind Server and the list of networks served by the StarWind Server (go to StarWind Management Console -> Configuration -> Network).

60. Select a target for the Witness device discovered from the local server and click Connect.

61. Tick the checkboxes like in the image below and click Advanced.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

62. Select Microsoft iSCSI Initiator in the Local adapter text field.

Select 127.0.0.1 in the Target portal IP list.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click OK twice to connect the target.

NOTE: It is recommended to connect the Witness device only by loopback (127.0.0.1) address. Do not connect the target to the Witness device from the partner StarWind node.

63. Select the target for the SMB-SHARE device discovered from the local server and click Connect.

64. Tick the checkboxes like in the image below and click Advanced.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

65. Select Microsoft iSCSI Initiator in the Local adapter text field.

Select 127.0.0.1 in the Target portal IP area.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click OK twice to connect the target.

66. Select the target for the SMB-SHARE device discovered from the partner StarWind node and click Connect.

67. Tick the checkboxes like in the image below and click Advanced.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

68. Select Microsoft iSCSI Initiator in the Local adapter text field.

69. In the Target portal IP, select the IP address for the iSCSI channel on the partner StarWind Node and the Initiator IP address from the same subnet. Click OK twice to connect the target.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

70. Repeat the above actions for all HA device targets. The result should look like in the picture below.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

71. Repeat the steps described in this section on the partner StarWind node, specifying corresponding IP addresses for the iSCSI channel. The result should look like in the screenshot below.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Multipath Configuration

NOTE: It is recommended to configure different MPIO policies depending on the iSCSI channel throughput. For 1 Gbps iSCSI channel throughput, Failover Only MPIO policy is advised. For 10 Gbps iSCSI channel throughput, it is recommended to set Round Robin or Least queue depth MPIO policy.

72. With Failover Only MPIO policy, it is recommended to set localhost (127.0.0.1) as the active path. Select a target located on the local server and click Devices.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

73. The Devices dialog appears. Click MPIO.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

74. Select Fail Over Only load balance policy, and then designate the local path as active.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

75. You can verify that 127.0.0.1 is the active path by selecting it from the list and clicking Details.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

76. Repeat the same steps for each device on both nodes.

77. Round Robin or Least Queue Depth MPIO policy can be set in Device Details window.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

78. Initialize the disks and create partitions on them using the Disk Management snap-in. The disk devices are required to be initialized and formatted on both nodes in order to create the cluster.

NOTE: It is recommended to initialize the disks as GPT.

Creating a Cluster

NOTE: To avoid issues during cluster validation configuration, it is recommended to install the latest Microsoft updates on each node.

79. Open Server Manager. Select the Failover Cluster Manager item from the Tools menu.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

80. Click the Create Cluster link in the Actions section of the Failover Cluster Manager.

81. Specify the servers which should be added to the cluster.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

82. Validate the configuration by running the cluster validation tests: select “Yes…” and click Next to continue.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

83. Specify the cluster name.

NOTE: If the cluster servers get IP addresses over DHCP, the cluster also gets its IP address over DHCP. If the IP addresses are set statically, you will be prompted to set the cluster IP address manually.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

84. Make sure that all the settings are correct. Click Previous to change the settings (if necessary):

NOTE: If checkbox “Add all eligible storage to the cluster” is ticked, the wizard will add all disks to the cluster automatically. The device with the smallest storage volume will be assigned as a Witness. It is recommended to uncheck it before you click Next and add cluster disks and the Witness drive manually.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

85. The process of cluster creation starts. Upon completion, the system displays a summary with detailed information.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Finish to close the wizard.

Configuring the Witness Device

86. Open Failover Cluster Manager.

87. Go to Cluster->Storage -> Disks.

88. Click Add Disk in the Actions panel, choose StarWind disks from the list, and click OK.

89. To configure the Witness drive, right-click Cluster->More Actions->Configure Cluster Quorum Settings, follow the wizard, and use the default quorum configuration.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Configuring the File Server for the General Use Role

90. To configure the Scale-Out File Server role, open Failover Cluster Manager.

91. Right-click on the cluster name, then click Configure Role, and click Next to continue.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

92. Select the File Server item from the list in the High Availability Wizard and click Next to continue.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

93. Select File Server for general use and click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

94. On the Client Access Point page, in the Name text field, type the NETBIOS name that will be used to access the File Server and IP for it.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click Next to continue.

95. Select the Cluster disk and click “Next”.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

96. Check whether the specified information is correct. Click Next to proceed, or Previous to change the settings.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

97. Once the installation has been finished successfully, the Wizard should look like shown in the screenshot below.

Click Finish to close the Wizard.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

98. The newly created role should look like shown in the screenshot below.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

NOTE: In case the role status is Failed and it is unable to Start, please follow the next steps:

  • Open Active Directory Users and Computers;
  • Enable Advanced view if it is not enabled;
  • Edit the properties of the OU containing the cluster computer object (in our case – SMB-FILESERVER-TEST);
  • Open the Security tab and click Advanced;
  • Press Add (the Permission Entry dialog box opens), click Select a principal;
  • In the window that appeared, click Object Types, select Computers, and click OK;
  • Enter the name of the cluster computer object (in our case, – SMB-FILESERVER-TEST);

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

  • Go back to the Permission Entry dialog, scroll down, and select Create Computer Objects.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

Click OK on all opened windows to confirm the changes.

Open Failover Cluster Manager, right-click the FS role, and click Start Role.

Sharing a Folder

To share a folder:

99. Open Failover Cluster Manager.

100. Expand the cluster and then click Roles.

101. Right-click the file server role and then press Add File Share.

102. On the Select the profile for this share page, click SMB Share – Quick and then click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

103. Select available storage to host the share. Click Next to proceed.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

104. Type in the file share name and click Next.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

105. Make sure that the Enable Continuous Availability box is checked. Click Next to proceed.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

106. Specify the access permissions for your file share.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

107. Check whether specified settings are correct. Click Previous to make any changes or click Create to proceed.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

108. Check the summary and click Close.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

To manage created shares:

109. Open Failover Cluster Manager.

110. Expand the cluster and click Roles.

111. Choose the file share role, select the Shares tab, right-click the created file share, and select Properties.

Configuring HA SMB File Server in Windows Server 2016

CONCLUSION

We have configured a two-node fault-tolerant cluster in Windows Server 2016 with StarWind Virtual SAN as a backbone for your HA shared storage. Now, you have a continuously available file share(s) available over SMB protocol.