Dell PowerEdge R715 iSCSI Boot with Server Core 2008 R2

Note: This is written as it comes along and so you’ll get to see the failures and hopefully a wrap up with how to make it actually work.

Alright, so here’s the project: Get Windows Server Core 2008 R2 booting from iSCSI. The why of it is somewhat simple. I want to be able to iSCSI boot so I can have a set of Hyper-V host servers at my primary location completely configured and perfectly happy. Then I will replicate those LUNs to our offsite SAN hardware. When disaster strikes, I can then just configure those servers at the DR location to boot from the replicated LUNs. (in theory)

Yes, there’s easier ways to do this for my scenario like Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V and other SAN replication software which would then allow me to just fail over the setup or configure it as a geo-cluster. But reality is those cost money… and it wasn’t included in the budget for this project. We got the money for the hardware/OS and that’s pretty much it.

Server: Dell PowerEdge R715 – 12 Core AMD – (3) 4 port Broadcom BMC5709C NICs

Storage: Dell EqualLogic SAN Group – 2 PS6000s and 2 PS4000s

(2) Dell PowerConnect 6248 switches.

iSCSI Boot Learning Material:

Broadcom NetXtreme User Guide (Dell) // Original by Broadcom

Dell Instructions to Perform Boot from iSCSI (page 21-24 & 36-38 )

In the BIOS you need to set the boot order to put the Embedded NIC first in the list, followed by DVD then local storage. Second you need to enable the embedded NIC (assuming that’s what you’re using for boot) to allow for iSCSI boot instead of PXE. (UPDATE: SEE BELOW FOR MORE ON THE BIOS CONFIGURATION)

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