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iSCSI and Management traffic on single NIC: For non-production environment only!

In test or home lab environments, you might come across the need for being able to configure Management and iSCSI traffic on a single physical NIC. This is simply because of few limitations of hardware typically used in home lab environments. For example, I am using a NUC10 as my home lab ESXi server running vSphere 7.0.2. Now the NUC 10 has only a single on-board NIC and I would have to wait for a while for the USB NIC fling for ESXi 7.0.2 to release, which would have allowed me to use a USB NIC in my homelab environment.

Recently I wanted to carry out some tests with iSCSI SAN (more on this soon!). Since I have only 1 NIC on my ESXi host, I decided to go ahead and use the same NIC for Management and iSCSI traffic. Obviously this is not a VMware supported configuration, and must not be used in production environment. However, this solution maybe used in test/home lab environments.

I followed the below steps in order to configure my iSCSI SAN datastore:

1. Log in to your VCSA (vCENTER) server using your favorite browser.

2. Select the host you would want to configure the iSCSI datastore on and go to the “Configure” tab.

3. Select “Virtual Switches” and click on “ADD NETWORKING”:

4. The “Add Networking” dialogue box opens. Under “Select connection type” select the radio button “VMkernal Network Adapter” and select next:

5. Under select target device, select the device appropriate for your use case. As previously mentioned, since I have only one physical NIC, I select vSwitch0 here

6. In the section “Port properties” type in the desired Port group label e.g. iSCSI. Important! Ensure none of the services are enabled in the “Available Services” as shown, click “NEXT”:

7. In the “in the IPv4 settings” section, select the radio button “Use static IPv4 settings” and enter the desired IP address, subnet mask and default gateway. Ensure the IP address entered is in the same subnet as the target iSCSI device on the network. In this case, it should also be in the same subnet as the management network.

8. In the “Ready to complete” section review the configuration and select “Finish”

9. Below is the configured iSCSI port group on an existing vSwitch.

10. Click on the host and select “configure” tab. Select “Storage Adapters”. Click on “Add Software Adapter”

11. Select “Add software iSCSI Adapter” radio button and click on “OK”

12. Click on the newly added storage adapter. In the bottom pane click the “Dynamic Discovery” tab and click on “Add”

13. “Add Send Target Server” dialogue box opens up. In the “iSCSI Server” space, enter the IP address of the Target iSCSI server device on the network. Leave Port as default (3260) and click “OK”

14. With the iSCSI software adapter selected, click on “Rescan Adapter”

15. Once the scanning is complete, click on the “Static Discovery” tab on the bottom pane. You will see the list of available iSCSI targets present in the iSCSI server.

16. Select the “Devices” tab in the bottom pane. You will be able to see the iSCSI LUNs available to this host from the iSCSI server.

17. Right-click on the host, scroll to “Storage” and select “New Datastore”:

18. The “New Datastore” window opens. In the “type” section select the radio button “VMFS” and click on “NEXT”

19. In the “Name and device selection”, enter the desired name in the “Name” section and select the desired iSCSI LUN radio button and click “NEXT”

20.In the “VMFS version” section select the appropriate VMFS version

21. In the “Partition configuration” leave the defaults. Ensure, in “Partition Configuration” “Use all available partitions” is the selection

22. Review the configurations in “Ready to complete” section and click on “Finish”

That's it!! We have successfully created iSCSI datastore with iSCSI traffic on the same NIC as Management traffic.

Note: Do not use this in a production environment. You may use these steps to configure iSCSI DS provided you ensure the iSCSI vmkernel is not on the same VMNIC as the management vmkernel.

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