Lessons Learned: Dell PowerConnect 5524 switches and vSphere 5.

Some time ago, I configured a pair of Dell PowerConnect 6224 switches for iSCSI storage network and wrote a small blog post about the configuration. This time I had a chance to work with the Dell PowerConnect 5524 switches which were also used for an iSCSI storage network. These switches are cheaper and a bit less powerful than the 6224 series but still good for a small, dedicated iSCSI network. Before you begin with the configuration, update the firmware if applicable. Connect the stack cables, run the configuration wizard, set the (enable) password etc. The rest of the configuration is quite straightforward, just like on the 6224 series but there are some settings that should be considered.

  • Create a dedicated iSCSI VLAN and add appropriate ports to the VLAN.
  • Turn on the iSCSI Auto-Configuration feature this will enable Jumbo Frames, set the Spanning-Tree Port-Fast feature, disable the Unicast Storm Control and enable Flow Control.
  • Set the Speed of the ports in the iSCSI VLAN to gigabit connection.

Here is a quick how-to of the configuration.

Create a dedicated VLAN for iSCSI traffic

  1. Login to the switch en go to the configuration mode.
  2. Enter VLAN database: Switch(config)#  vlan database
  3. Create VLAN: Switch(config-vlan)#  vlan 2
  4. Back to config mode: Switch(config-vlan)#  exit
  5. Enter VLAN 2 interface config: Switch(config)#  interface vlan 2
  6. Name the VLAN: Switch(config-if)# name iSCSI
  7. Back to enable mode: Switch(config-if)# end
  8. Verify: Switch# show vlan

Enable iSCSI Auto-Configuration

  1. Enter the configuration mode and type: Switch(config): iscsi enable
  2. You will be asked if you want to continue and the Flow Control will be enabled on all interfaces. Answer with Yes.
  3. Now you need save your settings and reload the switch: Switch# write memory
  4. Reload the switch: Switch# reload
  5. After the reload, verify iSCSI settings with Switch# show iscsi

Assign the interfaces to the iSCSI VLAN

In this case port 1 to 10 on switch 1.

  1. Select multiple interfaces: Switch(config)# interface range gigabitethernet 1/0/1-10
  2. Add interfaces to VLAN 2: Switch(config-if-range)# switchport access vlan 2
  3. Force gigabit connection for all iSCSI ports:
  4. Switch(config-if-range)# no negotiation
  5. Switch(config-if-range)# speed 1000
  6. Save your settings: Switch# write memory
  7. You view the configuration with: Switch# show run

Repeat the steps above for the interfaces on switch 2, use interface range gigabitethernet 2/0/1-10 command to select port 1 to 10 on switch 2. It’s also a good idea to shutdown the unused ports on the switches for security reasons.

That’s it, you’re done! 🙂

All you have to do now is connect the cables to the switch, storage array and servers and you’re good to go.


– Marek.Z

1 Comment

  1. I like the article, but one thing I notice: everyone assumes shared use for the switches and gigabit speeds. I have a stack of 5524 switches all connected to the servers and devices via 10 Gb Ethernet. I don’t want to setup VLANS (that is overhead and unnecessary when all the switches are dedicated for ISCSI).

    I wish someone would assume dedicated switches and high speed 10 Gb connections somewhwere, someplace.

    Look at a QNAP NAS (not really a NAS because it supports ISCSI and is certified with vMware). It supports 10 Gb…. and … most importantly allows for ANY drive (I.e. affordable SSD drives). I have 16 (sixteen) 512 GB Vertex 4 SSDs in a QNAP and WOW, WOW, WOW!

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