Networking configuration for software iSCSI involves creating an iSCSI VMkernel port and mapping it to a physical NIC that handles iSCSI traffic.

Depending on the number of physical NICs you use for iSCSI traffic, the networking setup can be different:

If you have one physical NIC, create one VMkernel port on a vSwitch and map the port to the NIC. VMware recommends that you designate a separate network adapter entirely for iSCSI. No additional network configuration steps are required.

For information on creating a port, see Create a VMkernel Port for Software iSCSI.

If you have two or more physical NICs for iSCSI, you can create multiple paths for the software iSCSI by using the port binding technique.

For background information on multipathing with software iSCSI, see Host-Based Path Failover.

With port binding, you create a separate VMkernel port for each physical NIC using 1:1 mapping. You can add all network adapter and VMkernel port pairs to a single vSwitch, as Port Binding on a Single vSwitch shows.

Port Binding on a Single vSwitch
The graphic shows two physical NIC and VMkernel port pairs connected through a single vSwitch.

For information on adding the NIC and VMkernel port pairs to a vSwitch, see Set Up Multipathing for Software iSCSI.

Another alternative is to create a separate vSwitch for each network adapter and VMkernel port pair, as Port Binding on Separate vSwitches indicates.

Port Binding on Separate vSwitches
The graphic shows NIC and port pairs connected through separate vSwitches.

After you map VMkernel ports to network adapters, use the esxcli command to connect the ports with the software iSCSI initiator. For information, see Activate Multipathing for Software iSCSI Initiator.


Port binding support on EMC CLARiiON storage systems requires initiators in different subnets. See vendor documentation for additional details.