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NetApp Blitzes on iSCSI

NAS giant rushes out free iSCSI option for its filers. Is it safe to go in the IP SAN water?

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) is giving away iSCSI software support for its filers for free in an attempt to kick-start sales of IP SAN technology (see NetApp Delivers iSCSI).

NetApp rushed out its iSCSI option less than a week after the standard was officially ratified by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Three years in development, iSCSI is designed to send block-level storage over TCP/IP networks (see iSCSI Gets Go-Ahead).

The company plans to resell Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) PRO/1000 T IP storage adapters, which are Gigabit Ethernet network interface cards designed to offload protocol processing functions from host processors. Customers would install the Intel iSCSI adapters on servers to access NetApp filers via iSCSI. Currently, the iSCSI option is only available for Windows servers, with a Linux version in the works.

NetApp now offers block-level storage systems for both Fibre Channel and Ethernet (IP) networks. Last fall, the company introduced the FAS900, its first SAN-enabled storage array (see NetApp Does the Storage Two-Step).

However, while NetApp ordinarily charges hefty fees for extra software options, it's giving away the iSCSI software free to current customers of its F800 and F900 NAS filers. Why? The company says it wants to "accelerate the technology's adoption."

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