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iSCSI in Exile

One year ago, iSCSI was the toast of the storage networking chattering class it was the glamorous ingénue making her debut. Now, iSCSI has been banished, locked away in a festering oubliette, chalking the days on the wall while it waits to learn of its fate.

What happened? The major storage systems vendors are more afraid than ever to fully embrace iSCSI (SCSI over IP), the technology that is supposed to bring the performance of Fibre Channel SANs to cheaper and less complex IP networks.

All of them – Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) – are treating iSCSI as if it were a malodorous vagrant.

Without the iSCSI storage systems (the targets) that would drive strong customer demand, other iSCSI vendors – the adapter and switch vendors – are mostly stymied. So at the moment, everyone is sitting around, waiting for the likes of HP or IBM to fall back in love with iSCSI and recall it from exile.

Which may not happen for another year, or longer. Granted, some of the big storage providers, including HP and NetApp, do have iSCSI-enabled storage devices on their product roadmaps, slated for delivery sometime in early 2003. But among the big storage players, none is vociferously or lustily promoting IP SANs. And then there's Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), which is actively dissing iSCSI. It says that iSCSI is, more or less, evil. For at least the next few years, Sun has completely ruled it out (see Sun Says iSCSI May Be a 'Mistake').

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