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iSCSI Gets Go-Ahead

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) late yesterday officially approved the iSCSI specification as a "proposed standard" -- a much-anticipated procedural step that should finally kick IP SANs into forward motion.

The seal of approval by the IETF's Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) -- which is responsible for technical management of the Internet standards process -- comes just over three years after Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) first submitted the basic framework for the block-level IP storage protocol in January 2000.

The iSCSI protocol, in the IETF's somewhat baroque description, "describes a means of transporting of the SCSI packets over TCP/IP, providing for an interoperable solution which can take advantage of existing Internet infrastructure." Essentially, iSCSI is designed to provide congestion control and security features not provided for in the core TCP/IP stack.

Analysts say the IETF's ratification knocks down the last major hurdle for iSCSI to become widely supported.

"Now that it's done, Microsoft Corp. [Nasdaq: MSFT] and Novell Inc. [Nasdaq: NOVL] will release drivers, and the games will begin," says Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. "Anyone who doesn't think this is the beginning of a huge market is insane."

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