Big Vendors Offer IP Prognoses

Intel and QLogic make predictions about how they see the markets for iSCSI and FC shaking out

June 30, 2001

2 Min Read
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Everybody knows that iSCSI (and IP storage in general) is one of the hottest topics in storage networking today.

What is still evolving, however, is the picture of how, and to what extent, iSCSI technology will be adopted by the user community -- defined in this case as the IT folks with the big checkbooks.

This week Byte and Switch asked some leading storage vendors what they thought would happen -- and got some diametrically opposed opinions.

Blaine Kohl, business unit manager within Intel Corp.'s (Nasdaq: INTC) LAN Access Division paints a bleak picture of Fibre Channel's future. "I think there is a home for Fibre Channel, particularly at the high end. I think Fibre Channel will be a lot like we see with Token Ring. Ten years from now we may see a few percentage points of the SAN market still owned by Fibre Channel."

She says Intel will be supporting the iSNS protocol on its Intel PRO/1000 IP Storage Adapter, projected to be available later this year. That protocol provides a naming service for iSCSI devices similar to what DNS does for the Internet (see IP Storage Makes Names for Itself).In contrast, QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) has its feet in both camps. Mark Edwards, senior vice president at Qlogic, told Byte and Switch that his company is officially protocol agnostic. "We're using a common architecture to support multiple protocols," Edwards said, "and that makes it easy for us to bring new technologies to market quickly."

"At the end of the day," he continued, "cost is important, as is functionality. iSCSI has attractive elements in that regard." However, Edwards doesn't see iSCSI at just the low-end of the market, as some people in the industry do. He believes that large customers that want to leverage existing IP infrastructures and knowledge will also adopt iSCSI to a degree.

Edwards also told Byte and Switch that the adoption of Fibre Channel had actually gone more slowly than he thought it would. "We're three or four years behind where I thought we'd be at this point. Interoperability is a key issue, and not all Fibre Channel vendors have been as standards-focused as they might have been. I hope that Brocade Communications Systems Inc. [Nasdaq: BRCD], for example, understands why they need to do that, or they will give more impetus for the adoption of iSCSI."

- Ralph Barker, Editor in Chief, Byte and Switch

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