Connecting the iSCSI Dots

iSCSI is about a war on Fibre Channel after all

February 21, 2007

2 Min Read
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Forget peaceful coexistence. After talking complimentary functions for a couple of years, purveyors of iSCSI are taking off the gloves, revealing their ambitions to displace Fibre Channel after all.

Consider a few recent news items, starting with EqualLogic's release of SAS-based iSCSI systems aimed squarely at enterprise customers. (See EqualLogic Tops Offs SAS Series.) Early next month, the iSCSI SAN maker will release a 4.8-Tbyte system it claims will match and exceed the capabilities of Fibre Channel arrays.

We're not talking Office document backup here. EqualLogic's new gear is aimed squarely at transaction-oriented applications. And the vendor's goal is to use virtualization-based management to distinguish its systems from FC rivals.

Interest in SAS as a key element of iSCSI arrays is growing because suppliers are looking to make iSCSI a direct rival to Fibre Channel — not an adjunct or a second-best option.

EqualLogic isn't the only iSCSI vendor grooving on SAS — and therefore not the only one with an eye on IP SANs. Rival LeftHand Networks also supports SAS, and smaller players Nimbus and Stonefly have iSCSI products deploying it.While some may doubt the significance of SAS, LSI Logic doesn't: It just spent $55 million to acquire SiliconStor. (See LSI Lassos SiliconStor.) And today LSI followed with a volley of SAS and SAS/SATA adapter offerings for storage OEMs. (See LSI Offers Adapters.)

Let's look at another trend — 10-Gbit/s Ethernet. Here too, the goal is to compete with Fibre Channel by matching enterprise data center speeds to the speeds being adopted in carrier core networks. (See The iSCSI Subtext to 10-GigE and 10-Gig iSCSI SANs Set for Takeoff.)

Guess what kind of storage will be touted for higher-speed Ethernet? (See Chelsio Opens Up iSCSI Software.)

Expect to see the growth of faster Ethernet connectivity and storage systems mirrored (no pun intended) by clustered NAS and virtualization, also tapping the common IP infrastructure. (See HP Boosts Enterprise NAS.)

In fact, IDC estimates that from now through 2010, iSCSI SANs will show a CAGR for worldwide revenue of 74.8 percent, compared to 4.1 percent for Fibre Channel and -10.4 percent for Escon/Ficon. At the same time, NAS systems will grow 14.4 percent annually.Bottom line? The clear advancement of iSCSI technology, the popularity of NAS, virtualization, and clustering, and the establishment of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet are part of a fascination with IP storage networking that's gaining momentum. By the end of next year, Ethernet will have a firm toehold in corporate storage networks.

— Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IDC

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Nimbus Data Systems Inc.

  • StoneFly Inc.

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