HDS Sets iSCSI Target

Storage vendor expected to ship iSCSI blade for Lightning in Q4, after EMC's iSCSI rollout

August 13, 2003

3 Min Read
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Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will deliver an iSCSI blade for its high-end Lightning 9900V storage array in the fourth quarter of 2003, sources tell Byte and Switch.

HDS's iSCSI option would follow on the heels of the expected rollout of EMC Corp.'s (NYSE: EMC) four-port iSCSI option for its Symmetrix DMX systems in September (see EMC Debuts DMX, Part Deux and Is EMC Overshooting on iSCSI?).

An industry source familiar with HDS's plans says the Gigabit Ethernet-based iSCSI blade was supposed to ship this quarter, but that the company had to revamp its original design. The main purpose of the iSCSI option is to be able to run HDS's TrueCopy disk-replication application over IP, according to this source.

HDS spokeswoman Jodi Reinman confirmed that an iSCSI blade is on the Lightning's product roadmap, but she declined to provide any additional details.

Actually, HDS telegraphed its intention to deliver iSCSI support way back in May 2002, when it launched the Lightning 9900V. At the time, the company noted that the system supported multiple protocols, including 1- and 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel, Escon, and Ficon -- and could support "future protocols, such as iSCSI, as market demand dictates." (See HDS Switches On 'BlackLight'.)The market is apparently demanding iSCSI now, although EMC's plans to ship iSCSI support next month has probably instilled renewed urgency in HDS to deliver in this area.

However, industry analysts remain confused as to why EMC and HDS are first delivering iSCSI support for their high-end systems. Many believe iSCSI, a protocol that sends block-based storage over IP networks, is best suited for customers that can't afford Fibre Channel or don't want to deal with its complexity -- in other words, those that wouldn't be buying Symmetrix or Lightning arrays in the first place.

The iSCSI-enabled HDS Lightning "is another target -- and that helps the adoption of iSCSI," says Jamie Gruener, senior analyst at Yankee Group. "But a lot of people view iSCSI as a midrange technology. The question is: What's the performance of the blade?" Regarding the positioning of iSCSI for long-distance data replication, Gruener notes: "iSCSI in our view isn't necessarily a WAN link."

But EMC's Chuck Hollis, VP of platforms marketing, says iSCSI is optimal for low-end servers, not necessarily low-end storage.

"People want to connect 'stranded servers' that couldn't access the SAN before," Hollis said in an interview last month. He added that "the biggest shops have the technical resources to do iSCSI today."Meanwhile, HDS also offers Nishan Systems Inc.'s Fibre Channel-to-iSCSI switches to provide iSCSI connectivity to host systems while preserving FC connectivity at the storage. HDS's Reinman points out that the Nishan switch can be used with both the company's midrange Thunder and high-end Lightning systems.

HDS is also said to be aiming for a Q4 ship date for its internally developed eNAS blade, which will provide integrated NAS functionality for the Lightning (see Hitachi Gives NetApp Hot Wheels).

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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