IP SANs Take Softer Way

iSCSI guys increasingly say it's the software, not the box, that drives IP SANs

May 6, 2005

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

IP SAN vendors are increasingly relying on software to take their systems from early adopter to mainstream status.

Today, for instance, Intransa Inc. announced that IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) certified its StorControl software for the IBM DS300 iSCSI system. This gives integrators the green light to package Intransa software on the IBM hardware (see IBM, Intransa Team Up and IBM Slips iSCSI Into SAN).

This is the first time Intransa has made its software available on another storage system vendors platform, but CTO Peter Wang is looking to line up more hardware partners.

Other iSCSI vendors have been emphasizing software for awhile, with FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC) support for iSCSI going back more than two years (see FalconStor Supports iSCSI). LeftHand Networks Inc. has licensed its software to hardware vendors for more than a year and has deals with smaller players, Crossroads Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CRDS), MPC Computers, Silicon Mechanics, and Verari Systems Inc. (see IP SANs Are Sizzling and LeftHand Reaches Crossroads).

Sometimes the software approach is deceiving. DataCore Software Corp. CEO George Teixeira says many of his SANmelody management software customers use the product to piece together IP SANs with standard PCs and Ethernet switches. “We probably have as many iSCSI installs out there as anybody, but we’re not considered an iSCSI company because we’re not a box vendor,” he says.The IP SAN box vendors know they need to add software capabilities to reach enterprise customers as iSCSI grows up. The selling points of iSCSI have been cost and ease of use, but it loses to Fibre Channel on performance. That performance advantage will increase when Fibre Channel bandwidth moves from 2- to 4-Gbit/s later this year, while iSCSI will remain at 1-Gbit/s for close to two years until 10GigE hits a low enough price for wide deployment. For now, IP SANs will have to plug the gap with functionality.

“We are not just hitching our wagon to iSCSI alone anymore,” EqualLogic Inc. CEO Don Bulens says. “iSCSI is our transport, but the message isn’t about the wire -- it’s that we have a better SAN.”

New companies are following suit. StartupNimbus Data Systems Inc.this week launched its second-generation iSCSI appliances with the major changes coming on the software end (see Nimbus Unveils New IP SANs).

Nimbus will roll out business continuity applications over the next few weeks that will allow mirroring, storage cluster, remote asynchronous replication, and snapshotting. The software is designed for a slightly larger version of the low-end product Nimbus announced last year (see Nimbus Nips Into iSCSI ). The new Nimbus IPS-1200 and IPS-1600 have higher capacity (1.2 and 16 Tbytes, respectively), dual Ethernet ports in place of one, and SATA instead of ATA drives. Pricing for the IPS-1200 begins at $8,000 and the IPS-1600 starts at $9,000.

“These are more tuned for business continuance apps,” says Nimbus CEO Tom Isakovich of his new systems. “We’re bringing in more enterprise applications.”— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights