Microsoft Blesses iSCSI Hardware

Redmond sends a signal that iSCSI hosts and targets are ready for prime time

November 20, 2003

2 Min Read
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The Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) iSCSI train left the station today carrying 14 hardware vendors that passed compatibility tests for Windows (see Microsoft Qualifies 14 iSCSI Products).

The announcement is a signal from Microsoft to companies that compatible HBAs and arrays are available to begin implementing iSCSI networks on Windows.

"Microsoft's support of iSCSI is going to be very important," says James Opfer, research VP for Gartner/Dataquest. "You need targets for iSCSI to progress, and the users need to know it will work."

The first group of vendors awarded Microsoft's iSCSI Designed for Windows logo include those with host bus adapters (HBAs) -- or initiators -- and those with targets. The host/initiator category includes:

The target vendors are:

In June 2003, Microsoft released its iSCSI initiator software driver that supports Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. That development helped iSCSI -- a protocol designed to move block-level storage traffic over IP networks -- pick up momentum after a few slow years in the larval stage (see iSCSI Gets Go-Ahead, Microsoft Sparks iSCSI Liftoff, and Panel: iSCSI Clear for Takeoff).

"This is certainly going to ramp up reasonably quickly," says Opfer, whose company forecasts that iSCSI will connect more than 1.6 million servers by 2007.

Microsoft, for its part, is expecting a high growth rate in iSCSI implementation in 2004 and 2005. "It's very clear that everybody has an interest in iSCSI," says Claude Lorenson, a product manager in Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division. "The sweet spot is companies where today there are no SANs implemented."

For the most part, small and medium-sized businesses reside in that sweet spot. Those companies don't have to worry about performance issues that affect larger networks that might move from Fibre Channel to iSCSI. Lorenson says early iSCSI adapters are typically replacing direct-attached storage systems installed three to five years ago.

"They already know the technology, so they don't have to crack the books on Fibre Channel SANs," says Lorenson. "And they can use the same subsystems they already have."Microsoft expects around 25 more hardware vendors to qualify iSCSI products for Windows over the next six months.

Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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