Microsoft Nods at iSCSI

Protocol gets a boost from extended support in Microsoft Exchange Server 2003

March 18, 2004

2 Min Read
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Microsoft Corp. has extended storage support in its Exchange Server 2003 product to iSCSI and NAS devices.

Users will now be able to employ iSCSI and NAS hardware with Exchange Server 2003, as long as the solutions have been approved by Microsoft as part of its Designed for Windows logo program.

There has been growing speculation over recent months that iSCSI will emerge as a cost-effective alternative to Fibre Channel, which is currently the dominant storage networking technology. Last September, for example, a survey of 300 U.S. technology buyers by analyst firm IDC revealed that some 67 percent are receptive to the idea of buying iSCSI (see The Battle for Smallsville).

Claus Egge, program director of European storage systems research at IDC, believes that Microsofts move will provide a boost to iSCSI, particularly among SMBs and distributed computing environments: “Of course it helps, there are businesses out there that want to network their storage, so for them iSCSI will be a nice alternative to Fibre Channel.”

But Sue Clarke, senior research analyst at Butler Group, believes that, for overall performance, iSCSI will always be overshadowed by Fibre Channel. She notes that “the speed and performance of iSCSI is improving, but so is Fibre Channel.”However, Clarke acknowledges that iSCSI still has a great deal to offer for storage networking. “I can see it having a role to play in situations where organizations are implementing SANs and NAS.

“You can get just as good performance with iSCSI for things like backing-up where the speed of the backup is determined by the application and not the technology used."

Microsoft is at pains to emphasize that the decision to extend support on Exchange Server 2003 was in response to customer demand. In a statement, Kevin McCuiston, director of Exchange marketing at Microsoft, says, “Exchange Server customers have been asking us for the ability to utilize iSCSI and NAS storage devices in an Exchange environment...

“These new storage solutions for Exchange 2003 bring exciting benefits to our customers and are especially valuable in small-business and remote-office scenarios."

Egge of IDC has also noticed this trend. “It’s early days for iSCSI," he says. "A lot of the larger firms will already have implemented Fibre Channel, so iSCSI will be useful for the smaller firms.”— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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