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10-GigE SANs to Make SNW Debut

iSCSI vendors at Storage Networking World next week will be looking to show 10-Gbit/s Ethernet IP SANS are technically feasible, but they may have a tougher time demonstrating that high-bandwidth storage systems are affordable.

Intransa plans to demonstrate a 10-Gbit/s IP SAN system consisting of its storage controller configured with a Neterion Xframe II adapter. Neterion and String Bean Software will be trumpeting the results of recent tests they conducted with the Xframe II and IP SAN powered by String Beans software that runs on standard Windows servers. (See Neterion Channels 10GigE , String Bean Updates iSCSI Software, and String Bean Software.) Also, Fujitsu will show a 12-port 10-Gig switch and iVivity will announce a new 10-gig chip it hopes to sell through OEMs. (See iVivity Ships 10-Gig Chip.)

When will these products be ready for consumption? There are still other factors in play -- mostly involving the price of cabling -- but Intransa is shooting for 10-Gbit/s rack-and-blade servers by September 2006.

The biggest benefit of 10-GigE for customers is it would let them connect 10 times the number of servers to their controllers as they can with current 1-Gbit/s Ethernet. But 10-GigE iSCSI will almost certainly come at a price premium. As is the case with Fibre Channel’s move from 2 Gbytes to 4 Gbytes, iSCSI customers will want the extra bandwidth without the extra price. Customers of iSCSI are thought to be even more price-sensitive since the technology's low cost is a major driving force behind IP SAN adoption.

“If it costs any more, I wouldn’t pay for it, because what I’m doing now with GigE suits my needs,” says Jeff Chestnut, director of operations at healthcare consultant Dynamic Health Strategies. A full-blown, enterprise-level iSCSI system of the 1-Gbit variety costs about $30,000, he says. No one's talking about what 10-Gbit iSCSI might cost.

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