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3PAR Joins IP SAN Party

3PAR became the latest vendor to jump into iSCSI today, offering it as a standalone IP SAN or as an option with its Fibre Channel InServe Storage Server.

3PAR enables iSCSI connectivity by building in dual-ported QLogic iSCSI HBAs for TCP/IP offloading. InServe Storage Server is available with up to 16 iSCSI ports. (See 3PAR Offers iSCSI.)

That iSCSI strategy is closest to Network Appliance and Compellent among the competitors. The likes of EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM offer separate Fibre Channel and iSCSI systems, with iSCSI usually relegated to low-end systems. EqualLogic, LeftHand Networks, and a bunch of smaller vendors sell IP-only SANs.

3PAR sees iSCSI as a way to offer multiple tiers of storage in the same system. That's similar to NetApp's unified storage approach that gives customers the option of Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NAS in the same box. 3PAR offers NAS through a partnership with OnStor. Pillar Data also combines Fibre Channel SAN and NAS, but not iSCI yet.

One analyst says 3PAR's entrance into iSCSI shows that while iSCSI was struggling for acceptance a year ago, it is rapidly becoming an essential offering for storage vendors, even those that target high-end customers such as 3PAR. 3PAR's iSCSI is built for the enterprise, rather than SMBs or shops looking to network a few direct attached servers into a small SAN.

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