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IP Rising

If a thousand-mile journey starts with a single step, the migration to IP storage is well underway.

Indeed, the recent re-ascendance of iSCSI after a disappointing start a couple of years back, heralds a new turn for the SAN market, one predicted by Byte and Switch nearly a year ago (see iSCSI's Second Act). As more companies opt for iSCSI products as a replacement for direct-attached storage, the market gets closer to shunting Fibre Channel to the legacy bin (see ISCSI: Next Big Thing or H-IP-E?).

Let's start with the basics. Fibre Channel was created to offer block-oriented, high-speed switched links between storage devices. For years, it's gotten that job done.

But IP storage could do it better. Fibre Channel, for instance, tops out at about 2 Gbit/s today; IP-enabled SANs can run at Gigabit Ethernet, but could easily exceed that as 10-Gbit/s Ethernet emerges. Fibre Channel travels at up to 600 km; IP SANs could easily double that today, via encapsulation.

What's more, IP SANs, by making use of the existing telecom and data comm infrastructure, would obviate the need for enterprise customers to maintain separate network technologies and separate sets of resident experts – for storage and other data-center functions. This spells savings in both capital and operational costs.

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