iSCSI may be lagging Fibre Channel in terms of installations, but there's at least empirical evidence that it is joining or even replacing Fibre Channel in many shops.
In a recent study conducted by our firm, we found IT managers deploying IP SANs in the dozens for all the reasons commonly cited:
- iSCSI SANs are easy to configure and install,
- iSCSI is inexpensive compared to more costly Fibre Channel SANs, and
- iSCSI doesnt require a specialized skill set to manage.
iSCSI SANs use the same Category 6 cabling, network adapters, and existing switches as Ethernet. For those reasons, lots of small and mid-sized businesses and even departments within enterprise-size businesses are putting in iSCSI. In some cases, they are ripping out aging, unwieldy, difficult-to-manage, or costly Fibre Channel SANs and deploying iSCSI whole hog.
This isn't surprising: iSCSI, which IDC says is going to represent 4.6 percent of storage systems revenue this year and which Gartner says will exceed $3 billion in 2011, has seen almost wild adoption since it became a standard in February 2003.
In short, iSCSI's going strong, even in the face of old pundit warnings that iSCSI has limited performance compared with Fibre Channel and therefore would be inappropriate for mission-critical apps. Check out the following impressions of customers we spoke with regarding iSCSI: