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NetApp Pokes & Prods iSCSI

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) -- hoping to convince enterprise customers that its IP SAN technology isn't going to bite them like a crazed cockatiel -- has launched a formal program to certify the operation of third-party iSCSI adapters with its iSCSI storage systems.

So far, adapters from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) have been OK'd for the NetApp iSCSI protocol stack. NetApp is offering the iSCSI-certification services in conjunction with Medusa Labs, the Austin, Texas-based testing division of Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) (see NetApp Certifies iSCSI Adapters).

But hold on a minute. One of the advantages of iSCSI, a protocol developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for transmitting block-level storage over IP networks, was supposed to be that such certifications would no longer even be necessary. The idea was that iSCSI adapters would work with iSCSI storage arrays just like standard Ethernet components.

Has iSCSI's simplicity been oversold?

Not according to NetApp, which says the certification program is mainly meant to increase users' comfort level with iSCSI. Because iSCSI is a new technology, customers are looking for a guarantee that different vendors' products have been tested and work together, says NetApp spokeswoman Kris Newton.

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