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Virtual Iron Dangles iSCSI Savings

In adding iSCSI support to its virtualization software, Virtual Iron is working to to tap into user demands for cheaper data center kit. (See Virtual Iron Announces 3.5.)

Virtualization vendors are increasingly focusing their attentions on storage. VMware, for example, already offers iSCSI support and XenSource told Byte and Switch that an iSCSI-compatible version of its software is in beta tests and will be generally available later this month. (See XenSource.)

iSCSI is growing in popularity as a cheaper alternative to Fibre Channel. (See 10-Gig iSCSI SANs Set for Takeoff, The iSCSI Subtext to 10-GigE, and EqualLogic Tops Offs SAS Series.) Analyst firm IDC, for example, estimates that from now through 2010, iSCSI SANs will show a CAGR for worldwide revenue of 74.8 percent, compared to 4.1 percent for Fibre Channel. (See Connecting the iSCSI Dots.)

The big selling point of iSCSI virtualization is that users can link storage into their virtual infrastructure without buying additional kit. Firms looking to connect a Fibre Channel SAN, on the other hand, would have to invest in Fibre Channel HBAs, about $2,000 a pair. "It's all about reducing the cost and complexity," says Mike Grandinetti, Virtual Iron's chief marketing officer.

For many firms, it is simply too expensive to have a Fibre Channel SAN supporting their virtual servers, according to Chris Wolf, senior analyst at Burton Group. "For organizations looking at virtualization [for the first time] or mid-sized firms that don't have a SAN in place, iSCSI gives them inexpensive shared storage that can scale real easy."

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