10-Gig iSCSI SANs Set for Takeoff

Get ready for a slew of iSCSI SAN announcements supporting higher-speed networks

February 16, 2007

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

iSCSI SAN vendors are prepping products that support a move to 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, reflecting the trend toward that data rate in carrier core networks worldwide -- a trend that could eventually take hold in enteprise networks, too. (See The iSCSI Subtext to 10-GigE.)

EqualLogic, FalconStor, Intransa, LeftHand Networks, Nimbus, and others are in varying stages of 10-Gbit/s iSCSI readiness. "Our SAN/iQ software has the drivers for 10-gig now," says John Fanelli, VP of marketing for LeftHand Networks. All that's needed is to download the drivers into 10-Gbit/s NICs -- a process that would be simple if there were in fact more NICs certified by HP and IBM, whose hardware serves as the basis for LeftHand's wares.

Fanelli expects all parts to coalesce sometime this year. (See 10GBase-T Adapters Debut, Chelsio Opens Up iSCSI Software, and Bell Micro Distributes Adapters.) But early adopters can get 10-Gbit/s SANs from LeftHand today, if they request it, he says.

Meanwhile, Intransa, which is undergoing a management change, is also readying a 10-Gbit/s iSCSI announcement, a spokeswoman confirms. New CEO Bud Broomhead (ex-Topio) has taken over from Tom Alexander, now VP of corporate development, and Jeff Whitney (ex-Spinnaker/NetApp/Maxxan) is the new VP of marketing. (See Tom Alexander, CEO, Intransa.) Details are thin, because Intransa is set for an official announcement early in March. But the move to higher speeds is apparently part of the strategy.

FalconStor also claims to have 10-Gbit/s iSCSI in its sights, and CMO Camberley Bates says products could materialize within a year to 18 months.EqualLogic is the most reticent of the big IP SAN vendors, but it too is planning for 10-Gbit/s iSCSI. "EqualLogic has 10 Gigabit Ethernet support planned for the second half of 2008. That's when we believe some of our midmarket customers will begin considering it for storage applications and when the prices for the accompanying 10 GbE infrastructure will become more affordable," says VP of marketing John Joseph in a note to Byte and Switch.

Nimbus, a smaller player, claims to have already shipped a sizeable number of 10-Gbit/s iSCSI systems, and CEO Tom Isakovich promises a new, improved model within a few weeks. (See 10-Gig IP SANs Hit Bleeding Edge.)

Another early supplier of 10-Gbit/s iSCSI, StoneFly Inc., also has a 2007 roadmap. (See StoneFly Intros HSC, StoneFly Supports 10-GigE, and StoneFly Enhances Products.)

At least one analyst thinks bigger players like EMC and NetApp are likely poking their noses into 10-Gbit/s iSCSI, though real market momentum won't build for awhile. "Realistically, I don't expect anything but a handful of units before the end of the year," says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group consultancy. "A lot of companies have products in alpha or beta... I assume EMC and NetApp may have something going on. But the liftoff will be slow regardless."

At issue is whether companies will see sufficient benefit in iSCSI to adopt it at any speed, and whether they'll prefer it at 10-Gbit/s over higher-speed Fibre Channel or InfiniBand."It's a matter of cost and familiarity," says FalconStor's Bates. While FalconStor's seeing "a lot of pickup" in iSCSI, it could be awhile before that translates into enterprise enthusiasm.

It may be that iSCSI at 10-Gbit/s emerges outside the U.S. As announced last year, Huawei-3Com (H3C), the joint venture owned by 3Com and China-based Huawei in a 51 percent/49 percent split, has been selling in China a series of IP SANs based on technology from a range of vendors, including FalconStor, as well as -- reportedly -- iVivity, Intransa, and Xyratex. (See Huawei Sets Sights on IP SANs and FalconStor Teams With Huawei-3Com.)

Dubbed the Neocean IX1000 and IX5000, the systems have apparently been selling in China since the spring. This makes sense, because in China there is a pressing need for storage and notably lower Fibre Channel penetration than in the West, sources say. (See China: Storage Superpower?.) They are deployed in places such as the Tiandu Hotel in China's Hebei Province, where a 1-Gbit/s Ethernet multisite network has been built to accommodate video on demand, digitized monitoring, and information related to the upcoming 2008 Olympics. According to H3C's Website, this network has the potential to go to 10-Gbit/s.

Does this mean H3C will go worldwide with the Neocean IP SANs, taking FalconStor, Xyratex, Intransa, and iVivity with it? H3C wasn't able to provide any insight at press time as to whether its systems have gone 10 Gbit/s or will be shipping outside the Asia-Pacific region anytime soon.

None of the other vendors involved will comment. FalconStor's Bates is mute on the subject, though she will say the company is looking to expand its relationship with H3C, as noted in its recent earnings report.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • H3C Technologies Co. Ltd.

  • Intransa Inc.

  • iVivity Inc.

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Nimbus Data Systems Inc.

  • Xyratex Ltd.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights