Sun Changes iSCSI Tune

Sun apparently thinks IP SANs are not a 'mistake' anymore, as it certifies EqualLogic arrays

September 13, 2003

2 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) apparently thinks IP SANs are not a "mistake" anymore -- which is how the CTO of its storage group described iSCSI a year-and-a-half ago -- as the company has certified its servers to work with EqualLogic Inc. arrays (see Sun Certifies EqualLogic IP Arrays).

EqualLogic, a startup based in Nashua, N.H., sells storage systems that use iSCSI, an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specification for sending block-level data over IP networks (see EqualLogic Unfurls iSCSI Flag). Its PeerStorage product has now successfully completed Sun's Blade Server Verification and Solaris Ready Certification programs, becoming the first iSCSI device to be OK'd for Sun servers.

In a statement, Patric Chang, director of market development engineering at Sun, says EqualLogic's PeerStorage IP-based storage arrays provide Sun customers "a low-cost storage option with enterprise-level management and performance capabilities."

That's practically a 180-degree shift from what Balint Fleischer, CTO of Sun's network storage group, told us in a March 2002 interview.

"I'm not sure iSCSI is the right storage protocol the industry needs," Fleischer said at the time. "I think storage needs to move away from block-level storage protocols and embrace other semantics." He added that Sun would support iSCSI if customer demand emerged, "but otherwise we don't see a lot of headaches that it solves." (See Sun Says iSCSI May Be a 'Mistake'.)Why the change in thinking at Sun? Maybe customer demand for IP storage networking has finally caught its attention. (Sun representatives didn't get back to us by press time when we asked for elaboration.) However, we should note that it was Sun's server group that worked to approve EqualLogic's storage systems, while Sun's storage group didn't have any part in it.

For EqualLogic, the need to certify its IP SAN arrays with Sun technologies was "entirely driven and instigated by customers and customer demand," says Peter Hayden, president and CEO of EqualLogic. "As you get into larger enterprises, having something that just works, as opposed to having something that has gone through a rigorous approval process, makes a big difference."

Hayden says several of EqualLogic's customers are "large financial institutions" that have mixed environments. EqualLogic remains tight-lipped on naming its customers (and won't even reveal how many it has landed to date), but Hayden promises the company will come public on some customers soon (see EqualLogic Draws Bank's Interest).

EqualLogic is distributing the Solaris iSCSI driver developed by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which participating in the approval process, according to Hayden.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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