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IP Storage Streams In

Fibre Channel-based storage isn't for everyone. Small- to medium-size enterprises might not want to dedicate the time and dollars necessary to get a fairly complex system set up for storage needs that don't justify the effort or expense. And business of all sizes are interested in the savings that a less costly alternative to Fibre Channel might bring.

One potential answer? IP-based storage, using the iSCSI protocol over an Ethernet network. Heretofore, network managers have largely disdained IP-based storage solutions because of performance issues. IP data is frequently bottlenecked from maximum performance, particularly when sharing network traffic paths with other IP streams.

But the vendor market is responding to growing customer interest in IP storage. A number of vendors, such as StoneFly, have been working on performance issues and are coming up with methods that are more than acceptable for net managers at the cost.

Microsoft is adding iSCSI support to its Longhorn release of Windows, and key storage vendors, such as Hitachi Data Systems and EMC, are planning to integrate iSCSI into their systems throughout the year. While there are still intercommunication issues with iSCSI, the iSCSI 2 update of the protocol should resolve those by sometime next year.

Though Fibre Channel systems aren't exactly threatened by any of this, the result is still increasingly a second choice for enterprises looking for a lower-cost storage scheme.

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