IP Storage Panel - 2004 is the Year of iSCSI

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IP Storage Panel - 2004 is the Year of iSCSI

Rubrik: World-wide-News/Background

SANRAD: ISCSI - Next Big Thing or H-IP-E?

"It's Not a War Between iSCSI And Fibre Channel

(23.12.03) - On the Chinese calendar, 2004 will be the Year of the Monkey. On the network storage calendar, 2004 will be the Year of iSCSI - according to an IP storage panel that met in New York. The panel was part of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)'s IP Storage "On the Road" Seminar Series. It consisted of an IDC analyst and six IP storage vendors, who agreed that iSCSI's time has come, even though Fibre Channel will stick around for a long time. This forecast agrees with the most recent Byte and Switch Insider report, which states that after more than three years of hype and hope, IP storage networks are finally coming to market with all the necessary ingredients (see B&S Insider Scopes IP SANs).

"ISCSI has taken a lot of crap up until this year," said Robert Gray, IDC's head of storage systems research. "But it's really busting out now."

Gray and his fellow panelists say the stars are aligned for iSCSI, thanks to a number of drivers: support of iSCSI by Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT - message board); a rollout of iSCSI products from a range of other vendors; the continued data explosion; an increased focus on disaster recovery; the desire for better management of storage for small and mid-sized businesses; and an increase in spending on networked storage. Missing from the list: a desire to replace Fibre Channel SANs.

"No, it's not a war between iSCSI and Fibre Channel," Gray insisted. "We'll see Fibre Channel in the high end and IP-based storage below that. Most of the rap on iSCSI is, 'Does it perform like Fibre Channel? No.' But it's not going to replace Fibre Channel. Companies are not going to throw out their Fibre Channel SANs."

Still, companies that don't have Fibre Channel SANs will likely opt for iSCSI instead. According to the panel, iSCSI is set to become the key SAN protocol for smaller companies. Indeed, the migration to iSCSI will begin as products that implement the protocol replace direct attached storage (DAS) as the model of choice for small and medium-sized businesses, panelists said.

Meanwhile, larger organizations will hang onto Fibre Channel SANs for another decade. ISCSI's role will be to complement Fibre Channel in large companies. Example: IP will complement Fibre Channel for secondary storage - data that a company decides is not mission critical. IP storage makes for a cheaper and simpler alternative, especially as ATA disks decrease in price and companies rely less on tape backup.

The choice is an architectural one, the panel claimed. "This isn't a Fibre Channel versus iSCSI question, it's DAS versus network storage," said David Dale, Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP - message board) industry evangelist and marketing chair of the IP Storage Forum. "ISCSI is really complementary to Fibre Channel, and to NAS as well."

Still, the panel did not hesitate to point out advantages of iSCSI over Fibre Channel, such as its ability to connect over longer distances, lower cost, and simpler management. Because Fibre Channel SANs already cost a lot to install, enterprises will be reluctant to ditch them. It's different with DAS, which companies must replace to meet growing data storage and management needs. The panel agreed that Windows will be the sweet spot for iSCSI. Microsoft ships iSCSI initiators with its operating system and recently began certifying hardware for iSCSI (see Microsoft Blesses iSCSI Hardware).

"Microsoft support is really big; it puts it on everybody's radar," NetApp's Dale said. "If you're running Microsoft Exchange, you want iSCSI." Growing storage budgets will also help iSCSI pick up momentum next year. IDC projects that 55 percent of companies expect to increase storage spending in 2004. Gray says many companies are just now funding disaster recovery projects planned in the wake of 9/11. Dale said all signs point to mass adoption of iSCSI. "Things that motivate the market are there," he said. "Standards are behind us, early adopters are behind us, we're seeing products, and we have case studies. Next year will be a huge year for iSCSI." (Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch/ma)


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