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Rather than specify a single technology, industry figures like Alan Koifman, technical research leader for DataPeer, Inc. forecast that storage buyers should be watching more than one technology in the coming years. His picks for the 'ones to watch' include Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI), Fibre Channel over Internet Protocol (FCIP), Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP), and virtualization.
Other industry figures, including Steven Murphy, president of Fujitsu Softek, think that it's the reliability and price of new technologies, rather than the technologies themselves, that will be the driving force for market acceptance of new products. "Any new technology must prove its reliability as well as meet aggressive price/performance goals," says Murphy. He believes that if new technologies cannot demonstrate lower price points and improve performance, customers will be unlikely to migrate from existing solutions.
How does iSCSI fit into the future of the storage market?
One topic on which there seems to be universal agreement, at least in terms of technologies to watch, is iSCSI - though many people are wondering how, exactly, iSCSI fits into the future of the storage market. iSCSI is a solution that industry leader Fujitsu Softek has tested in its labs for years, but during testing has found that, at present, it doesn't meet the price/performance thresholds for enterprise adaptation. Nick Tabellion, CTO of Fujitsu Softek explains. "The price of iSCSI is very attractive - unfortunately this solution is very low performance." Tabellion goes on to say that Fujitsu does not see mission critical adaptation of iSCSI due to performance concerns.
SANs and IP-based storage solutions
Looking at the storage industry from a big picture perspective, survey after survey shows that, whatever the specific technology might be, the overall growth in the network storage market will be significant. Analysts at Gartner Dataquest believe that the SAN marketplace will grow 89 percent between 1999 and 2003, and the analysts at IDC forecast SAN implementations to grow tenfold by the end of 2002. In addition, some industry experts believe that SANs and storage networking in general will become predominately IP-based.
There are many reasons for this, including performance, reliability, scalability, and ease of management, as Koifman explains. "If we look at how the bandwidth usage standards have increased over past years, we can safely assume that IP-based storage solutions will be an excellent fit into existing IP networks. Corporations have already invested in IP technology and have accumulated extensive experience and knowledge of it. That said," he cautioned, "IP storage has some technical refinements to make in the areas of security, and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) offloads."
Back at Fujitsu Softek, many believe that any move to IP-based storage networking is going to be, as with other technologies, based more on meeting price/performance thresholds. "Users will need to see clear benefits before moving to a new technology," says Murphy. Fujitsu's Tabellion sees the costs of new technologies becoming a contributing factor in actual product development, and ultimately technical convergence. "With Fibre lowering its price points and IP improving performance, we may see a convergence of the technologies for different customers and applications," he says.