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iSCSI - The Cost-Effective Solution
With iSCSI seemingly on its way to becoming a mainstream technology, exactly what makes it such a positive addition for the enterprise storage environment? Schott says iSCSI provides cost-effective connection costs by allowing customers to use standard Ethernet switches and a choice of hardware or software initiators on hosts to connect storage. "This allows appropriate connections regardless of server size or performance needs." He also adds that iSCSI has the ability to leverage high performance networking technologies and a larger pool of trained administrators.
Gulhati seems to think that one of iSCSI's major advantages is in deployment. "The basic infrastructure in an iSCSI network is the same as most IP networks; therefore, in some cases an expansion or use of existing infrastructure will cost the enterprise customer significantly less than if they deployed a technology that wasn't IP-based."
Greene believes that iSCSI is an excellent fit for enterprise environments because its roots are well understood and it's based on a standard that has widespread industry acceptance that can deliver a wide variety of compatible solutions to the market. "iSCSI is well suited to not only be incorporated in SANs within the corporate data center, but to extend the SAN benefits to distributed data centers and smaller sites, such as remote offices," says Greene.
Many people believe that in addition to iSCSI's ability to leverage high performance networking technologies (among other things), it will also save enterprises a lot of money. "iSCSI not only has much lower connection costs," affirms Schott, "it has lower setup, integration, and management costs." Schott also stresses that iSCSI offers improved integration of features, and since it runs over TCP/IP, storage components can assume the richness of TCP/IP networks in their design.
"The types of potential cost savings from iSCSI are similar to those derived from any well-implemented SAN infrastructure, including reduced capital expenditures for storage based on higher utilization and reduced operating expenses resulting from a greater administrative span of control," says Greene. However, he also points out that these savings are dependent as much or more on the quality of management and storage services software as they are on network topology. Gulhati also seems to think that iSCSI equipment (in general) offers a more favorable ROI when the costs of infrastructure, installation, and training are taken into consideration.