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The Key to Market Success for IP SANs
So, will the market share for the new IP SANs vendors depend on how well they cover the entire storage puzzle? Absolutely, says Gal-Oz. “Customers expect and need all the same functionality within an IP SAN that is found in a FC SAN,” he says. “A SAN is a SAN and must have provisions for high availability, disaster recover, security, and failover.”.
Gal-Oz says that IP SANs deliver these today, including snapshot, path-failover, and 100 percent synchronous mirroring of individual storage systems. “Even advanced features like asynchronous remote mirroring and DR are right around the corner for IP SANs.” And synchronous remote mirroring over IP exists today (using iSCSI and new operating system features at the host layer) and will soon be available from the network layer, he continues.
Lauffin says that what he has seen clearly over the last six to nine months is the concept of IP storage transcending all demographics. He says he sees it in the vertical OEM markets — such as digital video security, medical imaging, and print graphics — and across the board. “What in many instances was traditionally a server-to-storage device DAS relationship is today, with the affordability of enterprise class storage systems, an entirely different ballgame,” says Lauffin.
Lauffin points out that these systems offer vast capacity in comparison to past RAID systems. “The capacity ratio of available storage is now so far beyond the original DAS concept that the desire to make that storage accessible to multiple end users on similar type systems has become a regular request, “ he says. “As these requests increase, the ability to access that data seamlessly over something such as an IP network is very attractive,” he continues.
Paving the Road for the Future
It took more than three years for iSCSI to gain the IETF's seal of approval, and some industry experts feel that with its ratification, many startups and large storage vendors will redouble their efforts to develop storage arrays, host bus adapters, TCP offload accelerator cards, and management software products that support the standard.
While the debate continues in the storage arena, we will continue the “Storage Focus: The Outlook for IP SANs” discussion in Part 2 of this series. The second column will appear later this month and will answer such questions as:
- Should organizations be looking at pure IP-based storage as a storage solution? If so, what type of organizations would most benefit from IP-based SANs?
- IP-based storage products and applications are becoming increasingly important components of the modern storage networking world. However, IP networks suffer from latency, jitter, lost packets, and other common networking artifacts because they transverse wide areas and comprise switches, routers, and complex protocols. What can IT managers who are considering a pure IP-based SANS solution expect or do to minimize these issues?
- One way or another, enterprise storage is going to be networked. The question is how: Fibre Channel (FC) or Internet Protocol (IP), or both?
- Are more and more companies beginning to employ iSCSI at the edge for less critical or performance-intensive storage, and then using it or other IP protocols to connect to central FC storage area networks (SANs) across the wide area?