Storage Firms Embrace iSCSI

A number of storage solutions vendors have quickly announced support for Internet SCSI (iSCSI) following
the standard’s ratification last week by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Network Appliance (NetApp)
Monday announced that it will bring iSCSI products to the fore and that it has made some upgrades to its hardware and software lines.

On Friday, Adaptec announced full product support for iSCSI and said its complete line of iSCSI ASICs and host bus adapters will be available later this quarter.

The solution born of a new standard

What IT folks like about iSCSI (pronounced “I-scuzzy”) is that it allows the
creation of storage area networks (SANs) using Ethernet
infrastructures at a less expensive cost than using traditional Fibre Channel
protocols.

Phil Williams, VP of Strategic Alliances and Business Development at NetApp,
told internetnews.com that NetApp is offering iSCSI as a free second
protocol for F800 and FAS900 series customers, the latter of which was launched
last October as the industry’s first unified storage engine capable of
handling networked storage in SAN and/or NAS mode.

In a pact with the top chipmaker, NetApp will use the Intel PRO/1000 T IP
Storage Adapter for its host attach kits. The two companies will also
collaborate to expand the iSCSI market with education, deployment and
implementation recommendation guides, and certification and interoperability
testing.

Williams said using iSCSI for small and medium size businesses who want to
set up remote offices is easier than Fibre Channel, of which he said “people
require almost a PhD to understand.”

Williams’ colleague, NetApp Director of Technology and Strategy Keith Brown,
agreed with Williams, and added that Fibre Channel “really struggles in
terms of standards, interoperability, complexity and costs.”

With iSCSI, you can implement the semantic equivalent of a Fibre Channel
SAN using just Linksys switches for a couple of hundreds of dollars,” Brown
told internetnews.com.

Pushan Rinnen, Senior Analyst in the Network Attached Storage group at
Gartner, said iSCSI represents an opportunity for enterprise customers to
migrate to networked storage and benefit from simplified administration at a
less expensive cost. For storage vendors, Gartner estimated the market
opportunity at over $10 billion.

“The majority of the storage market is still direct-attached storage,
although SAN is gaining steam,” Rinnen told
internetnews.com. “Network Appliance is one of what will be many
firms using iSCSI to target a vastly untapped market. They want to meet
customers demand for easier storage management, while trying to avoid the
complexity and cost of a SAN.”

While Rinnen said iSCSI cannot quite rival the power of Fibre Channel in
terms of powering high-performance applications, she said it will be good
for the majority of lighter applications.

NetApp iSCSI products are available immediately for Microsoft Windows
environments, while similar items for Linux are available for beta testing.

The products

NetApp also made news on the hardware and software fronts Monday. Targeted
for medium and large businesses are NearStore R150, SnapVault, MetroCluster,
and a certified NearStore and VERITAS Volume Replicator offering, all of
which kick in when disaster strikes to make sure networks maintain data
integrity.

NearStore R150 is the latest member of the NearStore family, a hard disk
backup/recovery and nearline storage line that competes with products from
StorageTek and EMC. Williams told internetnews.com NearStore R150
doubles capacity to 24TB per module and provides twice the backup throughput
(up to 430GB per hour) for a penny per megabyte.

NetApp also aired its latest iteration of SnapVault backup software, which
makes use of open Network Data Management Protocol APIs to support backups
from NetApp and non-NetApp. This, Williams said, will vault SnapVault into
heterogeneous storage environments, where it may work with the products of
other firms such as Atempo, BakBone, CommVault, Computer Associates, Legato
systems, Reliaty, Syncsort and Veritas.

MetroCluster is NetApp’s new business continuance software. The company
guarantees fast site failover capability to remote data centers with little
management from IT managers. It features synchronous replication over
campus/metro distances and extends clustering technology to sites located
miles apart.

VFM 3.0 is a refresh of firm’s automated storage management product and,
according to Williams, is the industry’s first file-level storage
virtualization software. It uses namespace and file virtualization to manage
distributed file storage in networked enterprises in Windows and UNIX
platforms. Enhancements to VFM include simplified failover monitoring to
maintain uptime, transparent data migration to facilitate storage
consolidation and business continuance, and the elimination of name space
management overhead to make massive storage management easier.

As a general comment about NetApp’s data recovery products, Brown extolled
the virtues of disk technology over its tape cousin. He used a football
analogy to drive his point home.

“Say the tape is your line of defense, which you put up to protect you from
data loss,” Brown explained. “It’s trying to play every position on the
field. The problem is that tape technology has not been keeping pace with
disk technology. It can play some of the positions, but once it reaches its
capacity point it stops. What happens then is the tape is being pushed back,
and it is unable to stop the data loss touchdown from scoring. Our disk
technology acts as the free safety to stop the data loss.”

Meanwhile, Adaptec has completed development of the company’s ASIC products for iSCSI and Fibre Channel-to-IP solutions.

In addition, Adaptec is currently conducting beta deployments of iSCSI storage area networks in conjunction with several OEM partners. Adaptec products are installed at multiple beta sites representing a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, education and government. Deployments include iSCSI SANs supporting Windows and Linux servers running Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server applications.

This story originally appeared on internetnews.com.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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