NetApp Sets Up Qualification Program for iSCSI Adapter Vendors


The company admits it may not be necessary, but Network Appliance has set up a third-party program for iSCSI adapter vendors to qualify as NetApp-supported solutions.

"We believe that iSCSI adapters will plug and play just like any other Ethernet components," says Mark Santora, senior vice president of marketing at Network Appliance. "However, since iSCSI is a new technology, customers are looking for assurances that different vendors' products have been thoroughly tested and work together. This program provides that assurance for NetApp customers."

The program uses an independent third-party company, Finisar, to supervise qualification testing carried out at Finisar's Medusa Labs facility in Austin, Texas. iSCSI adapter vendors whose products complete testing can be marketed as NetApp-supported.

While the program may not be completely necessary, vendors appear to be lining up to qualify their iSCSI adapters as NetApp-supported. Adaptec and Intel quickly followed NetApp's announcement with their own releases.

The Intel PRO/1000 T IP storage adapter was the first to complete the program, and the Adaptec 7211 iSCSI HBA has also passed muster. Other vendors' iSCSI adapters are currently in the testing process, NetApp says.

iSCSI, an IETF standard storage protocol adopted earlier this year, enables the creation of storage area networks (SANs) using Ethernet infrastructures. The technology is appealing because it enables affordable storage consolidation solutions for server applications in environments where simplicity, flexibility, and price/performance are key IT decision factors.

NetApp says the Medusa Labs testing process was designed to verify proper functionality and operation between iSCSI initiator and iSCSI target hardware. Test suites monitor product functionality, stability, data integrity, and performance in optimal and error-induced states. Error injection and recovery verify that the products are up to the most stringent data center requirements.

NetApp views iSCSI as a chance to accelerate customers' evolution from direct-attached and internal storage to networked storage. iSCSI lets customers with pervasive Ethernet infrastructures tap the data management and flexibility benefits of networked storage in more parts of their enterprise. iSCSI deployments also let customers accelerate their transitions to networked storage by providing cost-effective "data center-caliber" storage management capabilities for their distributed server environments, the company says. All this can be done with solutions that leverage their existing networking investments and expertise.

NetApp iSCSI solutions are available for Microsoft Windows environments. An iSCSI protocol license for NearStore, NetApp F800, and FAS900 series storage solutions is available at no charge to existing customers with software subscription contracts from the NetApp NOW Web site.

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