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NAS deployments and iSCSI

I understand that Network Appliance is backing iSCSI. With their file system based OS WAFL, I don't see any advantages that iSCSI could bring them. How does iSCSI benefit NAS deployments?

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Great question.

When you make products like storage for markets that do not have clear vertical segmentation, you need to provide a high level of flexibility so you can sell into the largest possible market. Obviously, that is NetApp's thinking on this one. iSCSI allows them to accommodate block based storage with a native Ethernet interface. I doubt that iSCSI will replace DAFS as a strategic element, but strange things happen from time to time.

That said, supporting iSCSI doesn't further NetApp's position as the leader of file-based storage. Maybe they are identifying more with storage these days than file-based storage? We will see how they market this capability.

Another interpretation is that NetApp will use iSCSI for a storage interconnect between a filer and its storage, including remote storage. I honestly don't know and I am not privy to NetApp's plans.

In general iSCSI could benefit NAS by allowing both client/server and storage I/O traffic to travel over a single infrastructure. This could help drive down the cost of NAS products.

Regards,
Marc Farley

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This was first published in October 2001

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