Q

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?

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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