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What switches to use when implementing an iSCSI SAN

With all the hype around the cost delta between FC and iSCSI, most has been aimed at the cost of adapters. My question is, when implementing an iSCSI SAN, will I use an off the shelf Ethernet switch or will we see "specialized storage" switches for this purpose?

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You will use both. Your hosts will be connected to their normal IP switches, which in turn will be connected to a specialized IP gateway switch where the existing FC storage gets connected. This solution allows you protect your investment in your SAN hardware and connect it up to your Ethernet network for block access to the FC storage targets.

Click here for an example of what's available in the iSCSI gateway realm. All the other switch vendors, including Cisco, have multi-protocol switches available for connecting iSCSI clients to FC storage.

As more native iSCSI storage solutions become available, the need for these switches will decrease but there are still advantages to using them like error traffic isolation and the ability to use iFCP between iSCSI storage islands for data replication.

Chris

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This was first published in February 2004

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