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iSCSI, FC, zoning and speed

With all the talk about iSCSI, I have two questions. Will a standard Ethernet switch enable a "fabric" in an iSCSI network and what happens to zoning, etc.? Will an eventual move to 10 GB speeds in IP require an overhaul on the backbone for iSCSI as it will for Fibre Channel?

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There are three questions here:

1. A standard vanilla Ethernet switch does not provide the components you might be accustomed to from Fibre Channel switches. The services of a FC switch (particularly the simple name services, known as iSNS for iSCSI) have to reside somewhere in the iSCSI SAN but vanilla Ethernet switches aren't designed to run them. Probably in some other system. The Nishan switches, now a part of McData'a product line, support the Ethernet/IP versions of Fibre Channel switch services but they are not exactly vanilla Ethernet switches.

2. Zoning does not exist in Ethernet. No big deal, there are two other technologies for fencing traffic: VLANs and MPLS.

3. Any move to 10 GB of anything will require a backbone makeover (my opinion, not necessarily based on engineering plans).


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This was first published in January 2004

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