How to pick the right protocol for your SAN


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The decision tree
Clearly, many factors go into deciding among the three IP storage options. Ultimately, it comes down to this:

  • FCIP is simpler than iFCP in terms of the number of devices as well as in the protocol itself. For a SAN with a core-edge design looking to mirror data to a like-SAN with a relatively few number of devices, then FCIP is the quickest, most economical solution available.
  • If your data center is populated with a number of SAN islands that support different applications, then perhaps you want to leverage the error and congestion isolation benefits of iFCP.
  • On the other hand, if you don't have a SAN yet and have the leisure of being able to wait and see how iSCSI continues to fair in the marketplace before making FC investments, then iSCSI may be the best opportunity for you to answer corporate mandates for business continuity and at the same time address the management issues of managing multiple protocols over your long-distance SAN transport.
The good news is that we've moved from a situation where remote SAN links required proprietary technology and options were limited, to one where a number of open approaches are available, covering a decent range of reliability, performance and cost.

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This was first published in October 2003

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