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Integrating iSCSI and FC storage

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iSCSI integration options
iSCSI can be integrated into an existing FC SAN at various levels and to varying degrees, depending on the existing storage environment and integration goal. On one hand, there are storage architects like Baylor College's Layton whose main goal is to access all existing FC storage via iSCSI. At the other end of the spectrum are storage managers like Dharni who have completely migrated to iSCSI, eliminating their FC SANs. Another option is to run FC and iSCSI SANs side by side, the approach taken by Spokane Public Schools' Mount and Dan Schneidemantle, data systems manager at Logs Financial Services Inc., Northbrook, IL.

In the latter case, the key design consideration is the extent of the iSCSI FC SAN integration. In many mixed-protocol environments, storage architects deploy an additional iSCSI SAN that runs in parallel to the existing FC infrastructure, each managed separately, to avoid complex integration issues. "Most of our customers run the iSCSI SAN separate from their FC SAN," says Eric Schott, director of product management at EqualLogic Inc. "Mapping iSCSI LUNs and FC LUNs, which employ a very different security model, isn't a trivial task," says Schott, "and to many storage architects the integration benefits aren't worth the added complexity."

Unified management of iSCSI and FC SANs is doable with multiprotocol storage arrays from a single vendor. EMC, HDS, Hewlett- Packard (HP) Co. and Net-App all offer multiprotocol

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arrays that manage iSCSI, Fibre Channel and, in some cases NAS, under a single umbrella. Unified storage management can also be accomplished with iSCSI virtualization products from companies such as FalconStor Software Inc., NetApp and Sanrad Inc.

Storage managers who need to bring iSCSI into an existing SAN have several integration options to consider:

  • iSCSI gateways
  • FC switches and directors with iSCSI support
  • Intelligent storage switches and gateways
  • Array-based iSCSI integration
  • Server-based iSCSI integration

This was first published in February 2007

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