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Integrating iSCSI and FC storage

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FC switches with iSCSI support
If you run high-end FC switches and directors, there's a good chance your switch vendor offers an iSCSI gateway as a blade option, eliminating the need to deploy standalone gateway appliances. By putting the iSCSI gateway into an FC director, you'll get a single management console and inherit all the redundancy and performance benefits of a director-class switch.

Brocade offers the SilkWorm FC4-16IP iSCSI blade for its SilkWorm 48000 Director with eight 4Gb/sec FC ports and eight 1Gb Ethernet ports with an aggregate throughput capacity of 64Gb/sec. Similarly, Cisco provides the IP Storage Services Module (eight 1Gb Ethernet ports) and the Multiprotocol Services Module (14 2Gb/sec FC ports and two 1Gb Ethernet ports) for its MDS 9200 Series Multilayer Fabric Switches and MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Directors.

By putting the iSCSI protocol in the FC switch, vendors can add intelligence and features not found in standalone iSCSI gateway appliances. For instance, Cisco's support of the Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) enables storage architects to configure alternate paths for Ethernet connections into iSCSI blades, enabling iSCSI sessions to resume on a standby Ethernet port if the primary port becomes unavailable. Cisco's iSCSI Server Load Balancing (iSLB) allows storage managers to configure all servers with a single iSCSI target-portal IP address, delegating the actual Ethernet port assignment

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to the switch. Letting the switch assign Ethernet ports to iSCSI clients not only simplifies storage management, it enables highly redundant iSCSI network designs by allowing the iSLB feature to automatically reassign defunct ports through VRRP.

This was first published in February 2007

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