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Users praise their iSCSI SANs, citing low cost, ease of use and better-than-expected performance.


IP SAN adoption is growing among users who want storage that's easy to install, configure and manage, and also comes at a price considerably less than that of Fibre Channel (FC) SANs.

Consider Dave DePillis, manager of IT operations at Allied Cash Advance in Miami, who installed an iSCSI SAN (IP SAN) two years ago to make use of the cabling, switches and network adapters installed in his Gigabit Ethernet network. "Installing iSCSI was absolutely a no-brainer, especially since I had such a small initial investment," says DePillis. He's using iSCSI to back up file shares on four to six virtual machines with Symantec Corp.'s Backup Exec 11 to a Network Appliance (Net-App) Inc. FAS2020 file server. "I have more flexibility with iSCSI since I can use my LAN switches," says DePillis.

James Santillo is another happy iSCSI user. "iSCSI is easy to use and configure," says Santillo, systems administrator at Weiss Group Inc. in Jupiter, FL. He implemented iSCSI capability by installing StorMagic's SM Series iSCSI software on some industry-standard servers equipped with Serial ATA (SATA) drives.


Just what is iSCSI?
iSCSI was adopted by businesses shortly after its ratification by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in February 2003. The protocol, which

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was developed within the IETF to transport SCSI commands and block-level data over an IP network between a client and a target device, runs on top of standard Ethernet adapters and over Ethernet LAN or WAN switches.

The technology is implemented by loading a software-based driver--called an initiator--on an Ethernet adapter or by adding a dedicated iSCSI host bus adapter (HBA) to the host computer. Another initiator is added to the target storage array, which allows it to serve up data that will be transported across the network via the iSCSI transport.

iSCSI initiators are available from a number of sources and are categorized by operating system type. Two of the most popular are a Windows initiator from Microsoft Corp. and a Linux initiator from SourceForge (see "iSCSI initiators," below).

This was first published in April 2008

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