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Storage trends for 2006: iSCSI and security

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Trend 2: iSCSI penetration grows
After an initial splash, iSCSI hasn't received the volume of press it did in the past. Ironically, this lack of visibility has had nothing to do with actual implementations, which continue to grow at a steady pace. At ESG, we're tracking literally thousands of iSCSI deployments in large and small organizations. Organizations like Alacritech, EqualLogic, LeftHand Networks, Network Appliance (NetApp), Overland Storage and Sanrad have very quietly built up nice iSCSI businesses.

The interesting thing about my prediction for iSCSI in 2006 is that it has a lot more to do with what happens elsewhere in IT rather than on what happens in storage.

Next year will be the start of an "extreme network makeover" at many large organizations. In network speak, this means loads of 10-gigabit network backbones and gigabit-to-the-desktop-type deployments. As this happens, the price per port of both of these technologies will plummet at an accelerating rate—far faster than limited-volume Fibre Channel (FC) components.

This networking transition will have two storage repercussions: First, to justify these big purchases, CIOs will push the storage guys to fill the new fat pipes with traffic (think enterprise storage VLANs). So storage professionals will have more exposure to IP next year than ever before. Second, financial considerations will get many storage folks to evaluate iSCSI

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gear. When they do, they're likely to be pleasantly surprised. The ESG lab guys have consistently seen lightning-fast performance from iSCSI, with no requirement for add-on (and costly) TCP offload engines.

We can also anticipate further Linux penetration and the release of Vista, the next generation of Windows. These operating systems ship with native iSCSI drivers, so they're likely to be factors that influence more iSCSI interest.

To be clear, iSCSI won't sweep FC off the floor by any means, especially in the data center. Still, iSCSI penetration will significantly increase as it comes in through IT "back doors" based on new networking and server purchases. iSCSI is "good enough" for many SAN applications, and the storage masses will realize this "big time" in 2006.

This was first published in December 2005

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