Virtualized servers boost iSCSI adoption


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iSCSI is also making its way into virtualized server environments as a complement to FC. Bill Montgomery, manager of information systems at Lulu.com, says they use iSCSI for everything but back-end storage and e-commerce databases, which are handled by FC. "I think for general business computing, iSCSI is going to satisfy the performance requirements of 95% of your applications," he says.

Montgomery also likes iSCSI's simplicity. "Everything about Fibre Channel costs more, and it's not as easy either," he says. "A couple years ago it seemed like [iSCSI] had gotten to the point where it was mature enough technology to be able to rely on it."

Lulu.com encountered some issues with firmware versions between the iSCSI SAN and its HBAs, but "it was nothing that prevented us from implementing something that we wanted to do," notes Montgomery. He adds that the company's iSCSI HBAs, which are used to boot diskless blade servers, are the key to keeping processes simple and flexible.

Greg Schulz, senior analyst and founder of StorageIO Group, Stillwater, MN, sees the two technologies as intertwined. "You could make the claim that virtualization is the key to iSCSI or [that] iSCSI is the key to virtualization," he says. Schulz predicts an upward trend in iSCSI adoption as IP comfort levels shift. There's still baggage, he says, "but barriers are dropping faster."

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Golf Savings Bank's Simmons isn't looking back. "I have not heard a compelling reason why I need Fibre Channel," he says, "other than you need to spend more money."

--Christine Cignoli

This was first published in March 2008

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