Ratification of the iSCSI specification is a foregone conclusion - finally. Last month, the IETF's IP Storage working group announced that the iSCSI spec had made it through last call and will now be pushed through the approval process.
This means vendors can begin shipping products based on the final iSCSI spec. Enterprise Storage Group senior analyst Steve Duplessie expects companies such as IBM and LSI Logic, "followed by all the others," to "announce iSCSI target devices by the end of the year most likely."
To a certain extent, that's starting to happen. Nexsan, which is making a name for itself selling inexpensive ATA-based disk subsystems for mirroring and disaster recovery, entered into a partnership with StoneFly Networks to create the Veriture iP, an iSCSI virtualization appliance that combines Nexsan's ATAboy array, with StoneFly's Storage Concentrator, an iSCSI storage router and bridge.
Newcomer Okapi Software burst onto the storage scene this summer with its iSC110/220 disk appliance. Based on a generic Gateway 1U server, the appliance comes with either 110GB or 220GB of SCSI disk, dual-integrated Intel PCI 10/100, Pro 1000 XT, iSCSI software stored on its "ipKEY" USB drive, and twisted-pair Ethernet controllers. The package starts at $4,995.
If you have existing server hardware you want turned into an iSCSI appliance, Okapi is also offering ipXpress, which combines ipKEY and an appliance software kit. Targeted at VARs and integrators, ipXpress costs $499 with support for IDE/ATA disks, and $999 with SCSI support.
So, what took everyone so long? Initially, "there was no iSCSI demand generated," says Duplessie. How have things changed? "The economics are too great right now - these guys need to sell stuff, and iSCSI is a powerful economic justification to get stuff networked."