ISCSI storage management vendor seeks niche

Mark Brunelli

PyX Technologies Inc. says that its new iSCSI storage management software provides original equipment manufacturers and their customers with the highest possible level of data transmission reliability. But industry analysts aren't sure if PyX will be able to find a market for the product.

The Concord, Calif.-based PyX is offering complementary client and server iSCSI storage management software. The PyX iSCSI Initiator loads onto a PC, server, PDA, or other network-connected client. It then identifies and initiates a storage session with another device equipped with PyX iSCSI Target software.

Andre Hedrick, the company's president and chief technical officer, explained that the Target software separates incoming iSCSI traffic from the native storage protocol, whether that be Serial ATA, SCSI or fibre channel. He said this ensures the integrity of all forms of storage traffic.

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iSCSI is Internet SCSI (Small Computer System Interface), an Internet Protocol (IP)-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities. Developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force and ratified last year, iSCSI carries SCSI commands over IP networks and is generally used to facilitate data transfers and manage storage over long distances.

Hendrick said his company's client and server products make iSCSI technology more reliable by providing multiple paths upon which data can travel. If an error state occurs on one transmission path, the data switches to an adjacent path. The company calls this feature Error Recovery Level 2 (ERL2).

"ERL2 says, 'there is something broken in the pathway, so let's move these transactions that have already gone out over to the other path,'" said Hendrick. "There will be minor congestion, but it will still get there."

PyX iSCSI software is compatible with all 32/64-bit IP-compliant platforms and is available in Linux OS-compliant formats.

Despite the reliability levels, PyX Technologies is boasting, storage industry experts interviewed said the company might have trouble moving the product.

"I see customers in the iSCSI space looking for the least expensive solution possible," said Randy Kerns, a partner with the Evaluator Group, an analyst firm in Greenwood Village, Colo. "Therefore, they will use drivers and storage connections that provide the function they need at the minimal cost."

PyX iSCSI "will have a difficult time because customers will be unwilling to pay for anything extra," Kerns added.

Marc Farley, president of Saratoga, Calif.-based Building Storage Inc. and author of Building Storage Networks, explained that PyX may be facing a tough sell because products such as Windows Server 2003 already incorporate multipathing technology.

"I'm not convinced that somebody trying to work on a multipathing value-add for Windows is going to be able to add that much above and beyond what Microsoft is providing," Farley said. "I'm not sure that another vendor is going to be able to squeeze themselves into this industry and this market."


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