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IP storage: Five tips in five minutes

What you will learn from this tip: SearchStorage.com readers frequently ask questions about IP storage. This article offers a collection of expert responses to recent reader queries.

Over the past year or so, we've seen an increase in interest in Internet Protocol (IP) storage in the Ask the Expert section

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of SearchStorage.com. IP storage can be an alternative to the Fibre Channel (FC) protocol within the framework of the traditional storage area network (SAN). There are several approaches to using IP in a SAN, including iSCSI, iFCP and FCIP. Proponents of IP-based storage say it offers a number of benefits over FC, including expense, complexity and interoperability issues.

IP storage information
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IP storage allows organizations to tap into employees' existing skill sets and uses common technologies, including Ethernet-based IP networking equipment, so the total cost of ownership (TCO) can be lower than that of an equivalent FC SAN. "Cost advantages go beyond cabling and adapter/switch component costs when you look at what an IP storage solution can do to simplify storage management," said Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst with StorageIO Group.

Another factor that is driving interest in IP storage is the emergence of products that support FC and iSCSI in one system. It seems as if the discussion is shifting from FC vs. iSCSI to FC and iSCSI virtualized in such a way that users don't have to think about which protocol they need to use on a day-to-day basis. Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) offers products that handle block (FC and iSCSI) and file (NAS) access to data stored in FC SAN storage arrays; BlueArc Corp., Pillar Data Systems, 3PAR Data Inc., and many others have designed products from scratch to handle both protocols. Bigger players, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and EMC Corp. have recently redesigned products to do the same.

"More and more you will see vendors shift their discussion and focus away from the wire or interface to that of the functionality of the storage system and how the storage system addresses different management capabilities," Schulz said. "We are seeing more vendors provide flexibility in connectivity to enable customers to access their storage with the most applicable interface at a given point in time. This approach enables customers to focus more on the storage system's overall capabilities to address storage management using the appropriate storage interface for their given needs at that particular point in time."

Check out the expert technical advice below, and get started learning about IP storage.

  • Testing iSCSI SAN performance with Iometer
  • iSCSI, iFCP and FCIP: How do they stack up?
  • Creating an iSCSI SAN using only Ethernet switches
  • DWDM, SONET/SDH or IP based technologies for SAN extension?
  • NICs in NAS systems

  • This was first published in October 2006

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