In this interview, Kerns shares some common misconceptions about iSCSI, describes how the technology might change the price of Fibre Channel SANs.
SearchStorage.com: Based on your experience talking to early adopters, would you say there have been any common or notable hiccups among those implementing iSCSI?
Randy Kerns: There have been some, and I think we'll get some interesting responses from our panel discussion. The biggest thing I've heard is the surprise that customers have had in understanding that they have the same storage administration and management tasks as they do with Fibre Channel. For some reason, they didn't understand that, which I found amazing.
SearchStorage.com: What impact is iSCSI having on traditional Fibre Channel SANs in terms of costs, functionality and where it plays in real-world environments?
Kerns: There has been some movement lately to reduce the price of Fibre Channel [host bus adapters]. It's about time, because the prices have not followed a traditional price reduction curve based on technology maturity and volume. This has been suspicious, but now the movement to lower prices is very welcome. I think that iSCSI becoming available helped to break this loose. Other hardware, most notably switch ports, has been on a progressive price decline, and I don't believe iSCSI is having any effect there. I don't see any functionality reaction and do not expect any.
SearchStorage.com: Can iSCSI realistically
compete with Fibre Channel SANs anywhere other than in the entry-level space?
Kerns: I would say no, for several reasons, the most important reason being the market segment requirements of enterprise data centers with guaranteed performance and response times and the fact that the Fibre Channel infrastructure is already built out in those data centers and dominates.
SearchStorage.com: What are some of the limitations of iSCSI?
Kerns: Performance determinism is probably one issue. There are a few others, but that is a lengthier, involved discussion that includes consideration for organizational dynamics and who supports storage.
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This was first published in March 2004