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Bona fide iSCSI products ship

With ratification of the standard coming soon, more and more iSCSI products have started surfacing.

Populated only by IBM's TotalStorage 200i array and Cisco's SN 5420 switch, the iSCSI market is fledgling at best. But with ratification of the standard coming soon, more and more iSCSI products have started surfacing.

This June, StoneFly Networks, San Diego, CA, launched its iSCSI Storage Concentrator, an all-in-one iSCSI router, bridge and virtualization manager that starts at $7,995, and lets clients gain block-level access over the LAN to a common pool of Fibre Channel (FC) or SCSI storage, the company says.

Cisco, too, has spread its iSCSI wings, with its second iSCSI switch, the SN 5428, designed to put small- to medium-sized workgroups onto IP SANs.

Unlike its predecessor, the SN 5420, the SN 5428 includes an integrated 8-port FC switch from QLogic to connect to FC disk storage arrays, one RS232 management port, two 10/100 Ethernet ports for SNMP traffic and high availability and two Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect to the end-user LAN. Clients must be equipped with a free iSCSI driver, variants of which exist for Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX and AIX.

The SN 5428 costs $11,995. Bundled with a 48-port Catalyst 3550-48 switch, you can get up to 48 users on a departmental iSCSI SAN for under $17,000 - about a third of the cost of an all-FC solution, according to Doug Ingraham, senior manager for Cisco's storage technology group.

The network test equipment community also seems to think that IP storage is on an upswing. This spring, Empirix introduced its PacketSphere STP (Storage Test Platform), which inserts storage-specific impairments onto the storage network to help engineers optimize their equipment.

PacketSphere STP can be used to test any number of IP storage configurations - iSCSI SAN deployments, obviously - but more frequently data mirroring and remote backup applications, says Garth Morrison, Empirix director of storage marketing.

Priced at $60,000, Morrison says organizations haven't flinched at PacketSphere's price tag. "If you're going to install a couple million dollars worth of storage equipment, what's another $60K to make sure that it all works?" he says.

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