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Fast Guide: iSCSI

If you need to come up to speed rapidly on iSCSI, you've come to the right place. In this Fast Guide, we touch upon the basics and then we walk you through the pros and cons of iSCSI and Fibre Channel.

This guide touches on the basics and walks you through the pros and cons, the cost considerations and the standards of iSCSI and Fibre Channel technologies.

   Getting started
   iSCSI vs. Fibre Channel
   Cost considerations
   Standards, security and compatibility
   iSCSI implementation issues and early adopters

Getting started 


  • What is iSCSI?
    A definition from
  • A beginners guide to iSCSI
    What is iSCSI and what does it do? This beginner's guide offers a cheat sheet on how, when, where and why to use iSCSI, and offers explanations of related technologies such as TOEs, NICs and HBAs.
  • IP storage in three minutes
    Need the basic facts about IP storage and don't have a lot of time? This quick interview with Gary Orenstein, author of "IP Storage Networking: Straight to the Core" gives you the facts about iSCSI, TOE cards and how IP will interact with Fibre Channel.
  • IP storage delivers
    The rumors about IP storage really are true, early adopters say. The technology is fairly easy to set up and manage, and performance is fine for many types of applications--assuming that the IP-based networks or storage components are designed and/or implemented properly.

iSCSI vs. Fibre Channel

  • iSCSI bites into the price of Fibre Channel
    In this interview, expert Randy Kerns shares some common misconceptions about iSCSI, describes how the technology might change the price of Fibre Channel SANs.
  • How to decide between Fibre and iSCSI SANs
    SAN expert Christopher Poelker offers a few tips on deciding between FC- and iSCSI-based architectures.
  • What can iSCSI do that FC can't?
    Is iSCSI responsible for decoupling storage from computing? Randy Kerns weighs in.
  • What will it be, iSCSI or iFCP?
    If iSCSI can map FC to IP, why should we use iFCP?
  • Dueling SAN technologies: NAS vs. iSCSI
    Although Fibre Channel (FC) SANs continue to attract customers, storage professionals have never stopped looking for other, cheaper and less complex technologies.
  • Fibre Channel definition from
  • iSCSI and FC tools, where are you?
    What's going to happen when organizations add iSCSI to shops that are already running FC? What are the management challenges and what can be done to make it easier?
  • Expert answers questions on cost of adapters for FC vs. iSCSI
    Most of the hype around the cost delta between FC and iSCSI has been aimed at the cost of adapters. The question is, when implementing an iSCSI SAN, will we use an off the shelf Ethernet switch or will we see "specialized storage" switches for this purpose?
  •  Is low-cost Fibre Channel finally here?
    Two years ago, storage salespeople's unofficial modus operandi was to ignore storage area network (SAN) buyers that didn't have at least $250,000 to spend. Now, a new Fibre Channel (FC) switch from QLogic, the SANbox 5200, has a street price of under $500/port.
  • iSCSI is getting better all the time
    It seems as TCP/IP offload engines are becoming more available (and cheaper!), iSCSI is really starting to make headway.

Cost considerations for iSCSI

  • EMC draws battle line with iSCSI
    EMC is not standing pat losing customers to iSCSI any longer; it announced a low cost Fibre Channel array to stem the tide.
  • Firm to offer low-cost iSCSI controller, HBAs
    Is iSCSI as cheap as vendors claim, or does it come closer to a Fibre Channel price tag than they would have you believe?
  • Emulex predicts sub-$500 Fibre Channel HBAs
    The Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) market may be dominated by two companies, but the momentum of iSCSI as a low-cost alternative to Fibre Channel SANs is forcing the likes of Emulex and QLogic to bring costs down to remain competitive.
  • Dirt cheap iSCSI software hits the shelves
    DataCore Software claims its new SANmelody software, that turns regular PCs into iSCSI disk arrays, whips any other storage array on the market for price/performance.
  • Is it cost-effective to implement iSCSI on a tape drive?
    Direct iSCSI interfaces for tape drives aren't available -- yet.
  • IDC: Fibre Channel switch prices dropping
    Fibre Channel switch vendors need to significantly lower the price-per-port of Fibre Channel switches to attract small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), according to research from IDC.
  •  Fibre Channel vs. iSCSI costs
    What do you think is the major factor in driving FC SAN prices lower?
  •  2004 storage costs predictions
    As part of our 2004 storage predictions series, President & CDS of Dragon Slayer Consulting Marc Staimer lets us know what he sees shaping up in the coming 12 months.

iSCSI standards, security and compatibility 


  • ISCSI storage management vendor seeks niche
    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.
  • Which specification allows for the simplest execution of iSCSI?
    Storage management expert Brett Cooper makes his recommendations for working with iSCSI targets.

iSCSI implementation issues and early adopters


  • What type of switches should I use for a pure iSCSI SAN?
    You should be able to use any standard, well-behaved Ethernet switch that supports a Gigabit Ethernet port to implement a pure iSCSI SAN. That being said, the situation is also vendor- and product implementation-specific.
  • Is it possible to SAN boot using an iSCSI adapter?
    I want to set up a small Web server cluster with two servers and a SAN probably using iSCSI. Do I have to install separate versions of the OS for each connecting server that will boot from using the SAN?
  • Are there any reasons to migrate from NAS to iSCSI?
    In general, Randy Kerns does not see any reason to migrate from NAS to iSCSI -- but there are some exceptions to this rule.
  • How to tweak Ethernet for iSCSI SANs
    Learn how to prevent performance bottlenecks in Ethernet storage networks by enabling jumbo frames.
  • iSCSI arrays: Where are they?
    In the year since Microsoft announced its client-side iSCSI initiator, it has qualified approximately more than a dozen iSCSI targets, not counting NetApp's product line. Not bad, but nothing to write home about either.
  • Pound-foolish iSCSI: Should you use NICs in SANs?
    It's worth the money to shell out for iSCSI HBAs.
  • Microsoft supports iSCSI SAN clusters -- kind of
    Learn how to get the support you need for iSCSI SANs using more than two clusters.
  • Snap Appliance joins the iSCSI club
    Cheap storage anyone? Snap Appliance Inc., San Jose, Calif., king of the entry-level NAS market, announced a new Snap Server that can serve up files and block data, via iSCSI, starting at about $7 per gigabyte.
  • What are the components involved in connecting an iSCSI storage solution with a Unix or Windows host?
    What are the components involved in connecting an iSCSI storage solution with a Unix or Windows host? How is the storage presented to the hosts? Is it in NFS form or a LUN?
  • Aiming for iSCSI targets
    iSCSI target software for generic servers will give vendors and users alike more storage options to choose from.
  • ISCSI for Unix on the way
    Microsoft isn't the only operating system vendor that will support iSCSI -- Unix vendors are also getting into the act.
  • EMC chases NetApp with cheaper NAS devices and iSCSI support
    EMC Corp. announced lower-cost models of its Celerra network attached storage (NAS) system, with iSCSI support and improved management capabilities.
  • IBM gets back to iSCSI with entry-level server
    IBM jumped into the midmarket ring with Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. by introducing a pair of entry-level storage servers.
  • Expert answers question on setting up Web server cluster with two servers and a SAN using iSCSI
    I want to set up a small Web server cluster with two servers and a SAN probably using iSCSI. Do I have to install separate versions of the OS for each connecting server that will boot from using the SAN?
  • iSCSI wows some users, confuses others
    Trying to nail down a consistent sentiment about iSCSI here at the Storage Decisions 2004 conference in New York is like trying to type without a keyboard – near impossible.
  • Creating an iSCSI SAN using only Ethernet switches
    I want to create a pure iSCSI SAN using only Ethernet switches to manage the iSCSI traffic. My question is about the kind of Ethernet switches I need to use. Of course there are gigabit switches but what about cut-through or store and forward switches? It is mandatory to support jumbo frames to get the better performance?
  • Data consolidation as it relates to iSCSI
    You have probably heard a lot over the past year about the growing trend toward enterprise storage consolidation. This article takes a step back and attempts to describe the meaning of storage consolidation, the key drivers leading to its adoption and some of the warning signs it may be time to consolidate your server data.


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