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SNW '04: Users put iSCSI on ice

Despite a raft of IP SAN and iSCSI news at SNW, users aren't ready for this technology yet.

ORLANDO, FLA., -- IP SAN and iSCSI announcements were as popular as the pastel-painted walls surrounding Storage Networking World this week, but users still aren't biting on this technology.

Jim Ennis, associate technology director at the University of Central Florida is sticking with Fibre Channel because with a small staff that is still learning, he needs guaranteed performance. "I don't trust iSCSI yet, so we lean more toward Fibre Channel because we know it. It's more reliable. I'll let somebody else bite into iSCSI first."

Similarly, Jonathan Hopkins, manager of technical operations at RBMG Worldwide, a mortgage company in Columbia, S.C., has not implemented iSCSI and is happy to let his company's vendor, Hewlett-Packard Co., call the shots. "If HP recommended iSCSI and said 'this is where the industry is going,' then we would do it."

Others don't see it as a priority. Steve Seyler, senior team leader, First National Bank of Omaha, is too busy swapping out switch vendors to get to iSCSI right now. "We've got our hands full building a SAN, we're changing from McData to Cisco ... for their VSAN technology for security," he said. "One day we'll get to iSCSI and Cisco has the ability to integrate it but it's just not top of our list."

Keith Wichmann, senior systems engineer, Global Science & Technology Inc., said he's interested in iSCSI but has only just deployed a SAN. "That took us a year and a half, it was so long." He likes the fact that iSCSI is cheaper than Fibre Channel and easier to implement but he believes the technology isn't hardened enough yet. "Once it's pervasive we won't have to go to small vendors for it."

It's cheap, but is that enough?

Kent Keller, network architect, Campus Crusade for Christ, would love to drive down his costs with iSCSI but doesn't see the products out there yet. "There are a few things that justify the cost of our Fibre Channel SAN, like the Oracle database, but the vast amount of our data doesn't need it." Keller looked at iSCSI to FC routers but believes they are too expensive and said there's a still a lack of targets available.

Frank W. Enfanto III, vice president of operations delivery and information security at BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts said he's open to evaluating iSCSI, but has yet to find a compelling reason to do so. "Yes, iSCSI is cheaper. But with so many things to spend money on, is it an expenditure you have to make?" he said.

Despite this lack of enthusiasm from users, there was no shortage of iSCSI and IP SAN announcements at the show.

AppIQ Inc., OptiFacio Software Services Inc. and Silverback Systems Inc. demonstrated an IP SAN running OptiFacio's SAN operating system, AppIQ's software management and Silverback's iSNAP offload card.

Broadcom Corp. demonstrated its converged network interface controller (C-NIC) technology that performs both data networking and storage networking functions simultaneously -- performing full iSCSI HBA functionality with iSCSI boot capabilities.

Chelsio Communications Inc. announced the availability of its T110 10 Gigabit Ethernet iSCSI host bus adapter for server and storage OEMs.

EqualLogic Inc.'s announced its PeerStorage iSCSI array has been deployed by 10 universities and colleges across the country.

Intransa Inc. launched its midrange IP5500 IP SAN, a higher-end version of its entry-level IP3500 system. Pricing for the new system starts at $60,000 for a 2-terabyte configuration and $66,000 for 4 terabytes.

iQstor Networks Inc. unveiled the iQ1210 iSCSI SATA system with dual active controllers. The company positions its systems for use in long-distance asynchronous remote replication. Pricing begins at $9,995 for 640 gigabytes of storage, embedded asynchronous remote replication software, and SAN management software.

LeftHand Networks Inc. said that in the past 18 months it has deployed more than 750 of its IP SAN systems in mid-tier enterprise environments.

LSI Logic Corp. demonstrated an IP SAN based on its iMegaRAID SATA 16 iSCSI RAID controller, running with Yosemite Technologies Inc. disk backup software.

MPC Computers, a Gores Technology Group company, unveiled the DataFRAME 420 iSCSI array replacing its Fibre Channel-based DataFRAME 310fc. The 420 features 16 hot swap SATA drives and 4TB of storage per 3U enclosure.

Network Appliance Inc. announced a deal with Symantec Corp., running its LiveState Recovery Advanced Server 3.0 software on its IP SAN systems. Symantec's software can be used to recover data on NetApp iSCSI volumes.

Rasilient Systems Inc. came out of stealth mode at the show with an SATA array offered in a 3U rack with the ability to scale to 3.75 TB. The system offers both DAS and SAN functionality and provides iSCSI or FC host connectivity within the same box. Rasilient is hoping OEMs will pick up the box.

SpectraLogic Corp. announced its tape libraries will be available with TCP/IP offload engines (TOE) provided by QLogic Corp. to facilitate iSCSI performance. The use of TOE cards will allow companies to attach Spectra Logic libraries without a bridge.

StoneFly Networks Inc. added synchronous mirroring to its Backup Advantage IP SAN-based disk backup product.

Wasabi Systems Inc. and Studio Network Solutions launched globalSAN, an IP SAN based on Wasabi's Storage Builder 1500i software and Studio Network's iSCSI targets.

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