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Startup touts iSCSI vs. FC benchmark

DataCore Software promotes iSCSI price/performance through SPC-1 results, but most users aren't buying iSCSI for performance-critical applications.

Storage management software startup DataCore Software Inc. has posted the first Storage Performance Council benchmark using the iSCSI standard, with some noteworthy results.

While some information for iSCSI performance has been published, most of that information has focused on fairly modest generic claims or raw hardware results by the suppliers of the products.

The Storage Performance Council's SPC-1 benchmark is a more helpful standard for storage performance comparisons, although vendors invariably find ways to hone these results to suit their marketing goals. And DataCore is no exception.

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"Performance is a marketing bullet for many companies and certainly has been a focus item for the story that DataCore sells," said Randy Kerns, senior partner with the Evaluator Group. "They have demonstrated excellent performance at very low cost for their Fibre Channel solution, and in keeping with that marketing tactic, they have shown what they can do with their iSCSI connection."

In comparison to DataCore's Fibre Channel mark, the iSCSI results represent about half of the performance -- 9,298.56 SPC-1 input/output per second (IOPS) versus 19,949.73 SPC-1 IOPS on SPC-1. But the total cost for the iSCSI configuration is also reduced by half so that the price/performance is similar ($4.06/SPC-1 IOPS for Fibre Channel versus $4.86/SPC-1 IOPS for iSCSI).

DataCore adds that these results were achieved using standard Ethernet adapters common to 95% of computers rather than the more expensive TOEs (TCP offload engines) or iSCSI accelerators usually proposed for iSCSI implementations of storage networks.

"We know we could have run even faster using TOEs," said Ziya Aral, CTO of DataCore, "but we wanted to show what could be done with standard Ethernet that people can buy at any computer store for less than $50 per connection."

Kerns points out that most users aren't buying iSCSI for performance-critical environments -- because of the lack of deterministic behavior on Ethernet networks. "If you take a look at these results, you see that you do not have the same performance and that is certainly reflected in $/IOP," he said.

But for midsize shops that can't afford FC but want to consolidate Wintel servers, for example, DataCore's results are encouraging. DataCore's SPC-1 SANmelody iSCSI report can be downloaded from the Storage Performance Council web site at:

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