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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. These questions were raised from Gary's recent webcast "Build economical storage utilities with IP."

Do you see IP storage replacing Fibre Channel (FC)? Will the stigma of IP for SMBs and and FC for enterprise hold true?
IP and FC are likely to complement each other for specific needs. While IP will fit well with the SMB market, it will also serve portions of the enterprise market. For example, a company that has a large FC SAN may also choose to connect some servers to the SAN via IP which can be more cost effective than FC. How will IP interact with FC?
There are a number of companies providing IP to FC conversion switches. iSCSI may be used to connect large numbers of inexpensive servers to centralized FC storage through such a product. Can I build my IP SAN with Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switches, or is there a specific "storage" switch platform requirement?
Yes, you can build your IP SAN with regular GbE switches. Depending on your performance requirements you may want to invest in GbE switches that support more sophisticated features like Virtual LANs so you can segment some of your traffic. Are there any intelligent IP switches, like we are seeing in the FC space?
The underlying connectivity (IP or FC) resides far below the intelligence layers of features such as replication. IP switches have had sophisticated capabilities (like multicasting) far longer than FC switches. In fact, many of the advances in FC switching are based on developments in the IP networking industry. Are TOE cards really necessary?
If performance requirements are high, TOE cards will help. Otherwise, they may not be necessary. Where can I find more information on IP storage and iSCSI? has an enormous amount of information on IP storage. Here are some links to get you started:

Creating an iSCSI SAN using only Ethernet switches

Guide to implementing iSCSI

Top ten IP storage tips

Dig Deeper on SAN technology and arrays

IP storage switch and routers: Product snapshots IP storage networks have emerged as a versatile and inexpensive alternative to traditional Fibre Channel SANs, and IP SAN deployments -- primarily iSCSI -- are appearing in businesses of all sizes. iSCSI offers good speed and reliability, and can transport storage data across the Internet. IP SANs rely on IP storage switches and routers to segment storage traffic and keep it isolated from everyday user traffic. Today's IP switches and routers even offer advanced features like compression, acceleration, clustering, failover, and multipathing; optimizing WAN bandwidth and maintaining IP SAN availability in the event of hardware problems. The product snapshots in this chapter highlight key specifications for a cross section of popular IP storage switch and router products.
Purchasing IP storage switch and router technology IP network (e.g., Ethernet) technology and components are inexpensive and readily available; offering ubiquitous deployment from the SOHO to the largest corporate user LAN. By supporting SCSI storage commands across the IP network, organizations of all sizes can now deploy inexpensive storage networks capable of transporting storage data anywhere Internet access is available. Devices like switches and routers play critical roles in IP storage performance by segmenting storage traffic, keeping that traffic separated from regular LAN user traffic, and maintaining security. The most current IP switches and routers even provide high-end features such as active/active clustered failover, failback, and multipathing capabilities for improved reliability. The choice of an IP switch or router demands careful consideration of issues including port speed, segmentation, interoperability, security, and application compatibility. You'll also find a series of specifications to help make on-the-spot product comparisons between vendors.

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