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What not to believe when choosing a storage protocol

If you have ever felt spun around by vendor claims that a Fibre Channel or iSCSI storage protocol could change your life -- or at least improve your storage system performance metrics much better than the other, then Howard Marks has something to tell you.

"It just ain't so," said Marks, chief scientist at DeepStorage.net. "The truth is, except for 1 GBps iSCSI, the performance differences between the various protocols do not matter enough to be a decision point."

Storage pros are likely to also hear facts about competing protocols that can be confusing. It's common to hear that "if you use Fibre Channel, running the Fibre Channel network -- all that overhead is in the Fibre Channel chip on the host bus adapter," Marks said.

And, of course, when using NFS or iSCSI, [the overhead] is in the IP -- or so the pitch often goes. But, Marks warned, "We all know that IP just eats up all your CPU -- talk to your network guys about that." The truth, Marks said, is that running NFS or iSCSI could use "150% of the amount of CPU to run the storage" that running Fibre Channel does.

Solid-state drives have forced their way into the storage protocol conversation as some users test out a server SAN approach, and are avoiding Fibre Channel switches by combining SSDs and spinning disks to mimic a SAN array.

Learn more from Marks by watching this video excerpt from his recent virtualization seminar.

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