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Storage Players Pass Microsoft’s iSCSI Muster

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Microsoft Wednesday announced that 13 storage hardware makers have prepared their iSCSI products for use with Windows under a program that makes storage devices and systems compatible with the Redmond, Wash. giant’s software.

The companies include McData, QLogic, Adaptec, ADIC, ATTO Technology, Cisco, Crossroads, FalconStor, EqualLogic, Intel,
Intransa, Lefthand Networks, Network Appliance, SpectraLogic, and

Created under the “iSCSI Designed for Windows Logo” program, the certification means customers will have a broader choice of iSCSI hardware components proven to run Windows and Microsoft’s iSCSI Architecture. Viewed as either a complement or alternative to Fibre Channel protocols, iSCSI (pronounced eye-scuzzy), is Internet Small Computer System Interface, an IP-based storage networking standard for linking data storage devices.

iSCSI is used to transfer data storage over long distances, making it a key contributor to the advancement and growth of the storage area network (SAN) market. iSCSI can be used to transmit data over local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or the Internet.

Research firms Gartner and IDC have written extensively in support of iSCSI adoption. Gartner estimates the technology could connect more than a million servers to SANs over the next few years. IDC forecasts that the iSCSI array market will jump from $216 million in 2003 to nearly $5 billion in 2007.

Claude Lorenson, product manager in Microsoft’s Enterprise Storage Division, said the testing process was generally rigorous depending on whether an OEM was testing a bridge solution or a whole storage array.

Lorsenson also reaffirmed Microsoft’s position that iSCSI exists as a
complement to Fibre Channel, noting that Windows Storage Server 2003
features a number of Fibre Channel-friendly features, such as flexible
volume mounting, remote boot, and a redesigned storage port.

“We have fine-tuned our ability to be a good citizen with Fibre Channel,” Lorenson told in an interview.

Indeed, Lorenson said the most common scenario in order to balance the two protocols is that large enterprises would bridge the gap between their Fibre Channel-based networks and iSCSI
for SAN islands because of the widespread availability of Ethernet and
gigabit switches. An iSCSI host bus adapter can “talk to” a Fibre Channel SAN, he said. Moreover, iSCSI’s lower price is helping to spur its adoption on networks, which is putting pricing pressure on Fibre Channel vendors to modify their per-port pricing structure.

For Microsoft, the accomplishment is validation of the company’s iSCSI
Software Initiator, a service and
software package
launched last June to allow businesses to use existing
infrastructure to transfer data over wide distances without having to buy
additional hardware.

In related iSCSI news, Hitachi Data Systems Wednesday announced a
partnership with storage fabric provider McDATA to make an iSCSI SAN product
for small-and medium-sized business (SMBs). The Hitachi TrueNorth iSCSI SAN
Solution, tested with Microsoft’s native iSCSI drivers, is geared for
Windows environments. It consists of the Thunder 9570V storage system, the
McDATA Eclipse 1620 SAN networking switch and services.

Prices begin at roughly $60,000, with total cost depending on configuration
and size requirements.

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