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IP Storage - Summary

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IP Everywhere
Few doubt the ubiquity and dominance of IP and Ethernet technologies in the networking world. And now overcoming some of the early barriers such as TCP overheads, IP Storage is leveraging the volume driven economics of IP everywhere to create a new wave of storage interconnectivity to build an integrated native IP storage network that will transport data seamlessly in local (LAN), metropolitan (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN) environments.

Native IP storage recently has generated agreat deal of interest within the storage industry, as it offers unified management and proven, readily available, high-speed networking. It also provides a smooth transition path from today's proprietary Fibre Channel SANs to standard IP and Gigabit Ethernet SANs.

The roadmap to higher performance iSCSI lies in riding on the coattails of the networking technologies as it moves to adopting 10 Gigabit Ethernet and beyond on switch infrastructures and adoption of highly secure techniques such as IPsec v6. This would enable new opportunities for enterprise IP SANs to outshine Fibre Channel in coming years.

Expanding the Market
iSCSI will expand the market making SANs available to the SMB (Small and Medium Businesses) which hereto was not able to avail of the expensive, vendor proprietary and expensive solutions affordable only by very large enterprises only. For a few years both FC and iSCSI technologies will co-exist addressing different markets and user requirements. As web services and XML start to dominate, the low cost iSCSI solutions would provide a cost effective solution for the three tier applications - web servers, file-server applications and database/transactions.

SNICs - high performance NICs for Storage & Security
IP Storage or iSCSI follows the true and tried SCSI client/server model with hosts acting as client initiators and disk storage arrays playing as server targets with both having native iSCSI interfaces directly or through bridges.

For block data transport, iSCSI provides its own layer over TCP/ IP. Security is being provided by IPSec v6 standards used by the networking industry or can be implemented by other public key or use of kerberos.

Dedicated SITOE (Integrated Security Overhead, iSCSI acceleration and TCP offload engines) functions are being made part of NICs and made available from a number of companies to mitigate any performance degradation in transversing the TCP/IP stack.

Transporting data between SAN islands, storage tunneling uses IP networks for SAN-to-SAN connectivity and has cost advantages over dedicated dark fiber. However, the burden of supporting two separate management systems is not likely to be acceptable to IT managers, who typically demand levels of integration that are greater than storage tunneling can provide.

The Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) transport protocol links Fibre Channel fabrics over distance. FCIP has minimal IP facilities, since its aim is not to replace Fibre Channel with IP but simply to facilitate further deployments of Fibre Channel fabrics via IP tunneling.

In contrast, the Internet SCSI (iSCSI) protocols replaces the Fibre Channel fabrics with Gigabit Ethernet and IP infrastructures, anywhere on the IP network regardless of geographic location.

TeleStorage - the next frontier
Once the end-to-end IP storage infrastructure is established, TeleStorage will emerge strongly changing the way corporations build their data center infrastructures. With the overbuilt dark fibre capacity available from the new telecom carriers, expect to see applications such as video-on-demand and grid computing to kick in as the present recession wears off. SSPs will then reincarnate to provide managed storage services across collocation facilities and customer sites using a seamless storage over IP solution.



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