RealTime IT News

Wind River Embraces iSCSI Storage Protocol

Wind River Systems, Inc. -- a leader in the market for embedded systems software -- showed its support for the Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) IP storage standard Tuesday.

The Alameda, Calif. company said at the Networld+Interop 2002 show in Las Vegas that it has created a version of its Tornado brand as a development platform for IP storage networking devices, called Tornado Intelligent Network Acceleration (TINA) for iSCSI Initiators. The move comes a week before the maker of embedded systems -- mini operating systems put on a microchip as part of a larger OS -- is expected to announced significantly lower earnings for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003.

An alternative to Fiber Channel over IP (FC/IP), iSCSI-based storage networking enables block storage data to be transmitted via TCP/IP and Ethernet through the Internet. FC/IP may only be used in conjunction with Fiber Channel technology while iSCSI can run over existing Ethernet networks, making it more cost-effective. The flexible interoperability of iSCSI, coupled with the heralded performance of Ethernet and TCP/IP are leading factors that make the technology so attractive to developers. In fact, research firm Gartner Dataquest said it believes the iSCSI initiator market will increase from a 2002 market value of $590 million to $1.22 billion in 2005.

In Wind River's case, TINA for iSCSI Initiators bundles the firm's TINA TCP/IP offload engine with an Internet SCSI (iSCSI) protocol layer to provide network equipment manufacturers with the hardware and software components needed to develop iSCSI-based devices.

"As a natural extension of our TINA product line, TINA for iSCSI Initiators integrates the technology found in our original TCP/IP offload platform and applies it directly to the rapidly growing storage networking market," said Dave Fraser, group vice president and general manager of Wind River's Networks business unit.

Fraser also took a shot at FC/IP technology, widely acknowledged as more expensive than iSCSI.

"It also provides an ideal solution for SAN vendors migrating their product lines from costly Fibre Channel transports to the much more affordable and increasingly widespread TCP/IP and Ethernet networking technologies," Fraser said.

Gartner Dataquest analyst James Opfer corroborated the importance of iSCSI in a research note.

"iSCSI is a key storage networking technology that will become increasingly important over time, as more OEMs adopt it in their IP-based devices," Opfer said. "The cost savings and overall user benefits of iSCSI create substantial market opportunities for companies that can bring to market high value technologies enabling complex IP-based storage networks."

TINA for iSCSI Initiators is currently available for beta customers and will be made fully available next month.

While pushing forward with support for a sturdy IP storage standard may be prudent, Wind River, long a Wall Street favorite because of its leadership position in the mobile gadget software niche, has had a rough go of it in the past year. The firm said last week that revenues would be significantly lower than it had expected.

Revenues for the quarter are expected to be $64 million to $66 million, compared with $76 million to $80 million projected in February. It also said it expects to report a loss per share, excluding nonoperating items, between 12 cents and 14 cents, compared with its previous estimate for a loss of 2 cents to 4 cents. Wind River CEO Tom St. Dennis, who admitted job cuts lie ahead, said 90 percent of the shortfall came from the telecommunications equipment industry, which accounts for nearly half of its business.

"Unfortunately, the revenue short fall overshadows the important accomplishments the company has made in the quarter," St. Dennis observed.

Wind River will report earnings next Thursday, May 16.