Microsoft Embraces iSCSI

Microsoft says it will deliver Internet SCSI (iSCSI) support for Windows
client and server environments in June.

Microsoft’s iSCSI software driver will be provided by Web download at no
charge for Microsoft Windows 2000 client and server versions, Windows XP, and the soon-to-be-released Windows Server 2003.

The IP-based storage networking standard was adopted last
month
, too late for inclusion in Windows Server 2003.

“Microsoft’s support of the IETF-ratified iSCSI protocol signals the
company’s continued focus on making Windows a stronger platform for
storage,” said Zane Adam, director of product development and marketing
for the Enterprise Storage Division at Microsoft.

iSCSI will provide a lower-cost option for customers that require high
levels of performance and reliability for their planned storage area
network (SAN) implementations, Microsoft said. Gartner Dataquest expects
iSCSI to connect nearly 1.5 million servers to SANs by 2006, more than
any competing technology.

“Operating system support for the iSCSI specification will facilitate
deployment of interoperable storage products,” said James Opfer, chief
analyst at Gartner. “These products will meet the needs of customers for
whom connectivity and familiarity with IP are of paramount
importance.”

Dan Tanner, Aberdeen Group’s director of storage research, said iSCSI
approval came along at a good time.

“iSCSI allows economical operation of both LAN and SAN on the same type
of network, using commodity-priced, fully interoperational components
and software, and requiring only well-known network management skills,”
Tanner said. iSCSI also has global distance spanning capability and, as
a native protocol, is bootable, he said.

“iSCSI is a perfect mate to the upcoming generation of blade servers on
single cards with no disk and no connection other than IP,” Tanner said.
“iSCSI has arrived just as Gigabit Ethernet popularity is increasing,
and now that GbE can run over commonly installed Cat5-UTP copper wiring
and with TCP/IP and iSCSI offload engines hitting the market, the
timing could not be better.”

Microsoft said that more than 60 independent software vendors (ISVs) and
independent hardware vendors (IHVs) are in the planning stages or are
developing Windows-based applications and storage hardware products for
iSCSI. Microsoft has created an “iSCSI Designed for Windows” Logo Program
to enable IHVs to qualify their Windows-targeted iSCSI hardware
components.

The qualification process will begin in June at the same time Microsoft
officially launches support for iSCSI. The Designed for Windows test
qualification program will be provided to ensure optimal reliability and
interoperability with Microsoft Windows products.

Microsoft’s iSCSI driver download will include support for data
encryption, including Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), Internet
Storage Name Service for both server and client, management via Windows
Management Instrumentation (WMI), and an architecture that aggregates
the different hardware initiators into a common framework.

Microsoft is encouraging ISVs, IHVs, and end customers to begin their tests of the
beta 2 version of its iSCSI support when the beta becomes broadly available
later in March. Interested parties can sign up for the beta release at
http://www.betaplace.com, using the guest ID “iSCSI” (case
sensitive).

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