SNIA: iSCSI Standard Ready

It’s been a long, hard road of debates and rejiggered drafts, but the Storage Network Industry Association IP
Storage Forum (SNIA IPS Forum) and its members Wednesday confidently
announced that the much-ballyhooed Internet Small Computer Systems Interface
(iSCSI) standard has touched on a major milestone: the completion of the Internet Engineering Task Force’s IPS Working
Group’s last call.


This means iSCSI is technically complete and accurate, with only minor
changes remaining. It also means IP Storage Forum member companies,
including Cisco Systems , HP and IBM
, will be ready to go ahead and crank out new sets of
storage networking devices and software rather than simply parading them at
trade shows.


What is iSCSI? iSCSI is Internet SCSI (Small Computer System Interface), an
Internet Protocol-based storage networking standard for linking
data storage facilities, developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). By carrying SCSI commands over IP networks, iSCSI is used to
facilitate data transfers over intranets and to manage storage over long
distances. The iSCSI protocol is expected to enable speedy creation of the
storage area network (SAN) market by increasing the capabilities and
performance of storage data transmission. iSCSI can be used to transmit data
over local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or the Internet
and can enable location-independent data storage and retrieval.


If successful, some analysts believe iSCSI may some day winnow out the
commonly used storage networking option Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP), which
translates Fibre Channel control codes and data into IP packets for
transmission between geographically distant Fibre Channel SANs. FCIP can
only be used in conjunction with Fibre Channel technology. Conversely, and
interoperably, iSCSI can run over existing Ethernet networks. Still,
evidence suggests Fibre Channel will be around for awhile: a Dataquest
research note found that worldwide Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN)
components revenue totaled $1.46 billion in 2001 — 13 percent more than
2000 revenue of $1.3 billion.


“The arrival of a technically complete and accurate draft of the iSCSI
standard opens the road for the storage industry to embark on the next
logical stage of developing networked storage based on iSCSI and Ethernet,”
said Ahmad Zamer, chairman of the SNIA IP Storage Forum iSCSI Group. “Our
members can now develop their IP storage solutions enabling the convergence
of storage and networking using iSCSI as the magic ingredient of
convergence.”


The SNIA IP Storage Forum expects its members to roll out iSCSI-based
products by late fall 2002 or early 2003, evidence of the progress the group
has made in developing interoperability between products based on the
standard since the group’s inception in March 2001.


As representatives of major Internet infrastructure firms, whose products
can stand to benefit greatly in the storage networking market, SNIA memmber
swere enthused by the news.


“The promise of iSCSI is that it opens up new, more flexible storage
networking architectures that span greater distances, incorporate more
servers and users, creates interoperable storage networks, and lowers the
total cost of owning and managing storage,” claimed Doug Ingraham, senior
manager at the Cisco Storage Technology Group and the IPSF finance chair.


With a major business unit involved in enterprise storage systems, IBM’s
Paul Mattson, manager of IP Storage for IBM Storage Systems Group talked
about the importance of iSCSI.


“iSCSI holds great promise due to its use of ‘familiar’ IP networks which
can help cut complexity and provide reduced cost of ownership for directly
addressable pooled storage solutions,” Mattson said.

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