iStorage: Fostering optimism in the storm

iStorage: Fostering optimism in the storm

While FCoE tantalises the high-end market, iSCSI is leading the way in expanding storage opportunities in the SMB space.

When was the last time you experienced a global recession? For 99.9 per cent of the Australian IT industry, I’m pretty sure the answer would be a resounding, ‘never’. Sure, some may have seen the oil crisis of the 1970s, many the bursting of Japan’s bubble in the 1990s, the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998 and the crash of the early naughties. But unless you were alive to witness the Great Depression of 1929, then it is guaranteed the prevailing economic times are a novel experience. Indubitably, for this generation, the world’s economies are floating on uncharted and treacherous waters.

Thankfully, though, while others are likely to sink into the depths of recession, the Australian economy looks capable of riding out the storm. That’s not to say we haven’t been taking on water from some of the devastating financial waves and won’t continue to do so.

To foster this much-needed confidence, the IT industry has an integral role to play by providing technologies and services that offer cost savings and business enablement platforms. And considering SMBs make up more than 95 per cent of the Australian economy, arguably it is their self-belief that’s the key to turning the negative sentiment around. As such, it is technologies like iSCSI, which has had remarkable SMB adoption in recent times, that come to the fore.

More with what you have

When iSCSI first came onto the market after evolving from ‘storage over IP’ it was often pitted against Fibre Channel as the heir apparent. The new, cheaper and less complex transport protocol that allowed storage traffic to run over a gigabit Ethernet network was tipped as the “next big thing”.

A little over half a decade on and both continue to exist: Fibre Channel because of its blazing performance in the higher end of town; iSCSI in the SMB space due to its cost savings and ease of implementation.

“iSCSI was a standard ratified in 2002 but it really didn’t take off until about a year or two years ago,” Juniper Networks datacentre solutions director, Bobby Guhasarkar, said. “There is a couple of very easy to understand reasons for that. Primarily it was performance; the performance of the server suffered because of the processing it had to do with iSCSI.

“For about two years now, you have been able to buy a card or NIC called iSCSI HBA. It offloads not just the TCP processing but also the iSCSI packetisation. It costs about $500 and is relatively affordable. Once you put this iSCSI HBA card with your server, you fully offload the iSCSI processing and you get much better performance. Lots and lots of companies and not just the SMBs, but entire departments in large corporations, are using iSCSI because they can do I/O consolidation today with their existing infrastructure.”

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