Foundations of
Network Storage: Lesson 3 of 5

In this lesson, we
will explore Fibre Channel and iSCSI. Topics include how to decide which is the
best option for your organization, the advantages and disadvantages of bot, and
what you need to know to support the technologies.

SAN options: Fibre channel and iSCSI

There are two methods of connecting storage devices to
networks, creating some confusion and nervousness in the Storage Area Network
(SAN) market. Here is a look at both.

Fibre Channel

Like Ethernet or ATM, Fibre
Channel is a networking standard that is designed to move data through specific
devices at specific speeds. Fibre Channel is used primarily for server
backbones and as a way of attaching a server to a storage device, such as a
RAID array or a tape backup device. In fact, Fibre Channel is the architecture
of choice for many storage area networks.

Many IT pros find that Fibre
Channel is an answer to their storage prayers. Since a company’s data grows
daily, each night the system is backing up a little bit more data than the
night before. Thus, the window for completing the backup tends to shrink a
little bit each year. The only way to back up more data in less time is to get
a faster storage device and a faster medium for transmitting the data from the
server to the storage device. In production networks, Fibre Channel products
have been able to accomplish a sustained transfer rate of 97 MB per second when
backing up large files. Companies that use Fibre Channel on database servers
have reported these servers can handle tens of thousands of I/Os per second due
to Fibre Channel technology.

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Fibre channel has recently been
given a run for its money by iSCSI-based storage systems due to its low cost. iSCSI
storage networks are a complete technology—ranging from iSCSI drivers on your
servers to storage hardware based on iSCSI standards. Unlike NAS systems, iSCSI
SANs are perfect for database and Exchange applications due to the fact that
iSCSI transmits block level data rather than complete files. Block level
communication means that data is transferred between the host and the client in
chunks called blocks. Databases and Exchange servers depend on this type of
communication (as opposed to the file level communication used by most NAS
systems) in order to work properly.

For more on Fibre Channel and iSCSI, including free
downloads, see page two.

Fibre Channel resources

iSCSI resources

White Papers

  • Getting
    Started With zSeries Fibre Channel Protocol

    The purpose of this paper from IBM is two-fold: to provide information to
    help you understand the concepts of zSeries Fibre Channel Protocol
    support, and to show you how various SCSI devices can be configured to
    build a zSeries FCP environment.
    SN200 Series Fibre Channel Switch

    This white paper form Fujitsu is an overview of the ETERNUS SN200 Fibre
    Switch’s capabilities.
  • iSCSI
    Turns the Corner

    ESG is aware of over 2,500 iSCSI SAN deployments and expect the number to
    increase substantially in 2005. A number of market dynamics are converging
    to that give us confidence that iSCSI has turned the corner including
    rapid customer deployments, support from major storage and operating
    system vendors, and education in the market place.
  • iSCSI
    Storage Management With HP ProLiant Storage Server iSCSI Feature Pack and
    HP ProLiant Storage Servers

    combination of a familiar, easy-to-use web-based HP Storage Server
    administrative UI with the simplicity of implementing and utilizing the HP
    iSCSI Feature Pack and suite of storage services, delivers, for the first
    time, a highly practical and cost-effective way for systems administrators
    to consolidate block and file-sharing storage.

iSCSI vendors

Fibre channel vendors

Course list

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