Foundations of Network Storage, Lesson Three: Fibre channel and iSCSI

In lesson 3 of 5, we'll delve into considerations surrounding Fibre Channel and iSCSI.

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.
  • ETERNUS 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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