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Isilon adds iSCSI

Of course …. and what about FCoE?

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Isilon is adding iSCSI block data access to its OneFS operating system, meaning its scale-out filer product is now a scale-out, unified storage product.

There is a VMworld angle to this, with Isilon ferreting out a user, John Welter, technology VP at the North West Group, who said that with Isilon, "we can power our block databases and NFS-based VMs all from one, simple solution.”

The iSCSI access is added to the existing file-based access and shares the same pool of storage with its cloning, thin provisioning, snapshotting, tiering, replication and security.

Sam Grocott, Isilon's marketing VP, was asked about FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) and said: "Scale-out is a challenge for all data. FCoE is a great protocol opportunity for us in the future."

Imagine that; when FCoE is a reality in data centres then storage array product suppliers with no Fibre Channel (FC) history, and currently shipping iSCSI access, will be able to sell into the Fibre Channel array market by bolting FCoE onto the same Ethernet connectivity as their iSCSI. Emulex or QLogic will happily sell then the FCoE bits needed.

So let's image BlueArc doing this as well; it already has iSCSI. The existing big iron FC array products like V-Max and DS8000 will face fresh new competition from the likes of upstart fast filer boxes from BlueArc and Isilon and no doubt others. The FC crowd have kept iSCSI out of the way by positioning it as a second rate and non-enterprise SAN access method. FCoE is different; that levels the playing field. The FC purists will have no way of keeping incoming FCoE barbarians off their turf.

It could be too that a pure NAS (Network-attached Storage) box with added iSCSI below the file system does a better job at unified storage than a Fibre Channel box with an added NAS head layered onto the block access, particularly if it is a separate rack enclosure. It's easy to see lots of marketing claims being made one way or the other in future.

Isilon’s iSCSI functionality is available immediately and is free for all Isilon customers. FCoE will come, if it does come, some time in the future. ®

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