An iSCSI killer app

One of the biggest stories in the storage market this year has been the debut of products supporting the new Internet SCSI protocol, better known as iSCSI. The central benefit of iSCSI is that it allows storage traffic to travel via the standard IP data networks that are fixtures at most organizations, as opposed to building specialized storage networks using the more expensive and less familiar Fibre Channel connections.

There is a great deal of debate about what the impact of iSCSI will be, but many agree that one area where it does provide a solid value proposition is in backup and disaster recovery.

"With iSCSI, you can take one tape library and share it for backing up multiple servers over the network that before were doing separate direct-attached backup," said Steve Whitner, marketing manager for Advanced Digital Information Corp., which offers iSCSI connectivity for its tape products.

Others point out that iSCSI can be an attractive new option for creating remote disaster recovery capabilities that are less expensive than similar systems built with Fibre Channel-based gear. For example, information technology officials in Eagle County, Colo., recently replaced their aging direct-attached storage gear with a shared IP-based storage-area network using products from LeftHand Networks Inc.

One of the main benefits of the IP SAN is that county officials can set up a disaster recovery facility seven miles away from the main data center. County officials use LeftHand's Remote IP Copy feature, which combines snapshots and asynchronous replications to send backup copies of data to the recovery site via a standard network line.

"The big Fibre Channel storage companies will argue that this stuff is kids toys, but it's cost-effective and allowed us to afford a disaster recovery capability that we didn't have before," said John DeNardo, director of innovation and technology for Eagle County.

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