USPTO will wait it out

Ron Hack, deputy chief information officer

at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's

information technology services organization, puts his position on SCSI over IP

storage-area networks simply: "We are aware that iSCSI exists, but it is not on our radar at present."

Hack's view is typical of most government agencies and departments. Those that have labored to deploy Fibre Channel networks during the past five years are simply not interested in replacing homogeneous storage solutions from preferred vendors with a

still evolving and largely unproven IP SAN connection.

USPTO adopted the SAN concept several years ago, based on a predicted growth rate of 12 percent per year. The agency enlisted EMC Corp. to provide a scalable mass storage solution for the office's ever-growing bank of electronic image and text files associated with patent and trademark applications.

"We have very little storage left on servers," Hack said. "It is now almost entirely on the EMC SAN or on network-attached storage appliances, which we use for office files."

USPTO's single-vendor solution obviates some of the concerns regarding Fibre Channel SAN manageability and security, which iSCSI advocates tout as key advantages of their protocol over Fibre Channel. In a homogeneous SAN, the storage platform vendor's proprietary solutions are apparently just as effective as standards-based approaches touted in a heterogeneous iSCSI SAN.

Hack said his agency has no immediate plans to use iSCSI but has left the door

open. "I don't think that this year will be the year of iSCSI," he said, "but things happen pretty fast."

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