The lowdown on IPstorage area networks

What are IP SANs? IP storage area networks are built on the new iSCSI protocol, which enables the transmission of data across TCP/IP networks using the familiar SCSI protocol.

What are IP SANs' advantages over Fibre Channel SANs? They can transport blocks of data at 1 Gbps. They are cost-effective for most organizations, since most IT staffs are already trained in the use of Ethernet, TCP/IP, SCSI and other common protocols including IP security.

Will IP SANs become dominant? Most observers say no. Even the staunchest proponents of iSCSI say that IP networks are designed to co-exist, not compete, with Fibre Channel SAN technology.

When will IP SANs become generally available? iSCSI host bus adapters are available now, as are a few other SAN components, such as iSCSI switches, routers, servers and concentrators. Look for many more iSCSI products to become available by the end of this year.

Must-know info? Since the iSCSI specifications have only recently been ratified, many vendors are taking a wait-and-see attitude while the market shakes out. Industry analysts are advising users to wait for the next generation of iSCSI products before investing heavily in IP SANs.

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