Moderator: Peter Burris
Analyst: David Floyer
iSCSI growth has been impressive over the last few years, based on its ability to provide key capabilities like block I/O. Some, including IDC have forecast that iSCSI will take over 30% of the SAN market by 2010. Its growth in fact has encouraged some to regard iSCSI as the ubiquitous winner in an ongoing market confrontation between iSCSI, network attached storage (NAS), direct attached storage (DAS) and Fibre Channel.
Our view is that users should avoid being wrapped up in the type of artificial crises that have traditionally characterized these types of technological discussions and instead focus their adoption practices on the realities of technology capabilities, costs and application requirements constrained by their own personnel capacities. Indeed as iSCSI continues to grow in the market, it will attract significant invention dollars which will improve its performance characteristics dramatically over the next few years. The effects of this will be a relatively quick transition at the low end of the market from a direct attached and even NAS-attached storage model moving more towards iSCSI SANs.
However, the differential at the high end between iSCSI and Fibre Channel that has Fibre Channel generally providing a 25% throughput advantage relative to iSCSI solutions is not going to abate any time soon. In fact, the runway for invention in the Fibre Channel market is at least 5-10 years given the projected growth rates of Fibre Channel and the large asset base that is installed around FC.
In the intermediate term we see greater iSCSI implementations for increasingly high end applications that can take advantage of improved performance in the iSCSI world with reduced costs. At the same time, we see Fibre Channel suppliers continue to work to drive down the cost of their solutions, highlighting an area of overlap that should be a planning concern for users. However the approach users should take is to focus their time and attention not on an artificially driven consolidation strategy but rather on an appropriate mixing and matching of storage technologies especially driven by new capabilities in iSCSI over the next few years.
Action Item: The growth in the iSCSI market is attracting significant investment from multiple new players. Users should rejoice in the opportunity to utilize new classes of storage technologies driven by an iSCSI enabled explosion in SAN capabilities. However users should follow the market rate of invention and not force a consolidation in their environment from Fibre Channel to iSCSI and should plan on Fibre Channel being the preferred solution for certain application types for the foreseeable the future.