iSCSI for SMB’s
iSCSI for SMB’sWhy use an iSCSI SAN for SMB (small business) VS Fibre Channel (FC)?
iSCSI offers a lower per port cost, and is easier to manage iSCSI since it uses an IP network. FC HBA’s are still close to 10 times the cost of Ethernet NICs, and FC switches require more advanced administration knowledge. iSCSI has also been proven to be faster than FC in cases where the iSCSI SAN is correctly designed, even when using 1 Gb NICs.
iSCSI SAN’s can range from a few hundred dollars to costing even more than FC SAN’s, it all comes down to the performance of the SAN controllers and the feature set, along with the number, size and type of drives. iSCSI SAN’s can be implemented to suit small departments looking for a fast backup to disk appliance, or as shared backend storage to add more file share space all for less than $1,000.00 – right up to enterprise grade iSCSI SAN’s for virtual machines such as VMware or Hyper-V or for server clusters. Depending on the options, and whether you repurpose an existing server or purchase new storage hardware you could spend as little as a few thousand dollars on up.
Is there a downside to iSCSI?
The only real downside to iSCSI is if you pick an entry level iSCSI SAN, such as a $1000.00 all in one unit, and try to use it for performance intensive servers, or if you try to put iSCSI traffic on the LAN. Using dedicated Ethernet switches with Jumbo frame support, dedicated NIC ports to the iSCSI storage and hard drives with enough RPM iSCSI can perform more than well enough for most corporate and production data requirements.
Who the main vendors for iSCSI SANs?
StarWind Software is one of the top vendors, offering both software to turn existing servers into iSCSI SAN nodes, or dedicated hardware appliances, available in single node or dual node (High Availability). Other vendors include Overland and NetGear which both sell single controller iSCSI storage, along with the big 3, Dell, HP and IBM.
What should SMBs consider before deploying a virtualization solution?
If an SMB is deploying a virtualization solution, you really need storage networking to get the maximum return on investment. When you think about virtual servers, some of the benefit is to be able to move your virtual machines between physical machines.
To be able to do that, the machines need to be able to see the same pool of disks. If they can't, you are limited in how much you can leverage your virtualization solution. Recent ESG research found that 81% of SMB end users surveyed were planning to acquire new network storage systems to accommodate their virtual server environments. Virtualization is a major driver of SANs because of the benefits of being able to see the same pool of information between multiple servers. So, to really maximize your virtualization investment you have to have a SAN.
Do we need 10 Gigabit Ethernet for an iSCSI SAN?
10 GigE is still cost prohibitive, and for the vast majority of SMB IT departments will be overkill. Using two or three 1 GigE NIC ports per server connecting back to an iSCSI SAN will provide more than enough bandwidth for most implementations, even when using Virtual Machines. 10 GigE will be more beneficial to companies than need super computer performance either for number crunching applications or for many thousands of end users.