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As Pierre Roman pointed out on April 5th, Microsoft released its Software iSCSI Target to the Download Center (The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is now free). I call it The Great Equalizer. Let me explain:
There are two ways of creating shared storage.
There are actually two different SAN technologies in play:
iSCSI (Internet SCSI), which uses familiar RJ-45 cables and communicates over standard TCI/IP networks. As such all of what we know from basic networking applies, and although it is usually recommended that the storage network be segregated from the production networks, this is often done by using VLAN tags rather than separate NICs (actually referred to as HBAs (Host Bus Adapters) and cables. By default (for those of you implementing or simply studying for an exam), iSCSI traffic is transmitted on TCP Port 3260.
Fibre Channel (FC) uses proprietary ports, cables, and switches. Although it essentially speaks the same language (SCSI protocol) it is encapsulated in Fibre Channel packets. Fibre Channel is usually the more expensive of the two options.
The problem is that neither of these technologies is cheap. While the investment for an organization has obvious benefits and the ROI is apparent, neither technology is really prevalent in small business because of the cost. It is very rare that an individual – even an enthusiast – would have a SAN at home.
Does this really affect anyone? You bet it does.
Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 changes all of this.
In fact, the product is not new… it was released with Windows Storage Server 2008 R2, which was only available through the OEM channel. Prior to that it was only available internally. Now that it is being made available widely, it is be supported for (smaller) production environments.
Thanks, it felt like your wrote this blog for me personally. I look forward to your follow-up post.