Vendors show iSCSI storage devices support Windows

In a development that could help to ease the adoption of iSCSI, a protocol for creating storage networks over existing infrastructures, Microsoft has qualified iSCSI products from 14 storage hardware vendors to work with Windows and Microsoft's iSCSI drivers, the company announced Wednesday.

The protocol, formally called Internet Small Computer System Interface, is an alternative to specialized Fibre Channel technology for connecting servers and storage devices so they can share data storage capacity. It can transport blocks of data directly from storage devices across existing Ethernet LANs because it uses IP (Internet protocol). That saves companies money when they want to make the move from separate servers each using just their own storage to all servers sharing the same storage, said Steve Kenniston, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group, an industry research and consulting company in Milford, Massachusetts.

Microsoft's support for iSCSI and the qualification of storage vendors' iSCSI products to work with Windows may jumpstart the adoption of iSCSI, which has been relatively slow so far, Kenniston said.

Microsoft in June introduced its Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator, free software for servers that includes a tool for servers to discover storage devices over iSCSI, as well as management software. It is available for Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 and Windows XP as a direct download. For Windows Storage Server 2003, it is provided in systems through the server vendor.

On Wednesday the company announced vendors of iSCSI storage arrays, tape libraries, bridges and server host bus adapters that have passed tests confirming their products will work with Windows servers, said Claude Lorenson, a technical product manager at Microsoft.

The initial group of qualified vendors is Intel Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Adaptec Inc., McData Corp., Network Appliance Inc., Advanced Digital Information Corp., ATTO Technology Inc., Crossroads Systems Inc., EqualLogic Inc., Intransa Inc., LeftHand Networks Inc., QLogic Corp., Spectra Logic Corp. and Storageconnections.net. The Redmond, Washington, software company believes this is just the first wave of vendors receiving qualification, Lorenson said.

"Our intention is more than just providing the ability to enable iSCSI in an environment. We also made sure that the end user will have freedom of choice in terms of storage or hardware," Lorenson said.

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