High performance? iSCSI? Yes.

By Eyal Traitel for Beyond The Blocks - Monday, May 23, 2016

iSCSI vs FC Reduxio Systems
The debate about the relative merits of FC and Ethernet is irrelevant.

In meetings with customers, I occasionally find myself getting puzzled looks when I say that Reduxio only supports iSCSI with 10GbE SFP+ connectivity. “Hmmm, so do you plan to support FC?” is the question that comes a second later.

There’s a clear need to educate on the importance of a given storage solution’s performance characteristics and its applicability for a customer’s application, rather than the network connectivity to the solution. In other words - a fast or faster media does not automatically mean a bottleneck in performance because of the choice of storage networking. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate about the relative merits of FC and Ethernet; on the contrary, what I’m saying is that it’s an irrelevant debate.

Both FC and iSCSI provide a wide variety of capabilities that enable a reliable SAN deployment. In fact, the industry is going through a transformation where traditional Ethernet switch vendors and their FC counterparts now offer switches that offer both Ethernet and FC connectivity. A fine example of this is the amazingly dense Ethernet switch line from InfiniBand leader Mellanox.

What is important is the actual performance requirements. Say a customer needs 75,000 IOPS at an estimated average IO 16K size. This is translated to approximately 1GB/sec which both FC and Ethernet can happily carry. With common switching cores being deployed in switches for FC and Ethernet, the actual latency of IO becomes a function of the implementation of the storage systems. Making the choice between FC and iSCSI will be largely dictated by customer preference, in-house networking expertise, and existing installed base. It should not be dictated by misconceptions that iSCSI is “slow”.

Unfortunately, many of the early iSCSI implementations were at the low end of the market given FC’s advantage over 1Gbe Ethernet, which may have created this perception. This is no longer the case. It’s 2016 now, with widespread deployment of 10GbE – and early deployments of 25Gb/40Gb/50Gb/100Gb Ethernet.

Many customers have realized that iSCSI can indeed be deployed in the most challenging enterprise environments. How about you? Comment below and let me know about your experience.

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Eyal Traitel

Written by Eyal Traitel

Eyal has 20 years of global experience in diverse roles in IT, Support, Engineering, Sales, Consulting and Product Marketing, in diverse locations (Israel, Netherlands and United States). He is highly skilled in system administration, SAN and NAS concepts, design, implementation and architecture. Experienced in pre-sales activities such as RfPs, demos and presentations and marketing events, competitive analysis, product gap analysis and product positioning planning.

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