Storage UPDATE--Interoperable iSCSI--May 17, 2004

Storage UPDATE--Interoperable iSCSI--May 17, 2004

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1. Commentary

- Microsoft Promotes Interoperable iSCSI

2. News and Views

- IBM Expands Storage Product Offerings

- Storage User Group Gets Corporate Support

3. Resource

- Backup Quits Unexpectedly When You Insert an Additional Tape in Windows 2000

4. New and Improved

- Storage Array Adds New RAID Controller

- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary ====

by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

Microsoft Promotes Interoperable iSCSI

With the spate of recent storage conferences and the upcoming Microsoft Tech Ed 2004 conference, I've been hearing from a lot of vendors about Internet SCSI (iSCSI). In "Combining Today's Technology to Make Tomorrow's Products," May 3, 2004, InstantDoc ID 42621, I covered one of the first iSCSI products for Windows Storage Server 2003, which motivated many other vendors to contact me about their pending products in the same space. However, rather than talking about other Windows-specific products, I want to take a somewhat different direction and discuss how Microsoft's iSCSI support goes beyond particular products--and even Windows.

To understand the way that the iSCSI market is shaping up in the Windows universe, you first need to look at the iSCSI component that Microsoft has released. The iSCSI software available for the Windows platform is what's known as an "initiator"--a piece of software that lets Windows access an iSCSI target. Microsoft isn't releasing and has no plans to release its own iSCSI target software for the Windows platform, according to the transcript of an online Q&A session with Suzanne Morgan, enterprise storage program manager in the Windows Core Team. (To read the transcript, click the first URL at the end of the commentary.) As a result, Redmond has left the production of Windows-compatible targets to the third-party development community.

Yes, many vendors have Windows Storage Server products. But I think what's more important is that the Microsoft iSCSI initiator will let Windows connect to just about any iSCSI target, even though Microsoft officially supports only targets that have been qualified under the Designed for Windows logo program. The target doesn't have to be a complete storage device; a supported host bus adapter (HBA) can connect to storage devices that don't have the Designed for Windows logo and can enable those devices to be used with Windows servers and clients. Consequently, the storage devices themselves need not run Windows Storage Server--or any version of Windows, for that matter.

In fact, of the more than 60 qualified products listed in the Designed for Windows logo spreadsheet for iSCSI, more than half are devices from Network Appliance (NetApp), best known for its Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) products, which don't use any version of the Windows OS. (To view the iSCSI Designed for Windows logo spreadsheet, click the second URL below.) NetApp does, however, have a complete suite of Windows-based tools to run and manage its storage devices. These tools bring a well-tested enterprise-class storage product into the hands of Windows systems administrators, including administrators who might have been a little leery about building a storage architecture strictly around the relatively new Windows Storage Server model. And in multiplatform shops, where Windows and UNIX IT folks are often at loggerheads, the tools make available products that can satisfy the requirements of both constituencies.

Releasing the iSCSI initiator while letting third parties provide the target is a good move on Microsoft's part, allowing Windows Server products to integrate smoothly with enterprise-class products hosted on other firmly entrenched OSs. Although playing well with others has never been a Microsoft strength, the decisions Microsoft is making with respect to iSCSI will further the cause of Windows as an enterprise platform. For more details about the Windows iSCSI implementation, go to the third URL below.

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==== 2. News and Views ====

by Keith Furman, [email protected]

IBM Expands Storage Product Offerings

IBM continues to address data retention and government regulatory concerns with new tape- and disk-storage products. The new products, which aim to make managing the data life cycle easier, include the IBM TotalStorage FAStT100 Storage Server and write once, read many (WORM) media technology for the IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Drive 3592. These products join the IBM TotalStorage Data Retention 450 solution, which the company announced in February (see the second URL below).

The IBM TotalStorage FAStT100 Storage Server is an entry-level Serial ATA (SATA) storage system with functions and capabilities similar to the company's FAStT600 but implemented with with low-cost SATA technology. Designed for long-term storage of infrequently accessed data, the FAStT100 supports as much as 14TB of disk capacity. The FAStT100 includes Dynamic Volume Expansion and Dynamic Capacity Expansion, features that allow no-downtime disk reconfiguration.

The company's introduction of WORM media technology for the TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Drive 3592 provides an inexpensive solution for companies looking to use tape-backup technology to securely store data. IBM plans to include WORM technology in future drives and media technology.

Storage User Group Gets Corporate Support

The Association of Storage Networking Professionals (ASNP) has announced its first platinum-level sponsors: EMC and QLogic. The goal of adding platinum sponsors, according to the group, was to "build a bridge" between vendors and the user community. "Our members want to provide vendors with their pain points and also understand what vendors are doing to address their (users') needs," said Daniel Delshad, ASNP founder and chairman.

Formed in September 2003, ASNP is an independent user group for storage professionals, including IT managers, systems administrators, university professors, and students. Worldwide, the group has 26 chapters and more than 1500 members. (For more information about the ASNP, see the links below.) The association has opened Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Startup sponsorship levels to vendors and other storage-related companies. Sponsorship gives companies the opportunity to speak at ASNP chapter meetings, sponsor newsletters, and participate in customized feedback programs, such as surveys and focus groups. ASNP's first annual summit will take place next month at Storage World Conference in Long Beach, California.

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==== 3. Resource ====

Backup Quits Unexpectedly When You Insert an Additional Tape in Windows 2000

A scheduled backup to tape that uses the Windows 2000 backup program to write to a previously used tape can fail. The problem occurs because the Removable Storage utility (rsm.exe) can't write a free-media label on the tape when the backup program runs from a batch file. For information about a hotfix and other workarounds that address this problem, go to the URL below.

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==== 4. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Storage Array Adds New RAID Controller

Nexsan Technologies announced a new high-performance version of its award-winning ATAboy2 storage array. The new ATAboy2x incorporates a new RAID controller design featuring dual independent 2Gbps Fibre Channel host ports to deliver more than twice the performance of the previous ATAboy2 model. Sustained RAID 5 reads of more than 600MBps make ATAboy2x an ideal platform for High-Definition Television (HDTV), digital film and video, and other high-performance, high-capacity, fixed-content applications. ATAboy2x provides as much as 5.6TB of capacity in a compact 3U (5.25") enclosure.

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