Researchers Differ on Fibre Channel, iSCSI Adoption Rates

One survey of IT professionals released July 26 contends there is continued growth in the adoption of both older Fibre Channel and newer iSCSI Internet-based connections for storage networking at the expense of NAS. A second survey, released earlier, finds only flat adoption rates for both.

Respondents to a Xiotech-sponsored survey said they expect the use of iSCSI to increase from less than 5 percent of their storage infrastructure today to nearly 19 percent in two years.

Accordingly, Fibre Channel also is expected to increase from about 34 percent to 41 percent.

iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface), an Internet protocol-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities, was developed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force).

By carrying SCSI commands over IP networks, iSCSI is used to facilitate data transfers over intranets and to manage storage over long distances.

Fibre Channel is a gigabit-speed network technology that has become the standard connection type for storage area networks. Despite its name, Fibre Channel signaling can run on both twisted-pair copper wire and fiber optic cables.

The growth of both topologies will impact direct, server-attached storage, which will drop from nearly half of existing infrastructures today to less than a quarter in two years, according to the Xiotech survey’s 110 respondents.

“Both Fibre Channel and iSCSI bring great benefits to the storage environments of many organizations,” said Mike Stolz, vice president of marketing for Xiotech in Eden Prairie, Minn.

“Both are seen as superior to direct-attached storage, as well as network-attached storage, which this study suggests will remain a niche option.”

Survey respondents ranked Fibre Channel higher than iSCSI on a number of attributes, a Xiotech spokesperson said.

To read more about Fibre Channel security appliances, click here.

For example, on a one-to-five scale—with five being highest—Fibre Channel scored 4.49 on performance versus 3.55 for iSCSI.

Fibre Channel scored 4.35 for reliability and 4.16 for security, versus 3.49 and 3.41 respectively for iSCSI.

However, iSCSI was rated better for initial cost (3.55 versus 2.52 for Fibre Channel), and roughly at parity with Fibre Channel for ongoing costs and ease of use.

Surprisingly, there were few differences between respondents from smaller companies and larger ones in terms of interest in Fibre Channel or iSCSI.

However, smaller companies expressed different priorities for technical attributes in making storage purchase decisions, with respondents from both midmarket and larger companies (500 or more employees) giving greater weight to tiered storage options and data replication than those from smaller companies.

Ease of use and upgradability were significant issues regardless of company size, the spokesperson said.

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