iSCSI Can Be a
Tough Sell"> Despite these benefits, Steve Bishop, VeriStors vice president of technology, said that iSCSIs recent entree into the world of storage technologies made it a tough sell in the case of NCCU. To help boost Marrow and Whites confidence, VeriStor conducted both internal and off-site benchmarking using tools such as Iometer to demonstrate that an iSCSI SAN could support the universitys various needs.Simulating the key characteristics of NCCUs primary application servers in an iSCSI environment was the first piece of evidence the university required to commit to iSCSI. The next step involved canvassing colleagues on their storage decisions. NCCU is part of the 16-member University of North Carolina system. "Being part of the university system, we were able to poll a number of other institutions and get some information on who were the leading storage vendors in the market at the time," said Marrow. Following a three-month investigation, NCCU opted to deploy an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN in October 2005. Unlike Fibre Channel, which Bishop said can take upward of a year to fully deploy, the universitys iSCSI SAN was up and running within a couple of days. And, because the universitys IT staff was already skilled in Ethernet, the transition was quick and efficient. "The decision really came down to costs, time to service and skills," Marrow said. "iSCSI fit like a glove in terms of the kind of skills that we had here in the organization, and it allowed us to implement a solution within budget." Currently, NCCU has two EqualLogic PS200Es iSCSI arrays running in its data center, with a third running at a disaster recovery site 15 miles away. Six more arrays have been purchased so farone for the remote site and five that will be used for other applications and to add capacity over time. It didnt take long for NCCUs iSCSI SAN to help consolidate the universitys scattered servers and to drastically cut costs. According to Marrow, whereas the cost per megabyte of DAS is 28 cents, the cost per megabyte of iSCSI SAN is 12 cents. As a result, by switching from DAS to a 50.4TB storage environment, NCCU has saved nearly $100,000, according to Marrow. Another way in which iSCSI has helped the university cut costs is by reducing the need for additional servers. To accommodate a recent spike in storage demands, the university had budgeted for the purchase of 10 DAS servers at an approximate cost of $7,000 each. However, in light of its iSCSI SANs increased storage capabilities, Marrow said NCCU has been able to slice that order in half, at a cost savings of $35,000. Next Page: Business continuity and backup benefits.
"In a lot of cases, iSCSI is a technology that can sell itself, but you have to be able to explain it properly and show the customer that it can support the availability and performance requirements of their applications," said Bishop, in Duluth, Ga.