Not content to sit on its laurels, Emulex Corp., which already owns a substantial portion of the Fibre Channel host bus adapter market, is ready to dive into IP storage networking waters. Its first iSCSI adapter, which was announced last month, will be available by the end of the year.
Emulexs recent acquisition of Giganet Inc. gives it a foothold in the IP space because Giganet produces IP networking adapters in addition to the Virtual Interface technology currently used in high-end clustering solutions.
Emulexs GN9000/SI iSCSI HBA (host bus adapter) will support iSCSI and TCP/IP protocols in firmware, which should give it high performance and low CPU utilization (on the server) —traits that are important in the storage networking space.
At midyear, IT managers can expect to see Emulexs iSCSI Development Kit, which will include prototype hardware, sample iSCSI driver software and Emulexs Service Level Interface API support to facilitate the integration of Fibre Channel and IP storage networking.
The GN9000/SI iSCSI HBA will encapsulate block-level data in IP packets, which will then be transported across Gigabit Ethernet IP networks at full-duplex speeds. Supported systems include Solaris, Windows 2000 and Linux. The target markets for the GN9000/SI include remote backup and disaster recovery and remote access to block-level storage on Fibre Channel storage area networks.
As with any new technology, we anticipate a lot more attention paid to interoperability testing in the near future by any would-be iSCSI vendors.
Considering the amount of trouble that Fibre Channel vendors alone have had trying to get equipment to interoperate, we can expect to see a fair amount of maneuvering in the Internet Engineering Task Force (where the iSCSI standard is being developed) as Fibre Channel vendors and IP vendors duke it out.