If anything can be said about storage networking technology in 2007, it's that it was the year when the first glimmer of a truce between the iSCSI and Fibre Channel crowds came through.
Sure, there was always the recognition that iSCSI would serve well enough in small enterprises while larger organizations had the means to deploy the more expensive yet more reliable FC. But in the vast middle ground of medium-sized enterprises, particularly those that already have a Fibre Channel network in place, it looks like the ideal setup will include both systems.
A key technology to bring about integrated iSCSI/FC networks is intelligent switching, which incorporates sophisticated techniques designed to shuttle data to the proper destination regardless of formatting. SANRAD is one of the technology's biggest proponents, supporting both iSCSI and FC on the company's V-Switch. Such an integrated environment goes a long way toward the goal of non-disruptive data migration and instant disaster recovery.
One of the chief benefits of intelligent switching is that it puts iSCSI and virtualization between the physical storage and the network, according to this article from SANRAD's Dave Dupont. So not only do you avoid the redundancy of integrated iSCSI arrays, you get a device-agnostic networking platform that lets you deploy the appropriate hardware for a given environment.
Many eyes are also on Dell for integrated iSCSI/FC development. The company's recent purchase of EqualLogic brought instant iSCSI credentials to supplement the company's longstanding relationship with EMC. Dell has also quietly bought The Networked Storage Company (TBWSC), a UK consulting group with broad experience in IP, SAN and Fibre Channel deployments.
To be sure, there will be no shortage of friction between FC and iSCSI advocates in the coming year. But it's comforting to know that enterprises are no longer faced with a straight-up, all-or-nothing solution.