Now that VMware supports iSCSI in its virtualization platform, does this mean Fibre Channel's days are numbered as a SAN solution? Not likely. In fact, it appears that iSCSI should be thanking its lucky stars that virtualization came along to give it a boost.
Certainly, there is a long list of reasons why virtual servers and iSCSI SANs are a good fit. As InfoStor points out, not only is iSCSI less complex and costly than FC, but it does a better job when it comes to virtual machine mobility and lends itself better to backup and recovery operations.
Most of iSCSI's cost savings come from the fact that it runs on existing IP/TCP and Ethernet networks, but that also puts it at a performance disadvantage compared to a dedicated FC infrastructure.
One of the biggest backers of the iSCSI/virtualization combo, says The Channel Register, is Dell. The company has been a bit cagey regarding its Project Hybrid, but it looks like that is about to change. The company has been talking up virtualization as the "killer app" (haven't heard that phrase in a while) for iSCSI, particularly for small businesses looking to leverage existing hardware without having to vastly increase their in-house networking knowledge.
For its part, VMware is pushing forward on the iSCSI front, although the company still maintains a robust commitment to Fibre Channel as well. The latest version of the Lab Manager virtual lifecycle management tool now sports iSCSI support, along with NAS-based NFS options.
But with Fibre Channel still controlling upwards of 80 percent of the SAN market, it would be premature to suggest that iSCSI will assume the throne any time soon. PCWorld.com says that's most likely the view of EMC, which announced a series of upgrades on all major storage systems earlier this month, much of it surrounding end-to-end 4 Gbps Fibre Channel.
In business, as in politics, the trick is to never make a firm decision unless you absolutely have to. When it comes to virtualization and shared storage, there are likely to be options galore for some time to come.