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The 2010 Guide to iSCSI Storage

The 2010 Guide to iSCSI Storage

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Published by Constantin Videnski
This whitepaper details what iSCSI is, demystifies some common misconceptions you may have
about iSCSI, and outlines why iSCSI could be the best choice over FC, DAS or NAS. Furthermore,
using off the shelf server hardware and iSCSI storage software available as free or paid editions
enables you to build your own SAN and lowers the cost of entry for budget challenged IT departments,
without limiting functionality and scalability. iSCSI storage is already in use by many
companies from SMBs to the Fortune 500s.
Questions we will answer for you:
1. What is iSCSI and why should you care?
2. What iSCSI means to those who consider networked storage to be too expensive?
3. What you need to implement a SAN that works over your Ethernet?
4. How does an iSCSI SAN compare to a Fibre Channel SAN in cost and performance?
This whitepaper details what iSCSI is, demystifies some common misconceptions you may have
about iSCSI, and outlines why iSCSI could be the best choice over FC, DAS or NAS. Furthermore,
using off the shelf server hardware and iSCSI storage software available as free or paid editions
enables you to build your own SAN and lowers the cost of entry for budget challenged IT departments,
without limiting functionality and scalability. iSCSI storage is already in use by many
companies from SMBs to the Fortune 500s.
Questions we will answer for you:
1. What is iSCSI and why should you care?
2. What iSCSI means to those who consider networked storage to be too expensive?
3. What you need to implement a SAN that works over your Ethernet?
4. How does an iSCSI SAN compare to a Fibre Channel SAN in cost and performance?

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Published by: Constantin Videnski on Mar 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/09/2012

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T 2010 Gi t iSCSI Stg
The Essential Guide to iSCSI Storage and Why You Should Convert Your WindowsServer 2008 R2 Into Shared Storage on Your Existing Ethernet / IP Network 
WHITE PAPER
 
[2]
www.starwindsoftware.com
 
 
InTroduCTIon
This guide provides an overview of why you should consider using iSCSI storage in your IT environ-ment. Helping answer the question; why implement iSCSI storage when you can also select fromNAS (Network Attached Storage / also know as your file servers), DAS (Direct Attached Storage,i.e. local hard disks), or FC (Fiber Channel)?Building your own iSCSI SAN using off the shelf hardware and freely available iSCSI storage soft-ware is a fairly easy task. But why bother with an iSCSI SAN at all? With an iSCSI SAN you can domany common tasks far easier and faster than with conventional file servers and direct attacheddisks. A SAN gives you “shared storage” on your network, meaning that you can centrally manageall of your storage from one device as opposed to managing storage on each application server.Shared storage has many advantages, including enabling simplified backups when using snap-shots, and allows replication between storage devices, for offsiting data, to be done at a far lower cost than with host based replication.This whitepaper details what iSCSI is, demystifies some common misconceptions you may haveabout iSCSI, and outlines why iSCSI could be the best choice over FC, DAS or NAS. Furthermore,using off the shelf server hardware and iSCSI storage software available as free or paid editionsenables you to build your own SAN and lowers the cost of entry for budget challenged IT depart-ments, without limiting functionality and scalability. iSCSI storage is already in use by manycompanies from SMBs to the Fortune 500s.Questions we will answer for you:1. What is iSCSI and why should you care?2. What iSCSI means to those who consider networked storage to be too expensive?3. What you need to implement a SAN that works over your Ethernet?4. How does an iSCSI SAN compare to a Fibre Channel SAN in cost and performance?
iSCSI stgis  is b mcmpisfm SMBs tt Ft500s.
 
[3]
www.starwindsoftware.com
WhaT IS ISCSI?
SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) has been a standardprotocol for decades, which enables computers to commu-nicate with storage devices. As system interconnects movefrom the classical bus structure to a network structure, SCSIcommands must be mapped to network transport protocols.Today’s IP Gigabit networks meet the performance require-ments of to seamlessly transport SCSI commands betweenapplicaiton servers to centralized storage.The iSCSI protocol enables the transfer of SCSI packets over a TCP/IP (Ethernet)network. iSCSI is an interoperable solu-tion which enables the use of existing TCP/IP infrastructureand addresses distance limitations (iSCSI can also be usedover the Internet). This means the disk drives in your SAN arepresented over your existing Ethernet network to server ap-plications as though the disks are local to your physical server hardware.Don’t confuse this with traditional SCSI disks; in fact, iSCSIstorage is typically implemented with affordable SATA or SASdisks. iSCSI presents block based storage just as you get withyour internal disk drives, whereas a NAS is nothing more thana plain file server which presents storage as file shares. Acommon scenario is to use a portion of your iSCSI SAN stor-age as back-end disks for file servers (NAS), consolidatingboth application dataand file shares into oneappliance.With iSCSI storage youcan use any IP switchesand routers, and theclient machines (your servers) can use a software driver called an “initiator” insteadof the more costly FC HBAs (Host Based Adapters). For older servers with lower powered CPU’s you can use an iSCSI HBAwhich is still lower cost than a FC HBA. Both StarWind Soft-ware and Microsoft provide freely downloadable softwareiSCSI Initiators. Microsoft has eagerly endorsed iSCSI technol-ogy for Windows, helping to promote iSCSI awareness.The concept of using an IP network for block based storagecauses many people to incorrectly assume storage traffic willclutter their LAN, or that IP networking may not provide thenecessary performance your applications require. While it istrue that many early iSCSI vendors were shipping productsthat were not up to the job of enterprise class applicationssuch as Microsoft Exchange, VMware and SQL Server, thereis also a well established base of vendors that are shippingiSCSI storage into SMBs and enterprise customers. Keep read-ing to learn the truth about iSCSI.iSCSI Storage is often referred to as an “iSCSI Array” or “iSCSITarget”. The official terminology uses “Target” to refer to thestorage side and “Initiator” for the client side driver. The Initia-tor allows application servers and workstations to access theTarget (the iSCSI storage).
BeneFITS oF ISCSI
The iSCSI protocol provides numerous benefits for SANscompared to using Fiber Channel, a few key points are sum-marized below:
•
iSCSI ss fmii twig sts:
Ethernet andTCP/IP. Most IT administrators are already familiar withTCP/IP, unlike the more complex skills required for FCstorage.
•
Tt stg csts  c:
iSCSI SANs are easier toinstall and maintain than FC, lowering installation andmaintenance expenses. iSCSI reduces the necessity of hiring or outsourcing storage administration.
•
rpicti ws   st IP tw:
iSCSI repli-cation eliminates distance limitations and costs associ-ated with FC routers.
•
rcs cmpit b imitig Fib Cswitcs  cbig:
Using standard Ethernet switchessimplifies everything as most organizations already havein house IP networking skills.
•
iSCSI scs t 10 Gigbit:
For enterprise applicationsthat require high transactional performance 10GigE isavailable, thus expanding iSCSI Storage Networks perfor-mance to equal the performance of Metro and Wide AreaNetworks.
L
ong
D
istance
s
torage
iSCSI’s use of IP Networking means long distance is no longer an issue for backing up remote sites or performing disaster recovery. With the use of Secure Internet Protocol (IPSec) andSecure Sockets Layer (SSL) to provide authentication and pri-vacy iSCSI over a public network is a viable method to extendthe corporate network without incurring high costs.10 Gigabit Ethernet provides enough bandwidth and
iSCSI allows any IT administrator to easily deploy a true SAN over an IP network.

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