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The cost of iSCSI storage systems and Fibre Channel arrays

Is iSCSI really cheaper than Fibre Channel and is NAS cheaper than iSCSI?

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Depending how you compare costs, iSCSI storage systems will be cheaper than Fibre Channel arrays. For example, by only looking at the adapter, switches, and associated physical networking components iSCSI will generally be the less expensive option. The reason iSCSI should generally be more inexpensive than Fibre Channel is that existing Ethernet based switches and host adapters or network interface cards (NICs) can be used in conjunction with host server based iSCSI initiator software, which eliminates the need for a Fibre Channel adapter and switches. However this may not be a fair comparison given performance and other considerations.

NAS is similar to an iSCSI storage system in that existing Ethernet ports on servers can be used on existing network switches. Where the economics start to change -- and where you need to look beyond networking and connectivity costs -- is when you consider management tools and associated software costs, in conjunction with performance requirements. Consider other costs involved with making storage easier to manage and enabling data protection including backup, snapshots, replication, and volume management and provisioning tools as part of your comparisons between different storage networking interfaces, protocols, and access methods.

This was first published in October 2006

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