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iSCSI or Fibre Channel -- Which is right for a SAN?

When should I advise my customer to use a Fibre Channel SAN instead of an iSCSI SAN?

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Although both Fibre Channel (FC) and iSCSI protocols provide block level access to storage (using the SCSI protocol), the connecting network is entirely different. FC uses dedicated switch hardware and host bus adaptors, whereas iSCSI can be implemented across any standard Ethernet TCP/IP network. Fibre Channel is an extremely robust SAN technology and therefore attracts a premium price. iSCSI can be implemented much more simply and was deliberately developed as a cost effective alternative to FC. Recommend Fibre Channel to your customers for mission-critical applications where high availability is essential and where the additional expense of Fibre Channel can be justified.

This was first published in January 2007

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