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Selling iSCSI SAN storage or Fibre Channel arrays to SMBs

The iSCSI storage systems or Fibre Channel array debate in the storage area network (SAN) market is full of small considerations that contribute to what is best for any SMB. These are some of the considerations that a VAR should be aware of when offering advice and future support.

When it comes to selling a storage area network (SAN) to a small and medium-sized business (SMB) the question of iSCSI storage systems vs. Fibre Channel (FC) arrays is sure to come up. Here are some differences to keep in mind when choosing a SAN for an SMB.

Cost

For the most part, an iSCSI storage system SAN is cheaper than a Fibre Channel array SAN. Reasons for this include the components, hard drives and networking technologies used in each type of SAN.

Networking technology

This may be obvious, but its worth mentioning: An iSCSI SAN uses a standard Ethernet network. An FC SAN uses a fiber network.

Bandwidth differences

Today most Fibre Channel array SANs support up to 4 GB of bandwidth, with talk of moving towards 8 GB. All iSCSI SANs support up to 1 GB of bandwidth on an Ethernet network with 10 GB on the horizon.

Performance differences

For applications that demand high performance, your best bet is to choose a Fibre Channel SAN. But most SMBs are not looking for the highest performance, so an iSCSI storage system SAN would be just the ticket.

Hard disk interfaces

iSCSI SANs commonly use SATA and SAS drives, primarily for their low cost and large capacity, whereas FC SANs use SCSI and FC drives for their high performance and reliability.

For additional comparisons, check out our more indepth iSCSI vs. Fibre Channel tip.

About the author: David L. Stevens is a storage manager for Carnegie Mellon University where he manages multiple iSCSI SANs.
 

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