Storage systems are increasingly communicating to servers over networks rather than through a direct, dedicated attachment, but to achieve high performance, the network must incorporate an expensive and complex communications standard called Fibre Channel.
IBM, Cisco Systems, Adaptec and others are pushing a technology called IP) and Ethernet standards used in corporate networks, as well as the Internet itself, to skirt Fibre Channel.that uses regular networks based on the less exotic Internet Protocol (
The main drawback of iSCSI, though, is that preparing packets of information for the IP network sops up large amounts of processing power. To work effectively, iSCSI-based networks need special-purpose chips to handle data transfers only.
Under the deal announced Friday, Adaptec, a large manufacturer of network cards, will supply IBM with cards and chips that support iSCSI connections using 1-gigabit-per-second and 10-gigabit-per-second speeds, the companies said.
"This iSCSI design win validates Adaptec's architecture, chips and software," Merrill Lynch financial analyst John Roy said in a report Friday. "While IBM hasn't disclosed details of its plans for iSCSI products, usage of Adaptec's iSCSI technology across the complete IBM product line could add $70 (million to) $120 million in revenue over the next two years."
iSCSI is not yet a formally ratified standard. Supporters expect the technology to be standardized by mid-2002.