Commentary: Fibre Channel's head start

The proposed iSCSI standard for storage-area networks doesn't offer the company a run for its money, and it probably won't for at least two years.

2 min read
By Robert Passmore, Gartner Analyst

The proposed iSCSI standard for storage-area networks (SANs) doesn't offer Fibre Channel a run for its money, and it probably won't for at least two years.

Some storage vendors have begun to talk up iSCSI technology even though the standard won't be released until the middle of next year. So don't let the hype fool you.

Let's cut to the chase:
 For high-performance SANs today, there's no alternative to Fibre Channel.
 Fibre Channel is way ahead in establishing a market presence.
 As iSCSI products first appear, they'll be used mainly to complement Fibre Channel SANs.

Fibre Channel products have already penetrated the market to a significant degree and, most importantly, they satisfy the companies that bought them. Vendors still have much work to do in this area, but mainly it involves improving the software to manage storage in a SAN.

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Today, much work needs to be done to make iSCSI competitive for a high-performance network. The first components will probably not appear on the market until the end of 2002. Companies that buy such components will likely implement them in low-end SANs--most likely as distance extensions to Fibre Channel networks.

But it won't be until 2003 or 2004 when iSCSI vendors put together complete and competitive offerings that can bring in significant revenue. Even then, those vendors will have much work to do to make headway in an all-Fibre-Channel world--not just in development of iSCSI technology and products but in sales and marketing as well. Until that work gets done, the race isn't close: Fibre Channel is way ahead.

(For a related commentary on Compaq Computer's latest storage offering, see Gartner.com.)

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