By Lisa Coleman
Microsoft yesterday announced that it has qualified 14 vendors of iSCSI storage arrays, tape libraries, host bus adapters (HBAs), and bridges to interoperate with Windows and Microsoft's iSCSI software initiator.
The companies have been qualified through Microsoft's iSCSI Designed for Windows Logo Program and include Adaptec, ADIC, ATTO Technology, Cisco, Crossroads, EqualLogic, Intel, Intransa, LeftHand Networks, McData, Network Appliance, QLogic, SpectraLogic, and storageconnections.net.
The qualifications will make it easier for end users to build IP-based storage area networks (SANs) and give users a greater choice of iSCSI hardware products. Proponents argue that IP SANs are typically less expensive and easier to deploy than Fibre Channel-based SANs.
"We are really excited about making the industry move forward in deploying SAN-like solutions in newer types of environments for our customers," says Claude Lorenson, product manager for Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division. The proliferation of iSCSI products will enable IP-based SANs to be used in environments where SANs were not typically used previously due to the cost and complexity of Fibre Channel.
Microsoft claims that about 60 vendors are participating in its iSCSI Designed for Windows Logo program, which includes rigorous testing involving interoperability, packet quality, network quality, as well as ensuring data integrity from Windows servers to iSCSI targets.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) ratified the iSCSI standard early this year, and Microsoft released its free iSCSI initiator, which includes a software driver and initiator service, in June. The Microsoft iSCSI initiator works with Windows 2000 client and server versions, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003.
For more information about Microsoft's support for iSCSI, a listing of iSCSI hardware devices that have obtained the Designed for Windows Logo, and a link to download the latest Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator package, see www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/storage/iscsi.mspx.