iSCSI vs FC SAN

Tags:
CLARiiON
CX500i
EMC
Fibre channel
Fibre channel SAN
Flexline 340
iSCSI
SAN
We are trying to determine if there is any impact to MS SQL 2000 servers given either a iSCSI SAN vs Fibre Channel SAN. The majority of the databases are read/query intensive during the day, and write intensive during the overnight job cycle. Currently we have 8 SQL database servers (Windows 2000) which we would like to attach to a SAN with FC disks. Haven't found much information comparing these 2 technologies specifically for SQL servers. We are comparing EMC CX500i vs StorageTek Flexline 340 (FC). Any information would be helfpul with this or with how to select the right technology. Thank you.

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As with all things, “It depends”. For such a smaller number of hosts talking to a single array, your performance isn’t likely to be constrained by your transport – iSCSI or FC. Your performance is going to be constrained by the number of disk spindles.

As far as the two technologies go, unless you’re doing OLTP, iSCSI won’t add too much overhead. If you are, you’ll find that the network overhead might not be to your liking.

I think you should compare the cost of the two back-end systems when configured with a similar number of disks and cache, then compare the cost of infrastracture needed to enable the two – new FC or GigE switches needed, HBAs, etc.

There is a difference between the performance on the two protocols. However, whether that difference is enough to affect you is a nother question. Only you can answer that by actually testing it out.

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  • Paul144hart
    You may want to look through test lab reports like www.tolly.com. -Paul
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  • Mschoenb2005
    Whether you use iSCSI or FC you will be communicating at GB speed to the SAN on the Backend. What you need to be looking at is the COST difference between the two technologies. The whole idea of using iSCSI is that you get the same transmit speeds as FC but the cost is significantly less.
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  • Biggot
    I'd go for iSCSI, its heaps cheaper, easier to configure and troubleshoot and there really isn't any CPU overhead for most Windows applications. After all, what else are you going to use the CPU of Windows box for? The MS software initiator is pretty good and most of the big guys take all the hassle out of iSCSI deployment these days. You might want to look at NetApp as well if iSCSI ends up being your thing. I also agree that spindle count will be the biggest perfromance bottleneck, which is another thing I like about iSCSI. You can spend the cost savings on more spindles and get more performance or snapshots etc. Good luck.
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