The musings of an IT Consultant

May 31 2010   11:53PM GMT

Fiber channel or iSCSI?

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, so the age old storage question, should i use FC or iSCSI?

Well this isn’t necessarily an easy question to answer. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

iSCSI is great for cheap storage, and allows you to get it up and running quickly in your environment, especially if you already have the data switch infrastructure to support it. All you have to do is section off a part of your network for it and you’re good to go. The downside? Your storage network is on your data network. This can cause interesting performance issues if things are configured correctly.

FC is a different story. It has it’s own fabric that is separate from the data network. Because of this the data network doesn’t impede it and it can run happily on it’s own. The downside? FC is usually more expensive and you also have to buy FC switches to accomodate your FC storage. FC is super fast, but at a price.

Generally the farther into the enterprise you roam, the more likely you are to see FC for mission critical apps and data and iSCSI for second tier backups or non-mission critical apps and data. There are exceptions to this however, for example some people will run separate data switches just for iSCSI so the two networks don’t cross.


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