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Issue of January 2005 

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iSCSI is much faster in Windows

David Hitz, the Founder and Executive Vice President of Network Appliance discusses the latest trends in enterprise storage. By Sandeep Ajgaonkar

How do you see enterprise storage evolving?

The number one trend is the shift from DAS to NAS and SAN. Although reliance on DAS has been shrinking rapidly, in terms of overall market share, DAS is still larger than NAS and SAN put together. We are still less than midway through this key trend.

What is the most exciting area in enterprise storage right now?

The most exciting thing going on right now is iSCSI. This is because both NAS and SAN have disadvantages when compared to iSCSI. The primary disadvantage of SAN is that it is built on Fibre Channel (FC). FC is expensive and difficult to manage. Everyone knows how to manage Ethernet.

The difficulty with NAS is that it is great for sharing files and directories but databases require online access. Therefore using NAS for applications like Exchange or SQL Server may not always be feasible.

The beauty of iSCSI lies in its simplicity of management. You can access an iSCSI device the same way you access a directory. In fact you can even use existing tools within Windows to manage iSCSI. It will take off much faster in the Windows environment, and not so much in high-end Unix or Oracle environments. Asian countries like India and Malaysia are likely to be early adopters of iSCSI, given that they do not have to build separate, oversized infrastructures.

What is the key concern area with regards to information storage?

Security is a prime concern. How do you control data access, or adhere to regulatory norms that require organizations to keep their historical data?

One of the big issues with data security is how do I know that the data on my system is exactly the same data I wrote yesterday. How can I check the authenticity of four to five year old data that may have to be provided to a regulatory agency.

For this we have solutions that use checksums to ensure that the data is not overwritten, and if it is, the solution can detect the changes and do the needful.

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