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FC and iSCSI

Many have asked, "Will the integration of iSCSI and Fibre Channel continue indefinitely?" Since that question has an open-ended timeframe, the answer has to be no. A more important question, however, is, "What is the time-frame for when the customer will more likely buy iSCSI products than Fibre Channel products?" Said another way, "When will the sales of iSCSI equipment surpass the sales of Fibre Channel equipment?" My guess is 2006–2007. Other analysts have said 2005 and even 2004, but this seems to me to be wishful thinking.

I believe that the volumes will tip in favor of iSCSI (regardless of the timeframe) because iSCSI can perform all the functions that Fibre Channel can. In addition, iSCSI will operate on the wide area network (WAN), the Internet, and campus LANs up to the individual desktop and laptop level. Thus, when an installation is considering what to purchase next, it is probably going to choose the most flexible technology, especially since that seems to be the technology with the lowest projected price. This applies to both the initial costs to purchase and, as addressed earlier, the ongoing cost of management, training, and the like.

I did not say that Fibre Channel was going to go away in 2006–2007, just that iSCSI would begin to outsell it. That is because iSCSI will make sig-nificant gains by playing to a larger market, not just by displacing current Fibre Channel. I think Fibre Channel will continue to evolve for a while and continue to support its customer base. In other words, if I could project myself to 2010, I would still see sales of FC equipment. This means that not only will there be iSANs (SANs made up of only iSCSI network entities), but there will also be long-term business in the area of integrating iSCSI and FC SANs via various gateways and switching routers.

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