Cisco Enters Storage Market
- By Scott Bekker
Networking giant Cisco
. has made plans to enter the storage industry for years, but
remained on the sidelines, joining industry groups, but releasing no products.
Today Cisco has entered the storage market with a storage router, and revealed
its storage strategy.
Cisco unveiled its SR-5420 storage router at Storage
Networking World. The router is designed to support the nascent iSCSI standard,
a SCSI-over-IP implementation. iSCSI enables block-level storage traffic over
IP networks, eliminating the need for Fibre Channel or another networking
protocol for SAN implementations.
iSCSI enables users to connect servers and storage
systems using standard IP NICs, rather than specialized Fiber Channel or VI
host-bus-adapters, which are expensive and suffer compatibility issues.
In addition to the router, Cisco also released iSCSI
drivers, to enable iSCSI traffic. Mark Cree, general manager, storage router
business unit at Cisco, says the drivers work transparently – when accessing a
networked storage device, the server thinks it is accessing a local drive. “The
driver intercepts the system call and moves it out to the NIC,” Cree says.
Cisco offers the iSCSI drivers for free download on its
website. Cree says it also offering the source code to vendors interested in
writing drivers. It is not open-sourcing the drivers, but offering a licensing
program for vendor interoperability.
Although Cisco is making every effort to spur iSCSI
adoption, “This is not a religious play for Cisco,” Cree says.
Cree says Cisco is working with Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. to
support Brocade’s Fiber Channel over IP implementation. According to Cree,
Cisco is developing a Fibre Channel to WAN gateway router to enable users to
connect SANs across long distances.
Cisco purchased NuSpeed, a developer of iSCSI products
last year, signaling it planned to enter the storage market. This is the first
product either NuSpeed or Cisco have released. Christopher McConnell
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.