Samples Technology Difference Between iSCSI and Fibre Channel

Difference Between iSCSI and Fibre Channel

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Fibre has for a while been considered the gold standard for technologies that are deployed to support an organization’s computing environment. This environment entails storage arrays that are equipped with Fibre channel connectivity (Shu, Li, & Zheng, 2005). They are connected to a dedicated storage network environment that consists of Fibre channel switches. At the end of the connection are the individual servers, where each of them is equipped with a Fibre Channel host bus (HBA). HBA connects the host systems to the same Fibre Channel switches.

Fibre Channel operates at throughput speeds that range from 1GB/s to 16GB per second. The speeds have increased over the years as demands have rapidly accelerated. Faster speeds are expected to emerge in the market in the next few years. For a while, Fibre Channel and other storage environments have been depending on disks to store data. These disks are limited and can only transfer so much traffic through the communication fabric (Shu, Li, & Zheng, 2005). It takes several disks to even attempt to match fast Fibre Channel links. With the growing popularity of solid-state storage, there are much greater throughput opportunities; and organizations are capitalizing on this at different storage environments including in the arrays.

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In comparison to iSCSI, there are some advantages to using a Fibre channel environment. Fibre channel is designed to support storage; and that is the only thing it does. Fibre Channel environments have low latency in communication fabrics (Shu, Li, & Zheng, 2005).

iSCSI emerged in the market in the mid-2000s in an attempt to resolve some of the concerns that were rising against Fibre Channel; complexity and cost. Fibre channel switches and HBA’s are very expensive to purchase and the communication fabric adds thousands of dollars to the cost of storage (Xiang Lin & Sheng, 2005). Because Fibre Channel has a unique communications fabric, it requires special skills to tune and configures its technology and administrative schemes.

iSCSI is a huge success in the market due to two reasons. The first reason is that it uses Ethernet as its communications fabric. Ethernet is prevalent in the enterprise and is a commonly known standard. Using this technology eliminates the need to form groups of people with Expert Fibre Channel skills. The second reason is the fact that iSCSI relies on a well-known technology; Ethernet. it is much less expensive than the Fibre Channel by a huge margin (Xiang Lin & Sheng, 2005). iSCSI makes use of the typical Ethernet cabling and switches which are cheaper, it operates at speeds of 1GB per second, 10GB/s and 40 GB/s. When there is any advancement in Ethernet technology then iSCSI also follows still.

Common knowledge was that Fibre Channel was reserved for large organizations while iSCSI was left for small enterprises but this mindset has changed over time. Deftec the company in review is using 10Gb/s iSCSI to meet the needs of their demanding workloads. They have reported minimal performance variance between the two as it were in the past.

Comparing the feeds and speeds in order to determine which is faster between the two is very simple but, it does not really matter in reality though they may be an exception for Deftec and those that push the throughput to the max. In truth, the connection amid servers and storage is not the main issue when it comes to performance due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to entirely saturate a 1GB/s link leave alone 10GB/s or even 16GB/s (Xiang Lin & Sheng, 2005). Once Deftec achieves 10GB/s, throughput no longer becomes an issue.

  • Shu, J., Li, B., & Zheng, W. (2005). Design and implementation of a SAN system based on the fiber channel protocol. IEEE Transactions on Computers, Volume: 54 Issue: 4.
  • Xiang Lin, F., & Sheng, X. C. (2005). The Study and Implementation of a New iSCSI-based SAN. Journal of Computer Research and Development, 6-14.