Tag Archives: iscsi

iSCSI Target Software Feature Comparison

Having received numerous emails asking questions about which iSCSI target software offers which feature I’ve put together a sheet which tries to sum up the various features and editions of the different Windows iSCSI target software available.

This sheet might be missing features actually available in certain products, some features might not be available at all and so on. The reason for this disclaimer is that all vendors name their features differently so I’ve tried to sum it up by reading the information available. Some vendors have chosen not to post anything useful about their product, so a comparison is not possible in this case. In the case where no information have been found or I’m unsure if it’s available I’ve marked it n/a. If the information has been clear it’s either yes or no.

Protocol information

From Wikipedia: In computing, iSCSI (pronounced /аɪsˈkʌzi/), is an abbreviation of Internet Small Computer System Interface, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities. By carrying SCSI commands over IP networks, iSCSI is used to facilitate data transfers over intranets and to manage storage over long distances. iSCSI can be used to transmit data over local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or the Internet and can enable location-independent data storage and retrieval. The protocol allows clients (called initiators) to send SCSI commands (CDBs) to SCSI storage devices (targets) on remote servers. It is a popular storage area network (SAN) protocol, allowing organizations to consolidate storage into data center storage arrays while providing hosts (such as database and web servers) with the illusion of locally-attached disks. Unlike traditional Fibre Channel, which requires special-purpose cabling, iSCSI can be run over long distances using existing network infrastructure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISCSI
http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3720.txt

Table of features / prices

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Different approaches

Of all the vendors in the comparison there are about as many approaches as vendors. FalconStor for example has made an ESX appliance, which means that if you’re not running ESX you have no use of their product. According to what I can understand from their site you can connect anything to it once it’s up and running though. DataCore has chosen to make “bundles” of their product which led me to not really understand what I need and when and for what. Microsoft sells their iSCSI-target through OEM vendors, so to get your hands on Windows Storage Server you’ll need to buy storage from Dell, HP, Fujitsu or any other vendor that sells Windows-based appliances. Nimbus free product MySan only runs on Windows 2003 SP1 for some odd reason. SP 2 is not supported according to their information. Both Starwind, iscsicake and istorage server from Kernsafe comes in different editions with various features available. This seems like the best approach since you can choose an edition with the features you need for a price you’re willing to pay.

Links to vendors

http://www.datacore.com
http://www.falconstor.com
http://www.iscsicake.com
http://www.kernsafe.com
http://www.microsoft.com/Windowsserver2008/en/us/wss08.aspx
http://www.nimbusdata.com
http://www.starwindsoftware.com

How to choose

Choosing an iSCSI target software for your Windows based environment there are a few things to keep in mind. Looking at the table there are a lot of different editions with a bunch of different features. If you’re looking to emulate tape libraries and replicate data it’s in the higher price range. Satisfied with one or two concurrent connections you can get away alot cheaper, this would put you in the testing range though since a few concurrent connections won’t do you any good in production. Writing a recommendation here is virtually impossible considering the number of features available and the different needs in different situations. You’ll have to analyze what you really need and base your decision on that.

If you need help evaluating your storage needs, either SAN or iSCSI-based I can be of service. You can contact me through the contact form and I’ll get you in touch with our sales people to book either a visit or a virtual meeting depending on where you’re based.

Have I missed any software for Windows? What features do you think are the most useful / useless? Have you bought a product that you can recommend or warn anyone about?

A guide to iSCSI target software for Windows

UPDATE: See http://www.nullsession.com/2009/08/06/iscsi-target-software-feature-comparison/ for a feature sheet of Windows iSCSI target software.

After adding a new statistics tool to this site, I’ve realized that 57% of the search words for my visitors are iSCSI-related. Most people seem to search for Microsofts iSCSI target software. This can be aquired either if you buy something like HP’s Storage Server or if you subscribe to MSDN / Technet Plus (and in that case you can’t put it in production, but you could test it).

So what’s available for a Windows platform except for Microsofts iscsi target software?

There are four other “big” targets available, these are:


Starwind from Rocket Division


iSCSI Cake from iscsicake.com

iStorage Server from
Kernsafe Technology


MySan from Nimbus Data


You can read more about Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2008 over at Microsoft.com and more about Microsoft iSCSI Target Software over at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/storage/iscsifaq.mspx

Update: According to Jose Barretos blog Windows Storage Server 2008 is available to MSDN and Technet Plus subscribers.

Installation

In the video you can see how easy it is to install and configure each software listen, except for MySan which won’t install on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Storage Server 2008 which you’ll need to install from scratch since Microsoft won’t support installing the target software on any other edition than Storage Server.

If you’d ask me which software to choose I’d recommend Starwind from Rocket Division, unless you have the money to invest in a Windows Storage Server solution. The new features in Windows Storage Server 2008 really makes it worth the money if we base this on the assumption that you won’t invest in a full SAN solution.

Linux is not my platform, but there are several targets available for Linux. I haven’t tested any of them, there are other sites that focus on that.
http://iscsitarget.sourceforge.net/
http://www.zdnetasia.com/techguide/storage/0,39045058,39291568,00.htm
http://www3.amherst.edu/~swplotner/iscsitarget/#software
http://www.freenas.org/
Update: http://www.openfiler.com