Delivering on a promise made in March, Microsoft has released its Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) software initiator package, which includes the Microsoft iSCSI initiator service and the Microsoft iSCSI initiator software driver.
Available as a free download at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/, the software driver is designed to work on Microsoft Windows 2000 client and server versions, Windows XP, and the recently launched Windows Server 2003 products.
"This is an important further validation of iSCSI, although it is hardly unexpected," comments Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. iSCSI support closely follows the release earlier this month of Storage Server 2003, "and is really not much of a jump from Storage Server to the Windows environment."
According to Enterprise Management Associates' most recent survey, iSCSI is now represented in about one out of every seven enterprise computing environments.
"This will be very useful for the iSCSI community," Karp predicts. "This is a logical match-up of low-cost operating systems with iSCSI's ability to provide low-cost, highly efficient IP-based SANs."
Ratified in February by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), iSCSI is a storage protocol designed to transport block-level storage traffic over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. Gartner Dataquest estimates that by 2006, iSCSI will emerge to connect nearly 1.5 million servers to SANs -- more than any competing technology.
Microsoft's iSCSI initiator package download includes support for data encryption, including Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), Internet Storage Name Service for both server and client, management via Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), and an architecture that aggregates the different hardware initiators into a common framework.
More than 85 independent software vendors (ISVs) and independent hardware vendors (IHVs) are developing Windows-based applications and storage hardware products for iSCSI. Microsoft has launched an iSCSI Designed for Windows Logo Program to enable IHVs to qualify their Windows-targeted iSCSI hardware components for optimal reliability and interoperability with Microsoft Windows products.
Additional information on Microsoft's storage offerings can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/storage/. Information on the iSCSI Designed for Windows Logo Program is available at http://www.microsoft.com/winlogo/benefits/default.mspx.
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