Council halves costs and doubles storage by implementing iSCSI

Fareham Borough Council is one of the first local authorities inthe UK to adopt cut-price iSCSI networking technology for...

Fareham Borough Council is one of the first local authorities inthe UK to adopt cut-price iSCSI networking technology for storing, replicating and backing up data.

Fareham's new storage area network is a combination of Ethernet and IP networking protocols using Gigabit Ethernet networking. This combination is called iSCSI, a standard that was only ratified last year. Unlike Fibre Channel, which only has a 10km reach and a current maximum commercial throughput of 2gbps, the reach of iSCSI is unlimited and can be scaled to 10gbps.

The San will allow the council to consolidate its storage systems and provide a disaster recovery solution. It will also replace a direct attached storage system which connects to the council's 40-plus servers.

A San will allow data to be easily shared across any part of the organisation, unlike direct attached storage.

Fareham's iSCSI implementation, which is due to be fully operational in April, cost £250,000, including the first year's running costs, said Peter Harper, IT manager at Fareham. Harper said a similar system based on Fibre Channel would have cost at least double that.

The hardware and software used to drive the network is based mainly on iSCSI products from FalconStor, with FalconStor partner Redstor implementing the network for the council.

As part of the back-up and recovery system, Fareham Council is ripping out a more expensive system from Veritas and using a simpler product from FalconStor instead.

Harper said, "A top-of-the-range system from Veritas is highly specified with many features, but we have gone for a bare-metal solution that will do the job we mainly want it for - fast and efficient back-up and recovery."

The FalconStor product also offered faster data recovery, according to Harper. "We did tests on recovering a Microsoft Exchange server and found that we could recover data with the new product in a minute - the same thing would have taken 18 hours on the Veritas system. We were staggered."

According to a survey of IT departments by suppliers' body the Storage Networking Industry Association Europe, 25% of organisations expect to deploy iSCSI over the next year.

Benefits of iSCSI Sans

By combining SCSI, Ethernet and TCP/IP, a Gigabit iSCSI product delivers these key advantages:

  • It builds on stable and familiar standards; many IT staff are already familiar with the component technologies

  • It creates a San with a reduced total cost of ownership - installation and maintenance costs are low

  • It provides a high degree of interoperability by reducing disparate networks and cabling and by using regular Ethernet switches instead of special Fibre Channel switches, which are much more expensive

  • Because IP data can travel over the internet, there are no distance limitations. Fibre Channel has only a 10km reach with a maximum commercial throughput of 2gbps. iSCSI's reach is unlimited and throughput can be scaled to 10gbps.

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