Admittedly I’m not the world’s foremost authority on computer technology. In fact, there are probably a good number of 8th grade students with as much experience in html coding and systems operation as I have. So more often than not when someone starts discussing a new technology or protocol I tune out the conversation. However, when I heard about iSCSI my ears perked up.
iSCSI stands for Internet Small Computer Systems Interface and is a protocol which allows for the remote access of data over the internet. In layman’s terms, iSCSI is the remote link between two data centers in different locations. As it stands right now, the uses of iSCSI are primarily business oriented.
So how does it work? The process is actually fairly simple. iSCSI uses TCP/IP technology to communicate between two separate devices creating a storage area network or SAN. Only an iSCSI SAN allows this network to exist without the traditional data cabling most networks require. Simply put iSCSI is a wireless network across long distances. However, to maintain the most effective functionality iSCSI should be run on a subnet such as a LAN or VLAN to limit potential compromise of the data.
But how is iSCSI technology the future of business protocol? For example, say a sales representative in Milwaukee, Wisconsin needs to access a file on his home computer in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Using traditional FTP protocol the sales person would have to wait for someone to access the computer at home and upload the file transfer for him. Maybe he gets lucky and his wife knows enough about his business and computer technology to successfully transfer the file to his laptop. But what if the sales person lived alone? Through traditional FTP technology the information would be trapped until someone could simultaneously access both sites. However, using iSCSI protocol the sales person would be able to log directly onto his iSCSI hard drive from the road and retrieve the file to his laptop without the assistance of anyone else at either terminal. Moreover the protocol is bilateral allowing data to be returned the other direction as well.
As you can see the business benefits of iSCSI protocol in a business environment are staggering. More or less, iSCSI technology creates a giant virtual private network through which files can be shared and retrieved on demand. In an age of on demand information this technology can help keep business professionals at the forefront of their industry, on top of recent trends and reports, and networked regardless of where in the world they might be in relation to the home office. Data on demand – it’s the future of business.
There are a few potential drawbacks to an iSCSI SAN. Storage Area Networks (SANs) are expensive to implement and maintain. And they are largely dependent on the speed of the TPC/IP connection being used. A good alternative to a SAN network is network attached storage. Network attached storage is a complete storage system attached to an existing network. They operate using the same iSCSI protocol as an iSCSI SAN. Network attached storage is generally cheaper to install and maintain than a storage area network but are limited in performance and configurability options.
The business world is becoming increasingly centered around information. And information on demand is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to compete in today’s global economy. By selecting the right technology and powering your business with the right tools and information you can assure your rightful spot in the competition. By selecting a proper iSCSI based SAN or network attached storage device you can be sure to help provide your team with an important information edge.