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Microsoft Readies iSCSI Initiator 2.0

Foremost among the enhancements is a multipath I/O feature intended to improve performance and robustness of IP-based storage networks.

After several months of beta-testing, Microsoft is preparing to take the wraps off a new version of its iSCSI initiator software, the company said Tuesday.

Version 2.0 of Microsoft Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) software initiator will be ready for download by mid-April. Foremost among the enhancements is a multipath I/O feature intended to improve performance and robustness of IP-based storage networks. Customers will also be able to use a new Device Specific Module (DSM) to ease multipathing deployment.

Either approach offers customers supported failover and load balancing when using the Windows server platform, Microsoft said. In addition, iSCSI Initiator 2.0 can be used with Windows Server x64 Editions.

"Multipath IO gives users failover and load balancing and better error isolation that they didn't have before, all of which will help make better use of resources," said Randy Kerns, senior partner with the Evaluator Group, Greenwood Village, Colo.

He said Microsoft has also made improvements one expects to see in any second version-enhanced error handling, better information logging and tracing, as well as interfaces that are easier to use. "End users will benefit from 2.0 with more robustness in IP storage and better load balancing and recovery mechanisms," he added.

Vendors that have successfully qualified their iSCSI products and support the new 2.0 release of the iSCSI Initiator include Adaptec, Broadcom Corp., Crossroads, Cisco, EqualLogic, EMC, Falconstor, HP, Intel, Intransa, Lefthand Networks, Network Appliance, Promise Technology, QLogic, SpectraLogic, SANrad, Stonefly Networks and String Bean Software.

According to Gartner Dataquest, iSCSI will connect more than 1.6 million servers to storage area networks (SANs) by 2007.

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