iSCSI Network Designs: Part 4 – Fibrechannel integration

There are a number of options available. The first is to investigate whether your SAN supports an iSCSI option. Many of the larger SAN have native capability. The negative of this approach is that you will only be able to access resources on that SAN. Most likely you want to be able to access the resources of any Fibrechannel SAN so that yuo have maximum flexibility.

Many Fibrechannel switches now support iSCSI to Fibrechannel is some form or another. You could review the documentation for the Cisco MDS9000 as a starting point for iSCSI to Fibrechannel integration. These switches become iSCSI to Fibrechannel routers (not dissimilar to ethernet to token ring bridges in the past). They connect to the IP/Ethernet network.

Consider the following diagram to outline how it would integrate with your existing infrastructure.

iscsi-fc-integration.jpg

A short outline of the some of the relevant features:

  • redundancy iSCSI to Fibrechannel routers to be deployed to redundant switches
  • there can be as many storage arrays as the Fibrechannel network can handle.
  • servers will see the iSCSI targets in the same way as native iSCSI SAN.

Conclusion

Connecting to Fibrechannel networks using iSCSI is possible and often a feature that is a part of the equipment that you have already. If you have more than one Fibrechannel only SAN on your Fibrechannel networks, consider using a iSCSI router so that you can connect to any SAN resource in your Fibrechannel estate.

You should also consider using any other iSCSI options for you SAN, but possibly the external option will work better than an option that is specific to just one vendor or SAN.