The attempt by EMC to bring iSCSI to the mainstream storage market will help Canadian resellers to sell the newest versions of CLARiioN, according to an IDC Canada analyst.

However, Canadian VARs shouldn’t expect their customers to rush out and adopt iSCSI-supported platforms, said Alan

Freedman, IDC Canada’s infrastructure and hardware research manager.

According to Freedman, the market for iSCSI in Canada is “very small” and restricted primarily to small and medium-sized businesses looking at ways to keep storage costs in line. He expects sales of iSCSI-supported platforms to pick up at the end of this year and into 2006 once customers learn more about it.

“The vendors are using iSCSI as a base to get to the small and medium business – the more cost-concious customers,” said Freedman.

“And right now it’s sort of in the early adoptive phase, and as companies look to expand their storage networks or re-architect their storage networks for better efficiency, then that’s when they’ll start to more seriously investigate iSCSI.”

iSCSI (internet small computer system interface) is a protocol that turns SCSI and Fibre Channel protocol commands into TCP/IP. The iSCSI standard is supported by EMC’s new AX100i, CX300i and CX500i models.

The AX100i, priced at US $5,995, is the least expensive of the new models and uses SATA hard disks. The CX300i version has a retail price of US $25,690 and the CX500i model sells for US $68,075. These three let customers mix Fibre Channel with parallel and SATA disks to create tiered storage within a single system.

The AX100i and CX500i models are available now and the CX300i model will be released in the second quarter of this year.

Peter Lavache, EMC’s manager of storage platforms, said the low-end AX100i and CX300i models are aimed at the VARs and end users with IP specialty who did not move into Fibre Channel.

“iSCSI, because it is an IP traditional network-based technology, is going to be a lot more native to our VARs and reseller community than Fibre Channel may have been – and that goes for their customers as well,” Lavache said.

This isn’t EMC’s first foray into iSCSi territory. The company already supports the iSCSI standard on its Symmetrix DMX systems, along with its Connectrix SAN switches and Celerra network attached storage and NetWin systems.

Freedman said several factors will boost sales of iSCSI-based platforms sell in Canada, including the continued strength of the Canadian dollar, the continued increase in corporate profits, and an increase in infrastructure spending by Canadian businesses.

However, Freedman said an across-the-board scaleback in IT spending might actually drive businesses toward iSCSI.

“Frankly, if we do see a scaleback that might work as an advantage for iSCSI because people will be more cost-conscious and will be looking to implement more cost-effective solutions,” he said.

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