Thursday, July 26, 2007

The return of iSCSI

"The server business has come down to just three or four big vendors, and you can only make money in the I/O."

Thus spoke Kimball Brown, vice president of business development at startup ServerEngines, in an interview this week. He was describing the founder's move out of the chip set business and into 10 Gbit Ethernet and specifically iSCSI.

I tracked a number of iSCSI startups back in 2002 when iSCSI was hot—Aarohi Communications, Astute Networks, Silverback Systems, Trebia Networks and more. All have pretty much died, faded away or been acquired. But analysts say ServerEngines has the performance, relatively low power, low cost and market vision to make a go of storage over IP if anyone can.

We shall see. Brown himself told me circa 2003 as an exec at the former ServerWorks that the company's next chip sets would support iSCSI, a feature that would be dominant in servers in 2005. Maybe he is wrong again.

There are plenty of wrinkles to this story including the outlook for 10G Ethernet, the future of server blade architectures and convergence in data center networking. But for now, let's hold that one thought: I/O is the place to be today.

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