And 10Gbps iSCSI converged network adapters are appearing on the market from Network Interface Card vendors such as Emulex.
Yet FCoE garners most of the hype and press coverage because of Cisco's emphatic endorsement of the technology for unifying data centers -- and because it's newer than iSCSI. FCoE was standardized less than a year ago while iSCSI is at least 10 years old.
Indeed, Cisco acquired its way into iSCSI with the 2001 purchase of NuSpeed, an iSCSI router start-up. Cisco has since killed off the NuSpeed product, which was called the SN 5420.
"iSCSI we saw -- and it played out this way -- as more of a small-business play, where there was such a large entrenched base of FibreChannel that was projected by the analysts to continue to grow," says Jackie Ross, vice president of marketing in Cisco's Server Access and Virtualization Group. "We couldn't ignore that."
And iSCSI is even losing ground to network-attached storage (NAS) in the SMB market because SMBs are now opting for file-based storage -- which NAS supports -- vs. block-based storage, which iSCSI and FibreChannel support, Ross says.
"For SMBs, NAS -- or file-based storage -- has grown up as their needs have grown up," Ross says. "With some of the needs you could only get in block-based storage -- disaster recovery, much better management of multiple networks -- you can now get with file-based storage. That's the reason NAS has grown at double the rate of iSCSI."
But there's still healthy growth in iSCSI. It's growing at about 25% per year for companies that have not opted for NAS over direct-attached storage, Ross says.
According to Dell, the market leader in iSCSI SANs, it's even healthier than that. According to IDC, the iSCSI SAN market grew 40.6% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2009. Dell led that market with 29.2% revenue share, followed by HP with 18.5%. And Dell's EqualLogic iSCSI product line -- Dell acquired iSCSI SAN vendor EqualLogic in 2007 -- grew 44% in that period.
For the full year 2009, spending on iSCSI storage gear was $1.9 billion, according to IDC, growing to $4.4 billion in 2013 -- a compounded annual rate of 23.4%. Users spent $9.2 billion on FibreChannel/FCoE/Inifinibad gear in 2009, and that will grow to $11.1 billion by 2013 -- a CAGR of less than 5%, according to IDC.