Surprising Results from Dell Testing FC, FCoE, and iSCSI for Primary Data Storage over SANs

Typical Storage Area Network

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By Tom Fedro

The market generally argues that fibre channel (FC) and fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE) are the preferred technology for primary data storage over storage area networks (SANs), and that iSCSI should be reserved for second-tier or remote storage. Looking to determine the throughput and CPU utilization for a given SAN protocol, Dell recently conducted a series of performance tests to compare 10GbE iSCSI, FCoE, and 4 Gb FC. The results were interesting: iSCSI outperformed FCoE and FC regardless of read or write operations for various I/O block sizes.

A brief summary is as follows:

  • Effective CPU utilization for various workloads: all the host adapters have similar CPU utilization metrics, showing that iSCSI is as efficient as FCoE and FC
  • Throughput efficiency (defined as MBps/%CPU for the various storage protocols): 10GbE iSCSI had the best throughput efficiency across the workload types, outperforming FCoE and FC

See full Dell comments here:

Dell’s test results showed that iSCSI  can outperform both FC and FCoE across the board—concluding that iSCSI SAN is a valid option for data center storage. Customers who are planning to purchase storage for their data centers especially High Availabilty (HA) storage,  should view iSCSI SAN as a viable option.

One product to consider is Paragon Starwind iSCSI SAN & NAS – it is an affordable option for HA requirements. Using “off-the-shelf” components and standard hardware for servers the solution when compared to proprietary hardware/software can lower HA investment by a compelling 50% to 90%.

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