Gartner Research

Storage Area Network (SAN) Protocols

Published: 26 June 2007

ID: G00203353

Analyst(s): Drue Reeves


Like two prize fighters competing in a ring, Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) and Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) stand toe to toe, slugging it out for control over storage area networks (SANs). In one corner stands FCP, who currently enjoys a larger installed base of SANs and faster performance. In the other corner stands iSCSI, who promises cheaper infrastructure costs and the future performance gain of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). In this Data Center Strategies Technical Position, Research Director Drue Reeves gives a blow-by-blow account and Burton Group's position regarding SAN protocols.

Table Of Contents

Decision Point

Typical Requirements


  • Single Protocol Strategy
    • Fibre Channel Protocol
    • Internet SCSI
  • Multiprotocol Strategy
    • Fibre Channel over TCP/IP
    • Internet Fibre Channel Protocol
    • Enterprise System Connection and Fiber Connection

Future Developments

  • Inexpensive 10GbE
  • Serial Attached SCSI
  • Fibre Channel over Ethernet and ATA over Ethernet

Evaluation Criteria

Statement & Basis for Position

  • Applications that require greater performance and higher availability should use FCP as the protocol for local SAN I/O.
  • All other applications and devices should use iSCSI for local SAN I/O.

Relationship to Other Components

Revision History


Related Research and Recommended

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