iSCSI software is the type of software used in network storage where iSCSI protocol is used. The basic storage network which deploys iSCSI is storage area network (SAN). iSCSI software enables the devices to become connected to the network, share storage space and have access to the data stored on storage servers.
There can be two sets of devices which are in the network. The first are iSCSI initiators – the appliances which send SCSI commands and initiate the contact. The other are iSCSI targets – the devices which receive the commands sent by the iSCSI initiator. Therefore, depending on the status of the device, it will require special iSCSI software – for initiators, for targets or both, since one device can sometimes perform both roles. In the case of iSCSI software for initiators we can have the system initiator. It is a special service running in the operation system. Windows Vista and Windows 2008 are already equipped with iSCSI software for initiator, you only have to select it. In Windows XP and Windows 2003 you can download iSCSI initiator from Microsoft pages and install it. As far as targets are concerned there are also two possibilities.
Many of the modern popular server operating systems can provide iSCSI software with target functionality – either as a built-in application or with supplemental software. They are: BSD, Linux, Solaris or Windows Server. Although Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 is not sold separately, you can buy a hardware on which it is running as the original equipment manufacturer. Such Server are offered by such producers as DELL, HP, IBM or Fujitsu Siemens. An alternative will be a specific-purpose operating system that implement iSCSI target support. The examples of such systems are FreeNAS, Openfiler or FreeSiOS. The example of target iSCSI software offered by third companies is StarWind, which can be installed even on Windows XP and provides all necessary functionality for smaller uses. An interesting solution in StarWind is the virtualization functionality, which can provide access not only to the whole drive, but also emulate the drive by means of a file, whose size can be dynamically expanded.
The storage facilities of the users are consolidated into a data center. A storage system using iSCSI can have many iSCSI targets for a number of clients. Therefore, iSCSI can enable location-independent data storage. The protection of the data and its retrieval is also strongly connected with this type of networking, since iSCSI allows for more efficient data management and disaster recovery by means of storage software.