ZFS wasn’t the only AWOL storage technology in Apple’s OS X 10.5 – early builds of Leopard included a built-in iSCSI initiator. When the operating system was finally released in October of 2007, both ZFS and iSCSI were quietly dropped, making room for 300 other features Apple felt were more prime-time-ready.
With the next major OS X release, 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, just around the corner, many have wondered if iSCSI will join the reanimated ZFS support. Sadly, there has been no word from Apple on the fate of their iSCSI initiator. But silence does not necessarily tell a tale at the always-circumspect company, so hope springs eternal for the iSCSI faithful. If the rousing success of Microsoft’s iSCSI initiator is any indication, Apple is seriously missing out!
In the mean time, those seeking iSCSI connectivity within Mac OS X do have third-party options to consider:
- Studio Network Solutions offers a free (as in beer) iSCSI initiator for OS X Tiger and Leopard. The globalSAN iSCSI Initiator is the client-side portion of their SANmp storage sharing solution, and purports to support most of the required protocols. In practice, however, the company cannot support other targets than their own. globalSAN failed to mount any LUNs from my Windows Storage Server iSCSI test rig, and reports claim mixed results from EqualLogic and EMC SANs besides.
- ATTO Technology sells a commercial iSCSI initiator for OS X, Xtend SAN, and reports here are very favorable. Although the $195 price puts it out of reach for home users, corporations wishing to connect Leopard systems to an iSCSI SAN should look no further.
- Another commercial option is SmallTree Software’s abcSAN. Listed at $150, abcSAN lists EqualLogic among its functional targets, but the standalone initiator is nowhere to be found on SmallTree’s web site. They also have an ATA-over-Ethernet (AoE) solution for the true nerds in the audience!
- Ardis may also sell an iSCSI initiator for OS X.
All in all, iSCSI on OS X is in a sorry state of affairs. If only Apple had released the initiator seen in early Leopard builds! Let’s all hope Snow Leopard brings iSCSI to the party at last!