I'm planning on creating a storage solution for my company. Currently we are using several servers tied to several DLT machines. This as you know is becoming a management nightmare. Unfortunately, I don't know what the best solution would be for the company. I was thinking if there was one server that could be used for data storage and in turn that would be connected to a huge tape library. I have heard about Citrix and SAN but I do not have experience with any of them. Can you tell me what the pros and cons for SAN, NAS, Citrix are?
By the way is Cirtix more or less a brand name for a SAN? Thank you, any help will be GREATLY appreciated.
Citrix is a solution for remote access to applications running over a network. It's more like NAS than SAN. It's pretty much a more robust solution than what's included with Microsoft Windows terminal server edition. The nice thing about the product is the ability to run applications that are installed on remote servers as if they were local to the client. The application servers are all in your data center but client access is over IP. The screen changes are sent to the client. It's like PC Anywhere on steroids.
NAS servers give you the ability to access FILES over the network. NAS uses the CIFS, SMB and NFS protocols for access to storage shares over IP. It's similar to you sharing out a folder from an NT or Unix server.
SAN gives you BLOCK access for application servers connected to the SAN. SAN-based block access is used by applications to access disk storage over an optical storage network.
I assume your servers are using internal storage that gets backed up to the SCSI connected DLT tape drives. That works fine except you have to manage backup for each servers separately which as you have found out can get quite cumbersome as you add more servers.
You can combine the technologies of all of the above to create a more robust and automated solution for your company.
1) Buy a SAN, and connect your application servers to the SAN storage.
2) You can then use Citrix running on those servers to let remote clients access their applications. You can even use Citrix clustering to make the applications highly available.
3) Use one of the servers as a NAS server by allocating SAN-based storage to that server and have the server share it out as a file share for things like user home directories and personal mailboxes. This is a real cheap way of creating NAS resources.
4) Purchase a tape library that uses the same type of DLT drives you are using. This way you can move your current DLTs into the library to save you money on buying new tape drives. Using a tape library will put a stop to the "human robotics" you are currently using for swapping tapes in and out for backup.
5) Connect the tape library to the SAN using a "data router." This will bridge the SCSI tape drives into the Fibre Channel based SAN so that all the servers connected into the SAN can see and "share" the library.
6) Purchase the "enterprise library option" for your backup software which allows SAN-based servers to share the library. This way your servers will be backing up their data over the 100MB per second SAN, vs. over IP or 40MB second SCSI. Your backup server will then act as the "traffic cop" to handle which servers get access to which tapes in the library.
This should allow you to get great remote client access for applications, the ability to effectively allocate storage to servers, centralize and automate backup and make you look like a hero to your boss.
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This was first published in August 2002