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Data warehouse storage

Hi,

I work for a large financial institute and need to find storage for a medium to large data warehouse (SQL 2000 1TB growing to 2TB). Recently Hitachi offered up a new 7500E with 16GB of cache for a very, very low price, I know it's a year old-plus technology, but 16 GB of cache! By the way, we are a big Hitachi shop and I recommended the 7700E to be backed up to our SAN through McData director. All seemed well when Network Appliance heard of the requirement and approached us with a filer solution. I informed them that M$ did not support SQL on the filer and they informed me that as of December 20, 2001 they were now a partner. All that said, could you pose any pros or cons for one solution or the other? Thanks!

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I believe that SQL will work with NAS devices. Whether Microsoft fully supports SQL as a primary storage device is somewhat unclear because a search of the Microsoft data yields note Q115043 that says it isn't. I suspect that maybe it was not updated.

The real issue with using a NAS device for any type of database activity is the set of requirements that you have. Foremost in those requirements is the performance necessary to meet your needs. That is something that you will need to qualify yourself and determine whether any IP-attached storage can meet your requirements.

Historically, in high transaction environments, direct attached or SAN attached storage is needed. Another issue is your operational environment. Introducing something different will require changes to procedures, training of personnel and probably some different types of support software for things such as backup and restore. Those can be significant considerations for a change in the way you do things so look closely.

Security may be another issue. You may deal with security with isolation of access to storage systems that are typical in direct attached or SAN attached storage. With IP-attached storage, you'll need to deal with security with a different set of parameters. Again, another consideration.

So, this isn't a simple decision. You'll need to do your homework and explore all the issues. I wish I could make it simple but it isn't.

SUMMARY
The use of database devices accessed over the network is not a supported configuration for Microsoft SQL Server. All database devices, including mirrors, should be configured to use local drives. Database dump devices are an exception to this restriction.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in February 2002

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