Ask the Expert

Evaluating proposed SAN configurations - Part I

I am evaluating several proposed SAN configurations from various vendors. All of the vendors except EMC are proposing a single fabric solution (fabric switching at the local site, arbitrated loop at the remote site). However, EMC is telling me they do not support arbitrated loop and are proposing a full fabric solution. What are your thoughts on these types of configurations?

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I would really have to see the Visio diagrams and know a bit more information before commenting on this. There is a lot to take into consideration when doing a SAN design:

  • How many servers?
  • What kind of servers?
  • What OS types?
  • What is the current backup method?
  • What is the current backup software?
  • Are there multiple backup engines in the environment?
  • What type of tapes are used?
  • Are you using libraries or direct connect SCSI tapes?
  • What does the network look like?
  • Do you want LAN free or Server free backup?
  • What is the backup window?
  • What applications are running?
  • Are you using clusters of any type?
  • What OS versions are running?
  • What types of RAID are needed?
  • How much storage is currently in place?
  • How much storage is currently in USE?
  • Will you be booting into the SAN?
  • What to do with the current disks?
  • Do you need high availability access or load balancing (more than one HBA per server)?
  • How many servers REALLY need SAN based storage and what can use NAS?
  • Is any SAN based storage currently in place? If so, from whom and what method of connection?
  • What management framework is being used for server and storage management?
  • Do you need any replication for DR?
  • What type of replication, SYNC or ASYNC (what's the distance)?
  • Will you use software or hardware based replication?
  • Will you use IP or Fibre based connections to the remote site?
  • What is the network bandwidth to the remote site?
  • Can you provide QOS for replication traffic to the remote site?
  • Do you need snapshots for online backups or instant restore?
  • What HBA vendor do you prefer?
  • What switch vendor do you prefer?
  • Do you need Director class switches, or would a modular approach be better?
  • How many IOPS do you need from the array?
  • Will you be doing any streaming media from the storage array or is this just File/Print?
  • Any real time applications like Dynamic Database web updates?
  • If Web apps are used, is there a DMZ or firewall and what kind of security is needed?

For Part II, go to: http://www.searchStorage.com/ateQuestionNResponse/0,289625,sid5_cid427527_tax286192,00.html


This was first published in December 2001

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