Q

How many operating systems can a SAN handle?

I'm working at a community college that currently supports three different types of operating systems: Linux, Win2000 and Tru64. Can I use all three with SAN technology? More specific would one SAN support all three?

The answer to your question is yes. Most SAN vendors today support just about every operating system available today. There are some things that you should be aware of though. You should use zoning in your SAN to group each operating system together so they do not see each other in the SAN. The Windows operating system tries to write a "signature" on every disk it finds in the SAN. If the server finds one of your Unix disks, it will corrupt the disk as far as UNIX is concerned. Make sure the vendor you choose can provide security both by zoning and by array based LUN security.

Another thing to note is that Tru64 Unix comes with it's own path failover software, so you will not have to pay for any path failover software from your vendor on that OS. (Hey, I'm trying to save you some money here!) Also, some of the host bus adapter vendors provide failover functionality for Linux within the adapter drivers. This could also save you some money. Check with your SAN provider to see if they support it.

Otherwise, to make you feel better...you can create a single SAN that runs this list of software:

NT, Windows2000, Redhat Linux, SUSE Linux, OS/390 MVS, VMS 7.2, Solaris 2.6-2.8, Dynix, Irix, Tru64 Unix, Netware, HP-UX, AIX, and in the near future, Apple's OSX. The cool part about SANs is that you can consolidate everything into more reliable equipment which makes managing your data more reliable and easier.

Chris

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This was first published in January 2003

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