Ask the Expert

If you have enough ports to attach all your servers, why buy switches

One of the main reasons we went to a SAN infrastructure was to allow us to connect more UNIX servers to the EMC 8830. Now with EMC's DMX providing more FA connections we are considering going back to direct attached because of the maintenance cost of the Connectrix.

We may retain a couple of the 32-port switches we have if we decide to keep a partial SAN just for test servers. The negatives we see are if we go back to DAS we really won't be driving the FAs at all. But, on the other side, we will be reducing maintenance costs and it uncomplicates things when you go to add a disk to a server through ESN Manager.

I would be curious what your thoughts are on this? Thanks.

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Hey, if you have enough ports to attach all your servers to a single storage array, why pay for switches if you don't need them!

The only issues I can think of are:

1. You will not be able to share ports.

2. Switches are a great place to start troubleshooting when things go wrong. If your server cannot see storage, it's always nice to see if both sides can log into the switch.

3. Without switches connecting everything together, backup will be over the LAN again or you will need to create a separate tape SAN.

4. If you run out of ports before you run out of storage, there will be no way to share that storage with other servers.

5. If you add another DMX, or want to re-use the 8830, there will be no way to allocate storage in a pool for all the servers.

6. If you lose a path to the storage, you will have to reallocate the storage to that server inside the DMX to another FA. If you had switches, all you would need to do is plug into another port switch. (If using port zoning, you would also need to rezone.)

Other than that, your performance should be fine since you will not be sharing any ports.


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This was first published in August 2003

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