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Increasing uptime in the data center with a SAN

I am looking to simplify and increase the uptime of my data center. I have a small (100G) but active transactional database which is currently using eight internal SCSI disks. I want to move to an active/passive database situation -- I have SQL server 2000. I also want to minimize the downtime of the storage hardware. The database is "somewhat" mission critical as it can be taken down on weekends for brief periods of time but it must deliver during the week.

Would you suggest external RAID storage or a SAN? I want to spend less than 20k on the storage portion of the solution to start with the ability to add more drives as our needs grow. Any product recommendations would be well received!

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Yes, I would suggest a SAN which gives you external storage that can be shared between servers which in turn allows you to add storage resources non-disruptively. External SAN storage will also enable you to use a clustering solution such as MSCS which will make your SQL server resource more highly available and allow you to perform normal server maintenance on your cluster nodes by moving the application between the nodes in the cluster.

I do not normally do product recommendations since my answers need to be vendor neutral. That being said, there are a number of storage vendors out there that can offer you very inexpensive SAN storage solutions.

Since you only have a couple of servers to connect, you can bypass SAN switch hardware for the time being by direct connecting the servers to the shared storage array using FC-AL( Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop) hardware. As your server farm and storage needs grow, just add switches and storage.

I would first check with your server vendor for cheap SAN products. Dell, Gateway, HP, IBM, Sun, etc. all have low cost SAN products that you should be able to use.

Chris

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This was first published in April 2004

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