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Is a SAN right for me?

Hello, I am wondering whether a SAN solution is the right choice for my organization or if it's overkill. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Current structure:

  • Four Netware 5.x servers with a total of 80GB of data that needs to be backed nightly.
  • A W2K thin client server farm with five servers.
  • One Linux server with 10GB data.

Within this current year we may need another four servers for projects under consideration with storage capacity needs of 50GB minimum to be backed up nightly. As of today my nightly backup window is around 10-12 hours with an AIT tape drive. I would like to cut down the number of hours for backup.

Considering the above would a SAN be appropriate for my environment? Thanks in advance.

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Whether to go with a SAN isn't really about what you have as it is about what you need or want. With a SAN you will get a highly reliable, wickedly fast storage resource. Is that what you need? Is it worth the incremental cost to you?

The amounts of data you cite are quite small. You can get 80 gig on one hard drive these days. If the time it takes to backup is your sole consideration, you might look at hybrid strategies such as an on-line copy followed by a backup to tape at your leisure. However, the time you cite to backup 80 gig is longer than I would expect. You might want to check that your systems have enough memory and that your hardware architecture is up to date.

Bottom line: There is nothing about your environment that says, "don't use a SAN." The question is whether you would be getting your money's worth relative to the alternatives.

Editor's note: Do you agree with this expert's response? If you have more to share, post it in our Storage Management discussion forum.

This was first published in February 2002

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