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Make a list and do your homework

We have been asked to come up with a SAN to replace the existing DAS setup for our UNIX servers. Are there any comparisons of the key features for the different SAN vendors such as StorageTek, IBM, Hitachi and EMC? I have no SAN experience and would appreciate any help.

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This site is a good place to start. You can ask questions from real end users in the .uDSjaWzJfjS^0@.ee83ce4!viewtype=&skip=&expand=>networking discussion forum and get good first hand advice.

Gartner, IDC, AG Edwards, the Evaluator Group, etc. can all provide you with great comparisons. Doing an RFP is a method most large companies use as it lets the vendors themselves inform you of what they can do over the competition.

There are high-end and workgroup class offerings available from many vendors. Prior to investigating which vendor best fills your needs it would be a good idea for you to define what you expect to get from your investment in a SAN. You should create a list of all candidate servers, based on:

  • Server name:
  • Location:
  • Server vendor/model:
  • Application:
  • OS version:
  • Free slots:
  • Server storage needs:
  • RAID type needed:
  • Availability (one or two paths to storage):
  • Clustered?:
  • Storage growth percentage:
  • Network bandwidth:
  • Performance requirements:
  • Include this server in DR strategy (replicate data?):
  • Total storage needed for all servers:
  • Total current storage:
  • Total free space:
  • Total in use:

Also include in this list how many sites the SAN will need to cover, what type of management you require for the storage and the server, the skill sets of the operations staff and DBAs and whether or not NAS should be used for the application instead of SAN.

Doing this work up front will help you gain an understanding of your current environment and help you make the best choices for your needs. One good thing you may find from all of this is that you most likely have a lot of free space out there and your current utilization across all servers may be about 45%. Using the SAN can get you up to 80% and above so it will also help you defer further storage purchases down the road.

Chris

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

This was first published in February 2002

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