Q

Preparing an acceptance document for an FC SAN

Preparing an acceptance document for the installation of a FC SAN can help ensure that the installation is fully implemented and all the features are enabled and available as per the vendor specification.

I was wondering if you could provide me with some guidance in preparing an acceptance document for the installation of a Fibre Channel (FC) SAN storage based on an IBM DS4300. This will help me ensure that the installation is fully implemented and all the features are enabled and available as per the vendor specification. The configuration consists of a DS4300 with two FC controllers, two switches and a tape library. This setup is connected to a cluster of two IBM x366 servers running Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Exchange. If you can help or provide me with a Web site or any resource that could help me, I would highly appreciate it.
One way to make sure your storage vendor is providing everything they said they would is to create an SOW (statement of work) which includes milestones and checkpoints that can be signed off on by both parties during the implementation process.

If the vendor has won an RFP process, then use the RFP as the basis of the statement of work.

You will need to get yourself fully acquainted with the system you have purchased, so you can negotiate the SOW from a position of power. Go to the vendors Web site and familiarize yourself with all the technical documentation that the vendor provides. (In your case, that would be here.)

If a third party is doing the installation, make sure they have been certified by the vendor. If the vendor is doing the installation, make sure you discuss in advance (and include in the SOW) EXACTLY what and what will NOT be included.

Some things you want to know up front:

  • Is the SAN design included?

  • Does the SAN design support future growth requirements?

  • Is the SAN design practical for the servers being provisioned?

  • Who installs and tests the backup software?

  • Who does the persistent bindings for the tape product?

  • When the storage is installed, will it be done according to the vendors best practices based on the applications being supported?

  • What RAID types will be used for which servers and why?

  • Will a performance test be done to assure application requirements?

  • Will any "phone home" testing be done?

  • Who will install any provisioning and or monitoring software?

  • Who installs the host bus adapters (HBAs) in the servers and tests connectivity?

  • Who is responsible for installing the switches?

  • Who is responsible for zoning the switches?

  • Who supplies the cables and installs them from the server, to the switches and back to the storage ports and tape subsystem?

  • Is a certification matrix available for the currently supported microcode, drivers and HBAs?

  • Are host agents required (including licenses) for the backup solution, and if so, are they included?

  • Will an operations manual be supplied with the solution?

  • Will any on-site, formal training be provided to the storage team?

  • If (DR) is part of the system, who is responsible for setting up the WAN links?

  • If DR is part of the system, who is responsible for setting up and automating the process?

  • Will a DR test be performed and documented?

  • How does normal maintenance (such as microcode upgrades) affect system availability and who does it?
  • There are many more questions that could be included in this list, and the length of the list depends on what was actually purchased. The installation statement of work may need to include extra cost items that may be considered "consulting" by the vendor. A consultative install may include a TCO study, SAN design, critical records analysis, DR implementation, etc...

    In the end, you usually get what you pay for. Your vendor may include some of these extra cost items as part of the "partnership" they develop with you, or what you are able to negotiate up front as part of the buying process.

    This was first published in December 2005

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