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Remote and secure

Hi Randy,

In terms of Storage Service Provider (SSP) and the new Cisco SN5420 or CNT equipment, can you suggest how either of these could be used to access an EMC Symmetrix/Connectrix FC SAN remotely and securely via inexpensive VPNs? This is for customers who are happy with asynchronous/lazy data updates, not necessarily high speed synchronous/eager updates.

Thank you.

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Converting IP accesses to Fibre Channel for FC attached storage are the functions provided by the Cisco and CNT solutions. This allows for WAN types of connections that greatly increase the distances. As you stated, the performance, and especially response time, is affected by the greater distances (the speed of light hasn't changed and electrons migrate through copper at 1 nanosecond per foot) so the applications that you would use this arrangement with have to be very specific.

So, indeed you can use these solutions to access FC storage from longer distances. The security could be an issue anytime you have an IP network - a great deal depends on all the rest of your security infrastructure. Typically, storage professionals use physical isolation as their first level of security protection and you've lost that with the type of connection you propose even though you are planning on using VPNs.

Another aspect to consider is management of the physical elements. Normally, accessing FC based storage is controlled by storage administrators in the datacenter. These connections involve physical entities that would be outside that domain of control (and probably not even "visible.") This is usually not allowed by enterprise datacenters for critical storage systems. Again, that depends on your environment.

Your solution would work, you just need to consider all the other issues and make sure they are acceptable for the environment that you are in.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in September 2001

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