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Setting up an SQL server on a four-node SAN cluster

I am planning to setup an SQL server on a four-node SAN cluster. I am being offered Fibre hubs and Fibre Switches. What do you recommend? What are the pros/cons of each?

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My recommendation would be to skip the hubs, and go with the switches for your four-node cluster. The reason being is that while hubs may be cheaper than switches, you also get what you pay for. Given that you are clustering your services, I presume for high availability, why take any chances on hubs with shared bandwidth and shared loop access? Switches have the ability to support loop devices -- for example, an older tape drive, should you have the need. With a hub all ports share the common bandwidth of the hub, which could impact your performance. Beyond performance, switches also have the advantage of providing better isolation of ports and subsequently various devices. Since you are clustering, I would also recommend implementing a pair of switches to create to separate paths to your storage for redundancy. The price of Fibre Channel switches and adapters continue to decrease in price, which makes redundant paths more affordable.

This was first published in July 2004

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