Ask the Expert

The many benefits of a SAN, Part 4

We are about to implement a SAN solution. We want to know if there will be benefits from connecting Microsoft terminal services and proxy servers to the SAN?

From our side, we believe that we have to connect only applications that generate important data and need to be stored on a storage media like SAN/NAS and no need for any applications that needs only processing power from the server and do not generate valuable data like DNS, terminal services, DHCP, Proxy, etc.

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Which servers should be included in the SAN

The following checklist details the types of servers that should be included in a SAN:

Database servers: Oracle, Sybase, SQL, DB2, Informix, AdaBase and other database servers love to make use of the extremely fast disks in a SAN.

File servers: Using SAN-based storage for file servers lets you expand file server resources quickly, makes them run better and enables you to manage your file-based NAS storage through the SAN.

Backup servers: Connecting all your servers to the SAN, including your backup servers, enables data backup to be done through the SAN rather than the LAN. SAN-based backup is dramatically faster than LAN-based backup. Voice/video servers: Voice and video servers tend to push large amounts of data very quickly. That's what SANs are built to do.

Mail servers: Using SAN-based storage for mail servers enables quick restoration of data in case of corruption or viruses. It also lets you back up your mail servers faster and provides the capability of using clusters for your mail servers.

High-performance application servers: Applications such as document management, customer relationship management, billing, data warehouses, and other high-performance and critical applications all benefit by what a SAN can provide.

Which servers should NOT be included in the SAN

The following checklist details the types of servers that should not be included in a SAN. These types of servers are usually better off staying on their internal disk drives because they will not benefit from more expensive SAN-based storage.

Web servers: Web servers do not usually have large storage needs. They are usually connected to larger servers running databases from which the Web pages are automatically built. The database servers can make better use of the SAN disks. Web servers are a good candidate for NAS.

Infrastructure servers: Domain name servers (DNS), Windows Internet naming servers (WINS), Domain Controllers (DC, PDC) and others are better off left on their internal disks. They do not need a lot of disk space and their performance requirements are minimal.

All desktop PCs: Personal computers are not good SAN candidates because they usually connect to corporate servers for any applications that require high performance. It's the corporate servers that could use the SAN.

Servers with less than 36GB of storage: Let's face it, internal storage is cheaper than SAN storage. Servers normally use SCSI drives for internal storage. Internal SCSI drives are now available in very large sizes (>146GB), are fairly cheap, and are just fine for simple applications. If your server has no performance problems and will never need more than 36GB of storage space, leave it alone. As long as you can back it up ok, then connecting it to a SAN will only provide management benefits.

Servers that do not need fast access to data: If performance is good already and you don't mind maintaining the server separately, don't bother hooking it up to the SAN.

Servers that need to use file sharing: Such servers are better off connected to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server, which supply shared file-based access to storage over a standard TCP/IP network.

Hope this helps!

Chris

Click here to go back to Part 1.

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This was first published in December 2003

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