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Bridging SAN islands

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VSAN implementations

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Brocade SilkWorm AP7420 LSAN technology is implemented on a standalone 16-port switch. It allows storage area networks (SANs) to share storage devices without merging the SAN fabrics. By deploying two AP7420s, the security and integrity of existing fabrics is maintained, the headaches of merging them is avoided and the benefits of gaining access to underutilized storage devices may be realized. Deploy this technology when looking to share resources while maintaining existing installations.
Cisco MDS 9000 series VSAN technology supports up to 256 VSANs on a single director, and any port can be assigned to any created VSAN. The switch also supports moving ports between VSANS, so when ports are freed up, they can be moved nondisruptively between VSANs. Consider deploying the MDS 9000 in environments that are consolidating to one director where resources may need to be shared and one administrator will manage the switch.
McData DS10000 Hard Partitioning technology is targeted at environments that are looking to eliminate multiple SAN islands while maintaining the independent administration of the different SAN fabrics. While no sharing of resources between the different partitions has yet been disclosed by McData, expect a competing technology to be announced to keep up with Brocade and Cisco. Consider the DS10000 when consolidating to one switch where resources will be kept isolated, and different administrators want to manage the different partitions.
As storage networks grow and merge, performing routine tasks such as zoning, LUN security changes or installing a host bus adapter (HBA) may unintentionally destroy data in the storage area network (SAN). To help insure that a change made to one part of the SAN doesn't wreak havoc throughout the whole storage network, some Fibre Channel (FC) switch vendors are offering new switch-based intelligence to segregate the SAN and help protect SAN data. With issues such as reliability and high availability largely resolved, features such as SAN isolation, interSAN connectivity, QoS and security will become increasingly important.

Emerging business needs such as off-site disaster recovery, storage consolidation and better sharing of existing resources are driving the impetus to keep SANs logically separate while physically connected. Storage routing products such as Cisco System Inc.'s SN 5428, Computer Network Technology Corp.'s UltraNet Edge, Crossroads Systems' 10000 and McData Corp.'s IPS 3300 enable users to choose between FC, FCIP, iFCP, IP, iSCSI and SCSI protocols to connect their existing storage islands to one central SAN.

The Virtual SAN (VSAN) technology offered in Cisco's MDS 9000 series of directors lets users partition SAN traffic. Brocade Communication Systems' Logical Storage Area Networks (LSANs) technology offers similar functionality; the SilkWorm Multiprotocol switch (AP7420) connects multiple fabrics without merging them (see "VSAN implementations"). McData's new DS10000 directors allow users to segregate functions within a SAN using hard partitioning.

This was first published in May 2004

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