SAN Newbie: Consolidation Easy, but Expensive

Thinking about embarking on a server consolidation project?

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Storage magazine: Best storage products of the year 2002:

Thinking about embarking on a server consolidation project? Eighteen months ago, so was John Penfield, CIO for...

the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet of Kentucky. But after careful deliberation, he chose to implement a SAN as a less drastic solution that addressed most of the challenges faced by his group.

The situation was this: At the helm of a largely Windows and Oracle shop, Penfield woke up one day "to a whole bunch of little servers in the back office" - 50 or so. "And they weren't alike either." Some were out of capacity, and some had mountains of unused disk space. "We were always faced with the situation of needing just one more disk drive, but not having an extra slot available. I worried about our ability to maintain them, or running out of space."

Unisys was contracted to do a server consolidation study, and came back with a surprising recommendation: as a first step, forgo server consolidation, and implement a SAN instead.

At first, Penfield was wary. "There was some risk: We had never done anything with SANs before." Furthermore, "I got no points from management for doing this - we were doing this only to improve our own internal efficiencies."

After "a lot of pacing," Penfield gave the go ahead. Unisys presented the group with two options: Clariion arrays from EMC, or MSA1000s from then-Compaq, now Hewlett-Packard.

Ultimately, Penfield chose to go with the MSA1000s for cost reasons. True, "EMC cut us a tremendous deal that was really hard to say no to, but I knew that it was only good for the first deal," Penfield says. "With the MSA1000, the discount was nowhere near EMC's, but its list price was about half." The MSA 1000 also includes an integrated five-port Fibre Channel switch, further keeping costs down.

The group wound up purchasing two MSA 1000 arrays - one for the data center, and another for a backup location. Since then, Penfield's group has purchased three more MSA 1000s, for a total of 3.5TB of capacity, to which it connects its newer servers.

How has it gone? "We're actually further along than I thought we would be at this point," Penfield reports. "It was much easier than we originally feared."

In fact, Penfield's only real complaint is that he can't add more servers to the SAN because Fibre HBAs are so expensive. "Paying $1,500 for an HBA is a bit lopsided in the equation, especially when you consider that you can get a whole blade server for only $1,700." And while there are $300 copper HBAs on the market, they are not supported. At the price of Fibre HBAs, "it just doesn't make sense to retrofit the older servers."

This was first published in January 2003



Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.



Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:



  • Tintri VMstore T5000

    Like all of its VM-aware storage systems, Tintri’s first all-flash array -- the Tintri VMstore T5000 -- allows admins to bypass ...

  • SolidFire SF9605

    The high-capacity SolidFire SF9605 uses SolidFire’s Element OS 8 (Oxygen) to deliver new enterprise features such as synchronous ...

  • HPE 3PAR StoreServ 20850

    HPE 3PAR StoreServ 20850 holds 1,024 solid-state drives (SSDs). Hewlett Packard Enterprise claims it can deliver more than three ...





  • Asigra Cloud Backup Version 13

    Asigra Cloud Backup Version 13 provides an AWS Elastic Block Store Snapshot Manager and the ability to support Docker container ...

  • Veeam Availability Suite v8

    Veeam Availability Suite v8 offers several key backup software components in one package, including Veeam Cloud Connect, Snapshot...

  • Druva inSync 5.5

    Druva inSync 5.5 endpoint backup software stands out with its proactive compliance, cloud app integration, full text search and ...