SAN preparations

With storage spending fast becoming the focal point of the IT purchase, it has become more necessary than ever to carefully plan, architect, and implement a lasting storage infrastructure. A Meta Group report projects storage-related costs will constitute 70% to 80% of IT purchases by 2001/2002. Meta Group, an IT research and consulting firm based in Stamford, Conn., also predicts that money will be spent on storage software, storage area networks (SAN), and services, as traffic will be offloaded from application networks onto SANs.

With this in mind, we asked analysts to share what they think users need to consider before deciding on a storage area network (SAN). Here is what they had to say.

The key issue right now is interoperability, says Steve Duplessie, analyst for The Enterprise Storage Group in Milford, Mass. "A user may purchase a vanilla, single-source SAN solution, but it is necessary to keep the future in mind. I suggest the user makes sure that the intermediary vendor is OSFI (Open Standards Fabric Initiative) compliant, or intends to be," Duplessie says. "In that way, his solution today will continue to work even if he adds a different switch/hub to the mix later," Duplessie adds.

"The second piece of advice is to think high availability. Configure the SAN right up front to have no single point of failure. It will make scaling much easier and keep future headaches to a minimum," he says.

Dan Tanner, senior analyst, storage and storage management for the Aberdeen Group, an IT consulting and market research firm in Boston, Mass. says that there are specific variables that must be considered before deciding on a SAN. He says IT professionals should evaluate their needs carefully. Availability, security, scalability, etc. can cost a great deal more if they are not properly forecasted in the early stages of architecting the SAN. Tanner also suggests considering issues of interoperability, training, and user culture.

The shape and scope of the storage environment is a constantly evolving entity. Analysts say the trick is to choose a SAN and vendors that will not only provide the speed, performance, capacity, and support that your company needs today, but will also be flexible enough to provide the same elements for your storage needs for years to come.

Komiega is SearchStorage.com's assistant news editor.

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