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A holiday greeting to the storage industry

A holiday greeting to the storage industry
By Jon William Toigo

'Twas but weeks before Year's End
And all through the shop,
The staff was concerned
'Bout the storage they'd bought.

Would it hold all the data
For this year and next?
If it didn't, the CEO
Sure would be vexed.

Fifteen million on rack-mounted
Storage arrays,
And switches and cabling,
And new HBAs.

If the thing didn't work, then
The Boss would feel robbed.
Forget Christmas bonuses,
They'd be out of a job.

Still, the vendor assured them
This new-fangled SAN
Would perform just exactly,
Precisely, as planned.

"Scalability galore!
Performance to last!"
Downtime would just be
"A thing of the past!"

"And you want ROI?
Then no platform is better."
"The Analysts back our claims
Down to the letter."

So, with trembling fingers
They assembled the parts,
In hopes of a SAN like
The nice brochure art.

Unexpectedly, though,
They hit a few snags
Like some parts that were
Not to be found in the bag.

Seems the FC SAN gurus
Had simply neglected
To develop a standard
For how things connected.

Three-foot cables to patch
The components they racked
Needed quite different plugs
For quite different jacks.

So off again, off again,
Off

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again, off?
Tread a tech support guy
To the cabling shop.

Unlike Ethernet,
Each little FC patch cord
Cost an average of
Two-hundred dollars or more.

With that "little annoyance"
All out of the way,
The vendor assured that
The rest would be play.

"Just go to each switch,
Serving each business unit,
And connect all the servers
And disk arrays to it."

"Then, find all the E-ports
On each little switch,
And connect them together
There's no chance of a hitch."

"On request, we've assured
That equipment complies
With SW-2
And with SANMark besides."

"So, once you have cabled
The whole thing together,
Just turn each switch on
And they'll work well together."

"Then, using the management tools
We've provided,
Zone and route everything
So your SAN is united."

"And with our new
virtualization techniques,
Splice some LUNs all together
To make volumes unique."

Their confidence bolstered
By the vendor's advice,
The IT staff issued
A formal invite.

"Come see the grand opening
Of our new storage pool,
A utility service
That's just way too cool."

"Welcome CEO,
CFO, COO too,
And directors, department heads,
And press ? well, a few."

And when the day came
To switch the SAN on,
The eloquent speeches
Seemed to go on too long.

"As we move toward a New Year,
We're proud to assert
That our storage is networked
And ready for work."

The CEO proudly
Typed in a request
To call up a file
The platform to test.

After waiting a second,
Then another or two,
He turned to the CIO
To ask what to do.

The CIO called
The IT manager out
To discover what all
The delay was about.

With no guidance at all
In the sparse user manuals,
'Twas the worst media disaster
In company annals.

Seemed the Anchor and Vixel
Would not talk Brocade,
Despite all the standards that
ANSI had made.

Installing different arrays
Caused a warranty flap.
For no reason, the HBAs
Just dropped off the map.

'Round the clock worked the staff
In a Christmas Eve sweat
In the hopes that a miracle
Would save their jobs yet.

When out in the driveway
There arose such a clatter
They were sure that the windows
Of the glass house would shatter.

They rushed to the wall
And rolled up the blinds
To witness a sight
Of the most curious kind.

A fat guy in a red suit
With a big snowy beard,
Pulled the last little pull
From a Budweiser beer.

Then he hauled out a bag
From a beat-up Ford truck,
Heaved it over his shoulder
And slogged his way up.

They opened the door,
And with nary a word
Santa emptied his sack
Filled with toys just for nerds.

One package was labeled
"Thin Kernel OS"
With instructions for dummies
On building a NAS.

Santa worked at the racks
For an hour or two
Adding NIC cards to servers
And storage arrays too.

Assigning IP addresses
And file system mounts,
He front-ended the SAN
And created accounts.

Without even a word,
He just turned power on.
The I/Os were there
But the problems were gone.

A curious hybrid
Of NAS and of SAN
Was assembled that night
By that fat little man.

The exhausted staff let out
A sigh of relief
From the lowliest operator
Up to the chief.

Their jobs had been saved
By the jolly old elf,
Who cracked open a beer
And spilled a bit on himself.

The platform performed
And gave good scaling too,
Using component technologies
That weren't quite that new.

Most of all, it was manageable
Down to the file,
A capable fix
With an elegant style.

When they turned to give thanks,
They saw he had gone.
His truck was no longer
Parked up on the lawn.

But off in the distance
They heard sirens wail.
Did drinking and driving
Land Santa in jail?

In the moment that followed
The question was moot.
From up in the sky
A truck horn did hoot.

Silhouetted against
The pale light of the moon,
Techie Santa was off to
The next storage room.

As he disappeared into
The cold winter night,
He belched and he muttered
These words very bright.

SAN is just part of the
Storage you need.
SANTA, with NAS, gives
You true best-of-breed.

Happy Holidays!



About the author: Jon William Toigo has authored hundreds of articles on storage and technology and is one of our searchStorage experts on storage management issues. Toigo is also the author of storage books, including, "The Holy Grail of Data Storage Management."


This was first published in December 2001

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