In a recent expert response, Christopher Poelker offered the following approach to backing up a storage area network (SAN) with the least amount of cost.


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backup lets you move your backup stream off the corporate network and onto the faster SAN. But, after all the hardware is bought and licenses are paid for, SAN backup costs can add up very quickly.

Here is my prescription for SAN backup:

1. Consolidate your server environment using clustering. This will give you better availability with fewer servers.

2. Only incorporate servers into the SAN for backup that are critical servers or have tons of storage requirements. These high capacity servers will kill your network if you back them up over the LAN.

3. Use SAN-based storage for file services if you can. File services are one of the biggest consumers of storage. Use clustered servers connected to the SAN or a SAN-connected NAS device to share out file/print. This will enable you to back up all file/print and SAN storage from the same place over the faster SAN.

4. For remote servers, if your network supports it, use iSCSI connections into the SAN to consolidate backup across the enterprise.

5. If you find SAN backup licenses to be too expensive, install a separate Gigabit Ethernet network between your critical servers and use that separate network for backup.

6. There are other tricks you can do but space is limited here. I cover most of this in my up-coming "SANs for Dummies" book that should be available in March.

About the author: Christopher Poelker is a storage architect for Hitachi Data Systems and's resident SAN expert. Ask him a question or view his recent responses.

This was first published in February 2003

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