If you're thinking about going down the IP storage path, here's some advice from early adopters to consider.
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1. Design carefully. Sure, this is true for any storage area network (SAN), but it's especially important because IP performance might be a bottleneck if there are large distances or many remote locations involved.
2. Get your storage and networking experts together, and make them play nice.
3. Make sure you're starting with at least a Gigabit Ethernet backbone to ensure adequate performance, especially if you're planning on using IP to handle your primary storage.
4. Out-of-the-box Gigabit Ethernet NICs work just fine for most applications; you'll want to consider TOE or other kinds of interface adapters only for the applications with really specialized or high-performance needs.
5. Separate the IP SAN traffic on its own VLAN, for both performance and security reasons.
6. Understand what you'll need to do to your applications to make them happy on iSCSI -- making registry changes, pointing SQL Server files to the correct locations, etc. While Fibre Channel customers have long had to deal with this, these issues generally aren't part of the direct-attached world, and there might be a learning curve involved for IT staffers.
7. Take advantage of the fact that many vendors in the IP space are small and hungry and really want your business. Some customers have demanded -- and received -- benefits, including extra consulting and support and even money-back guarantees.
8. Make sure your IP solution of choice supports all the platforms you need -- Linux and Unix iSCSI drivers aren't as popular as those for Microsoft.
9. Start small, with a couple of applications and/or servers, and grow from there.
10. Don't be afraid. Despite some vendor-driven FUD out there, every single person we talked to says they're happy they went down the IP road and that things are working out just fine.
Bonus: For more on the trials and tribulations of IP storage's early adopters, please see "IP Storage delivers" from the April issue of Storage magazine.
For more information:Tip: How to make sure your IP storage is secure
Tip: IP storage networking: Initiating deployment
Tip: Getting ready for IP SANs
About the author: Johanna Ambrosio is a freelance writer in Marlborough, Mass. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org