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Part 2: When is a server a good SAN candidate?

Bites & Bytes: In part 2 of this expert response, SAN guru Christopher Poelker continues his discussion on SAN minimum operating system requirements and the appications most suited to storage area networks.

This reader's original question was:

We are planning to install a SAN/NAS and we have about 400 servers. What criteria shall we apply to classify a server as a candidate for the SAN? What are the justifications for the criteria? What process is normally followed in such a case?

Expert Chris Poelker responded with a two-part answer. Click here for part 1. Otherwise, please read on for the continuation of Chris' answer, below.

* Any backup server. Backup servers have tape drives connected to them and back up your disk storage to tape so that you can restore it from tape if your disks crash. Using SAN-connected tapes to back up your data relieves the strain of backing up your disks across your computer network, and makes backup happen much faster. Backup servers benefit greatly from SANs.

Applications that require a SAN:

Only a handful of applications actually require the use of a SAN. These are usually the newer applications designed specifically for the capabilities that SAN has to offer.

* Cluster applications: Cluster applications are created by tying a group of servers together via a fast network and then allowing those servers to access the same disks storage where the application is installed. This allows for very scalable and highly available applications because if one of the servers fails, another server in the cluster can pick up where the first one left off. Common cluster applications are:

* IBM HACMP - http://www.ibm.com
* Solaris Cluster 3.0 - http://www.sun.com
* Compaq/HP TruCluster - http://www.hp.com
* Oracle Failsafe Cluster - http://www.oracle.com
* Oracle Real Application Clusters - http://www.oracle.com
* Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS) - https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/
* HP MC/Serviceguard Clusters - http://www.hp.com
* Novell Netware Cluster Services - http://www.novell.com

SAN back-up applications:

SAN-based backup software is optimized for using SAN hardware. The back-up software includes intelligence that takes advantage of what SAN offers. When using SAN back-up software, you can back up your data directly from a disk in the SAN to a tape drive, which makes backup run much faster. Common back-up software that has this capability include:

* Veritas Netbackup
* Veritas Backup Exec Enterprise Edition
* Computer Associates Arcserve with the SLO option
* Computer Associates ArcserveIT
* Legato Networker
* CommVault

Hope this helps!


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