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SD 2004 preview: Blunders in building big SANs

In this preview to the presentation he'll make at the Storage Decisions conference, consultant Marc Staimer offers some advice on avoiding common mistakes when scaling your SAN. Staimer, who's founder of Dragon Slayer Consulting, also explains why designing, building and managing a large scale, trouble-free storage network is an achievable goal. Will iSCSI have any influence on end users' ability to scale out large SANs?
Large-scale iSCSI SANs are not [likely to be seen] in the imminent future. How will intelligent switches impact how end users build out large-scale SANs?
Intelligent switches impact SANs in both foreseen and unforeseen ways. It completely depends on your definition of 'intelligent switches.' If you go with the view shared by Cisco, Brocade, McData, Maxxan [and others], you will have to funnel all of your I/Os through the switches, blades, appliances, etc. This can limit the size of a particular large-scale SAN based on performance. Then again, it might not, depending on their ability to route some I/Os through [intelligent switches] and around the 'intelligence.' If you take the Sandial view, which is networking intelligence and not storage application intelligence, it could increase the size and functionality of the large SAN. To be perfectly candid, the intelligent switch is neither a major enabler nor inhibitor to the large-scale SAN. What can users expect to learn from your upcoming presentation at Storage Decisions 2004?
Users will learn about the problems or 'gotchas' in building out large SANs, as well as many of the emerging solutions that make them easier to do.


Building a SAN from A to Z

Fast guide to SAN management Is there really such a thing as a trouble-free large SAN?
This question has two parts. First, the ability to have a 'trouble-free' SAN is dependent on the level of change dynamics in the environment; the organization's ability and processes to manage change; switch/director functionality; and the mix of vendors. So the answer to 'Is there such a thing as a trouble-free large SAN?' is a qualified yes. [It's] an achievable goal. What qualifies as a large-scale SAN?
Key mistakes include errors in the implementation and correlation of LUN maps, zones and pathing policies. Another common mistake is the use of manual tools like Excel for implementing additions, moves and changes, as well as poor pre-change planning.
Large-scale iSCSI SANs are not [likely to be seen] in the imminent future.
Marc Staimer
FounderDragon Slayer Consulting

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