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Start slow with SANs

Early steps to take in getting with the SAN movement.


Start slow with SANs
David Gabel

Some companies have moved hammer and tongs into the SAN arena, employing the technology to allow for better data-storage management, improved uptime and better overall reliability. Others are still sticking their toes into the waters. The latter is a good thing, because implementing SAN technology is best accomplished a little bit at a time. That way, you can learn from your mistakes and find out how the technology fits into your IT infrastructure.

The best way to start out is probably not to go to a full-blown SAN with fabric switches and several servers and storage devices. Rather, you can start with a simple hub, managed or unmanaged, connected to your server and to a storage device. This is an extremely simple storage area network, but it is on that allows for future growth. If you insert a fibre-channel converter between the hub and the storage device, then you are providing investment protection for the storage device that you already bought, and allowing for future growth of the SAN as your needs and your budget dictate.

In ensuing steps, you can implement this same kind of setup in other departments. Then, as needs arise, finally you can connect the thing together for an overall SAN solution.

Gadzoox Neetworks has a white paper on installing SANs on its Web site. It covers the steps that a prudent administrator would take in getting into the swim of SAN.

David Gabel is the Executive Technology Editor of Techtarget.

Additional Resources:
1. How can I prepare for a storage area network?
Here is a well-written, well-organized vendor white paper by Tivoli titled, "SANity check: Preparing for a storage area network." Topics include SAN benefits, and drawbacks and a comprehensive, objective guide to planning and implementing a SAN. The paper includes excellent checklists for SAN planning and implementation and selecting a SAN vendor.

2. Could iSCSI replace Fibre Channel as the SAN protocol of choice?
What do Fibre Channel SAN proponents have to say to recent claims that protocols like iSCSI could replace Fibre Channel as the SAN protocol of the future? Is it an "either/or" scenario? Or, can the two protocols complement each other? Find out in the transcript from our live expert Q&A, "The Future of Fibre Channel" with Skip Jones and David Deming of the FCIA.

3. How can I plan for a SAN on a tight budget?
Wouldn't it be great if we had all the cash that we need for everything? But we don't, the world not being designed for our pleasure. So it may be that you find yourself stuck with implementing a SAN that is less than ideal in terms of your capacity and bandwidth needs. What to do? Well, this tip offers some pretty easy-to-implement schemes that will minimize the negative impact of dealing with less than optimal budget.

4. What is the first step toward implementing a SAN?
According to storage management vendor Tivoli Systems Inc. (an IBM Company), the best way to find out what you need in a SAN is to start by finding out what you already have. According to Tivoli, the first thing you should do once you recognize the need for a SAN is take an inventory of all the hardware and software in your company.

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