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Using a reference design for SAN

How to use a reference design for SAN.

Using a reference design for SAN
Rick Cook

As SANs become more common, several vendors, including Compaq and IBM, have issued reference designs for them. These documents are detailed, step-by-step views of installing a particular SAN configuration. The idea behind reference designs is not so much that anyone will install the configuration exactly as outlined but rather to give potential SAN purchasers an idea of what is involved in installing a SAN of the general sort discussed. (Of course the other idea behind reference designs is to show off the products of the vendor who produced the reference design.)

Reference designs are especially useful for first-time SAN purchasers and as tools for illustrating what a SAN involves in detail to upper management and others who must approve a SAN purchase. Even though the final SAN configuration probably won't match the template, examining a reference design in the appropriate class makes it easier for everyone to understand what is involved in a successful SAN installation and how the pieces fit together.

Compaq has a white paper titled "Entry Point SAN Migration" available on its Web site ( as part of its Compaq Active Answers series, which focuses on an entry-level SAN for Sun and Windows platforms. According to Compaq, this SAN configuration is also ideal for testing data-migration processes.

IBM has a red book titled "Introducing Hosts To The SAN Fabric" which deals with a fabric- based Fibre Channel SAN. It is available on the IBM storage Web site.

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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