TCO and ROI are part of the justification for SANs, but for many organizations the precise final analysis is measured in more-tangible merits.
by way of Alan R. Earls
The U.S. Air force's 45th area Wing, headquartered at Patrick Air force Base close Cocoa seaside, FL, exemplifies a virtually literal "mission-vital" storage area network (SAN) consumer. It supports and manages space launch classes for the department of defense, NASA, and commercial entities, and generates giant quantities of facts having to do with area launches, all of which must be backed up or kept to protect against statistics loss.
"The chance of hurricanes and flooding on the Florida coast makes it completely important that they again up their information," says Glenn Exline, supervisor of advanced technologies on the space Wing. "With their outdated storage system, backup took as much as 14 hours every day. With their SANs, we've got reduced that to handiest two hours a day."
The Wing's SAN success also could be regarded an argument that storage networks will also be justified by using whatever thing aside from a return on investment (ROI) look at. The organization's SAN setting up no longer best helped dramatically reduce the backup window, nevertheless it also helped to consolidate a network from 52 servers to 35 servers, simplifying server administration. additionally, with fewer servers on its community, the Wing expects to spend much less going ahead to refresh its servers as a part of the alternative cycle.
whereas some companies have managed to position collectively ROI and TCO reviews to support the argument for SANs, different corporations locate that bean counting is never value the effort. as an alternative, they cite clear productiveness features, new opportunities, enhanced reliability, and different benefits that they are saying make SAN economics a no-brainer.
based on John Webster, founder and senior analyst on the information Mobility neighborhood consulting firm, when a SAN project is within the offing, "each person begins displaying up with an opinion—or a concern." often, americans are on the protecting, worried that trade of any type could have a terrible affect on how they do their job. "they come to the table asserting, 'persuade me.' many of these individuals will be unmoved with the aid of any type of ROI argument. I tell providers they should help their customers allay the fears of internal valued clientele, certainly corporate safety officers and database directors, in the event that they are going to sell SANs efficaciously," Webster says.Multi-step system
An illustration of the should sell internally—and the expertise outcomes—is provided with the aid of Bob Massengill, manager of technical functions at the Wake forest college Baptist medical middle (WFUBMC), a scientific core and teaching clinic in Winston-Salem, NC. Massengill's company carried out its first SAN in 2000, essentially to address two complications: an electronic mail gadget that saved affected by disk disasters, and a want to spend prudently when the mainframe disk techniques went off hire. "i was faced with the choice of staying with mainframe-most effective storage or going to a SAN and additionally vital to do anything about managing the disks on hundreds of servers," Massengill explains.
protecting every little thing up and working had become very labor-intensive. What's extra, despite the fact lots of the servers, exceptionally those running home windows NT, have been configured in a similar way, "we stored operating into the problem of getting midway via a venture on a selected server and working out of disk space." The handiest functional solution become to upgrade that server with extra disk storage. meanwhile, notwithstanding, a whole lot of different servers had scarcely tapped their accessible storage—meaning that common capability utilization was very low.
however getting purchase-in on the SAN from the numerous departments that felt they'd ownership over selected servers wasn't handy, recalls Massengill. He bought the initial part of the implementation as a "proof of idea" built around an EMC Symmetrix array, which turned into at the start set up to assist simply e-mail functions and the mainframe. "At that factor they felt it might finally grow incredibly, however from a funding standpoint they couldn't bank on it," says Massengill.
He needn't have involved. by way of late 2000, with the Symmetrix absolutely mirrored, disk screw ups stopped, mainframe I/O waits disappeared, and americans retrieving historic e-mails were "blown away" by using the enhanced performance. "note unfold quick and relatively quickly they had departments lining up and announcing they desired to come back aboard," recollects Massengill. What he did need to be anxious about, basically, turned into being in a position to develop quick sufficient. "We all started putting extra users on the Symmetrix and populating their 16-port McData switches, and within six months they had outgrown them," he recalls. That led him to upgrade to director-category switches from McData. "We put in a 64-port Intrepid and stored both sixteen-port switches in area," he says. by then, storage on the SAN had rocketed from just over 2TB to about 8TB. It now stands at 45TB.
however the SAN had no longer yet solved all of Massengill's complications. For the medical institution, providing the optimum stage of patient care and scientific training depends upon safeguarding information and ensuring that hospital assistance techniques are particularly accessible. additional urgency turned into offered via the increasing security and facts retention requirements mandated via HIPAA.
"A key difficulty for us changed into information integrity," explains Massengill. "The medical middle became experiencing repeated media screw ups and corrupted records on tapes. since the clinic become leasing the tape drives, it decided to exchange them with StorageTek T9940s when the leases expired early this 12 months."
issues about potential and centralization of backup operations triggered the IT branch to search for a new solution. The scientific core mandatory further storage ability for its Unix and NT servers. They also desired to centralize backup operations in an ambiance that protected an IBM zSeries 800 mainframe, a Hewlett-Packard NonStop Himalaya S7000 server, and a network of Unix and NT servers.
The mainframe houses the affected person accounting system, while affected person medication information dwell on the Himalaya. The medical middle uses the Unix servers for PeopleSoft economic and human resources purposes, net, and intranet purposes. in accordance with Massengill, the desires of the expanded SAN assignment were to raise security and integrity for scientific statistics information, patient accounting information, and hospital administrative information; reduce the variety of hours essential for each day backups; lessen the number of tapes crucial for backups; and free the IT staff from tape mounting chores.
however, notes Massengill, the SAN wasn't meant to easily solve those immediate needs. As part of the brand new SAN, a StorageTek virtual Storage supervisor (VSM) gadget turned into delivered "to help us maneuver because the inevitable alterations take place down the highway," he says.
The multiplied SAN was implemented early this yr. "In October 2002, they brought the open methods servers over to StorageTek PowderHorn tape library silo, and in February 2003, they implemented StorageTek VSM and the mainframe piece going into the STK PowderHorn."
according to Massengill, incorporating the tape library within the SAN led to a lower in tape count number from about 30,000 to just 600. It additionally saved floor space and tape mount time. earlier than the venture, MVS operators were mounting 1,000 to 1,200 tapes daily, he says. Mount instances have been approximately three minutes. "today the personnel has considerably fewer tapes to handle and mount times are within the sub-2d range," he says. "That potential IT staff has time for gadget monitoring, proactive upkeep, and practicing."
Integrating the tape libraries and SAN also drastically reduced media failures and diminished backup time by using three hours per day. "in the past," says Massengill, "batch cycles ran until 6 AM, so users had been unable to access the gadget until those jobs were finished." besides the fact that children, hospitals begin admitting sufferers for day surgical procedure at 6 AM, so if jobs ran beyond that hour it impacted the admissions and scientific personnel. "these days those batch jobs are entire by way of 3 AM, offering greater system access to users," he says.performance is vital
Becky Davidson, statistics supervisor for EDS/Sara Lee Bakery neighborhood, in St. Louis, confronted fewer complexities in justifying a SAN, but eventually discovered similar proof aspects. She says the SAN become implemented to handle a few concerns, above all the need to increase the variety of connections into the company's IBM commercial enterprise Storage Server ("Shark"). "We wanted to have dual paths and they desired to attach a large number of machines," says Davidson. Minimizing the cabling hassles associated with SCSI become additionally a riding force in the back of the SAN. Yet one other purpose became expanded performance.
"We didn't have a great deal problem justifying the SAN either inside the account or within EDS," says Davidson. partly that changed into as a result of Sara Lee is growing unexpectedly so it became effortless to display that with out a SAN they would run out of attachable disk space. "Our customer became also very involved about efficiency, and they might prove that multi-pathed Fibre Channel changed into faster than SSA or multi-pathed SCSI," says Davidson. The EDS crew turned into also able to display that there become a more desirable mark downs per GB with a SAN.
selecting a SAN dealer turned into also convenient. "We run IBM servers connected to IBM Shark and IBM tape drives so they went with IBM," she says. at first, they began out with three 16-port 1Gbps switches from Brocade—one for building and two for creation. As they grew they added a fourth 16-port change for backup site visitors. because of this, they added three side switches to join a 21-force tape library. Altogether, they now have two 32-port 2Gbps switches, three eight-port 1Gbps switches, and the 4 16-port 1Gbps switches.
"The biggest advantage became flexibility," says Davidson. "If they want to add another equipment they are able to simply plug it into a switch, zone it, and we're good to move."
On the draw back, Davidson says that zoning will also be complicated and the textile thought can even be a little overwhelming. fortunately, Brocade's administration GUI lets Davidson investigate things out on the switches even if the records core is determined somewhere else "so i can tell what's plugged in, what is lively, what's having problems, and what is rarely working."
Davidson says that the SAN solved lots of problems, "but it surely does add extra issues to preserve song of."SAN-based mostly replication
much more upbeat in his SAN assessment is Gary Pilafas, a senior storage and systems architect at United Loyalty functions, a unit of UAL Corp. (the father or mother of United airways), in Elk Grove Township, IL. United Loyalty services operates an OLTP engine that requires facts replication.
Pilafas uses Hitachi's Shadow photograph to do aspect-in-time copies from one records center to an extra. With the SAN, says Pilafas, it's feasible to copy after which run queries against one server and reports towards an additional. "You cannot do this in a DAS [direct-attached storage] atmosphere devoid of lots of pain," he says. Replication over an IP network is achieved with the Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) protocol.
In Pilafas' case, justifying the SAN changed into handy since the enterprise had been locked into a pricey internet hosting association with a storage services company, so an entire ROI analysis happened very right now.
Between 2001 and 2003, United Loyalty features' SAN grew from 4TB to 25TB.
Pilafas says the SAN has also confirmed its worth since it offers excessive availability, that could assist business continuance and enterprise resumption capabilities. And the SAN additionally helps the united.com income engine—the e-commerce front-conclusion for UAL Corp.no longer so standard
but now and again even fantastic consequences may also be coloured by doubts. Xcel energy, in Denver, developed a plan to enforce a SAN in 2000. at the time the venture all started, "we idea they needed greater issues than possibly they did," says David Czech, a storage systems engineer at Xcel. Xcel's SAN is in response to a Hitachi information systems Freedom 9960 array, McData switches, and a StorageTek tape library.
Xcel's SAN desires have been to consolidate storage, simplify administration, and boost capacity utilization. additionally, the enterprise desired to be in a position to quite simply replicate to one more facility and to share tape devices.
"Some of these things came about and some did not," admits Czech. while the SAN did make it feasible to consolidate to fewer storage contraptions, nothing obtained simpler. "I don't consider it made anything else more straightforward to manage, and now there are lots of extra steps involved in allocating and troubleshooting things that are attached to the SAN," he says.
nonetheless, Czech characterizes the problems as mostly annoyances. And he's now taking a look at application equipment to assist with SAN management and storage resource management (SRM). long run, Czech says he is searching at the universal company storage infrastructure and the skills for virtualization. he is also searching on the capabilities for consolidating RAID arrays within the SAN.
Richard Boud, technical account manager with Technica UK Ltd., an impartial storage consultancy within the UK, sees vast and consistent flow toward SANs among his shoppers. He says the fundamental advantages that valued clientele see as drivers for implementing SANs are right here: flexibility in storage allocation; adapting to altering company necessities; accelerated performance, exceptionally backup enhancements (i.e., snapshots) and catastrophe restoration (i.e., remote replication); stronger records availability; centralization, especially for general capabilities akin to backup; and simplified storage ..management.
Boud says that ROI and TCO measurements "are mentioned an awful lot, however doubtless extra through vendors than any individual else. Most clients take ROI and TCO claims with a big pinch of salt. They shouldn't have the time, equipment, or accurate facts to evaluate abilities or genuine ROI. as a substitute, they prefer to be presented with credible justifications and to utilize commonplace experience to tell them the place technology can if truth be told enrich their infrastructure."
Alan R. Earls is a freelance creator in Franklin, MA.Consolidating SAN 'islands'
via Robert Strechay
The starting to be should consolidate remoted storage enviornment networks (SANs) stems partially from the indisputable fact that SANs have been configured in an advert hoc fashion to support certain purposes. These SAN "islands" sufficed for a while, however then applications had been prolonged and storage requirements elevated.
on the identical time, IT gurus' mandate changed into to "do more with less." Even as the number of SAN islands swelled with greater site visitors and statistics, fewer dollars were accessible to rent experts to re-architect the SANs.
as a result, businesses are recognizing that the only technique to develop whereas attaining return on investment (ROI) is to consolidate their statistics-middle supplies and applications, expanding the density and scalability of their storage networks. however this requires cautious planning of future storage networks so as to scale past the island thought.
The emphasis corporations region on company methods to in the reduction of downtime, management complexity, and value varies. These components are sometimes no longer a part of the SAN design method, yet they should still be.
despite application and enterprise wants, most IT gurus are busier than ever, due to the financial downturn. Layoffs and downsizing have sent personnel scrambling to help more and more business devices, yet purposes continue to roll out and facts accumulates hourly.
due to a scarcity of components, many IT departments took shortcuts with their early SAN deployments. They counted on performance features devoid of additional management overhead and troubleshooting. When some SANs didn't perform smartly, or site visitors grew too impulsively, departments regularly attached their own direct-connected storage (DAS). If the functions the use of DAS outperformed the SAN-connected purposes, the business instruments would demand that corporate IT revert returned to assisting DAS for their purposes.
The applications doubtless would have labored high-quality on the SAN if it had been accurately designed. unfortunately, few IT stores had the fundamental talents. And the style SANs have been marketed did not aid both. SAN device became regularly bought through OEMs—constantly the primary gadget companies. in this context, SAN machine turned into a sliver of the ordinary purchase. With companies and shoppers giving little idea to future increase of the storage network infrastructure, no ask yourself many early SAN installations disillusioned.
Yet, many different OEM-offered SANs labored nice. They met many valued clientele' need to help software deployments and to inexpensively leverage existing storage arrays. The clients additionally could leverage their OEM service contract to get support with deployment and ongoing SAN management.
Storage community maintenance—starting from executing strikes, adds, and changes to adding or combining logical unit numbers (LUNs)—commonly requires a carrier call and an on-web page talk over with from an aftermarket technician. This OEM dependence reduces the IT branch's visibility into storage community concerns.
Outgrowing a SAN constantly capacity adding one more island, or becoming the present SAN with extra switches and inter-switch hyperlinks (ISLs), which may also be complex and result in interoperability and performance complications. Unpredictable ISL efficiency has partly ended in the deployment of isolated SAN islands.
in addition, SAN administration is 5 to 10 years at the back of natural LAN and WAN community management. ordinary LAN administration services, comparable to notification of congestion or other faults, aren't commonly attainable on SAN switches.
however SAN islands have proven cost, many corporations are outgrowing them. whereas they add more and more SAN islands, they reduce the ROI of the at the moment deployed SAN islands as a result of the bigger charge of management. it's time to plan for strategic, long-time period storage networks.Political impediments
Getting everyone on the identical SAN consolidation group is complicated because of group of workers shortages and political considerations. Few talented storage authorities exist: there may be in all probability one storage architect for every 10 LAN/WAN network architects. This reflects the incontrovertible fact that storage is not considered as a part of the community side of IT however, somewhat, as an outgrowth of the functions aspect.
Storage has transitioned into the server administrator's area. but in most circumstances, server directors are too busy to gain knowledge of ample about storage networks. Compounding matters is the longstanding mistrust between server administrators and traditional network administrators (neither neighborhood thinks the different is responsive enough), which additional complicates SAN consolidation projects.
regardless of these difficulties, some organizations are beginning to reply to the fallout from SAN island growth with the aid of looking at their storage networks the equal method they do their LANs and WANs. The political cause is glaring: company gadgets are happy with the LAN and WAN features, so let's deal with SANs the same method. IT agencies also appreciate the reliability, predictability, scalability, security, and visibility they profit through having a unified structure, as antagonistic to an advert hoc collection of separate networks.Put the "N" returned in SANs
modern-day SAN islands are usually fewer than a hundred ports, youngsters many IT retail outlets count on increase into hundreds of ports. SAN consolidation refers to both connecting diverse SANs together or collapsing varied islands into higher, enhanced-coordinated SANs with shared components.
further stimulating the drive toward SAN consolidation are new disk array architectures that allow distinctive applications to take skills of numerous entrance-end ports. here is another reason companies need to consolidate their data centers, servers, and storage. In doing so, they may still consider re-architecting their storage networks for the long run. here is very true for corporations that are since implementing "storage pooling" or "virtualization," that can complicate one of the most concerns presently latest in SAN deployments.
by treating SANs greater like LANs or WANs, storage network architects can function with a much better interior profile and be able to check with business devices, administration, and different IT devices. this can help them do a stronger job of planning for SAN scalability, manageability, protection, and availability.
several swap providers are addressing some of those concerns with a new type of "intelligent" switches, characterised by means of stronger management, greater network segmentation, high availability, and scalability. however anything extra SAN equipment you believe, think when it comes to building a storage spine network and deploying substances in a greater controlled manner.
As organizations develop, so must their SANs. until these days, SANs were now not very bendy, and most had been proprietary. but the industry is maturing and vendors are introducing extra-flexible SAN items.
they're additionally working together in quite a few associations, such because the Storage network business association (SNIA), to boost standards. These are all first rate indications, but for SANs to consolidate and grow they should be designed in a distinct method than they have been up to now.
agencies should bear in mind their application necessities after which explore a spine network with a tiered structure. by using treating SANs greater like LANs and WANs, they are going to now not best produce more durable and expandable architectures, but also enlist more guide and input from different IT agencies and enterprise instruments.
Robert Strechay is director of technical marketing and chief client advocate at Sandial programs (www.sandi alsystems.com) in Portsmouth, NH.profit from your HBAs
through Mike Smith
to a few conclusion clients, a bunch bus adapter (HBA) offers best a standard actual and information connection from a server to a storage network. but storage administrators know that HBAs acquire information about the fame and activities of the whole storage area nework (SAN), and that tapping that guidance can help them manage extra storage, more reliably, at much less can charge.
A Fibre Channel HBA is like a laptop on an add-in card, with its personal processor and precise-time operating device. in contrast to a community card, which with no trouble passes packets between the community and server, an HBA performs plenty of the protocol processing work that a network card passes on to the server CPU and keeps track of the state of each I/O transaction.
for instance, when an software on the server considerations a request to the storage network, the server operating gadget passes that request to the HBA driver, which packages the request, puts it in an I/O queue, after which transmits it to a storage device or swap.
all over this technique, the HBA driver keeps an attention of the fitness of all SAN accessories and links, that can play a task in cutting back fees while expanding the reliability and performance of networked storage.
The up-entrance fee of a SAN will also be dwarfed by way of the continued prices of managing, troubleshooting, and upgrading the community. These prices upward push each yr as the quantity of statistics increases and the storage community becomes extra complicated as clients centralize statistics. Yet with all these calls for, agencies are under force to cut their storage administration budgets.
right here's how choosing the proper HBA can help:
Simplified firmware updates—Updating firmware for a single HBA isn't a complicated system, however making bound the firmware for each HBA in a SAN is on the right revision stage will also be a frightening assignment—specially in SANs with a whole bunch of servers. Centralized management methods can monitor firmware revisions on each local and far off HBAs and might permit far flung and simultaneous firmware updates on as many HBAs as mandatory. by eliminating the need to improve firmware server-with the aid of-server and permitting directors to use a single device to control devices across the SAN, groups can reduce management prices and boost SAN uptime.
Driver compatibility across product generations—Compatibility of drivers across numerous generations of HBAs enables storage directors to installation the drivers obligatory to maintain the SAN running (or raise its capabilities) without going to the cost and energy of changing HBAs. It also allows for a gradual introduction of next-era adapters with minimal disruption. This simplifies management, protects hardware investments, and reduces the downtime necessary to replace HBAs.
decreased complexity—No storage administrator desires to scan assorted consoles to gain knowledge of what's wrong in a storage network, a good deal less bodily music down failed instruments. functions that deliver management of distinctive forms of SAN hardware permit administrators to cut back the number of functions required to manage the SAN, which reduces complexity and administration time. for example, an administrator might use the equal management application to rezone a SAN and replace HBA firmware. The merits are accelerated administrator productivity and SAN availability and efficiency.
Centralized storage management—clever HBA firmware can allow managers to reset or re-initialize ports on the entire HBAs in a SAN, verify information paths from a single factor, and remotely upgrade firmware. This reduces management fees and deliberate downtime.
problem detection/prevention—The actual-time monitoring done through HBAs makes it possible for them to immediately observe physical failures of SAN links. it might take a server working system tens of seconds to recognize any such failure. however the HBA can become aware of an issue within a 2d and directly notify software brokers running on the server to redirect the request via a functioning link.
This reduces downtime by dashing the fail-over system from a failed element to a working counterpart.requisites
Most HBA carriers assist the business-ordinary normal HBA API, which offers information similar to model numbers, firmware revisions, and topology for HBAs, but now not other SAN add-ons. although, HBA vendors are partnering with storage subsystem, change, and management utility companies to make use of the counsel gathered through HBAs to provide SAN-wide monitoring and management.
Most HBA companies additionally aid administration standards such as the textile device administration Interface and safety requisites such because the Fibre Channel Authentication Protocol (FCAP) and Authenticated CT (common Transport).
The greater drive you might be under to convey cost effective, tremendously attainable storage, the greater attention be sure you pay to your HBAs. by using making full use of the information that HBAs collect about SANs, administrators can reduce charges and improve reliability.
Mike Smith is government vice chairman of worldwide marketing at Emulex (www.emulex.com) in Costa Mesa, CA.