Storage Area Networking SAN NAS Fibre Channel iSCSI

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Storage Consolidation Explained with Example Images

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Storage Consolidation:Storage consolidation, also called storage convergence is a method of centralizing data storage among multiple servers. The objective is to facilitate data backup and archiving for all subscribers in an enterprise, while minimizing the time required to access and store data. Other desirable features include simplification of the storage infrastructure, centralized and efficient management, optimized resource utilization, and low operating cost.
Consolidated Storage Scenarios

There are a number of ways in which Storage technologies can help your organization consolidate storage, and help you to save time and money.
NAS Gateway to a SAN: Consolidating File and Block Storage. For large organizations that have a SAN, curtailing the proliferation of NAS devices for file storage can be accomplished by deploying a NAS gateway (head) to the SAN. NAS gateways connect to the IP network and communicate with storage arrays on the SAN through switching technology. NAS gateways do not have on board storage; rather they access storage on the SAN, translating file data from the server into blocks for storage (and the reverse, when the data is requested by the server) as necessary. Deployment of a NAS gateway can help administrators to centralize block and file storage, while at the same time lowering equipment acquisition costs and preserving the value of NAS storage investments.

Consolidated Backup Infrastructure. Consolidating storage onto a network provides administrators the opportunity to consolidate both backup hardware and software, helping organizations realize considerable cost savings.

On the hardware end, a SAN can support a single automated tape library with multiple tape drives, eliminating the need for backup equipment on each server, and centralizing media administration processes. Because the backup process has been moved off the servers and off the LAN, backups no longer impact work schedules or bandwidth.
By using Windows the Volume Shadow Copy Service, snapshot technologies can be integrated with the backup process, helping to ensure high fidelity backups and significantly reduce the backup window. Backups are stored centrally on the SAN; if a server goes down a second server can access the shadow copy and make it available for use. Not only does this simplify backup management, but it also speeds time to restore dramatically.

Consolidate SAN Islands. Although SANs can scale to large sizes, it is more common for organizations to deploy multiple SANs, dedicating each SAN to a specific mission-critical database application, or each SAN serving a separate department or remote site location. Without interconnection, each of these SANs must be protected and managed independently, increasing cost and complexity. Islands of Fibre Channel SAN can be connected by extending the Fibre Channel infrastructure between them; however across long distances, this is an expensive proposition. (This is not a problem for iSCSI SANs, because no special equipment is required.) A less expensive solution is to use the existing LAN to extend a connection between distant SANs and an iSCSI bridge to translate between iSCSI and Fibre Channel protocols.

For full details on how to do this using the Microsoft iSCSI software, see the section "iSCSI Bridge to a Fibre Channel SAN" in the white paper Deploying iSCSI SANs with the Microsoft iSCSI Architecture.

Low Cost Consolidation of Wintel Servers to Centralized Storage. The centralized storage benefits—localized rather than distributed backups, reduced administration and simplified management—of a Fibre Channel SAN can be inexpensively extended to legacy servers. Rather than installing costly Fibre Channel HBAs to connect to the SAN, the standard IP networking equipment (onboard network interface cards) and the Microsoft iSCSI initiator coupled with an iSCSI gateway facilitates connection to the SAN.

Blade Servers. In deployments that require hundreds or thousands of servers, managing individual servers is an administrative nightmare—server hardware acquisition and maintenance costs are high, and software update distribution is its own full time job. Blade (thin) servers are designed to share hardware resources among servers in a rack; the thinnest blade servers are diskless servers which access consolidated storage resources from the storage network.

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