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Posted May 2, 2006
Excellent Book to Invest Time, Money
Let me start by saying that it is a shame this book was published under the '..for Dummies' line of books. This book is definitely good enough to have been released by another publisher and well received by readers. I think most storage professionals would be embarrassed to be caught reading a book with this title, so it gets passed-over. After reading Tom Clark, Mark Farley, and Infinity I/O material, I'd had my fill of Fibre Channel protocols and design philosophies. I was looking for something a little closer to the real design, implementation and support of a Fibre Channel SAN. Surprisingly, there are not many good books that have this information. However, Christopher Poelker and Alex Nikitin have done an excellent job. They both work for Hitachi Data Systems and obviously have a lot of experience in this subject. Unlike Tom Clark's book, you won't find in-depth discussion on Fibre Channel protocol or 8b/10b encoding. There is just enough information on protocols to make you understand it, which is nice as most SAN admins don't need to know that much about it. The first few chapters lay out the basics of storage and SANs which everyone has probably read before. However, in each chapter I have found very valuable side-bars and notes from the authors. For example: What is a realistic fan-in ratio, what is a non-blocking architecture and why is it important, and what to look for in a vendor's storage array. This is great stuff! Chapter 7 is by far my favorite. It is a complete walk though of a SAN setup. It includes tasks like setting-up and zoning switches, installing HBAs and configuring servers, configuring storage arrays, and proper cabling. It also goes deeper with discussions on balancing LUNs across controllers, ensuring your paths are fault tolerant and how to migrate data onto the SAN. It even has examples of the HBA configuration file (i.e. jnic.conf) and the /kernel/drv/sd.conf file. This chapter alone made the purchase of this book worthwhile. Additional chapters explain stretching your SAN over IP networks (FCIP & iFCP), SAN-based backups and booting servers from the SAN. It has an excellent chapter on point-in-time copies (snapshots & mirrors) and how to utilize them. All in all, this is a great book. It has the usual number of typos and mistakes, but your average reader will catch them and not be completely thrown-off by them. Even so, this book alone isn't going to make anyone a SAN engineer. This book is an excellent companion to Tom Clark and Mark Farley. If you can read all of these, you're going to be very well informed.
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