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This book is a practical guide for designing and implementing storage area networks, or SANs. Storage networking based on Fibre Channel technology is a relatively new phenomenon, and although there is ample material for study in the form of standards documents and standards interpretations, few practical references are available. This book attempts to achieve a balance between the technical detail required to understand the basic principles of Fibre Channel SANs and the most useful features the technology currently offers for concretely solving storage problems in enterprise data networks. This relatively short text is, therefore, not an exhaustive treatment either of Fibre Channel specifications or for the reader. Ideally, the reader will gain both a working knowledge of the building blocks of a SAN and a framework for understanding how storage issues can be addressed with real products. For a more in-depth treatment of standards, the listing in the bibliography and Robert Kembel's Fibre Channel Consultant series are strongly recommended.
The sheer volume of data generated by today's commercial and academic institutions has created a storage crisis for information technology (IT) managers and administrators. Although larger-capacity disk drives absorb part of the growing data load, connecting the requisite number of disks to file and application servers by traditional means has become increasingly difficult. Providing the bandwidth to keep up with the users' requests for data is also a continual challenge, as are allocating sufficient time and bandwidth for backing up data to tape. These issues are stressing the capabilities of storage infrastructures that havebeen in place for the past 20 years and are giving rise to new solutions outside the boundaries of traditional server/storage connectivity.
This book is intended for IT managers, administrators, consultants, and technical staff responsible for data storage and considering Fibre Channel SANs as a means to resolve bandwidth, capacity, and management issues. Storage area networking represents a major shift from previous storage models, since it introduces new networking products and concepts between servers and storage. The text does not assume prior knowledge of networking concepts and discusses the most essential aspects of networking as they apply to SANs. In addition to storage and server administrators, networking professionals who use SANs as an extension of the local and wide area enterprise network may also find value in this book. For these readers, discussions of basic server and storage concepts should assist in bridging the gap between networking and storage worlds.
Fibre Channel is a standards-based architecture that provides gigabit speeds, long distances, and support for millions of devices in an extended network. Fibre Channel has become synonymous with storage area networking, due to its support of the protocols most optimized for moving data to and from disk and its inherent networking capabilities. Although SAN "fossils" can be found in older mainframe and minicomputer environments, the concept of storage networking (and the acronym SAN itself) did not enter mainstream consciousness until Fibre Channel products appeared in the market.
This book highlights the attributes of Fibre Channel technology as embodied by useful products and explores the various topologies that are available to build SANs for specific application needs. The first two chapters establish a foundation for understanding the profound change that networking brings to the traditional storage paradigm. Chapters 3 and 4 have more technical content for readers desiring a glimpse into the inner workings of the Fibre Channel architecture. Capabilities of various SAN building blocks are discussed in Chapter 5 so that the reader can place them into a coherent and effective design. Since in the real world, no installation is flawless, Chapter 6 describes basic problem-isolation techniques, as well as methods that facilitate day-to-day operations. Chapter 7 gives an overview of SAN management, including network and volume management. Chapter 8 presents examples of Fibre Channel SAN configurations for video, prepress, tape backup, and other applications and explains the selection of SAN components based on bandwidth, distance, and redundancy requirements. The text concludes with a brief discussion of future trends in Fibre Channel SAN technology.
Although the discussions of Fibre Channel products and storage management applications in this text are vendor-neutral (Web sites of vendors for specific product lines are listed in Appendix B), the reader will not mistake the general tone of Fibre Channel advocacy throughout the work. It is difficult to be completely impartial about a technology that resolves so many real and pressing problems, especially when few viable alternatives exist. Fibre Channel SANs will not satisfy every data storage requirement but will, with proper design and implementation, address the majority of them.