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How to Hook Up a SAN?
A storage area network is directly attached to the system and controlled by an integrated processor and software designed to enhance users’ productivity. Installing a SAN is a great way to increase any enterprise network’s storage capacity without upgrading or replacing servers or other equipment.
Options for SAN connectivity are
- Fibre Channel
Basic Options for connectivity:
Fibre Channel [FC]: The older and dedicated solution.
iSCSI [ Pronounce iScuzzy ] .
- Built to handle storage traffic. Always expensive and requires purchasing dedicated switches.
- iSCSI refers to using ethernet network switches and infrastructure to connect servers to your SAN.
- iSCSI still lags behind FC’s performance potential and inherently places more demands on your server’s processor. This is because of the need to run on top of TCP/IP protocols and requiring the server’s processor to generate storage commands. However, when implemented properly with 10Gbps Ethernet links on over-provisioned servers the difference is almost negligible. 10Gbps ethernet cabling and switches are not cheap either.
- For small businesses with low demand, even using 1Gbps cabling can be a cheap and easy solution to setting up a SAN. It is just going to be slower.
FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) is the latest.
- Like iSCSI, it runs over multipurpose ethernet infrastructure.
- FCoE uses its own protocol, rather than sitting on top of TCP/IP.
- Basically, it generates less code and is therefore faster.
- It can’t be routed over WAN – requiring a bridge to connect remote locations.
FCoIP (Fibre Channel over IP)
- Used in a limited capacity to cheaply link FC SANs across multiple locations using a TCP/IP network.
- Never used as a local system because of high latency.
What Infrastructure Choice is Best for Your SAN?
Looking Positive Side:
- FCoE is the complicating factor in decision making.
- iSCSI has generally be considered the cheaper and more accessible option for small businesses
- FC has been the premium enterprise solution.
- The growing prevalence of 10Gbps ethernet cables are somewhat nullifying the need to invest in FC for all but the most I/O heavy environments.
The flexibility of FCoE is undermining the cost benefits of using iSCSI. The problems with FCoE are mostly centred on expertise.
- FCoE uses many of the same specialised management tools as FC that may be unfamiliar to those not already operating FC infrastructure.
- Extending your FC network with FCoE requires extra steps to connect the different types of physical infrastructure.
- FC still remains the premium solution – but, creative use of iSCSI and FCoE are certainly viable and cheaper options.
- FCoE over 10Gbps ethernet will be best bet for many businesses in future.
- Fibre Channel is the dedicated and premium solution
- iSCSI has become increasingly accessible and powerful as higher performance ethernet cabling has entered the market
- FCoE is the newcomer that looks likely to swing the balance in favour of existing 10Gbps ethernet infrastructure.