Your first SAN, understanding your must-haves

Channelpro has a great article this month on choosing an entry-level or first SAN.

There are 8 questions to ask:

  1. Which network: fibre channel or ethernet?
  2. Which hard drive: SAS or SATA (or SSD!)?
  3. Does it need to be scalable or have a low upfront price tag?
  4. How much redundancy do you need, single or dual controllers?
  5. Which advanced features do you need, and are they a la carte or all-inclusive?
  6. How easy is it to manage?
  7. Are you choosing a stable vendor to partner with?
  8. Is your storage system flexible enough to cover all of your storage requirements for block and file storage?

I’d add a few more questions to the list:

  • Are your applications suitable for block or SAN storage, or is NAS more appropriate for your applications?

I’m a gadget girl, and I get caught up in the newest gadget, whether it is a digital camera or whatever.  Right now I want to upgrade to an HD video camera.  But I took a step back and realized, I can wait, I hardly use video anyway.  So I’d just be spending my money on something new and shiny, when I can experiement with the video mode on my current digital camera….and then if it becomes a must-have tool, I can justify upgrading.  I’ve talked to many prospects and customers who are really excited about using the “new and cool” iSCSI technology.  But in reality a file server is going to do exactly what they need, in the most efficient way.  It is dificult when IT people are glazed over by the shiny new technology — but sometimes its better to pick what works for your real requirements.

  • Do you know what your unique requirements are: perhaps for performance, or data security or network connectivity?

We work with many government agencies that have stringent requirements on disk drive disposal.  Our standard customers RMA failed drives and send us back the old ones for replacement, some agencies must destroy the drive completely, and provide us with a certificate of destruction, and the serial number information.  These types of customers are loooking more closely at the SAN-based encryption on our StoneFly IP SANs.

This list provides a great starting point on determining what sort of SAN works for you.  Your storage implementation project will prove successful if you spend some upfront time really understanding your requirements.  So take this list, and fill in your own questions, and get started on your research!

If you’d like to learn more about deploying IP SANs, come to one of our Wednesday iSCSI product demonstations, or check out these resources on storage and server virtualization.

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