Lack of IP SAN Storage health monitoring features can lead to an IT disaster!

IP SAN storage health monitoring is usually done by the network operating system which is runs the IP SAN. But if the SAN appliance lacks this feature or if the feature usage gets overlooked, then it can lead to an irreparable IT disaster. An instance of similar sort happened in the month of Feb 2014, when a SAN appliance deployed in The Southern District Health Board IT environment crashed due to an error.

According to a preliminary enquiry report, an incorrectly entered internet protocol address caused an outage that put the hospitals entire server and storage systems into chaos for almost 38 hours. Due to lack of maintenance of the system, the IP SAN appliance could not issue an alert to the storage administrator in time and this caused the storage server to crash.

As per a report, the root cause for the system crash and prolonged downtime was an incorrect configuration made by the storage administrator. This resulted in the usage of spare drive by the network, when a disk failure occurred and as soon as the spare drive reached the full capacity, the system automatically shut itself in order to preserve its data. Due to this system crash, the hospitals in tie-up with this health board were forced to maintain pen and paper records, which were later on fed to the system, when it was brought back on track.

Southern District Health Board Medical director of patient services Richard Bunton said that this unexpected system failure resulted in data loss pertaining to 3850 mammograms taken in between February 1st and October 31st, 2012. This made the health board incur a loss of $13 million, due to the reason that the records were again ordered from the disaster recovery center and then fed to the storage system in order to re-build the database.

In reality, every IP SAN provider offers data building services, if in case, the damage has occurred due to their system hardware or software failure. But here, since the crash occurred due to human error and lack of maintenance of the system, the storage provider backed off from any kind of free of cost service.

As per the storage admins version working for the health board, the system lacked redundancy and its network operating system partially or totally failed to alert the administrator on time. But the IP SAN vendor (which some reliable source claims to be IBM) has a different version to say on this issue.

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The company officials said that the entire fault was with the IT staff who were employed in the organization. The officials added that system issued an email alert regarding the lack of maintenance and the spare drive reaching full capacity. If the officials had done a weekly maintenance and replaced the faulty drives and installed the spare drive, then the IT failure could have been avoided to a large extent. The other amusing fact was that the organization lacked an automated backup and disaster recovery service in its premises.

Therefore, in order to avoid all such troubles, it is better to go for an IP SAN which offers utmost redundancy in these conditions. One such vendor which delivers such products is StoneFly Networks. This company, a business subsidiary of Dynamic Network Factory offers iSCSI SANs which are powered and driven by StoneFly’s StoneFusion Network Operating System. It is through this operating system, the network admin can gain full control over system health, configuration, load & utilization, sessions and usage patterns all achieved from StoneFly web based control panel.

StoneFly’s StoneFusion OS powered appliances issue alerts in the form of emails and mobile phone messages. If the issue is intense, then the admin will get the notification under top priority category.

So, all such troubles can eliminated and thus the whole network and its users can be isolated from any kind of IT disasters in time.

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