If you have been following my blog, I last discussed the advantages of virtualizing your servers. Related to this solution is another technology solution that typically goes hand-in-hand with server virtualization, but it isn’t required. Namely, a SAN (Storage Area Network). You may be asking, “Isn’t a SAN for those large enterprises with 500+ employees?” This is not the case anymore.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a SAN, it is a high-speed network of shared storage devices. Instead of storage being associated with a specific server, a SAN exists independently on your network and is directly accessible by clients and/or servers. The SAN allows the storage devices to exist on their own network and communicate very fast with each other over very fast media. This addresses bandwidth issues that are typically associated with SCSI bus based implementations.
Storage Area Networks are most commonly implemented using Fibre Channel or iSCSI, which is a set of communication standards that support very fast data rates. With Fibre Channel, the storage devices are connected together using a Fibre Channel switch which provides a dedicated path between the devices in the SAN fabric. With iSCSI, IP packets are used to move data blocks back and forth over your standard Ethernet network. Although iSCSI is supported on 1Gig connections, most virtualization platforms require 10Gig for optimum performance with today’s software versions.
If your organization is pursuing server virtualization, it would make sense to take a hard look at implementing a SAN. There are SAN solutions meant for the small to medium-sized business and priced accordingly. With a SAN, server instances can be moved between virtual machine hardware while still operating. This allows for a more reliable and dynamic implementation of server virtualization. It also becomes easier to manage your storage as it is centrally located and redundancy (such as RAID 10) is built-in.
Telcion would love to help you make this transition to a SAN (Storage Area Network). Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help you make this evaluation.