The most important aspect of business application performance is the ability to access data. Data stored on disk, tape, optical media, or temporary cache, using the traditional direct attach storage models will be less susceptible to performance and operational anomalies than data stored through the network model. Although the location of the data should be irrelevant, if the application cannot get to it or the paths to the data are congested or critically impacted, the performance of the application will degradeor worse , become unavailable. The ability of an IT staff to locate, identify the cause, and correct these anomalies becomes more problematic as storage configurations move into SAN and NAS configurations.
The key to successfully monitoring and managing the performance of any application starts with the consistent and proactive management of the critical paths to application data. In most cases, this is done with an assortment of vendor- and user -developed tools that support management of storage configurations. In Part VI of this book, we discussed many of the accepted management disciplines that become the foundation for a well-run IT organization, none of which will be more important in this case study than performance management. Having said that, performance management is tied to the necessary yet mundane activities of configuration management and the need for an orderly problem management system of processes and procedures.
In this study you will discover that in the storage networking area, the availability of tools and coordinated systems will be lacking greatly. As a general industry trend, management tools lack the implementation of successful technologies by three to five years . This situation is becoming even more significant and problematic as the integration of infrastructures needs to be taken into account in both small and large configurations. As the chapters on connectivity options for both SAN and NAS point out, the effects and counter-effects of storage networks are experienced on an enterprise-wide basis.
Unfortunately, as this case study will demonstrate , todays storage management industry remains in an often misguided and confused startup mode with point products and integrated storage management architectures and standards useful only to those companies selling industry controversies. However, storage management has become an effective catch-up mechanism for large vendors , especially those in the software management sector, who have more integration challenges than the small startups .
Nevertheless, regardless of vendor size , the current assortments of products are characterized by the following deficiencies, to name only the major ones:
No correlation of functions among distributed components
No collection of statistically useful data
No proactive performance, configuration, or capacity trending
No identification of root cause to problems
All this makes for a challenge when you are faced with installing, managing, and maintaining a storage area network and network attached storage solutions, in addition to the challenge the SAN and NAS vendors have in compensating for these inadequacies. This study will illustrate many of the problems and potential solutions when the Southwestern CD Company deals with its initial SAN experiences.