The capability of Storage Area Networks to integrate into the data center can become more complex than expected. However, given the right orientation, and a realistic view of current solutions, SAN offers a compatible solution to both UNIX and Windows environments. Not without its challenges, the ability to move beyond the homogeneous implementation can be successful, though more expensive and encumbering than the original SAN justification may have entailed. With the current set of products and solutions available, the data center can expect the following when connecting the SAN into the data center:
Multiswitch configurations will be a way of life. Be prepared to work with multiple switch configurations. Again, there's just no way around this. Even if the simplicity of a single switch configuration may suit your requirements, the minimum attention to recovery and availability requirements will force a move to at least two switches for some level of continuous operations.
Matching I/O workloads to compatible configurations will require additional planning. Part of the justification for the SAN will likely be server and storage consolidation. As you consider the combined workloads and their relative I/O, you will begin to see port count requirements, HBA data paths, and storage sizes themselves moving beyond a simple solution. However, for performance and availability, it is best to implement a SAN configuration that facilitates your workloads. Given the flexibility and numerous variables to work with, be prepared to spend considerable time upfront considering these design activities carefully .
SAN configurations will be subject to rapid change and enhancement. One of the most important practices to consider is staying flexible, especially considering the evolutionary tracks SANs are on. Major enhancements will continue to be announced on a constant basis, so a reliable and consistent view and monitoring of the SAN industry will be an effective tool to understanding the evolution of SAN connectivity.
As Storage Area Network technologies and solutions continue to evolve , connectivity of components to key elements within the data center infrastructure can be terribly disruptive to existing operations. However, this same connectivity can also be the most productive in facilitating the scalability of a storage infrastructure as well as establishing a foundation for the evolving enterprise storage fabric.