Virtualizing SAN Management Page 5


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Summary and Conclusions

New demands are placed on today's enterprise storage by critical business requirements. The number of business applications is increasing. Increasing even more rapidly is the amount of content that applications are expected to deliver. For example, enterprises are deploying new service offerings in areas of customer care and e-commerce. These service offerings depend on rich reservoirs of content that are increasingly multimedia in nature. Customer satisfaction is frequently dependent on consistent transaction response time to this rich media. Therefore, as enterprises deploy applications that generate revenue and provide customer care, business continuity planning risk increases.

Thus, in tough economic times, the tight management of IT costs and the continued monitoring of returns on IT investments are critical. Next-generation applications will require SANs with a wider geography, greater capacities, greater availability, and higher performance to support the enterprise appetite for "rich and plentiful." Content SAN management technologies will also be increasingly important to make enterprise storage affordable.

Datacenter managers must continue their migration to consolidated SANs that use dedicated networks and high-performance switches to link a cloud of servers to a shared pool of storage in response to enterprise demands. When compared to that of the previous server-oriented storage model (direct attached storage), the cost of managing consolidated SANs can be dramatically reduced. Datacenter managers can now route storage services to application servers by monitoring and managing a network that connects the two, rather than having to take down a server to add more storage or recabling a server to a different storage device.

With the preceding in mind, the most important trend in SAN technology is virtualization. Virtualization masks the detailed characteristics of network and storage devices in order to make consolidated SANs easier for administrators to manage.

Virtualization will provide the foundation for SANs that automatically adjust to shifting storage needs over time. Atop virtualized systems, network paths can be used to deliver the data while being assured that the necessary storage QoS will be achieved, and users can provision storage without the need to know exactly which device is providing the additional capacity. It is also possible to automate explicit policies for managing the SAN in a virtualized SAN environment.

In realizing the benefits of consolidated storage, virtualization is a necessary step. Virtualized network services will be most critical for SANs that must be reconfigured frequently and for large SANs with thousands or tens of thousands of nodes. Additionally, consolidated SANs can and will provide lower cost, higher-quality, dependable storage services on demand with greater management precision.

Finally, a consolidation of shared and dedicated networks within the enterprise is expected as more effective tools emerge to manage quality of service (QoS) within the network infrastructure. In other words, in the future, QoS will be woven deeply into the network infrastructure, and within a consolidated network that integrates different connection technologies, network bandwidth and latency will be provisioned as needed.

John Vacca is an information technology consultant and internationally known author based in Pomeroy, Ohio. Since 1982, John has authored 39 books and more than 485 articles in the areas of advanced storage, computer security and aerospace technology. John was also a configuration management specialist, computer specialist, and the computer security official for NASA's space station program (Freedom) and the International Space Station Program, from 1988 until his early retirement from NASA in 1995. John was also one of the security consultants for the MGM movie titled : "AntiTrust," which was released on January 12, 2001. John can be reached on the Internet at jvacca@hti.net.

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