Book Review - Storage Area Network Fundamentals
At just 300 pages and a price tag of $50, Storage Area Network Fundamentals sounds more like a technical reference than an introductory technology title - and it is. Where other books try and ease the reader into the technicalities of storage networking, the recently published SAN Fundamentals takes a more direct approach.
That's not to say SAN Fundamentals is not readable - far from it. Just that it is intended to, and does, deliver a focused and technical introduction to the world of Storage Area Networking.
As the title suggests, the book's main goal is to educate about Storage Area Networks. This is in contrast with some of the other introductory titles which tackle the issue of network storage from a more holistic viewpoint and include Network Attached Storage as a topic. There is a brief comparison of NAS and SANs, but aside from this basic coverage there is nary a NAS reference in sight.
The book starts out at a comfortable pace with a chapter on Networking and Storage Concepts. As well as addressing the fundamentals of networking generally, the chapter gives a hint of what is to come with a section discussing the need for storage networks, the aforementioned NAS and SAN comparison and a brief discussion of some of the organizations responsible for defining SAN standards. Chapter 2, Introduction to Storage Area Networks is a short chapter which discusses the evolution of SANs and provides a brief overview of the components which make up a SAN.
Then the gloves come off.
As you would expect from a book on SAN Fundamentals, the coverage of Fibre Channel is extensive and thorough. In fact, a full three chapters - Fibre Channel Basics, Fibre Channel Products and Fibre Channel Cabling - take the reader inside the world of fibre channel with detailed explanations of everything FC related including devices and cables. The technical level of content presented in these chapters will be useful to all except those who have worked with FC for some time. Even then, the information provided is good enough to be an oft referred to reference.
Although the Fibre Channel Products chapter discusses the general devices used in SAN's, it does so by referring to specific Cisco devices. This may not be to some people's liking, but it really doesn't detract from the material in the book, and provides a specific reference point for readers to log on to the Cisco Website and read up on the characteristics and real-world applications of SAN devices.