The Basics of SAN Implementation, Part I


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The Internet revolution has changed the way business is conducted around the globe. The most significant revenue opportunities available to enterprises today are enabled by e-commerce and e-business. Implementing storage area network (SAN) hosted database applications effectively allows an organization to realize tremendous return on investment by achieving competitive advantage, process efficiency and organizational streamlining.

Because large-scale e-commerce and e-business operations must be online around the clock, the SAN database applications and underlying infrastructures that enable them must deliver consistent high performance and continuous, scalable operation. For the enterprise SAN infrastructures that support these database applications, this means specifying the appropriate class of product to meet the demands of the application.

Implementing e-commerce and e-business SAN applications effectively requires that business information be made more accessible, scalable and manageable. The implementation of an enterprise SAN provides the consolidated infrastructure and resource-sharing capability necessary to achieve this.

With the preceding in mind, Part I of this two-part article first discusses the organizational considerations when implementing SANs. This article very briefly outlines what experience has demonstrated — what should be done, and who should do it. It does not outline how to accomplish the administrative and management functions of central storage or SAN management, but rather how to organize the personnel and teams that will implement and manage the new storage environment. Part IIcontinues the SAN implementation theme by briefly discussing other SAN implementation topics with regards to backups, clusters, appliances and database applications.

Organizational Issues During SAN Implementation

Enterprises are constantly looking to implement new storage architectures that will allow them to exploit today's storage technologies. Many of these technologies, such as SANs, Fibre Channel (FC), Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP), SCSI over IP (iSCSI), and network attached storage (NAS), have common operational issues, even through they are differing storage I/O path technologies. When moving from direct storage devices to pooled resources, a common element of pooled storage architectures is the change necessary within enterprises to adapt and adjust and therefore maximize their investments.

The separation of the direct attached disk and tape from servers has created some confusion regarding ownership, management, and accountability within enterprises. Certainly, a radical change in storage architecture and access cannot be completed without adjustments to enterprises, roles and responsibilities, management tasks, and criteria for proper execution of duties.

One of the last elements enterprises tend to consider as part of SAN implementation, is the impact to the organization. This article briefly discusses technical and operational aspects of pooled storage or SAN technology, and the impact this will have on the enterprise. Most of the risk areas can be mitigated if the organizational impact is considered early on as part of the SAN design and implementation program.

Several variables impact the storage team's organizational structures directly. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Acceptance of change within the enterprise.
  • Business model type in use for the enterprise and the lines of business (shared services Information Technology (IT), distributed IT services, outsourced IT functions).
  • Centralized versus decentralized support model.
  • Chargeback methods and other financial aspects.
  • Current state of enterprise maturity with regard to general enterprise best practices, skills, and organization.
  • Expectations from the new pooled storage or SAN infrastructure.
  • SAN topology and implementation decisions.
  • Staff skills and geographical locations.

It is important to realize that (as with all technologies) there is a time-dependant variable in the impact to the staff and organization, when describing organizational dynamics relative to storage. Organization and team roles needed during steady state management (where optimization is paramount), are very different from SAN implementation plans during the start-up or installation phase.

Page 2: SAN Implementation Team Creation

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