The Business Case for Storage Networks
real-time to the ESLs, where liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors under each
item display the most current prices for that item.
To support these advanced technologies, a similarly advanced hardware
infrastructure (technology enabler) was required. Based on initial analyses
showing the potential for increased economies of scale, increased operational
efficiency, and reductions in hardware maintenance stemming from consolidating
storage platforms, the management team determined that deploying storage
networks was the appropriate solution.
Today the ratio of DAS-to-SAN storage stands at approximately 70 percent
SAN (42 TB usable) with a high visibility project slated to migrate the remaining
UNIX DAS to networked storage as soon as possible.
The Move to Storage Networks
The initial evaluation and deployment of SAN technology began in 2001 as
point solutions for environments that the director of technical services and his
team determined had inordinately low disk utilization rates.
Early evaluations of SAN technology made the team hopeful for the benefits
of increased utilization and availability; however, the team was skeptical of the
technology’s capability to deliver on its promises. Initial cost-benefit analyses
showed the potential for an early uptick in support costs and management
inefficiencies after accounting for a steep learning curve and the interoperability
issues endemic in what was then a relatively immature industry. Although initial
pre-deployment data supported fears of higher costs, the team was not deterred
from deploying SANs, although they did adopt a “wait-and-see” attitude as the
first rollouts were completed.
The first storage network to be deployed was a dual-fabric SAN built on two
32-port fixed Brocade Fibre Channel (FC) switches, supporting a backup
environment. This SAN was designed to move backup traffic off of the IP
backbone and onto the FC network, thereby lessening the impact on the IP
network and increasing backup performance.
Four more SAN islands were deployed between 2001 and 2003, but as these
SAN islands became more prevalent, one fact became glaringly obvious:

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