Small to midsized businesses (SMBs) frequently have to deal with disparate storage area networks (SANs). For example, many companies start with an entry-level system and later must add a larger, more sophisticated one. SAN consolidation usually has two different meanings depending on the point of view. It either means reducing the number of multiple separate SAN fabrics (networks) to a more manageable number, or doing the same to multiple...
separate SAN storage systems.
The value of SAN consolidation comes from significantly reduced management. It is intuitive to see that it is far easier to manage a consolidated SAN than multiple SANs. Consolidated SANs also benefit from fewer software licenses, lower maintenance, reduced real estate, power, and cooling. In the unique case of the consolidated Fibre Channel (FC) SAN fabric, there is the benefit of a reduced number of domain names as well. The FC specification has a theoretical domain limit of 239. However, Brocade's tested limit is 50 and Cisco's tested limit is 40.
Successful SAN fabric consolidation depends upon detailed understanding of your current and future needs, careful detailed planning and disciplined execution of that plan. Critical questions to answer and plan for include:
Assuming the answers to those questions are all positive or mostly positive, what do you do next? The answer is preparation.
About this author: Marc Staimer is President and CDS of Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, OR. He's widely known as one of the leading storage market analysts in the network storage and storage management industries.