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RAID Storage--Exploring All Channels

June 1999
If maximizing RAID storage power and strengthening server support sound promising, surf the fibre channel— the next tech wave to boost the potential of RAID.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


Imagine that you're on a tight deadline to finish a four-color project—a high-end, 110-page catalog featuring automotive accessories for a popular sports utility vehicle dealer. It is 8 p.m. on Tuesday. All is going well. Images have been scanned and the project is almost done being pushed through the prepress department.

Working late and feeling benevolent, you decide to order pizza for your night shift, kick back, send a few long overdue e-mail responses to colleagues and review some monthly bookkeeping, as well as scan through resumes in your search to hire another salesperson.

Life is good.

But, suddenly, your server goes down. Your prepress manager can't access the information located on that server to finish the automotive accessories catalog. The job is due Thursday morning, bright and early. And the client doesn't have a sense of humor.

You quickly forget about pizza. Unless, of course, you have implemented a Storage Area Network (SAN). This new solution is similar to a local area network (LAN), only it is ideal for connecting storage devices to multiple PCs and servers.

What Is a SAN?
Based on fibre channel, the SAN is a new interconnection model that provides a separate, scalable, high-speed network to connect data storage to the computers and peripheral devices that require fast access to the data.

Fibre Channel Fact
Fibre channel is the transport protocol of choice for Storage Area Networks (SANs). Fibre channel has won the endorsement of every major server and storage vendor. Fibre channel technology offers many substantial benefits over current Ultra2 SCSI.

The Gigabit Avenue
While fibre channel may be the prime networking technology for RAID storage, gigabit ethernet—a networking technology that allows commercial printers to transfer more data, faster, internally—is viewed as the prime networking vehicle.


Why a SAN? With a SAN in place, the end result for the above scenario is a more connected environment, which provides users with multiple paths to their digital data. At the same time, a SAN shields the rest of the network from large files that would bog down a LAN's backbone. In other words, by creating a SAN, the company increases its LAN speed and increases the reliability of its operation.



 

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