Sifting the SAN

Because of the large-scale growth in data, many of today’s storage area networks have evolved considerably from their early, well-contained deployments. Corporate IT executives are pushing SANs to their limits — in size, complexity and functionality — as they embrace New Data Centre mandates about tiered storage, storage on demand and delivering storage as a service to key internal customers.

The amount of data in today’s enterprise SAN can be measured in multiple terabytes, and may comprise thousands of complex network interconnections. Forward-looking IT organizations have looked for new and creative ways of managing the scale and complexity that go hand in hand with sprawling, networked storage environments. Increasingly, they are employing SAN change management tools — often a subset of a larger storage resource management arsenal — to meet the New Data Centre’s stringent performance demands.

To varying degrees, IT executives are using today’s crop of SAN change management tools to navigate and keep tabs on the labyrinth of dual redundant paths that exist on a SAN from host to storage array. The tools typically let administrators follow the trail of these interdependencies, which goes everywhere, from hosts and host bus adapters (HBA) to Fibre Channel switches, ports and storage arrays — even down to the level of logical unit numbers (LUN) and virtual volumes carved out of individual disk drives.

Many SAN change management tools offer detailed device discovery and topology mapping for homogeneous and multivendor SANs. Some tools also offer real-time system monitoring, trouble

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