What is SAN and How can it Benefit Your Company

What Is A SAN?

SAN (or Storage Area Network)  is a high-speed network with block-level access to data storage. It is the most common storage networking architecture and is used by enterprises for business-critical applications (click here for an overview of storage networking architectures). It provides high throughput and low latency. A SAN is composed of hosts, switches, storage elements, and storage devices that are connected by different technologies, topologies, and protocols. To a host, a SAN presents storage devices in a way that they appear to be locally attached by using various forms of virtualization. SANs are commonly based on Fibre Channel (FC) technology that utilizes the Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) for open systems and proprietary variants for mainframes. In addition, the use of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) makes it possible to move FC traffic onto a single cable across existing high-speed Ethernet infrastructures, converged storage, and IP protocols.

What Are SANs Used For?

There are several main functions a SAN is used for. Listed below are a few of them.

      • Boost application performance utilizing things like off-load storage functions and segregate networks.
      • Increase application availability
      • Improve storage utilization
      • Increase data protection and security
      • Consolidate storage resources
      • Assist in Business Continuity Management (BCM) activities.

Types Of SANs

Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) : One of the most common types of SANs, accounting for 70% to 80% of the total number. It is designed to carry serial SCSI-3 data over optical fiber networks. For this variant, the throughput ranges from 100MB/s to 1.6 GB/s with a distance stretching from 500 meters (1640.42 ft) to 10 kilometers (6.21 miles). The Internet Small Computer System Interface protocol (iSCSI) is utilized in approximately 10% to 15% of all SANs.  It transports block-level between the iSCSI initiator on a server and an iSCSI target on the storage device. iSCSI encapsulates SCSI commands inside an Ethernet frame and then uses an IP Ethernet network for transport.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE):  FCoE is used in less than 5% of all SANs. It is similar to iSCSI since it encapsulates an FC frame inside an Ethernet datagram. Then, like iSCSI, it uses an IP Ethernet network for transport.

Non-Volatile Memory Express over Fibre Channel (FC-NVMe):  NVMe is a host controller interface designed to increase the transfer of data. It is an interface protocol for accessing flash storage via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus. NVMe supports thousands of parallel queues. Each of these queues supports thousands of concurrent commands.

Benefits Of Choosing A SAN

Improved Disk Utilization

Perhaps the greatest advantage of a SAN is its improved disk utilization. Direct attached storage (DAS) utilizes around 30% of the disk while SAN improves on that with around 80%. Greater utilization decreases the number of disks and drives needed, reducing the entire cost associated with storage devices and systems.

Less Backup Time

SANs are the best solution whenever a company is faced with extensive backup time within an enterprise or data storage environment. SANs have a unique ability to duplicate data almost instantly, making them ideal for data backup.

Centralized Backup

Block level, incremental backups, and streamlined IT system administrator responsibilities are a few special features provided by SAN to improve the backup process.

Disaster Recovery

SAN provides the capability to connect distant locations to secondary storage arrays. This helps protect data if a localized disaster destroys local data storage devices. When data is duplicated with SAN, it enables faster recovery for an organization; the data is preserved offsite and just needs to be transferred back over to the main location.

Redundancy

Similar to the above-mentioned disaster recovery advantage, SAN also protects data through local redundancy. A redundant array of disks is used by SAN and is viewed as a local volume from the servers that are attached to it. This allows for high availability with fast disk input/output performance when compared to a Network Area Storage (NAS). SAN’s are among the common virtualization clusters giving out centralized access to databases that are heavily input/output intensive.

High-Speed Disk Technologies

SAN provides data retrieval at speeds surpassing 5 Gbps.

Conclusion:

SAN is an excellent choice for many IT departments spanning many industries. The benefits of SAN systems are only offset by the price of the enterprise hardware required to build them. thomastech provides that enterprise hardware to meet your IT environment’s needs at an attractive price, slashing your costs. Beyond providing IT systems and hardware, thomastech further empowers IT departments to keep data moving by offering support and maintenance services. To learn more about the advantages of partnering with thomastech, click the free consultation button at the top or call us at (330) 225-311. Around the globe, other IT departments are using thomastech’s services and are experiencing simpler contracts, faster resolutions, reduced costs, and more uptime. Start today.

Product Feature: Hitachi G1500

One of the “big guns” in the Hitachi line-up of data storage devices is the Hitachi G1500 model. There is so much to be said about this device which will have to be saved for another day. The G1500 is a storage device specially designed for enterprise-class data centers. In this feature, we will only cover a few details about this storage system.

Operating Systems:

Running this storage device is the Hitachi Global Storage Virtualization operating system, or SVOS for short. Storage operating systems supported by the G1500 include IBM® mainframe operating systems (OS) and open-system OSs. According to Hitachi, the open-system OSs supported are “VMware®, Windows®, Solaris®, AIX®, Linux®, HP-UX™, XenServer®, and OpenVMS™.”

Key Features:

The G1500 provides high performance, availability, and reliability of data and storage. To protect data, the G1500 utilizes an industry trend setting local and remote data protection suite that has true active-active metro-clustering.

Scalability, Networking, Configuring:

Another plus to the G1500 is its scalability and SAN (Storage Area Network) capabilities. With its ability to scale, the G1500 is a perfect answer to organizations that are growing with ever-expanding data storage needs. The G1500 can connect to mainframe hosts using FICON front-end directors and when connecting to open servers it uses iSCSI, Fibre Channel, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet front-end directors. All of the before mentioned front-end directors in different combinations can be used to configure the G1500 to support mainframe hosts and open servers at the same time.

The back-end scalability of a G1500 is quite flexible. It can control up to a maximum of 65,250 logical volumes and 2,304 disk drives. In total, it can contain an approximate capacity of 11,278 TB of space when using 10 TB disk drives.

Savings:

If you want to stretch your IT budget and do more with the allotted IT dollars, you can with thomastech. At thomastech, we have a large inventory of enterprise hardware, systems, and devices, including the Hitachi G1500 model. We have both new and refurbished hardware available. All the refurbished hardware is engineer inspected and covered by a 90-day warranty. In addition to providing reliable hardware, thomastech offers enterprise maintenance and support to help IT departments keep data moving. Do more with your IT dollars! Visit www.thomastechllc.com to learn more or call (330) 225-3117 and ask about the Hitachi G1500.

How to Decide Which SLA is Right For You

Which SLA

What is an SLA?

SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are the governing force in the relationship between the consumer and an enterprise support provider. SLAs clearly define what is expected by both parties with measurable objectives. An example is a signed agreement between an IT department and a support provider. The SLA spells out when and how the support service will be conducted. An OLA (Operating Level Agreement) is another name for SLAs but is for agreements within an organization without an established provider-customer relationship. Now, let’s dive into the three different types of SLAs.

Service Based SLAs                              

A Service-Based SLA is one identical service pack for all customers. This type of agreement is essentially “one size fits all;” it does not provide additional options or the ability to flex with individual IT environments. The advantage of this type, however, is that it simplifies the process for the various maintenance providers who utilize this type of SLA.

There are three categories a client will fit into when using a Service-Based SLA. These categories are divided by how efficiently they meet the needs of the customer. The first category contains those whose IT infrastructure requirements perfectly match the tenets of the agreement, while the second category contains clients who are paying for services that they are never able to fully utilize. In the third category, clients find the Service-Based SLA inadequate to meet all their needs as their IT environments exceed the specified services. Two examples of how an SLA may not reach the needs of an IT department would be faster response time and a readily available hardware inventory for break-fix scenarios. For many companies looking for third party enterprise support options, Service-Based SLAs may not be the best option if they do not efficiently and effectively meet their needs. Customers who commonly prefer this agreement are IT service providers, corporate IT, and IT service management.

Customer Based SLAs

Customer-Based SLAs are designed to contain all the possible services needed by an organization or department. This SLA is a general overview of all the services contained within a single agreement that is structured around each customer’s needs. The focus on each customer individually is what sets a Customer-Based SLA apart from a Service-Based SLA. An example would be an IT service provider offering several services packaged together within on SLA in order to meet all the needs of a client.

Multi-Level SLAs

The final type of SLA is a Multi-Level SLA. This SLA is customized based on the needs of the end-user client/company. The SLA is divided into three levels and allows the user/client to integrate multiple conditions into the agreement to provide a more suitable service to the client’s needs.

The Multi-Level SLA’s three levels are the corporate, customer, and service levels. The corporate level covers basic service level management (SLM) issues and does not require constant updating. It contains an in-depth discussion of all the necessary parts of the agreement and applies to all customers. The customer level of a Multi-Level SLA focuses on a singular customer group and covers all relevant SLM issues regardless of services used. The Service-Level SLA has a distinct focus on the the individual services and defining the service for the individual client.   

Mathing Needs to SLAs

Many organizations need enterprise system support and maintenance. The support and maintenance process is defined by SLAs. At thomastech, we believe that IT managers need to be given a choice of SLAs and the ability to customize them. After all, IT managers know their own enviroment’s needs, and thus they are the best equipped to make the right choice.

thomastech provides a selection of SLAs that are centered around the core concept of empowering you, the IT professional. The goal of thomastech is to empower you through hardware and enterprise maintenance so you can keep your systems running and your data moving. Going beyond many other third party maintenance providers for enterprise systems, thomastech provides you the freedom to custom-tailor the support process and SLAs to best fit your IT environment. To learn more about our SLAs, visit our support page at https://thomastechllc.com/third-party-tech-support/ or call (330) 225-3117 to speak with a real person to find a personalized solution to your enterprise support needs.